Updated: Feb 12, 2020
(By Andrew Norton)
When all you can do is hunker down, circle the wagons and focus on one thing—getting through the day—the unintended consequence is isolation. And rightly so. A life threatening illness calls on all your reserves; there’s no room for anything else other than you.
Number #1; your survival.
The downside of this is you become isolated; the walls move in and your world becomes smaller and smaller.
Physical isolation: Keeping others at a distance; protecting yourself from infection. Physically, you are no longer able to do what you could do before.
Social isolation: While you are likely to have many people in your circle, you are less likely to want to engage with them.
Professional isolation: No longer able to work.
Mental isolation: The mind is fog-filled due to ‘chemo brain’, it’s difficult to maintain mental focus enough to a read a book or hold an engaging conversation.
Identity isolation: Your self-confidence takes a hit as the names of your illness name you.
Here’s what I discovered along the way
Don’t become isolated from those closest to you. If there has been a blessing, I’ve reconnected with my family like never before.
Don’t become isolated from yourself. What kind of conversations do you have with yourself? Sometimes these conversations need a conversation partner. I highly recommend writing a journal, blog or poetry and regular counselling.
Do what you can, not what you can’t. While there are so many things you can’t do, there is so much you can.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude makes your world larger. Every day make a gratitude list.
Join a support group. The collective wisdom of others who are “being there and doing that” is truly amazing.
The isolation of illness is not a life sentence, you can break out.
(Reprinted in loving memory of Andrew Norton)