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Why Do I Isolate Myself So Often?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From a teen in the U.S.: For as long as I could remember I liked being alone. I think it’s starting to really effect me though as I start to get older and enter the adult world. Every time I’m out with friends I feel uncomfortable and awkward. I always feel like I’m putting a front or an act in front of everyone I speak to and I could only feel at ease when I’m at home by myself. When I’m alone I feel as though I don’t think. Like I’m just alone in my room for hours imagining a better life and different scenarios of my pretend life when really I’m just laying in bed doing nothing. Is that normal?

I feel like something is wrong with me but I don’t understand what or how I could fix it. Sometimes I feel brain dead like I can’t even find words to describe how I feel or communicate with other people. The only phrase I always find myself saying is “I don’t know” I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I don’t know how to explain what I’m feeling, and I don’t know how to communicate or create a genuine connection with people.

All I ever do is pretend like I’m living in my own daydream and in this daydream I have personal connections with people I can hardly keep a conversation with in real life. Even when I go out with friends or family all I could think about is going back home to be alone. Like having conversations with people drains me and I need to be alone resting to stop feeling on edge.

Please tell me if this is normal or if any other person feels this way because a huge percent of the time I feel like I’m the only one who feels exactly what I’m feeling.

Why Do I Isolate Myself So Often?

Answered by on -

A.

No, you are not alone in this. At 17, you are aware of the increasing expectations (by yourself and others) for you to enter the adult world as a fully functioning adult person. Those expectations can be daunting. Since you find them overwhelming, it make sense that you retreat to daydreaming as an alternative to dealing with the difficult reality.

However, this is a problem that only spirals downward. The more you retreat, the less comfortable you will be in the company of others. Instead of getting practice in communicating well and developing confidence in yourself, you are becoming convinced you can’t do either.

It may be that you are developing the symptoms of social anxiety. Everyone has some degree of worry about how they will be received by others and whether they can manage the multiple demands of a social situation. But symptoms of social anxiety are not just a momentary case of “stage fright”. When social anxiety reaches a clinical level, the person becomes so fearful of the judgment of others and so convinced that she can’t fit into the social world that the stress is just too much to handle. People with social anxiety dread being in a variety of social situations. This can severely limit a person’s life.

People tend to see those with social anxiety as shy or aloof or even snobbish. But the truth is that the client really does want to have positive relationships and to be included. The social anxiety has become a huge barrier.

The physical symptoms of social anxiety are individual. Some people feel dizzy or lightheaded. Or they might feel tension in the body. Some people develop stomach pain and diarrhea or a racing heart, blushing or sweating. Meanwhile, the person perseverates about their fear that they will do or say something that will offend someone else or humiliate herself. Basic social skills dessert her.

Such clients develop a variety of strategies for managing life. Some will only go anywhere if they are accompanied by someone they trust. Many significantly limit their contact with others. Others develop a full blown phobia and never leave their house.

The good news is that social anxiety can be treated. The success rate is high. Research has shown that the treatment with the best results is active, structured, cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy has been shown to to change the neural pathways in the brain permanently.

The earlier you get treatment, the less of your life will be wasted by holing up in your room. I urge you to make an appointment with a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders as soon as you can.

While you wait for your appointment, you might find it helpful to read “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by Dr. David Burns. In it, he explains social anxiety more fully than I can here. He also describes a number of techniques you can use to help yourself feel better and more self-confident.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

Why Do I Isolate Myself So Often?

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. (2019). Why Do I Isolate Myself So Often?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/07/25/why-do-i-isolate-myself-so-often/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Jul 2019 (Originally: 25 Jul 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Jul 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.