We, as a country, are one week into our self-isolation bout. We have all had to adapt and change our lifestyles, some more than others. I’m here to give anyone who is seriously struggling some advice on how to cope with the loneliness, frustration and overall isolation.
In the last twelve months, I’ve had to go through two major surgeries on both my knees. Each time I had the surgery done I was bed-bound for an entire month. That meant that I spent two full months unable to walk, dance, run, shop or go to school. These surgeries were vital for my health, and there was no other option than to go along with them. There were many days when I lay in bed, leg in a brace, with no motivation to even turn on Netflix or call my friends. I would lie there in the dark, with a heavy weight on my chest, feeling useless and completely alone. Those two months were extremely hard for me, as I’m what you would call an ‘over-achiever’. I need to keep busy. I’m constantly going, from one meeting to the next, filling up my week with sports and arts and everything else you could think of. It was a nightmare to have to face the realisation that I would have to stop it all for a while and, basically, do nothing.
This is a similar reality that many of you are facing now. I was also distraught those first few weeks of medical self-isolation. But I learned some extremely important lessons from the quietness. Before, I was someone who valued her worth on what she achieved. If I wasn’t winning the debate or soccer match, then I simply didn’t matter. I placed my worth in physical achievements and numbers of goals scored or percentages gained in a test. Being isolated made me re-evaluate this. I realised that my worth didn’t lie in my achievements, and neither does yours. Worth and belonging lies in the lives you change, the help you give and the love you share. In a world where we are constantly pushed to be the best, it is hard to simply be.
But just being is enough! In this period of quarantine and isolation, you don’t have to push yourself to learn a new language or get those abs. It is enough to just ride this mess out, to live as well as you can, but as truthfully as you can. I gave myself permission to breathe, and this is your permission as well. Watch that Netflix show, scroll through Instagram, go for a leisurely walk and do what you must. By putting undue pressure on yourself you will spiral into a pit of guilt and self-loathing and end up worse than you started.
This is a hard time for everyone, but take it from the self-isolation expert, it doesn’t have to be the worst of times. It can just be time. And that’s okay, too.
By Izzy Tiernan