Social Isolation and Vulnerable Groups
Prior to the pandemic, I had learned to be 'ok' with asking for help. In fact, I believe that accepting assistance is vital to thriving after injury. Support is a necessity, even for our counterpart ABs (able-bodied people).
The COVID pandemic pressed upon society social distancing and self-isolation measures that were meant to reduce the spread of the virus. Consequently, we are experiencing some negative consequences from having a lack of social contact and support. More stress, anxiety and loneliness entered my life soon after the pandemic became a reality for Americans. I often told my husband, "what a cruel disease." COVID stole from us simple human interactions like feeling safe enough to hug, hold hands, or visit family and friends.
My 'tribe' (aka support system) suddenly posed a health threat. Asking for help became a potential risk. How could this be? As a quadriplegic, support from others is essential, both physically and mentally. Nothing about COVID made sense to me- the only constant was my world continued to shrink. Smaller felt safer.
At first, I was glued to the media. I desperately wanted to know how to protect my family. After I began to feel overwhelmed, I knew I had to make positive changes. I made a list of areas where I could find-and give support. I hope my tips can help others.
Ways to support each other:
Emotional support has never been more important than now. We are more mindful of it during a crisis. These are my favorite ways to connect during social distancing.
Good ol' letter writing
I didn't have to 'carve out time' to do these things, they became priorities as I needed them as much as my fellow friend.
Within my nucleus family (those I shelter in place with) we became creative. We played board games, laughed about distant memories and frankly enjoyed each other's company as some of the outside stressors were removed (this was early in the pandemic).
As time passed and the pandemic seemed to not let up, I discovered that communication would be the key to preserving my mental health. Sometimes just talking to someone can lift my spirits. But this pandemic was new territory! Everyone had valid anxiety and worries. I like to talk through my problems; my husband would rather work through his. Many days were messy, ugly, and plain fearful. We adopted a resolution phrase: "it wasn't pretty but we survived another day".
What is my responsibility in fostering support?
Everyone has a purpose in life. Even if there is a 'shelter in place' order. Those days count too- EVERY DAY COUNTS in the life of a human. I feel accomplished when I have a goal. I tried to make a list each day of ways I could foster support. These small gestures of kindness rekindled my hope for brighter days ahead. My daily list guided my thoughts towards a purpose, making me move away from negative interruptions, regroup and get back on track. Small tasks each day made surviving self-isolation purposeful.
Share a bible verse on social media.
Give a donation to a community food bank.
Make a purchase from a small local business.
Share cleaning supplies with neighbors.
Take a deep breath and pray for those on the frontlines.
Give up the illusion that we deserve a problem-free life. Embrace that the adversities in life are opportunities for growth. I am in the rebuilding. I am refocusing and redefining my life because of the pandemic. Can you relate? I am waiting- through the unknown-, quietly and clinging to “Be still and know that I am God.” This has become my personal theme for 2020.
I want this to serve as encouragement, we all need hope right now. This is my response–in the litany of love–in which Christ has called me. My prayer is that you will follow me on this journey and along the way share your thoughts, and your prayer requests, and together we will be transparent to better serve each other and grow in the grace of Christ. Together we are better.
The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution.
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