The Most Distressing Part of My Life With Mental Illness


Most people know what it’s like to feel isolated. At some point in our lives, nearly all of us have felt alone, left out or not included. For many people, this is a temporary feeling or something they have experienced in specific situations. For somebody with mental health problems, the feeling of being isolated may be overwhelming, more permanent and may affect everything.

As someone who has always had mental health problems, I know what it’s like to feel isolated only too well. I have been and continue to be excluded from many groups of people, sometimes intentionally and sometimes probably unintentionally. Even when I am included, I usually feel it is only to a certain extent and sometimes because people feel sorry for me or feel obliged to include me. Believe me when I say, I am fully aware of this, and it hurts.

It’s also not just about feeling excluded by others either. The very nature of my illness leads to me often isolating myself. When I am feeling depressed, I often feel unable to be around others. I often feel like they won’t understand, and this leads to me feeling more isolated.

Sometimes, I feel too anxious and low to even leave the house. I may avoid people or situations completely for fear of breaking down, panicking or not being able to manage. Also, I often want to protect others from my illness. I don’t want people who I care about to see me or have to deal with me at my worst.

It doesn’t stop there. At times, I can be around other people, but I still feel isolated. Again, that’s part of my illness and anxiety about not being good enough. It may also be because I fear I will be rejected or excluded if I try to get too close to others. Sometimes, it’s just that I am so unwell I am unable to engage with other people in my usual way, as I am probably struggling to breathe or to stay in one place.

For me, feeling isolated is one of the most distressing things about my illness. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are completely alone in the world. Now, I understand I can be difficult to be around sometimes because of my illness, and I know I often isolate myself. It doesn’t feel good at all, and I guess it’s difficult to understand. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think increased awareness may help. I hope others can relate to this. I also hope I have given people some insight into what isolation may feel like to somebody with mental health problems.

Image via Thinkstock.

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