Solitude can be healthy and rejuvenating. Time alone can do wonders when you need to hit the pause button. But when you find yourself with more and more unanswered emails and texts, regretfully declining RSVPs, and hours logged on the couch, that seclusion you were craving may be closer to self-isolation.
Self-isolation feeds loneliness.
And when left unchecked, loneliness fuels depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which only contributes to more withdrawal, according to Michelle Lim, PhD.
“We are not designed to be alone,” she says. “We are a social species.”
A study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science found that both actual and perceived social isolation are associated with being detrimental to our health.
Adding to the problem is that other people often don’t pick up on the signs. It’s easy for them to mistake your silence as you merely being busy or even disinterested. For you, this gradual and unintentional withdrawal could be a sign of bipolar relapse you hadn’t seen coming.
If you’ve found yourself handing out more “no, thank you”s to social invitations, consider whether you’re making excuses for yourself. Try not to rationalize all that one-on-none time and instead see it for what it is, then reach out to someone you trust for some gentle support in saying “yes” to an invitation when you want to say “no.”
Apologize for your recent absences if necessary, and perhaps use that as a segue for a larger conversation about what you’ve been going through.
In a memo to those in her life who care about her but aren’t nearby enough to see how seriously bipolar can impact her life, blogger Lynda Williams writes: “There is a small group of core people that I talk bipolar with, and if you aren’t in that group, I’m asking you and myself, why aren’t we talking about it? I’m afraid to disappoint you, and I’m afraid to lose you…” Read more >>