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To Sam

I cant stop isolating myself from my friends

For the past 4 years I have suffered with depression and self harm and for the past year or so I have struggled to keep in contact with my friends during lockdown , not speaking to them for weeks on end. Sometimes I get so anxious about it and then I get angry at myself and then I self harm to try and control what I am feeling. And on most days I feel so low I have no motivation to do anything at all, no motivation to keep in touch with my friends and then I lose friends and get so angry with myself because its my fault for isolating myself from any forms of fun and normality as a 17 year old girl. How can I stop isolating myself and hating myself.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

The past year with everything that has happened with the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult  for most people. But it can be especially hard when you struggle to keep in contact with friends.

Having people around you to talk to can make a big difference to how you feel, and when you’re more isolated it can affect your mental health. It’s not always easy getting out of that isolation, but it is possible.

Depression can have a big impact on all parts of your life. One thing it affects most is the ability to reach out to people and socialise. Depression can make you feel that you want to be on your own and not see other people - which can make it harder to cope with. It's easy to feel stuck in a cycle of isolation and depression. Childline has lots of advice to help you understand difficult feelings you might be experiencing, as well as advice on coping with depression.

There are also a couple of things you can try if you're isolating yourself a lot.

If you can, try and find a way to tell just one person about how you’re feeling. If you can tell one person, they can then check-in with you and help you feel less isolated, and encourage you to socialise more. Choose someone you trust and who you think could encourage you to talk, even when you might not want to. Having someone there to support you in this way means they can encourage you even when you don't feel up to it. You might also find the Childline’s resources on loneliness and isolation helpful, such as the Coping Kit.

Another thing that could help is to try to arrange things ahead of time. Making plans to play an online game, remotely watch a movie together or just have a chat can be easier to do when it's in the future and you know when it’s happening. Putting a plan in writing and committing yourself to it helps you feel like you’re working towards something - and you can tell your friends or family about it so they can help keep you on track. But it’s okay if you aren’t able to do something – avoid putting too much pressure on yourself, and instead try to be kind to yourself and know that taking care of yourself and your well-being takes time and work, but it is possible.

You might feel like too much time has passed or that you’ve lost contact with friends over the last year. But just because it’s been a while doesn’t mean they won’t be happy to hear from you. It could help if you explain how you’ve been feeling and the problems you've had so they know this wasn't a choice you made - but a symptom of a mental health problem. Anyone can be affected by mental health issues – and more people than we realise experience them - so a lot of the time people are understanding if you're open about it and talk to them. Building your confidence and self-esteem could also help you feel ready to reach out and speak to people.

It can help to talk to one of the Childline counsellors too, who are always there to listen. It’s especially important to talk about how you’re feeling with someone if you are harming yourself, and Childline counsellors won’t ever judge you and are confidential. I’d also suggest looking at Childline’s self-harm coping techniques as well.

I hope this letter has helped but you could always try the Childline message boards as well if you wanted a way that may feel safer to start talking to other people, or you might also find Childline’s advice on social anxiety useful too.

Take care.


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