The physical disconnection from other people can be unnerving and leave you feeling empty and, well, lonely.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GLOBE
When news of the enhanced community quarantine broke, I was in a weird in-between state of disbelief and anxiety. The emotional limbo of being in a surreal situation (I mean wow, a global pandemic?) was a sobering mix of fears and concerns. Each day we spend in isolation slowly strips any semblance of normalcy away. It’s hard to deny the troubling thoughts that creep up on me when the decision to stay indoors isn’t really my decision.
At this point, staying at home is imperative, but the uncertainty it brings (When will I see my friends again? Was the last time we met actually going to be the last? Why do I feel so listless?) can get overwhelming.
This physical disconnection from other people can be unnerving and leave you feeling empty and, well, lonely. It doesn’t help that daring to discuss loneliness at a time like this brings with it a tinge of guilt. Unlike everything else that can immediately be identified as a problem, quarantine loneliness is an insidious issue.
During those gaps between the songs on your playlist, the silence that confronts you when the movie on your laptop ends, the bit of time it takes to wait for you to boil water for that next packet of instant ramen—those are all opportunities for the silent spaces to be filled with anxious thoughts.
But I realized that by shutting myself down with feelings of guilt, I was allowing those troubling thoughts to get louder. Letting them simmer at the back of my mind proved worse than confronting them and learning to cope. I have since realized that the first step to dealing with these emotions is being honest enough with yourself to acknowledge that those feelings are real.
Letting them simmer at the back of my mind proved worse than confronting them and learning to cope.
I was not weak for being anxious three weeks ago. I am not weak now for grieving. Acknowledging that has allowed me to function and be proactive, rather than feeling paralyzed by uncertainty.
By being honest with myself, I made room for sincere conversations with other people. I could openly message friends and tell them I needed to talk to someone. I decided to make an effort to reconnect with more friends during this time than I would have before this all happened. Thankfully, they responded with the same openness and candor. I found that my feelings of loneliness and loss weren’t manifestations of selfishness. Everyone, at one point, is mired in these same feelings of loneliness I’ve come to dread.
Instead of pressuring myself to work on creative projects or focus on being productive, by acknowledging my loneliness I gave myself permission to take steps to address it.
Everyone, at one point, is mired in these same feelings of loneliness I’ve come to dread.
Now is the time to reach out to family. At the end of each day, do yourself a favor and call your mom. For both your sakes. (Also useful if you’ve been boiling your eggs wrong for the past three weeks in isolation.)
For those who have family issues or are stuck in an unwelcome family environment, I see you. This is tough. Know that there are supportive online communities out there through Facebook groups, subreddits and even Twitter fandoms. Find your safe space. Connect with friends who understand your situation.
During times you don’t have anyone to talk to, try to get comfortable with solitude. It can be difficult, especially if you’re extroverted and find spending days holed up in your room restrictive. But finding indoor activities to make up for your outdoor experiences can help you adjust to the new normal.
My most effective indoor practice is a little weird coming from someone who makes a living in a creative industry—but please, go make ugly shit. I’m talking dumb, would-never-post, ugly ass shit.
Go draw or take photos on your phone and let them be ugly. Write a poem that no editor would accept. Paint with no intention of making it post-worthy on Instagram. No pressure.
Otherwise, give yourself permission to play that game, read that comic or watch that film. I’m not talking about the media you need to consume for study either. Yes, you finally have time to stream that Lav Diaz classic, but if your brain wants mindless B-movie entertainment don’t try to fight it either. You owe it to yourself to not add any pressure to be productive. We did enough of that pre-pandemic.
Please, go make ugly shit. I’m talking dumb, would-never-post, ugly ass shit.
Finding volunteer groups and NGOs to support and donate allows you to emerge from this bubble of helplessness. On days staying at home can feel frustrating, this can help remind you that flattening the curve is the best thing you can do right now.
Those silent moments, now and again, still creep up on me. But knowing what they are and familiarizing myself with how to deal with them has made me feel less alienated and a little more at home.
Check out the video below to watch how being apart is keeping us together. Hopefully, it helps you too.
Staying #SafeAtHome might have its own set of troubles, but your feelings are valid. There are people you can reach out to and ways to stay connected. Learn more at globe.com.ph