This Is What Social Isolation Looks Like

It’s winter.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  I’ve been socially isolating.  There, I said it.

I’m guessing I might not be alone.  Social isolation in grief is oh so common.  Social isolation in winter is oh so common.  Conversations about social isolation?  Not so common.  We reference social isolation a lot around here, but we have never had a whole post about it. Seeing as I have recently been in the depths of social isolation, it seemed time to change that.

First, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way.

Social isolation is not the same as alone time or solitude.

Social isolation is not introversion.

Okay, so what is social isolation? Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

What Does Social Isolation Look Like?

This probably seems obvious.  Social isolation looks like isolating oneself from other people, right?  Right.  But it isn’t always that simple.  Sometimes social isolation isn’t just holing up at home and watching Netflix. It can be more nuanced.  Let’s use my own social isolation as a little case study, in the form of a little self-interview:

Have you left the house? 

Sure.  I have been going to work, running errands, going to the movies, going to yoga.  I see other people all the time.

Have you been answering your phone?

Uhhhh . . . . not exactly.

Have you been replying to text messages?

Hmmmm . . . yes.  Usually when someone finally texts me a question like

Have you gotten together with any friends or family socially?

Wellllllll . . .  I had dinner with someone a few weeks ago I think.  Or maybe it was a month ago.  And I always chat politely with the guy at the counter when I pick up my carry-out falafel.

Have you lied and said you weren’t feeling well to decline or cancel plans?

It wasn’t lying, I am mentally not feeling well!!!

Here is the thing about social isolation: there are cases that it looks like hiding in the house 24/7 with no outside contact.  But often it doesn’t look like that.  Many people who are socially isolating are like me – they are still getting out and doing things.   When you going to work or school, the gym, you kids’ events, etc so it is easy to say, “I’m not socially isolating, I’m out and about”.  But it is the content of that time that is important.  Seeing other people and engaging in meaningful social interaction are two very, very different things.  I might have gone to yoga and seen 20 other people there.  That doesn’t mean I am not socially isolating.  Sure, the yoga was great for my physical and mental health in other ways, but it wasn’t social engagement if I didn’t talk to anyone!

What Does Social Isolation Feel Like?

Many people hear the words “social isolation” and make a lot of assumptions about what it feels like, so let’s keep this case study going to answer some feelings questions.

Your social isolation has felt completely terrible, right?

Wrong.  My social isolation felt pretty great, especially early on.  I didn’t have to worry about or think about anyone but myself.  I didn’t have to answer the question “how are you doing?”.  I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s needs.  Not only did it not feel completely terrible, there were moments it felt glorious.

Well, if it felt pretty great then is wasn’t a problem, right? 

Unfortunately, wrong.  When I was just taking a break and getting a little alone time, that wasn’t a problem.  But that wasn’t social isolation, that was me being balanced and meeting my solitude needs.  The problem was when I started actively ignoring people, avoiding people I love and care about, and not opening myself up to anyone else’s feedback, support, perspective, or anything else.

You’re writing a post about your social isolation now, so did you know all along you were socially isolating?

Nope, not at all.  At first I was just taking some happy, healthy alone time.  I used the fact that I needed a break and that it was, at first, a good thing to stay in denial once it was creeping from alone time into isolation.  Then I rationalized by saying things to myself like, “I’m still getting out and doing things – I’m going to yoga, I’m going to see movies, I’m going to work, it’s fine”.  Even though I know one can do all those things and still be socially isolating, I didn’t want to admit that is what I was doing.

So when did you know it was a problem?  Was it when it started to feel bad?

No, it really wasn’t.  I knew it was a problem when I looked at my text messages and realized I hadn’t replied to the last five people who had texted me, even though they were people I really love.  I didn’t want to reply to them, it felt good not to have to interact with anyone, it felt good not to have to tell them how I was doing [not great] or deal with questions like do you want to get dinner [nope, not really] but I rationally knew it wasn’t a good thing.  Ultimately I knew it would create distance between us that I didn’t want.  I knew if I kept ignoring people they would stop reaching out (not because they are bad friends, but because if you ignore someone long enough and don’t tell them what is going on or what you need from them, they will probably eventually assume you want them to back off), and then it would be even harder for me to stop isolating.  So it still felt good to be isolating, even though rationally I knew it wasn’t good.

What do you do about social isolation?

Good question.  There is no one answer of how to break the cycle of social isolation.  As someone starting to come out the other side, I can tell you some things I have been doing and share some other tips and tricks.

  • Stop rationalizing. I had to remind myself that telling the teenage girl who served me my popcorn at the movie theatre that I liked her earring did not count as social interaction.  I had to look at the stories I was telling myself that were allowing me to believe that my isolation wasn’t a problem.
  • Tell people you’re isolating. Seriously, this is hard and feels crazy, but it works.  After ignoring a text for three days, some friends of mine received replies like
  • It is okay to ease back in slowly and be selective. Reaching out to someone doesn’t mean you have to jump back in to book clubs and dance parties tomorrow.  Some of my friends who got the text above, then got a text like
  • Sometimes you need to do things you don’t want to do. I know, it sucks.  But our brains do this annoying thing where sometimes things feel good even when they aren’t good for us, so we have to act against our brains.  Push yourself.  Say yes to an invitation, even if you aren’t up for it, just to start breaking the isolation habit and to connect with someone you love. Remember that just because we don’t want to do something it doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to doing it!
  • Ask a safe and trusted person for help. Consider who in your support system might be best able to gently support you out of your social isolation cycle and ask them for some help.  Do something low key with them.  Ask them to check in with you regularly.  Ask them to keep inviting you and pushing you, even when you aren’t being cooperative.
  • Remember that social isolation and social anxiety are different (though they can be related). If the reason you are isolating is because of fear and anxiety about interacting with people, professional support for social anxiety is important.  Reaching out to a counselor or therapist can be hugely helpful.
  • If your friends disappeared after a loss, your isolation may feel outside of your control. Check out some of our posts on managing friends disappearing.  This may mean finding a new support system or reaching back out and re-establishing some old relationships.
  • If you have been isolating so long that people stopped reaching out, take the first step. Reach out to those people.  Apologize if you need to.  Explain what you have been going through.  Tell them you are trying to dig out of that isolation pit and would love to get together.  It isn’t easy, but it is doable.    Grab your phone.  Right now.
  • Remember, you can still have plenty of solitude and alone time. Life is all about balance.  Breaking out of social isolation doesn’t mean you have to stop that healthy and valuable practice of getting alone time.  It just means that you keep it in check.

Had experience with social isolation?  Tell us about it – leave a comment!

April 11, 2019

89 responses on "This Is What Social Isolation Looks Like"

  1. When you out of your way again and again to be kind, helpful, friendly, fun and generally agreeable and KEEP being rejected again and again it makes the desire for isolation very appealing. Time and time have I tried as a guy, to make new friends, talk and support, be open and honest, helpful and honestly interested and just plain BEING MYSELF…….but this seems to be a general annoyance to practically everyone I meet. All I can do is be myself right? RIGHT………but after a time it just breaks you down and you give up.

