A 28-year-old graphic designer from Dublin tells IMAGE.ie what it's like to live in self-isolation amid the Covid-19 outbreak
I've been in self-isolation for five days. On Friday, when I got home from work, I shut the door on the world and haven't opened it since.
While I'm not infected with Covid-19 (yet), I am in the 'at risk' group and I am not willing to put myself in danger. I have asthma – a chronic respiratory condition that leaves me susceptible to infection. I already have breathing difficulties, and the last thing I need is a cureless virus leaving me gasping for air.
Since I was a child, every head cold I've had has developed into a chest infection or bronchitis. I refuse to allow Covid-19 to invade my body and develop into pneumonia. My health means too much, and so on Friday, I decided I wouldn't put myself at risk. I said no to commuting on public transport and no to sitting in enclosed spaces with people who may or may not be sick.
I'm lucky my job can be done remotely. As long as I have my laptop and an internet connection, I can work from anywhere. It's a privilege and I don't take it for granted. Right now, as I type this, I'm in my bedroom. The window is open (just a fraction) to allow for fresh air. The bedroom door is closed.
Everyone else is downstairs.
That's the hardest part of self-isolation. It's lonely. People on social media joke that it's an opportunity to watch Netflix and nap. I can't do either of those things when I'm working, and by the time I'm finished work, the last thing I want to do is look at my screen again. I miss being out and about, interacting with friends and colleagues.
Every now and again, I forget that I'm self-isolating and consider going out for a meal, or to the cinema. And then I remember I'm avoiding enclosed spaces with strangers.
It's hard and it's lonely – but it's a necessary evil. The alternative is worse.
You see, not only am I an at-risk person, but my entire family is too. Each of us has our own long-term, chronic health condition, which means Covid-19 is not just a health risk, but life-threatening. Self-isolation isn't just keeping me safe, but it's also ensuring I don't infect the people I love. As Dr Ciara Kelly recently said, "Our safety is in each other's hands". I could never live with myself if I put my family at risk.
How long will this self-isolation last? How long is a piece of string?
Everything is changing so quickly that I don't know what will happen next. St Patrick's Day celebrations have already been called off, numerous sports games have been cancelled or postponed and companies all over Ireland are trying to decide whether or not to let employees work from home.
Everything is so up in the air – so changeable – that I can't predict what will happen tonight, let alone tomorrow or next week.
All I know is that my health and that of my family is of the utmost importance. As long as I can keep us safe, I will. Loneliness I can handle, but coronavirus I cannot.
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Photo by Chermiti Mohamed from Pexels
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