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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Understanding Alienation

The Feeling Of Alienation
I don't know about you but sometimes I feel far removed from the people around me. I don't know why or what starts it, but I begin to feel withdrawn, and struggle to connect with others. It's as if invisible walls have grown, encasing my mind in a fortress that is both terrifying and near impossible to break. I can see everyone else around me: laughing, joking, enjoying themselves and connecting with friends and it's as if I exist outside of that. The problem is that once the feeling of alienation begins it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I feel disconnected from my friends and I don't know how to communicate that, so I deliberately avoid social interactions. This only makes me feel worse, but doing anything else is difficult and scary and oh so overwhelming. Have you ever felt like this?

When I started to do research on my feelings (because sometimes I'm too emotionally intelligent for my own good and I google mental health problems like some people google headaches) I discovered that the word I was looking for to describe my feelings was 'alienation'. Mercifully that scary word that made feel vaguely like an extra in ET was described as being "a common human condition that can affect anyone", so ironically the thing that is making me feel far removed from mankind is actually felt by lots of other people. I'm not entirely sure if that makes me feel better or worse but, since I love writing blog posts about emotions that many people experience to try and break down the stigma surrounding them, I thought I'd tackle the tricky subject now I'm feeling out of my shell.

So what can you do when you start to feel this way?

Be Kind To Yourself

Starting to feel a sense of alienation is actually pretty scary, and very lonely. When you feel like you can't connect with anyone it leaves you adrift. The most important thing you can do is be kind to yourself and look after yourself. I find my natural instinct is to start having punitive thoughts: "you should be able to sit with your friends at dinner, you should be able to laugh when everyone else is laughing, you should be able to tell your best friend what's going on" but this only makes everything worse. The more I told myself what I should be doing, the more I wanted to cry in a ball under my duvet. By changing tact with my thinking, telling myself "it's okay that you're feeling scared and lonely right now" and choosing activities that I could do alone that I knew would make me happy (such a lighting a scented candle and putting on a facemask) I was at least giving myself space to be happy in my own bubble, even if I did desperately want to break out of it.


Look After Yourself

Eating well and sleeping well are really important. If you're tired and suffering sugar slumps then you're only going to feel a million times worse. It's okay to choose some comfort food as a treat, which for me is always mashed potato, but in general opting for nutrient rich foods is a good way of making the active choice to care for yourself. Also try not to sleep too much: I found that I was choosing to nap a lot during the day because I was so tired from performing as if I was okay and sleeping was a great way of avoiding how I was feeling, but it doesn't actually tackle the problem. Aim for your normal amount and take a short nap if you need to, but don't use sleep as a way to distance yourself further.

Reach Out 

People probably won't have any idea how you're feeling. Even if you can't bring yourself to tell them how you feel (I do advocate for honesty, but I'm rubbish at following my own advice!) at least find someone you normally feel safe with and suggest a fun one-on-one activity you can do together. Having a sense of connection is a great way to feel less isolated, but in general people probably won't come to you or force you to do it. So pull together a little courage and send a Facebook message or text to a couple of people, I'm sure you'll feel better for it. Although if someone does invite you..


Seize Opportunities

If someone you feel safe with invites you to something, say yes! Even though it's really tempting to say no and choose to sleep instead, going out and connecting with people will likely make you feel happier. For me this was a guided meditation lead by a fellow member of my peer support group: it was enough interaction to remind me that I could do it, but was activity that made me feel like I was taking care of myself. 


I really hope this can help anyone struggling with similar feelings. Isolation and loneliness are horrible, and it can be a vicious cycle. But gathering together some courage and trying to break down those walls is an important step towards feeling better. In my experience people will usually help if you ask, or they'll be receptive to spending time with you. It just takes that first step. 

What do you do to feel better?



2 comments:

  1. Don't worry you're not alone in this as I often feel alienated from my friends too - especially at school and hearing them make plans without me. I often want to invite some friends round to mine or go out but I'm always too scared to say anything so I don't bother. You've just got to try and involve yourself in their conversations, as scary as it can be sometimes. Don't worry lovely, you're not the only one going through these emotions, just remember that xx

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    1. Thank you for your comment, it means so much to know I'm not alone. I hope you find the courage to invite people too, I'm sure they'd appreciate it xxx

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