An Epidemic Inside a Pandemic: Un-Wired Connections & Loneliness
Artists are lonely. We are stereotyped as loners, but are we? We appreciate and see a beautiful sunrise unlike others, we notice everything, or we focus in on one specific thing. Our brains are wired to connect things in a different way. But are we “loners”?
It is quiet when the sun rises, birds chirping, water rippling, wind rustling, cool air touching your face. Quiet. Peaceful and beautiful, another new day filled with hope. A new day.
It is quiet. But like TOO much quiet. A type of hellish quietness that just continues day after day. An epidemic within a pandemic affecting every age. A type of hellish quietness, also known as loneliness. Maybe you are watching a parent sit alone in a care facility with little to no interaction with the world outside the staff. Maybe you have a young person who should be chasing others at recess, having big birthday parties, attending rite of passages like first dates, Prom, or other cultural events that mark significant points in life. We are missing that connection in the wiring.
It does not take much searching online to find studies and research on the rise in loneliness, or how the past year has affected not only physical health, but mental health. Harvard, the CDC, and others have scary rates of the rise of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicide. I could link all the articles for you, however, that would take up pages.
I admit it, I am lonely. It is TO DAMN QUIET. I am an artist, self-proclaimed “loner”, we spend hours upon hours in our own little worlds creating without any disturbances and we get all flubery-busted when someone interrupts for something trivial, like food, water, or sleep.
The quietness of being socially distanced is, well a deafening silence. Humans were made for connections and thrive from that connection and intimacy of a relationship. Keep us isolated and things happen, like thoughts that repeat over and over, chewing nails, cutting, over-eating, sleeping too much, binge watching movies, addictions to substances or screens, and the list goes on, but it looks a lot like anxiety, depression, and yep, you guessed it, loneliness. We are un-wired, with connections missing.
Not only are adults feeling it, but young people who are developing social skills needed to become productive adults that shape out future are suffering with it. Because of the obvious risks during the pandemic of needing to social distance, and depending on technology to connect, learn, shop, and interact it has become un-normally normal to be apart. Being physically distanced and separated from other people puts one in a state of physiological stress, and when it continues day after day it can become a chronic condition damaging to your physical and emotional health, according to former (and recently confirmed again) U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
“I found that people who struggle with loneliness, that that’s associated with an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and even premature death,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told NPR.
Now, knowing how art has trained me to be a “loner” and I practiced this loneliness thing in my studio for hours upon hours, I also know how art has helped my mental health. Connecting your thoughts and feelings in your head to paper, canvas, or another media can help one maneuver through the mess of crossed wires in our brains and bodies.
Art helps heal and can bring connections and community together through creating and sharing. I have created a way to help move my dark, deep thoughts from my body to art and create a safe space to share. Art heals. Art re-wires. Art creates connection.
Are you ready to try art for a connection?