Self-Harm and Isolation: Surviving the Pandemic on Your Own
Self-harm and isolation caused by the pandemic are a dangerous pair. Everyone is struggling to cope during these difficult times. Even the strongest and most resilient people I know have been affected by pandemic fatigue, which often comes with depression and anxiety symptoms. Unsurprisingly, our self-harm urges can also become worse as the future is so uncertain. It’s times like these that we need to look after one another and stay united.
The Emotional Impact of the Self-Isolating and Self-Harm
Self-isolating is difficult for everyone, but it can be extra tough on people struggling with self-injury and mental health problems. We’re away from friends and family, working from home, keeping our social interactions to a minimum. What we once took for granted, like the physical touch and hugging, is now potentially dangerous.
In my case, the lockdown hit me twice as hard as I’ve recently relocated to a new country. Most of my friends live thousands of miles away, as does my family, whom I usually only visit once or twice a year. On top of that, I am an extreme introvert, which means any attempts at making new friends are difficult for me. Self-isolating only seemed to strengthen that feeling.
Now that the second wave of COVID-19 has hit us, a Christmas lockdown is looming on the horizon. I’m not a religious person and I don’t attach any great significance to that time of year. However, the prospect of being lonely on the days I usually spend together with my closest ones fills me with sadness and fear.
Dealing with Self-Harm and Isolation
Self-isolation is difficult for me, but I realize I am lucky. In a way, I’m already used to being on my own. I’ve managed to develop coping mechanisms for self-harm that help me survive the pandemic. However, I can imagine social separation can be devastating to someone who depends on a physical self-injury support network during these trying times.
Curbing self-harm urges in isolation can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. In reality, the people we love are only a phone call or Skype away. I know, we’re all a bit Zoom-ed out at this stage, and the lockdown can feel pointless sometimes. However, we must remind ourselves why we are doing this and find ways to stay united and supportive of each other’s cautious efforts.
To distract yourself from the negative emotions, you could make a bucket list of all the great things you will do together with your loved ones when it’s safe to do so. You might also note down all the activities that you can still enjoy and feel grateful for them, such as meeting a friend for a power walk or doing a fun online activity. I personally discovered mini-games on Facebook while video calling my five-year-old niece (seeing her reactions is priceless).
Most importantly: cut down on social media and source your news from trusted journalists rather than divisive opinionists. We don’t need any more fear and uncertainty in our lives. This situation is temporary, and if we all do our part in keeping each other safe, we’ll soon be able to hug each other again.
How is self-isolation affecting your self-harm urges? Share your thoughts in the comments.