I know last week I said not to panic. That’s still good advice.
But I’m really struggling. I miss my job at the restaurant. I miss going to church. Bible Study. University. Buying an iced tea for a friend and myself. And I’m panicking.
Every time someone has messaged me to ask how I’m coping, I have felt so overwhelmed. Every video call I’ve been on, including my class tutorials, I have shed a tear at seeing and hearing the people I miss so dearly. It’s really difficult for me to find motivation to write essays and grant applications from my desk or dining table. Every morning I wake up with a pit of loneliness in my stomach.
I still have so many good things – I’m allowed to leave the house to go to work. I have the resources to study online. I have social media to stay in contact with the people I love. I don’t live alone but I have my siblings and parents with me. I’ve used this extra time at home to completely clean out my wardrobe and fix my chest of drawers that has been broken for months.
This is culture shock. I haven’t travelled anywhere to immerse myself in a new culture, but this is what is happening to most people’s brains right now in the transition to a socially distanced world. And the symptoms include sadness, frustration, depression, anxiety, hopelessness on one hand, and delirium, mania and hyperactivity on the other. I’m out of the denial stage now. I can see that I can’t live the same way I used to. I still have to learn though, as we all do.
We can’t expect to just flip a switch and adjust to this new way of life without hiccups. This is a real lifestyle change for everyone. Yes even the introverts. They may feel they aren’t allowed to complain because they’re supposed to like isolation, but this is different to just staying in on a Saturday night.
Everyone is struggling right now. It will take some time before we all adjust. And that is fine. That is to be expected. We don’t need to pretend we’re all just fine. It is okay to admit that this is difficult.
Keep checking up on each other. I can’t recommend video calls highly enough – it is so much more connected that texting. Watch movies together over a call. Have a dance party listening to the same radio station or playlist.
We may feel as if we’re losing our minds – but if we look for them together at least we won’t be lonely. A search party is far more effective than looking alone. Lean on each other and stay in contact. Keep your physical distance yes, but increase your closeness in other ways.