Isolation Week: Stephanie's daily blog and video blog
Author: Stephanie Haines, Lauren Hoar
Published: 4:28 PM EST February 5, 2018
Updated: 2:19 PM EDT March 13, 2018
LOCAL 7 Articles

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Could you go a week without technology and contact with the outside world? What about 24 hours?

Many homebound senior citizens in our community live every day without technology and no real contact to the outside world.

Did you know? Older women are twice as likely as older men to live alone

QUIZ: How many older adults do you think live alone nationwide?

To shed light on their struggle, this week on Channel 10, reporter Stephanie Haines lives in total isolation. Completely alone.

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Isolation Week: Stephanie's daily blog and video blog

LOCAL
Chapter 1

Monday

Day 1 in isolation

At 9 this morning managers came in to take my phones, laptops, Amazon Fire TV stick, and my WIFI. Handing them over was oddly difficult, and for a split second I could back out of this experiment.

I was given a flip phone and a notepad. And then, they left, and it was quiet. I immediately took a nap.

In preparation for this week, I bought all my groceries in advance, a little more than usual just in case. I also got a few books to read and some extra cleaning supplies. Those are my “projects” for the week for when I get lonely and bored.

All I have really done throughout the day is sleep/eat/read/watch TV. It’s kind of relaxing, but my anxiety is still attached to my phones.

Every time my mind wanders, I want to reach for my phone to check my emails or check Twitter. I hear buzzing sounds, probably from my apartment cracking, and I think it’s my phone.

My sleep was a little odd in that every time I would wake up to check the time, I would reach for my phone, then realize it’s not there. I’m realizing how dependent I am. But it’s also freeing. I can sit and read without distraction.

I’ve also realized how dependent I am on my streaming services. Netflix is my number one go-to when I get home from work and want to relax. Now I watch day-time TV on the antenna.

It’s quiet here.

Right now, it still hasn't sunk in that I’m alone and will be for the next few days. We’ll see if I can do it.

Chapter 2

Tuesday

Sleepiness settles in, can't track big news events on social media

I slept in and missed the morning news, so now I feel like I have no idea what’s going on in the world. I don’t have an alarm clock besides my phone. I guess I should have thought of that!

The news of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepping down is huge. My first instinct was to reach for my phone to read more on it, but couldn't do that!

The loneliness has not yet settled in. My mind and body are still in shock, still trying to adjust to no commitments and no internet. If I get tired, I just take a nap. I feel guilty for taking a nap and have to remind myself that I don’t have to listen for my phone buzzing. Still, my mind wanders, and when I want to look something up or check something, I can’t.

Tonight I’m watching the State of the Union and realize I can’t tweet or watch cable news or anything online. That will be difficult. It was difficult not being able to watch the State of the State. I could only watch it streamed on the internet, which I do not have.

I bought groceries to make chicken wild rice soup but did not write down the recipe from the internet. Complete mistake. It didn't turn out that well. Oops.

I will say I think being alone makes you more tired. I’m exhausted. I fall asleep every time I sit down to read or watch daytime TV.

Isolation Week: Stephanie Haines' handwritten blog for the second day in total isolation.
Chapter 3

Wednesday

Some of the “effects” are starting to settle in. First, I am exhausted. I have no idea why. It must be that I’ve been sitting doing nothing for 60 hours or so, and I am not invigorated or energized, so it makes me more tired. Second, I feel hungrier than usual. Again, that’s seemingly counterintuitive, but I believe I’m snacking more out of boredom and to fill a void.

Mentally, I don’t feel lonely. I feel tired. It was hard to get out of bed this morning, feeling exhausted and knowing I had nowhere to be. But I forced myself to deep clean my bathroom, one of my projects for the week. For a second I felt overwhelmed about all the cleaning I should be doing—my kitchen, my living room, my bedroom, etc. It’s funny how I get anxious about my “to-do” list because it’s all relative within this space. On a normal day I would have a lot more to do.

