Updated: May 13, 2020
Living alone during the COVID-19 global quarantine has triggered a number of emotions. Yes, I recognize the silver lining... More time with my pup, opportunity to learn and grow my skill set, creating a more impactful online presence for my brand, re-connecting with friends and family virtually, etc. However, at times, it feels like I am in an arm wrestle with depression. Does that make me weak? As we approach now two months of the global economic shut down, perhaps I am not alone in having this struggle.
I'm not in the depths of despair depressed. Thank goodness for the tools and support that I have curated over the years to help keep that in check. However, the fight is real. I often smile publicly, and my social media feed is generally positive. And yet, depression can have many faces, and we all handle pain differently.
There are nights when I cannot fall asleep until at least 3am. When I lack an appetite, I feel I have to force myself to eat. My living space is a bit more messy than normal as if to mirror my scattered thoughts. Sometimes I zone out in front of the T.V., and forget that I am watching it while my mind tries to process the many thoughts swarming around in my head like a tumultuous tornado.
My social media feed showcases positive posts, moments of reflection, and more recently, the launch of my co-authored book, Women Who Rise. It became an overnight #1 International Bestseller on Amazon thanks to our supporters, friends, and families. Sharing my story, along with 29 other women from all over the world, discussing how we overcame overwhelming odds to rise up to our greater potential.
Seems like bad press for a "rise up woman" to be talking about struggling with depression, huh. Does that mean I am a fraud? If I'd let it, that fear would cause me to want to hide, and the downward spiral would continue, feeling shame for feeling bad.
When feeling lonely, I tend to want to drown myself with work. Feeling productive and proactive is a distraction, and emotional high for me. Yes, I am a recovering workaholic. For the last two months, I've had to catch myself from falling into that cycle. Going for walks, listening to uplifting podcasts, meditation, connecting with friends virtually, and playing with my pup helps. Be that as it may, there are still days that I struggle. Can you relate?
With limited social interaction due to quarantine, and most stress reducing outlets stripped away due to the economical shut down, I have a lot of time to self-reflect. As a generally positive, and upbeat person, most people would not suspect that I am struggling as much as I am. So why share a glimpse into my reality?
I believe it's vulnerability that connects us as people, not perfection.
If you read my story in Women Who Rise, you will notice the irony in all this. My "rise up" story emphasizes how it was during times of uncertainty and depression that I learned how to discover and explore my strengths. It's also during times of isolation, that my worse fears tend to get triggered. I tend to feel like an outsider and lack a sense of belonging.
Let me explain...
During my early teens, my family joined a religious conservative lifestyle in which we were very isolated from the outside world. As the oldest of ten children, most days were filled with house cleaning, cooking, homeschooling activities, and caring for my younger siblings. Needless to say, I am no stranger to being quarantined. It can feel like the walls are caving in as the world gets smaller.
When I was nineteen, I left home to navigate the "real world", and explore my potential on my own. I felt like an alien that had landed on planet earth, eager to learn the language of the locals. Pop culture, socializing, dating, and wearing normal clothes, (other than long dresses) felt awkward. For a long time, I felt like something was wrong with me. I resented feeling "different". I felt like an outsider, and lacked a sense of belonging. Awkward in my social life, I found solace in climbing the corporate ladder. That is when my workaholism kicked in. More on that in Women Who Rise.
Now, during this global pandemic and quarantine, this scared nineteen year old girl has surfaced. I feel like I was voted off of the island like in the T.V. show Survivor, as everyone has taken shelter with their "tribes". Living alone during unprecedented times can tend to magnify any feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy. The fear that something may be wrong with me, that requires isolation, triggers feeling like a "problem". Wearing a mask feels like hiding behind armor. A lone soldier trying to fight the pain of isolation. It feels like being an outsider once again.
As I re-read my chapter in Women Who Rise, called "Create Your Potential", it's as if this stronger inner voice is reminding me to be brave. I read an excerpt...
I realized that it's through PAIN, that we can tap into our PASSION, and rebuild our sense of PURPOSE.
No longer feeling shame for wrestling with depression, I realize this is an opportunity to connect more authentically with myself and others. To continue the process of healing and building confidence. I want be able to give a voice to anyone else who may be currently wrestling with the same. Shame is what creates true isolation. Shame for feeling weak. Mental health awareness is key, and it's important to be patient with ourselves, and others, when feeling vulnerable.
I tend to beat myself up when struggling with negative thoughts, but am realizing that it is an opportunity to understand love vs. fear more fully. Learning how to love myself more unconditionally, so that I can love others. Learning how to become more aligned with my spirit, and asking God to fill my heart with more love.
I created a conversation topic on Facebook tonight asking...
From your perspective, what is the difference between solitude and isolation?
This question came from a book that I was reading during a much needed meditation break tonight. It was interesting to read all the responses on my newsfeed. The general consensus was that solitude is a choice, while isolation is forced compliance. Positive vs. negative. Solitude creates self-reflection and peace, while isolation creates self-doubt and fear. Solitude says, "I need to take time alone to build strength", while isolation says, "I am taking time alone, because I do not have strength."
Yes, the government is mandating self-quarantine. It feels like isolation. However, what if I decided to turn it into an opportunity for solitude? It flips the coin from feeling forced and trapped, to making a choice and growing. An opportunity to create better lifestyle habits, and bolder ways of showing up for myself, and my community, as I morph into a more beautiful version of me.
Though I cannot control what is happening to me, I can control my response.
I am a big believer in energy, and how the "mouth" we feed has the "belly" that grows. Do I want to feed negativity and allow that energy to sabotage my well-being? What ripple effect do I want to create in the world and those around me? I cannot control what is happening in the world, but I can control how I allow this quarantine is effecting my mind and spirit.
Easier said than done, I know.
But what if it all starts with a shift in my perspective? What if I chose to view quarantine as my time for solitude vs. isolation? Choosing faith and self-love, versus fear and shame. What if I considered the many ways this is happening FOR me versus to me?
Like a caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon, this time of solitude can be a time to self-reflect, face our demons, and wrap ourselves in unconditional love. That does not mean we won't wrestle with fear and depression. The key is to not give into it. Don't let shame stop you from asking for help. We all need each other. Beauty will unfold when we are kind to ourselves and others.
So here is the question. Quarantine 2020: Solitude or Isolation?
The answer is up to us. We get to choose.
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If you, or someone you know, is wrestling with depression, here are free resources that can help. Perhaps you are feeling triggered, and your pain is being magnified in some way. This does not mean you are weak. You are in a cocoon. It can feel dark and scary. Sadness, and mourning loss, is part of the grieving and healing process. You are not alone. Part of being strong, is being vulnerable, and recognizing when we need help. It is ok to ask for help. There is hope in the power of connection.
Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Text HOME to 741-741www.crisistestline.org
Chat Lifeline Crisis Chat www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat
About Rebecca Chalson
With over ten years of professional sales and marketing experience, Rebecca’s unique approach to business development has earned her recognition with Forbes, 40 Under 40, and several other regional awards. As a speaker, author, podcaster, and personal branding strategist, she enjoys helping professionals build their brand and grow their network. Rebecca’s services include website and promotional video design, social media strategy, and event planning support. Her training curriculum includes practical guidance in influencer marketing, social media engagement, and building authentic relationships. Unlock Your Potential: Discover Your Personal Brand is one of her signature online training programs that helps individuals explore their unique core strengths and communicate their value proposition more effectively with their target audience. Learn more at www.CreateYourPotential.com/Discover
Listen to the “Real Talk With Rebecca” podcast on Spotify and iTunes: www.CreateYourPotential.com/RealTalk
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