“Boundaries are, in simple terms, the recognition of personal space.”Asa Don Brown
I’ve just closed down the perimeters of my life.
I’m in lock-down. Self-isolated, here at my farm. I intend to stay here, isolated, except for essential outings, for some months. Perhaps even all year. And that’s okay.
I have internet and phone access. I’m surrounded by nature. I have Ben and the dogs and so much wildlife for company. I have books and writing projects and my garden, and a kitchen just begging to be used to cook up new recipes and revisit old ones. I can still work from here at my kitchen table, I can still have a relationship with you, but you’ll be on the other side of a screen or a phone, instead of in my personal space. I’ll have fresh air and sunshine and grow my own food and get back into the rhythms of nature and healing, and magic will happen.
People keep asking me why I have chosen to self-isolate.
I had to do it. Someone came into my personal space when my guard was down, bringing their ‘mild illness’ with them. They didn’t realise that their mild illness might affect me. They didn’t realise it could be more than mild for me.
Truth is, it decimated the good health I have spent the past few years building back up. At the time of their visit I threw everything I could at myself to fight any possible infection and it looked like I would be okay. Then Harry Dog hurt his leg and I spent a sleepless and stressful night looking after him and then rushing him to the emergency vet the next day. That one bad night and peak stress was enough of a stretch for my immune system that I went down in a screaming heap.
I won’t take that risk again. Especially now, in my greatly weakened state. Especially now, with the threat of a new illness (novel coronavirus COVID-19) in play, and cold and flu season upon us once more.
As someone who lives with chronic illness and a compromised immune system thanks to late-stage Lyme disease and other complications, self-isolation is something I’ve done often. I self-isolate when my immune system has become so low that the slightest additional pathogen load could be the one my body can’t fight.
I self-isolate to stay safe.
The germs that give you a mild sore throat or a slight cough could be the ones that give me pneumonia. That niggling low-grade thing you have might be the thing that shuts my organs down. The thing that kept you home for a day or two can lay me out for six months. I can’t take those kinds of risks right now.
Many of my friends in the chronic illness community do the same. We move away from the people who are sneezing and coughing. We quietly excuse ourselves from social or work gatherings where someone is ill. We avoid crowded places in flu season. We wash our hands thoroughly and often, and use hand sanitiser when we are out and about. We use face masks, essential oils and whatever else it takes to be able to travel safely or venture out into the world when the world becomes a hostile place for us.
I know my body. I know this is no over-reaction. It’s time to put my own well-being first.
The coronavirus might be bringing these kinds of concepts to your awareness for the very first time, but this is familiar territory for me.
Self-isolation is nothing to fear. It’s a splendid time for slowing down, for creative work, healing work and soul work, journeying inwards or rebooting your imagination.
I look forward to helping you navigate that space yourself, if you feel drawn to it or find yourself in that position over the coming months,
Much love, Nicole xx