  2. I agree with the majority of people in the comments, that the author of this article is being somewhat disrespectful to those out there who suffer from severe and debilitating mental health issues which in turn cause social isolation, or are part of the aging community that have limited options to be near others, or have come out of a long term abusive relationship and are left with nothing. Is her experiece valid? Of course it is and if you gain comfort reading her anecdote then great. It is more like an ode to the ebbs and flows of normal mental health that any human will experience throughout life. What I can’t understand, is not the angry responses but rather the second round angry responders. In other words the people who are angry and obnoxious towards the people who have commented about the author being out of her depth on this topic. A lot of people exerienceing severe soical isolation are in a lot of pain, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and some times physically. It’s completely understandable that they will lash out when confronted with advice or grievances from someone who still has the privilage of options. Try practicing some tolerance and compassion towards people who are suffering deeply and more so than you and feel gratful that you are not experiencing those emotions yourself. Why take it personally? And don’t get me started on the “toough love” approach. How condecending. Honestly the ammount of entitlement people have is ridiculous. The author wrote publically and on a sensitive topic. People have every right to criticise it if they don’t agree and frankly, whoever wrote it should’ve done more reseach. It is about as problimatic as comparing a fullblown eating disorder to a mild fixation on diet. All of this is coming from a 27 year old female who has slowly isolated herself quite severely over many years and maybe, maybe if a stable mood permits- can claw her way back by clinging to the contacts she still has, as weak and strained as they are. There is definitely something to be said about having the option to reach out to loved ones, or having loved ones reach out to you, being able to leave the house and participate in society etc. All of that. So have some respect for your fellow humans and don’t be so offended that people have it worse off than you. The idea that some of you are so sheltered you can not understand how seriously scary it can be to reaslise you have no one at all to reach out to is very worrying. If your situation is like the authors, then practice some god damn gratitude and humility. Also. This really foul attitude I see here “No wonder people don’t like him/her she’s so negative and doesn’t put any effort in” no sh## einstein! That’s what mental illness looks like! It’s not pretty! People who really do have a mental illness, often exhibit socially unpopular behaviour…this is why the stigma continues and this is why articles like this can be inflamatory and harmful becuase it is giving a false impression of a symptom of mental illnesses, the impression that it is a choice. A choice yet again up to the experiencer.

  3. If you have someone in your life who would text you to ask if you are alive, if you had dinner with someone as recently as a month ago, if you have friends and family members you’re avoiding, you’re not truly isolated. You’re able to go back to having a normal social life with normal friendships when you’re done isolating. You have no idea what it feels like to be an adult who has never had a normal social life or normal friendships, who has never had multiple people who cared enough to text at all, who would feel incredibly lucky to have had that one friendly dinner with someone a month ago, who has no clue how to build a relationship.

    This article isn’t about isolation, not really. It’s about what a socially normal person thinks isolation is like based on a taste of un-social-ness. It’s like when someone who lived on minimum wage for a month or three before deciding to ask their wealthy parents for a few thousand dollars and help finding a better job speaks with a sense of authority on poverty. It comes from a place of blind privilege. God, I wish I had what you have.

    If you want to know what true isolation is like, read other people’s perspectives. You won’t find the perspectives of truly isolated people through in-person conversations, because we don’t have that many conversations, and may not even really know how to have them. Here’s a relevant reddit thread that came up when I searched:

    … but if you have people in your life who text you and maybe meet up with you for dinner once a month, who you can ramp up your connection with whenever you want or are ready, you have so many better things to do than research true isolation.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re so lucky. Please, please appreciate the people in your life who care about you, because not everyone has them.

  4. Utterly indited content, Really enjoyed studying.

  5. Wow.. really interesting to read all the angry comments. It’s okay to isolate a couple of weeks (if you’ve experienced a loss or trauma) but then you got to pick yourself up and get out in the world again. Because only YOU have responsebility for YOUR life, NO ONE ELSE. You don’t have to go to a wild party or go to dinner with a bunch of strangers. Just get out and do something nice. Even if its just for an hour.

    I am going to give some tough love to the angry people here. I recently met a person like you. He used to complain a lot about his life and how he had no friends. In his head, it was everyone elses fault but his own that he had no friends. The guy seemed normal in the beginning, but I noticed this negativity around him and I felt drained after spending time with him. I still tried to help him cause he mentioned he was suicidal, or else I wouldn’t have bothered. So I introduced him to my friends, and my friends are decent, kind hearted people, but they did not like him. Whenever we tried to do something nice together, talk and laugh he would always bring his bad vibes, critisizm and he never smiled and he barely spoke to us. So soon enough I understood that HE was the reason why he didn’t have friends. It was his negative mindset. He was pessimistic, critical and never happy about anything.

    So to the negative people out there with no friends. It’s really up to you. Maybe someone or many people hurt you, but that doesn’t mean that all people are bad. Start appreciating human interactions. Tell yourself that you’re okay and that people care. It’s not true that no one cares about you, although it can feel like that at times.

    But you have to give to receive, remember this. This guy I knew with no friends, he never “gave” anything. Not a smile, not a hug, not a gift, he never initiated a conversation, he never asked me about my goals and dreams or what i liked.

    I think that people with no friends usually are negative and they don’t like other people. Other people can sense these vibes, so they pull away. Nobody enjoys hanging out with a negative person! They have probably been hurt in the past and in their childhood. But do you want to live a life of fear and isolation or a life filled with love and human interactions? Yes sometimes people will hurt you, but learn to trust yourself enough so that no one can make you feel down. People that say and do mean things are only projecting anyway, so never take it personally. You actually have a choice and you can overcome depression and anxiety. But being social is like training a muscle, you have to step out of your comfort zone and 1-2 times a week to build “social muscles”. And before you know it, you feel comfortable around people and the anxiety is gone.

    Just reflect on yourself a little bit and be honest with yourself. Why do you think you have no friends? Is it you or is it everyone else..? You have to take responsebility for your life cause no one else will, it’s not their job. You can be angry about it or wallow in self-pity or you can take action steps today.

    Just trying to motivate you a little bit.. i feel sad when i see people who thinks they are totally powerless. Because you have the power to overcome the trauma you have been through. Much love!

    • That’s one of the most thoughtful posts I have read. Great advice and certainly glad I stumbled upon it. Thank you

    • Thank you for the direct and tough love post. And sharing your story! I agree 1000 percent. I am keeping your post in mind. I am not as negative as the guy you mention but I can be quiet and that can be misinterpreted as being antisocial or even judgmental of the people I am with. It can make people feel uneasy. Cheers!

    • Wow! Really glad I stumbled upon this thank you. I would have to say that I am “that guy” right now but I have been making steps to be more social and getting out of the house more and spending time with family. I’m not giving up and neither should YOU! Rise up social phoenixes ! lol

  6. Honestly do not relate to your definition of isolation, you still do day to day things and go to the movies etc.
    When you reach the point of isolation the mere fact of having another human being in the same space becomes
    a problem.

    A person who really isolates socially wants absolutely no business with other people.
    They don’t go to yoga or spaces with people, they don’t enjoy talking to people (it stresses them),
    they do not wish to have people around them, they cannot even understand why they would need
    social media (so they don’t have profiles either…)

    Here is the interesting thing however, there are reasons for people to make those decisions, it does not
    have anything to do with mental health but more with not having the need for social interaction.

    I have been coaching people for decades with their life paths and my experience led me to not wanting
    to be around them anymore at some point and did my best to really provide honest help and listen to the issues during my time as a coach, there is no purpose in that now. People are just not that interesting
    to stick around for the drama and endless sabotage they submit themselves to, they chose to be who they are and
    I chose to not be in the same space.

    That being said I would never negate help to someone in need, just do not actively seek other humans.

    And so what are you left with? Nature, animals, the sun, the wind, no noise, stunning every single day.

    • You got the nail on the head and my isolation is exacly how you said.
      I don’t have no interest at all with people or their egos their drama or needines.
      If fact as a child about nine I used to fantasies about waking up and everyone just disapeard just me and my dog. I hate people to be honest it panels me to be near them. Well said

  7. Social Isolation and Social Anxiety are serious issues. I grew up as an only child with no close friends. I started asking girls out when I was 16, but experienced nothing but rejection from females until I was 30. That means I spent 14 years having girls tell me they really weren’t interested in going out with me. So, the only time I felt really good about myself was when I was alone. I finally managed to get out of my “prison cell” when I was 30, but I’ll never forget how close to killing myself I was. It was sheer hell….. and I’m glad its all part of my past now.

  8. I have been going through this social isolation for a long time and I felt I can manage my emotions by always reaching out. This is the first time I got hurt when my best friend just laughed at me when I apologized for not being around and opening up about what I am going through. Like seriously, I just got “hahahaha” as a response. I felt the sudden urge to mail her my von voyage gift without saying a word. It really hurts. I feel more alone than ever. But thank you for this article. It really helps.

