Our Relationship with Isolation

August 11, 2020

The UK has been on what’s commonly known as “lockdown.” This means many things – one of which is that you don’t have an excuse to not read our blog. Ha!

It might’ve been a novelty for a few weeks, but that novelty wore off for a lot of people very quickly. It’s quite unbelievable how we look forward to getting home and spending the weekend inside doing nothing, but when it’s forced on us it feels claustrophobic and strange. I suppose it’s easy to take having the choice for granted. It’s this choice that we want to talk a bit about.

As a charity, we’ve been banging on about isolation for a long time. When we were presented with research a couple of years ago that 30% of vascular amputees die within one-year post surgery and that isolation plays a significant part in this, it was hard to get our heads around… Until you think about it more, and it becomes quite clear that we need interaction, conversation, support or just a smile to survive. Is the stat shocking? Yes. Unbelievable? Certainly not.

I’m not here to guilt trip you, says the person about to guilt trip you, but let’s move away from the news for a minute and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, shoe or wheelchair for that matter. Lockdown may have been new to a lot of us, but not all of us. A front door step can be the difference between freedom and lockdown for someone who sees a change in their physical ability, be it a prosthetic leg, crutches or a wheelchair. Emotionally, many people don’t feel safe or confident enough to leave the house. Lockdown has been happening across the world, every day. Now that all of us have felt its effects, it’s time to think about those who have never had the choice. Hopefully that thought alone and whatever comes from it will allow us to move forward from this as a more connected and caring society. They say learn from experience, and we urge everyone to learn from this one – both about themselves and about others who may have slipped through the net of our day-to-day thoughts.

Finding Your Feet have been battling isolation at the same time as promoting independence for 6 years. It’s a fine line between two very different things. We face new challenges today. Our normal services of providing transport to clubs, activities and outings have been halted, obviously. We worked around the clock to introduce “contactless clubs” and check-in services. I’m certain that if anything good comes out of this whole situation, it will be new creative ways to remain together, while apart, as a community.

So if we’ve been dealing with this for years, we must have some advice? You’ve probably heard it all before.

Phone the old friend you’ve been meaning to for years. Video chat, whether or not you think technology is the devil. Listen to music and podcasts. Binge a box set and text someone your review. Teach yourself a language. Create something, big or small. Learn to sew. Actually that last one would be useful because my trouser pocket has had a hole in it for a couple of weeks now.

The most important thing to do is listen to yourself. If you begin to struggle, reach out. Your thoughts and emotions are going to be louder than ever now that the buzz of outside life is in the distance. Hear them, and let others hear them too.

What’s a blog without a cliché?

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If you don’t see anyone today, do you exist? Do you matter? Yes. You do.