The Courage To Reach Out For Support
Difficult experiences can be harder to cope with when it feels like no one, not even family or friends, understands what you went through. Connecting with other Veterans and reaching out for support can help to overcome isolation and increase enjoyment of life.
What is social withdrawal or social isolation?
Are you spending increasingly more time alone because you think no one understands what you’ve experienced or what you’re going through? Are you avoiding social situations because you might be reminded of things you hope to forget? Do you avoid others because you feel you should be able to deal with challenges on your own? These can be signs of social withdrawal or social isolation.
Social withdrawal is avoiding people and activities you would usually enjoy. For some people, this can progress to a point of social isolation, where you may even want to avoid contact with family and close friends and just be by yourself most of the time. You may want to be alone because you feel it’s tiring or upsetting to be with other people. Sometimes a vicious cycle can develop where the more time you spend alone, the less you feel like people understand you. And the less you feel like people understand you, the more time you want to spend alone.
“I spent a majority of my first year back alone and not in a good place. I was lucky that someone saw that I was hurting, could relate to where I was coming from, and forced me to get some help. It was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time.”
Some Veterans show signs of social withdrawal or social isolation while transitioning from military to civilian life or during other major life changes. Other Veterans and Service members may have been avoiding other people and activities for a long time and have become uncomfortable being around other people more generally. People who have experienced traumatic events — whether or not as part of military service — also sometimes withdraw or isolate themselves.
Social withdrawal and social isolation can make it difficult to do the things you normally would enjoy or to get through the day. Some effects of this isolation can include loneliness, relationship problems, alcohol or drug problems, and trouble sleeping. Left unchecked, social withdrawal or isolation can lead to or be associated with depression. Such behavior can also negatively affect those you care about.
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If I’m withdrawing from others or isolating myself, what can I do about it right away?
Allowing social withdrawal or social isolation to continue unchecked will only make your situation more challenging. When you find yourself demonstrating antisocial behavior, it’s important to:
- Address what’s causing you to want to be alone.
- Reach out to your friends or family members even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing. Research shows that spending time talking with family or friends improves your mood and has a positive effect on health.
- Conenct with Veterans’ groups or participate in clubs or hobbies focused on something you like.
If these actions feel overwhelming, start with small steps. For example, identify one person you could reach out to or one place you could go, and then follow through. Continuing to meet specific small goals can help you break out of a pattern of withdrawal or isolation.
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NEED HELP NOW?
Call The Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 And Press 1. Or Send A Text Message To The Veterans Crisis Line At 838255.
Free, confidential support 24 / 7 / 365.
Give the San Jose Vet Center a call, at (408) 993-0729 to get back to your best life.