Isolation and Insanity

A little over a month into self-imposed isolation and the insanity is creeping in. At what point will we ever escape? What will our mental health look like on the other side? What will my mental health look like in the interim?

Some of these questions, only time will answer. Others are highly subjective and largely up to the observer to decide. However, on the topic of mental health, some evidence is emerging that there are some of us not relishing this time. Normally, I'm somewhat of an introvert. I like my own company, and I enjoy indulging in the hobbies I find interesting. For many years, I have regulated my social contact to maintain a degree of comfort when I do choose to be out and about, engaging with others. This works well for me.

Enter COVID19. I am now confronted with the reality, that even if I WANT to interact with others, outside my family, I am not permitted to do so. I completely understand the reasoning behind it; heck we're studying pathophysiology this semester and the first essay I wrote was on COVID19! However, the loss of the ability to interact in person with others is unsettling. I hear the chorus of "but there's video chat etc"! Yes. You're right. Now superimpose it over my background with 20+ years experience in the technology industry. There is no novelty factor, and I am acutely aware of the limitations, frustrations and tiring etiquette required for video conferencing. I'd rather just have a phone call, or even better, send me an email. This is a personal choice, and I understand that, but when the technology causes more stress than the stress it is attempting to relieve, its usefulness is largely negated.

I miss my friends. I miss the unstructured banter which evolves over a glass of wine and some cheese. I miss the advice, counsel, disagreement and challenge we all share when discussing topics of substance. Social media can be a useful forum for supplementing those conversations but when that medium turns toxic, forcing my complete withdrawal, the sense of separation from normality becomes even more acute. I had written a rather wordy, and veiled, explanation of why I am taking this hiatus from social media, but the situation and the people involved, are not worth the effort. Regardless, here I am, basically completely cut off from everyone barring my wife and children. It is, what it is.

Right now, I'm supposed to be writing an essay pertaining to a case study for my acute care subject. This is an important assignment, but I just can't seem to find the motivation, or clarity of thought to get started today! I'm hoping smashing out a short reflective blog post might warm the old think pudding up. However, this is becoming more common for me. Previously (pre-COVID19) I could slide out of bed, caffeinate the brain cells, and then go 110% until dinner time. Now, there are days I struggle to even look at my study calendar to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing! Why? People who know me, often use terms like "determined", "driven", "unstoppable", or "conscientious" when describing the way I approach tasks, goals or problems. So why is it, at the moment, I can barely get my head in the game?

If anyone has read this far, thank you :) If anyone is worried about me, please don't be; I'm ok, in a general sense, but there's some specific areas that I'm finding challenging but not impossible. However, if I've raised anything which has highlighted something you need to talk to someone about, please reach out (in Australia) to the likes of Lifeline, Beyond Blue, or in NSW, the Mental Health Line.


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