  9. Anyone can write a blog. This must be a way to make money yes.

    You know the person is clueless when they say “turn to a trusted friend or family member”…yes well if you had one of those you might not be isolated.

    Someone young wrote this I’m sure.

    Yes, there are people who have no one and there are people who upon sensing vulnerability will go for your jugular for no reason other than human nature is not that pretty. Life can fall apart in spectacular ways you have no control over. That’s the ugly truth, or inconvenient truth.

    Yes, you could, and many people do die completely alone. The really scary thing is these kinds of articles don’t really address isolation which means even professionals don’t have a clue.

    There is just too much BS on the internet. Used to be one had to buy a book or read an article to get information, or ideas, now anyone with a computer can put shit out there…take it with a grain of salt.

    • Hi, You just described me, and hundreds of thousands of suffering people. very to the point.
      I like how you firmly addressed the “easy to turn to a friend ,or family member”……What they are all dead or drifted away?. That’s us. Not the young ones with time to fix things. I would love a special site for older people, not just “Dating problems”. Thank You for the excellent response.

  10. I understand these internal feelings and the social conformity everybody expects you to uphold. Yet, everybody wants to take me out of my hermit shell. Kind of like Walter White ( Breaking Bad) he just wants to die of cancer yet everybody puts their two cents in and forces him to undergo these drastic actions to pay for cancer treatments. LET THE MAN DO WHAT HE WANTS!

  11. Isolater No FriendsMay 24, 2019 at 7:51 pmReply

    I dislike connecting with people and am surprised that I have managed to build relationships in my church. Our congregation is filled with imperfect people who are trying to show love to each despite the fact that many of them are not real friends.

    My mother and I have nothing in common and one of the best things I ever did was to emotionally cut her out of my life. If I could figure out how, I would reconnect with her, not because I want her to understand me, but because I would like to be able to say something nice at her funeral. It might be nice to better understand her.

    I find friendly people to be annoying. I am trying to figure out how to get over my isolating tendencies for work purposes. Without a spouse or children, I am going to have to depend on someone else when I get older so I realize that it is in my best interests to reach out to others now.

    I think that the author of this article meant well but she did not know whereof she wrote and deserved some of the venom that was directed toward her. It is painful for me to go to social events at times and I see no reason to suffer headaches because I was in the presence of annoying friendly people. Especially friendly people who are gossips, slanderers, superficial, and who primarily wish to talk about relationships.

  12. I think the issue with this article is that it medicalises very normal behaviour in a well-intentioned but misdirected and ineffective attempt to end stigma against mental illness. This reflects the irritating movement which is supposed to break down the walls of stigma surrounding mental illness but only talk about mild depression and mild anxiety instead of helping to break down barriers and highlight issues that are incredibly serious and debilitating for life. They are in fact being discriminatory in their so-called open-mindedness and leading to some serious issues. One of them is humour and the social identity have popped up around that movement that is a way to gain social status for mild depression and anxiety because people think it makes them special in some way. A lot of this surrounds making normal behaviours seem like some sort of mental illness, such as in the Sarah Anderson comics. This whole thing is understandably quite angering and offensive to those with a serious history of trauma and mental illness. People are saying, we are going to end the stigma, then only attempt to end the stigma around mild mental illness which was already socially acceptable, not helping the people who really suffer from stigma and lack of resources etc.

  13. Great article! Please ignore several of these posts, I believe their problem is far worse than social isolation/anxiety. Treating people the way they are treating you is a prime example of why they are alone, not because they have social isolation not social anxiety. You have definitely opened my eyes to what is going on with myself. Thank you!

  14. I am in a big rut and have been so isolated that I almost never leave my bed, yet alone go out or talk to anyone. I am retired and have zero friends and my family doesn’t seem to think I even exist and even when they talk to me, they tell me to just get over and and that I don’t want to get well and all I want to do is be alone. I have tried without success to go out and do even small things and that hasn’t helped. Before I retired, I at least had a routine of going to work every day and now I don’t have that and I don’t eat right if at all and would rather sleep all the time. I feel like I am just existing from day to day and am afraid that one day I will be suicidal and want to put an end to my misery, For now I am not suicidal as long as I can sleep most of the time and I’m lucky my retirement is enough to pay my bills.

    • Thank You for Sharing you are Loved with the confidence to come out like this.

    • I’m in the same boat as you are , only no family anywhere and also living with a diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. The few relationships I did have are all gone. No one wants to deal with someone with a death sentence, even though I have outlived it by 2 1/2 years.

  15. Where is my comment i just bared my soul to you at?

  16. I love my alone time. However, being alone to much is not good. I choose to try and read good books and be with people who are upbeat and positive. I admit that I’m selective with some people, but most people to me are very shallow. They are into small talk about sports, work, money, politics. After about 15 minutes of this kind of talk I grow bored. Very few people will really give me time or truly listen to me. I enjoy one on one communication. Intimate not necessary sexual in nature. Just good discussion. I’ve learned that I’m tired of trying to fit in , or not being enough . Trust and a healthy friendship take time , and need for us people to be available to each other. This for me has become very difficult. Where to people go anymore where they are welcomed for themselves? And it much is much more difficult with age.

  17. Wow I can’t believe that there were few people who were actually hating on the writer like come on now you didn’t have to read it. Anyways just had to say that this is actually the first thing I’ve read on this type of self-isolation and now I feel a little less crazy thank you. My situation is similar in the thought processes indifferent in some ways which I’m sure we all are but with the same common theme of feeling comfortable feeling fully relaxed when you’re just by yourself and you don’t have to worry about anybody else. Even though I may appear to be a social butterfly when outside but once I step foot in the door and it just me I breathe a sigh of relief it’s become less and less for relieving and more I need filled. The one different aspect is that I have a long-term boyfriend who lives an hour and a half away we’ve been together for about five years we love each other and he’s a great guy we want to move in together, but money is an issue we just need to save up. He lives with his mother and father they have a family business I live by myself being that both my parents are passed away and my two older sisters and 8 nieces and nephews live in a different state. So that doesn’t help either. It’s funny how you can look back at the most minoot little decision and see when you started to allow yourself to check out. I moved in about 5 years ago this being the first time I’ve lived on my own and things were going good I had a decent shop close by just reconnected with some very close friends because I just moved back to California. My Mema I just offered to pay my rent so I would have a little extra and start saving. At that given time there was some added stressors annoyances combined between friend’s boyfriend’s family people at work and because I knew I had to safety net I allowed myself to quit my job and decided I was going to take a break for a little bit never for my boyfriend and mind you we talked and saw each other the entire time. It was the biggest stressors in my life that I was taking a break from friends that were little bit more demanding working at a job I didn’t really care for. About two years into not having a a job and fortunately totaled my son went new vehicle did not have it proper insurance. That was a pretty big blow and having to tell my family because they had purchased the vehicle for me and they were very disappointed I kind of with little bit more an isolated just I do keep a positive spin on things in my own little head in my own little environment and I was doing good I was happy actually I was walking places I was getting a lot of exercise. But it seemed almost impossible to be able to get a job and not have a car. Flash Forward about 2 years and my grandmother buys me any vehicle ever so grateful love her more than words can say. I’ve had the vehicle for about 4 months and I’m still trying to get out of the funk and get a job and just get back to who I was but I realize if you allow yourself to check out into feel crappy you kind of lose Part of Yourself and I’m sure that there is getting a part of that back and then there’s a part of you that you’ll never get back into grown and you changed ending have new experiences. It just a bit disappointing because through an up-and-down life that I’ve had I’ve always been able to keep a certain level of optimism can do attitude. I feel less like that now more than ever and I swear timing is everything right at the beginning of when I really started to be by myself more I started looking into more political topics in World issues well that doesn’t drive a person crazy and not want to talk to anybody and I don’t know what will. And it’s strange I don’t know if it’s just my negative look because of my circumstance or if there really is just that much more crazy things happening in the world I’m not on social media I don’t really believe in it look up articles can I go on YouTube and I like reading listening to talk radio but it just seems like most places I go to look there seems to be a lot of division going on. I told myself I wasn’t going to look at the news anymore or read the headlines as they’re only getting more and more depressing and I don’t want to turn into a total agoraphobic hahaha gotta keep that sense of humor (it’s okay, that it’s not okay)(it’s okay that ,it’s not okay)LOL peace and chicken grease !! And yEs I have one Furry kid to keep me company… He’s the most antisocial qorky kitty I’ve ever owned.. He only likes me and sometimes throws on weekends my boyfriend is here because of change in the apartment.. considered seeking pet and owner therapy but Mr. Koshka won’t consent lol.. okay well got silly it does feel to sum it up verbally (I must admit) Thanks for allowing me to rant and share 😉

