The topic of isolation & loneliness has come up quite a bit in the past week. There is isolation in chronic illness, not working/working remotely, changing your career path, living alone, etc. Some new friends & I discussed it at a conference on non-clinical work for physicians. One of my favorite podcasters (Laura McClellan) recorded an episode about isolation & loneliness as well (link at bottom). & it was brought up in a group for disabled physicians recently. I guess God wants me to process & share this.
Isolation is the fact of being more alone while loneliness is the negative feeling. We can all have both together or one without the other.
In my situation, I struggle with both. I spend a lot of time alone when I don’t feel well & when I’m afraid to go out for for fear of getting sick. I recently noticed how much I limit my activities (especially social) because I’m afraid of planning & bailing on friends or family. I feel some shame about not being dependable – in reality, it’s a lack of consistency – so I decline invites or don’t create invites. I know (in my head) that friends & family understand (as much as they can) but I still feel (in my heart) bad about it. This bailing on people & failing to make plans leaves me isolated & sometimes also lonely.
The other aspect of illness is feeling lonely in the uniqueness of the situation. My situation is somewhat rare, so not many people understand it (though I know a lot of you try & this blog helps). It can be really hard to talk about the specific frustrations when you constantly have to explain the issues. While joining people while eating is not isolating as I’m with others, it does feel lonely to see/experience people uniting around eating while I can’t.
Currently, I’m not working at all. So, I don’t go into an office or hospital or workspace. I’m isolated in this As most of you know, I’m pretty social & have enjoyed the social & collaborative aspect of group work spaces. Also, splitting from the projected physician career path are multiple & separate narrow roads. My experience is diverging from other physicians so, again, it’s isolating. I did love the interaction with kids & families as a doctor. I was able to work on my pediatrician comedy routine, repeating the same jokes but improving the delivery with each patient slot. With a few of the medical assistants at my old office, I started a “country talk Friday afternoon.” It was hilarious, every single Friday afternoon. As you can probably tell/guess, I miss this. I’m isolated & lonely here.
While I’m sharing these things, I’m feeling somewhat vulnerable. Please know that I am OK & that I do love the support I receive from you all. I am not constantly isolated or lonely. I do work with mental health professionals, sound off to close friends & participate in a rich prayer and church life – all of these (especially my faith & you all) have kept me in a good place.
? – What about you? Does this apply to your life? Do you want to talk about it? Feel free to comment or email Hello@GoGoGadgetGJ.com.
? – How to help/support: please keep inviting me, don’t take my cancellations personally, send me silly jokes, start a country talk or other accent time purely for giggles.
theproductivewoman.com/261 – podcast on isolation (subscribe for lots of great learning & encouragement