Depression

Self-Isolate

It’s been roughly two week since I’ve become even more of a home-body than normal.

While I remain confident that not only do I not have the Coronavirus, I have not interacted with anyone who does. Still, out of a combination of shared self-sacrifice and alternative-lacking, I have spent nearly 24-hours a day in my home for almost every day of the past two weeks.

As an introvert, you might think this time has been like a dream come true for me. Lovely long days spent alone with my thoughts, my work, and small apartment. It is not.

A friend shared on Facebook this article (https://introvertdear.com/news/introvert-but-quarantine-sucks/). Being single and childless, I can’t completely relate, but it does nonetheless hold some “truths” for me.

Being an Introvert Doesn’t Mean Solitude is Preferred

Last year, after a couple of different experiences, I wrote about what it really means to be an introvert. I used to think being an introvert meant we prefer solitude to other people, but that’s not true. Rather, it means that social interactions can be taxing both physically and emotionally. Solitude is necessary for our balance and for “recharging”. That’s definitely true in my case.

This experience has reconfirmed that fact for me. Not being able to go out (except for necessities), not being able to interact with friends and colleagues in the real world. Not being able to visit the Capitol, etc. All these are taking their tole on me.

In fact, I’ve understood for years that being cooped up in my house is a recipe for downward spirals. Under other circumstances, even without any of those things, spending an afternoon in a coffee shop was a welcome respite from the concrete cave that is my apartment.

Years of therapy have taught me this lesson well. So much so, that I’m able to often correct my trajectory so as not to completely lose it. In this way, I feel lucky. I imagine there are lots of people who will experience depression during this period of isolation, not recognize it for what it is, and won’t know how to deal with it.

Introvert or No, This is Hard

In addition to being an introvert, I’m also prone to depressive episodes that can last any where from a few hours to weeks at a time.

More than anything else, what keeps me on an even keel (under normal circumstances) is my work. So long as I feel productive, those depressive episodes are shorter and less frequent.

2020 was supposed to be an action-packed year. A legislative session pushing for advances on progressive issues, a flurry of local candidate campaigns, a presidential campaign, and county, state, and national Democratic Conventions. The Coronavirus has upended all of it and I’m struggling to fill my days. My professional work has all but come to a grinding halt.

Sure, there no end to all the reading I can and should be doing. And of course there’s writing and photography and walking I could undertake to keep myself busy. The trouble is I work best under deadlines. With no end in sight to this way of life, I struggle to get myself motivated to do much of anything.

What’s more, I tend to work and think better when there is some level of background noise and activity around me.

In college as now, quiet work spaces are not for me. Libraries, as much as I love browsing bookshelves, have always been a terrible place for me to get a lick of work done. Some of my best writing and thinking has taken place in bustling coffee shops blanketed with hi-fi headphones and a well-chosen playlist.

A Routine Built on Externalities

Yet another quirk of my brain is the need for at least some structure and routine. For me, entropy is a very real issue. Within a margin, deviation from a routine is jarring to me. It causes stress and can trigger depressive episodes.

So many of my friends are true “self-starters” who are able to find productive things to occupy themselves and their time. This, sadly, is a skill I’ve never been terribly good at developing. I can do it in fits and starts, but it’s always been short-lived.

Maybe I should see this global crisis as an opportunity to improve myself in this area. I am trying, but entropy, the relative quiet, and solitude makes it difficult.

To Do’s

While I’ve learned not to commit to something I’m not fully prepared to do, I leave here both for posterity and motivation a list of tasks and activities, at least some of which I hope to undertake as this global health crisis and necessary isolation persists:

  • Do more photography
  • Do more writing
  • Restart video blogging
  • Learn the ukulele
  • Take walks
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