Why i isolate

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intothelight

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I have been reading and for so many of the supporters, this seems to be the most difficult part of PTSD to deal with. Personally, it has caused major damage to my relationships and I thought I would share my reasons for isolating and the different aspects of it. Please note these are my reasons and I speak for no one else.

There days where the stress is to much for me to handle, and it occurs after I have worn myself emotionally thin. I will at my first opportunity let my family, co-workers, or friends (if they are in proximity) that I need down time. It is extremely important that I be left alone, for a while, as I am trying to regroup and prevent a meltdown of some sort. Everyone can have a rough day and want to relax, but I find this goes deeper than that. I think the PTSD cup explains the mechanics very well; and instead of going into overload, I will use this time to process some of the things that are stressing me and work on putting them into perspective.

Extreme isolation, such as avoiding human contact, not speaking to people, and/or not leaving the house was/is usually a result me feeling, overwhelmed, worthless, guilty, numb, depressed, or basically not fit to be part of the human race. If someone pushes, I will withdraw even further. Just knowing that someone is there is comforting, but it is a fine line. In my case, to be isolated for more than a few days is a result of deepening depression, suicidal ideation, or I have self-harmed. For people that know me best, they start to watch after me when I get quiet, because I don't ask for help. In this state, I do not feel worthy.
 
Deb thanks for sharing your insight into isolation.

As a Supporter I find isolation very hard not to take personally and bordering on being dismissive of my very existence in a relationship.

While all what you say is logical and I have learned all what you have explained it doesn't change my feelings when dealing with such a situation. I wish I could process it differently so I am of more support than what I must be.

The biggest problem I find is how do you fight against ingrained nature to protect and support those you love in a manner which requires you to pull away and feel just as isolated?

I can normally cope with what you explained above for a couple to a few days but when it goes on for weeks I find myself caught in a vortex on being dragged into a depressive state.

I like that you let people know what you need as not knowing and having to guess is difficult as a Supporter.

Having the illness myself to a lesser degree, I suffer from the suicidal ideation and depression but attention, love and hugs have more benefit for me that being left alone. I don't mean attention as in talking but just touched, being acknowledged and even smiled at. Being left alone only deepens the issues for me.

This is just MHO.
 
In my schedule each week I have one full day and a half of a day, where I have "down time". Time to write, or be quiet if I need it, and if I don't I can invite a friend to lunch or run some errands. That way no matter what, when I start each week, I have that time. If I choose to I can fill it, if not, it is there. It is my quiet time. I don't answer the phone unless it is my husband. Any call backs can be made the next morning or in the evening if I'm up to it.

I've needed that time these past couple of weeks. But I don't always. I did though have to apologize to a friend today because I didn't call her back for more than a week. It hurt her feelings... and I don't mean to. My husband understands, that being quiet for a time, doesn't mean I'm upset with him or what is going on... I just need time to decompress and to breathe before my next bit of the week. That way I can be a better self on the weekend when he is off.

I found I don't do longer periods very well, as it is comfortable to withdrawl and safer. I try not to give in to the urge to cancel any obligatons or anything... that way I have to surface, and do the more uncomfortable thing... getting out and mixing it up.
 
Hi Nicolette,

You made some very valuable points and I think these should be discussed.

As a Supporter I find isolation very hard not to take personally and bordering on being dismissive of my very existence in a relationship......

I can normally cope with what you explained above for a couple to a few days but when it goes on for weeks I find myself caught in a vortex on being dragged into a depressive state.

This type of isolation I engaged in for months. What you wrote is the exact thing my husband felt. I have seen that echoed in multiple posts of supporters, and flat out, you are right. How could someone not feel that way? I know why I did what I did, but that doesn't invalidate how other people felt. Their feelings were not incorrect; and it is so hard to comprehend, that I don't know if anyone can unless they have been there. So here is my attempt to explain my why, and in no way does it justify the behavior or make it acceptable. But at the time, I could not help it nor could anyone else pull me out of it.

