Self-isolation: When social anxiety becomes a prison

Self-isolation is such a difficult issue to deal with. It’s a common symptom and side effect of anxiety and depression and it’s something that I’ve been struggling with for the past few months.

It’s taken me quite a while to admit it to myself, but I’ve been cutting people off. While it’s true that a lot of the people I’ve cut off have hurt me in some way and therefore I have no regrets about distancing myself from them, I’ve also been isolating myself from others as well. My parents, my close friends, my co-workers…everyone.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gone out with friends or done something fun for myself in the evening after work. My days are all the same. I go to work, I come home, I read, I blog, I listen to music, and I avoid talking to people. I haven’t even spoken to my roommate in nearly a month (although that’s a bit of a different story altogether). I feel as though I’ve completely removed myself from the people who I once saw every day. Of course, part of this is due to me moving out, family moving further away, and graduating from university. After so many life changes in such a short amount of time I think it’s normal to drift apart to some extent, but in my case I think I have exceeded that normalcy.

I get invited to go out with people probably once every one or two weeks at least but I decline almost immediately, without ever giving the invite any serious consideration. The idea of social commitments outside of work gives me anxiety. I don’t want to break from my schedule and I don’t want to make plans to go somewhere and then not be able to leave if my anxiety gets too high. So instead, I’m trapped inside my own little lonely, routinized bubble of a life.

I feel as though this is a period in my life that I should be living my dreams and experiencing the world. As a young twenty-something I’m supposed to be figuring out who I am, dating, exploring, going on impromptu adventures, and enjoying my youth. Instead, I go to work, I come home, and I spend all of my free time alone.

While I recently wrote a post about loving alone time and embracing the times that I can be isolated, I think I have reached the point at which it is no longer something that I do for enjoyment but rather being alone is the only option I have because the alternatives make me too anxious. I no longer give myself the choice of being with others or being alone. The absence of choice is where I think I’ve run into an issue.

I’ve got plans for myself for what I want to do a few months down the road, but right now I’m stuck in limbo waiting to find out whether or not these plans can happen. The anxiety from that alone makes me want to curl up into a little ball and hibernate until the future becomes known. My hope is that once I know whether or not I will be able to pursue my dreams in a few months I will be able to pull myself out of this rut of social isolation. Until then I’ll be here wrestling with my own mind.

xo

Ayla

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