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When Pandemic Isolation Feels ‘Normal’

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I’ve been comfortable with varying amounts of isolation most of my life. Being alone doesn’t really bother me, and usually I find it comforting. But in these days of Pandemic Quarantine, the world is turned topsy turvy, and I realized that many people are feeling very confused and uncomfortable. Their “normal” has been taken away, and they have no idea how to deal with this kind of isolation, and the challenges it presents!

I’ve been thinking about this dilemma for a while…

When Pandemic Isolation Feels ‘Normal’

So when this pandemic broke out, and everyone went into quarantine
Life didn’t seem so different for me
I was already isolating because of an uncomfortable family thing three months prior
I was already struggling with overwhelming anxiety, depression and dissociation
And I’m an introvert through and through anyways
My anxiety level was an 8 out of 10 because of all this stuff
The quarantine crept in, putting me from an 8 to an 8½
So, truthfully not much different, and I wondered …
What’s all the clamor about?

I watched, I listened, many people freaking out
Scared they may get sick, scared to leave their house
Then other people who were screaming because they couldn’t go to work
And worried about having no income to take care of everyday bills
Some following the rules, others ignoring them
And some saying it was just a ‘scam’
But nothing felt any different for me
Yet I was afraid to say anything about it
For fear of being ridiculed, or being thought of as a freak
I was still in that isolated ‘cage’ I had locked myself in months ago

So I timidly started to talk about it
Wondering if anyone else felt the same
I remember others started talking too
And I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way
Others, like myself, were thinking that this very isolating world we’re now in
Is so familiar that it feels ‘normal’ for us
But it’s a very strange and distant world to those who had lived ‘out there’
Those who went to work, to the store, shopping, partying
Walking, running, going to the gym, being outside and active
Riding the bus and the subway, carpooling
Going where there are large crowds, and thinking nothing of it
And who are now shut inside their houses, scared and lonely

What does this mean?
That those of us who have been surviving in isolation anyways
Surviving mental illness, physical illness, disabilities, or other limitations
We have been isolating all along
Whether by choice, or by fear, or by whatever is going on in our lives
That keeps us shut in, not interacting with many other people
Or we’re just introverts anyways, so this is our ‘comfort zone’
We’ve been living like this for years!
We’ve often felt left out, put down, overlooked, ridiculed
Because we had ‘issues’ that the ‘outside’ people looked down on
Or judged, or wanted to just brush under the rug and ignore
They didn’t understand why we couldn’t just ‘get over it’!

They wouldn’t listen when we cried out for help
They wondered why we’re still fighting the ‘same old battles’
Why hadn’t we healed and moved forward with our crappy little lives?
Ouch! That hurts!
It’s because we couldn’t
What they didn’t realize is that we’re doing the best that we can
And sometimes the best we can do on any given day
Is to just open our eyes and get out of bed
Taking a shower? Getting dressed? Optional
Eating? Sometimes too little, sometimes too much
And sometimes junk food that’s just lying around
Because that’s what we’ve got
And it takes too much energy to go to the store

They wonder
Why don’t we go out and get a job? Be productive?
Why can’t we take care of ourselves?
They think we’re just being lazy, but that’s not it at all
It’s not having the strength to take the next breath
Not having the energy to ‘do’ things
Or in so much pain that we can’t bear to move at all
Not having the thinking power to make a decision
Or a mind too foggy to have any rational thoughts at all
Having a conversation means having to come up with words to say
That actually make sense to others around us
Living life really isn’t an option at all right now
Sometimes just existing is often a taxing effort

So why am I talking about this?
Because right now in the middle of this seemingly never ending quarantine
We’re the ones who can teach all the ‘outside’ people, the ‘normal’ people
How to exist and live in isolation without losing your mind!
We’ve been living it for years!
Who else can you ask? Who else has any answers?
So as we’re chugging along during this horrible time
Ask your friends who have been on this journey for awhile
Those who have been isolating for years
How can I get through this quarantine
And make it to the other side without going completely berserk?
You may be surprised at who may have some answers
And some very creative ideas you would never have thought of!

If you too are on a trauma healing journey, visit The Tie Dye poet’s website to see more of her work, and check out her book here.

Originally published: December 31, 2020
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