For me, isolation is both a symptom and cause of depression. And I've noticed that I've started isolating myself again lately. I haven't written a new post in awhile, I haven't really tried to get out of the house as much as I should. A lot of that has to do with having no transportation. But some has to do with the comfortableness of isolation.
A Warm Blanket
When you do something long enough, it becomes a habit, a comfort. When you change that habit, you feel unsure, a little afraid and not at all comfortable. That's how it is with isolation.
After awhile isolation becomes a comfortable habit to me, like a warm blanket I can hide in. It's easy to isolate - just stop calling people, stop leaving the house, stop posting on Facebook. You don't really have to work that hard to isolate yourself.
An Itchy Blanket
But being isolated does take it's toll. You become stagnant, with no new ideas or input from the outside world. You begin to see your friends making plans without you and you get angry because you're bored at home, with an equally bored toddler. The blanket starts to chafe. And you take it out on those around you.
When I start to feel that way, I get myself all psyched up to reach out, to try to contact friends I haven't seen in awhile, to get back out into the world. But the blanket has me trapped. The longer I've been wrapped in my blanket, the tighter it gets and the scarier it is to try to break free. I don't know what to say to these friends who have kept going while I've hidden away. I feel guilty for asking for help when I haven't made any other attempts at contact.
And it's not that I don't care about others while I'm isolated. I read all the posts on Facebook and my mommy's group's forums. I laugh at their kids antics and commiserate with them when they've had a bad day. But I do it all from the comfort of my own world. Because I've been gone so long from the rest of the world that I don't know if I'm welcome anymore.
I know it's all in my head. No one has done anything to make me feel unwelcome. It's no one's fault but my own that I'm not included - I haven't made myself available to be included. I've done everything to be ignored, because that is easier and there's less chance of rejection.
But I'm not the only one involved in this isolation. I have Punkin' Butt to think about, so I have to push through my discomfort. She needs socialization and friends. And I know I do, too. And the funny thing is, when I put myself out there, I receive help and friendship in return. My friends are still there; I'm the one that hid away from them.
So tomorrow PB and I have a full day of fun and friends planned. I'm nervous as hell, worrying that I won't fit in anymore. Worried that I'll have nothing to talk about. Worried that I've done irreparable damage to my friendships and that it will all come to a head. I'm pretty sure these are needless worries, but they are there nonetheless. But I will push through, for Punkin' Butt's and my sake. And our sanity.