I often like to isolate myself from other people and get lost in my own world. Sure, this can be harmful for people who tend to dwell too much on the most negative parts of themselves or the world in general. That kind of thinking has certainly brought me to my knees many a time before. But for the most part, I feel comfortable.
I tend to isolate myself the most when I’m really depressed or manic. I isolate when I’m depressed because I don’t want to drag others down or be a burden. I don’t want people pitying me or thinking I’m attention-seeking. I also isolate because I want to honor my emotions and be introspective of the reasons I’m feeling so low. After some serious soul-searching, it’s always because there are needs in my life not being fulfilled, or needs I’m not even aware of in the first place.
Isolation helps me focus on what I can do to improve my situation and possibly get out of my depressive rut. Of course, it’s not always easy, and there are many things in the world causing people to be depressed that are way out of our control. Positive thinking and self-determination are not always going to work, but they’ve helped me out more times than not.
As for mania, I isolate because I’ve emotionally hurt people in the past while manic, and I never want to do that again. I also run the risk of driving recklessly and saying inappropriate things in public spaces. Few people understand what it is like to be manic, so it is nearly impossible to reach out to people who can empathize and not be judgmental. Sadly, people fear what they do not know, and I don’t have the patience to surround myself with insensitive people while I’m in that state. I do fully believe mania can be controlled and shouldn’t be something to hide from. But personally, I just want to play it safe, and isolation is my preferred solution for avoiding destructive behavior and being stigmatized.
Don’t get me wrong, isolation can often be detrimental to one’s mental health. Interpersonal connectedness is vital and has been proven to lower suicide rates as well as improve general well-being. But let’s not disregard the benefits that short-term isolation can bring upon as well. Bipolar or not, we all need our alone time. I just need it more than others.