Ontarians were notified recently of our third lockdown being extended and loneliness is a non-question at this point. Let me ask, "where are you on the spectrum of loneliness?", because when you are in isolation for over a year, if you do not feel lonely, are you even human? Loneliness begets loneliness. It is the kissing cousin of depression. If you are lonely and depressed, you're not alone: this is a health crisis spiralling out of control that hasn't been adequately reported on or addressed.
This lockdown has me feeling more lonely than the others, but all in all, I secretely revel in solitude. I am a total hermit and enjoy my own company. Wasn't always this way (reflecting on living alone, abroad, in my university days). Because of hours spent meditating, gardening, journalling and in therapy, my mind doesn't chatter and put me through lashings like it sometimes used to. And I am very fortunate to be sharing my life with a warm and thoughtful guy, who had a short-lived career as a comedian (as well as chaired his university's speaking union) so I can rely on him to bring the banter.
I've had tick-borne illnesses for almost five years and so my life pre-pandemic and now look similar. People with chronic illness are forced to become friendly with isolation. We often can't leave the house except for essential outings, if at all; friends stop calling, and family caregivers become burnt out while other family members turn a blind eye. Many Lymies support each other virtually and form community on social media or Zoom. We survive this way. Talk to someone with a chronic illness if you want to know about choiceless isolation.
On Instagram and on the news I've seen many creative ways to retain relationships, resuscitate old ones and forge new ones during the pandemic. Two communities which I've "discovered" since 2020 are Global Sisterhood and Holisticism. Global Sisterhood hosts virtual full and new moon circles for womxn that are a safe sacred space of power and healing. They are wholesome and restorative check-ins: time to honour the feminine aspect of myself in ritual and online global community. Holisticism, run by Head Witch in Charge Michelle Pellizzon is another online community where members dialogue and meet around themes of mysticism, wellness, business, race and everything else under the moon. Would LOVE to hear about the communities that are sustaining YOU right now.
Aside from connecting with others as an obvious antidote to loneliness, I think connecting with oneself and with plants, while not substitutes, can loosen the chokehold of loneliness around our necks. To me there are two subgroups of loneliness: one is felt most when you are physically isolated, as in now; the second stings even when you're in a crowd. We can forget about the crowd kind for the foreseeable future in Ontario. But for the first - when sufficient human company and contact is not actually attainable - we can lean on plants for support. Flower essences are truly self-care. I'll run through a few essences below that are rearing to give you a hug; the first three are actually part of the "For Loneliness" category created by Dr. Bach.
Heather: THE Loneliness remedy. For people who can't stand being alone so they avoid it at all costs. They are very talkative, and can be selfish, but when they are in the positive, become amazing listeners and develop real longlasting friendships.
Water Violet: For people like me who are independent, calm, quiet and prefer their own company most of the time. They can be aloof but also knowledgeable and helpful when with others. Taking this one will bring out a desire to get out there more and connect with community.
Impatiens: A great remedy for anyone who is impatient for the lockdown to end! Do you ever get irritated when people are being "slow", so you end up working alone most of the time? If this is the cause of your loneliness then try Impatiens.
Gorse: To refill your cup with hope when there's not enough going 'round. Being optimistic for the future even if the conditions are unfavourable. Knowing this isolation is a temporary state and new and old friends will be made in the future.
Honeysuckle: When you're nostalgic for the old times and you possibly glorify the "better days". Helps one orient in the present and "move on" if it's associated with grief and loss.
I'm not implying these will relieve all feelings of loneliness. That would be silly and frankly, stupid. But they can lessen your emotional load and shift your perspective. Hopefully a phone call with your mother, game night with your kids, a walk with a friend or Zoom brunch with your "tribe" can do the rest.