  18. Honestly when I read this article at first I felt releived that someone was feeling just like I did, that someone put a name to it. Then I read the comments and felt so mad and then sad. I won’t go into the terrible long list of horrible events that have occurred in the last five years of my life as it would take pages and pages (they include divorce after 23 years, finding out he was cheating the whole time, bone trauma accident at work leaving me disabled, diagnosed with chronic illness that will eventually kill me then a PE lost my right lung and was produced dead that’s just the short version) but I didn’t come to this site to compete with people on who had the most fucked up life!! Everyone needs help in all different ways and all different levels but belittling and abusing people verbally is just WRONG!! if you are not researching social isolation then go to another site for anxiety, abuse or what ever you have to deal with. Sometimes I am still shocked by the human race. So Thankyou for this article it helped me and made me feel not so alone please don’t let the disgusting filthy comments stop you from sharing. Thank you again xx

  19. Ever since I broke off a two year friendship with someone who was supposed to be a close friend of mine, I have been very apprehensive about letting anyone into my heart again. Plus I guess I developed some form of social anxiety so, it just made it harder to talk to new people. The only people who I talk to are my boyfriend and sometimes his friends. I feel like if something happens then I’d have no one.

    • I am replying as I am determined to reach out and you are the first person I am reaching out too. I hope my reply helps you as much as I hope it helps me. I have just woken up in the early hours feeling anxious. Reading this post has really highlighted what is happening to me and now I know that I am not alone with this problem. I would love to talk and connect with people I just have stopped doing it, I need some help and encouragement from somewhere.

  20. I really appreciate this. It helps me understand what’s going on a little more.
    Four years ago my life started going to crap. I moved across the country to go to school, but was really trying to escape from it. Slowly, everyone stopped talking to me, and then, my best friend, who had come with me, told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore and did a lot of shocking things that stabbed deep.

    Ever since then (its been fourteen months) I kind of stay in my room and avoid my phone and stuff… I didnt really understand why and kept coming up with excuses. But when I go to work Ive felt awkward around everyone and I never did before. Thanks for writing this, its cleared a few things up for me. I know of one person left thatll care enough to call me out on it, so ill talk to her in a minute

  21. This jerk-off asshole has no clue what social isolation is. Whoever it is, they are a spoiled, entitled, whiny little bitch. I was sitting here, about to pick apart this cunt’s pseudopsychobabble, but thank goodness somebody beat me to it.

    Try having zero friends, zero support system, and medical insurance that only allows you access to interns, students, and incompetent counselors with a community college education. Try not being able to find work, because you’ve been out of work so long, no one wants to hire you. Try making new friends, when you don’t have friends, in your 20’s or 30’s – huge red flag. Try wanting desperately to just to go outside, grill a hamburger, and sit in the sun, but being unable to because of crippling anxiety. Try not having anyone text or call you – except bill collectors – for several years. Try having nobody acknowledge your existence on a daily basis, whether at the bank, park, or grocery store. Try having your family abandon you, because you didn’t want to be an extension of them, and decided to do something different with your life.

    You do not socially isolate. You do not suffer from mental illness. You have friends, family, and an extensive support system. It’s probable that you’re a narcissist. You’re so full of shit, it’s coming out of your dumb millennial eyeballs.

    • OMG aside from being angry at the previous poster. What you are saying is spot on. I am 55 yrs old and working BUT barely. I have crippling depression and anxiety which has somatisized to my body and I have near constant nausea and feel like my insides are being sucked out I am so weak. I can barely feed myself and don’t even want to. I sure as s&*^ can’t force myself to cook and I wouldn’t know what to make anyway. I’m not a fast cook. It takes all day. My dog died in August, my last connection resembling love. My family just doesn’t want to be bothered, even though I keep my mouth shut about the depression etc they are aware and feel annoyed that its never ending. Also how about that anhedonia ? Can’t even get pleasure from anything or focus. I have been suicidal for at least 5 years. In a rural area and no access to counselors as they are all booked up and suck anyway. I am geographically physically and socially isolated for years and I am someone who makes friends easily. I have NOTHING to talk about anymore its embarrassing. Plus I have this feeling in my solar plexus, sinking sick feeling that I am screwed. One thing if this person who posted is still doing and yoga etc she isn’t in the dire straights that we are AND she has some level of physical fitness. I cannot get off the couch. God help me. I have tried EVERYTHING. Alternative, prayers, angels etc. Medical treatment is a joke. The meds are toxic and I know as I am a med professional. I hear you and I hope you find an answer. If you do please tell me.

      • Hi Patty. I am replying to your post. I am in a similar situation as your are. I am 67 and live alone and have no friends and family doesn’t help. Kids are all grown and I can’t even get out of bed most of the time. The only thing that keeps me going is I own a cat and worry about her and who would take care of her if I was gone. I don’t talk to anyone on the phone and never get text messages. Life is a real hell for me right now and I don’t see things improving. I can’t even tell you to hang in there because that’s what some tell me and they don’t understand that it isn’t working for me.


    • Look up snowflake on YouTube. Well played!

    • Spot on!

      To the other’s replying to your post, this is where I am too. Too much bad, abandonment, etc., it’s like slowly bleeding to death.

      People I once loved more than anything abandoned me at the worst time of my life. When we were all younger it was different, I’m not sure what happens.

      I don’t want to depress anyone further. I’m beginning to think one has to be a narcissist or completely self centered, manipulative to be “happy” or prosper. But they relationships are shallow, and I’m not made like that.

  22. Who wrote this? I think you’re full of absolute shit. There’s not even a name associated with this, but that’s okay because there’s no name for mine either, and that makes me a coward, and that makes us equal.

    You call not talking to someone and having a bunch of people text you back social isolation? Go fuck yourself. I hope you read this, and I hope you start comparing yourself to others who actually isolate themselves, so that in the process of you comparing yourself, you feel worse about yourself.

    You isolate yourself and it feels good but you feel like you should talk to people you love? How does that make any goddamned sense? “Grab your phone…” What kind of assumptions do you make about people? Have a taste of some venom, and go fuck yourself.

    “Five people… even though they were people I really loved.” Who gives a shit if you love them? That doesn’t matter. Go fuck yourself. I wish you put your name on this shit so I could hold you in my mind’s eye when I wrote this, but you didn’t, and neither did I, and so this confession has meant nothing. You sound like a spoiled prick. Who are you to say what qualifies as this, or what qualifies as this?

    Who are you to say that preferring to live one way or the other is “bad” or “not healthy” and blah blah this, or blah blah that. You fucking sicken me.

