Ask The Therapist: “I feel like shutting myself off and pushing everyone around me away.”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, or simply need advice about their problems, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained counsellor. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut lately. Nothing is going according to plan and I don’t know how to grapple with that. I feel like shutting myself off and pushing everyone around me away. On the one hand, I’m sick of my routine and want to change it up and do something fun and spontaneous. But on the other hand, I just want to lock myself in my room and not interact with anyone. I don’t know how to feel anymore.”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I hear you, and I can really empathize and sense that level of struggle and frustration you must be feeling. Now let’s see if we can help you navigate these feelings.

Your plan didn’t work out, so what now?

 There are times in our lives when things don’t work out. It can be extremely tough and it can often take its toll. And if you’re sad, that’s alright – you’re allowed to be. But after some time, ask yourself:

  • How are these feelings serving me?
  • What can I do to move forward?
  • What do I need?
  • What actions can I take to have that need met?

Stay true to what you feel

As humans, we often carry feelings and needs that can sometimes contradict one another. It seems that there is a desire to change your routine, yet there is an opposing feeling or want where you would like to be a little more reclusive and stay with yourself. Instead of choosing one, why not explore both of these wants? In moments like this, it might be helpful to reflect or even ask yourself which of one of those wants to be addressed first.

Goal-Setting: Break it up

 In your message, you mention you want to do something that’s “fun and spontaneous”. You’ve identified your goal, but it might help to break this goal up into smaller steps. Instead of tackling the whole thing at once, try to see what you can do every week, or even every few days, to slowly meet that goal. In your case, try to map out your routine, see what it looks like and see if there’s something small you can add to it. Make a list of things you’d like to try or add, ranging from little and easy to indulge in, to the bigger and more adventurous ones. Try them out gradually and at your own pace.

It’s okay to be by yourself sometimes

There are days where you’ll feel a little more reclusive and just want to be with yourself, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It’s alright to disconnect with the world around you in order to reconnect with yourself. If you are in that place, try to see what’s happening for you and bringing awareness to your body.

  • Do a quick body scan: Notice the sensations in your body, starting from your head and moving down to your feet. Try to see if there is any tension or heaviness that you might be carrying. It could be in your head or your chest or even your stomach. If you do feel something, try placing a hand over that area and breathe, while reciting positive affirmations that might resonate with you.
  • Reflect: It might help to reflect on what you noticed during your body scan and see what thoughts might be coming up.
  • Just do you: If you want to just sit down, watch your favorite TV show and eat some junk food, that’s alright too! You can just simply be on your own and unwind.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to get to where you need to go. It can be frustrating to be in a place where you feel like things are not going your way and that’s natural. It just points towards the fact that we have a desire to want something more – a change in our lives. It’s great to have goals in mind and it’s okay if it takes you time to meet those goals! Things will have a tendency of not working out sometimes and it feels disappointing; but it’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to fall back and reevaluate what needs to be done to move forward. I hope you find your way to where you’d like to be and that you meet your goals you set out for yourself. If you need any further support, do reach out to your own support group or a therapist.

Stay in your power and good luck!

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