Covid-19 has given us all a new experiment in living. We are all (or most of us) trying to maintain social distances, wear masks, and wash our hands for twenty seconds. As the weeks and months have passed, we have gotten better at this. We now automatically make more space when we pass people on the sidewalk, have spare masks in our purses and cars, and we know how to hum a twenty-second song.
Family members have had to adjust to keeping their distance from seniors, and seniors have had to adjust to keeping their distance from grandchildren. It hasn’t been easy, but we have tried. After all, we don’t want to catch the virus or give it to others, especially those we care about.
For those of us who live alone, though, this has brought our isolation into sharp focus. Single people of all ages now find themselves more cut off from interaction than they ever expected. Even if we enjoy our solo lifestyles, we all still need a hug now and then.
My own living situation is semi-solo. The in-law suite that is my home is in the same building as one of my sons and his family, so I have more human contact than other solos enjoy. Even so, I count myself among the isolated, and sometimes it gets to me.
Yesterday was one of those days. I have been living with a mild form of depression for about thirty-five years, and most of the time it isn’t a problem. I have a medication that works for me and that does not cause ill effects, for which I am thankful. In the last few weeks, though, I have found myself sinking lower, emotionally-speaking.
The insidious thing about depression is that it creeps up on you. I know what I need to do to reset the balance; go for walks, get some sunshine, do something creative, talk to someone, write, volunteer, find something to amuse me. Any one or more of those activities usually gets me out of the dark place. What the Covid-19 isolation has shown me, though, is how much I need to be around other people occasionally because otherwise those dark places can become black.
Simple things like taking the bus or going out for lunch are now too difficult. They are not off-limits exactly, but they are more trouble than I care to engage in. Just being around other people, even if I don’t talk to them, is something I miss very much. In any case, a lot of the places I would go to be around people are still closed.
Yesterday when I was out for a walk, someone who was sitting on their front porch greeted me as I passed. We chatted briefly from a safe distance and I thanked them for saying “hello.” At one point, I explained that I get to talk to only one or two people a day, and on this day they were one of those people. I realized as I walked away that I just identified a problem in my life.
Later, I went online to see if I could find a psychologist nearby that I could talk to about this. As I perused a suitable website, however, I realized that I didn’t know what my psychological problem was. It didn’t seem to fit into any of the identifiable categories that they listed. Covid-19 isolation isn’t listed in the standard reference books.
Mostly, I just wanted someone to talk to who wasn’t a close friend or family member. As much as I love them all, I think I need a non-judgemental stranger right now. I don’t want my family or friends to feel responsible or guilty for my state of being. It’s all down to me and the choices I have made, and one of those choices has been to live solo.
Even if I find a psychologist to talk to, I will keep going for walks, writing, and doing whatever I can to keep my mind and mood afloat. If anyone reading this is living a similarly isolated life, I just want you to know you are not alone in whatever you are thinking right now. There are many of us doing whatever we can to keep those demons at bay. Remember, this is temporary. It’s just taking longer than we thought it would to get through it.