For one week in April 2019, Chelsey Baldock isolated herself in her apartment with no phone, no laptop, no TV or radio, and no company. She chose to do this to fundraise for the Campaign to End Loneliness, and to raise awareness of the physical and mental impacts of loneliness, and of the 9 million people in the UK already experiencing it.
Read on to find out how she got on.
17:05. Day 1. 5 minutes in. Wow, I’m nervous! I received a few texts and calls today wishing me luck! I have reached my £250 target, which is amazing, and I am now alone in the dark, in the silence. It seems okay, so far.
I took Amy (my daughter) and Lady (the pug) to my Aunts which was okay. Amy’s a teenager so all she needs is her phone and Wi-Fi and she’s happy!
I decided to write a Friday to Friday guide. I thought that if I gave myself a routine then it might go a bit quicker. I decided I would get up slowly, make a coffee, and go back to bed to read for a bit. Then do some exercise, cook something for breakfast, do a 1000-piece puzzle per day, write my diary, and paint my bathroom.
I’ve got this!
21:00. I’m in bed. The first night has been fine. Weirdly I still don’t miss my phone which I thought would be one of the worst parts of this. I have started a puzzle, and had a bath with a glass of red. I have also developed a nasty mouth ulcer, probably due to stress in the days leading up to this.
What if my neighbours get worried and call the police because they haven’t seen me? No-one is allowed to contact me and I couldn’t answer anyway. I doubt they would notice actually. Friday is a long time to wait if I’m hurt, or worse. What if I died? No one would know and I could start to decompose – shit!
08:45. I had such a horrible dream last night. I haven’t had one in ages. I was lost in London, my phone was dead, and I didn’t know how to get back after missing the last train.
I’m going to get up, make a coffee, and then come back to bed to finish my book.
My ulcer feels huge and is even more painful today. Hopefully I won’t get sepsis…
Today has been ok. I have missed Amy but I knew she was having a Chinese tonight so I made myself Kung Po chicken for dinner! God the house makes some strange noises!
I successfully completed a one 1000-piece puzzle and finished my book. I didn’t do any exercise but feel wiped out! I’m in bed now. I’m going to start my next book.
I did not sleep well again last night, but I did finish my book.
I don’t remember my dream but I woke up confused about the time. I think it was 08:40, but I only have the downstairs kitchen clock to go by. If it stopped working, I would just have to go by night and day… I think that would be really hard. I would feel like a cave woman!
“I find it almost life-limiting knowing I can’t just pop out to the garden or the shop if I need something.”
After I woke up this morning I thought about why I am doing this. Yes, this is extreme, some lonely people have access to a TV or a garden, but I felt that wouldn’t challenge me as much. I find it almost life-limiting knowing I can’t just pop out to the garden or the shop if I need something. Maybe it’s harder because the choice is taken away from me, or maybe it’s because I know if I had too, I could get out! Some lonely people don’t get that choice which is what makes this all the more worthwhile.
The ulcer in my mouth is still really painful.
14:30. I have just had a bath. I’m not feeling very hungry today. I did a fair bit of the puzzle and painted the ceiling. Strangely I’m still not missing my phone.
“I thought when I started this that my house would be spotless by the end but I’ve lost the will to do it. There’s no point because no one is going to see it.”
I think it’s Tuesday, it must be! I didn’t write at all yesterday. My motivation is starting to get quite low. My days are beginning to drag now and become monotonous. I have heard a constant buzzing but apart from that I am getting sick of the silence. I thought when I started this that my house would be spotless by the end but I’ve lost the will to do it. There’s no point because no one is going to see it. My mood is quite low today. I’m not sure I can do 3 more days of this.
Buzzing is still actively screwing with my mind! I feel a bit better today though, another puzzle and book complete. I got a little card through the letterbox today from Amy and her friend Poppy. It was definitely needed and so lovely. I laughed a lot at the comments! Thanks, you little terrors!!
I also received a note and a tea cake through the letterbox from a friend saying that they had put my bin out! Hearing the letterbox scared me to death as it’s always so silent. ONLY 2 MORE DAYS!
OH MY GOODNESS LAST FULL DAY AND NIGHT!!
It looks bloody lovely outside. I miss Amy BUT IM GOING TO SEE HER TOMORROW!!!!!!! The buzzing is still there. I tried to find the source last night when I couldn’t sleep (hoping it’s not in my head).
I hoovered downstairs and started to clean properly which I failed to do all week. I’m not sure if I ever would have cleaned if I didn’t know I was finishing being in isolation. I can’t wait for tomorrow!
IT’S THE LAST DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I slept really badly AGAIN, probably too excited about today! I still can’t believe it’s nearly over!
14:30. I just had absolute sheer panic that today was not Friday, but Thursday, and that I had merged my days somehow. The hours are going so slowly.
Its 15:50, I’m counting down the last minutes!
16:12. I just realised my ulcer has gone!! It didn’t turn septic and I didn’t decompose!!
“I really want to continue to raise money for Campaign to End Loneliness because believe me, it is horrific to feel isolated!”
One week later
That evening was overwhelming. My mum turned up with Amy and Lady and a bottle of Fizz! They took me out to dinner but I couldn’t even finish my whole meal! Everyone said how amazingly it’s gone, but I never want to be in that position again. I really want to continue to raise money for Campaign to End Loneliness because believe me, it is horrific to feel isolated!
This article has had 2 comments
Thank you for doing this
Thanks for going through this experience and sharing your reaction. I work for a health care system trying to tackle this problem… I’ll do my best to carry your effort forward into programs that fight this issue.
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