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Coping with Isolating Emotions

A couple of months ago I experienced isolation, self-doubt, and fear, that was triggered by my travels out of town, and lack of immediate contact with my support system. In fact, I journaled in that moment and this was some of the concerns I identified:

I feel negative energy. I feel alone because I don't feel like I can trust my support system, and I don't know why? Maybe it's paranoia? Or indifference about some relationships, and guilt about others; I don't know. What energy am I putting out?- I try not to complain. I try to be easy-going. I feel a range of negative emotions: emptiness, void, depression, sadness, exhausted, alone, struggling, uneasiness, tension, unsettling...

While my emotions were real, they came from a place of fear that manifested emotional instability. For example, I could not explain why I should not trust my closest supporters. In that moment, I created more anxiety. In turn, I tried to calm myself by asking a series of questions in order to think my way out of my fears. Ultimately, I addressed my feelings by reverting back to my personalized coping skills. I encouraged myself to engage in practicing my coping tools to help soothe my spirit; that included: listening to music, writing in my journal, watching television to help distract myself, and positive self-talk by creating positive affirmations, which I recited out loud; "I am strong," and "I am loved!" Utilizing these coping tools rekindled emotional wellness for those feelings. The following day's journal started off with "Today is a new day!..."

Suffering from isolation are side effects of stigma and fear, among a range of other issues. I understand how isolation can be a huge challenge, and its resolutions to that demands adequate supports such as a support system, unique coping skills, and ongoing customized engagement in self-care acts. For me, self-care acts involves oneself validating experiences and prioritizes them into a desire and need to focus on getting oneself well again.

Feeling isolated is real, and fighting to overcome it is a process. If you are feeling any of the negative emotions I shared I encourage you to fight back with your customized coping skills. Finally, I shared this experience with you to offer a glimpse into what my isolation looks like, and how I fought through it in the moment. However, my way is not the only way to get through it, you must resort to your own coping skills that generally works well for you. I hope my experience offers insight and awareness that validating our emotions is essential, as well as practicing coping skills to maintain emotional and mental wellness.

If you feel that you experience severe isolation, depression, and self-doubt, however you define severe, I urge you to seek professional help, immediately. The following resources may be a great starting point:


withallmyheart said…

This post is outstanding, so real, and reflects the work of recovery. It takes practice, willingness, and being able to reach out - for support, for help, to be heard......

I am so proud of you!

Leslie in Baltimore, Maryland
Ashley Smith said…
Hi Leslie,

Thank you for your encouragement! And I do agree with you- [recovery} "It takes practice, willingness, and being able to reach out-"
Ang said…
Do you have experience with anyone with schizophrenia having anger outbursts. I do not know if this is part of his schizophrenia or mood disorder or drugs. I am lost on how to help him. The anger is very scary and he'll throw things and scream that he's going to kill himself.

Any advice is appreciated.
Chris said…
Hi Ashley,

It's Chris.

I just want to tell you that going out of town IS often a trigger for intense feelings. It's completely natural.

I once declined having a guy on campus bring my luggage up to the dorm room I was staying in. As a New York City girl I did not trust a random stranger to accompany me to the dorm room where I was staying alone. So of course for the first night I could not sleep. Who was that guy and why was he there? was my first thought.

A tactic I use is to listen to music on the radio in a hotel room. Keeping a travel journal also helps.

Shubham said…
Hi Ashley,

I read your blog and found it very inspiring. I am 28 years old, an MBA and have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I always felt I am alone and was looking for support groups when I happened to see your blog. You are very brave having coped up with the symptoms.I am still looking for support groups in India.

I too have been experiencing side effects of the medication but I am not loosing hope. Have you fully recovered? I would like to know more people with schizophrenia and stories from the US/outside India.Do you know of some online community kind of place where I can interact with other people suffering from Schizophrenia? I am still paranoid but on medications and have lost my job owing to paranoia(mainly delusions).

Shubham Agrawal
Ahmedabad,India (My blog)
Thank you for sharing your difficult day and thoughts. I had a day like that the other day and my main support, my adult daughter, immediately texted me my list of coping skills which was beyond helpful. I knew them but at the moment I was so paralyzed by my feelings of desperation that I couldn't remember to do them. It eventually passed and the next day was a new day and much better but it was scary because I was doing so well.

Victoria Marie Alonso
joseph muita said…
This was such an inspirational piece; thanx for sharing!

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