I can’t stay asleep.
I can’t tell if it’s the dreams, my allergies, or my anxiety that have been causing me to wake in the middle of the night, or if it’s a potent combination of all of the above. The truth is, I think we are all having some anxiety about what is happening right now. The more time I spend socially isolated and stewing in my own thoughts, the worse the dreams get. Combine that with my usual Spring sinus congestion and it’s no wonder I have insomnia.
There have been a lot of articles about rising depression.
Let’s face it, we are living the plot of dystopian novel. There is a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and if you are American like me, genuine concern about mental instability in Government roles. Even if you didn’t already have a mental illness, you have plenty of environmental factors to contribute to forming one. In addition to all the factors I just listed there is a much bigger piece of the puzzle at play: Social Isolation. The recommendations to stay at home and keep a 6-foot radius about yourself is causing general sense of social starvation unlike any we’ve seen before. Unable to visit family and friends, we have to resort to the use of face-to-face substitutions. As for those quarantined at home with family’s, the constant contact without a break is hardly any better for mental health. Basically, it’s a lose-lose situation whether you are quarantined alone or with others.
Personally, my nightmares are about my isolation.
I am an introvert, but I do love my friends and family. Though I do enjoy a lot of alone time, I hate feeling lonely. Like everything else in life, balance is key. I missing going into work at the office for a few hours, then spending the rest of the evening with my cat. I miss spending my Saturday out with a few friends or my sister, then spending my Sunday at home by myself. That balance of companionship and me-time kept me happy and stable. I was busy, and socialized without becoming overwhelmed by either society or isolation. Now I’m always alone. I work alone. I eat alone. I sleep alone. I live alone. For the first time in several years, I truly feel lonely.
I know that this won’t last forever.
Eventually the quarantine will end, and we will re-build our society. Things may not be the same, but we will find a new normal to carry on. That doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to feel tense right now. We are allowed to feel worried, stress, sad, and lonely. We are allowed to mourn the loss of our plans, our routines, and our freedom to roam. We can acknowledge that times are tough and the social distancing is not part of human nature, while also acknowledging that it is necessary to prevent the spread of infection. We can realize that something is temporary, while still recognizing that it sucks.
My insomnia will pass and tension will release. Social distancing will eventually end, and maybe we will can embrace our fellow man with a renewed vigor. Maybe we really do need to have some nightmares in order to appreciate the beautiful dreams.