Surviving isolation

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

It’s really not a great time to be an extrovert at the moment. Many people out there are struggling with these new rules about social isolation. People are regularly posting on social media about how it’s driving them crazy, or angry, and how much this new normal really sucks. But what many fail to realise is that there are some who have been forced to deal with unintended social isolation long before the existence of COVID.

For those like me; who live with a progressive, physical condition; isolation has been a part of our lives for sometime, and will continue to be a part of our lives long after the rest of the world has forgotten about what they had to do to survive this pandemic. For most, once this is over, and social gathering restrictions are relaxed around the world, they can go back to their normal routine of going to work and then going out – eating, dancing, socialising, partying, whatever they want to do. For me, it’s not that simple.

While I am able to do some of those things, sometimes, there are many more logistical issues to consider, and those issues are regularly changing due to the progressive nature of my condition. It’s like playing a board game, and every time you finally figure out the rules, the rules completely change and you have to go back to square one. Sometimes, these issues will become too overwhelming, and then despite my desire to go out and be social, I won’t be able to. Yes, technically it’s a choice for me not to go, but it doesn’t feel like a choice at the time. Also, sometimes it’s worse, and the pain and exhaustion is too much that you can’t face going. Also, sadly, sometimes it isn’t a choice and you are physically unable to do what all your friends are doing, but you don’t want to stop them as you know they love doing it and you used to love it too. These are some incredibly emotional and disheartening conversations to have with yourself. On top of all this, thanks to FOP, I have more limited energy nowadays and have to prioritise conserving that energy for my job.

As a result, I’ve needed to learn some coping mechanisms. And I thought that some of these mechanisms might be useful to others, as we adapt to these unusual times with everyone isolated.

Photo by Donovan Valdivia on Unsplash
  1. Do things that bring you joy – even if it’s small – and find a creative outlet. Every couple of days, I like to pamper myself with a nice face mask, pop on a guilty pleasure TV show and relax. Kind of like my version of meditation. Find yours. I’ve heard of people at the moment starting to bake or cook, or pick their paintbrush back up, for the first time in ages. I’ve heard of some starting to learn knitting or a new language; I even have a friend who’s started DJing. Clothes are still one of my creative outlets, but that has become less important as nowadays I go from daytime pyjamas to nighttime pyjamas almost every day. But I can still get a bit dressed up sometimes, like when I put on some of my usual clothes to have a Skype catch up with friends. I didn’t have to, and they probably didn’t notice, but I did it for myself. It brought some semblance of normalcy and joy for me. The point is, whatever you think would work for you, give it a go. And if you don’t have one already, try something new. It looks like we’ll be living like this for awhile, so try out as many new things as you can until you find your ‘thing’!
  2. While it certainly can’t replace actual, in-person contact with other people, there are more options now than ever before to help you reach out to people and stay in touch with friends, colleagues and loved ones. With Facebook, Instagram, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, and any other number of mediums to do so, don’t forget to maintain your relationships. Also, if you do live with someone, be kind to them as you’ll probably be stuck together in social isolation for awhile. For me, this is giving my sister a small glimpse into my struggles. Also, I know some of what she’s struggling with adapting to this new norm, as I had to adapt the same way long ago. This gives me more empathy when she’s having a bad day. If you and your partner/friend/roommate are both new to this, remember that you’re both facing some of the same struggles. Be quick to forgive each other if you hit a road bump, try not to take it out on them if you’re having a bad day (as chances are they might be too), and don’t forget to make time to spend together. Like over this past weekend, when my sister and I spent ages playing games on the Wii together (things that make you both laugh are encouraged in this instance!).
  3. Finally, I read a post the other day that really resonated with me. Staying positive isn’t about being outwardly happy all the time. That would be a miracle for anyone! But don’t lose hope that better days are coming. I’ve found my hope wavering of late, because it has been just so much to deal with, with my physical disability continuing its relentless claim over my independence and taking so much from me the last few years. But I haven’t given up yet. Hope can be a tiny little ray or, for some people it may come more easily. However much you have, hold onto it dearly. There is still magic and beauty left in the world, and better days will come soon enough. Be patient.

