Isolation

Given the current Covid-19 world pandemic that is taking place, there is lots of talk and actions taken leading to self-isolation. I thought I’d take a moment to actually write the official Cambridge Dictionary definitions of isolation so we all work from a similar understanding of the word.


C1:“The condition of being alone, especially when this makes you feel unhappy” [1]

C2: “The fact that something is separate and not connected to other things” [2]


By reading these definitions, it really does shed light on the social distancing movement that is happening all around the world. I’d add to these definitions that isolation can be used as a self preserving mechanism, but that it can also be imposed on someone...both leading to a feeling of loss.

You know how isolated you have been when a world pandemic is happening and that you need to make almost zero changes to your lifestyle.

Following encephalitis "e" and brain injury, isolation has been a huge part of my life. It’s not something that I particularly like or that I was familiar with, but it’s a state that I have had to adopt more often than not in order for my weird wonderful brain to cope with what life has decided to throw our way. Isolation is often used to:


  • Keep my anxiety under control

  • Reduce stress

  • Avoid environmental overload

  • Limit over stimulation of the brain e.g.: noise

  • Keep emotions in check e.g.: anger

  • Work on rebuilding my self-esteem

  • Manage fatigue levels

  • Rest and recharge

  • Manage a compromised immune system

  • Reflect on the very important sense of belonging

  • Keep control over some aspects of my life


An often unspoken aspect of isolation that is very detrimental to someone’s mental health is the feeling of isolation even if you are part of a group. This is something most brain injury survivors would be very familiar with. As you are struggling to keep on pace with what’s happening in a group dynamic, you often feel lost among all the chatter that takes place. Because you are always one step behind, interacting with others now has an added level of difficulty and stress. Those difficulties often translate in us stepping back or shutting ourselves out of a discussion, further feeding that feeling of isolation although physically being part a group. Some people will better cater for your limitations to enable you to part take but that’s not always possible. Sometimes life just happens and we have to learn to roll with it without taking things too personal.

“Headway’s own research shows that more than 70% of brain injury survivors have seen deterioration in their social life following brain injury, with a similar percentage feeling that people in their lives do not understand the effects of their condition.” [3]

So as the world is getting into self isolation mode and learning to cope with working remotely from home, a loss of income, doing online groceries and online shopping, limiting their outings for critical purposes, avoiding to socialise with friends, staying home, avoiding certain places such as restaurants and busy streets, trying to distract themselves from home, exercising from home, getting used to lonely walks along the beach with your fury friend, joining support groups, over sanitising things to avoid getting sick and the likely setbacks, reverting to digital conversation mode and yes also running out of good Netflix series, know that we “e” and brain injury survivors are already all too familiar with the self isolation best practices.


Citizen of the world, there is no doubt in my mind that we are all facing a difficult time. Know that slowing things down isn’t always a bad thing. Take this time to reflect on what’s really important, be creative in the ways you communicate with others and know that this is a hard patch but it isn’t likely to last forever. The storm will pass and hopefully not leave too much destruction on its path.


Be kind to yourself, be kind to others and check-in on the most vulnerable as they too may be struggling. Isolation is linked to depression and anxiety, please learn to recognise the early signs [4] and help others by letting them know they matter and that you care about their well being. Once the storm has passed, once life as usual starts resuming again, please keep being mindful of those who still have to use self isolation on a daily basis to cope with their ongoing life journeys. Let’s all learn something from this difficult time and make us better world citizens.


#selfisolation #isolation #covid19 #encephalitis #encephalitissurvivor #encephalitisawareness #encephalitisrecovery #braininjury #ABI #socialdistance


[1]: https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/english/isolation

[2]: https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/english/isolation

[3]: https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/brain-injury-and-me/the-debilitating-impact-of-social-isolation/

[4]: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-symptoms-and-warning-signs.htm

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