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.

I’m An Ambivert

Let’s get the definition of an ambivert out of the way. An ambivert is someone who has some qualities of both an introvert and an extrovert, we are sort of a blend of spices.

Sometimes I hear people talk about introverts and extroverts incorrectly, it’s not about whether somebody is social or not, it’s about how one gains their energy. Introverts gain energy by being alone while extroverts gain energy by being with others. Simple.

As a young teenager and as a child I felt more like an introverted individual, I would spend a lot of time alone reading books and listening to music on my CD player or iPod. Classic. After school I would retreat to my room to recharge.

But once I got to high school and college, I loved spending time with my different friend groups. The time we spent together gave me so much energy that when I was alone for too long, I felt totally drained.

I’m 25 now and I have grown into someone who sits somewhere in the middle which was at first a really strange adapting. I had gone from needing to spend time with friends and family to needing my space to keep myself sane.

After I got severely depressed I spent a lot of time alone ruminating on my suicidal thoughts. So any interaction with others was incredibly draining since I already didn’t have very much energy to begin with. I think all of that time curled up in my bed led me to become more introverted than I ever was before.

Sometimes I am energized by being with friends and family while other times I come away feeling absolutely exhausted. When I spend time with my family (that includes my boyfriend) and we are all eating, laughing, joking, I feel energized by that.

A month or so ago I had breakfast with a friend and then went to this art gallery event with him and a friend of his. I was so drained that I had to excuse myself and go home.

I balance somewhere in between and that’s totally fine by me. I enjoy my ambivertness which I am learning to live with each day.

Are any of you out there ambiverts or have had a shift like I have had? Let me know!