Please don’t lock yourself up

A particularly cruel punishment in prisons was/is to put people in solitary confinement, depriving them of any contact with other prisoners.

Without going into the unpleasant details, it’s pretty evident that an extended period of incarceration under these conditions generally has an extremely derogatory effect on someone’s mental state.


I know this. So when, on occasion, my mood is low, why on earth do I perform the equivalent of placing myself in solitary confinement? Why do I cut myself off from others? Why do I avoid human contact?

Why do I do this when the very opposite behaviour would almost certainly make me feel better?

I know I’m not alone in doing so, but it’s one of the paradoxes of low mood. Human contact generally helps hugely, but something inside prevents us doing the very thing that might improve matters.

The good (the excellent) thing is, however, that the benefits of human contact can build up like pennies in a piggy bank. Every little helps.

So on a day when you don’t feel much like talking to those closest to you (it’s almost bound to happen) be sure to snatch a few words with the person at the cash register, the woman waiting alongside you to cross the road, the receptionist at the dentist’s, the postman, the man selling newspapers.

Please don’t lock yourself away. You deserve better.

2 thoughts on “Please don’t lock yourself up

  1. This is really interesting. I have a preference for escaping to my bedroom for time alone. I think this is because I feel so obliged to be responsive to others’ needs when I am not alone. However, when I am on my worst ebb, all I want to do is be in my bedroom and stay away from everyone else. Luckily I have a few friends who are excellent at drawing me out, who have complete faith in what you have just described. I always feel better, more alive and hopeful, when they have drawn me out of my slump!

  2. My instincts are to do exactly what you describe and I know it makes me worse. If I experience a slump I now get myself out quickly before I have time to think of reasons to stay in alone.

    Nine times out of ten I feel better for having been around other people either buying a paper or just having a coffee in my favourite coffee shop. Worth the effort.

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