From Depression to Isolation
Copyright 2012 by
Let that word sit there naked, exposed…. unadorned…. unencumbered by punctuation.
Isolation comes in a variety of forms and visits just about everybody at one point or another. Many people simply pretend they aren’t home and don’t answer the door. Others invite it in for cocktails, maybe a bowl of cashews.
That is where the human conundrum resides. What dynamics are at work when someone chooses to not be, or feel, isolated? How or why can one shun it, while the other provides an extra cocktail onion for its martini? How conscious is the acceptance, or rejection, of isolation?
I am convinced that, for the most part, isolation is a choice available to most if not all humans. Aside from the more obvious examples of it being foisted upon you, like your four-state-killing-spree resulting in a state-mandated, 75-to-life sentence in solitary confinement.
So those of us with the freedom to choose, what axis does that decision sit upon and why do we spin it one way or the other.
Choosing isolation is usually rooted in despair of some degree. Life’s relentless, hurricane-like battering finally wearing someone down to the nub, where a stifling existence behind closed doors appears on the horizon like some ironic sanctuary. My experience with isolation is that it doesn’t “feel” like isolation. It can even give the impression of respite or succor. A break from the avalanche or tsunami that your life has grown into. It’s only when people have irrevocably painted themselves into a corner that they decide to check out for a while. Nobody chooses isolation on prom night.
Yet others, when faced with those life-altering crossroads that are lined with gun-toting angry Afghanis who missed their last opium delivery, instead seek out help. They are proactive in their effort to improve the situation, seemingly not needing to retreat and re-gather faculties or re-assess strategy. They are, for lack of something with more teeth in it, optimists. They believe they can, with help, right the ship.
If consciously chosen, a solitary existence is often a direct extension of that person’s soul, tapping into a long held desire to be alone, to remove the minutia and detail and errand-running of everyday life from the grid of their existence. To pare away all the fat, which results, I have discovered, in a pretty damn raw world. It’s like being in the center of a circle of chairs and seated all around you are the collected demons of a lifetime. The AA meeting from Hell.
“My name’s Bill and I am an isolationist”.
The response, in unison, “Hi Bill!”
A person who chooses this type of very personal hell has probably always harbored the notion that they aren’t capable of righting their own ship, and that asking for help is a public acknowledgment of this, a sign of weakness, if you will. This psychological double-edged sword almost always ends up with someone being badly cut in the process. It is a choice akin to emotional suicide, stopping short, at least for a while, of advancing to the physical act.
My experience with isolation, and there is no way I can in good conscious separate it from depression, has been enlightening. I guess one can only say that if they successfully have come out the other end of the tunnel and discovered that the light, much to their delight, was not a pissed-off starving Rhino in a Miner’s hat wielding an oversized crescent wrench, but instead the sun rising on a new day. A bright round source of warmth and light that represented hope.
Now what about these annoying people who abide by a strong instinct to help themselves and actually act on it. These people are rarely susceptible to depression, and let’s be honest, isolation begins with depression. They are inseparable. If you can avoid depression, you most likely will never isolate yourself to any significant degree. And the willingness to ask for and accept help springs from a premise, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually of confidence, of understanding that asking for and accepting help is not a sign of weakness, but rather an indicator that yourself image is still intact enough that assistance would not compromise it.
Some people can take an incredible beating from life circumstances and remain upright. The rest of us need an escape. Hopefully, it remains only a temporary escape.
I’ve never actually seen a pissed-off Rhino.