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growing accustomed to social isolation


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I find myself being more and more comfortable in relatively complete solitude/isolation.

 

Before, I longed to have friendships and relationships and felt tremendous sadness that I didn't, but over the course of the past several months I'm finding myself more and more content with just being alone and not having to face other people. The only true interaction I have is going to class, and even then I try to make myself as small and quiet and unnoticeable as possible, and it seems to work for the most part. Friends I used to see and talk to sporadically have completely fallen by the wayside; they still try to reestablish contact every few weeks, but I systematically ignore their attempts.The only people I actually talk to on a semi-regular basis anymore are my sister and mother, and they live over an hour away so I hardly ever have to actually see them. And random texting conversations with a guy I haven't seen in years who lives 2000 miles away.

 

I think I have just become so numb and so tired of having to climb an Everest of anxiety to have a basic interaction with another person that I have simply given up to take the pressure off. I still have bouts of loneliness sometimes but they are fleeting and usually getting on the internet or watching some TV shakes me out of it. Is that sad?

 

I don't know. Is this a bad thing? Should I be concerned? Am I giving in to social anxiety and slowly becoming a complete shut-in? Will I wake up one day in 20 years completely alone with not a soul in the world who knows me or cares about me and have deep regrets about this? I'm not sure what I should be thinking or doing differently. I have this fantasy that someday soon I will move far, far away and start fresh and leave the anxiety behind and be able to make deep lasting connections with people. I know that's ridiculous and very unlikely to happen, but the fantasy seems to sustain me day after day, and I kind of cling to it.

 

This is rambly, I apologize. Just trying to organize my thoughts about this to bring up in therapy and hoping to get some perspectives from people who may have similar issues. 

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I love being alone.  I have one friend here, and the others are 1000s of miles away.  It would be so stressful and anxiety-provoking if I was around people all the time because it is so emotionally/mentally taxing on me, and I end up exhausted, stressed, irritable, anxious, etc and I just can't think.

 

Personally I don't think it is a bad thing.  It would though be a bad thing for ME being around lots of people.

 

Having friends on-line, like here at CB, I love ... no face-to-face interaction, I can think before I write and my thoughts don't always come out jumbled, I can come and go at my own pace.  These kinds of interactions I really like having.

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I'm a loner for the most part, too. A friend currently lives here with me, so there is some socialization, but not much.

I sometimes feel the same way as you, that I will wake up one day with no one to care, decades older, and it will be pathetic. Other times I'm fine with the idea of living cut off from society for good. Its weird.

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Interesting thread........ I guess I have a similar situation myself as I have pretty much isolated myself over the years.  I don't know if it is social anxiety, anti-social behavior or whatever........... but I do find other people hard work.  I've had no 'friends' for at least 10 years and very little interaction with my peer group for the same time.  I live with my parents and the only meaningful relationship  I have is with them.   Everyone else it is either professional (my doctor, counsellor, etc) or simply very casual acquaintances.

 

I don't know if this is social anxiety or not because I do feel very comfortable in my own space.  However I also fear getting old, lonely and having no one to talk to when my parents die, but I do not have a strong desire for friendships or socialisation.  Although I do admit it would be nice sometimes to be able to get out and 'do something' with someone, cinemar, fishing, gym, whatever.  

 

I also worry I will wake up one day and think 'f*ck, I have missed out on life' and I often think if I died tomorrow who would give a crap?    On the other hand I am well aware that those extroverted people with lots of 'friends' will find out one day that those friends are not true friends as they will not stand by them in times of difficulty.  I don't think going out every night and having a hundred contacts on facebook is necessarily any more fulfilling.

 

 I think life is probably better when you have a few really meaningful relationships........ but it is not easy to find those........ and of course if you can then there is always the fear of losing them.........

Edited by crazyguy
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Are you depressed at all at the moment? I find when I'm not depressed, I still have social anxiety, but I usually have a desire to socialise as well. I have become accustomed to social isolation as well over this past year. It has definitely made the anxiety worse. I'm attending group therapy and that is challenging. Hopefully I will gradually become more used to being around people. I'd suggest you try to maintain whatever exposure to social situations you can, so that your anxiety doesn't get worse.