  23. I want to share my experience with everyone , during my childhood I lived a rough life , I never had real friends and my father used to be violent with me and my brother , also he wouldn’t allow us to do anything that could increase our confidence in ourselves. if i do anything right or wrong , he will just beat me up and curse at me calling me a loser. we were not allowed to get out of the house until I became 12 and my brother 15.
    I’ve always looked at the kids playing soccer and enjoying their time and I was stuck in my room with nothing to do despite playing with video games.
    Time passed by and now I am 18, studying abroad I find my self in a community where everyone has more then one hobby , educated and open-minded .
    I want to cry when they ask me what sports I do ? what is my hobby ? and all of those questions because I have no hobby , I spent most of my life rather sleeping or using social media .
    I have studied french for 9 years and I can’t write a paragraph because I never really focused in any subject and know I am at a point in my life where I find my self stupid and drowned in my illusions .
    I feel desperate and I want to end my life so bad because there is no hope for me , I tried every solution to change my habits , change the way that I see things in life , I even asked for help and advice from family , professionals , cab drivers , students and any one I could find in my way but there is no hope I am stuck in my own mind , It feels like a dark cage that what lead to getting bad grades in my first term.
    I am really screwed , I can’t even write properly. I did every possible thing a person can imagine to change my self but nothing worked , I am still the same person that has no friends and no life , maybe If it wasn’t for my family support now id be dead along time ago.

    • It must be tough.. however dont lose hope, although they are hard to find there are more people in similar situations, I dont think ive had it as hard as you, but at the moment im also struggling to make friends and relate with others and i can feel the pain of seeing people surrounded by a crowd and talking about going out and making plans whilr i am on my own, although this pains me id say my real struggle is the fact that day by day im losing myself even more and ive lost most of my passion for the only thing i do enjoy video games since my parents have always thought hobbies are a waste of time and money, despite hearing about your desperate situation i do hope that you will continue to try to “get out there” and continue to make an effort to get to know people, im sure persevering will get you somewhere with time, best of luck.

      Pd: Im sorry if my english isn’t the best

  24. Ever since my divorce from a 21 year marriage, I’ve been isolating the past 3 years in my apartment, drinking and constantly reflecting back on mistakes I made that caused me to lose my wife and son..
    I’m in a real rut and I know I should go to AA and share my thoughts and feelings, and I know it works.
    It saved my life 22 years ago. And I’d get some human contact. I’m stuck in a “prison” of my own making.

  25. I have a tendency to go over that fine line of enjoying my alone time into social isolation. Won’t respond to friends and cancel plans with people all the time. I feel like my anxiety increases and I fall deeper and deeper. I have been able to pull myself out and come back but it’s so easy to fall in again. Especially when I get into relationships. I think oh being with this person is just enough interaction and isolate myself from my friends and family. I’ve been lucky to meet. Friend who knows when it gets bad and tries to help. It’s comforting to know I am not alone.

  26. I feel stuck. In the same loop over and over again. It’s like there are major moments in your everyday life but in those moments I just happen to be doing the same thing. My bad habits don’t help…plus I have it convinced in my mind that I’m searching for myself through my youth or some bullshit. I don’t even understand how people can micro manage their day but I feel like mine is just drifting away as if I have no control. I think to myself, is it the multiple childhood traumas or the social humiliation by my bullies throughout my teen years. I didn’t even go to my own Prom. I mean who does that?
    Me, obviously
    It wasn’t always like that. At one point my bullies seemed to care less about me so I had a chance to be normal and make friends. I was playing sports and I was really fit at the time. I started making friends and was at peace for a little while.
    Although I would change classes and try to avoid all altercations with my bullies. And while caring for my new found status, I didn’t do anything to defend my own honor and it feels like I’ve disappointed myself. I felt like less of a man. They were threatened by me so much that they got together in groups to bully me. I want to be able to forgive myself for not fighting back but I don’t know how, I want to be able to stop thinking I need to do better but act on it. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. It’s been bottled up for a long time.

  27. Interesting to read, I’ve been trying to find the answer to my own isolation. I have been in this state for at least 4 years now, I work alone and basically have gotten down to the only way to contact me is by text, I don’t answer my phone unless I feel I should or have to but rather not. Even when I go to a store I don’t care to speak to people but I do make the attempt with small talk, I live with my girlfriend and her 2 kids but when it’s just me with the 2 kids I go in the office or bedroom and close the door as not to be bothered with the kids. My group of friends have shrunk down to about 5 people I will interact with in conversation, I have my own home I go to and believe the isolation there is even worse. My place is on 20 acres out in nowhere land and I can go there and not leave or see another person for days only leaving to get more supplies. I tried getting a different line of work to try and be or say.. hey see I’m out here with people, can you guess what kind of job I got? O.T.R truck driving, yes all alone in a tractor trailer on the road not talking to people, only communicating through the onboard computer with dispatch. Tried 2 different companies and it didn’t work out, to much interaction and to much communication. I am back at my girlfriends house, she does rely on me for the things I do, taking kids to school, picking them up… So I’m here in the office looking at the outside world through security camera’s that are around the house. This is a problem, I am talking to myself about it and telling myself you have to snap out of it. I wasn’t always this way, there have been events that seemed to push me into isolation. I do understand how you all feel about it and can only say, trust in yourself that it is only a passing phase and one day you will wake up in a new light and things will be clearer. Thank you for reading.

  28. How about having an abusive childhood where you were told you were a piece of shit and worthless ALL The time from birth. What if you had no decent role model or anyone to show you love or how to live life ? What if you were one of the unlucky ones who had no clue how to live a full life and just went through the motions for decades. Not even feeling sorry for yourself just feeling horrible and not knowing why. Those early parental teachings if you can call it that are deep grooves in your brain. What if all this starts to manifest as physical pain that prevents you from making plans ie MIGRAINES bad ones. Then as you get into your 50’s more shit pops up. What if you felt like an outside your whole life but people looking at you would never know it because for decades you were good at “faking it” smiling etc. You’re decent looking and not stupid but spent so much time worrying and surviving cause parents died that you didn’t develop hobbies so you feel profoundly boring and can’t even imagine a decent interaction with people your own age because most of them are very well read by now or developed the 10,000 hour hobbies or skills etc. Granted I made my way through pharmacy school but thats it. Now I am so damn isolated socially and geographically that I wouldn’t even know how to relate. I’m supporting a shell. WHY ?!?!? I don’t feel well enough to start a physical program and still can’t make plans as more times than not some physical f’n issue thats severe enough to sideline you pops up. What if you are so far gone you can’t even stay focused on ANYTHING like reading etc. Can’t cook, don’t want to eat on top of not knowing myself and trying to find out what really turns me on. I haven’t been turned on to anything in sooo long. I am estranged from my family who are quite selfish actually. I’m done trying but if feels awful to be 55 yrs old and no family really and noone to call when really needed. Plus how can I keep calling people and saying the same thing over and over ? like they say how are you ? “i don’t feel well.. blah blah blah blah. I live in a rural area with no resources and definitely no decent counselors. I”m stuck trying to help myself at 55 yrs old !! I don’t dare even want to go near a man as I always end up with the emotionally abusive type. Big surprise. I need help badly. I know this. I’ve been trying to help myself but failing miserably. Never married no kids. What a joke. Nothing to live for. NOTHING AT ALL. Someone on here left a scathing comment and my response is wtf are you doing on here ? obviously a. you never had this issue or b. you solved it. GOOD FOR YOU. But there are so many people suffering in invisible silence on the verge of suicide. Too scared to do it but is the only thing that makes sense. Meds don’t work . Its all an f’n joke.
    Thanks for letting me rant. I feel for all of you

    • You just described my child hood and my problem. I am 55 yrs old. suicidal for years. physically(feel ill all the time) socially(point of this blog) and geographically isolated. Dog died 8/19. Last bit of love I had. I’ll repost comment here cause I’m at work:
      What you are saying is spot on. I am 55 yrs old and working BUT barely. I have crippling depression and anxiety which has somatisized to my body and I have near constant nausea and feel like my insides are being sucked out I am so weak. I can barely feed myself and don’t even want to. I sure as s&*^ can’t force myself to cook and I wouldn’t know what to make anyway. I’m not a fast cook. It takes all day. My dog died in August, my last connection resembling love. My family just doesn’t want to be bothered, even though I keep my mouth shut about the depression etc they are aware and feel annoyed that its never ending. Also how about that anhedonia ? Can’t even get pleasure from anything or focus. I have been suicidal for at least 5 years. In a rural area and no access to counselors as they are all booked up and suck anyway. I am geographically physically and socially isolated for years and I am someone who makes friends easily. I have NOTHING to talk about anymore its embarrassing. Plus I have this feeling in my solar plexus, sinking sick feeling that I am screwed. One thing if this person who posted is still doing and yoga etc she isn’t in the dire straights that we are AND she has some level of physical fitness. I cannot get off the couch. God help me. I have tried EVERYTHING. Alternative, prayers, angels etc. Medical treatment is a joke. The meds are toxic and I know as I am a med professional. I hear you and I hope you find an answer. If you do please tell me.

