A reflection of my own behaviors of isolation, how it relates to depression and the best way to break out of it to embrace community.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred to be alone. Not in a sad way, but because my mind always feels clearer and because let’s be real, it’s one of the only ways an empathetic people pleaser can find any sort of reprieve. When you’re alone you don’t have to worry about other people you can just do what you want and feel want you want at your own convenience and there’s a beautiful freedom within that.
I also used to think I loved to be alone because I am an only child. It makes total sense that I’m making mental health videos because this is the sort of thing I used to do when I’d be home alone waiting for my mom to come home from work. Singing, and dancing and performing for an imaginary audience.
It never occurred to me that I could also be isolating due to depression. Especially during this time of year. And lately, I’ve just felt so tired from final school projects that I just haven’t gone above and beyond to be social. I have this tendency quite often and it makes me feel as though I am bad at friendships and all relationships because I’m not readily available, to party or otherwise.
A lot of it has to do with boundaries as well. Sometimes I am not emotionally available enough to be there emotionally for others. This is when I’m processing intense or heavy feelings or whenever I am on a self-growth journey of expansion. The problem is, is that those that isolate can become too comfortable or content being alone and this separates you from the community and support of others.
The trick is listening to your body and your needs and doing absolutely every social activity in moderation. And only saying yes when you genuinely want to, not because you feel like you’ll disappoint someone if you don’t go. This is something I feel like I’ll probably be working on to some extent for the rest of my life, but it’s gotten so much better than when I was in my twenties.
If the loneliness or isolation is starting to creep up but being social is too intimidating my advice is to start small. DM a friend or interact with them on social media. Then move up to a text. Then maybe a phone call or audio message. And then make plans to meet in person. 0 to 100 might work for some people but some people might need to warm up to being social again and that’s ok!
Let’s normalize our bodies, needs and emotions work in cycles and let’s honor those cycles instead of creating huge expectations that we feel like we need to work up to.
And for those that celebrate, Happy Hanukkah! And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope everyone gets some nice down time and time with families and loved ones or if you spend it alone to treat yourself! It really is such a special time of year even though it can be stressful. Sending all my love to you!