Published in Personal / Wellbeing / Mental Health - 3 mins to read

Today I found myself thinking quite a lot more about interactions detoxes, largely because I realised I am doing one, or at least a sort of one. The pandemic has stripped me of almost all of my obligations - while I am living at home, the only ones remaining are those I have to my family and those I have to work. Referring to something as an “obligation” carries with it some negative connotations, as if it will be a drain on my personal resources, but there were certain “obligations” I had pre-pandemic that I had assumed to be overall very positive for me, in particular with regards to social contact.

With all that on pause, it’s given me time to re-evaluate. I’ve often struggled with the feeling of not being able to get what I want out of my relationships, feeling uncomfortable or unhappy in them, and after the past couple of weeks of interaction-detoxing I have been able to establish a new baseline for myself - how do I really feel, when other people aren’t involved? How do I relate to myself, how do I take care of myself, where does my mind wander to, what are my wants and needs? What is self love for me, in the sense that it actually makes me feel loved by myself, rather than that I’m doing what other people say counts as self love? Can I regulate my emotions on my own? Can I make myself happy on my own? How?

Perhaps they all seem like stupid questions, or ones that I ought to already know the answer to, but in the past month or so I’ve come to appreciate quite how much I have been using other people as solutions to all these problems, and that that’s unsustainable and often damaging for me. I’ve always been terrified of solitude, and worried that its effects on my mental health will be crippling - that I simply cannot handle being alone and am liable to hurt myself when I am. But, it seems that’s not the case, at least now right now, and the time alone has felt healthy. Obviously I am using “alone” in a relative sense, I still see my three family members every day, but those interactions are very different to the ones I was having pre-pandemic and the ones I felt so desperately needy for. I’m hoping this new understanding of myself, despite being something I now know will take constant work, can serve as a foundation for my social interactions and relationships, so that I can find them more fulfilling and less like obligations.

I’ve been detoxing in other ways too - I’ve spend far less time on social media than previously, and I’ve started switching my phone off for pretty much the whole day, usually only checking it once. I’ve been trying hard to put a gap between the urge to scroll and the act of scrolling. I feel less skittish, less restless, but most importantly more in control of my hand and brain. I’ve still not drunk alcohol this year, and I’m sure that’s contributing to my feeling fit and healthy at the moment. I have found myself living a much simpler life in the past few weeks, and have enjoyed it so much I’m trying to simplify it even further. When everything opens up again, I’m scared to return to the complexity of “normality”, but for now, I’m glad I’ve found something that seems to work for me.