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.

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!

Waking Up Empty

If you’ve ever experienced depression or anxiety, you have probably experienced the emptiness that resounds in your chest the moment you wake up. I felt that this morning for the first time in a while.

I forgot how horrible it feels to be hollow once more. For many weeks I only woke up feeling sleepy, ready to go back to sleep instead of getting up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. This morning I rose, began to stretch then the empty feeling began to settle into my chest.

I have today off so I should be looking forward to everything I get to do (and don’t have to do) today. I have some work for my side gig to do, I’m going shopping, hopefully going to the gym and best of all, I am getting a sauna and massage. My emptiness calls me to forget those positive activities, instead to focus on how depressed I feel.

This is a feeling I hoped wouldn’t touch me until the new year. I deeply hoped that the light inside me could continue to shine brightly. To light me up like a jack-o-lantern, but it seems that my candle was blown out.

I don’t want my depression to ruin the holidays for me. Not this year!

On Christmas 2016 I was remembering that I had been suicidal for 3 months instead of celebrating with my family. The desire to die was so strong even on my favorite holiday. This year, I don’t want that to be the case! I want to be happy spending time with my family, my boyfriend and his family.

This empty feeling may not go away for a while, that’s reality. I know myself and have learned so much through my long journey with mental illness. In time I will be better. In time I will have my energy back and be able to feel good again.

It’s all in time.

The Physical Scars

*TRIGGER WARNING* I’m talking about self-harm today, if you are in a sensitive place please stay safe. Skip this post if you need to!*

I have been ashamed of the physical scars that have been left behind from years of self-harm. Some are fainter than others but all are still reminders of miserable, painful moments in my life. Times where I fell to the bottom hoping I would bounce back up like a ball and not lay there on the ground like a rock.

Each scar was created out of desperation for relief from loneliness, suicidal thoughts and heartbreak. In those moments, cutting myself was what I thought would help me.

When I started hurting myself on my legs I got very nervous about wearing shorts and swim suits in the summertime. I worried that someone would see (whether that be a stranger or someone I know) what I had done to myself. Most of the time I never told anyone I had hurt myself, it was my little secret.

Showing my skin meant my secret was out for the world to see. It was kinda of terrifying.

This past summer I read a few perspectives of others who had a similar problem with scars on their bodies. Some of them said, you know it doesn’t matter, wear what you want and if somebody makes a comment then they’re the asshole. That was a good enough explanation for me so I wore shorts all summer.

I braved the world with my legs out and nobody said a damn thing to me.

If this is something you’re struggling with, if you feel super uncomfortable at the thought of people seeing your scars then cover them up for now. I hope that at some point you will be able to let your guard down and show the world your beautiful skin!

Stay strong! –Megan