What isolation looks like from a depressed introvert’s perspective…
The world is in the middle of a pandemic. We are all isolated in our homes. When people ask me how I’m doing, I say “well not much has changed for me”, but that isn’t true. Yes, I still go to work because I am a nurse. Yes, I am still doing all my school work. Yes, I am still caring for my kids. So it may not look like anything is different, but it is.
I don’t have “my” people anymore. I can still talk with them and meet up online and “see” them. But I can’t physically be in the same room with them. I can’t sit in a coffee shop and laugh and unload and pray. I don’t get that connection that I try to say I don’t need, but I secretly crave.
So how have things changed for me? I am tired. Deep down in my soul weary. I am a caregiver to my children 24/7 and then I am a caregiver to the loved ones of others. I am drained. I can feel the darkness creeping in. I can hear the voices telling me to give up. I can feel the pressure to curl up in my bed and do nothing.
But I am not going down without a fight. I will dance and worship in my living room (even if I’m in my PJs) with all my fellow King’s church family as we do church in this new way. I will reach out to my people and connect online even if for a moment. I will hug my kids and remind myself that they truly are a blessing. I will push myself to “un”isolate in whatever way that I can and I will make it through to the other side of all of this.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
What isolation looks like from a hyperactive extrovert’s perspective…
Social distancing is a little different for me. It started with the local schools closing. My place of employment was still planning on being open, so I geared up to maintain and much normalcy for my family as possible. Then it was announced that extracurricular activities were suspended. Then my workplace was ordered to close. Then all of the socially interactive things I do were suspended. This was within a two-day period.
Things for me have changed drastically. I won’t even try to convince you that I don’t need that interaction with “my” people. My energy stores are used up and replenished by being around people. Interacting with people. Enjoying people. Laughing with people. Loving on people. Praying with people.
Now, I have nowhere for my energy to go. Don’t get me wrong, I am making the most of my newfound family time, and the chance to just stop and rest for a minute. But, dare I say it, I feel trapped. Stuck may be a better word. But I have a store of energy that has nowhere to go. No activities, no daily comings-and-goings to naturally keep my energy in check. What does that do? The best way I can describe it is like a ball of yarn that is hiding under the bed. You can see just the end of the yarn peeking out from underneath, so you try to reach under the bed to get it. But you can’t reach it. So you think ‘if I can pull the string gently, it will just roll out’. But it starts to unravel more. And then you try to pull a little harder to “trick it”, but to no avail. More unravelling. Eventually, you have a whole lot of yarn bunched in your hands and no neat and tidy ball.
That’s where I’m sitting right now. A giant mess of tangled yarn that’s waiting for someone to roll me back up into a nice little ball.
So how do I deal with that? I have capitalized on my superpower of hyper-focus as I do some behind-the-scenes volunteer work. I have the gift of song, so I sing worship songs. A lot of worship songs. I am practicing the ukulele (don’t laugh – it’s gonna make a comeback). I have used social media to keep connected with ‘my’ people. I have become versed in the art of online meeting spaces. On Sundays, we watch church online as a family. I walk my dog (poor guy won’t want me to go back to work). I work to bring joy to others any way I can. I do things with my family – although I will admit that my pent up energy isn’t always their cup of tea. Basically, the social interaction I need looks very different now. I’m getting used to this strange new world, but I won’t ever feel comfortable in it.
One of the most important things that helps me through this time of uncertainty is my relationship with Jesus. I talk to him all day long. Let me repeat that. I talk to God all day long. I give him all of my racing thoughts, all of my worries and concerns, all of my sadness and pain. I ask Him to hold me up as I navigate this socially distant world that seems ‘out to get me’ at times. I ask him to guide me through my next steps. And I praise Him.
And then He starts to turn my mess into that nicely wound ball of yarn again.