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Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:12 pm
by thewrit3r
Hi all,

First off I want to preface this by saying that I hope everyone is safe and healthy. We’re living through very uncertain, scary times and with everyone having their own things to deal with in life, this is just an added stressor.

I’ve seen a lot of people post about COVID-19: how to avoid it, mostly, especially with limited interaction with people. I know this reduces the change of the virus spreading. I know I’m healthy but there are people I live with who are both elderly and immune compromised and I would not want anything happening to them. I know this will likely be temporary and my life will get back to somewhat of a norm without a pandemic hovering over my head.

However I noticed that I’m becoming lonely. Extremely lonely. I graduate this semester and have made friends since I first started school. I had all these social events planned. I wanted to decorate my cap and gown and even thought about taking photoshoots for my friends who are seniors. But now that this virus is spreading so fast I can’t do any of that. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to walk during graduation. I know that’s not a huge issue but it makes me ridiculously sad for some reason to think that I won’t walk this year for graduation :(

I’m starting to feel depressed again. Ironically the thing that worsened my depression when I first experienced it in high school was social isolation, but now that’s pretty much mandatory so there’s not much I can do about it. I miss my friends so much. I miss having things to do. Even when school starts back up it will be online and that’s not the same as face to face contact. I don’t even know if I can continue working (I work on campus).

It’s like I have nothing to do. No one to see. All I do is apply for jobs, sleep in, do housework, etc. I’ve been on social media but I’m cutting that down since the panicking is just making me feel worse. I know it won’t be like this forever but right now I feel like I have no meaning, no purpose in what I do everyday. There’s only so many hours I can spend in doors without feeling stir crazy.

I don’t know what to do. I know I could talk with friends over text or phone but it doesn’t feel the same. And most people I know are panicking like me so that would just make us both feel worse. I doubt I could see a therapist since I can’t really go anywhere in person, and we have so few therapists in town I don’t think any of them work over the net (not to mention I don’t know which ones are covered under my insurance). I just feel so stuck at the moment.

Any thoughts?

(And if you read through the whole thing thanks :))

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:18 am
by Sam W
Hi thewrit3r,

I feel you big time on social isolation tending to made depression worse. And you're right that, with everyone worried, sometimes things like checking in with friends can accidentally up everyone's stress if the time is spent processing what's going on.

I don't have any perfect solutions, but I do have some ideas. One is that, in those check-ins with friends, talking about setting a limit on how long you all will talk about Covid-19 and related things. That can seem weird, but honestly something I'm noticing is that there's a point where talking about all this tips from helpful to feeding each other's anxiety. So, saying something like "how about we have five minutes of talking about this, and then we should talk about other things" might help.

I think it's also okay to feel disappointment at the little things that are likely to be canceled or missed as a result of following public health practices. Times like this are ones where some people try to say "well, if you aren't experiencing the worst possible outcomes, what is there to complain about?" But honestly, you feeling bummed about graduation stuff isn't diminishing what other's are going through; it's feeling a normal reaction to something being canceled.

With the being stuck inside, are you in a pretty urban area? Or do you have access to some outdoor spaces that don't put you in close contact with other people? Because being able to go for a walk or a bike ride, or even just read in your yard as opposed to read in your house, can help with some of that feeling of being stuck.

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:32 am
by thewrit3r
Hi, Sam,

I really like your suggestion on putting a limit on how many covid-19 topics we discuss. You’re right that constantly looking it up IS feeding into my anxiety (which I also suffer from) so that’s not doing me any favors.

I also really need to get off socials because some people have been turning from panic to shaming others that I suppose is coming from a place of fear but is frustrating nevertheless. For example, a friend posted that people are still working in restaurants because they have no other source of income, and people are still telling them to stay home. I understand that they are coming from a place of disadvantages of health (if they/someone they know is immune compromised and/or older) but they don’t seem to realize that they’re coming from a place of financial privilege that I and many others don’t have. It’s just frustrating that people aren’t listening and it makes me think that one of the worst things this virus is doing is causing mass panic like this. I really feel like we should be coming together but it seems like this is tearing many people apart instead.

(Just had to get that off my chest)

I live in the suburbs and we have a nice sidewalk in my neighborhood where people often jog/run/etc. so that’s definitely an option. And not many people live there so the social distancing shouldn’t be too hard/ I shouldn’t be putting anyone at any additional risk if I just walk and not super close to anyone.

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:53 am
by Sam W
I'm glad that suggestion is helpful!

I've had to adjust my social media use over the last few days, and I recommend it for people who have that option. I took the Twitter app of my phone for the time being and that's helped a LOT (but doesn't keep me form being able to do things like Twitter for work on my computer). It means that I have to go looking for information to answer a specific question, rather than being deluged with news and feelings because I'm sort of just fidgeting with my phone.

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:31 am
by thewrit3r
Yeah I deleted some apps but then sometimes I want to contact people so I don’t know how to do that lol. Maybe I’ll just give people my phone number and they can contact me there?

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:38 am
by Sam W
If you're comfortable with them having your number then that's definitely an option! I also know some people will leave messages saying what platforms they can be contacted on, or which ones they will be checking, even if it's not as frequently as they used to (it's kind of like when lots of people bailed of Tumblr after the new content rules; some people joined Discord, some became more active on Instagram things like that).

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:44 pm
by thewrit3r
Yeah that’s always an option. So I won’t be tempted to look on social media for more news that’ll just stress me out.

I’m feeling loads better. Thanks for listening :)

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Tue Mar 17, 2020 6:56 am
by Sam W
You're welcome! I'm glad it helped :)

Re: Loneliness from social distancing

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 5:00 pm
by Heather
How are you doing, thewrit3r? (I also have had some thoughts about what writers like Carson McCullers or Flannery O'Connor or Shirley Jackson would have made of all this, relatedly.)