United in Isolation
A Study in Isolation Illustration
All captions are from participants | Check back often for updates
I’ve started a series based on your moments in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic to hopefully find some collective compassion, hope, joy and love for each other. If you’d like to submit an image for consideration, please send me a message.

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 30

"Gowning up for the first time entering a covid room was the single most anxiety producing moment of my nursing career. I was going into a small, compact room with a very sick, positive patient. He was incessantly coughing, on high flow oxygen, and I had only a gown, eye shield, and a mask to protect me. I couldn’t help but think, this very well may be how I die. This could be a turning point in my life if I am not safe, careful or smart.

A tech was helping me gather all the supplies I needed so I wouldn’t have to leave and re-enter the patient’s room. We were going to tackle this patient together and give him his pills, change his soiled pads and sheets, catheterize him for a urine sample, draw blood, get an EKG, and administer a breathing treatment. In that moment we knew we would be in his room for at least 30 minutes. She and I looked at each other, held hands and she said to me, let’s be safe and smart and let’s be fast.

In the midst of our anxiety, calculating whether we had everything we needed, tying our gowns and double gloving, I asked her if I looked alright. Not for beauty’s sake, but wondering if my mask looked snug, hoping my gown was tied tight enough, really just looking for reassurance that we would be OK. She said you look great and asked me to smile for a pic. We each put on a brave face, smiled for a picture to send to our worried families and went in the room. We were smart, tried to be safe, and we were fast as hell.

When we came out we took off our PPE meticulously. We scrubbed our hands, arms, faces with soap and water and sat together in silence. We broke down and cried out of relief that those 30 minutes were over and out of fear that what we did to protect ourselves wasn’t enough. We prayed that he didn’t ring his call bell and his vitals would remain stable for the remaining four hours of our shift so we wouldn’t have to go back in the room. Luckily he did not ring, his O2 remained stable and as far as we know, my fellow nurse and I did not contract covid that night.

This 30 minute experience created a bond that can not be broken between me and my fellow nurse and friend. We put our lives in each other’s hands that night and I will forever be grateful that we had each other before, during and after the care we provided." --Jess
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 29

“I can’t help but feel grateful for these moments I have with my children now. I’ve never had that before. Grateful... and a little guilty. It took a tragedy that is hurting so many for me to see the beauty and love in the moment I used to think were so small.” —Jarad

United in Isolation 2020 | No. 28

“I’m 100% an introvert so isolation isn’t new to me. Also, even though I hate working out, I’ve found a lot of mental health benefits in working out regularly. Since isolation I’ve been totally slacking on my workouts until I decided to do them live on Facebook. I didn’t realize how awesome it would be for me to have that sense of connection again.” —Holly

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 27

“With life and work usually SO busy and hectic (my wife is an elementary school teacher and studying for her MBA; a daughter about to graduate HS a year early, a freshman boy, and a third grade girl) being in isolation and teleworking has given us quite a bit of time on our hands- at least I have a ton of time on my hands. I’m in the process of medically separating from the Air Force after 16 years, and the future job hunt is uncertain. So rather than get sucked into the YouTube rabbit hole or watch Tiger King... again, I figured I’d try a little personal development. 

I try to keep a daily schedule like specific wake up, breakfast, email check, so some out process stuff, lunch, bike rides or walks with the family, personal development, nap, dinner, veg out with TV or movie, sleep and repeat.

Of course being an outgoing extrovert, not being around others makes it hard. So, just trying to keep sane and learn a new thing.” — Brian
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 26

“Each day, The Boyfriend quietly picks up the letter my 16-year-old daughter places at the door, leaving one for her in return. We were ALL on my balcony the night I took this photo: my daughter, her three siblings, their dad Martin, our au pair, and me. The Boyfriend probably did NOT expect the loud reception we showered down on him. And I am guessing neither did the neighbors.

My daughter began her first romance just before COVID19 became a pandemic. They attend the same school in our German village. They began dating around the time my husband of 17 years moved out of our house, and into an apartment of his own three blocks away. During those first few winter months, my daughter was wrapped up in young love’s bliss while I was wrapped up in dismantling an unhealthy marriage.

