Jobim Novak is a 25-year-old writer and spoken word artist. He is also a mental health advocate and speaker who has been a friend of Bell Let’s Talk for the past three years. Trained as a Child and Youth Care Worker, Jobim currently works with the Toronto Writers Collective, a non-profit that provides creative writing workshops across Toronto and the GTA.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on most of us, especially when it comes to the lack of social interaction and being subjected to a life of isolation.
For many people learning how to deal with the silence is a challenging and daunting task. For me personally, I have had many times in my life when I was living in solitude stuck on hospital wards, and in and out of rehab facilities so COVID, though difficult, is nothing foreign to me. In the worst parts of my life, (during the height of my schizophrenia and addiction) I felt so lonely and had no idea how to get out of it. It was over the span of many hard years that I learned the answers to my problems. I asked myself, how do we stay grounded? How do we find ways to spend our time?
Though the answers are by no means simple or straight forward I can speak to some of the things that have worked for me, and ultimately changed my life. The key to my overcoming such times in the past was to grab onto things that would keep me afloat. For me that was the need to create, to listen, and to experience. I then broke these three things down into bite-sized goals. To create I decided to write my life’s story, to write poetry, to write rap songs, and to draw. To listen, I chose to listen to music, and to experience I took on things like, reading, journaling, and going for walks. These are things one can do without other people.
In the hospital I would still go for walks around the ward to at least keep myself active while inside. For you this may be different, but we all have things that keep us going, and making use of those things is what is important these days. Keeping these things organized, and documenting them, adds to their effectiveness, at least in my eyes. The last thing I do is to plan my days and stay busy. Staying busy not only makes the time fly by but helps drive out feelings of anxiety and depression, things I have struggled with for many years.
I believe that my experiences of isolation and loneliness have made it easier in some ways to deal with COVID-19. Good use of coping skills is the foundation for my survival and success. With a positive and determined mind (as well as a game plan), we can all make it through COVID and learn to manage other struggles that will come our way in the future.