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The Loneliness of Seeing Photos of People FaceTiming Their Friends During Quarantine

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Today I was faced with a new form of anxiety that I never saw coming in a million years. It’s been just over 60 days since the coronavirus (COVID-19) — the new viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system — touched down in my city and two full weeks since I began to officially self-isolate following the strict orders of my government.

To be perfectly honest, staying home and avoiding human-to-human contact isn’t far off from the way I’ve already been living for almost five years. I’ve been both blessed and cursed to have a career that doesn’t require me to work in the winter months. From the start of November to the first signs of spring, I’m on paid leave. It sounds incredible, especially for a writer like myself, but it isn’t always the vacation it appears to be.

Trying to come up with things to keep busy for long stretches of time isn’t new to me. I’m also used to not having many visitors stop by since I moved to a location that is a couple cities away from my family and friends. Despite these social distancing and self-isolation practices having familiar roles in my life pre-coronavirus, it still isn’t easy to spend a majority of my time doing things alone.  Aside from the constant worry for my relatives and restlessness that comes with not being in control of what’s to come, it’s been hard to watch my social media feed fill up with cute screenshots of friends FaceTiming one another each day while my own cell phone has remained silent for weeks. It’s amazing how in a time where the entire globe is in confinement, I still feel like the loneliest person on Earth.

I have to admit when I first learned that everyone I know would have to hunker down for a couple of weeks I felt a sense of relief; not for the suffering and financial ruin it has inflicted on all of us but because the self-isolation procedures have left me feeling like a normal part of existence. I’ve struggled for a very long time with social anxiety and major depressive disorder, conditions that have had an immense effect on my life and my ability to function like a “normal” person does. Knowing that the rest of the world was about to experience the same sensations that I’ve lived with for so long made me feel like for once, I was just like everyone else. If someone were to ask me how I was handling the quarantine I could say that I was afraid, alone and feeling hopeless and finally they could relate to what I was going through. I know what it’s like to not have a job to get up and go to every day and I also know how it feels when there’s no one around. It’s a horrible feeling.

The anxiety really overwhelmed me when I realized that when this is all over everyone will go back to their jobs and they will have long reunions and hugs with their friends that they missed so much and their lives will return back to normal while I remain in the same isolation of having debilitating mental health issues, business as usual. I will be the odd one out once again.

From the bottom of my heart I wish for good health to whomever is reading this, a speedy recovery for those who have been in direct contact with COVID-19 and virtual hugs for everyone who has been stressed to the limit during this nationwide panic. Being tone-deaf in a time when there are people truly suffering the fight of their lives is not my intention. Please understand that I know others have much bigger problems than mine. I want the world to be healthy and for people to be happy and free, I just wish I could be a part of that too.

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GettyImages photo via BRO Vector

Originally published: March 29, 2020
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