Mental Health

My Isolation Experience: Anna

by Anna Dreves

Rarely have these words by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., resonated as strongly as in these days of globally experienced fear, trauma and despair: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” In our individual isolation, we – the Believe Out Loud team – want to create proximity to all of you by sharing our personal accounts and experiences during this time.

My name is Anna and I live in New York City. When I retreated from life on the outside and isolated myself in the small apartment I share with my partner, something strange happened: unlike on previous weekends and days off, the busyness of the city, its hypertension and relentless drive, transcended the walls and doors of my apartment and began to settle in and occupy my mind and body. It felt like the city had moved into isolation with me. The first couple of weeks, I had difficulty resting and quieting my mind. A seemingly unending list of urgent tasks and issues kept me up at night and made it difficult to focus on anything non-COVID, non-survival related.

Without intention or direction, I finally stumbled upon a remedy for my restlessness: rereading books of my childhood and teenage years has proven to provide a sense of calming familiarity and memories of endless afternoons curled up on couches, reading and descending into the depths of a story. Although it must have been decades ago when I first read Michael Ende’s “The Neverending Story” or Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain,” I remember my excitement, curiosity and wonder as I revisit the adventures of Bastian Balthazar Bux (main character in “The Neverending Story”) and rediscover the thoughts and observations of Hans Castorp (main character in “The Magic Mountain”).

From this place of refuge and respite, buried deep inside my memories, I now slowly reclaim space in my mind and heart for calmness, gratitude and joy. Give it a try and let us know what books worked for you!

We’ll get through this together! – Anna.

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