Not Ashamed Addendum: Isolation
If you haven't already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.
(Relevant to bi-polar, autistic, musician, writer, introvert, reclusive, but also to "my own biggest fan")
Stepping out of the flow of existing topics for this addendum, because it seems like an important one for people who care about me and are reading along.
I was talking to one of my sisters the other day, and she made a comment about how depression is isolating. Which is true. Feeling isolated and alone is a very common part of the depression experience for most (all?) sufferers. Which got me thinking about me and solitude (and also the fact that I think my sister was trying to carefully express worry about me and solitude given the fact that depression is isolating).
Now, I'm in a rush to get some things done, so I'm not going to google it, but...It seems like depression is isolating because:
- Depression seems to be tangled up with the lying voice of low self-esteem, so you isolate yourself because you are pretty sure you don't deserve friends or good times and that your friends probably actually hate you.
- You have no energy or desire to do anything but lie in bed or binge watch TV or something like that.
- You don't want to be judged for being depressed, and the best way to avoid judgement is to avoid people.
- Other people can be weird or uncomfortable around you when you're depressed, so they stop inviting you around or you get tired of that and you stop accepting invitations.
There might be more reasons, but those are the ones that seem to be the main issues.
If you look at the list of labels you could apply to me (as laid out in my Not Ashamed posts), you'll see that figuring out my own situation (am I isolated by depression?) is complicated by other things. In addition to being bi-polar (which, for me, is where the regular depression is seated), I am:
- Autistic. Autism can be isolating for all the causes noted up in that first list, but also because of social awkwardness, sensory overwhelm issues, and how much work it can be to try to appear "normal."
- A musician and writer.Setting aside the oft-noted isolation of a touring musician...For me, and for every creative I know, alone time is essential for actually creating. Time to process, to try things out, to do the actual work.
- An introvert. I won't waste time dispelling misunderstandings of that term. The internet is full of that. But the root of what an introvert actually is is this: whilst extraverts are charged by being around other people, introverts need alone time to recharge. For me, I need hours every day--and sleep doesn't count--to recharge from interacting with other humans. When I'm super worn out, that also includes avoiding online or on-phone interactions.
- Reclusive. For reasons of pure preference, not due to any of the stuff on the first list or the rest of this list, I just really love solitude and enjoy being away from humans.
In a case like me, it would be hard to tell if depression were isolating me, because so many other things in me either need or lend themselves towards isolation. So, to maybe relieve some concern from others, I want to address the usual reasons for isolation that I put in the first list.
- Low self-esteem: This definitely used to be the case. As noted in another Not Ashamed essay, I have known the grip of self loathing. But, these days, I'm my own biggest fan. I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea, but that's good cos I can barely manage the friendships of those who do love the taste of me. And I've pretty much stopped spending time with people that I think actually hate me. So, nope. This one isn't an issue.
- No energy or desire: This happens. It sure does. But I'm never lying in bed and weeping because I wish I had the energy or desire to hang out with someone. And I know that, if I didn't want to be alone in that, I have friends who would happily, quietly sit with me. Really, given my introvert nature, it is a relief to me to be alone on such days. Being around another human would only sap what little energy I might have.
- Don't want to be judged: I'm pretty lucky here. In addition to caring less and less with every passing year what others think, I happen to be mainly engaged with people outside the mainstream. One awesome thing about that is that such people don't stigmatise depression. They don't judge me; they feel compassion and--in some cases--empathy for me. Basically, I am totally blessed that my friends are awesome and not "normal." (Again, see how I am Not Ashamed about my depression, so not even general societal stigmas can isolate me. Rar!)
- Not invited cos I'm a bummer: As noted, I have great friends. I've always been very blessed with good people in my life. Even when I was a raging mess as a teen, my friends (again, not mainstream kinds of kids) invited me and welcomed me. We tried to support each other and care for each other and, at the very least, learn to work with each others' messiness. These days, I think that I manage to keep my messiest bits out of the fun social times (which is something that is made easier by the lovely solitude I need, I want, I take for myself). And, even when I don't, my friends aren't weird about it but are thoroughly supportive and sweet.
I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging. I wrote all that with an immense sense of gratitude. And I sincerely wish that everyone could feel so blessed as I do. And, if you are struggling with something and feel isolated for whatever reason, I truly hope you can find friends and resources to help you have as little solitude as you want.
But no worries about me. I don't feel isolated, and I know there are people I can easily turn to if I ever did feel isolated. (And thanks for those of you who have felt loving concern over this. I hope this eased your minds.)