Yesterday was my third class in this new course I’m taking at the hospital, called Emotional Resilience. (You can read the blog post about the first class here.)
It was a bit of a heavy class. We talked about avoidance behaviours (not wanting to go to a crowded place in fear of becoming anxious, not making eye contact with people, etc), and safety behaviours (always sitting with your back against a wall, or always wanting a friend to go places with you so you don’t have to do things alone).
We had to write down a list of our own avoidance, and safety behaviours. Once finished, if we felt we could share, we did so with the group and group therapists. The therapists really want us to get to the root our complex traumas, so they can be a little pushy, and ask, “why do you feel that way – what is the emotion you are trying to avoid”.
One of the members of my group said he’s lonely, but he wants to be alone.
I’m lonely, but I want to be alone.
That sank deep into my chest. It’s a feeling I have felt so many times, over and over. Complete and utter loneliness to the point where my heart aches, but wanting to be alone because no one could possibly understand how I feel.
I can’t tell you how many times I have sat alone in my room, listening to a family gathering taking place one floor above me, wishing that I could join them. Or turned down a party invitation, knowing that I wanted to be with those people, but stayed home alone instead. But that’s the thing about depression – you don’t think anyone understands you, so you isolate yourself.
I’m writing today to ask you to get outside of your comfort zone. Maybe just once over the next week. Go sit with your family, even if you’re just silent, and be in that uncomfortable moment. Take a few deep breaths, know that you were able to do it, and excuse yourself when you need to. Baby steps – but every step counts.
And if you’re a loved one of someone who you notice is maybe struggling, and isolating themself, maybe you could just let them know you’re there. And maybe you don’t understand what they are going through, but you can listen. When I would close myself up in my room away from all my family, sometimes my dad, or sister, or step-mum would just come down to check in, and it always made the world of a difference.
Thank you for being here with me today. I have so much love in my heart for each and every one of you, and I’m so proud of you for taking your step forward.