Thank you once again to the website Our Buddy System for recognizing  my writing. 
Do you ever find yourself stuck?  Not really interested in seeing people or even just taking a quick trip to the store?  Does it begin to feel like the only way you want to live?  In all honesty, I would say that isolating myself is one of my biggest road blocks.  Especially this time of year, I find myself never leaving the house.  I hate this weather, and because the weather puts me in a bad mood, I feel like I am entitled to spend 24/7 inside my house.  I keep telling myself that everyone will understand. 

I let commitments slip away because I can’t face the idea of leaving the house.  I start to get down on myself and my appearance, and swear that once I lose a few pounds, I will be OK to see people again.  It all feels very normal to me, and as long as I can wake up in the morning, and say to myself, “I don’t have anywhere that I have to go today”, I feel fine. 

Suddenly, I realize that I have spent so much time alone that being around other people causes me a great deal of anxiety.  I am terrified because I have taught myself that avoidance is best.  Panic attacks set in, and I feel as if I can no longer cope.  It’s a vicious cycle, it really is.  Once the fog clears a little, and you realize that you have been deliberately avoiding life for whatever reason, the guilt begins to kick in, and now you are more depressed than you were before. 

Does any of this sound familiar?  Have you heard from family or professionals that you are prone to this behavior, but set it aside thinking they don’t know what they are talking about?  You, my friend, like me are isolating yourself. 

Do I have all of the answers?  No, of course not.

I do however have years of experience, yet I find myself walking down the same path, year after year.  Anything feels better than anxiety.  Even being completely alone.  There are days when I long to be completely alone, but once I find myself in that position, I am so desperately depressed because I feel as if my illness is driving people away. 

How do you find your way out of the dark? Baby steps….quite literally.  I start with showering and getting dressed.  Possibly doing my hair and make up for once.  Once that mountain is conquered, I decide whether I have accomplished enough, or do I feel strong enough to take on a little bit more? 
Do I need anything from the drug store up the road?  Maybe the car needs to be washed, or we need paper towel.  However small the reason, if it gets you out of the house, even for half an hour, know that you have met your goal.  Head on back home, knowing that you have succeeded for today, and perhaps tomorrow you can try again.  Maybe stay out a little longer. 

I often wait for my husband to come home, so that I can go out with him.  Especially in winter, when the driving is bad.  If I am struggling, and begin to feel panicked, he can talk me through it.  Find that one person who “gets” you.  No matter who it is.  Ask them if they will accompany you on a short trip.  Do not let yourself back out.  Have them meet you at your house. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to feel as if I am saying because you have isolated yourself, that you are now a bad person.  I am not a bad person, and I quite frankly succumb to the need to isolate a few times a year.  I just want you to find a way out of this hole you have crawled into.  This behavior isn’t healthy for any of us.  You don’t want to look back on life with regret.  None of us wants to feel as if we have failed at anything.  So, set yourself on a course for success.

It will be a struggle……as most things are when you are battling depression.  The struggle is what makes you stronger.  Feel proud of yourself for recognizing that you have this problem.  I am happy that I have brought my isolation to light.  If you can’t do it today, especially due to the winter weather, make a realistic goal for yourself.  I can tell you that when you return home from your errands, and you take a moment to think, you will feel a sense of relief.  Now you know you CAN

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