It’s no secret, hospital life is isolating.
Those that enter the ER with a broken bone or the common cold kindly wave farewell to this confinement as they drive back to “normal life” a few hours later.
However, those with chronic illnesses don’t get to leave the isolation at the door.
For me, isolation has become a consistent companion. My illness forces me into solitude to survive.
I need lots of rest. I can’t typically partake in normal college kid shenanigans; alcohol and partying leaves my tank on empty for the following week, and it only strengthens my relationship with isolation.
You’ll often see me absent from social activities, only spending time with my boyfriend Marcus, you won’t hear from me, and I’ll be locked away in my bedroom, sometimes for weeks on end. I promise I’m not being an asshole. I’m just trying to survive.
Please do not take pity on me for spending time alone. Often times, isolation is the best medicine.
Although isolation is healing, you must establish a firm boundary with it. As we all know, excessive seclusion can lead to loneliness. Even if you need to spend time alone, you shouldn’t ever go through this battle alone.
To embrace isolation and avoid loneliness, I suggest establishing a strong support system. This person, or group of people, should be impeccably trustworthy. They should love you without question, listen to you without judgment and support you without doubt. If they don’t believe your symptoms or they bypass your feelings, they are not a good support system.
I have been absolutely blessed with the support in my life. My mom, dad, step-mom, brother, sister-in-law and so many more offer constant aid. I know I can call them at any time with an anxious mind or aching body, and they will help me in any way they can.
Another huge blessing in my life has been my boyfriend, Marcus; his support is particularly special to me because of our relationship. He offers me his shoulder to cry on, runs any needed errands for me and loves me for who I am. He’s picked me up off of the bathroom floor, held my hand in the ER and sacrificed his own comfort for mine.
I know I can lean on my support system at any time; this is why isolation is a healing tool for me. While I may be locked away in my bedroom, these people are all just a phone call away. (I also have several friends I could go on and on about, but I’m trying to keep it concise. I love you guys.)
While grateful for my support system, I understand some people are not as fortunate; they don’t have friends or family to lean on. No one should have to go through this “invisible” life alone; find your support that helps make you visible. If you don’t have anyone in your life, I promise I will be your support system.
This shit is hard.
(Direct Message me on Instagram: @ashley_carnduff & I will offer any support I can.)
And to everyone in my life, just remember I’m still here for you, even if I’m lying in bed strapped to a heating pad.