Solitary Confinement

“Go away.” I groan this phrase more often than any other when I’m having a depressed episode. I even close the curtains to shut out the sun. The only company I desire is that of one of my dogs. I don’t answer my phone, I don’t check Facebook except to angrily stalk those busy hanging out without me, I ignore everyone. It’s a dangerous practice, and it’s one I need to actively combat.
In the throes of depression, sometimes solace can only be found in blankets and solitude. But it’s important to note that this solution is only temporary. Certainly some people do better being alone than others, but I think that depression should not be underestimated. It is a dangerous beast, one that can be thwarted more easily with a small army. When fighting depression, we need to be told that our thoughts are unrealistic, and we need to be reminded of our own strength. More often than not, there are others who want to help – or who are at least willing to watch TV with us for a little bit until we feel well enough to eat.
I can feel my mom tense up when I retreat to my room during a depressive episode. The words to call me back to the dinner table are caught in her throat. My therapist has told her to let me go, but I know it still hurts her to see me escape to dreams that offer a less painful reality. I know that when I pull the covers over my head and swaddle myself in quilts that I am not curing my depression. I know I am merely hiding. But I don’t have the energy to fight, only to sleep.
This year, I don’t have to work on fighting harder. I need to work on letting others help me fight. I recognize that there will still be times when the only useful course of action involves a short nap, but I need to reduce the amount of time I spend in insolation. There is a reason that solitary confinement is used as a punishment in prisons; it’s detrimental to our psyches. Humans are naturally social creatures. Now I’m not suggesting that you throw a wild party when you are depressed, but I think that being in the presence of another person is enough. Instead of curling up with your laptop in your bedroom, try the kitchen or living room. Watching TV or playing a video game with a friend or sibling provides a great distraction. You don’t have to be chatty or talk about your feelings. Just try to enjoy the company of those who care about you. If you try, I will too.
Do you get the urge to hide yourself from the world when you’re depressed? How do you fight it?

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