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14 Things You Do When You're Socially Isolated by Illness

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1. Learn to love (or at least tolerate) your own company.

Spending hours alone in our sick rooms recharging our batteries, we find ways to entertain ourselves that won’t zap our energy too much. If we didn’t, we’d just lie there staring into space…

2. Forget how to small talk.

Or even (sometimes) how to have a conversation… Um, I like your socks?

3. Become fascinated by actors, musicians, politicians…

Neil Young, Joaquin Phoenix and Trevor Noah are my current obsessions. Hey, everyone needs friends, right? Even imaginary ones!

4. Gain an irrational fear of leaving the safety of your own home or bedroom.

To go outside and face the great unwashed suddenly seems a lot scarier than it used to be. Once I brave it, I can’t wait to get back home and bury myself under the covers again. The outdoors is overrated, right?

5. Spend way too much time on social media and online support groups, chatting with people you will probably never get to meet in person.

Facebook is a lifeline at times, but it’s easy to get caught up in the world of virtual reality (insanity).

6. Overanalyze everything.

As mentioned, people who live with chronic illnesses often have a lot of time on our hands to ruminate on our own thoughts. While it’s a good opportunity for introspection and personal growth, from time to time it’s necessary to take a step back.

7. Talk to your pet.

Those lucky enough to have an animal friend at least have someone to hug and chat to, even if they can’t respond…

8. Stare out of the window.

I often catch myself gazing out of the window of my bedroom (a.k.a prison cell) at the birds, wishing I was free like them. Or at the night sky, as for some reason the moon and stars give me hope. Sometimes I watch what’s going on on the street too — you never know what you might see!

9. Learn to comfort yourself when dealing with difficult emotions.

When you’re dealing with chronic illness, grief, anger, depression and a whole range of emotions come with the territory Often there is no one around to offer a supportive hug, so we become pros at self-care.

10. Dream.

I’m always dreaming of traveling to faraway places, imagining the sights, sounds and smells. I use my imagination to write stories for children. Escapism is a big thing when you’re stuck in between four walls.

11. Watch a lot of movies.

I mean tons. I feel like I’ve been doing a film studies bachelor and could now easily work as a film critic. Brain fog means I’m often too sick to do much else…

12. Feel like the world has forgotten about you.

You constantly wonder what family and friends are up to and why they don’t come to visit more often. You worry they think your isolation is self-imposed…

13. Redecorate.

This is a space where you spend most hours of the day, every day. So you fill it with things you love, which inspire you. You buy furniture and gadgets that make life as easy as possible.

14. Plan your escape.

Whether it’s the next wonder drug or a bestselling novel you’re writing, many of us are working on plans to break out from our bedrooms, somehow, someday, and join the real world again. Stay tuned…

There’s no getting away from how lonely it can be when you’re socially isolated by illness. Just know you are truly not alone; there are so many of us out there who are in the same boat. Reach out and connect with others who are homebound. Got something to say about it? Start campaigning on a social media platform or write a blog and get your voice heard. You do matter and we want to hear your story, so please share your experience with the world.

Photo by Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash

Originally published: June 27, 2019
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