Mental Health: Living Alone With AMD

As we are now in this “fourth wave” of the pandemic in my area, I think if I hadn’t been writing and moderating for MacularDegeneration.net during this time, I probably would have needlessly studied and worried about COVID-19 for want of something better to do. It would have been too easy to become depressed, a victim of my own imaginings.

Being an advocate

Being an advocate requires continuing research, often begun by a question or comment from one of our community members. Some of those questions were ones I had looked into already and required only a quick re-check. Others brought up ideas I hadn’t considered, but which research then showed were valid. Next is determining which things are worth writing about, and finding reputable confirmation of the things I have discovered. It also requires self-examination to be sure there isn’t an unconscious bias at work.

Living alone during a pandemic

Living alone, I could have easily slipped into a depression, when my bubble consisted of me. Being part of the older demographic, all the science showed I was at high risk for COVID-19.

I felt in the beginning that as an introvert with hobbies that don’t require other people, I could manage quite easily. Although the loss of some of my colour vision has become much more noticeable, my fabric stash is getting smaller! I know it has been much easier for me than for some of my friends who are extroverts and almost have a need to be with other people. Those ones who become lonely or at a loss if they have to be on their own for any length of time.

Limited social interactions

My only social interactions were with my retinal specialist’s staff at my injection appointments. Which came with the worry each time. Is this the time the OCT pictures show my macular degeneration is advancing?

I had backed away from my walking group, as it had become less enjoyable while trying to social distance. Although now that we are all double vaccinated, I’ve begun again. But I have discovered my stationary cycling did not keep my legs or lungs prepared for longer more difficult walks or hikes as they should really be called. Or perhaps it’s that I’m now a year and a half older. Coming home from one of these walks leaves me refreshed, tired, but with more energy than I’ve had in a long time. I tried walking alone for the necessary exercise but found it difficult to stay motivated.

Staying positive

Have I had times when I felt very disheartened and down? Of course, but rarely. Most days I’ve been relatively upbeat, even when Siri was the only one who spoke to me. But even I’ve had the occasional day when negative thoughts were the only thoughts I had. Thank goodness they were very rare. I looked into a few techniques to try on those days. Meditation, affirmations, journaling, and square breathing were some of the top suggestions.

How have you managed your mental health during this time? Has your sight made this pandemic more difficult? Any additional ideas for us?

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