The Isolation Paradox


Have you ever felt so completely alone that you’re left wondering how nobody can see how much your suffering and then felt anger as a result of this which then causes you to push people away?

I have.

It’s a bit strange/unfair/unrealistic to expect that people will just know how you’re feeling without you telling them (especially if you’re like me and you mask your emotions); yet, I constantly find myself feeling this way, particularly when depression comes knocking and feelings of hopelessness set in.

As an introvert, I tend to welcome isolation. My idea of a perfect day off would usually include a warm cup of coffee, a good book, and blissfully silent alone time. However, when it comes to feeling lonely, isolation becomes a point of sadness and distress which causes me to think that nobody cares about me. As a result, I start to feel anger and resentment towards friends, family, and even my therapist, none of whom suspect that anything is out of the ordinary because isolation is generally the norm for me. Unfortunately, this anger and resentment then leads me to push people even further away and cut off contact for extended periods of time until I start to feel better–a feat which often takes weeks or even months due to the tremendous self-imposed lack of social support.

After much thought and self-reflection, I’ve decided to call this experience The Isolation Paradox.

It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

a4dcfebdb50bccb1c0f013d565dd5111To put it in metaphorical terms, The Isolation Paradox is like being in a prison cell cut off from the rest of the world. But the difference between the paradoxical prison and real prison is that you–the inmate–are the one holding the key and the cage is locked from the inside out. You feel trapped but you’re too afraid to ask for help; you’re afraid that nobody will listen; you’re afraid that you’ve finally pushed everyone away for good; you’re afraid that even with help you won’t feel better.

But it’s not just fear that keeps you locked away; the anger you feel towards others as a result of their inability to know how you’re feeling adds fuel to your raging internal fire. It’s completely irrational and unfair to those around you; yet, you can’t seem to tame the anger. As a result, the irrational voice in the back of your mind tells you to isolate yourself from the people who unknowingly caused you so much pain in order to somehow exact your revenge. It does not make rational sense, but it’s as if you expect them to once again recognize that your social isolation and distance is a silent cry for help rather than the normative solace of an introvert. And so the cycle continues.

Have you ever felt this way? It may not be the exact same experience as what I’ve described above (for example, you may not be an introvert) but I’m almost certain that I’m not alone in this irrational and self-damaging behavior and thought process.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve also experienced The Isolation Paradox or if you have any thoughts on it!

Thanks for reading,


6 thoughts on “The Isolation Paradox

  1. jacobtugwood says:

    I have indeed experienced what you refer to as ‘the Isolation Paradox’ (excellent name for it by the way!) and it feels exactly the way you describe it. I am a particularly rational person who is not usually prone to showing excessive displays of emotion or allowing emotional impulses to sway my decisions. So when I experience moments like this and reflect upon it all afterwards I find it very puzzling. Your metaphor about being an inmate in a prison is perfect.

    My reasoning behind why this occurs is because it is an outlet for my anger. Ironically perhaps it is because I am not an open person that I experience these moments. It needs to come out in some way. I have no scientific reasoning to back this up. It’s just my own intuition. Either way, this was a wonderful read that discussed something that really needs to be talked about more 🙂

    • Discoverecovery says:

      Thank you for sharing your own experiences with this! You’re absolutely right; these moments are completely ironic! Like you, I tend to be a very rational and level headed individual who does not express emotions so these moments are often the result of holding on to emotions for too long. I’m so glad that someone else understands what it’s like!

      • jacobtugwood says:

        Not a problem at all. It was an interesting read. I guess the only way to beat it is to actually be more open with our emotions. Easier said than done I know!

  2. thoughtmirror says:

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I understand “the Isolation Paradox” all too well. I feel this I am a emotional person but I am logical as well (so I like to think I am) and when I become like how you described in your post and expect others to recognise my pain without me informing them, I realize it’s almost a form of self abuse and self sabotoge. My friends and co-workers are not mind readers and I understand that I need to communicate but during the time these episodes are occuring, I can’t. Thank you for posting this topic.

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