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Are you depressed at all at the moment? I find when I'm not depressed, I still have social anxiety, but I usually have a desire to socialise as well. I have become accustomed to social isolation as well over this past year. It has definitely made the anxiety worse. I'm attending group therapy and that is challenging. Hopefully I will gradually become more used to being around people. I'd suggest you try to maintain whatever exposure to social situations you can, so that your anxiety doesn't get worse.

This ^

 

I am definitely introverted by nature (though not necessarily unsocial) , and I have social anxiety, so I relate to the things people have said about being relatively contentedly self-contained. But I've definitely gotten less accustomed to being among people in the past few years, and it is getting harder to change gears and interact when I have to do it. More stammering, difficulty knowing what to say, major anxiety. And I actually live with three people. You might want to ask yourself what you want for your life. If your plan is to live an insular life, outside of the workforce, etc., then that's one thing, but if you see yourself wanting or needing to be among people, it might be helpful to try to exercise your social muscles in some way to keep things from getting even harder later. Also, as mcjimjam seemed to be getting at, the isolation could be a depression thing, separate from the social phobia.

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I have progressively isolated myself to the extent that it could take probably a month or two before anyone notices that I'm dead, and longer before they come to break down my door. All my family live on other continents. I have just one irl friend, also MI. I go weeks without seeing anyone (although I will communicate online). At first I was very happy to be alone and found people a lot of work, thus it was a relief to be alone. 

 

But I have lived to regret this. From having felt perfectly self-contained, I am now very lonely. Being alone in my head means getting lost in it and missing the reality checks when when your mind plays tricks on you. Depression spirals. I have realised that I need breaks from myself. I now have to make concerted efforts to get out of the house and talk to someone. I joined a choir as I like singing and have to go to practice once a week. Sometimes that is the only social activity in the week. I don't even enjoy it as I can't read music and struggle to follow and learn new songs (memory pretty hopeless). I hate going to public events alone.

 

Isolating backfired on me. 

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Are you depressed at all at the moment? I find when I'm not depressed, I still have social anxiety, but I usually have a desire to socialise as well. I have become accustomed to social isolation as well over this past year. It has definitely made the anxiety worse. I'm attending group therapy and that is challenging. Hopefully I will gradually become more used to being around people. I'd suggest you try to maintain whatever exposure to social situations you can, so that your anxiety doesn't get worse.

Honestly, I'm not sure if I'm depressed. I don't think so. At least, if I am it's not severe. I just feel a disconnect from other people, like there's a huge chasm between me and the rest of the world, and like everyone else is in on something that I'm not a part of. I've always felt that to a certain degree but lately it's been more pronounced. 

 

I have progressively isolated myself to the extent that it could take probably a month or two before anyone notices that I'm dead, and longer before they come to break down my door. All my family live on other continents. I have just one irl friend, also MI. I go weeks without seeing anyone (although I will communicate online). At first I was very happy to be alone and found people a lot of work, thus it was a relief to be alone. 

 

But I have lived to regret this. From having felt perfectly self-contained, I am now very lonely. Being alone in my head means getting lost in it and missing the reality checks when when your mind plays tricks on you. Depression spirals. I have realised that I need breaks from myself. I now have to make concerted efforts to get out of the house and talk to someone. I joined a choir as I like singing and have to go to practice once a week. Sometimes that is the only social activity in the week. I don't even enjoy it as I can't read music and struggle to follow and learn new songs (memory pretty hopeless). I hate going to public events alone.

 

Isolating backfired on me. 

I feel that's exactly where I'm headed, and I will live to regret it, but I'm not sure how to halt it. 

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I find myself being more and more comfortable in relatively complete solitude/isolation.

 

Before, I longed to have friendships and relationships and felt tremendous sadness that I didn't, but over the course of the past several months I'm finding myself more and more content with just being alone and not having to face other people.

 

 

I have been feeling the same way...I'm not sure if it's good or not. I do miss interactions sometimes, especially when hubby isn't interested in talking.

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I haven't had any friends in about 18 years- since I was about 11 years old. I think I've been very shy most of my life, with low self-esteem, and with severe social anxiety and avoidance of my peers.

 

Now it's odd for me, because I'm on new medication, and I'm having the desire to have friends (I mean, I'm lonely just staying in my room and studying, like I always do- that or watching tv), and I don't know how to make friends. I went to Zumba class today (an exercise class), but I didn't really talk with anyone there; I still get shy and get quiet. But now, I feel lonely, always being by myself. But I don't have any social skills and I'm still a shy person. 

