Navigating The Struggle Of Isolation

Navigating The Struggle Of Isolation

It’s very easy to feel out of step in this strange world we are all becoming accustomed to. We miss those cherished activities that we can no longer do as well as crave the warmth of being close to family and friends. I personally, have felt the struggles COVID-19 has brought throughout this second lockdown in Victoria like not being able to see my family and friends, fighting feelings of boredom, anxiety and stress as well as feeling trapped within the four walls of my home.

At the start of this pandemic I considered myself lucky. My job as an essential healthcare worker kept me active and alert, without much of a change to my day to day routine. Of course, there were the little things I missed like catching up with friends, going to the movies as well as having the freedom to sit down in a café and enjoy my regular hot chocolates. I reminded myself that all these restrictions were only temporary.

July was a difficult month for me. My friend Paige who had been fighting Brain Cancer lost her long battle. Watching her funeral online was a strange experience. I remember feeling devastated as I was cheated out my chance to say goodbye to her. For days, I was resentful that this pandemic had taken away her chance to travel one last time as well as feeling bitter that she didn’t get to have the big send-off she so lovingly deserved. I felt like I couldn’t mourn her properly and was unable to comfort my friends with a simple hug or kiss.

The rise in cases made my work in the Emergency Department busier and more stressful. There was a level of fear in the community from the surge in rising numbers and I even feared I might catch COVID-19. Behind it all, I was mad at those people I saw on the news who refused to wear face masks and those who rejected abiding by the restrictions in order to combat this virus. I was frustrated by the people I saw out in public who were not socially distancing. I hated how quiet my life had become from social isolation. I missed making candles with my sister and felt disheartened when I couldn’t catch up with my friends via video call. Ultimately, I was upset at this virus and wanted someone to blame.

I tried to keep myself occupied by going for walks when I could, cleaning up around the house, reading as much as I could and there was always the constant addiction to online (window) shopping. The thought finally sunk in as we entered Stage 4 Lockdown that fighting COVID-19 wasn’t going to be a race – it would be a marathon. I learned to accept that the next day, the next month, potentially even the next year, will be really hard.

I took it upon myself to create a new bucket list for 2020 throughout the Stage 4 Lockdown, a COVID-19 Bucket List to keep myself occupied during this uncertain time. Creating this bucket list was a fun exercise and helped me feel less separated from the outside world as well as helped me navigate the coming weeks in lockdown.

Some of the things on my COVID-19 Bucket List included activities like learn something new, write more of my novel and block out the fine details, create my 2019 Europe photo album, reminisce on old photos over FaceTime with my family and finally write a letter to myself to open in the future.

Reminiscing on old photos helped me feel closer to my family. Looking through my Europe photos to create a photo album allowed me to reflect on my travels and feel grateful that I had had the opportunity to experience the different cultures of the world. Signing up for guitar lessons was such an exciting moment as I’ve wanted to learn the instrument for some time. This list of activities gave me something to look forward to each week in isolation.

Despite stores and schools being closed, there is a whole avenue of online classes waiting at the tips of our fingers. You could learn that thing you’ve been subconsciously thinking about. If you’re missing your friends, make a scrapbook or video of all the adventures you’ve shared together. Send a copy to them as a surprise! Or restyle your bedroom and house by moving furniture around or adding some new wall decal. It will make your surroundings feel new and more exciting as opposed to feeling like you’re trapped. Plan adventures you would like to do after lockdown is over. Make a backup plan for your adventures too as life is unpredictable.

Ultimately, make your own personal COVID-19 Bucket List to keep you occupied during this pandemic.

I often try to think when I’m feeling overwhelmed, how my friend Paige would handle this situation. Paige was someone who was so bright and optimistic even throughout battling cancer during COVID-19. I look up to her and try to model her positive influence and resilience throughout the challenges of isolation and lockdown. This pandemic is not going to be easy but if we chip away piece by piece with resilience like Paige would, we will eventually see the finish line and make it through this marathon. We will see the semblance of life before this pandemic slowly slip into place.

Know that it’s okay to mourn the activities and plans you had for 2020 but try not to dwell on them. It is also ok to feel lonely and scared. Know that others are feeling the same way as you. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to reach out to someone, please contact the Headspace 24-hour hotline on 1800 650 890.

Emma Scully has completed several short courses in writing and drama. She is passionate about creative writing in the world of film and has experience working in television as well as theatre. When she isn't working in Emergency, she is reading as much as she can and working on her upcoming fantasy novel.

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