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.