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Of Social Isolation

July 26, 2010

I am a sufferer of Social Anxiety Disorder… or I have been diagnosed with that, anyway. Sometimes, I believe that I may suffer from something else called “Avoidant Personality Disorder”, which is very similar to Social Anxiety, except for a key number of symptoms that I do feel and experience. But officially, by trained psychologists, I do have the label of  having “Social Anxiety Disorder”. Nonetheless, whatever I may have, it makes my life a bit difficult. :-/

But, I am always working on it and trying to be rid of this disorder I have. Not alone, but with professional help. So far, for two years, nothing… but I don’t plan to give up. But, this isn’t my point of my post. :-p

At some point in my life, after something tragic happened to me (I don’t feel like going into details… let’s just say it’s a woman’s worst nightmare), my anxiety became worse. I stayed indoors, inside of my house, and away from people for six years straight! I did have some contact with the outside world, via chatting online, and also visits from relatives. I kept up with the current news and events of the world. But, I was totally isolated. :-(

I found out quickly that silence does have a sound, and it’s deafening. I would stare for hours, at my wall, even talk to it. Later, I began to talk to the wall and a picture of my dead cat. My moods would change sporadically and without warning. In one moment, I would be smiling, then in the next moment, I would be in tears. I often felt like I was going crazy, sometimes laugh and crying at the same time. :-/

I finally got out of my isolation, because I became sick with heat-stroke one summer, and the Paramedics were called. They had to coax me out of the house and I was in tears, holding onto the railing for dear life! I was so very afraid, but they got me into ambulance, driving me off to the local ER. As we drove away, I realized that I didn’t recognize my neighborhood anymore. I had been inside, for six years, and there were huge developments in the houses and buildings around my neighborhood. I didn’t even glance outside of my window, during those years in isolation, so I had no idea how different everything looked outside! :-o

There is a reason why isolation is used as a torture device or a highest form of punishment in prisons. Isolation has a huge impact on the mind and health, often in very negative ways. The effects of social isolation include: heart disease, depression, anxiety, loneliness, distortion of time and perception. And I had lived through it, for six years, it was hell.

Social Isolation isn’t about not having a lot of friends or being in a crowd. To prevent being isolated, it simply means to leave the house on a regular basis, and having some interactions with other living and breathing human beings. This can be as simple as going shopping or enjoying a day in a hair salon. You don’t have to be “the life of the party”, or go to parties all the time, to prevent or overcome Social Isolation. ;-)

I often have to be careful, not to slip back into my old habit, of staying indoors again. It’s easy to do that, with an Anxiety disorder, but I have to keep pushing myself to make my appointments in the outside world. If I skip too many or decided to stay indoors more, I could find myself staying indoors for another six years. :-o

If you know a person who is in isolation, please try to talk them into getting some help. Don’t PUSH them, because that will only make the situation worse and they’ll isolated themselves more! But with some gentle encouragement, letting them decide on their own, a person may decide to come out of that kind of darkness. If the Paramedics was not kind and gentle, I would have NEVER left the house, and I may have stayed in isolation still.

-D

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