Isolation due to hurt or illness begins as soon as illness or injury prevents one from participating in activies of choice. The longer one is away from familiar activities the more isolated one can grow to feel. Isolation may become even more pronounced should it be decided one will likely never return to the previous activity of choice.
The persistent plant shown here could easily feel isolated amongst the stones
For me, my life revolved around the sport of curling and building up as much knowledge as possible over 25 years. When it was finally decided that my career in curling would have to end due to injury I cannot begin to describe the loneliness and sense of hopeless isolation this brought.
Suddenly the network of friends and colleagues I’d spent three quarters of my life building was roughly ripped away from me. Sure, I could visit, but I dreaded the questions and the looks of pity. I also dreaded simply being around what I couldn’t have. It was too painful. To this day there is a giant curling rock shaped hole in my heart.
Illness can also feel physically isolating. Once my back problems began to cause issues with low impact activities like walking, hiking, and biking, I began to feel isolated. I dreaded telling friends and family I couldn’t keep up or had to turn back earlier than planned.
Did my anxiety and depression develop just because of chronic pain? Probably not. Frankly, a lot of shit has gone down since my initial injury.
Chronic pain has definitely contributed to my mental illness. That is for sure. I find my mental illness to be isolating as well as it’s still somewhat taboo to talk about and can be difficult to understand if one hasn’t been there.
Others may empathize, in fact, empathy is the best we humans can hope to offer each other as we all have our burdens to bare. What of it when confronted by an individual with an inability to empathize? Is it worth trying to explain or should I just mutter something about my situation being complicated and hope the conversation drops? I’m not entirely sure but in recent years I’ve begun to tend towards the latter.
What has worked for me to combat isolation? I started taking art lessons and practicing at home as well. This gives me some sense of pride and accomplishment and I have started to make a few friends within that community.
I have started this blog and I find sharing my stories and feelings to be quite cathartic. I can only hope that my blog offers solace, insight, or a sense of understanding and/or camaraderie to readers.
I try to schedule at least one social outing a week along with my Dr’s appointments so I ensure I get out of the house for fun occasionally.
I try to schedule something outside my home almost every day, such as simple errands, and brief trips for groceries. This also combats isolation because I must leave home and dwell amongst the living for at least a little while each day.
Most importantly, when I begin to feel isolated I check my schedule and start calling friends and family. Sometimes we just talk and sometimes we make plans. Either way I begin to feel a lot less isolated and far better equipped to cope in general.