The first two days of isolation was productive but at about day 4/5 of isolation my emotions turned I was in a constant state of sadness, I was so tired and there was an inner feeling of numbness. I think I started to realise what was happening and there was a rush of helplessness.
It took me a while to work out that this was more than just being isolated because of Coronavirus, i suddenly had loads of time due to the disruptive pause of the world around me and then the sudden feeling of being lonely and disconnected from other people creep in. My emotions was everywhere, I lost my happy spirit mainly because what I was seeing change around me, such as-
Walking Around My Neighbourhood-
Everyone used to be in a hurry, rushing from one place to the next, there was schedules to meet and places to be. But now many businesses are shut or if they are open they have a barrier of some sort like chairs to maintain a gap to keep appropriate social distancing or even contactless touch points with glad wrap covering them for credit cards- no cash please- its valuable but it is a filthy bit of paper.
The first time I saw my neighbourhood it was a shock, the speed at which I was walking slowed as I have no reason to hurry myself anymore. People that recognise me acknowledge me with a warm smile & say G’day or even wave from across the road. Many business owners know I haven’t been to their premises since this all began and there is a sincere mutual understanding of why.
Many people are not working, basically it doesn’t even matter if a person is a cleaner or a CEO of a company we are all equal in this, which is so humbling- status doesn’t matter at the moment. There are millions of people in this situation who are all responsible for themselves, own families and we are all at risk of individual losses.
I am one of the nurses without work at the moment and its unfair for me to speak for nurses that are working as I know they have immense stresses, especially in regards to not having appropriate PPE and uncertainty if they are protected from Coronavirus whilst they are caring for others. We should not discount this as we have much to learn from this it reminds me of the situation the Fire Fighters were in during the recent bushfires around Australia.
Not working at the moment I realised I am grieving from a lack of sense of purpose, its funny how a job can form such a strong sense of identity, being a nurse is my ‘Why’. Without work it adds so much stress on no income and the constant unknown with finances- when I will get paid next?- is always on the mind.
Nursing is about working with people, it is quite social and I’m missing that too.
I have been finding the media overwhelming and it was adding a lot of anxiety so I’ve made a conscious decision to only watch the TV minimally. There are far too much mix messages, misinformation and I feel the media is not portraying a true reflection of the effects of Coronavirus at the moment. To keep updated I check- health.gov.au and independent news sources for daily updates of the latest news.
With social media, I’ve also cut this back, its easy to waste hours and hours browsing different website links, I find I don’t really gain anything when I keep getting myself into rabbit holes. I still can’t over the shared experience we’re all having at the same time, the positive side of social media is that it is a saviour for staying connected and interacting virtually to my family and friends as I still have a window into their lives, which is reassuring.
With Coronavirus, everything in life has been disrupted and at times the struggle especially with negative thinking and feelings of helplessness is overwhelming.
We are all adjusting and simple things like going to the shops has become quite a difficult task, I prepare myself before leaving where I live and I feel conflicted with keeping people at a distance especially when it is my nature is to talk with others. Having rules of social distancing is important but being isolated from others for long periods of time has caused anxiety, to the point I had to start telling myself to breathe.
With social isolation, financial worries & the possibility of becoming ill with the virus has been bitter sweet. To not always understand what emotions I was feeling was frustrating, I knew I was feeling some emotions but I had to work out what the feelings were in the moment. This table helps (as per author- this is not a scientific piece, but captures breathe of emotions in the format of a periodic table)-
Adjusting to all the changes at the start was uncomfortable, I didn’t leave my apartment for a couple of days, I had immense ‘brain fog’ and couldn’t keep my focus on anything. I didn’t have to be anywhere by anytime, I had no structure to my days and it became pretty easy to do nothing then with losing time and losing days- I became so frustrated.
I then thought this is not a situation that anyone could anticipate or control, I had to form a new ‘normal’. So I formed a routine with focusing on simple activities of getting up at the same time each morning, maintaining personal hygiene, getting dressed, going for walks in fresh air, exercising, keeping virtual connections strong, eating well, sleeping, dancing and heaps of music as well- I finally have some rhythm back in my life.
Self-care is critically important right now, looking after ourselves and our emotional needs means we can continue to help others and remain engaged with the issues we care about. It’s a bit like what I tell patients- ‘some days are good and some days are bad’, I think trying your best on any day is just enough.
Coronavirus is a rule breaker, it has made the world of work and governments deviate away from recognised policies and procedures, we have had to adapt and change with the virus to protect and reduce/stop the spread of it.
We all know this pause even though is unwanted will help us learn from this time, there is a lot of talk about shifts from what was seen as traditional ways to do things in education and technology. Also, I wonder what changes will be made in healthcare, economics, politics and our culture in the near future.
Thinking about being a nurse, I had a moment where I thought about a patients perspective- is this what patients go through in hospital when they suffer from a major injury, illness or disease when their health is impacted in a such a way that their whole life changes. That loss of control and emotions must be extreme for them. Also, I have been thinking about these nurses who are working through this pandemic, in the future how will we look back as this time and the sacrifices that were made and overcame as the world changed- Thank you to these nurses.
Appreciate yourself, we’re all doing our best – Aussie Nurse
If you are a health professional in Victoria without work, you can register your interest at – https://healthworkforceresponse.dhhs.vic.gov.au
- Beyond Blue- www.beyondblue.org.au – 1300 224 636
- Life Line- www.lifeline.org.au – 13 11 14
- National Sexual Assault & Family Violence counselling & information- respect.org.au – 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
- Nurse & Miidwife Support- nmsupport.org.au – 1800 667 877
- Suicide Call Back Service- 1300 659 467
- Kris Girrell- eBook on Amazon called A Guide to the Periodic Table Of Human Emotions- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XH34QFV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
- Healthdirect symptom checker- www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus
- 10 tips for managing anxiety during COVID-19. The Black Dog Institute – https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/default-source/factsheets/black-dog-institute_tips-to-manage-anxiety-during-times-of-uncertainty.pdf?sfvrsn=2
- A Century of Public Health Marketing Enduring public health challenges and revolutions in communication https://publichealthengland.exposure.co/100-years-of-public-health-marketing
- Fake news in the time of coronavirus: how big is the threat? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/30/fake-news-coronavirus-false-information
- When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media: https://theconversation.com/when-a-virus-goes-viral-pros-and-cons-to-the-coronavirus-spread-on-social-media-133525