Extended periods of isolation make me more susceptible to depression
Since freshman year of high school, I have gone in and out of phases of depression and anxiety. I have a hunch those phases, that lasted roughly three to four months, were triggered by traumatic stressful events and being too isolated. As a high school student, I was mostly timid which resulted in being less involved in social settings. I believe that for this fact I was more susceptible to depression.
Every three to four months throughout the last six years, I have switched back and forth from what I call a shitty mood to a fantastic mood. A shitty mood is where I feel lost, quiet, fuzzy, unable to think, sad, and numb. When I am in a shitty mood I don't want to get together with friends, do things I enjoy, exercise, eat right, or go to public places like the store. A fantastic mood is where I feel content, motivated, inspired, friendly, upbeat, and emotional. When I am in a fantastic mood I want to do the things I love, be around people I like, go exploring, spend time dancing and exercising, studying and living. Normally, I switch back and forth between these moods every three to four months.
At the moment I am in a FANTASTIC MOOD. I've been feeling fantastic for half a year now. That's two more happy months than my average period of happy. Six months is a huge deal to me. That is one of the longest times I have been in a fantastic mood in the last six years.
SO WHAT HAS HELPED ME EXTEND MY HAPPY PERIOD?
Being honest about my emotions* and being social**. I believe these two things are hugely helping my mind stay in a content state.
*implies: I am more willing to talk about my mental health with people I trust and being able to tell them I don't feel emotionally well when the times come around.
** means: trying to be around people who make me feel alive. Getting involved in a community that is supportive at college. Spending time outside of classes with others and keeping in touch with long-distance friends.
Allowing myself one or two days of uninterrupted alone time in which I am actively hanging out with myself is what I consider healthy alone time. Waking up to make breakfast then writing at a coffee shop while doing some people watching and course going to workout later in the afternoon and getting cozied up in blankets later in the evening is what a typical day with myself looks like. This is my favorite way to spend time with myself. I take a couple days out of the month to do that. And every day I try to do smaller things with myself like thinking, listening to music, writing, and dancing.
However, becuase I understand alone time makes me more susceptible to depression and anxiety my mind quietly worries about alone time. Am I spending too much time alone? After spending the majority of my time around people I overthink spending more than a couple of days alone. These thoughts are what ruin time alone. After a few thoughts come to my mind I can't help but keep thinking.
Late nights and long afternoons are a devil when it comes to healthy alone time. I am the least healthy when I let my mind think too much. Here is to all the people who deal with crappy thoughts after a certain time in the day. When I start thinking about the future or start dwelling on past situations I create anxiety for myself. I find it's best to wrap up alone time when it gets darkly emotional.
The more time I spend alone the less able I feel I will be to interact with others (I get in my head)
ISOLATION MAKES ME ANXIOUS. One of the most difficult struggles I face when I am depressed and anxious is that I find it more difficult to have simple conversations with people. It's as if my shitty mood person forgets how to interact with people becuase I spent months avoiding any and all human contact. For this reason being alone for too long makes me worry I will forget how to interact with humans which makes me think my shitty mood will come back. THIS THOUGHT CREATES ANXIETY.
Nevertheless, as soon as I start talking to others I realize I am not "broken" and can still function normally. Health alone time will become a long period of isolation if I am not aware. I am hoping that everything with my mental health keeps running smoothly. I am, of course, keeping in mind that isolation, honesty and a little alone time is working for me.