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Don't Feel Guilty If Your Self-Isolation Isn't Productive

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I am writing this because I feel guilty.

It started with a positive comment that had nothing to do with me. A Facebook connection mentioned they have made more art in the past four days than the past few years. It is beautiful art. Their comment thread was littered with snip-its of other works that have been created in the name of the coronavirus crisis. Videos. Memes. Jewelry. Drawings.

Instant self-evaluation with a side of anxiety rushed in. So far, I cannot say I have felt creatively inclined after hours. In fact, I am laser-focusing on my professional writing work to maintain a sense of normalcy for myself and my clients. I have been watching reality TV and stretching and tending to houseplants and phone calls from friends who are panicking about the pandemic.

I am painting less. Editing my passion project less. Caring less. Spoonies with mental health conditions know what these signs mean. We also know what’s going on in the world today is hard to watch and adds to whatever pains we were already experiencing. We also know how easily we become portals for other people’s problems because helping them is possible, whereas we’ve likely tried everything on ourselves. Yes, even yoga. It is still a chronic illness. It is still a pandemic.

I have been trying to remain positive and yet cautious and yet sane. My body-focused repetitive disorder is in overdrive, which really means I am catching myself tearing pieces from my thumb nail beds and fingertips even as I write this.

I keep telling myself to secure more paint and canvases and beads and pens and books, and also remind myself that things are going to be OK, and OK is still chronically ill. Create at whatever pace you can. Create when inspired. Create when driven.

Quarantine and self-isolation are not competitions. For those who will fight themselves on this later, say it with me: Quarantine is not a competition with other spoonies or able-bodies or neurotypicals online or offline.

I wrote this because I know I am not the only one seeing these posts about deep cleaning and Marie Kondo-ing and learning new languages. All of those things are amazing things. They are. But it’s also OK if nothing changes for you. It’s also OK if you’re not inspired or motivated or productive. It’s OK if you need more rest.

There is a lot going on in the world right now. Let’s not judge ourselves for how we feel experience it.

Of course, you know your mental health better than anyone else. If you’re experiencing increased symptoms or are concerned for your well-being, please seek medical support.

Concerned about coronavirus? Stay safe using the tips from these articles:

Getty image via diego_cervo

Originally published: March 19, 2020
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