Why Isolating is Counterproductive

         When you’re feeling down, anxious, miserable or depressed, it can feel natural to want to hide in your room, in your bed, away from the world. Isolating can feel safe and comforting, especially if an event took place to trigger dark or traumatic emotions. But when we continuously remove ourselves from the company of others and the supports in our lives, we fall deeper into a mental health warzone that will keep us from healing.

Mental health issues stemming from depression and anxiety feed off isolation. Think of them like a stray cat. The cat comes to your door, you feed the cat once, and it keeps coming back for more. The cat doesn’t understand buying it food costs time and money. All it’s looking for is the fix—the food.

Mental health issues can act in the same way. Depression and anxiety want to make you think being alone is the best thing for you, not because it will make you feel better, but because it will benefit the mental illness. It wants to stay alive just like the cat. But the mental and physical energy we expend to keep feeding that cat is what deteriorates our self-worth even more. Now, that’s not to say that spending time alone is bad or wrong. It’s important to spend time alone to recharge. But if being alone is all we want to do, we need to start asking why.

The Paradox of Isolation

Being alone can feel good because we don’t have to try. We don’t have to put on a happy face, we don’t have to pretend, and we don’t have to worry about what others will think about our thoughts and behaviors. We can truly be ourselves in all moments without judgment. We can sit in the pit, we can stare at a wall, and we can cry. We simply don’t have to engage with anyone or anything when we are alone. But this is where the paradox comes in. It may feel good and safe being alone, but when we are alone, our internal narrative that craves peace can quickly shift to judgment.

Remember the cat. It wants to be fed; therefore, it doesn’t want you to change this behavior which in this case is isolating. It’s going to start telling you lies that, without another person to bounce things off, you start to believe. It might start by reinforcing isolation. Then it might tell you why it’s a great idea. But here’s where we find the shift. It tells you to stay isolated because no one likes you. Because you don’t really have any friends. Because sports aren’t fun anyway. And you’re not good at painting.

Do you see how quickly isolation reinforces itself? You begin to rationalize being alone, and the reasons become dark and negative. And the more times you tell yourself these narratives, the more you start to believe them.

Why It’s Important to Reach Out for Help

Depression and anxiety are tricksters. They make us think and feel things that aren’t real, but to the one suffering, the reality they are experiencing is a world of hurt that feels never-ending. People suffering from depression and anxiety can feel like they have no friends, no one likes them, and or no one cares, but just like the cat, these are the lies that are keeping it well-fed.

This is where outside support is vital to rewriting the internal narratives and finding joy. Talking to a friend, having dinner with family members, and going to therapy can quickly shift those negative words and reinforce the fact that people care about you. The more you isolate, the more junk you’re keeping in your head and heart. If you start talking about these feelings and narratives to others, they can help you see where the mental illness is looking for food and reinforce the love and support that is awaiting you.

 It can feel like an impossible feat to reach out for help when you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, but the truth is, you don’t have to live in that space. However, you do have to admit you’re suffering. Healthy living means yes, encountering some lows and some bad days, but healthy living means enjoying life more often than not and finding beauty in daily activities. If you’re struggling to find joy, it may be time for help.

It’s okay to feel sad or anxious. These feelings are simply human. But if these feelings are causing you to isolate and endure negative self-talk, it’s time to reach out for help. The Bougainvilla House has created a safe and welcoming environment for adolescents and their families which focuses on helping you overcome your feelings and connect you back to the beauty of the world. With a variety of outpatient treatment options and individualized programs, we are confident we can get you feeling healthy and happy. Call now to find a support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337

Finding Balance in an Ever-Changing World

Finding Balance in an Ever-Changing World

There are a million metaphors and similes about life. It’s a roller coaster, it’s like a box of chocolates, and it’s a journey, yet these comparisons have implicit reminders that sometimes life is hard. There are ups and downs, there are various surprises, and it’s a long road we must continue walking with moments of struggle. Some may find this sentiment beautiful, but for others, those who crave routine, peace, and stability, these metaphors are tough truths.

The uncertainty of life stems from many things. Some are internal as the body ages and others are external factors relating to fate, yet both connect to one word: control. Unfortunately, we cannot control fate—internally or externally—but we can control how we react to it all.

Internal and External Factors

It may be an uncomfortable topic, but puberty is real. It brings about significant changes to our bodies, our emotions, and our perspectives. These changes alter mood and can cause teens to feel jaded, tired, or even the vast opposite. Along with the internal changes of the body comes the external consequences. This could look like growth spurts, voice changes, and personality changes that can cause unwanted attention. Put two and two together and you have an awkward math problem.

Besides hormonal issues and physiological happenings in the body, most of our emotions are connected to the outside world. Think about it in terms of literature and the fact that books are centered around conflict. We are humans, humans have emotions, and emotions create conflict. But conflict doesn’t magically arise. External forces affect us, trigger us, and force us to confront whatever is happening. So, while our emotions play a huge factor, they connect to catalysts in the external world.

On top of all that, we have another aspect of the external world called expectation. As teens, we are expected to do the chores, go to school, get a job, possibly go to college, and so much more. Then, there are topics like gender norms, cultural norms, and societal norms that attempt to force us into another box. It’s as if we are in a maze, and we are getting pushed to turn right then left then right again. We don’t really know where we are going, yet we know we are supposed to keep moving forward.

Now think about this new internal world mixed with a new external world. It can feel like the recipe for disaster, and for some of us, we are already experiencing this war. The bottom line here is that this is normal, everyone goes through it, and not every day is going to be a good day. Many people want to preach “good vibes only” and the power of a positive attitude, but the reality is that because we have emotions and myriad external factors, we are undoubtedly going to experience the drops on the roller coaster. However, the drops don’t last forever, and when we accept this truth and process our emotions while they are occurring, we can take negative moments as they come, release them, and return to joy.

Balance and Shifting Perspective

Unlike a roller coaster or box of chocolates, we don’t have a choice when it comes to, well, choice. We are on the ride, we don’t know the outcome, and to find balance, we must accept this idea first. You can find balance by shifting your perspective. Instead of saying, “I hate this ride,” switch the narrative to, “I’m excited to see where it takes me.” If you hate the big dips, focus on cherishing the straightaways and practicing gratitude while they are occurring. If you bite into a candy with a nut and you wanted caramel, remind yourself you can try again.

We want to be present in our darker moments because we want to avoid repressing these experiences. During the drops, try this perspective shift. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” ask, “what is this trying to teach me?” See the difference? Instead of playing the victim to fate, you put the power back in your hands by becoming an adventurer, the warrior of your story. It’s not always easy, but when we finally look under the bed, we realize the monster isn’t so big, and sometimes, it was never there to begin with.

Just because we experience the dips doesn’t mean we have to sit in those moments and stay there. Just like the ride, we won’t constantly be plummeting down. The moment will pass, as will every other emotion and experience. When we are present, we can acknowledge the difficult moments, and more importantly, we can enjoy the good.

It can be difficult to balance all of the emotional and physical changes of adolescence. If you or someone you know is struggling to balance and is using substances to cope, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337 , or use our convenient Contact form.