The importance of connections cannot be overstated, and many people take them for granted. It is often confused with Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) Syndrome. Joni Mitchell sums it up beautifully in her song “Big Yellow Taxi” –

“Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone…”

Disconnecting is rarely a choice and there is usually no single cause. It creeps up on you like a thief in the night and it can be difficult to know how to stop its insidious creep. One thing of which I am certain is that the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to stop it and reconnect.

Covid 19 swept into our world in 2020 and is still with us. The first Lockdown came and went as did subsequent lockdowns but even after the restrictions were lifted it wasn’t safe to go out. Even after the vaccination programs started to roll out it still wasn’t safe to go out – less dangerous perhaps but not safe especially with a compromised immune system like mine. The isolation began to creep in. Anti-social became the norm. It was accepted, even expected.

I lost contact with actual people. I became the invisible man; you know that person you haven’t seen or heard from in a long time. Alive or dead? Well, that was me. I hadn’t been around much. I stopped going to my gym. The gym is not only about keeping fit it has a social element for many of us.

Covid insisted that I socially distance myself so that left Social Media (SM) but another health issue, only peripherally related to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), caused me to curtail even that. I was hospitalised for 3 months in 2022 and on discharge, I had to bedrest as much as possible and that restriction was the final nail, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not only did I lose contact with people on SM I also lost interest in much of the information that came my way by electronic means.

The world continued to turn while I wasn’t out and about or on social media. I dumped a lot of tweets without looking at them. I didn’t go on FB; I had no interest. Insta held no interest for me though I had an account. I loved reading books, blogs, and articles from informed sources about MS and other people's MS journeys. I loved going to my local library but it wasn’t open during the lockdowns and I haven’t gone back since. I just lost interest.

I lost contact with people on social media and my isolation began to grow; sad to say but I didn't notice it until it was firmly embedded in my psyche. I became accustomed to less contact, less doing stuff, and less writing.

I had become disconnected. I had become ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’.

It is much more difficult to reconnect because reconnection must be a conscious decision. As in any journey it begins with one step, in this reconnection scenario one step becomes one phone call or one “just show up” and usually it is you who must take responsibility. You must make the effort regardless of how awkward you feel or how self-conscious you are.

Now for my reconnection story…

I was lucky in my actual reconnection journey which is still a work in progress. Jean, my wife, was with me every step of the way. She didn’t push or force me to do anything I didn’t want to do; she encouraged me to get back out there. A weekly cuppa and a chat with friends that had fallen by the wayside, was reinstated. I met a friend whom I hadn't met for 18 months or more, last week. I recommenced my visits to the gym. I recommenced writing; this is my first blog. There are still people I must contact, and things I must do but now that the process has started, I am determined to keep the process going and get back to normal.

I no longer want people to be surprised to see or hear from me I want them to be surprised not to see or hear from me. I’m back even though I was never really gone.

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