“I admittedly did not handle the first month of isolation well. Thankfully, the first week I distracted myself by creating a survival guide for my mental health platform, The Sad Collective.”
We’re officially in Month 4 of self-isolation with an uncertain road ahead but for some much-needed inspiration, FASHION is reaching out to some of our favourite Canadians to get a peek into how they’re living their lives in lockdown (remember: #StayHomeSaveLives). Each week, keep an eye out for new self-isolation diaries from actors, designers, influencers and artists who are riding this uncertain time out with us.
Meghan Yuri Young, Breakfast Television Toronto correspondent and mental health advocate
Not to make light of the struggle that everyone in the world is facing due to coronavirus, but, to be completely transparent, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind as I began to self-isolate was that the universe was testing me. Because I had done this before. But that time it was by choice.
Four years ago I started down a path to get back to myself. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say: to learn about myself. I had recently separated from my partner of 12 years and felt at once liberated and lost. So much so that I deluded myself into believing I knew where I was going. It took me two years to realize I walked like a child, distracted by anything that caught my eye.
Over the next two years, I began to take more time for myself, ask myself harder questions, have deeper conversations and explore the “whys” of my particular world. I stopped walking and I cocooned.
Then I read a book that opened me back up to the world. Many friends had recommended The Untethered Soul to me and after reading it, I understood why. It eloquently explained what I was working on: finding inner peace. I bring this up to preface my self-isolation experience: in many ways, I feel like I’ve been privileged enough to have inadvertently prepared for it.
Six months after reading it, I was walking again — with more purpose. I entered the new decade with concrete goals: to become financially literate and responsible, focus on a holistic healthy lifestyle, revisit old hobbies and better understand my discomfort with loneliness. As I found my stride in my personal life, I was finding it professionally as well. Dream career opportunities were presenting themselves to me, which I’d been working towards since striking out on my own.
And then coronavirus hit. Less than a month prior, my grandmother passed away. A day before lockdown, I learned my ex-husband was having his first child. I was losing my hard-earned work opportunities and I had to navigate through all this emotional confusion in a single household. Granted, I can’t forget about my canine lifeline, Curry.
By this point, I’d reacquainted myself with solitude in a positive way, but I was still working on loneliness. Add grief, fear and anxiety to the mix… I admittedly did not handle the first month of isolation well. Thankfully, the first week I distracted myself by creating a survival guide for my mental health platform, The Sad Collective.
After that? I retreated. First, to spare people my grief, which I felt guilty about because I knew how privileged I was/am. Second, to remind myself everything I learned in the past four years. I not only retreated from friends and family, I took extended breaks from technology. I cocooned again, but in a much more intense, detoxifying way.
Let me be clear, though. I didn’t just sit there fasting and meditating. I crafted, knitted, read and walked. A lot. I marathoned movies and shows. I worked on home projects, practiced yoga and cooked. I fell back on my new year goals of exploring hobbies and learning financial literacy — which extended to taking other courses. I also cried and napped. And as those sadder days lessened, I started to reclaim my relationship with technology, first by starting a virtual book club and then a letter writing workshop.
Outside of personal growth, my focus over the years has been advocacy and volunteer work — specifically for youth and mental health communities. So to come out the other side excited and motivated to do that again within my community has been a welcomed blessing. And then another community came to my attention and the attention of the world last week. The Black community.
As we’re in the midst of history-in-the-making, I won’t touch on this too much, but it bears mentioning. The need to speak up, stand up and show up for our Black communities around the world and, most importantly, in North America, has reignited the purpose of the people. Although there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic we’re still in, there is nothing uncertain about our responsibility to our fellow humans. While coronavirus became the backdrop to my personal struggles, it also became the backdrop of a larger struggle that up until now most of us had been turning a blind eye towards for decades.
Since this is a self-isolation diary entry, I will keep this about my journey. That journey now includes fighting for the safety and rights of Black people in North America. Everything that I’ve learned and let go of over the last four years has led to this clarity. For me, especially as a mental health advocate, being a good member of society has always started with inner work. And thankfully, that’s what I’ve spent most of my time in isolation focusing on.