Remember The Shawshank Redemption? When they really wanted to punish Andy Dufresne, what did they do? Isolation. In basketball, there is a play called “iso” which is short for isolation and it is essentially designed to get one poor guy guarding a good player alone so that the good player can blow by him and score. Want a child to not thrive at all? Isolate them. Tom Hanks had to resort to talking to a volleyball after a few years of isolation on the island.

Writing these words today is a man who is a classic introvert. I love people but sometimes being around a lot of them, especially crowds, can be very exhausting. When I’m at a party, you may likely find me on the edges or trying to carve out a one on one conversation with some other introvert (we know where to look for each other!). I enjoy smaller gatherings and love time alone when I can get it. I get my energy from those last two while a classic extrovert gets energy from the crowd.

Isolation is something else. There may have been and be a few people in the world who can survive and grow in isolation. Maybe Thoreau needed to stay alone on Walden Pond or that dude who built the cabin by himself in Alaska and lived there for years alone was in his real element but that is rarely true for the vast majority of the rest of the population. For the rest, excessive isolation causes any number of negative mental, emotional, and physical outcomes. I won’t give the list, but it’s lengthy.

Sometimes, we are lonely because of circumstance and that’s stuff that just sometimes happens. But my targets today are those depressed and even sometimes anxious people who choose isolation or who have convinced themselves that being alone in their room with closed curtains for days on end is their best or only choice. For you, my dear friends, I say nothing good happens in isolation. In fact, it is likely true that your isolation is exacerbating rather than alleviating your issue. I get how hard it is to open the curtains or open the door. I really do. But I encourage you to take that step if you can. Call a friend or minister or therapist. Take a walk. Sit in the sun.

If you are a loved one of a depressed person who is isolating, let them be alone some but sometimes, encourage them to come out and interact a little. They will find it difficult and even exhausting. They may even get angry at you for asking but even a little reprieve from solitary can be helpful and maybe it will begin the process of them taking more and more forays into the light and human connection. Good things can happen there.