Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, the subject of self isolation is on everybody’s lips but this is not a new concept to trans people. As a trans woman herself, Marianne Oakes, Lead Therapist at GenderGP, can tell you that self isolation comes naturally. Here Marianne passes on her insights and tips to those self-isolating in the transgender community and beyond, drawing on her experience as a trans woman and a therapist.
I am used to avoiding people…
There were times in my past when isolating myself from the world was a self-preservation technique – not because I wanted to protect myself from others, but because of my own sense of shame.
In these days of fear regarding Covid-19, it seems I can draw on my experiences of the past to help me cope in the present. So I thought I would share any insights that might be useful:
How to manage with self-isolation…
1. Reach out
We are fortunate to live in times where connecting online is second nature for many of us. We can email, text, even see each other face to face – albeit virtually – when we need social contact. It is crucial to remember that, if you do not reach out and make those connections, it is very easy to become isolated.
If you do have friends and family, make that extra effort to call them. Check in on how they are doing and if they need to chat. Doing so can make us feel useful and give us a sense of purpose. It’s all too easy to internalise our feelings – turning the tables and helping others can be a great distraction.
3. Join a forum
If you aren’t in contact with friends or family, or feel unable to reach out, for whatever reason, there are some excellent forums online. If you are not already a member of an online group, maybe now is the time to try and connect.
4. Make an effort
If you are self-isolating to prevent the spread of the virus and feel well enough in yourself, try to follow your normal day to day routine. Get up at the same time you would if you were on your way to work. Have a shower, get dressed, maybe apply a little make up. In short – look after yourself. A duvet day is nice, now and again, but it can bring on depression if it carries on for too long. So make the effort, for the sake of your mental health – even if you aren’t going anywhere or seeing anyone.
5. Money worries
These are uncertain times, concerns over money, paying our bills and even feeding ourselves will be a focus for many. Remember we are all in the same boat. Taking a measure of control can make all the difference. Speak to your bank and lenders to see what contingencies they have in place to ease concerns. Don’t let shame about a lack of money stop you from talking to those who can make all the difference.
We cannot underestimate the benefits which exercise can have on our mental wellbeing. As much as we may see this as an opportunity to catch up on the latest box sets, it is a well-documented fact that doing nothing can exacerbate feelings of depression. Try and use this time to focus on cranking up the fitness regime.
7. Practice a little self care
Having said that, this is also an excellent opportunity to catch up on those podcasts and articles you always wanted to get around to reading/listening to, but you just never seem to have time. The GenderGP website has some excellent resources and the GenderGP Podcast is available for download from both the website and through all major podcasting apps.
Now more than ever, we need to think about each other and offer our love, kindness and support – even if we cannot do so in person.
Marianne Oakes, Dip Couns, MBAC member