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Am I Too Isolated?

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From the U.S.: I come from what can be called a “dramatic” family. There seems to always be some real or manufactured crisis to deal with, and my role has been one of clown/therapist since I was a child.

My elderly mother, with whom I have a good relationship, has struggled on and off though the years with alcoholism and dependent personality, my brother died from alcoholism a couple years back. Both my father and step father passed away in recent years. Mom relies on me too much for emotional support (a habit I work with her on), my sister (histrionic, depressed) won’t speak to mother, blah blah blah.

I am currently under medication for GAD, which has helped a ton. However, I realize I have isolated myself to the point where I have no friends outside of work, stopped interacting on facebook, and basically spend my time off alone at home or visiting my mom once a week.

Benign interaction with people stresses me out – I feel like I’m always ready for the other shoe to drop, for them to become needy or clingy or have some crisis. Here’s the deal…I’ve found I LOVE living isolated! The fewer people in my life means the less drama potential there is. I feel at peace for once. I’m still concerned some family drama or other will hit, and it will, but I can’t believe the relief I have when I get home from work and have no texts, no calls, no obligations. I don’t feel lonely. I play computer games, engage in hobbies, feed the birds, and life is grand.

As I do have a tendency to over analyze, I keep reading that over-isolation is not good for people, and I realize solving my problems with people by not letting them into my life to begin with is not considered healthy, but this is the most serene I’ve felt for years.

Are there long term risks with this, even though I “feel” happy and content this way? I wake up smiling now. It’s such a relief to get home, do my own thing, and not have people intruding into my bubble. Even a simple “hi! Long time no chat!” text from anyone will put me on edge. I ignore it until they stop reaching out. I am seeing a therapist, who says I have a combination of GAD/depression, possible cyclothymia. Thanks!

Am I Too Isolated?

Answered by on -

A.

Sometimes people just need a rest. From what you wrote, it’s understandable that you might want to withdraw for awhile to have some peace. But just as vacations need to end, so too does isolation. At some point, being isolated isn’t going to be a relief. It’s likely to become lonely.

Yes, there are risks. You might find it helpful to read The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century by Richard Schwartz and Jacqueline Olds. They found that loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer’s. A 2015 study by researchers at Brigham Young University looked at data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years. They found that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent.

You apparently need some coaching and support for finding and building relationships with healthy people who don’t need drama to feel alive. I hope you are talking to your therapist about how to develop mutually satisfying, healthy relationships. Medicine won’t do that for you. Developing some new skills is more likely to help.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

Am I Too Isolated?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Am I Too Isolated?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/05/02/am-i-too-isolated/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.