The Many Faces of Self-Distancing

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During the last few weeks, parts of the United States have seen major shifts throughout the country in terms of our day to day norms. Our work life has shifted, our social life has shifted, our ability to shop and get what we need has shifted, all to try to stop more people from getting sick. From talking to loved ones and clients, and seeing interviews and news stories through the media, so many of us are handling this and reacting to this pandemic differently.

Some of us are in denial. We may have thoughts like “It can’t be that bad.”, or “That will never happen to me.”. This is a defense mechanism our mind has put up to block out the fear we don’t want to experience. Or maybe it’s just so surreal that we can’t mentally connect to it.

Some of us are super anxious. We’re overthinking our every move, we’re panicking about what the future may bring, we feel like the world is crumbling around us. Again, this is our mind jumping in to protect us by trying to picture every possibility, and what we could do about it. We would hate to be unprepared and our survival instincts are in high gear.

Some of us are more irritable than usual. It feels like a major inconvenience to us to not be able to do what we need to do, and that’s getting to us. We feel trapped and we don’t know what to do.

Some of us are devastated. We had all these amazing plans, or we lost our jobs, or we lost out on major life events or opportunities that may or may not happen again. We’re grieving what this pandemic has kept us from doing and what we’ve already lost. We may have lost loved ones to this crisis already, and we’re scared to lose more.

Some of us are relieved. We have so much social anxiety or general anxiety, or we just are introverts to begin with, so having to stay home and interact with people less feels okay. Suddenly our anxiety doesn’t feel that unjustified anymore, because everyone seems to be anxious, and that feels better.

Some of us are depressed. We had vibrant or jam packed lives, filled with work, friends, events, travel. Being stuck at home just feels like punishment. We want to go live our lives! Maybe some of us used a busy life to distract us from ourselves, and now we have to sit with ourselves at home.

Some of us feel angry. We could be mad at the situation in general, how certain leaders handled this crisis, or at the people who seem to be in denial. Somehow dishing out blame or “told you so”s feels better, and we’re upset that a lot of this is out of our control. We need this to be fixed, ASAP.

Some of us are lonely. We want to follow the guidelines of self-distancing or quarantining, but it's lonely without support. We wish we could be with our loved ones without risk spreading this illness farther.

Some of us feel neutral. “It is what it is, no use overreacting to it.” is more of our mentality. We’re just waiting to see how this whole thing plays out. We feel more like an observer in the chaos.

Some of us feel enlightened. We just realized how disconnected humanity can be from each other, and now we have this pandemic which is a shared, authentic experience, no matter how scary. We feel gratitude and appreciation for any connection we are usually able to share, and for the aspects of life we can’t engage in right now. This pandemic seems to be showing us what is really important.

Some of us are ready. We are in problem solving mode and looking to do whatever we need to do to get through this thing. We have the right amount of anxiety to motivate us, but we’re mostly able to stay calm, cool, and collected to get whatever needs to get done accomplished. We might have our moments of panic, frustration, anger, or devastation, but we can compartmentalize all that to get this done.

Maybe you’ve been one of the things above, or maybe a mix, or maybe a whole new category of it’s own. Whatever your emotional reaction has been, it’s okay. This is a new type of experience that many of us could never begin to imagine, and we are all figuring it out one step at a time. There is a lot in this situation that we can’t control, and that is bringing up a lot of emotions for a lot of us.

But here is some of what we CAN control:

- Our reaction to the circumstances presented to us.

- Doing the best we can through this, even if the best we can do is just keeping ourself safe inside. (Or protecting our loved ones the best we can because we’re on the frontlines.)

- How much we stay informed and follow protocol presented to us by medical professionals and experts in fields related to illnesses, global health, and pandemics.

- Whether or not we help or harm in terms of potentially spreading the illness.

- How much we get involved in the community to try to assist with relief efforts by donating, volunteering, or working in essential jobs, and staying at home to prevent the spread when possible.

- How much self care we’re doing. Hey, it’s a serious time, but go have all your fun and enjoyment that self-distancing and quarantining can offer you.

- How much we are setting boundaries with others (or sometimes ourselves) in terms of rejecting what might not be a safe idea right now.

- Figuring out how you can grow from this. It’s a good time to take a look at your mental health for one, but there are other ways to grow too. Books, movies, documentaries, podcasts, youtube, are all great ways to expand your perspective now too.

- If we reach out for help, when we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope. Reach out to us if you need help handling this crazy time, and we can help you safely.

- If you need crisis services right now you can 1) call 911, 2) Text the Crisis Textline at 741741 (USA), 3) Call the Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255, 4) Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522 if you can’t speak out lout, or 5) Call the Trevor Project LGBTQ+ Hotline at 1-866-488-7386. If you need other crisis services, let us know and we’ll work on connecting you!

There will be a lot of healing to do after this pandemic has passed, but we can start now. Wishing you health, healing, and grow in this chaotic time.

Contact Rae

Contact Angela

Rachel Amirian, LCSW #88573

28310 Roadside Drive, Suite 210 

Agoura Hills, CA 91301

​Tel: 818-309-5534

Angela Shankman, LCSW #88574

28310 Roadside Drive, Suite 210 

Agoura Hills, CA 91301

​​Tel: 818-309-5848

Rachel Amirian Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Angela Shankman Licensed Clinical Social Worker PC DBA Good Nature Empowerment Center