AVOIDING SOCIAL ISOLATION AFTER TRAUMA
When you’re living with the side effects of trauma, grief, pain, depression, anxiety, or stress, you might find yourself hiding away from loved ones, not showing up to social plans, or avoiding communication with others—ultimately, falling more and more into social isolation.
A lot of trauma survivors will isolate themselves because they feel like other people in their lives don’t understand what they’re going through. Another reason is fear of rubbing off on others or being a bother to them—or because they just don’t feel they have the energy anymore to be social.
You may also see other people who experienced trauma and think they don’t have the same problems as you. This can make you feel isolated from everyone and alone in your suffering.
But as much as it feels like it right now, you are not alone—and realizing this is a crucial part of healing. Here are a few reminders for you:
You Are Not Alone
This cannot be stressed enough! When you’ve survived a traumatic event, you might assume you’re alone in how you feel and what you’re having trouble with now. Social isolation can be born from feeling like no one understands your pain.
But it’s important to realize that this isn’t the case—not at all.
Many other people who lived through a trauma experience also deal with complicated problems afterwards. This is not meant to be discouraging, but to show that there are many, many other people who understand how you’re feeling—people who may also feel alone.
Talking with others helps you better understand your symptoms, which can help you better manage them. Being around other people or part of a community you trust opens up dialogue and reminds you that you aren’t alone—not at all. In fact, there are many other people with the same troubles, and they may be just as afraid to open up.
They say that if one person asks a question about something, there are 100 others who have the same question but are too afraid to ask. The same applies to those experiencing grief, fatigue, or depression.
You Are Not Weak
Trauma can happen to anyone, no matter how strong, healthy, good of a person, or competent they are. The cards you were dealt and the effects of your traumatic incident do not reflect your character.
Having symptoms after trauma does not demonstrate any form of personal weakness. Anyone who has been through a traumatic life event, even a healthy, otherwise psychologically well individual, can develop PTSD. In fact, we would likely all develop PTSD if exposed to a severe enough trauma.
How to Make a Change
The first step is realizing that continued social isolation will only serve to increase the challenges of your situation. And when you notice yourself showing signs of social withdrawal, here are some things you can do:
- Try and address what it is that’s making you want to isolate yourself. Did something trigger a memory, or did someone say something to make you feel out of place? Ask yourself questions about how you feel.
- Spend time with family and friends. It may feel like the last thing you actually want to do, I know. But research shows us that reaching out to your loved ones and being with your community not only does improve your mood, but it can also positively affect your health.
- Find groups to participate in our hobbies to join. Again, community is so important, especially for those suffering mentally. Find support groups in person or online, or take up a fun new group hobby to connect with others.
- Start small. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, begin with baby steps and take it one day at a time. Make small goals, such as making one plan with a friend or setting up an appointment with a therapist [link], and work from there.
You Can Talk it Out
Most of the time, talking things out can be just what you need to move forward with your recovery. What if I told you talking about your problems would help you find solutions much faster? Get you back to your old self faster? It’s absolutely true!
If your issues are deep, you can more than likely benefit most from working with a therapist who knows how to navigate your specific issues. Working together, we can develop a plan of action for seeing real changes and improvements in your life. Difficult experiences and conversations like this are my expertise, and what I do best.
Talking about what you’re feeling with others you trust can bring you support and understanding when you need it. No one should feel like they’re suffering alone, and talking to others can help you avoid those feelings of isolation.