  29. I am so lonely I almost get tear eyed if a random stranger says hi to me. Then I feel shocked because I can’t believe someone wasted their time on a socially handicapped retard like me. Being lonely is pure hell. I try to change but it’s impossible since I can’t read body language. (My handicapped brain prevents me from doing that so I can never tell what a persons intentions are).

    • How old are you? Let us see if we can be friends. Smiley face emoji.

    • You don’t always need to read body language to find out what someone’s intentions are because people nowadays can keep them hidden well. I would suggest first you try to find someone who is like yourself in their lives on the same level so to speak. Make sure they don’t NEED you in their lives for something like financial support or u do something regularly like pick their kid up from school every other day or something. At least that way you know no matter what their intention is not to USE you in some way, it really is just a friendship that began with a common interest in like cooking or fishing or some other activity or same way of thinking or however you met. Now eventually all friends learn to lean and depend on each other but body language or not if you feel as though someone’s intentions aren’t in your best interest you’ll be able to tell from more than just body language but the opposite is true too if their intentions are to have more of a relationship than what you thought they will mention or make a gesture of some sort to show you they intend for it to be more than friends. Hope this helps GOOD LUCK!

  30. Usually people ignore me. Few people answer my texts or messages. I don’t like talking to people; it bores me to death.

  31. I see myself spiraling into each conversation that I have read. Making excuses not to get out, only getting out for work , gym, and groceries, non sociable….to say the least. I lost my first little grand daughter at 6 months old, we were in an accident in 2011. My husband died sudden,y in s
    2015 and then my son in 2016….I have a daughter and two small granddaughters whom I adore….but there is still all this time when I’m not alone I’m lonely. I want to be at home in my safe place where I don’t have to interact and put up a front ….. What do you do? Every dream I ever had is now gone. I feel too old for a relationship or do I even want to love anyone again only to lose them too? Everyone thinks I’m doing so well and they don’t have a clue! Some days I feel like I’m going through the motions of life without living….

    • I feel exactly the same…even thoe im of age of dating and falling in love again…but in a 14 year relationship and then you found out it was benefit of the other never for love, when you loved back for real……nobody deserves this again i need my time and by that i mean i want to be isolated. Now when this happens people tend to judge automatically that ur depress, sad, or with problems. In my case is not im just angry at myself for not noticing from the start. And people take this to the extreme is when your in your prime they love bring the topic out “ouch”. Not peoples fault for loving gossip and theatrical evens from happening for their enjoyment. I have no say in this behavior, and i choose to stay isolated untill the right mind comes to light.

    • Karen, what you describe sounds like the agony of grief. Although isolating is a way of coping during grief, rather than social isolation being the issue, grief, I believe, is the heart of your turmoil and misery. I would suggest trying a grief support group and or a grief counselor, if you can find one. Western society does not do very well with certain emotions like hurt, grief, anger. At least now there are books written on grief and more support groups as compared to 1985 when I first trudged through my personal season of grief. I remember one gentleman saying it took 11 years to really process his grief– and I thought, “what the, how am I going to do that?!” I would say that I it took me 15 years to go back to the pre-death take my life for granted feeling that I once enjoy. It took as lot less time -only 5-6 years– to be back in the game and enjoying aspects of my life again. “Broken hearts” take years to mend.

  32. So…. I’m curious.. what do you call it when someone actually does not leave the house, they have no parents, spent most of life homeless and now hide in a council flat they do not feel safe in? they don’t have a job, they have children alone and therefore even if they wanted a job or a hobby, it’s not an option. if isolation is a lack of meaningful connection, what do you call it when someone has no connection or even small talk with any adult whatsoever? At this point in time, a fake friend may be better than no friend.

    • I am sorry that none ever replies to these things. Are you in the U.K.? What is a council flat? At any rate, your situation sounds awful, and I am very sorry. I think that good Christian men and women (of whom I am not one) WILL find peace in the next life. I am sorry if that sounds like hollow cant, but I do believe it. However, at the risk of lecturing you on how best to do so, you simply must do right by your children, even if that results in sacrificing yourself in the process. Righteous charity will not go unrewarded in the next life.

      • I found the answer do this just the other day. From my understanding, emotions have a mind of it’s own outside of rational thinking. Emotions and feelings is just unconscious thinking. When you were a child, you were being conditioned to be who you are today. No matter what your childhood was, it’s your foundation. Your childhood created your level of normalcy. Even though you may rationally recognize that your upbringing wasn’t ideal, your emotions are still connect uncounsciously. You resort to what you know. The only way to ever get different, you’ll have to unlearn what your youth thought you. Break the mold.

    • Chronic loneliness. Seriously, it’s a thing and I deal with it. I give the term a good internet search and you will find resources and articles outlining what you described. Good luck!

  33. I never knew if this was actually a thing or not, but good to know that it is! After a really bad breakup, I decided to take some time completely alone, I still go out to club with some friends but I still cancel on people because “ I don’t feel good” But my reason of having a little of the social asolation is good to really get to know myself , and just work on my future. I want to get to know myself and what I am capapable of.

  34. What a horribly depressing comment section. Widows, be glad you ever found someone like that. Most people will never know the love you shared. Quite being a selfish bitch and cherish the time you had, not mourn YOUR loss. Harsh, yes, but you needed to hear it. Generally, people suck and do not know how to comfort or support others. Accept that there is no one out there that can help, and appreciate those that try. True compassion is rare. Reject it if you will, but you will regret it later. Also, let the truth out, tell others that you are miserable and suffering. They may not have the answer but at least they will be able to detect you are not lying to them. That is why they give up on you, you are lying to them. And to yourself. Death is part of life. Find something to live for again, or you are already dead.

    • This statement of yours truly irks me. Yes you need to try to help yourself eventually but you are being highly insensitive. You speak of the comment section being negative yet your comment is the most negative. Yeah I understand being blunt but you can be blunt without being cruel. And true compassion is not hard to find, you just believe it is. Please try not to be so condescending. Depression does go away with a poor just because people are trying to help you through. 9/10 times, depression never goes away. My life is amazing right now, yet I still get depressed, and I’ve been dealing with it since childhood. Try to tone down your cruel negativity, please.

    • You’re a compassionless monster.

    • You might have sociopathic traits, and could be why you’re a ‘bitter loner’.

  35. I didn’t know what it was until now. This is exactly who I am today. But I am in a B-school and am not sure if I can trust anyone to help me get out of it. Also, I haven’t lost anyone I love. Not sure how I ended up like this.

  36. As my friends died off due to alcohol, drugs, cancer i am left on my own and have been for a few years. No wife or kids. Isolation is like slow death; you go through the motions. Work and save money, although I don’t know for what. Feels like i’m just passing time until i’m dead.

    • I’m going through the very same kind of thing that you discribe. I was wondering if you might want to write back and forth a bit, and maybe we can become friends?

      I’ll start, my name is Dana. I live in Southern California out in the desert. I’m 59 yo. I’m alone but not lonely…. And I need to stop isolating from the world. I don’t need any thing from someone else. Just friendship.

