I am a natural hermit and a workaholic, so it would be easy for me to end up spending all my time in my studio, alone. I have social anxiety as well, which means it takes extra effort for me to join an activity that involves other people.
But isolation is not good for us. Even if it is hard, we need to make an effort to join humanity and interact with others. Finding easy, low-key ways to do this is a good start. The first step I took when I moved to my present location six years ago was to join a bipolar support group. This wasn’t easy for me either, but after the initial agony of forcing myself to attend meetings, I got to know the other members, and now I’m one of the facilitators. Going to meetings is something I look forward to rather than dread.
I am an artist, so another effort involved joining local arts groups. I find that if there is a purpose to meetings, that helps diffuse the social anxiety because there is a set agenda and topic. I don’t have to make small talk with a drink in my hand. Last year I actually organized a new artists group, and I have been invited to talk to other groups about internet art marketing, a subject I am the local expert in. Helping other artists has been very gratifying, AND, it gets me out of the house.
If you are finding yourself isolated and house bound, think about groups you might join based on your knowledge and interests. Did you always want to learn Spanish or Ceramics? Taking an adult class at your local high-school or community college is another way to meet people in a stress-free environment. And if you are an expert in any field, think about teaching a class for adults.
Volunteering is another great way to meet other people and to use your skills while setting your own limited hours. But whatever you choose to help break your isolation, start small and give yourself time to adjust. Don’t expect to feel comfortable at your first meeting. It may take some effort, but the struggle to push yourself out there will eventually be well worth it.
Find information about bipolar disorder and treatment.
Published On: November 10, 2006
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