Then COVID19 and the orders to isolate happened. My daughter and I found ourselves in relationships best described as “It’s Complicated.”

The Boyfriend can no longer come over, and they can’t meet up for dates, with only limited virtual contact due to parental restrictions. Meanwhile, Martin has to limit his time elsewhere, and be at the house nearly every day to continue being involved with the kids’ lives, and mine. The irony is not lost on any of us: the two who want desperately to be together … can’t be together. And the two who aren’t so sure … MUST be together.
But we’re a family of romantics. We believe love conquers all … but you have to work at it.

So, my daughter and The Boyfriend exchange those letters. She crafted a mailbox, secured so siblings can’t break in. We sometimes sit by the window to watch the Boyfriend try and break into it, too. The kid definitely works at his young love, I can tell you that.

Martin and I are working at it, too. We were addressing some hard truths before the isolation, but now we have to do it more often. Acknowledging moods and triggers. Listening. Being direct when we want or need something from the other. Shrugging off expectations, and accepting who we are right now, and moving on in a positive way when we fail at that. Being intentional with this relationship, and being intentional with the way we unite as a family.

That’s what we were doing on the balcony that night, hanging out and talking. We heard footsteps on the street, and my daughter jumped up to see if it was him. As she leaned over like Juliet looking down at her Romeo, we cheered.

No doubt, we cheered to embarrass the hell out of our daughter, and tease the star-crossed teenagers. But we cheered because, even when the future is so uncertain, when love shows up in a time of change and challenge, it’s really the best thing ever.” —Julie
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 25

“Me and 9-year girl are extroverts, through and through. While the introverts in the house are flourishing, those of us who crave social settings and the energy we get from others are struggling. One thing that does seem to get us through this time is the unconditional love of our two shih tzus: Mr Longbottom and Tickle Baby. They are a bottomless pit of affection, and quite frankly, connection.” —Ray 

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 24

“I consider myself one of the fortunate ones. I still have a job and I can telework. I have my daughter at home with me instead of in NYC at school and I have an adorable puppy who certainly keeps things interesting! I try and help friends when I can, like shopping for a friend, who with his husband and son, is self-isolating at home because he is a kidney transplant patient. Or making face masks for my mom and stepfather and my former in-laws. I am not a first responder or on the front lines in the hospital, but I take comfort in knowing I’m supporting my niece, who is a nurse, with little crocheted doohickeys with buttons that take the pressure off her ears from the elastic of the face masks she has to wear. And when the news is too much to take, there is always a cuddly puppy to make me feel better.” - Jennifer
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 23

“I PCSed and moved into my first home right before COVID-19 picked up in the states. My new unit was mindful of the severity of things happening, so they started teleworking a bit before the curve. I loved the thought of getting to really settle in and make the house my own. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the right headspace to connect with art which is usually a major outlet. I stuck with house projects for the past few weeks, and after painting three rooms, I realized that was somehow relieving and a weird way I could relax (quieting my usual anxious mind). I felt a bit moody one night, drank some red wine and started a random mural in my garage based off a photo I found on Pinterest that spoke to me. She isn't finished yet, but I'm glad to have projects that spark joy again. I miss my boyfriend, close friends and family. I hope this continues to distract me until there can be safe visits once more.” - Cambria 
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 22

“Isolation…I’ve experienced 3 levels over the last 2 years.

I felt compelled to temporarily leave my life of 26 years in Columbus, OH to go back to my hometown of Shelby, an hour and a half away.  My parents were both ailing and needed desperate help.  Having no siblings, no children or ever married I was basically on my own to become a caregiver.  Leaving my friends who were all family behind, I became shopper, cook, cleaner and nurse to both of my parents…my mother with COPD and my dad undergoing two major surgeries.  My dad came through very well.  My mother didn’t.  She passed away here at home with me holding her hand.  While here, I couldn’t go out much or socialize…only be here alone with my laptop and phone as my friends.