      I am trying this as a way of reaching out. I hope you write back. Dana

  37. I am alone all the time. I had a brain bleed when I was 8, and brain surgery. I do not know what I would have been like if that had not happened. I hated school, but had some friends. I had a big family growing up, but don’t see them much. We are all old now. I am 68. My sister stopped dealing with me 10 years ago, and refuses to talk. We were once very close. In 1975 I married one of the best. Then in 1986 he was told he had idiopathic cardiomyopathy of the heart. My husband died at 48 years old in 1997, and was sick for 10 years previous to dying. We loved each other, and we were happy. Those were the best years. We have a son who is a great guy, a successful person with a family. After he married, our relationship changed. We don’t see each other but once a year. I am mentally ill -depression, mood disorder, anxiety, social anxiety, etc., that started as a child after the brain surgery. No one understands, no one likes to be with me much, and if they are, no one hears what I say. I am visually impaired from the brain bleed and do not drive. I gave up a son when I was pregnant too young in the days when you were banished for being pregnant and unmarried. I have been alone for so long like this, I am running out of hope. Just now while writing this I had to stop because I got the scared feeling. I am smart and a good person. I am afraid.

    • Dear Irene , never give up on yourself no matter what, its never late to reprogram the brain for more happy thought! That will manifest lots of good things. I am so lucky to come across your story …..
      stay blessed, and remember love is life, life is love!

  38. Right on target article as well as everyone’s response to it. It seems to me that the more we are/were connected to our loved one who was lost, the more we seem to be isolating ourselves in our grief. The closer our relationship was, the more painful, longer lasting and socially alienating our grief will be. One need only read poets who write about great loss and its easy to see how accurate this is.
    When I lost my husband 6 years ago, I threw myself into work and stayed busy as hell, but had a hard time connecting with others around me. My daughter was so traumatized from the loss, she was unable to go to school for the rest of the school year. She said she was unable to wear her smiling mask for another day before I took her out of school. It’s difficult to go on, to go out into the world, to pretend that all is well, when a connection to a wonderful individual, whom we deeply loved cared about, is lost forever.
    I never felt that I could communicate this to others around me/us. Missing someone whom I love(d) this much, was emotionally paralyzing.
    This is why I was unable to socialize or go through the motions of normalcy. My best friend and neighbor, who lost her husband suddenly to a heart attack only 5 months prior to mine, did not suffer this greatly. She moved on rather quickly, cleared out his things from the house within months and was married again within a year. Her first marriage wasn’t a bed of roses and though she grieved and missed him initially, after her new marriage, she said she hadn’t been this happy her entire life. She didn’t have to grief this deeply or be socially isolated or depressed for years, when she lost her first husband. She continues to be happily married …
    I feel this to be true when reading many different accounts of loss. The price we pay for enjoying exceptional relationships with exceptional people. When they die, the loss pierces that much deeper. They leave a big hole in the world of the grieving survivors.
    It is sad that our culture does not recognize this or better accommodate grieving individuals, who suffer greatly and ARE socially isolated. Especially the elderly.
    Continued small gestures like sending kind cards, leaving a meal on the doorstep, just coming over or calling to ask ” how are you?” can make a difference and break the isolation briefly. In an ideal world the grieving would be supported lovingly by their community( neighbors, friends, relatives, not necessarily just a parish they belonged to) , continually with no time limit. With understanding and kindness. Having friends and family giving up on grieving individuals is another small death to the bereft. We need to educate western culture in death and dying, in grief and loss, in loving support, so the grieving are not invisible, struggling on their own.

  39. I have been reflecting on this concept and also that sense that grief is so liminal. We are almost between worlds. Not with the dead (we cannot go with them before it is our time) but we are not as we were before. We are somewhere in between. I have been walking and moving my body the best I can – and it is good to feel the energy swish around my body. But I am not able to hold a job down yet and thus I have so little to share with others. I think society does not feel comfortable about this in between space and so it gets marginalised. What a shame – I feel so encouraged to make a grief space in my community. A place where whatever and however you feel in your grief journey on that day is not only OK it is right. It is permitted. We are not ‘isolated’ we are just being in a way that people are not comfortable with. Grief reminds us that we are all mortal and that we will all pass away and that is a hard nut to crack. But crack it we must. And if we need to mourn, cry, scream and live this in whatever way it come – then we need to be able to do that., So I guess I am arguing that social isolation can be tipped on its head and can be that society isolates those who feel loss and grieve because it does not accommodate those hard and tricky places for us to reside in. Anyway – this is a social scientist doing grief…. thank you. As always….,

  40. I ve known about my isolation for a while ive lost all my friends and family ever since my 36 year old daughter stopped talking to me over ten years ago. Grieving her has been a life changer. Iam trying to come out the other side though and iam begining to miss being socialable again after crying and losing my home her and my carrier all at the same time. Suicide was my breakfast lunch and dinner thought but now slowly very slowly babysteps iam peeping through the clouds. Amen

  41. So many of these messages describe me as if the people know me. My husband died December 15, 2016. He was a tremendous jazz singer and is missed by many people and fans. I cannot believe this life now and I have said many time there must be a better way then to snatch our loved ones and leave us here. I have no interest in life, people or caring if I please anyone. Each day I complete is a day closer to being with my husband.

  42. I can relate… ive been socially isolated for 15yrs now… family and friends gave up reaching out to me about 13yrs ago. I am extremely alone and scared of calling people as ive gone off the radar for so long… on the very rare occasion i catch up with someone i haven’t seen in a few years, i appologise and say i have been struggling and have isolated myself, but they just dismiss and ignore what i have to say… My old friends and family are so used to detaching from me & getting on with their lives without me, that they literally do not care about me anymore and i feel like its my fault for isolating myself for so long… Any attempts i make now to re-connect with family & friends or to just connect to new people in general is impossible… it makes me sad, unwanted & feeling discarded. I have trouble even connecting & bonding with my 7yo daughter… i feel abandoned by others giving up on me too easily & this has also made me angry and bitter in general, yet around strangers im bubbly and ok as it is brief and theres no ‘attachment’ or emotion involved.

    • If you are still having difficulty connecting with your daughter I urge you to seek family counseling to work on building those connections. Especially now while she is young. I went through years of severe depression and wasn’t able to connect with my children. My older children who are now teens/young adults really suffered the most from my inability to form emotional connections with them. I really needed intensive family therapy with the older children (they were 13-5 then) to help us connect emotionally in positive ways
      With each other. Also we could have greatly used some type of therapy or training in building relationships/ friendships with others as I was too ill to teach my children those skills nor was I capable of being a positive role
      Model for building friendships nor social network. I did the best I could do but it was very insufficient for my Children’s needs at the time. My older children lack good social skills and have developed depression and severe anxiety. The tend to isolate themselves for many reasons but they have both said they don’t feel connected to other people or they don’t know how to connect to others. I don’t believe it’s too late for them but due to the lack of good quality services to help me build connections with them while they were young they are now, we are now paying the price for it. If you can get a counselor or therapist that will do more than just “talk “ therapy but who will actually help you interact with your daughter through play, games, coloring etc. that will help you build skills that you both need now and for your futures. My daughter was 7 when I became severly ill. We have always struggled to connect with each other and now that she is 15 it’s so much harder. We don’t give up on each other but earlier appropriate intervention would have saved us years of disconnection, loneliness and struggle.

  43. I enjoyed this read. I am trying to learn to self regulate. I do force myself to leave the home and see others and express my thoughts and feelings – and cry if I am in the midst of a grief wave – (which is often). I am mindful and picky about the people I choose to hang out with – no blood relatives – too much trauma there. I find it exhausting and I often need to rest afterwards – but I am an extrovert – so I thrive on conversation and the energy of others. Grief is particularly tricky for my personality – I want and crave other people – but I have no energy or capacity to deal with anything other people say or do. I am the social scientist who simply cannot cope with much of society at the moment. Any little tension is like Everest. I guess for me I am walking that tight rope of interacting when and as best I can (even on the days I don’t want to) and also making sure I get my rest as I simply cannot believe how insanely tired I feel. I knew I would feel sad when dad went – but wowee I do not even recognise this version of myself.