 

Also- my mother told me when I was a baby I rarely cried (which I don't think is normal for a baby to do), and my parents always slept through the night with me. It was like I didn't want to bother them, they told me.

Edited by lisa2712
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  • 4 weeks later...

I love being alone.  I have one friend here, and the others are 1000s of miles away.  It would be so stressful and anxiety-provoking if I was around people all the time because it is so emotionally/mentally taxing on me, and I end up exhausted, stressed, irritable, anxious, etc and I just can't think.

 

Personally I don't think it is a bad thing.  It would though be a bad thing for ME being around lots of people.

 

Having friends on-line, like here at CB, I love ... no face-to-face interaction, I can think before I write and my thoughts don't always come out jumbled, I can come and go at my own pace.  These kinds of interactions I really like having.

I do too, and it's hard to explain to other people so I've stopped mentioning it. 

I AM having some isolation issues since quitting my job to work from home and it is messing with me to not have a little but of IRL interaction, and when I reach out for help the first thing people assume is that I use the internet to isolate into somehow, but for me, when I'm really, really epically depressed the first place I begin to isolate from IS the internet. My online friends know something is wrong long before my IRL friends because I stop posting in our Facebook groups, etc.

I'm figuring out I need a few hours a day of interaction in real life a few times a week, but not a 'hanging out with friends' thing. I feel like I need a class or a job or something a few hours a week. Not full-time definitely. 

And oddly, I've found seeking out volunteer opportunities harder than I thought it would be LOL. People always say "such and such is ALWAYS in need of a hand" but then when I inquire I only get a very very small handful of replies. Weird.

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For me, isolating is one of the first signs of depression.  I work to make sure I have human interaction whether it be talking to a friend of just talking to someone in a store.  I don't think there is anything wrong with being alone, I enjoy that too.  But when you find yourself not wanting to make contact at all, I think its time to ask yourself why.

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For me, isolating is one of the first signs of depression.  I work to make sure I have human interaction whether it be talking to a friend of just talking to someone in a store.  I don't think there is anything wrong with being alone, I enjoy that too.  But when you find yourself not wanting to make contact at all, I think its time to ask yourself why.

Thanks for the input, Phoenix. I'm inclined to agree :/.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have found my social phobia to be cyclic in moderately shallow, long waves (if that makes any sense). I'm feeling, meh... pretty okay for a couple of months, and then I realize I've been down, out, and isolating myself for a couple of months. There doesn't seem to be any warning, and no definable transition, but it seems to me to be bipolar-like. It's always something I see in the rearview mirror, and not ahead of me.

When I think thoughts like "this is how I'm going to be for the rest of my life" (and I've thought it often over the years) I know I'm depressed and need to work on it (although that's in no way, shape, or form easy for me, and I haven't found effective techniques to do it consistently... I'm really just saying I try in a feeble way, usually by talking to my Pdoc, and sometimes it has been the catalyst for a change in meds, or dose, or the like). Of my little cluster of crappy mental illness things, social phobia is the one I can least control, predict, or influence in any satisfactory way. It's The Thing that has messed with me the most, and continues to do so.

I would agree with any sentiments that allude to the notion that, no, it isn't the way you [and I] will always be. For me, something changes, and sends me either slowly back up to near-"normal" (...for lack of a better word... Sorry all), or slowly down to "That's it. I'm isolated forever." I try to hang in until it transitions up again. But I can't control it, and It still sucks.

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theres a difference with alone and being alone. i understand both. i am happy to be alone and enjoy my own company. now and then i want to breakout but then i find myself back here preferring to be isolated and left alone. its been a long time since ive had a friend even a close friend. i feel like a stranger to the world and its going forward and im staying behind. and i think about how many people would actually attend my funeral. i also pray nothing happens to my mum. i dont answer telephones or mobiles or the door. my family has been use to this for such a long time and yes they get shitty with me. hey its me.

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and i think about how many people would actually attend my funeral. i also pray nothing happens to my mum.

 

Same with me.  I have no idea aside from family who are alive at that time would come to my funeral.  I pray nothing happens to either parent.

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