I don’t talk about this a lot, because it isn’t easy to talk about it, but a few years ago I got sick. Like, really sick for a long time. I was traveling a lot back and forth to the states, and I had ended a long relationship with someone and I was alone, like really alone.
I spent a lot of time online – working, mostly. Writing. Always writing. But I stayed home a lot. I was tired. And the only interaction I got was here – on Facebook.
And i kept getting sick. First it was a bone infection in my jaw, then a kidney infection, and then another, and then the fires raged across Israel and I couldn’t breathe and I went to the doctor, and the doctor got all nervous and sent me to the hospital for some big scary tests.
I think the best part was when the doctor – twinkly blue eyes, killer smile – was taking my patient history. (Fun fact: If you want to guarantee your doctor is handsome, wear a ratty hospital gown and don’t shave your legs in a million years.)
And then: “Given how sick you’ve been these past few months – the different infections, We have to check you for various autoimmune diseases, including HIV/AIDS”
SPOILER ALERT: I do *not* have HIV/AIDS.
SPOILER ALERT II: The doctor *still* didn’t ask me out
The hospital ran every test they could. But still, they could find nothing wrong with me. They even checked the area around my new mermaid tattoo to make sure I hadn’t been poisoned.
No reason for me to be so damn sick all the time.
No Cat Scratch Fever.
No Lyme Disease.
So, they sent me home – my friends David and Miri picked me up and I stayed with them, and they made me feel loved and safe. And it occurred to me then that the reason I was so sick, the reason that my immune system had tanked is — SPOILER ALERT III: I was lonely.
And a big part of why I was lonely is I was living my life here online instead of in the real world. I wasn’t using FB in a healthy way.
So, I made some changes. I spent more time with people – in the real world, in restaurants and bars, in cafes in parks and on rooftops, and less time here in zeros and ones.
I held hands. I hugged more people.
And you know what happened? I got healthier.
Why am I telling you this? Because spending time with people is so important – being connected in real life, in the real world, is crucial.
(Even those of us who are introverts need human interaction – it can mean all the difference in the world.)
But now we are told to keep our distance – not to touch. We shouldn’t hug or even visit. And it will be hard and it will take our toll.
This is why we need online community, why we need to pick up the phone, why we need to do everything possible to stay connected even virtually and long distance. Whether it’s sending emails or messages on FB or WhatsApp or calling that person who isn’t online and must feel even lonelier than we do.
I found a better balance these past few years – and I became happier and I’m healthier.
But now with these new measures in place, who knows how long that’ll last.
So if you’re on the other side of this screen and you’re feeling isolated, please: Reach out and tell me- I’ve been there, and I’ll be there again.
I’ll reach back.
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