Isolation and emotional detachment are common coping mechanisms when someone feels down, depressed or simply out of sorts. I see no problem with taking time alone to sort out what is in your head, process emotions or rest your body. I regularly need hours alone. Unfortunately the need for alone time can quickly become detrimental to healing.
When I first find myself wanting to isolate or retreat it usually just means I need to rest and rebuild my energy. I am boisterous and outgoing, but solo time is what recharges my batteries. The problem starts when isolating becomes a habit simply because it is more comfortable than connecting with people or when it becomes a way of avoiding a life challenge.
Three months ago we bought an abandoned house on an acre of land in the Sonoran Desert. We love to travel, but knew we needed a home base. Buying a home without any guarantees of modern conveniences and covered in mountain’s of trash is not an easy choice. Short term it is cheap and allows us to maintain a level of freedom in our lives that we are unwilling to compromise. Long term it will give us a place to run our own businesses and build a community. The hard part comes in the middle. There are long hot days of manual labor that often involve dealing with others’ trash, grime and negligence. Progress can feel tedious, painful and unreachable.
Choosing this home was a huge commitment and a swift significant lifestyle change. We walked into this with our eyes open and set our dreams high. Right when I think discouragement will overcome me something keeps happening to remind me that we are right where we are supposed to be. I have pushed myself so hard that I have begun to feel completely empty with no reserves. When this happens it is not long before I become depressed. Slipping from a positive mindset to a ‘the glass is half empty’ mindset is painful. All of a sudden I believe there will never be enough, I will never be strong enough, no one cares about me or thinks I am cool, and my dreams are completely unrealistic. Repetitive negative thoughts sit and grow like a mold in my mind! This shit gets stinky fast!
I feel lucky that recognition of this pattern in myself is possible. It may not make the experience less agonizing, but it usually keeps me from wallowing in the stinky stuff for too long. Well, this last wallow lasted way too long. Depression is a hard demon to nail down so my best guess is that I have been depressed for about two months. Lots of factors lead to this state of being, many of which have been life choices and stresses that I have chosen to bring into my life, but not all. Regardless of the reasons why the most important thing is pulling out of this negative state and regaining a more happy positive outlook on life.
Step one, for me, is to reconnect to the world. So I set aside the fear of rejection or judgement and express myself. Through expression and vulnerability I know I will feel more connected and understood. I thank all of you who have accepted and embraced me during my ups and downs and have recognized me for who I am on a whole. I am a good person who wishes she could always be kind, open, generous, empowering, funny, entertaining and joyful, but I also recognize that I am above all a human…. flawed, complex, challenging and unpredictable…. all the things that make life interesting and worth living.