I Don’t Know How to Be with Others
~by Anonymous, August, 19, 2017
Having just lost my son to suicide, I’m learning really quickly that my friends don’t know how to be around me. And I don’t think I know how to be around them.
The last half of the week, one of my best friends picked me up to spend a few days at her lakeside retreat. Two other girlfriends invited themselves along. And as much as I love these women, two of them talked non-stop about the most inane, superficial stuff. I couldn’t have gotten a word in even if I’d wanted to. They talked so much, avoided asking me any questions, or taking the risk I might tell them something they didn’t want to hear. There were several times when I just wanted them to STOP TALKING. My response to the non-stop avoidance conversation was anxiety.
As much as I don’t want to isolate myself, I’m starting to feel afraid to reach out to friends. I just don’t know how they will react. I’m starting to feel like a pariah! I’m working hard not to feel judged (even though I’m the harshest critic of my performance as the mother of a son who took his own life), but that creeps in as well. I know they’re worried about me, but they just don’t know what to say or do. And neither do I.
I’m learning that the only safe place to tell my story, my son’s story, my family’s story is in counselling for now and hopefully group down the line. This is too much for friends, no matter how close you think they are.
Grieving my son’s loss is hard enough. Grieving the loss of friendships I’ve had for decades only adds to the pain I already feel. How do I avoid the isolation?
This post originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum and was reprinted with the permission of the author.
I enjoyed that article as it helped me and taught me a few things…
It gave me insight into my own life. Even though I am not a suicide loss survivor, I can relate to many of the same things she is feeling.
After reading the article, some bells went off in my head that helped me have more understanding of what other people may be thinking or feeling because of my bipolar and other mental illness diagnoses, and my personal situations and struggles related to my mental illness.
I finally understand why people are sometimes uncomfortable around me. If they know I have bipolar and everything else I have endured throughout my life, they do not know what to say to me sometimes, so they say nothing to me and avoid me altogether, which has only made the symptoms of my illness more severe, caused me to feel extreme loneliness and caused me to isolate more often.
Because of their lack of education and understanding, it can cause people to become uncomfortable around me and others with mental illness and similar life situations, sometimes causing them to react and behave around me in ways that bother me, make me feel sad, lonely, rejected, discriminated against and affects me negatively.
I never understood this very well until recently. I am beginning to understand it a little better anyway, even with some of my family members (not including my children and sister) that have never been able to accept or support my mental illness in any way after 25 years.
I realize I need to try to learn how to stop taking it personally when some people avoid me, or at least the topic of mental illness and learn to understand why they avoid me and avoid any discussion of my illness. I am not saying it hurts less to be avoided and have no friends or support from my family (this does not include my sister or my children), but at least, maybe, I am beginning to understand it more now. It helps me by giving me a little bit of peace of mind and comfort with that knowledge.
I know I must become stronger and stop isolating so much. I have been isolating a lot lately because it feels safer. When I am alone, I am safe. No one can hurt me like they have in the past.
I am very afraid of being hurt by others, because I do not want it to trigger my PTSD, which can then trigger my bipolar symptoms and then possibly my suicidal depression. It is the ripple effect of my illness.
I am trying to keep myself safe, but at the same time isolating myself is not helping my mental health.
I know I need to stop isolating myself so much. I am trying. It is very hard for me to leave the safety net and security of my home. Plus, I had been dealing with severe suicidal depression recently for a couple of months or so, which has now gotten better. Praise the Lord for that.
When I am depressed and other times, it is difficult for me to shower and get ready. However, once I am out in public, then I am usually fine and can be very social and friendly with other people at a surface level. It is mostly the initial leaving my house and getting out there that is the hard and a very difficult part for me.
My isolating has turned into a bad habit and habits are hard to break. I almost have a fear of leaving my home sometimes.
I went to a bible study last week, so that was huge for me and good for me as well. To be completely honest, though, I only went because my oldest daughter forced me to go with her. I love her very much, so I did it for her. I know she is trying to help me.
This might be a long slow process, but I am trying to reduce my isolation. I guess baby steps…
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
I am a numerous suicide attempt survivor. Praise God, I am still alive today.
I am a Mental illness advocate and it is my passion to educate about mental illness, increase awareness about mental illness, reduce the stigma of mental illness and the stigma associated with suicide and prevent suicides. I want to and we all must reduce the alarmingly increasing rate of suicides around the world today.
I have made a daily post about suicide everyday throughout the month of September for National Suicide Prevention month. This is post #27 and if you have missed my previous posts, please check them out on my blog. Also, please check out my blog for more daily posts for the rest of September.
We must all make our voices heard very loud and strong about mental illness, mental illness stigma and suicide prevention.
Each life is beautiful, important, precious and priceless.
We must prevent suicides and save lives.
Please know you are all loved and you all matter!
Please don’t isolate yourself, like me. It is not a healthy behavior.
It is no coincidence, but now because my severe suicidal depression has subsided and I feel much better and stronger and do not feel so afraid to leave my home. I am still isolating, but feel stronger and have less fear of leaving my home and will try to get out more, leave the safety of my home more often, besides just working at my part-time job, and make myself socialize in some capacity, in some way, somehow.
I am going to try to quit isolating so much and learn how to socialize more and prayerfully become more comfortable at it, like I used to be… and maybe even make a friend? Imagine that. Could that be possible? I prayerfully hope so.
God bless you all.
Love and hugs, Sue
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