This post is one of the 22 I’ve had sitting ready to finish. I wanted to finish it now, mainly because it’s happening again, I’m unable to go out as an issue with my mobility scooter is isolating me again and although last weekend I had a great trip to London (a birthday treat that I have a post or two brewing about) and this weekend I went out with a friend (again for a birthday treat, this one for Lunch,) I am stuck in the house the rest of the time and seeing only the people who can make it round to the house to see me. But isolation can take many forms, it can be like me at the moment stuck in the house but it can be isolated because you feel different from everyone else, isolation because of illness or even isolation because you need to be alone. At one point or another I think that I’ve felt or experienced every single one of these. While it can take many forms isolation is on the whole, and especially when it’s not been initiated by you, really upsetting and makes you so lonely. I’m no where near the only person this affects, there are thousands or more people who go weeks without seeing anyone, or seeing very few people.
One thing that I never appreciated before I became disabled was the isolation and more specifically the enforced isolation that you have. Before I would sometimes choose not to go out, now knowing what I do about my sensory overloading and possible autistic spectrum disorder I realise that it was probably this that made me crave solitude. I would choose to lock myself away and do something in my room or just prefer being at home to being out, after having spent the day with people etc (especially at school where I was bullied). However, now that I’m disabled I cannot begin to explain the sheer loneliness and isolation that comes with not being able to go out. Instead of choosing not to go out, it becomes not being able to go out. I don’t have a car anymore and with having a mobility scooter that doesn’t really meet my needs properly it becomes so hard to get out, and often the choice of whether I get to go out goes out of my hands. Snow days, too rainy, no carer or companion to go with (I cannot go out on my own due to my issues with brain fog and also panic and sensory overload issues), scooter needing charging, hands too painful to use scooter, scooter in for service (which it is at the moment and has sparked this thinking), scooter broken (which was the old scooter), haven’t planned it (so can’t book assistance on train or book shopmobility etc), no one who can push my manual chair the list goes on and on and on and I’ve not even mentioned the bad days where you aren’t well enough to go out. There are so many reasons why you can’t get out and a lot of them are out of your hands.
I think that I always assumed that loneliness and isolation were an elderly persons problem. All you hear on the news and in the media is about elderly loneliness, you never or very rarely hear about disabled people being isolated. Now it most certainly is not the case that every disabled person is isolated (far from it), just like not every elderly person is, but as I have found out we can find ourselves extremely lonely and isolated. But I just assumed, I think, that it was just older people who were stuck in.
What I also never understood, and this is an able bodied problem as much as a disabled problem, is people who cut you out of their lives. I don’t get how someone can just decide to leave someone’s life. I’ve had this happen countless times and each time it baffles me. People blocking you on social media, with no reason or notice. They don’t tell you that you’ve done something to them, they simply stop with all forms of communication. Nothing can prepare you for this, it hurts when you find out someone you considered a friend has simply cut you out of their life. What makes it even worse is when someone who knows that you’ve had this happen before and has openly told you that they don’t think that people should do that, and said that they will never do it to you, turn around and do it. I’ve had this happen very recently and a while ago, both men and both just stopped. One moved away and then stopped and the more recent one wasn’t even that, he just completely stopped communicating and has completely blocked me. Why can’t people just say that they don’t want to be friends any more, or that you’ve upset or hurt them in some way so that you might be able to sort it out? I really just don’t get it, I don’t understand people who can do this. I have blocked a few people on social media, but this was after weeks of constant messages and telling them that I didn’t want to be hounded like that. It was after trying to explain how they were making me feel stalked and that I was feeling freaked out by their obsessiveness. It was when they then didn’t listen and were still making me feel totally uncomfortable that I had to take the decision to block them, I’ve done it to less than half a dozen people and still feel guilty about it despite how they made me feel. I just can’t do that to people lightly.
But I’ve got off subject here, so to sum up about isolation. It’s definitely not just an old person problem, it can happen to a lot of people and at any time. But personally I think that there are things that people could to to help, if we became a less insular people and cared more about people and watched out for them more. If we just cared and if there was the money available to perhaps fund more befriending services or if just people looked out for each other and saw if they haven’t left their house for a while etc, well maybe just maybe then we could help some lonely people.