Day One Isolation
So, I live with my two kids, both with their very own traits and anxieties (like everyone). My daughter, the younger, suffers from major depressive disorder and CPTSD (which is as complex as it sounds). Getting together to celebrate my son’s 20th birthday, it turns out he has been exposed to someone with COVID 19 at work. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be too concerned because we are pretty healthy and not in the age-bracket of concern but we do spend a lot of time with my ageing parents and my younger sister who is going through chemo; and I do live with cancer. So, there are a lot of people with challenged immune systems around us. You might ask why any of this matters. We could go into isolation like everyone; but we are descendants from an eastern European family! And that means we do everything together. At times this can get a bit intense but, on the whole, it makes our immediate family of three so much bigger and richer. For me not to see my sister while she is going through chemo is not an option. I will happily isolate so that I can see her and be there for her while she goes through this challenge. The obvious answer is for my daughter and me to go into 14 days of isolation.
Luckily, we have the opportunity to do this at my parents’ home in the country rather than our apartment in Sydney. I thought being in the country, in our own place next to my parents would make it a breeze. How wrong I was!
I thought to make it a success all we’d need would be exercise, food and something to do. We can both do our work from home [✔︎]. My daughter’s Uni work, like mine (I am designing the next episodes of Woven Threads), can travel via the internet. Exercise is easy, a whole 120 acres of possibility. We started the day, according plan, with a walk around the property. Well, not really ‘around’ the property more like ‘around’ the garden. So it was not a very big walk because my daughter doesn’t really like walking (she says her knees don’t like walking), but being optimistic I thought we were doing pretty well to amble around the garden. Anyone who lives with a person with mental health issues knows that even these small things can actually be extremely difficult.
When I moved to my parents’ home I thought we were so lucky that we wouldn’t be holed up in a unit. But I’m quickly coming to the realization that we are going to need a variety of exercise options; I’m pretty sure walking will be out the window even before the end of the first week. (I re-found the 7 minute app I had downloaded some time ago. I can see that is going to be extremely handy).
Watching my daughter begin to take on the look of a caged animal as the day went on got me thinking that it’s the idea of not being able to see people or go anywhere that is probably the biggest challenge we all face. I am lucky because I work for myself and I love it; so, I can happily spend day after day working as long as I get a bit of fresh air and exercise. Of course, being somewhat older, I’m sure helps. However, I see how hard it is for my daughter to motivate herself to study, now that all subjects are online. I hope that as time goes on some of her friends, or perhaps even she, might organize skype sessions where they can do their tutorials together. (Have I already mentioned that I’m an optimist?)
Paradoxically even on this beautiful, peaceful hill we are consumed by anxiety and fear of the unknown. Looking at the rest of the world fills us with dread and uncertainty. I have a sister in lock-down in LA. They are ahead of us in this corona process. She’s super worried that we aren’t taking it seriously enough here in Australia. I am trying to stay calm to sooth my daughter’s and others’ anxiety, but when I hear her talk it suffocates me and I know it is my own anxiety that she is expressing; but until it is voiced, I can control it and stay calm. I only allow myself to think about today; I will work out how to deal with tomorrow when it comes.
For now, I know that I have fourteen days with my daughter. We are going to have to learn new ways of connecting. I am going to have to help her navigate this new world where we Facetime to catch up with friends and all studies are online. We will work out how to deal with her mental health challenges as we go. She will not spend the two weeks in bed watching shows. (I need to be loving, creative, entertaining, flexible and strong. Lucky I’m optimistic. Have I mentioned this before?)
I am sure there are many people struggling with similar issues. I know it is extremely difficult not to be anxious when the world is pulsating with fear and uncertainty. It makes me think of Carina’s story from Woven Threads, Series One, and how she must have felt when she and 1000 other people were dumped without food or fresh water on a deserted island. She took each day as it came; she helped where she could; and she never lost hope.
We, too, are going to take each day at a time and find hope and joy where we can.