  44. I understand all of your comments. I feel isolated as well. I lost a loved one, family member to suicide and most of my time is spend thinking of him and missing him. It has been 18 months and I still experience horrible days of grief. I do manage to go to work. I manage to shop and recently have met up with friends for a lunch date. However, it is difficult. I struggle through each day but keep trying to find acceptance and can’t find it. I cannot let it go. It hurts badly. I am a different person entirely. I did go to counseling and remain in a support group. I keep on going. After it happened I could not go to work or drive or much of anything. I worry that it will happen to someone else. It is something so bad and horrible and I never guessed anything could feel like this. On the better side of things I remember the first time I laughed after the death, several months after the fact and I realized I was still alive. I do not laugh much but when I do it feels so good. Yet my mind goes back to him and I want him back here on Earth and know it cannot happen, yet I hope. Funny, huh? I pray day after day that the Lord has rescued him and for our family and all others who have experienced such a lose. I will simply continue on my grief journey with lots and lots of prayers and do the best I can to get through each day.

  45. Could someone send me some grief counselor names. I live near Towson Univ and have Humana Insurance.

    I attended your Coping with Grief workshop after the new year.

    I sent you both emails and one address came back as no good. So thought I’d try to you both this way


  46. Do you fee social isolation is a result of grief?

    • Absolutely for me. My husband passed away 5 months ago and I am happy it’s winter & cold outside. I’m happy it’s s dark early, cause I can be safe in my cocoon. This way I don’t have to see, visit, cause people mostly stay home. I fear Spring and Summer, cause I will have all the chores outside to do, chores that my husband used to do, and that means having to be outside, where people will want to stop and chat….. amd I will lose my safe cocoon. I go to work every day, do my errands, but knowing I will slip back in my safe quiet place.

  47. Very interesting.. I am definitely a isolator during hard times and have been pretty aware of that for a while now but this was helpful for me to realize that others in my life could be socially isolating, even when it’s totally out of character for them! (I thought I was the only one in our relationship that did that! Haha).. sometimes being on the outside of someone that’s isolating can be very hurtful and misinterpreted, due to human nature I think sometimes we automatically think it’s something we have said or done not that they are going thru something completely unrelated and it really has nothing to do with us. This definitely opened my eyes to that and I guess I will just continue to reach out to them until they’re ready to talk instead of backing off out of fear of being annoying 🙂

  48. My wife died in April 2017. I pushed myself to do lots of things, but I am an introvert, so I am glad I made a big effort even dating some women. I finally settled into a reality that it just takes time to heal, just like when you have had a physical injury. I have broken a leg twice in my life, and both times it took an entire year before I could jog around a city block. Why would I not expect an emotional injury to heal quicker than a physical injury? The bottom line is I am better. I value a little chit-chat with strangers. I even instigate conversations with strangers. I have family and friends, too, but sometimes that is a little awkward to talk about my wife. There is some safety in talking to complete strangers. I force myself to do things, but at the same time I evaluate if too much or too often is a good idea. Now I am comfortable that I know what is the right balance, and monitor if I am becoming a hermit. Sometimes I go to Walmart and pick up a few items just so I am not being physically isolated. That’s my “Walmart Therapy.” Now that I reread my post, it sounds incredibly sad, but I am making progress.

  49. I am going through social isolation, without knowing what it was called, before your article.
    I too go to yoga and Zumba and other activities where I don’t talk to people, or if I do it’s pleasantries etc.
    My friends that I occasionally meet don’t talk about my son any more, he died 3 years ago and they wait for me to start talking about him, which is painful so I don’t often. I therefore find it easier to stay at home and not deal with socialising. I do go to counselling for my grief with my husband and have told her how I feel. I suppose I could push myself to make the effort with friends but most have given up contacting me and I guess if they are real friends they will wait for me when I am ready to talk. Let hope so.

  50. I bench myself periodically and a friend who has been with me through a few deaths knows what it means and gives me space for a while then brings over supper…

  51. I don’t know if I am socially isolated or not. I try to connect with people. I go out to dinner with a friend sometimes. I belong to a bereavement group and we get together sometimes. But even that feels lame because no one really talks in a real way. I go to work, I go to exercise. I spend a lot of time alone; sometimes it feels fine, even good, but often I feel so lonely and empty. Nothing feels right since I lost my husband and best friend 3 years ago next month. He was my soul mate. I feel like I am just trying and life has lost meaning for me.

  52. I am in this right now. I guess I justify it to some extent. one friend in particular, when we get together for supper or coffee, she keeps giving me advise on what to do to get over losing my Lydia 23 to suicide. she tells me I need to go on medication, get a hobby, get back to myself. I want to scream when I am with her.

  53. We have a group of widows that meet for lunch and supper once a month. Most of the time I don’t feel like being sociable . I try to remember that I may be helping someone else that is unbearably lonely.

  54. Social isolation…so that’s what is going on. I get out & will talk to strangers. I feel safe. They don’t know me & what I’m going through. When I go to yoga, to avoid conversations I quickly gather my things & leave.

    My brother died on Christmas eve. There is a hole in my heart that no one can fill.

    Family & friends are pouring out of the woodwork, calling & texting. I am ignoring most of them. I do not want to be asked over & over again, “how are you?”

  55. I’ve been socially isolated since December 2014 when I lost my husband. I didn’t want to see anyone who kew us together–it was just too hard. One kind word, and I was sobbing. At first I tried to socialize with some people who only knew me, but for different reasons none of them had staying power. I work from home and only go into the office occasionally; I do what the writer of this excellent article does–go to yoga and the gym, shop, get haircuts, etc. I’m not a recluse. But I have no close friends (make that no real friends at all whom I see), and when I’m home I’m either working (even on weekends) or reading or imagining what if…? Truth, my husband was and is my best friend. I talk to him, I write to him, everything I see or hear or think or am reminded of is part of our story. I’m not looking for another partner, and I’m not looking for friends either.

  56. My husband died January 22, 2016. The day I returned to work, all stores downtown has sprouted Valentines displays. I buried my head in a pile of teddy bears and pink hearts and sobbed.
    On Valentines Day I gathered a group of our friends to accompany me to a Jazz bar. It was hard, but I wasn’t going to let grief steal music from me. Was I good company? I doubt it. Did each note pierce my heart? Certainly. Luckily it was a slow house, so the band, who also knew my husband, switched from romantic balads to livelier fare. Am I glad I went? Yes.

  57. I guess I have been socially isolating a bit myself.. SO SICK of Valentine’s Day crap, all over the place. Lost my husband almost 17 months ago, and I will have to settle for looking at the last card he made for me on his computer. He loved to make cards for me for every occasion, then he would wait for my expression as I read them – he was so thoughtful & loving, my beloved soul mate. No one could EVER compare to him, or measure up. I realize a lot of us widows tend to make saints of our deceased husbands, but mine was truly exceptional. We had our problems, as any married couple, but overcame them, and were happily settling into those tender & love filled later years, when he was abruptly & suddenly yanked from my life, and I became his widow, instead of his adoring wife.. Have had to get over so many holidays without him, Christmas, our New Year’s Day wedding anniversary, his BD, now Valentine’s Day…. This is as good a time as any – gloomy – snow filled days – to isolate. Re-group, stay home with the dogs, clean the house, and not have to answer the stupid questions like “How are you doing?” So many times I am tempted to say – if it’s a married woman asking.. “Wait till your husband dies, then you will know how I am doing”. Sounds bitter – huh? Yeah – I am still a bit bitter, sometimes more than others. But looking out at the dark, cold snowy February day, it seems to fit, for now.

  58. Great article! I know exactly what you mean when you say it can feel good, sometimes great to socially isolate, but it can quickly turn in to a deep self absorption and it’s is not at all healthy to continue on that way. I force myself to say yes to stuff a lot that I don’t really want to do. It’s not easy, but I’m always glad I did afterwards.

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