Isolation and loneliness

I know that isolation is not conducive for good mental health. I know that social relationships and interactions are important components of human occupation- I should as an OT student. I know it in theory and I know it from past experience. But I still become trapped in the confines of my bedroom, growing increasingly lonely as a result. Uni’s out, exams are over and for the past couple of weeks I’ve been mainly stuck at home. Loneliness is pushing me further into the grasps of depression. And I don’t know how to fix it.

‘Leave the house & have lunch with someone!’ tweeted M, whom I met during my most recent hospitalisation. Which is all well and good, except, LOL I don’t actually have anyone to have lunch with.

Earlier in the week I viewed some photos posted on Facebook and Twitter. Photos of three of my pharmacy friends at a get together. Without me. Awesome. It’s especially awesome given these pharmacy friends are the only ones I go out with to hang out. Two of them have also recently acquired boyfriends, meaning all four of them are now in a relationship. Except me. Fuelling the thought that they’re also now going to be too busy spending time with their boyfriends to bother with me and I’m going to be left forever alone. Friendless and boyfriendless.

In hospital I recall the Clinical Nurse Specialist responsible for conducting a number of the groups voicing his concern that I’d return home upon discharge, spend all my energy getting through my exams, then after that spend all my time alone at home with a resultant drop in mood. He suggested that even though I didn’t get all that much from groups, coming along as an outpatient anyway just to get out of the house and for something to do. On the day of my discharge, he again asked if I wanted to continue attending groups. Knowing he knows I’m not the biggest fan of group, I laughed and declined with a “Mmm, no thanks!” “Well I had to ask,” he replied good humouredly. I thought I’d be fine with the stress of exams behind me. How could he, someone who’d known me only for a few weeks, get his hypothesis so right, yet me knowing me my whole life, still get it so wrong?

5 thoughts on “Isolation and loneliness

  1. This is one of the hardest things. I, too, separate myself from others, and am somehow cold and distant or aloof or something so that my friends don’t seem to ever think of me except when I contact them. This is changing, somewhat, as I consciously cultivate friendships, at least when the depression is not too bad. The problem is that, when I need friends most, I don’t reach out. The more I need contact, the more afraid of it I am. You and I need more aggressive friends who, if they don’t hear from us in a day or two, will come to our houses and make us go and get outside our heads for a bit. I know when it’s up to me, I will do what I did yesterday: skip group, write no emails, answer no texts, skip my meeting, be alone … and when I continue to do this, I’m sure cutting is just around the corner … I hope you can hold on, BtF … I like having you around. Remember to breathe.

  2. Your Clinical Nurse Specialist probably knew from experience that this would happen. I’ve had clinical interviews with a psychologist whom I’d met for the very first time that day, and she could predict my behaviour in situations I never told her about. We tend to think we are the only ones who are weird / fucked up / crazy like that, but in reality certain behavioural or psychological patterns are very common among people with relating conditions.

    I have the very same problem of “crashing” after exams or when getting past an important deadline. You push through with all your energy and, once the pressure is off, you completely falter.
    My therapist taught me that basically you have to fake it until you make it. I would think along the lines of “I’m feeling fine today, so I’ll go watch a movie / meet a friend,” but really, it is just the other way around: “I should go out watch a movie / meet a friend, so I feel fine afterwards.”
    In the beginning, it was very difficult to follow his advice because I had isolated myself so much and because I had so little energy, but eventually, it showed the desired effects. I’ve been in therapy for a year now and have gotten a lot better at taking care of my needs, including the need for company.
    You can’t really know whether your friends will have time for you or not unless you ask them. Between Christmas 2009 and Christmas 2010, I had exactly one evening out with a friend – all the remaining days I spent holed up at home. And the main reason was because I had stopped asking people whether they wanted to spend time with me and just assumed they didn’t have time or inclination for that. Once I made an effort to get back in touch, they also reached out to me again…

    I hope you’ll find a way out of this which is going to make you feel better! 🙂

  3. I know how you feel, I struggle to leave the house the idea of meeting someone for lunch is great in principle but its finding someone to meet that is the issue! I need to get out more and I’m planning to bite the bullet in the new year and sign up for a class or something that gets me out meeting new people – touch wood I will be able to go through with it! Hope you manage t find your way out soon 🙂 xx

  4. I initally didn’t want to do groups either but I have found it to be really good as an outpatient because people in there are usually in a much better place than when they were in hospital and it’s so supportive. I am not trying to change your opinion but I think the Clinical Nurse Specialist probably has a point. It would get you out of the house at least. I go to DBT and I have found the skills I am learning really valuable. I did CBT first and didn’t like it and there a number of others they offered too. Thing is, at least it’s a social interaction. Thinking of you!

  5. I understand. Not only is there a huge letdown after post-exam stress, there is this time of year on top of it. Even if you can’t find people to do lunch with, try anything that will get you out and around people, at least. Read a book at the local cafe, take a walk in a park, visit an art museum. Focus on doing something that during school you never have enough time for. Even if you are still a bit lonely, you’ll get out and do something you enjoy. And to be honest, going to groups as an outpatient might not be a bad idea. Groups exist for almost the sole purpose of making people be around other people, the subject is practically unimportant. It might not actually be fun, but at the same time, you might feel better after you go. (Now I need to practice what I preach, and get *myself* out more often.)

    BTW I love the butterfly 🙂
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

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