When we think of isolation, it can be feeling isolated emotionally and physically. This week in my A-Z of alcohol misuse it’s the letter “I” and I’m talking about “Isolation”.
Recently I watched a TV programme on male suicide after World Suicide Day. It was interesting to hear how many similarities there are with addiction. The people that wanted to kill themselves felt worthless, that they didn’t deserve to live. They also said how they struggle with life, death doesn’t scare them.
That’s exactly how heavy drinkers feel, feeling isolated emotionally and physically at times. It doesn’t matter if people tell them they deserve to live and are worthy, it’s a deep rooted belief.
What is isolation?
What’s it like to feel isolated?
I’m sure you know!
You listen to everything going on in you head, telling you unhelpful things most of the time. You listen because you aren’t feeling good about yourself. You believe it. Then it makes you feel worse, more isolated and loneliness kicks in.
Trouble is, what goes on in that head of yours isn’t always fact. You’ll find evidence to prove the unpleasant thoughts, but if it’s the same thoughts providing the evidence it’s a little biased isn’t it!?
In another way, someone is lying to you and you don’t know it at the time, so you keep believing what they say. They keep convincing you of the lie, giving good reasons but it’s not fact. This is the same as what your thoughts are doing.
Focusing on connection
When we’re feeling isolated emotionally and physically we really need connection. However, at that time we probably aren’t feeling much like chatting to people.
Feeling isolated whether that’s emotionally or physically can be debilitating. Maybe you feel sorry for yourself, why is this happening to you? Maybe you just don’t care (although deep down I believe most people do care).
Remember that your thoughts aren’t reliable. You can think things that aren’t true, yet most of us listen to them. If you assume that people won’t want to help you, talk to you, listen to you then you’re making a decision based on your own thoughts, not reality.
The only time you’ll know if someone in your life, or someone new will want to help you is if you ask them. You leave the decision to them, not you or what your thoughts tell you. Avoid taking away their choice.
Tips for connecting
If you think about connecting when you aren’t feeling low or in a moment of isolation then you can start to build ways to cope when things do get bad.
Trying to figure things out when you’re in the midst of the drama isn’t usually the best time. You need time and space to process, to understand what’s going on for you.
There are some obvious ways to connect which I’m sure you know about, but what stops you putting them into action?
- Think about feeling isolated emotionally and physically – what thoughts and feelings do you experience. Write them down. When you understand them and have awareness, you can begin to accept them
- Speak to friends and family and ask them to write down on pieces of paper, what they value about you. Keep a pot of them together when you need them
- Look up 5 different activities, interests that you like (face to face or online). Get in touch to find out more, no commitment just find out if it’s something of interest to you
- Consider voluntary work, think about something you’re passionate about. (Hint: Think of what frustrates and angers you will probably help, e.g. injustice, homelessness, animal not being cared for, the environment not being respected)
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Get in touch
If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07732) 403305.
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Change Your Mind Facebook group, where other families of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.
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