For me, this time was pre-trial and all of the events that were leading up to the trial. My symptoms were out of control, with severe depression, constant anxiety, not sleeping, not eating, disassociation, etc., etc. The little energy that I had went to my children and beyond that there was nothing left. I did not have the energy to "give" anything to anyone else, as it took everything in my power just to exist. For me it wasn't just suicidal ideation, it was a daily struggle not to execute a plan. So others did not "exist" as it took everything just to draw the next breath. I don't know if anyone could have reached me in that state, and even to engage in a minimal conversation just took too much of my energy. Definitely not right, but not intentional and I had no clue how to get out of it. Working on it was not an option at that point.

While all what you say is logical and I have learned all what you have explained it doesn't change my feelings when dealing with such a situation. I wish I could process it differently so I am of more support than what I must be.

The biggest problem I find is how do you fight against ingrained nature to protect and support those you love in a manner which requires you to pull away and feel just as isolated?

I believe when isolation or "down time" is a short duration, it is essential just to give a sufferer space. But at the same time, it should be a shared arrangement. I let family members know when I need some time to myself and they respect that time. Actually, giving someone that space is being supportive, but at the same time it should not hurt other family members. It is a tough balancing act.

Having the illness myself to a lesser degree, I suffer from the suicidal ideation and depression but attention, love and hugs have more benefit for me that being left alone. I don't mean attention as in talking but just touched, being acknowledged and even smiled at. Being left alone only deepens the issues for me.

I hope I get to this point and never go back to that place I was for months. I don't think extreme isolation makes anything better and for me, it is a cry for help. I can't do it alone, and I hope that no one ever leaves me alone when I am like that again. I am learning to reach out for help, and even if the hugs are virtual; it is far more healing than remaining the hell that can be my head.
 
I am totally isolated from friends, family and everyone. It is what I must do right now.

I do see people periodically, though, once in a while. But I am getting better and working toward it. I will get there.
 
Thanks for your discussion Deb. Here are my thoughts

and it is so hard to comprehend, that I don't know if anyone can unless they have been there.
Agreed. I still think even being there and being on the other side has different aspects as well as the commanilty. As while you can understand from being there, when you are well and want/need interaction it sometimes overrides the logic and reasoning from the experience.:confused: The saying actions speak louder than words is very apt her IMHO as while I know the facts the actions tell me I am alone if my Sufferer is isolating. I think both the Sufferer hurts (moreso than the Supporter) but the Supporter hurts in other ways.

So here is my attempt to explain my why, and in no way does it justify the behavior or make it acceptable. But at the time, I could not help it nor could anyone else pull me out of it.

Thank you for attempting to explain. :tup:

So others did not "exist" as it took everything just to draw the next breath

I am sorry for your pain and appreciate what you are saying.

I don't know if anyone could have reached me in that state, and even to engage in a minimal conversation just took too much of my energy. Definitely not right, but not intentional and I had no clue how to get out of it. Working on it was not an option at that point.

I wish there was an answer to this predicament.

I believe when isolation or "down time" is a short duration, it is essential just to give a sufferer space. But at the same time, it should be a shared arrangement. I let family members know when I need some time to myself and they respect that time. Actually, giving someone that space is being supportive, but at the same time it should not hurt other family members. It is a tough balancing act.

Agreed. All I know is I am missing being told but respect and can honor the short duration. More than that is tough.

I don't think extreme isolation makes anything better and for me, it is a cry for help.

I wish we could work out how to answer that cry for help and assist.

I can't do it alone, and I hope that no one ever leaves me alone when I am like that again. I am learning to reach out for help, and even if the hugs are virtual; it is far more healing than remaining the hell that can be my head.

I like this thinking! Good work! :tup:
 
Intothe light,
A great thread and one sentence that stood out for me is this:

"I believe when isolation or "down time" is a short duration, it is essential just to give a sufferer space. But at the same time, it should be a shared arrangement"

I think so many ptsd relationhsips would survive better if the sufferer could find a way to express the need to isolate clearly and safely, without fear of fallout. It takes two for this to happen. The supporter has to be in a position to hear it (i.e. not needy themseves etc), and the sufferer has to be able to state it clearly (i.e. acknowledges that it is an unnatural situation and that the partner isn't a mind reader). Supporters sometimes probably struggle with the natural need to comfort a loved one, but need to learn a new way of supporting by respecting that request for space. But at least, they can remove any level of natural insecurity if they know that their sufferer just needs time and will be back, as it seems to me many here in newer relationships naturally question whther it is space or just that the relationship is not going anywhere if not stated clearly.
 
