Isolation vs Introversion

Is there a clear line between someone who is introverted and someone who is choosing to isolate themselves? When does “needing alone time to recharge” go from something normal to the extreme of isolation?

I feel that I have become a routine isolationist of sorts. By that I mean that for so long, especially during some very low times in the last few years, I didn’t want to be around most people because I was so deeply depressed. I had zero energy to spend on others because I used it all up trying to get by day to day. I needed that energy for basics functions as well as being able to work a full-time and part-time job.

So being alone became a routine. I would cancel on people, I would keep my free time open so I could truly rest.

Right now (knock on wood) my mental health is in pretty good condition. Things are going well at the moment so I hope that things stay that way for a while.

Since my mental health is fine, why can’t I break out of my isolationist routine?

Maybe it’s because I don’t have any close friends in my life. Maybe I’m turning into a hermit. Maybe I’ve lost my ability to be social.

I had the opportunity today to have lunch with a friend but canceled. I got a flat tire today so I said I couldn’t do lunch because of that even though my tire is fixed. I totally could have gone, but I chose not to.

My therapist encourages me to make friends and go out and do things but I find it very challenging to do when my comfort zone is so cozy.

Basically Friendless

For ages my therapist has been encouraging me to try to make some friends. She asks me on a semi-regular basis whether I’ve made any new friends or if I’ve hung out with any friends since I’ve seen her last (I have sessions once a month since I’ve been doing well mentally).

Often the answer is no.

Right now I have one good friend that I work with and speak to outside of work. We talk about our personal lives and text/call each other rather regularly. She’s really the only one.

It’s pretty sad when I reflect on the fact that I don’t really have any friends anymore. All of my best friends from high school live in different states, none of my college friends live nearby and former co-worker friends have drifted away.

I feel jealous sometimes because I feel like everybody has friends but me. I wish I had a friend that I could get coffee with or go shopping with.

As an adult I don’t know how you can make friends outside of work and religious gatherings. I don’t believe in any religion, I don’t join clubs, I’m not into the bar/pub scene and when I go to the gym I don’t speak to anybody.

My therapist has made so many suggestions on how to make friends but I shoot them down.

I often spend time with my family or my boyfriend when I’m hanging out with other humans. I visit my grandmother on a regular basis especially since she has been quite ill. I sometimes will take my younger cousin out for lunch or shopping. I spend time with my mom and brother pretty often as well.

Family is important to me but I think that concept only came about because I don’t have friends to occupy my time anymore.

I mainly spend my time alone.

I read books, practice Japanese, read the news, watch YouTube and watch tv shows or movies. I write on here too!

I’m more introverted so I don’t hate spending most of my free time alone. But there are times, like tonight, when I wish that I had a friend to hang out with.

A Burden

I don’t know if I will ever feel like an important person. Not important as in somebody with influence or fame. I mean someone whose purpose is a meaningful one, someone who matters.

I have felt this way for most of my life so it’s ingrained in my mind.

Other people I can see are important. Others do good in the world and make things better whether for people, animals or the environment. I see people make an impact that I don’t think I ever will be able to do.

I bring down the mood. I make those closest to me sad. I only add problems and hurdles into the lives of those around me.

I feel like a prickly sea urchin that nobody wants to touch. That my mental illness makes me undesirable. That it creates more issues than anything else. That it has made me rotten from the inside out.

I am a burden.

I take up space.

I don’t think anybody likes me.

The only person who actually loves me is my mom. Which of course she does, she’s my mom! She has to love me.

I think about myself in all aspects of life and how if I wasn’t there, there would be room for somebody better.

Like at work, if I quit that would make room for somebody with much more talent than me. In my relationship, he could find somebody 100 times better than me in an instant. It wouldn’t take much looking to do either of those tasks.

Same goes for being a daughter, friend and sister too.

I’m not perfect at all but I wish that I was. I wish I could write beautiful words and create stunning graphics at work. I wish I had no issues, triggers or problems to put on the shoulders of my boyfriend and family.

I’m not considering ending my life so don’t worry about that. I have that sorted out for the most part (thank you therapy and medicine!).

Is this a big shit session directed at myself? Absolutely.

Sorry this was so long and incredibly negative. I really needed to get this off my chest. I don’t have therapy until Thursday so I decided to toss my thoughts up on here.

Self-Harm by Restricting Food

Self-harm is not limited to cutting, burning, biting, scratching, etc. your skin. In a recent post I saw on The Mighty (a great community for people with mental illness, disabilities and chronic health issues) about how self-harm goes beyond those things.

After reading that (which now I can’t find it anywhere so I can’t even link it for you guys), I realized how many of the things I was doing the author classified as self-harm. Two that I think off the top of my head were restricting food and not acclimating to temperature changes.

Food Restriction

This has been a struggle for me for a few years now. Especially when I’m anxious my stomach gets so tense that I feel like I can’t eat. When I’m like that I can only eat a very small amount of food or I will feel sick.

