I’m isolating myself because of schizoaffective disorder and generalized anxiety disorder because I’m simply afraid to socialize, in all sorts of ways—even, more recently, in support groups. Here’s why I’m isolating myself.
I’m Isolating Myself Because I’m Afraid Others Judge Me
Ever since I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and then schizoaffective disorder, I’ve kept my distance, isolating myself from the world. Interestingly, I dated enough to meet my husband 10 years ago. But I haven’t made many new friends, and the ones I’ve made I normally see with my husband. I think I’m afraid that people will judge me for my schizoaffective disorder and generalized anxiety.
Some characteristics of my mental illnesses can make me feel self-conscious even in support groups. Meeting people has just become much harder. I hate making small talk. Also, if someone innocently jokes around —for example, pointing out that I bring my umbrella everywhere—I don’t take it as a joke. I take it very personally (How to Stop Taking Things Personally).
Isolating Myself but Feeling Lonely
I know I’ve written about being lonely. You’d think that because I’m lonely, I’d want to make new friends. But I’m so self-conscious about my mental illnesses at times that it makes it hard for me to socialize with anyone but “safe” people—my husband, the rest of my family, an old friend from high school, and old friends who live out of town. I don’t visit the out-of-towners, though, because I’m afraid to fly anywhere.
Luckily, these traits fluctuate in severity, as they do for many of us with a mental illness. And that gives me a window of opportunity. My old high school friend became a safe person because I got together with her so often—just the two of us having lunch or tea. Right now, though, I’m feeling very skittish. I’m even afraid to eat in front of people I don’t know that well. That’s one of the traits that can kick in to make me feel self-conscious in support groups. I try to push myself to make a group meeting. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t (Are You Afraid of Group Therapy?).
I’m Worth Getting to Know
Deep down, I know that even with my schizoaffective disorder and painful anxiety disorder I’m still a good, smart, funny person worth getting to know. One acquaintance made my day by describing me as charming.
It’s been hard not having many friends, especially friends who live close by. Luckily, for better or for worse, this era of Facebook and the Internet allows me to socialize with others while in the privacy of my apartment. But that’s not the same as meeting with someone face to face. People are different on the Internet than they are in real life. So, hopefully, with spring, I’ll gain another period of confidence to interact with others in real life.