When we are struggling with addictions and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves from other people and to stay to ourselves. Why do we do this when receiving support from other people might help us to recover?
When we are struggling we often feel heightened levels of fear- fear of other people, of social situations, of society, of our difficult thoughts and emotions. Some of us also experience Social Anxiety Disorder which can make interacting in social settings feel terrifying. We can become paralyzed by our fears. We may at times want to challenge our fears and overcome them, and it can be an ongoing internal battle whether or not to go somewhere or do something. We might miss social events and school and work obligations. We might cancel on friends and family. We might often be late for things because it took us a long time to muster the courage to get there. When we aren’t able to, we often feel ashamed of ourselves and embarrassed. We feel like something is wrong with us that we can’t do the “regular” things everyone else can do. We judge ourselves, beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel even worse, all of which can make us want to hide from the world even more.
Often when we isolate ourselves, it’s because we are in so much mental and emotional distress we can’t talk to other people. We might feel too sad or anxious to even speak. We might not want to discuss our problems with people. We might feel as though they don’t understand. We might have had experiences in the past where people judged and belittled us. We may have been told to “just get over it” or “just cheer up.” Often people who haven’t experienced addiction, depression or other mental illness firsthand simply don’t understand what it is we go through. Talking to them or being around them can feel unsafe. It can be really scary. We might be afraid that they might insult or berate us. We might be left feeling even worse about ourselves. We might not have people in our lives in whom we can confide, or we may have felt that people have betrayed our trust in the past.
Our fears and difficult past experiences can make us go to great lengths to avoid people, settings and activities. We instinctively want to protect ourselves, and we can feel like isolating ourselves is the best way to do that. We might feel safer and more secure when we are alone.
Understanding ourselves and our behaviors is an important step in recovery. Call (575) 586-5078 for support.