life that count. It's the life in your years."
- Abraham Lincoln
Click Here For Success Tip # 019
One of the challenges of PTSD and depression is feeling isolated, left out, not belonging, over looked, lonely, and all the other descriptors I can think of that describe this feeling I have of being out of touch with life. At first, I thought this was the results of trying to keep all the secrets. Now, the secrets are told. I still feel isolated...but not always. I found acceptance at home and at school, sometimes. There are still places where I feel left out because others are not comfortable with how I respond to the world. With all my progress, I still tend to react a bit differently to certain situations...well maybe I should rephrase that as very differently. I chose this quote from my saved...use-later-file because this is the epitome of healing it is putting life back in my years. At my lowest point, I lived a half life, alive but barely functioning. My family suffered because of my illness. I worked steadily through the years to reclaim my life. I am learning to reclaim my life a piece at a time.
Lets examine the isolation component of PTSD. In my experience, my abusers made sure I was isolated and alone before they did really bad stuff to me. This created a situation where they could deny any wrong doing by saying I didn't understand, I was lying, I was exaggerating, I was the problem. This isolation was a tool used to make me feel an outsider, helpless, alone. Alone I was more vulnerable to their attacks. More afraid of them, which only increased their excitement of terrorizing and hurting me. However, I discovered in grade school that being completely alone was safer. Withdrawal meant survival but withdrawal also meant isolation. It became a cycle difficult to break.
Now after many years of counseling, I work towards interacting with others. I challenge myself not to isolate myself. I do still recognize that heavy emotional mind dumps it is better for me to be alone for a time to process my thinking. I do better alone when PTSD is kicking my butt which it does from time to time. I do better alone when my mind goes into hyperdrive and everything becomes painfully difficult to assimilate information and process it. I do better alone when flashbacks hurtle me back through time. I joked that I would make a really good hermit. My counselor assured me that once I could process how I feel, I would enjoy being around people. He was right. I do enjoy being around people when PTSD isn't messing with my head. I work in an environment where I am around a variety of people. I work at lessening my feeling a need to be isolated.
I found this question posed on a PTSD forum
A major part of PTSD is isolation. We all isolate ourselves for different reasons and at different times. I am isolating myself right now due to deeply painful emotions I am experiencing.
If you look at what the professionals say about isolation, you'll get everything from "it's bad, bad, bad" to "it's okay, it's good for you". They offer ways to break the isolation and ways to prevent it and drugs to help us with it. Yet they can't agree on it's significance or how long is too long or how deep is too deep.
As I see it, it can be protective for us but it can also prevent us from moving forward. As is most PTSD treatment, it is so personal that it has to be evaluated on a case by case basis so no blanket statements on treatment make any sense.
So here is my question....do you isolate yourself and is it good for you or not? Does it worry you when you are isolating yourself? Can you differentiate when you are just isolating yourself or in a depression that perhaps need more attention than a regular episode of isolation?
Posted on 09/20/11
You can see from the date it is posted that people have looked for answers for the isolation issue for a long time. I am not a member of this or any other forum at this time. Jenny is right, there isn't a pat answer for any of the reasons behind feelings of isolation and a desire to be isolated. I wish I could point to something and say....this works. I found for myself that staying aware of choosing to isolate myself. Self examine my withdrawal. Talk over my concerns with my counselor. All these are part of the process of healing and putting life back into my years.
Some links that might be helpful....
For military http://maketheconnection.net/symptoms/social-withdrawal