I used to like and even treasure my time alone. I was free from the pressure of having to communicate and be entertaining to other people. I always felt I had to perform, and hide my real self and feelings. So, time alone felt safe.
But something in me has changed. The reasons for now wanting to be around other people are the result of recent life events. First, when I was severely depressed, I isolated myself, and didn’t even answer the phone or my doorbell. I was alone with my darkest fears and despair. That way of coping led me into the hospital for treatment of severe depression.
One thing I observed while being in that locked unit was that sharing the space with other patients lessened my anxiety. I was no longer alone. Talking to, and eating with other people somewhat mitigated my crushing feelings of being alone in the world.
I didn’t get cured in the hospital, I just stayed safe, and had a break from being at home. My real progress began when I participated in an outpatient day-treatment program. There, in a supportive setting, I was in groups with others suffering the same or different problems.
I developed friendships, ate lunch with my new acquaintances, and depended on their company for my survival. We shared pictures of our families, stories of our histories, and grew close to each other. I looked forward to the days I attended the program.
But, alas, my insurance said it was time to leave the program. I had and have separation anxiety as I am alone again, missing my new friends. I always have hated good-byes.
Today is my first day without a plan, or people around me. I wish I were more involved in social activities, and not so frightened of being with others. I have to change my survival strategy to ward off another depression. I am working on planning my days to include social interactions, including discussion groups and yoga. I will accept more invitations. And I must remember to stop trying so hard to be liked and accepted, and let my real self shine through.
For the first time in many years, I am a person who needs people.