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Thread: COVID-19 and loneliness

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    COVID-19 and loneliness

    I think there are three serious issues related to COVID-19: the health issue, the economic issue, and the issue of so many people isolated and lonely.

    Loneliness has got to be a very serious sequelae to this situation. I can think of two family members right off the bat who are extremely isolated. Today I went to deliver Meals On Wheels and one of my clients asked me if I could stay for a while because he's lonely.

    It tears my heart out.

    For you guys who are in the medical profession and especially the mental health profession (Tammy).. what can people do?? My heart breaks for people who can't get access to basic human contact. I stayed 10 ft away from my MOW client and he asked me to pull up a plastic chair on his lawn so I could talk to him. My BIL is holed up in a Red Roof Inn. My brother is holed up in his apartment alone.

    I am so lucky to have DH and DS here, but I am so fearful of the mental health consequences of this darned thing.

    ETA: I spelled loneliness wrong in the title and there's no way to correct it..
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    I seriously think that those of us who are single and sort of homebodies are having a much easier time with this. We are used to being by ourselves and entertaining ourselves.

    I have married friends who are freaking out. Some of the extroverts are close to melting down.

  3. #3
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    At the risk of sounding unfeeling. when I felt lonely at any point in my life, it would take me a little while to realize that the quickest way to losing that feeling was to put someone else first. The lonely feel like a victim with loneliness happening to them instead of them striving to reach out to others. This will take courage and effort, yes, but so does every other accomplishment in life.
    With the MOW person, to whom does he give time and attention? Is there someone he could phone to check on them every day. How can he donate his time to another? If this feels like too much of a challenge, that is his choice.

    A friend asked me recently how to respond to a woman who complained of feeling lonely. This woman had all the basic necessities of a full life but wanted people to come and find her.
    Cath, if you hit the advanced edit button, you should be able to make the correction that you wish, I believe.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Yea as an introvert it is fairly low down on the list of importance. I see my partner. I only ever see family when standing at a distance outdoors. I have work to occupy myself with and thank heavens for that. Vast quantities of free time is not REALLY the reality. Boredom, oh yea sure, there is some of that.

    I think the stressors are 1) worrying about people getting sick (of course!) 2) worrying a bit about the economic situation as well and strong internal pressure to super-perform my job to try to counter that economic worry, AS IF it was all in my power and not subject to much larger forces at this point.

    And then what gets to me and my mental health to a great degree is 3) the super moral and existential importance of everything, of the mundane, the stupid, a trip to the supermarket, the most mundane of all things, is now life and death, should I go or not etc. (I don't go more than once a week), go to the bank and get quarters to do laundry or not etc.. Living on that edge of might I get sick, might I infect someone, all the time, from the most mundane of nothing, is just more mental pressure than almost one can bear. One lives in an existentialist novel. It might not be The Plague, perhaps more The Fall ... but yea. Where everything is a butterflies wing generating a hurricane on the other side of the planet. I can't hardly live with that existential and moral pressure without going a little batty. So someone my partner knew dies, he's sad about that, I don't know him, I shouldn't be, but I'm going batty in my head anyway just due to the supercharged nature of everything.

    And then though maybe not high on the list is how nothing functions anymore, I have slow internet, I can't get faster anymore as everything is shut down. Can't get toilet paper for weeks, now some is reappearing, heaven forbid you need to see the doctor for something minor etc.. Everything is broken, nothing works, and it can't be fixed.

    Loneliness? Hmm, not high on my worries. But I suppose a frustration is how life is on hold, from everything to the nothing mundane in the world functions anymore level, to the ... whatever life goals you were working on PUT THEM ASIDE level, because it's all on hold. Life is what happens when your hiding away from corona virus at this point. Groundhog day times 10. Oh well my rant is anyone's and everyone's at this point and it's not even real problems.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  5. #5
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    At the risk of sounding unfeeling. when I felt lonely at any point in my life, it would take me a little while to realize that the quickest way to losing that feeling was to put someone else first. The lonely feel like a victim with loneliness happening to them instead of them striving to reach out to others. This will take courage and effort, yes, but so does every other accomplishment in life.
    With the MOW person, to whom does he give time and attention? Is there someone he could phone to check on them every day. How can he donate his time to another? If this feels like too much of a challenge, that is his choice.

    A friend asked me recently how to respond to a woman who complained of feeling lonely. This woman had all the basic necessities of a full life but wanted people to come and find her.
    Cath, if you hit the advanced edit button, you should be able to make the correction that you wish, I believe.
    Thank you on the editing button!!

    Regarding the topic at hand, I would ordinarily agree with you wholeheartedly, razz, but these times take human lack of interaction to another level. We can't do things. We can't get out and mix among people. We can't go to church, or an AA meeting, or even to a bar for a happy hour. Any of the pressure valves for people who ordinarily are prone to loneliness are gone.

    I agree with Tradd that introverts are likely to fare better than extroverts. And I totally agree with you, razz, that in many cases, loneliness can be self-inflicted and "cured" by putting yourself out there. But I do think lonely people are going to be extra vulnerable during this health crisis.

    My MOW friend is old and disabled, and "putting himself out there" is not encouraged these days, unfortunately. I think my point is, yes, loneliness has many solutions, but many of those solutions are basically taboo these days.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  6. #6
    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    ETA: I spelled loneliness wrong in the title and there's no way to correct it..
    FIFY
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    The Mow client may not have anyone to reach out to. Both my mom and FIL outlived all their friends. We are extroverts and this is hard but we have resigned ourselves to this lasting until June. I also have my husband and I talk to my kids and friends daily. I am lucky to have such a big support system.

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Today does have its own challenges, I agree, with all its limitations and personal mobility issues do compound the challenges.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  9. #9
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    My sister is an RN in a Boston hospital. She lives alone. She made the decision to distance from me, DH and Mom now that there are some cases at her hospital, although we had previously decided that we were not going to distance from her. She is probably making the wiser choice, but I hate it that she works and comes home and is basically isolated. At least she has her 2 dogs. She is certainly not complaining, but it bothers me. I'm making sure to keep in close contact via phone at least.

  10. #10
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    Everybody has their own challenges. For me there is no time for loneliness. Iím working or sleeping most days. For my husband itís a little lonely cause we cancelled an April vacation and now a June vacation - between the 2 trips we would have seen all of our kids and grandkids. He is retired so has more time to miss people.

    Mostly Iím happy to wake up healthy each day. But if I had nothing to do each day it would get old pretty fast.

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