April 7, 2020

675 words 4 mins read

My first four weeks in isolation

My first four weeks in isolation

About 4 weeks ago I decided to self-isolate for 14 days after coming back from a trip to London, because I felt a bit tired and run down. I wasn’t particularly concerned or anything, but I wanted to be extra cautious, especially for the vulnerable people around me.
The second day, I set up my monitor and keyboard in the living room, still thinking this will be over in 2 weeks. I remember vividly my husband saying, “Yeah, you’re gonna be here for a while, better get comfortable”. I was still in the “fun sleepover” stage, experimenting a bit with live-streaming, getting more engaged with my online communities. It all felt easy and hopeful, like we were happily and voluntarily embarking on a new era of human existence.
Mentally, I knew I had to prepare to be confronted with my issues more often and more intensely than under normal circumstances and I was (subconsciously) planning avoidance strategies and bracing myself for a mental breakdown.

My second week in self-isolation it started dawning on the world, how dire the situation actually was. Restaurants, bars and offices shut down.
I was finishing about one bottle of wine a day (I still maintain that most were whites so it wasn’t that bad!) and was struggling to just keep up with what was happening. Things at work were moving fast, way too fast for me to keep up. I had constant video calls with colleagues, members from different communities, friends… Each day I probably spent 2-3h of my awake time not in a video call.
And despite all this, I felt as unproductive as ever.
Since it was clear, that this situation was not going to change for the better any time soon, I decided that I needed a routine to get me through the weeks to come. I had stopped exercising since coming back, and I knew this was a big factor in my downward mood spiral.

Anxiety written out in wooden scrabble tiles
Anxiety was just one of the issues I was dealing with

So at the top of week 3, I started a new exercise routine: Running three times a week, alternating with home workouts four times a week. Instantly, I noticed how exercising in the morning gave me a real boost in morale and how I was feeling about myself during the day. I was euphoric, beyond proud of myself and sure that not only was I going to survive, but I was going to thrive during this. I, again, made a billion plans on how to spend this time productively and got really into cooking and makeup.
This also did not last long.
Then it hit me. My problem was, that I still was avoiding. I was avoiding myself this whole time. I was avoiding the emotional black hole that we are all carrying around with us.
I realised that I didn’t have to be afraid of it, that it’s a part of me that is both good and bad And I realised that I should be glad, I get to spend this time really getting to know myself, dealing with my issues in the safety of my own home.
This is a chance for me to understand where and how my “issues” have helped me and where they kept me from achieving what I wanted.

So here I am at the end of week 4 and I feel… normal.
I’m not as depressed as I was in week 2 (I’m down to 2 bottles a week, which I think is a reasonable amount given the circumstances) and not as euphoric as I was last week. I still haven’t managed to really stick to my exercise routine, skipping one or two workouts a week.
Nevertheless, I feel like I have found my new balance for now. A mental state that I can keep up for weeks or months if needed. But I also know that it could (and it will) change with no notice or reason.
But that’s okay, that’s just one more opportunity for me to take care of myself.