I have finished two books. I realized how much I miss “uninterrupted” reading. It’s hard to really read when you are distracted by your phone.

Watching State of the Union without Twitter or access to news sites was really difficult. I made a mental note to read up on it when this week is done. All I can do is watch WBIR’s coverage on it.

I am about half way through! I am at 53 of about 104 hours!

Isolation Week: Stephanie Haines' handwritten blog for the third day in total isolation.
Chapter 4

Thursday

I am supremely bored. This is hard. Today I cleaned my kitchen, vacuumed and cleaned anything else in sight.

I started a new book but it’s not as intriguing as the last tow I read, so now I’m half-reading half-watching daytime TV.

I have little more than 24 hours left. So, although this is difficult, I have something to look forward to.

But I cannot imagine living my life like this with no foreseeable end in sight. People who live like this must live in so much despair. It makes you lethargic, depressed, irritable, tired and gloomy. I feel like I’m treating myself as a sick person but I’m not sick. I bet people who live like this watch TV as much as they can so they can at least see virtual humans. They must feel so closed off from the world.

Maybe they look forward to a certain TV shows like Law and Order or maybe they look forward to when people show up to their door with mail.

I have not stepped outside since early Monday morning. Not getting fresh air really brings me down. Today is also not sunny. It’s gloomy, and that’s really affecting my mood.

I think I take social interaction for granted because I do it every day for my job. I don’t realize that if you don’t socialize enough, you really look forward to the next time you see people. It’s the ability to look forward to something. And then that social interaction carries you on to the next. But if someone has no one to meet to look forward to, I can’t imagine. We really need to help these people and reach out.

Chapter 5

Friday

Today is the day! I have almost made it. I can’t wait to step outside and see people. Or just to drive, walk around, text my friends—anything!

Today, probably knowing that I was going to be able to leave my house eventually, put on makeup and a real outfit. I also did some yoga and tried to work out as best I could. I’m feeling less lethargic knowing I have an out.

But I can’t help but think, what if this wasn’t the end? What if this went on for another week, a month, a year? I would be so irritable, so despairing. I would run out of food for sure. I would have to really force myself to do things like get out of bed or clean.

And maybe this is how homebound people feel when they know someone is coming over to socialize. Maybe they do get a wave of motivation or a feeling of anticipation. All I’m doing is going to work, but I can’t wait to chat with coworkers.

It doesn’t help that despite the cold, it looks like a beautiful day outside, and I won’t be able to really bask in the sun.

Loneliness is real. I did have a flip phone. I called my mom, my grandparents and my best friend from home (these are the only numbers I know by heart). My grandparents were so excited I called, and I was just as excited to talk to someone. I try to call them often, but I’m normally so busy that I don’t talk long. But this time we talked for a while.

It’s also really refreshing to call a friend instead of text. I feel calling will become a lost art. But talking to a friend on the phone is so uplifting. It makes you feel happier.

I realized how attached I am to internet and technology. Part of it is for my job, and the other part is just pure social dependence. It’s a bit crazy. I look back 10 years ago and know that we weren’t like this. It’s crazy how much can change and what our definition of “feeling connected” means. I think people experience loneliness even when they do see people often. It’s not just a physical thing.

My main takeaways are that loneliness is real. It’s real, raw, depressing and difficult. It affects your mental state and your physical state. I experienced some effects, and there’s no telling how those would have progressed if I had been isolated longer.

That means we really need to reach out and spend time with people who are homebound, alone and lonely. It’s the very least we can do. Humans live for social interaction. And when that’s limited, we become depressed. Human interaction invigorates us, more so that interaction through technology. IT’s talking and interacting with people I crave, not my phone!

Isolation Week: Stephanie Haines' handwritten blog for the final day in total isolation.
Chapter 6

Connecting Hearts Food Drive

Chapter 7

Handwritten Blog

Click through our gallery of Stephanie's handwritten blog