And even if my anxiety isn’t making my stomach tense but I’m still anxious, sometimes I just don’t want to eat despite my stomach growling. This is happening today. I am feeling anxious and depressed today so I don’t want to have anything to eat. I’m quite hungry but I don’t want to take a single bite.

Am I punishing myself? Sort of.

Is this a healthy thing? Not really.

Being Too Cold

I really didn’t realize that this was a form of self-harm. So what I mean is that if I’m cold, I won’t do anything about it as a sort of punishment to myself. I don’t usually do this as often with being hot because I hate being too hot.

In the winter my office is usually quite cold (the building was built in 1929 what can you do?) and I have a space heater to help but I don’t often use it. Instead I’ll just be cold. I’ll suffer through it just because I can.

This is a strange one to explain because I don’t entirely understand my reasoning for it.

Do you have any trouble with restricting food or letting yourself suffer by being too cold/hot?

I am experiencing PMDD right now which makes me feel every emotion all at the same time. So there’s a lot going on in my head right now so it’s very hard to get through this time of the month. Right now it feels like my swimming upstream in a river of peanut butter.

A Letter to My Struggling Self

I am very inspired by Hunting Happiness who did this post on the Bipolar Writer Blog. She called it “A Letter to Myself on the Days I Feel I’m About to Drown.” I love that title and her idea to write up a letter to encourage herself when she’s struggling with her mental illness.

So I want to do the same! Sometimes the most encouraging person is yourself when you are feeling depressed or anxious.

Dear Megan,

Are you alright? Whatever horrible thoughts you’ve been ruminating on, press pause for a moment to read what I have to tell you.

Remember what your therapist said? Not every thought your brain generates is a fact. Your brain loves to lie and trick you, it loves to kick you when you’re down. It sucks to say but you can’t always believe your mind.

Because I am you, I know the dark thoughts that are buzzing around in your mind. Thoughts you’ve been battling since you were little. Just because you’ve been hearing them forever doesn’t mean that they hold any amount of truth.

Worthless? You’re absolutely worthy of existing. Everybody hates you? Also not true. Think about how much your mom, brother, dad, boyfriend and grandmother care about you. They would be deeply upset if you weren’t here.

Your writing has impacted so many people, even those who you don’t know! You have been able to positively impact other people’s lives with your words. Nobody else could have written those stories like you.

Your experiences matter. Your perspective is needed.

I love you and so do all of the important people in your life!

Love,
Megan

P.S. Pet your cats, watch “My Roommate is a Cat” and stretch.

 

Telling Depression to Piss Off

This morning I was almost out the door for work when I got the empty pain of depression. It sits in my chest making me feel hollow inside.

As I got in my car and began to drive to the office the feeling was still very present. Nothing had happened this morning or last night to make me depressed but sometimes we don’t get to choose when we are depressed. Depression can engulf me anytime it feels like it.

Nagging thoughts kept pushing on my mind about how my boyfriend doesn’t love me and that I’m a worthless human. These thoughts were quiet but I wanted to confront them before they got louder.

I said aloud, “Hey depression, piss off!”

I rarely verbally confront my mental illness like this but I had been feeling good for the past 12 hours and I want to keep it going for longer.

I continued to tell my depression that what it was telling me isn’t true. I know that my boyfriend loves me even when my brain tells me it’s not true. I see his actions and I hear his words that contradict my depression and anxiety.

Instead of letting my depression kick me down to the ground, I am fighting back today.

So to help me keep fighting today, I’m going to do a little list of things that are going well and what I’m looking forward to.

Things going well:

1. My boyfriend and I are doing very well
2. I’ve been keeping up with doing my nails (having my nails painted makes me feel better about myself)
3. I’ve been feeling close with my mom lately

Looking forward to:

1. Therapy on Thursday
2. Getting my windshield replaced today (it has like a foot long crack in it for some reason)
3. Doing yoga after work

I hope that this inspired somebody on this Earth to stand up to their mental illness!

Perfection

Something I’ve struggled with for a long time is wanting to be perfect.

I think a lot of us think that wanting to be perfect is the same as a perfectionist but it’s not in my case. I’m definitely not a perfectionist in most aspects of my life.

In school I never tried to be the best at everything or even to get straight As. It goes the same for any activity I’ve ever done, like music or sports, I knew being perfect in those areas wasn’t attainable and I was fine with it.

In every day life is where I struggle with the fact that I am not perfect.

When I make a mistake or say the wrong thing, I beat the shit out of myself for it. I ruminate on whatever error I made, replaying it over until it makes me sick. I ask myself why I did whatever I did and why I wasn’t smart/good enough to evade this error in the first place. It makes me ask myself why I was even put on this planet if I’m going to be such a failure.

Today I’m struggling because I’m not perfect. So often I wish that I was so I wouldn’t go through this process of being sad and mad at myself.

Failure makes me want to hide from the world and from myself. Sadly, it’s really hard to escape yourself. I can’t leave my body or my brain!

Do you ever struggle with the fact that nobody is perfect?