One of the tell-tale signs that you are depressed, is that you isolate yourself. You no longer answer calls. You don’t reply to texts or emails. You reject invites. This is even more true if you are a natural introvert, because by default you need some alone-time to recharge your batteries.
Back when I was deep into depression (and unemployed at some point), I would spend entire weeks without interacting with people, except cashiers or the pizza-delivery guy. Indeed, I would only go out to shop for groceries; the rest of the time I was wallowing in self-pity, locked up in my apartment.
Why are you being reclusive?
Perhaps the fear of others’ judgment is pushing you away. Maybe you’re too ashamed of yourself to show up at gatherings. Or maybe you don’t want to worry others, and you’d rather keep your problems to yourself instead of bothering them with your gloominess or erratic mood.
Let me tell you right now, these are all the wrong reasons for staying isolated.
First off, you should not let others’ perception of you stop you from doing what you want. Being judged by others is just a part of life that everyone has to deal with. The quicker you internalize that, the better off you’ll be. The only way to avoid criticism, is to say nothing and do nothing. In other words become nothing. And that sure as hell isn’t healthy.
Second, if you’re too ashamed of yourself to go out and meet others, than give yourself small reasons to be proud. Start taking small steps toward recovery and a healthy lifestyle. Shower more often. Reduce the amount of time you spend in front of the TV. Go to bed early and cut screens out 2 hours before bed. Get some sunlight exposure. Go out for slow walks, or jog if you’re up to it. Replace junk food with simple home cooked meals. Each small step towards a healthier lifestyle will grant you a substantial dose of enthusiasm. And when you reach these small weekly or monthly goals that you set for yourself, your self-esteem will grow.
Third, cutting all contact with your peers will actually worry them a lot more than just being upfront with them. Tell them that you’re going through a rough patch. Tell them that you’re sorry if you’ve lashed out at them in anger. Tell them the truth about how you feel.
More often than not, people will be moved by the fact that you’re so open about a very personal, difficult subject. And they’ll actually be very supportive. For instance, there was this one friend that I hadn’t seen in a year. Upon meeting him, I told him about my depression. Did he tell me I was pathetic? Did he scoff at my issues? No. He suggested that we start jogging together on a regular schedule. And that he’d be glad to hang out if I needed to talk. To this day, he’s still my friend and workout partner.
To isolate yourself from others means you prevent them from helping you out. Different opinions help us open up our minds to positive alternatives that we hadn’t thought about. Others will often come up with ideas to solve your daily problems. In addition, having someone to hear you out when you’re feeling down is comforting.