With the pandemic and social distancing, instead of venturing out, people might find themselves having to stay at home - to avoid contracting the virus. I'm sure social isolation is something we can all relate to now, especially after the last lockdowns. Social isolation is not having contact with other people, members of society, friends or family; not having social support systems or being housebound because of a condition.
Those who have a disability, long-term illness, are unemployed or older people can face this. Having a mental health condition, I find myself socially isolated. My illness is debilitating, therefore, I'm unemployed. Not working full-time makes me feel cut off from society. I'm usually alone and confined in my property. It's even harder to deal with social isolation when you have a mental health condition.
You have the condition to deal with, not to mention the loneliness that comes with it. Some people have lost their jobs during the pandemic and are having difficulties finding work. This has caused them to become anxious and socially isolated. I already suffer from anxiety, depression and isolation - so I can relate to this. Depression makes you want to withdraw from others and not seek support and connection. I also tend to worry about catching the virus, although meeting new people would help with social isolation.
However, I'm afraid to make new friends in case I'm stigmatised. So this defeats the object. During lockdown I couldn’t see my loved ones. My support system was gone. I used to meet with health professionals, but that was restricted to the telephone. Before I attended groups in a mental health centre, but this closed. I was isolated before lockdown, however, afterwards I became more isolated with no support.
Today I cope with social isolation by writing. Writing gets everything out of my system onto paper. Writing blog posts helps me to connect with others and find my voice. I don’t always write about mental health issues, but when I do, I feel others can identify with my writing and it helps prevent stigma. Writing therapy and journaling enables me to make sense of my world.
I look forward to speaking to someone every week in my telephone counselling sessions to get things off my chest. It's that extra support. My counsellor encourages me to find ways to cope with isolation and mental health. My faith in God helps. Having a higher power to turn to like a confidant and friend means not feeling so alone in this world especially during the pandemic. I try to meet my family and friends when I can.
I aim to start a pilates group locally and a writing group on Zoom to connect with others. If there were more resources, Government grants, activities coordinators, writing therapy groups and more access to therapy on the NHS; I think myself and others with mental health illness would not feel so socially isolated.
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.