Planning on moving back to Columbus, I was then diagnosed with inoperable, stage 3 lung cancer a couple days after Christmas.  My dad’s health was also starting to downturn, so thus began my second level of isolation.  No one to really turn to other than some immediate family and close friends, I never felt so alone because I needed to be brave a strong front for my dad.  I’m currently undergoing aggressive chemotherapy with hopes that I can arrest this vicious fiend growing in my chest.  I brought some of this level of isolation on myself by keeping quiet about my condition until just recently.  Since then, some very special people have stepped up to help my dad and I out if needed.  I sold my house in Columbus and now permanently moved to Shelby for my dad's sake as well as my own.

My third level is this dastardly yet deadly Coronavirus.  My dad and I are both quarantined because of his age (76) and my current lung condition.  I can’t even have visitors over.  Just a friendly face on the computer screen or phone, or a reassuring voice or message from close friends.  Yet this is not something that had ever entered my mind…this lost feeling of isolation.  At least spring is almost here, and I can wander out into our rural backyard where the trees are blooming, the deer are eating, and the rabbits play.  I only wait patiently on the day to break the chains of this terrible thing…isolation…” —Joe
United in Isolation 2020 | No. 21

“On one hand isolation has brought us some much needed rest and together time. No therapies, classes or appointments for which we are running late. We’ve played games, read books, baked, watched movies,  played outside and eaten way too much food. 

On the other hand we are isolated because there is a highly contagious virus and I have an immune comprised child with asthma prone to respiratory issues. My other child who normally isn’t sick has had migraines, strep throat, severe poison ivy rash involving all of her face, arms, legs and a bumblebee sting since we’ve been in isolation.  Growing up on a rural farm you learn to keep a well stocked med kit and first aid. For the first time in my life I’m afraid of my kids getting sick or injured.  What if they need emergency care?  Taking them to the emergency room puts them at risk for the corona virus and one of them is already in the high risk population. So while I’m loving being with my kids,  I’m not the hop-up-brush-it-off and get back to it Mom I once was.

She got stung by a bumble bee about an hour ago. Fortunately she did not get Maddie’s family genes of bee allergies but what a hell of a time to figure that out.” -Elizabeth 
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 20

"Running is my happy place. So, this morning I ran with no expectations... It's a little cool and breezy but so is LIFE sometimes. I ran a lot of hills as LIFE is full of fears, challenges and frustrations.  I slowed down but I DIDN'T QUIT and I can still SMILE at the end!!" -Lessie
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 19

“Admittedly, the stress of her going to work each day kills a bit of my soul. But on the plus side, she now has documented proof that she’s a Superhero thanks to a local sewing club donating masks to the assisted living facility she frequents. She’s my sun, moon, and stars. There isn’t a language on earth that can effectively explain just how much I love her.” -Mike
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 18

“It’s hard being home all the time with a house full of kids. I’m not used to it. Going to work everyday, I get to ‘escape’ the chaos. Overtime though, I’ve found little moments like these - seeing my youngest ones passed out together in a stroller during a walk - these moments make the chaos enjoyable... even something I look forward to each day. I never know how my kids will surprise me - melting my heart just by being themselves. 😌❤️” - Alexander
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 17

“This is my wife's stepfather. He went into the Heart Hospital in OKC, last Sunday. He was having difficulty breathing and doctors couldn't immediately diagnose what was wrong with him.

By Tuesday, they put him in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator. My sister-in-law said he's improving, but he's not out of the woods yet.

My mother-in-law, her oldest daughter and her son, are all quarantined until further notice.

A friend's mother was diagnosed with the coronavirus on 25 March.

26 March doctors put her on a ventilator. She also had a fever. 

28 March her fever went down and they took her off of the ventilator, because she made a remarkable turnaround. She didn't have an appetite, but she was alert, for someone with alzheimers. No fever. No shortness of breath.

My friend said the doctor told her they used a cocktail used for aids/ebola/malaria.

31 march she died.

So when people i know personally say it's a hoax or try to downplay it by comparing the deaths to the flu, it makes wanna choke the living daylights out of them.“ -Alan

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 16

“Since being furloughed, my father and I have been spending the last few weeks working part-time on my coffee shop.  We originally had shot for an April 1st open, but as the weeks marched on from February then through March it seemed less and less likely. So we still push on, with a lot less fervor than before but still carrying on.  Working with the intention to open a coffee shop in this climate feels fruitless and at the same time a hopeful endeavor.  Most of the time, I worry about the viability of opening up even once the current restrictions lift.  

