Isolation- a word that we rarely use, often correlated with loneliness. It is by definition, the process of detaching oneself apart from others, without relation to other people. And this is what I did over the years.
But before I talk about that, I know that this is something we all experienced at the beginning of the pandemic 2 years ago. Not that we did it intentionally but something that was enforced upon us for everyone's safety and well-being. Nonetheless, it affected all of us in many different ways and gave us an understanding of what loneliness and isolation can truly feel like.
I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety early on in college (ok, we're talking around 27 years ago! no judgment. ;)), which prevented me from going out and spending time with friends. I isolated myself not as a choice, but because I was too scared to go outside. It was the only way I knew how to survive. It was the only way I felt safe.
I was also battling depression at the time. I was irritable. I had mood swings. I lost interest in everything. I was basically no fun to be around with. I isolated myself because I thought I was doing a better service to myself and to others. Even then, my family thought that was my personality. I was described as overly sensitive, irritable, & moody. None of them realized that it wasn’t the real me, only something I was battling with.
With isolation came a deep sense of loneliness over time. But it also became a gateway that led me to a space where I got to sit with myself through the core of my darkness. And with God’s grace, I was able to find solace in my isolation. Otherwise, I could have easily gone to a darker place, because that’s what isolation can do… Then, I started writing in my journal. I started reading self-help books. And it was then when I learned to face the sadness, the fears, the anxiety, and the confusion, all by myself - and learned how to feel all my feelings.
It was through isolation and all the years of healing, that I stumbled upon solitude. There’s a fine line between the two. Solitude is the state of being alone but staying connected with the people who care about you. There’s a feeling of freedom and peace with oneself, and isolation does not.
I share this with you because If you’re in the midst of your struggle, I want you to remember this… it’s so easy to isolate ourselves and suffer in silence because we think that no one will ever understand. And I get that. In fact, it’s exactly what I did for so many years.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did. I pushed people away because I didn’t believe anyone could see what I was going through, and honestly, I didn’t even give anyone a chance either. Isolating oneself is easy to do, especially when things are really really hard. But remember the fine line between isolation and solitude? You can choose to honor yourself and your feelings for a certain period of time while being mindful that you can always reach out to the people you trust when you need help - this is solitude. As opposed to isolating yourself from people for a longer period of time, suffering in silence - a choice that can be harmful to your mental health.
Again, remember you are not the only one going through hardships. The more you keep it all to yourself, the more it can feel very lonely. So, I hope that you can find the courage to share your heart and seek help if you feel the need. And I pray that you too, can find solace in whatever it is you’re going through… I see you. I feel you. Hold on. And keep going.
Love this! This was very helpful and had me self-reflect.