Oh, ITL, I very much relate. Nicolette, it's like your words are the ones ringing through my head every time I isolate, that's my conscience telling me that I need to continue being the person I am to the people I love. But sometimes I can't find myself at all. I simply cannot locate my personality, anywhere. I don't know where it went. I write stories and poetry of losing things, breaking things, waking up in a house that has no familiarity with family pictures that aren't mine. People want to know where I've been and all I want to say is, "I don't know. Where am I? Can you tell me who I am, please?"

It's heartbreaking. I haven't spend quality time with my best friend in a long time. I know that she feels like I abandoned her, and I did. But in a big way, I've abandoned myself. Or my Self has been gone awhile, so it's not like she could visit with me, because I don't know where I am. I think I could have put a stop to this early if I had kept up communication and just told her what I was feeling. She would have been sympathetic. She has PTSD but is extremely extroverted, so really when she is spending %99 of her time doing things it's more of an alarm than isolation. Anyway, I didn't keep up communication, and instead I fabricated to myself that I was totally unworthy of her, that she hated me, that I didn't deserve anything from anybody but especially not her, how could I just cut people off like that, etc, etc, etc. It's so self-torturing and SO hard to stop thinking.

My SO and I had a fight about just this yesterday. I'm just reaching some kind of critical mass with my self-depreciation. But I don't know how to stop all of the voices that tell me that I am nothing, worthless, dirty, ugly, sick, incapable... and I let them permeate my reality too much without meaning to. I basically tried to convince him that I was not worth his time and he should get out now (See, I don't know how these voices find passage to my mouth). We both reached breaking point and went to separate rooms, took a minute for cool down, and he came back and said, "You know I'm not going to leave you," and I said, "I know, but right now, I would leave me."

And that's sort of how it goes. It's some mixture of self-hate, self-loss, and self-abandonment, and when I have so many relationship issues with my own self, I can't understand or cope with many other relationships. I'm just out.

(((Deb))) Virtual hugs are so good! *squeeeeze*
 
Isolation.... I tend to travel there often push my friends or who I think are friends to the curb the boomerang does not always work and I tend to not retrieve all those I let go. I stop talking to people, stay in the house, feel alone and yet I feel who would want to be around me. Ok there is alot more but it this is really hard to talk about. There are one or two people who know that when I get quiet they get more active trying to keep me from going down that alone hole too far.

Thankls for writting this thread Deb ((((HUGS))))

NH
 
Thanks for this thread, Deb. You've gone to the energy extreme ( feels that way to me ) of verbalizing this stuff, which I'll sort of wonder about and then quit because it's too deep sometimes and I can't wrap my head around a way out. One of the big, big problems is that I LIKE isolating so it's not 'bad' in my head-makes it much tougher to break and takes discipline every day. Makes me tired a lot. No, do not even attempt to justify it, I do realize this is silly, does damage to others and is a ridiculous way to live.

Think with me, it's that everything 'out there' is confusing, exhausting, unpredictable and not quite safe. Also the self worth thing precludes wishing to interact for fear of anyone seeing that awful person I think they'll see, or being hurt yet again for whatever imcomprehensible reason. These are reasons, not excuses. Mine is tied in with avoidance too-not a great combination if one wishes to get further than the front yard. Am working on it-packing on the armour and getting out again today. It would be nice to go to the store unencumbered with all the clanking.
 
I have no choice but to isolate sometimes. If I don't I feel more and more overloaded and depressed. I get to the point that just the idea of having contact with others (other than my children, or the forum) can send me into a panic attack. I go through periods where I just can't leave the house. For a long time I would try to push myself to keep going. That would always end badly. I am trying to find a balance between going to the extreme or enough time alone. I have noticed, along with others, that if I go too long alone I feel more depressed and less energy. It's difficult to know what to do when the difficult times come. I enjoy reading what other opinions are because it helps me get new ideas about how I might be able to handle things better.
 
Ive read all the posts on this thread and this thread and have gainged some useful insight into what he he feels and what i feel, but there is still a big part of me that just want to say "uuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!" :confused:
Even though my brain understands the why's and how's, my heart doesn't always "get it".
I think its human nature to want to help and heal, but sometimes, I dont think the answer is that simple, sometimes it figuring out to manage and balance.
 
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