Why some people reach out and others isolate

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, chances are you’ll respond one of two ways.
You might hide away at home not wanting to speak to anyone. Or you may reach out to friends, unloading your worries on to them. Neither approach is wrong! Whichever way you go, it may be difficult to understand those who act differently than you do when they’re feeling fragile. Here’s why you might be inclined to reach out or hide away. Reaching out when a thousand worries weigh on your brain. Sometimes the only way to relieve pressure is by letting off steam. Perhaps you invite your bestie over for a takeaway, a sad movie, and a long cry. Or maybe you rant, unloading all of your worries on your mum. You might even type a long email to a trusted friend, laying bare all your worries.

Talking through your fragile feelings with a trusted friend or loved one works much like talk therapy, discussing your anxieties helps you sort out your true feelings. But letting off too much steam isn’t healthy, either. If your venting comes out as rage, or you’re thinking obsessively over an idea or choice, your health may be at risk- so make sure your venting remains constructive.

How to help someone who reaches out
If your friend is going through a difficult time, offer a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Ignore the temptation to offer advice— now isn’t the time for multitasking with some Candy Crush or Facebook. But if you suspect their troubles run deeper, encourage them to seek professional help, speak to a doctor.

Hiding away
Hiding out under the covers can seem like the only option when you’re feeling sad. Besides, every time you step out into society, it feels like taking a risk. Will you cry in public? Will you say yet another stupid thing that worsens your bad mood? In certain situations, wallowing is acceptable. Give yourself time to heal after something bad happens. There’s no shame in an extended break from the big scary world. The more you fold in on yourself, the more difficult it becomes to reach out for help from a friend or a therapist.

How to help someone that just wants to hide away.
If you’re worried about a friend who has dropped off the face of the planet, tread carefully. Not everyone is receptive to a suggestion that might be dealing with a condition like depression. Waiting for them to reach out may be the best strategy. But if you haven’t heard from them in a while, consider sending a message. Let them know you care and want to talk to them. Don’t push the issue, but leave an opening for further communication. Once they’re ready, they’ll reach out.

I would love to hear your stories, email me or follow me on my Facebook page @mswillowbipolar

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