Isolation, Coping, and Sewing

4DF5C63B-D053-45F4-8151-3C4DAF086344If anyone would have said at the beginning of the year that  we would all be spending weeks if not months isolating ourselves from each other and fighting over toilet paper I would have flat out laughed in their face, but here we are.

I’m not going to spend the time rehashing what’s going on out there, unless you just wandered out of the wilderness after months of being disconnected from the world.  If that’s the case, thank you for reading the blog, but you might want to go catch up on some news and come back later.

Jokes aside, all of us are going through varying levels of psychological trauma, a lot of things where thrown at us really quickly, and unless you completely disconnect from all media there’s no escaping the constant barrage of all things Covid-19.   I am by no means a mental health professional, but while many of us are trying to stay physically healthy, it’s just as important to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally.  I’m seeing the signs in too many of the people I care about through their social media behaviors, that people are beginning to struggle with the dramatic change in habits that have been forced on us.

I began the social distancing guidelines a little more than two weeks ago.  I’ve noticed my own anxiety levels going through the roof some days.  I’ve caught myself obsessing over the news feeds.  A few very unproductive work days.   I’ve had the sleepless nights, and multiple other symptoms that the fun general anxiety disorder I have has tried to take over, but this is something I’m very aware of in myself and if I recognize the issues early enough I can reign it back it before the physical panic kicks in; you know, the exciting stuff, like rapid heart rates, accelerated breathing, the urge to fight anything in the room, panic attacks are a blast.  I’ve had years of practice on managing this, so I’m a little ahead of the curve.

Just know one we’re all going through some scary shit right now and it’s okay to not be perfect.  The entire world is in a crisis, and will be for a while longer. We all have one job, stay healthy, and try to keep others healthy.

Take care of yourself and those in your household.  Make sure you eat, drink water, take your meds, get a little exercise.  Some areas are stricter on this than others get outside and get some fresh air and sunlight everyday, that action is a natural mood elevator.  Take a walk down the street (distance managed of course) or even just sit in your yard for a minute.   If you can’t get outside, at least open a window and sit by it for a bit.

If you are going through this with others in your household, there are going to be arguments, ugly things may get said.  Take a deep breath, and realize, that the hurtful things may have been fueled by stress and anxiety.  Only you know what your usual relationship dynamic is, but just because the world is scary right now, you do not need to tolerate an emotional of physically abusive relationship.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t make your current situation mirror your normal routines, and trying to force that on yourself may be doing more damage than good.  Although keeping a schedule is good, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it for one reason or another.  It’s okay to let a few things slide.  The current goal is just to make it through the other side of all this mess.

This is a big one for me, and probably a lot of the demographic that reads this jumble of words.  CREATE!  Literally anything creative is an amazing thing to do for your emotional health right now.  I’ve taken up sewing masks and cut way back on the knitting, for two reasons.  The first, to fulfill the need to create, and second, to fulfill the urge to help in some way.  Between the shortage at medical facilities and the evolving opinion that we should all be wearing masks when outside the safety of our homes, there’s no shortage of need.  I can’t sit at home and feel like I’m doing nothing, despite the fact that staying at home is actually doing something right now.

Stay in touch with your family and friends.  Text messages and phone calls aren’t as fulfilling as seeing people in person, but it’s better than completely isolating yourself from everyone.  Even the most introverted of introverts need human contact, we’re social animals.

If you find that you are feeling angry all the time, can’t make yourself get out of bed in the morning, aren’t sleeping at all, find yourself having extreme mood swings, or feel like you can’t keep doing this, by all means reach out to someone.  I know the medical community is swamped right now but call your doctor, call a mental health professional, there’s even online counseling services, or call the suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255) there is help out there.  Do not let your mental health put you physical health in danger.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind.

 

Weekends Unplugged

I hit a little bit of a breaking point yesterday.  Unfortunately, when I get stuck in a weather cycle that includes days of rain and thunderstorms I’ll inevitably develop a migraine and end up way more agitated over the smallest things than any human should be.  That was yesterday for me.  I skipped out on an event I had full intentions of going to, told everyone I was turning off my phone and hiding out until Monday.

I’m at the house, still in my PJs fresh from a long nap, uninterrupted by a house filled with bleeps and bloops. I spent the morning knitting and watching a couple of movies, dived into a book for a while, you know, the stuff introverty type people enjoy when they’ve finally hit their wall.

Silence is never an option in our lives, but it’s almost jarring when you notice just how often some bit of technology is making sounds and demanding your attention so often.

As much as I love technology’s ability to keep us all connected there are times I wish it wasn’t so simple.  There are days that a text message notification makes me want to throw my phone across the room.  It’s usually someone just typing the word “hi” as an opener to pry into the rest of my day, and at times that feels so intrusive it will make me angry. Then god forbid you don’t reply fast enough, there are people that insist on continuing the intrusion again by either texting again or calling with ‘is everything okay you didn’t answer?’ causing further annoyance.  It’s probably just a quirky introvert issue, but it’s still an issue.  It also is likely a failure on my part to place boundaries on the repeat offenders.  I felt it a little sad that I had to announce on a certain social media page that I need a quiet day, and even then, that isn’t fully respected by some.  I’ve picked up my phone twice today to see a handful of messages from people that obviously didn’t see or willfully ignored my request for a quiet day, and a few that were legitimately passing along info that I needed for the week that knew I wouldn’t be responding.

So yes, I’m bitching a bit, so on to other things.

An unplugged weekend may turn into a permanent affair.  When I see that usage stats notification come through on my phone, my skin crawls and I feel utterly disappointed with myself.  Despite feeling like I don’t waste a great deal of time dicking around on my phone, the actual numbers say otherwise.  I waste 15-20 hours a week on a tiny screen that does nothing to improve my life.  I should be wasting that time reading, crafting, sleeping (poking at a screen until the wee hours happens more than I like), learning something new, actually going out and doing something, on and on and on.  I’ve also been struggling with feeling like the weekends are stolen by chores and errands.  Maybe reclaiming some of those 15-20 hours a week and actually taking care of things would give me the weekends back.

rs_560x415-150107143918-1024.Oregon-Trail-Game-MS-Dos.jl.010715I’m feeling a little nostalgic of my early adulthood years. I’m an Xennial, the Oregon Trail generation, that odd little age group that doesn’t quite fit Gen X or the Millennials. In fact, being called a millennial at times feels like an insult.  I remember the dark ages before the internet and before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket. At 18 there was access to the internet, cell phones were finally getting to pocket sized, texting was an option for those of us that didn’t feel the need to get drawn into a phone conversation, and those were brief (T9 was a bitch), and social media wouldn’t begin to become a factor in our lives until 2003.  I’m not going to lie, there’s been a few times today when I’ve fought the urge to check the social media networks to see what’s going on.  It’s not a secret that I’ve felt social media holds too much real estate in our minds, and I’ve struggled with the idea of disconnecting from it entirely.  I haven’t because I feel like there is actually risk that I would lose contact with people I care about because they are so entrenched, that contacting others outside FB, twitter, instagram and the myriad of others is no longer on their radar.

So if I feel forced to participate I can at least have better control of it.  I’m going to experiment for a bit, beginning Friday nights after I get in for the evening I’ll log out of the whole mess until Monday morning.  But that all comes down to one thing, do I have the self control to keep it up, or am I too sucked into this mess to do it on a routine basis. This is were it all wraps up today.  I’m going to go cook a nice dinner, and go back to the book I’m reading.  What do you guys think? Am I alone in feeling this way, or is this a problem for you too?