Hopefully you find some of these tips helpful! Don’t hesitate to reach out.

33 thoughts on “Surviving isolation

  1. Thank you for your really insightful thoughts Ollie!! I love the thought of you getting a bit glammed up for a Zoom call with friends or colleagues 🙂 xx

  2. A great post Ollie! Well done for highlighting the challenges many of our community have been facing for years, and for offer practical ideas to get through the hour, day, week or month.

  3. Great insight Ollie, I especially loved the last paragraph, people tend to forget we are supposed to feel all our emotions, just not stay in them. And you are so right about hanging onto those rays! Keep it coming!

  4. Hey Ollie you write so beautifully- you may have found your calling- why don’t you start designing a range of day pjs and night pjs – I would buy them. Love you!

  5. Good read Ollie.
    I am merely the mumma of an FOPer but I hear you when you talk about how this has been your normal for quite some time. It has made me relentlessly angry that I am now supposed to ‘stay home’ in a show of solidarity for everyone else, but we have been living this struggle for some time, with no solidarity.
    I am really struggling with the word ‘hope’ at the moment. I don’t feel like I have any.
    Big love to you.

    1. I know the struggle Talia. I know hope can get a little lost sometimes, and there are definitely moments when it seems like a lonely journey that nobody else can understand. This current situation is giving others but a small glimpse into your struggles, but every small glimpse helps with overall understanding. And with Facebook and all these other sites out there to connect us all, there are always people like us around the world to reach out to when you need help! Lots of love to you and the family. Stay strong 💪

  6. Keep up your gutsy attitude Ollie , the so called normal people can be whimpers when faced with restrictive conditions . Where as we don’t realise yourself and others with medical conditions that this current situation can be just the norm . Keep up blogging , looking forward to more . Lots of love and admiration Peter and Marie Pillar ( sailing buddies ) .

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read Marie and Peter. And that you for your comment ❤️ Hope you’re keeping well in these crazy times! Lots of love

  7. Hi Ollie
    Haven’t seen you for many years but being a good mate of your old man have followed your progress closely.
    Love the blog and your inspirational positivity.
    Look forward to reading more.
    Marty MAHER

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, Marty. And thank you for your comment. Hope you and the family are all keeping well in these crazy times!

  8. Thank you for your insightful writing Ollie- I love how you practise gratitude each and every day – I think we all need to be reminded to do that at times- especially at the moment x. I look forward to reading more of your blogs x

    1. Thanks so much for reading Wendy, and for your comment 😊 hope you and your family are all staying safe and well at the moment!

  9. Hi Ollie
    Great blog and great tips- Thankyou. Your positive acceptance is always inspirational. I love silver linings too – congratulations on continuing to seek them out. Jammie design a great idea- count me inif you are looking for support with a new venture!

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Clare. Glad you enjoyed it! Will keep you posted on the daytime PJ range 😛

  10. Hi Ollie. Thank you so much for sharing what’s going on for you; your “ normal” life and the ways you and Ellie are adapting to these “unprecedented” ( every politician’s favourite word at the moment ) times .Such a great read and a good reminder to stay positive and connected.
    Much love xx

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Robyn! Lots of love and hope you and the family are staying well xx

  11. Always so humble Ollie and honest in such a down to earth way. Hope you won a couple of those Wii games . You do share the Collins competitive genes after all!

    1. Thanks for reading Marguerita, and for your comment. The competitive genes definitely didn’t skip this generation!

  12. We stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking at your web page again. Yetta Jeremie Judy

  13. I actually wanted to write a small word to express gratitude to you for the fantastic pointers you are placing here. My rather long internet search has finally been rewarded with pleasant information to share with my visitors. I would point out that we readers actually are truly fortunate to live in a very good community with very many brilliant professionals with useful hints. I feel quite blessed to have discovered your webpages and look forward to some more fun moments reading here. Thanks a lot once more for a lot of things. Berna Donovan O’Hara

  14. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

  15. whoah this blog is fantastic i really like reading your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You understand, lots of persons are
    hunting round for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  16. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and
    find almost all of your post’s to be exactly I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content
    for yourself? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on many
    of the subjects you write related to here.
    Again, awesome site!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.