Being beautifully bipolar sometimes feels like our illness is something that we live with alone. We feel like no one gets us. Somehow bipolar disorder found us and how it is unfair. Why should we live with bipolar disorder when everyone we know does not? Feeling like this can lead us to isolation.
What is isolation? Well, it looks like many different things. The most obvious is avoiding people. We feel alone in our illness so we put ourselves in a position where we, our physical selves, area lone. We stay in our homes with the doors locked and curtains or blinds closed. We allow ourselves to be held captive by our place. No one can penetrate our fortress, even if it just a bedroom. Similarly we are trapped inside. If we leave we will see people and they are the enemy. We just want to be left alone!
For some of use, our beds are a huge part of our isolation. I like to cocoon myself in a warm blanket in bed and sleep. When I say sleep we are talking eighteen hours solid shut eye with a peppering of taking care of my dogs. (The care of my beasts, Hope and Bailey, never wavers). It shuts out the world. When I close my eyes and sleep, the world goes away, I do not have to worry about other people. Sleep is bliss.
Another thing most of us do when we are isolating is lose the phone, not literally, but figuratively. I usually text the people that regularly call that I am not feeling well and do not feel like chatting. The truth is that it takes too much damn energy to form words with our mouths. Our tongues weigh a ton and our lips can hardly move. How are we expected to speak? Plus, we do not want to let anyone in our sad world we have created. It is easy to turn off our cell phones altogether, then we do not have to worry about who is calling, our voicemail can do the work. We may leave our cell phone on and just glance at the caller ID with no intention of actually picking up the phone to talk, again it is just too hard.
Things that become hard to do during depressive episodes may also act as isolating factors. For example, often times when we are depressed we do not shower. We do not care how badly we stink, or how greasy and messy our hair is, we simply cannot bring ourselves to do it. Because we let ourselves get in this state of yuckiness to someone else, we will not see anyone, because what if they judge us? That is the last thing we need.
Invitations to go out of our homes are purposefully not accepted – dinner with friends, a family member’s birthday party – we just can’t do it. We want to be alone and if we go out people will ask how we are or what we have been up to and we will have no answer because we do not want to tell them we are depressed or this is our first time out of the house or apartment in months. No, we think, it is better to stay in isolation.
Isolation is one of the worst things we can do when we are in a depressive episode. It allows us to wallow in the negative feelings we have about our illness and about ourselves. I know how hard it is to get up and go out and deal with people and society at large, I feel you. I do the same things. But we have to shake it off, get our butts in the shower, brush our teeth, and walk out the door.