LONELINESS AND ISOLATION

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Shit! Alexa, add make friends to New Year goals.

Today I texted my friend who I hadn’t spoken to in some days.

Here’s the back story: Throughout the festive season starting from the 24th of December, I isolated myself from the world only leaving my room under extreme conditions (as an African child living with a Nigerian mother, “extreme conditions” here refer to every other minute that my mother wanted one thing or the other. For example, ‘Mide, come and put on the TV’, ‘Mide come and wash tomatoes’, ‘Mide, make a cup of tea’ *insert really dramatic eye roll here*. Point is, I did not leave my house willingly for 14 days) and yet my friend did not necessarily notice that I was off the grid; heck, only one person among the 50 million people on my Whatsapp contact list noticed. When she eventually reached out to me, she became upset that I hadn’t asked for help and communicated that I was unfair to her for not recognizing that she cared about me and wanted to be there for me. This instantly annoyed me. In my mind, I screamed, “I live with clinically diagnosed depression and borderline personality disorder; isolation is at the core of my illnesses and as such my life.”

“How could she not understand that?” said the brain.

“Your excuse and annoyance are valid” chipped in emotion

I came back to reality and texted said friend because another friend called me selfish for isolating and accused me of keeping my “awesomeness” (Hey! His words, not mine) to myself instead of letting people see it. Hearing that, my brain’s immediate response was anger:

“How dare he call me selfish?”

“He has no idea how hard my life is”

“I really want to interact with people but I just can’t and that’s just not my fault”.

Thankfully, my brain decided to hit the brakes and listen till the end of the voice note and then it hit me. I couldn’t even be upset that he called me selfish because as much as I hated the word and felt judged by it, it was true.

When it comes to being alone, there are several factors and reasons that contributes to a person’s decision to isolate whether it is large distances between them and their loved ones or the need to be alone in order to recharge, reevaluate, regroup or whatever other “re’s” you can think of, while some others, in this case, me, isolate because they feel lonely.

Loneliness and isolation are soul sisters; together forever.

Loneliness, according to the dictionary, is “sadness because one has no friends or company” and a major trigger/symptom of BPD is fear of abandonment; whether real or perceived. See where I am going with this yet?

During the holidays, I felt abandoned by my friends; well technically, I barely have friends.

Shit! Alexa, add make friends to New Year goals.

I was so sad because I had no company, was not invited to anything and I took that and made it into a giant, cold lair of pain and self-centeredness.

Self-centeredness is the glue that binds loneliness and isolation together firmly.

Loneliness can be normal and valid (as mine honestly was) but it becomes an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming and interfere with daily living (just like mine did). Health conditions related to loneliness include clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder, dementia, alcohol use disorder among others and you should consider getting help to feel better if feelings of loneliness persist and/or affect healthy daily living.

Loneliness can trigger selfishness and lead to further social isolation. I recognize that in my loneliness and isolation, I failed to actually care about others and how they were doing; I failed to see and take responsibility for how my moodiness around the house could have and actually did affect my family’s holiday celebrations and I made myself unavailable to people who genuinely could have used help from me. My time alone was not completely negative as it helped boost my creativity and allowed my brain to recharge but honestly it did me more harm than good. Isolation brought about painful loneliness, active and passive suicidal thoughts stemming from depression and actually pushing away the few people in my life that do matter.

Fear of abandonment = sadness and resentment =isolation = loneliness = selfishness = depression = suicidal thoughts… I’m sure you get it now.

Repairing the relationships that isolation cost you is completely up to you and you must accept that your family and friends are under no obligation to take you back when you resurface but hopefully they do. With that resolved, focus on building a community of people that love you and that you genuinely love too; as I would. People who would ride for you and would come after you when you start building your grand mansion of isolation, bulldoze it to the ground and drag you back to reality. After all, DeccanChronicle.com states that “loneliness, meanwhile is part of a warning system that motivates people to repair or replace their deficient social relationships”

Overcoming loneliness and/or isolation is never easy and most usually cannot be done alone. So, if you notice that a loved one has been distant lately, reach out to them and stop waiting comfortably on cowardice street talmabout “if they want help, they’ll reach out”. They might never reach out.

In the days that I didn’t reach out to anyone, I wish someone would have come after me.

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Storyteller. Wandering mind. Creative. Mental health warrior and enthusiast. Thespian. Staying alive, one day at a time. IG: @theayoarowolo

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Ayomide Arowolo

Ayomide Arowolo

Storyteller. Wandering mind. Creative. Mental health warrior and enthusiast. Thespian. Staying alive, one day at a time. IG: @theayoarowolo

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