I will probably try to get a job in the next week though which will opening even harder.  My local bartending job covered my business costs while allowing me to take care of the shop and my family. We can't survive on my husband's income alone and now my coffee shop can't even pay begin to pay for its occupancy costs.

Despite all this, I know that I'll miss the days I spend side-by-side  with my dad-together but apart, getting to know the adult who raised me as an adult. I won't give up, not yet, but it saddens me to choose to postpone my dream once again and I fear for the stability of the economic future in my community.” -Katie 
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 15

“The moment that hit home for me was more than a week ago, being out in a grocery store for the first time. We were checking out, and a lady in a motorized cart near me approached an employee and said "I have a very high fever and need you to call 911 immediately." Did this just come on? Had the lady been sick? Who knew, but it was scary.
Then a week later I found out a good old friend had been diagnosed with COVID 19 and had to quarantine. Soon after another friend had a close scare. More people I know and love will be affected.

Everything is on hold now. Life, school, weddings, funerals...and hiring. A few weeks before this all exploded I was laid off from my job of nearly four years. Not a good time to be job searching.

I have to be extra careful because my wife is immuno compromised. It's very easy for her to get sick. I try only to go out as necessary, but I do have to go out now and then.

On a personal level, I need a job. My wife is already not healthy. My kids miss their friends. My daughter has had shows put on hold. My mom is across the country on her own and not healthy.

These are weird and scary times no one was prepared for. The government and states weren't prepared. The schools weren't prepared. The companies we work or worked for weren't prepared. The world wasn't prepared.

I'm surprised to still see so many people out and about and not social distancing. If you don't want to protect yourselves, think about other people who need to protect their own.” -Doug
United in Isolation, 2020 | №14

“I had two months of solitary isolation around this same time last year due to an injury and now here we are — I’ve been inside for almost a month again and it will continue. Whether you live alone or not, this kind of thing weighs on a person and affects their spirit. It can get DARK if you aren’t careful. Humans crave storytelling, laughter, creativity, and community, so this an unnatural experience to go through. Add on that the bigger picture causes many powerful emotions like fear and uncertainty, making this tough all-around.

Find things that will give you a laugh and bring some normalcy to your day, no matter how small. Today I wore makeup for the first time in weeks, which I used to do every day, and I’m going to do it every day from now on. I felt more myself today that I have in a while. And you are not obligated to relentlessly improve yourself simply because there seems to be more time to fill. How ridiculous. Take care of responsibilities and then do things you like, things that make your days enjoyable instead of something you slog through. Shows and movies, music, reading, coloring, yoga, virtual hangouts with friends…the options are endless.

Unlike last year, I’m not the only one going through it this time. We’re all staying home because it’s the very least we can do to help protect our neighbors and countrymen. We’re literally all in this together. Stay safe. Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay sane. Love you 🤟🏼” — Amanda
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 13

“I've been working longer hours since I started working at home... I'm up at 4:30 working out and at my computer by 6am... I keep telling myself I have to work hard for a promotion so we can have a better future. But she showed up at 6:45 and all she wanted to do was sleep in my arms. All I did was breathe in that moment it felt liberating....” -Kime 
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 12

“This is me after a 4-mile walk about ready to do some meditation. During this time I’ve made it a priority to get outside, started doing yoga and meditation. It’s a tough time; I’m horribly lonely. I try to keep it in perspective because I am able to work from home, just losing out on freelance work. My heart breaks for those not as fortunate. I think we’ll come out of this stronger. I hope we’ll collectively realize what is important and things will change to correlate with that.” -Sarah
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 11

“Hi all. I’m the artist of this series and it’s my 40th birthday (yes, seriously, I’m an April fool) so I decided to make today about my moments. 

Things have been hectic for a variety of reasons, so I don’t have a cake today, though I have some beautiful friends, one that dropped off cupcakes, wine, and beer. We’ve had a few lovely moments like that...fly-by showings of love and affection. One of my youngest daughters friends even left her a note in chalk at the end of the driveway. It’s the little things. And those Facebook ‘Happy Birthdays’ are kind of extra-precious right now. So thanks to all of my friends out there. 

