Maybe someone has said "you are not alone" and it felt comforting. Or maybe it felt like a Band-Aid that failed to cover the wound all the way. Because no, you are not alone, but you feel alone. Hearing this phrase reminds us that there are people struggling like us, but it doesn't capture what it feels like to feel alone.
As a nation, we have experienced physical isolation as a result of COVID-19. Yet, for people struggling with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or any mental illness isolation is just a casualty. Sometimes being alone is easier than being around other people. But, that doesn't mean we don't want to be with our friends and family. It is a hard concept to understand. Usually, when someone is sick, loved ones show up in one way or another. However, in cases of many illnesses loved ones have no idea nor know how to help them. So, they do the best they can but sometimes we still feel alone and it's no one's fault.
We know we have people that love us and who care deeply about us. Sometimes we forget that or lose touch with reality. Struggling with a mental illness feels like being trapped on an iceberg. You keep to yourself because talking about it is too difficult and you feel like a burden. You know that you are not a burden and you need to talk about it. It is not always easy to reach out, so isolating yourself feels more favorable. When you aren't feeling like yourself it's difficult to pretend everything is fine around others. Some chose to deal with things themselves to protect others from watching them struggle. I know, I've been there.
Mental illness thrives in isolation. But, relationships foster recovery. Isolating yourself is a common behavior but it's not a healthy coping mechanism. The vulnerability may seem terrifying in letting people know you're not okay. Right now, we all feel isolated as a result of COVID-19, given we cannot physically see our friends and family. However, I encourage you, however hard it may seem, to let people in. You don't have to tell them what's going on if you don't feel comfortable, but stay connected. Send a text message or a funny TikTok, however, you chose to communicate.
My point is, mental illness in itself is isolating, and dealing with coronavirus is too. Whether it's six feet apart, or six hundred miles apart, stay connected with the people you love. The internet and technology make communication accessible, use it to your advantage to help better your mental health. You got this. While you may feel alone, you are not alone in this struggle.