I’ve decided there are three primary types of solitude:
- Social solitude
- Mental solitude
- Physical solitude
Social solitude is basically a lack of socialising. This could be for many reasons and can wax and wane. For instance you may have lots of friends who are simply just very busy, or a few close friends that you see fairly regularly but no other socialising opportunities. It’s incredibly important for your mental health to socialise when you want to I feel as social isolation leads to depression, anxiety and a deterioration of illnesses/care in a lot of cases.
Socialising doesn’t necessarily need to be in person, it could be via phone, text or online in some way etc.
Mental solitude is that feeling that no-one quite understands you. This could be because you’re going through something, because you find it hard to communicate your feelings, any number of things.
I find that the Fibro support group I go to really helps with this with regard to the Fibro and associated pain etc as you get to talk with people who do understand what you’re suffering. I also find that weekly psychotherapy helps me learn to better communicate my feelings but it can also take away the masks I put on not just for the outside world but also to myself.
It’s not just that I feel that no-one quite “gets” me fully, it’s that I don’t get me! I don’t really truly know who I am anymore or what I’m about as being sick has changed my life so much and taken away from me a lot of the things that made me me, and that one is pretty hard to get to grips with.
For instance I am a traveller who can’t really fly anymore. A motorcyclist with no motorbike. A singer without the energy to go and sing. A swimmer who stills loves to swim but has to save up spoons to do so. A girl who loves parties and stayed up until the end who now lives for a nap. A hard-working software developer with no job. A woman who wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mother who now thinks it would be cruel to be either. What does that leave?
-a lack of physical contact-
This could be simply not physically seeing people or more subtle. It could be the desperate need for a hug that is just too painful to bear when it is finally received. You can be a prolific social butterfly online, well understood and mentally on someone’s wavelength but still desperately need just the gentlest of hugs or affection.
If any one of these three are missing or lacking, you can end up feeling so very very alone. Isolation is horrific, it breeds depression, stress and a worsening of symptoms. If someone you know might be struggling with one or more of these solitudes perhaps consider talking it through with them and seeing if there’s anything that can be done to improve it.