“Solitude vivifies, isolation kills.” Joseph Roux
I have firsthand experience in my past to that quote, and… as much as I hate to admit it… I’m somewhat going through that at the moment. My friend and I have coined (not really) a term; turtling. It has a few meanings, some rather disgusting ones as I have discovered, but when we use it we are talking about isolation and detachment from challenging (and probably beneficial whether we want to admit it or not) interpersonal relationships.
I won’t speak for my friend, but when I “turtle” I tend to do so in the most dramatic way possible. Some people know this about me and refuse to let me do it, so it only happens when people have no choice BUT to let me do it… when I can’t be stopped. This absolutely hinders any and every kind of growth or recovery. Recovery in the face of mental illness, recovery from addiction, recovery from past hurts/pains.
Hiding when you are scared (as turtles sometimes do) of something is a natural reaction; it’s OK to feel scared sometimes. Hiding because something or someone reminds you of a memory you have repressed, or a desire you have suppressed, or because of fear (often irrational) someone will leave when they “find out who you REALLY are,” or all of the above can propel you to into a life of isolation… and as Mr. Roux stated so truthfully, isolation kills.
Isolation is sickness, and is usually a result of shame… maybe remorse. To be real, I believe it is so easy to isolate because we live in a world where everybody has a judgment about everything. With age we are more able to scrutinize, criticize, and hypothesize how people do things, who a person is, and why they are that way. ESPECIALLY if mental illness is involved since there is a truckload of stigma attached to it. If (since) my behavior is frowned upon (understatement) people are more likely to attack me for behaving in such a way, instead of offering a helping hand to guide me to the end of that behavior.
Isolation is also one of several overwhelming signs of depression, mental illness, and suicidal ideation, (no, I am not suicidal, survivors) so if you or someone you know is going through this I suggest you check in at the very least, at most be as supportive as humanly possible as a friend/loved one.
As the quote implies, there is a difference between solitude and isolation. Sometimes it’s a GREAT feeling to stand on your own, be truly independent, and self-reflect to initiate change. However, it is important to make sure that you and your loved ones are not stunting their growth by hiding issues that need to be attended to. Are you your brother’s keeper? ABSOLUTELY. In this day and age it is imperative to look out for one another and create a community of survivors to end the stigma and save lives. It is important to fight for yourself and save your own life by getting help.
Helpful sources: http://yourenotfinished.com/get-help/