Glass windows can be as confining as iron bars when you want to be out in the world with friends and family.
Before Covid-19 struck I had lunch regularly with friends at restaurants or at our home in Tacoma’s Northend. Also, Peg and I and I had long standing dinner dates with friends on most Friday evenings followed by Sunday breakfast with some of those very same people as we visited restaurants from Browns Point to Vashon Island, Parkland, Hawk’s Prairie and many places in-between. This all came to a stand still when shelter-in-place measures were announced. At first this was no big deal, Peg and I have been living and working together for a long time. We enjoy each other’s company and it gave us time to watch movies either together or individually and then share commentary and sometimes re-watch the films together.
“What I love most about staying home to self-quarantine is who I share it with.” — Unknown
After a month or so, this changed. Although Peg and I still laughed and worked together, boredom set in. We picked up some new writing clients as well as marketing clients, which was a surprise given the fact that many businesses had to lock their doors. Even with clients to work with via phone and internet, I found myself working less . . . or sometimes just staring at the computer screen. Our Friday night friends group staged a friendly backyard late afternoon dinner, bringing our own dinner. We spaced ourselves out for dinner and then got a little more intimate for chatting. The eleven of us were in a rough circle from ten to thirty feet apart. We chatted and laughed, but the evening lacked the normal closeness and camaraderie. Usually we are sitting next to each other around the dinner table with the furthest person just four or five feet away across the table. There was no sharing of food or appetizers, and of course no hugging.
Peg and I had nice time, but even so, it seemed depressing. It does feel like loneliness, boredom and depression are taking its toll on us, or at least me. But, I don’t think we’re alone.
Before the isolation, my Friend Donn would call around 7:30 almost every Sunday morning to see if Peg and I were ready for breakfast. Although we don’t go out for breakfast any more now, that call still comes in every Sunday morning. The days of the week have lost much meaning, but that early morning call reminds me that it is Sunday. We laugh and share the latest news. The ring is a nice wake-up call about friendship and sharing. It cheers me up. The connection paves the way for sometime soon, when we can venture out into the world again.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. – adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
With the pandemic raging it is nearly impossible to schedule an in-person appointment with a medical doctor, however therapists are still available but you must call her or him and see how they are operating now. Depression is a serious mood disorder and it’s easy to see how the current worries and conflicting arguments can easily exacerbate the problem. It’s estimated that 16 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2019. 2020 is likely to spike the charts. – adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Therapist Emily Pattee of Denver says, “Life is hard. We all suffer. People today experience more stress, emptiness, anxiety, self-judgment, and depression than ever. . . Cultivating a healthy relationship to our emotions opens space for greater connection, confidence, and compassion. A healthy experience of our inner world also opens the way to tapping into the fullest expression of ourselves.”
A therapist is a trained and licensed mental health professional. Therapists help patients deal with mental and emotional issues like isolation, anxiety, and depression. Therapists work with people to develop plans for ongoing care to improve their lives as they cope with challenges and concerns. Janet Bent, a local therapist with offices in University Place and Olympia says, “Therapy is often short-term, focusing on specific changes or solutions to current concerns. Longer-term therapy focused on understanding and changing long-standing issues or patterns is sometimes appropriate for more deeply internalized difficulties.” – janetbentcounseling.com/
Worry, depression, and anxiety are as common among older adults as they are among the young. It’s amazing how fragile we all are.
Social distancing is difficult for people. It goes against our communication skills. We are used to being close to people. We see and react to facial expressions (smiles, frowns, a wink, etc.) and body language (a shrug of the shoulders, gestures, a dance step or two), and contact like a simple touch, pat, or hug.
“When we interact with other people, a lot of the meaning conveyed between two people is actually not conveyed in the actual words, but in nonverbal behavior.” — Chris Segrin, University of Arizona
Therapy is often short-term, focusing on specific changes or solutions to current concerns. Longer-term therapy focused on understanding and changing long-standing issues or patterns is sometimes appropriate for more deeply internalized difficulties. Anxiety and depression can claim anyone. One of our favorite comedian/actor/author funny man explains about being depressed.
“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.” — Stephen Fry
I also like these words of wisdom from Michelle Obama, “Whether an illness affects your heart, your arm, or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there shouldn’t be any distinction. We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should stop wallowing and get it together. We don’t consider taking medication for an ear infection something to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t treat mental health conditions any differently. Instead, we should make it clear that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength—and we should ensure that people can get the treatment they need.”
“In my solitude
You haunt me
With dreadful ease
Of days gone by
In my solitude
You taunt me
That never die”
This is a great song to listen to when you’re alone and lonely and want to just relax and think about what you value. In My Solitude composed by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Eddie DeLange and Irving Mills. I love this version by Ella Fitzgerald.
Covid-19 with the adoption of social distancing and isolation is testing the bonds that connect us to one another. Those bonds will remain. We may not see the end of the virus for some time, but we will overcome it and our feelings of solitude as we bind the bridges and gaps between friends, families and neighbors. Reaching out with phone calls, email, and social media can help protect all of us from social isolation and loneliness as we all stand against this virus. Let’s all help each other when we can and if not, then seek a little help when we need it. We’re not out of the woods, yet. Be prepared and face the new dawn here in Western Washington. The world may be a little different, but we’ll still be here . . . with our friends and family.