I’m sad some days. I’m an empath and I find myself simply overwhelmed by my feelings, and then I feel guilty because, although I’m a veteran, the frontlines of this battle are not mine. I feel like I should do more, but then remind myself that I’m home, and right now, that’s what’s needed of us regular folk on the sidelines.

I spend much of my ‘extra’ time arting. I try to spend minimal time news-watching. That can break me.

Patience is hard right now. But it is for everyone. Remember that.

Kindness is easy to give. So give it. 

And breathe. Just sit and breathe. If you’re doing that easily, you are fortunate. Virtual hugs to all of you.” -Maureen
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 10

“I went to visit my family in Florida for a few days since my spring break was extended. I got to be there for my nephews birth. In the meantime, we celebrated Holi with my family because they’re moving to India by the end of the year. My niece is my favorite and I miss her joy.” - Courtney 
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 9
“Isolation and social distancing doesn't bother me or really change much in my life. I'm already socially distant and have been for years, fighting my own internal battles. Before the onset of the pandemic I’d look out of the window and enjoy watching life as it moved along, now when I look around, I see everyone else doing the same, but there’s not much out there right now to see. I’m praying that this misery will leave us all very soon so that we can all return to our own versions of normal.” - Dušan 

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 8

“Il potere dell’esempio dato alle generazioni future: se insegni a fare del bene riceverai cure e amore.
I’m trying to translate it but I’m not sure if I can fully catch the message I’d like to pass. The power to set an example for future generations: if you give care and kindness, love, it will be returned.” - Massi, from Italy 
United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 7

“I tend to turn to creative pursuits when things aren’t going well for me. I had a really popular blog in 2009-2010 when I was single and lonely, I took up stand-up comedy when I went through a terrible breakup in 2012, and now, I’m learning accordion. And while I *am* using it to get through the pandemic, the bad time that necessitated it actually pre-dates COVID-19: I miscarried twice in 2019. I needed something to pull me out of the grief, and the accordion is just such a silly instrument it makes me smile and laugh every time I think about it. When I started learning pop songs and putting them on Facebook, I got such an enormously positive response that it seems to me other people feel the same way. I’ve had a bunch of people say some variation of ‘this is what we all need right now.’ So now, every day I try to learn a new song and make video — for them as much as for me.” - Katie 

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 5

“Three teleworking souls, learning to share limited broadband! After a week of craziness, my 12 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter and I finally settled into a quasi-routine and patter around our individual projects, interspersed with our Zoom chats and phone calls. Quite the productive little crew! If the hardest thing we have to do during the pandemic is spend a lot of time together, I think we’ll make it. ” - Danielle


United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 6

“Our family has been learning day by day, finding our new normal. We instituted plenty of art time in our daily schedule to provide a creative outlet for our little girl Lacey. She is fascinated with all the colors of the rainbow and the joy of watching pure imagination grow inside a little mind is just magic.” - Carlin
United in Isolation, 2020 | 3/24/20 | No. 2
“There is something so comfortable about his trust in me, as if I know what the f**k I’m doing. Maybe if he spoke English, I would know otherwise, but... his little face and his bird purrs give me something to take care of. I have someone else who relies on me, and I love that.” - Jenn

United in Isolation, 2020 | No.3

“We didn't get out of the house all day and I was feeling guilty. I finally got off the couch and told Adelaide we were walking to the mailbox. We received a package addressed to her. I let her open it and in it was a picture of her and a friend and a best friend necklace. When I called the mom to thank her she told me her daughter didn't want Adelaide to forget about her.” -Lana

United in Isolation, 2020 | No. 4

“Myself and our lovable, yet crazy, Zoe keeping me company on the couch during this f**kd up timeline we are currently living in. Sometimes I’m envious of our pets, as they are oblivious to the madness around us. Their only goal is to love us unconditionally.....and act like they are never fed when there’s food around. I swear we feed em!! Well!!
Stay safe everyone! ” - Jon
United in Isolation, 2020 | 3/23/30 | No. 1
‘’I called the doctor already knowing what they were going to say. Which was pretty much stay at home unless her condition gets worse. I was worried for a split second but it went away quickly. It just makes it tougher.” -Cyrus
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