Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. ~ Proverbs 18:1
I’ve chewed on this one off and on for a while, especially recently as I’ve been reading a book on depression. I can’t pretend to know what it’s like for others with depression since I only struggle with a milder – yet chronic – version, but for me, when my depression flares up the first thing I do is find a way to be alone.
Why? The easy answer is so that I don’t have to hide it. If there is no one around, there’s no one to see that I don’t have it all together. That in itself is an indicator that there’s something wrong. I need to trust someone enough that I don’t have to hide when I’m struggling. It’s not necessarily a problem with the people around me – I know tons of wonderful people who would gladly help me out if they knew I needed it. It’s that I often don’t choose to trust any of them enough to open up long enough to show my struggles. The results?
Isolating myself gives me nothing but myself to think about.
Engage “seeking her own desire” mode; aka. selfishness. When I’m depressed and alone, all my thoughts revolve in one way or another around myself. My unmet desires, my anxieties, my failures, etc. You get the ugly picture. If I constantly look within myself instead of outward at the world around me I spiral deeper into depression because we humans were never meant to be all about ourselves.
Isolating myself takes away the very support system that is able to haul me back on my feet.
Namely people. By shedding my God-given support system and isolating myself I’m effectively “breaking out against all sound judgment.” In other words, I’m being stupid. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 sums it up well:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
If I’m alone I have no one to tell me when I’m clinging to unhealthy thoughts and depression-inducing lies from the enemy, and he is able to prevail over me. An outside person can easily recognize ridiculous thought patterns that I in the moment can’t see and they can steer me back toward sound reasoning. My sister did this when she pulled me up short about my negativity.
My motivation dies when my depression flares up, and if I’m alone, it’s extremely hard to muster my scarce willpower in order to shoulder my way through and do things anyway. I sit around and waste the precious time God has allotted to me, simply because by myself I can’t fight depression. However, recently when I talked about how I was struggling even to find motivation to work on my drawing lesson (have I mentioned I LOVE drawing?) she took the time and initiative to sit down and draw with me, even though drawing isn’t one of her passions like it is mine. It gave me the momentum I needed to push through and finish the lesson on time.
Here’s the thing: you can pray and ask God to reveal the harmful patterns and lies that dominate your mind, and you can ask Him for extra strength to depression’s anti-motivation exhaustion. Maybe He will do so just working privately in you, but more often than not I think He chooses to use the people in your life. If you isolate yourself, you’re taking away the very method He put in place to answer that prayer. And also: this concept applies to pretty much any struggle in life, not just depression.
So please, if you’re struggling with something you can’t beat, don’t retreat within yourself. Pick someone to open up to and ask them for help. Vulnerability is scary and hard and I’m horrible at it, I admit it – but when I give up my fear and open up is when the healing often happens. If you don’t think you have anyone you can trust that deeply, ask God to show you who to go to. Since He made us with a need for others, He is more than able and willing to give us someone (or show us someone we overlooked) who can meet that need. And for the record, I’m more than willing to help you out as I’m able. All you have to do is ask. 🙂