Last year I wrote about one of the topics that lies near and dear to my heart; loneliness. I was (and still am) dealing with depression and I lived alone at that time. Since I fell ill I my circle of friends diminished, I didn’t go to work anymore and having nice get togethers for let’s say a birthday party were out of the question.
I suffered from loneliness. Everything became that much harder because I needed to be self-reliant in a time period where I really wasn’t up to it. Rumination became my not so nice friend and anhedonia made everything very hard to do. Looking back perfectionism made me feel overly responsible for my ‘failings’ not being able to take care of me. I had one job and I failed …
I started to look at the internet and after watching hours and hours of YouTube I thought that my outlet could be found in blogging. I wasn’t going to start a YouTube channel, way too complicated for me at the time. In the blogging community on WP I found people who were really understanding of my situation.
In last year’s post I investigated ‘loneliness’ and it’s harmful effects on mental and health in general. It takes years of your life, that was the main conclusion. Having a network, too expand a little out of your own head, is one of the protective factors that can help build a shield against depression. Loneliness is harmful.
“If you are suffering from loneliness, you are not alone.” As I learned through my journey being diagnosed with burnout and depression is that depression isolates you from others and that burnout robs you of energy to spend and enjoy actual time with friends and family. My story. I was raised as an only child. … Continue reading Depression and loneliness.
With COVID coming around and people pushed into self-isolation, I was curious how something like that could affect one’s mental health. Admissions due to mental problems are on the rise in my country. Looking further into isolation, loneliness and solitude I decided to turn the page on loneliness and to speak about the possible positives that can be found in solitude. I do strongly believe that we as a species are meant to live together and that we need each other to survive but there is also that other side of the coin that most introverts like me like very much; being alone.
First we need to determine if it’s solitude or loneliness we’re talking about.
Is your isolation harmful or does it brings peace to mind? To have an inclination what the two concepts are about, you can ask yourself the following 4 questions:
- How does your body react to the possibility to social interaction? Does your stomach drop when the phone rings? Does your heart race when you are invited to a party?
This already can tell you so much about your state of being. When your body reacts with raised heartbeat, sweaty palms or worries it can point you to something that needs to be addressed in your life. It can be that you’re dealing with social anxiety or that you’ve been avoiding social interactions for a long time. Listen to your desires; would you like to have some company over or at least not dread the possibility to see someone? Maybe it’s fear that is holding you back.
2. How do you feel when you’re alone?
When you feel ok with yourself, maybe happy, positive, you feel you can do things than it may very well be that you’re an introvert. When you feel a reaction along the lines like relieve that you don’t need to go to that party or that you can stay in to finally relax, that can point you to take a different approach. When you’re avoiding social situations because of fear or feeling uneasy, than that is something you might try to change. I’m not saying that you need to change right away and there is something wrong with you. I’m simply trying to unravel some needs within you. And by using ‘you’ throughout this post, I must say I also mean ‘me’. I feel happy alone most of the time but when the alone-less-ness becomes too much, it plays tricks with my mind. I need to have some people around me to throw around some hypothesis around about how I’m feeling at least. I need to offload some of my thoughts before they become ingrained into my brain. Hence the purpose of my blog. My starting point was to turn to the laptop and to offload the thoughts that overstayed their welcome in my limited brain space.
3. Can you be yourself around others?
Do you worry if or when ‘others’ could see the ‘true’ you? When you’re trying to please people and therefore need time to recuperate to be ‘yourself’? That can be a telling sign that the environment isn’t the best fit for you at the moment. Maybe you’re feeling not good about yourself and a talk with a friend or even a therapist can be helpful.
4. Most important, does time spent alone keep you from living a happy, fulfilled life?
When my mental health starts to wobble and it wobbles of the charts, I use being alone as an escape. An escape from a world I can’t participate it (at that moment) because there is too much pain and all is overwhelming. Sometimes I can really enjoy my solitude, my ‘me-time’. I use it to completely relax and to recharge.
The weird thing is that it switches in my brain. One moment I am happy to be alone and I feel fulfilled, just to become very anxious the other moment. Solitude is so difficult to understand. The positivo in me tried to take advantage from solitude and that’s what my next post will be about. Hope to see you then. In the meanwhile, let me know in the comments what you think about loneliness, solitude and its ties to (mental) health. Do you think that there is something like too much alone-time? Is there an upside or do you experience negatives when alone too much? Are you comfortable when you’re alone or is there something nagging at the back of your brain? I’m curious what you think!