How on earth, could I (or anyone else for that matter) have been emotionally, mentally or physically prepared, for this? This hideous, pervasive, deadly virus, that has literally changed everything, about our world and how we live.
Let’s, for a moment, disregard the frightening statistics, the collapsing economic system, our overwhelmed health care systems, and the on-going hysteria and general bedlam; let’s talk about, perhaps, the most difficult consequence of this catastrophe… the isolation.
We are, by nature, social creatures; social animals, if you will. And most of us, thrive on regular, face to face, interactions with other people. Whether that interaction is coffee with a friend, a shopping jaunt, sharing a workout or a meal, traveling together, whatever… we (again, most of us!) love to be with other people. People with whom we share common interests, opinions and beliefs. Sometimes, we even enjoy interacting with people with whom we do not share any of those things… because all of us being different, is what makes the world go around, right?
So what does any of this have to do with being prepared, for a pandemic?
Well, 2 years and four months ago, I became ill with two autoimmune illnesses (PMR & GCA). I became so ill , in fact, that for the first 6 months or so, I went from my bed, to the couch, to my bed. There was the occasional exhausting trip to the bathroom, or the kitchen, for a cup of tea.. but then it was back to that obligatory, horizontal position.
The fatigue was so intense, that there were days, I would just stare at the TV, willing it to turn on, because I didn’t have the energy to reach for the remote. The brain fog was so thick, I couldn’t concentrate on anything; couldn’t read a book, write a letter, scribble a blog thought… The aches and pains were sometimes so overwhelming, that all I could do was lie there and cry.
I couldn’t communicate any of this to my OH (Other Half). For one, I was too exhausted to even begin to articulate it, and two, he would never have understood.
You simply cannot understand it, unless you experience it.
To make matters worse, I was taking high doses of Prednisolone and this stuff will play games with your head! You find yourself feeling afraid, paranoid, cranky, and generally at your wits end all the time!
However, (and this is a BIG however) after a period of time (I imagine this time period is unique to each individual) it all becomes quite ordinary. Being alone; being isolated from the world, separated from my friends and loved ones (because I was to exhausted to socialise) became normal. It became what I knew, what I relied on.
I learned (slowly and painfully) to become comfortable (and sometimes even happy) with being, only with ME.
OH would go off to work each day, and there I was… me, myself and I. For 8-10 hours a day, I’d be alone, with my thoughts, my fears, my frazzled emotions… and I learned to deal with it. I learned to like it.
I learned to talk to (and listen to) to ME!
Months later, when I did have the strength to venture out (and linger amongst the living) I felt odd and out of place; like I didn’t belong. I found I didn’t have a lot to add to a conversation, or I felt that my friends/family members wouldn’t understand my now weird and eccentric thinking.
Being alone and isolated, not wandering around amongst the masses, not being inundated with the sites, sounds, smells and annoyances of the world changed me. It calmed me.
I became more of a solitary being, than a social being. I developed a need to shelter and protect myself, from outside world. I would gladly run back to the comfort, security and warmth of my home, my room, my couch… myself.
Was I prepared for this… a pandemic and the isolation it brought with it?
Yes, I think I was. Having two debilitating autoimmune illnesses, prepared me more than I would have ever realised.
I’m on day 21, of self imposed isolation and I’m good, I’m really good.
And I hope and pray that you’re good too!
Stay safe, stay in.