BiPolar and Isolation
One of the hardest parts of dealing with BiPolar Depression is dealing with the feelings of isolation. I don’t know how I will feel when I wake up in the morning and often worry about making commitments that I don’t know if I can keep. On my “good” days I can conquer the world or at least manage to appear as a functioning individual but on my “bad” days I am lucky if I can get out of bed. Like this post, I was supposed to write it for Monday and here it is Tuesday morning and I am finally getting it done. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. Isolation can not only worsen depression but it can also worsen when going through a depressive state. Many people pull away from those around them when they are depressed or people pull away because they don’t know what to do.
It is hard to have friends and I use that word loosely because it has been a long time since I have had a serious friendship. Yes, I know a lot of people but they fall more into an acquaintance friend category. I am talking about a friend who gets that you might cancel at the last minute because you just can’t but they also get that when you can you will call for that cup of coffee or lunch date. That is what I miss and that is when I really began to hate my Bipolar and Isolation that comes with it.
Often times the stigma that comes with mental illness increases the isolation. It took me years before I could talk about my bipolar depression and even now it is not something I always share with people. Opening one’s self up leaves you vulnerable and when struggling with depression being vulnerable is not a place you want to be. So we insulate and isolate ourselves from others. We do this because we want to protect ourselves and protect them from our illness. No one wants to be the friend who is always canceling at the last minute or who can’t commit to anything to far in advance.
Being isolated from others can make matters worse and it is important to not be cut off entirely from others. There are ways to fight back and decrease the isolation. It takes time and constant work but if you can even put a small amount of effort into fighting back you will notice a decrease in the isolation.
Tips to Fight Back Against Bipolar & Isolation it Causes
- Have a Support Team – This is important for so many reasons but they will notice you withdrawing before you will notice. Make sure they know to remind you the importance of going out and being around people even if it is a trip to the grocery store or a quick bite to eat.
- Be Honest & Ask For Help – Don’t keep it all in. If you are feeling down, alone, depressed, scared, etc. Tell someone. Let them know you are struggling. They may not be able to fix it but just letting them know you are in a rough spot lets them know you need some extra TLC. Also it helps them watch for triggers or other areas of concern. If you are at a spot where you need help, say something so that you can get that help.
- Set Goals – These don’t have to be big but can be as simple as I will go out one night a week or I will go to one place other than work a week. I had a rough time a while back and I made it my goal to leave the house every day for a month. Most days were a quick trip to the gas station, grocery store, etc. but it got me out of the house and helped me reset my frame of mind.
- Reward Yourself – After you have met your goal, opened up to your family/friends, or forced yourself to go out instead of isolate, take time to reward yourself with validation. Remember you did it and no one else. Yes, your support team was there to help you but you had to take those steps and you did it. Keep giving yourself these pep talks and remember them the next time you feel yourself pulling away.
I know that dealing with isolation is not easy for anyone but when combined with depression it can be harder. However, there is always hope even if at times it is only small. Hang on to that and remember you are not alone.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I have teamed up with a group of bloggers to share our stories and help Stop the Stigma and get people talking about mental health issues. You can follow along on social media by following the hashtags #BloggersForMentalHealth and #B4MH.
Please remember if you or someone you know is struggling, get help.
If it is an emergency, and you or someone you know is suicidal call 911, head to the nearest emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You can find more information at the National Alliance for on Mental Illness at www.nami.org.