Does Isolating Yourself Help You Cope With Anxiety Or Does It Make Your Anxiety Worse?
Posted 31 August 2012 - 12:14 PM
I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and ocd. I have a hard time making friends, and at the moment i dont have any friends. Because i have no friends the only things i usually do is eat, sleep, watch tv, listen to music and play video games. I have noticed that when i am isolated for long periods, my anxiety increases and i find it harder to relate to people. The longer i isolate myself the worse it gets. Staying indoors for a few days is still ok, but the minute i stay indoors for a few weeks, my anxiety gets very bad. I watched a tv program once in which a guy talked about how he got lost in the middle of nowhere. When he got lost he had no cellphone, radio or tv. He was lost in the middle of nowhere and he was all by himself. He said the only thing he could do was think. I would like to know from other people on this forum, does isolating yourself increase your anxiety or does it relieve you from anxiety. How do you feel when you are isolated for long periods?
Posted 31 August 2012 - 12:39 PM
Good questions. There are people in my environment whose value system is detrimental to my mental health and when I isolate myself from them, my anxiety decreases.
But I can also experience anxiety in isolation. Some of this is based on philosophical nonsense that I have internalized from familial and social influences. For example, I was raised to "fear" being alone. I am not blaming anyone here. One of my parents would often ask me: "Are you sure you are going to be okay all alone?" "It isn't good that you are alone so much." "You need to get out and be around people." "You should have more friends."
This parent had childhood issues with being alone and these were passed on to me in the child rearing process and perhaps even genetically. The scientific jury is still out on the genetic question. I have internalized these anxieties and they constitute a deep program. So if I am alone, sometimes the programming will activate an automatic thought stream which can be summarized as "It is dangerous to be alone, be afraid, be very afraid."
And then there is social conditioning which I have also internalized: "It isn't 'normal' to be alone." "It is strange, odd, unhealthy and so on." And then there is that other social conditioning: "It is good to be with others. One can only find happiness with others. A life with others is the only meaningful one, the only unselfish one and so on." I have internalized these too.
One thing, however, is that I am now usually aware of what are my own feelings and what is just "programming."
I enjoy people. But I also enjoy my own company. I love to give and receive but I can give and receive to and from myself. I enjoy having friends but know that I am my own best friend.
I also know that many things which are said of those who are alone are over-simplifications of complex reality. I know the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence even though familial and social influences would have me believe it is. I know there are people in friendships and relationships who are just miserable. They tell me they are. They say: "I am so lonely in this relationship. My mate doesn't understand and appreciate me. I am so bored. I feel so trapped. We argue constantly. I need to get out and get away." This tells me that boredom, loneliness, anxiety, stress and so on are not monopolies of people who are alone. Boredom, loneliness and anxiety are part of the human condition.
Anyway, this is my own fallible point of view on the issues you raise. I think you will get a lot of other perspectives here that will enrich your own point of view. Best to you!!!
Edited by Ep1ctetus, 31 August 2012 - 12:42 PM.
"A man is really ethical when he obeys the constraint laid on him to help all life which he is able to help, and when he goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything living. He does not ask how far this or that life deserves compassion as valuable in itself, how far it is capable of feeling. To him, life itself is sacred. He shatters no ice crystal that sparkles in the sun, tears no leaf from its tree, breaks off no flower, and is careful not to crush any insect as he walks. If he works by lamplight on a summer evening, he prefers to keep the window shut and breathe stifling air rather than see insect after insect fall on his table with singed and sinking wings. If he goes out into the street after a rain storm and sees a worm which has strayed there, he reflects that it will surely dry up in the sunlight, if it does not quickly regain the damp soil into which it can creep, and so he helps it back to the lush grass. Should he pass an insect which has fallen into a pool, he spares the time to reach it a leaf or a stalk on which it may clamor and save itself. Animals suffer as much as we do. We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. " Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
"Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind." Dr. Albert Scheweiter.
Posted 31 August 2012 - 12:41 PM
Posted 01 September 2012 - 09:15 AM
I have noticed that when I am isolated for long periods, my anxiety increases and I find it harder to relate to people. The longer I isolate myself the worse it gets. Staying indoors for a few days is still ok, but the minute I stay indoors for a few weeks, my anxiety gets very bad.
I feel the same way. I have a pretty severe case of social anxiety disorder and I definitely feel that being isolated for long periods does increase my anxiety and make it harder for me to interact with others the next time I'm around people.
Posted 01 September 2012 - 11:28 PM
from time to time! Away from friends, family, and everyone else I get to work on me a bit with out any one person's opinion other then my own. I find it wonderfully
relaxing just shooting the breeze with myself over a stressful situation or question often working on a project, or drawing or just playing a game, long drives, just
something simple, talking to random people in an area of common interest like when I ice skate or do homework at school (I love doing this but some people find it
creepy) and that I can relate or full on bring in a calmer mood. We all are entitled to us time and that is something that I learned over the years is fine! I was a child of
societies view of normal and was always taught friends are the true answer to all life's little problems! Well, they are not and cant sometimes cause more harm then
good if they don't know the situation or they just really suck at helping you out, but, in that rare time when I need the company, I always ask for it. In those cases it is
called for and i don't invite anymore stress in so it doesn't trigger an episode. I find it all about picking your battles.
Posted 03 September 2012 - 05:02 AM
Posted 09 September 2012 - 02:09 PM
I would say that I agree with you that a couple of days of isolation seems to be OK for me but if I am isolated for anything longer than that my anxiety increases - particularly when I think about leaving the house....
I try to make the effort to leave the house every day to avoid increasing the potential to become more and more anxious to leave the house and face people/the world or whatever. It becomes harder to stay motivated to go out when you aren't attending a regular job or classes etc - whenever there is no pressure from the outside world to get you out and about.
I got the impression from your posts that you are at school/in college?
If so, I would recommend that you do your best to stick to this and keep your routine there because it will keep you connected - even though it may be a painful connection at times....I think I remember that from your previous post?
I'm finding it so hard to motivate myself to get back into the world and do pretty much anything - I think harder than ever - I don't have the friends I did to help pull me out of my protective shell or the family even. I have a partner but I am very aware that we need our own lives and other people in our lives otherwise I don't think we will last for the duration.
I know how hard it can be to follow any advice or any other way but the path you are on - I would advise myself to attend groups and classes and get a job etc etc but I am finding it VERY hard. Sometimes I just berate myself and tell myself I am lazy but others I am able to say to myself that
'It is OK, don't be so hard on yourself, times have been very hard and you have suffered tremendous loss, mental torment, ridicule, confusion, pain, bullying, crippling isolation, massive blows to your self esteem, constant relocation, extreme stress and trauma. And guess what? You survived!
You have survived it all, you are still here, you are still tryng and there is value and meaning in that - You are doing your best.'
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