There are so many reasons what a person might not feel like talking to anyone. I’m just going to focus on one possible reason: the feeling that others will judge you badly because you believe you are unacceptable as you are. The reason why I am focusing on this particular reason is that it is one I have experienced and found to be extraordinarily debilitating and it placed me at a high risk of death by suicide.
For a long time, I found myself slowly getting more and more isolated. I’m not sure if I didn’t feel like talking to people, or if I felt like they didn’t want to talk to me. Now that I write that, I realize it wasn’t me. It was my feeling that others had decided that in some way, I was wrong. The wrongness wasn’t about anything I had done in particular, but was about my very nature; my personality.
Something had happened to me or within me and somehow, everyone could tell, and suddenly, it seemed, I became persona non grata. No one called me any more. No one invited me to do anything. I was alone, and somehow, that felt appropriate. In my mind, I didn’t deserve to be around people. I didn’t deserve company. I felt like people should stay away from me. I was no good for them. If I was around them, I would cause harm, some how.
Honestly, I don’t know whether people started shunning me first, or I started isolating myself. What I heard back was that somehow I was putting out a vibe that others were picking up. “David doesn’t want to be friendly right now. When he’s ready, he’ll show up, again.” But for me, it was quite the opposite. I felt like I was responding to others. That they were the ones who didn’t want to be around me, and if they didn’t want to be around me, I certainly wasn’t going to be so rude as to force them to endure my company. So I stopped reaching out.
As far as I can tell, each of us thought it was the other who was initiating the ‘radio silence,’ so to speak. But I knew I was sick. A psychiatrist had told me so. I’d been given a diagnosis of bipolar. I was depressed. However, it was as if my depression sent out a wave of invisible, yet completely effective waves that pushed everyone away. I didn’t have to say anything or do anything. I just put up a psychic wall, and everyone respected it. Not one person tried to breach it. It is the most powerful thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I had absolutely no intention of doing it.
Over time, I came to realize that I was ashamed of myself. I couldn’t face anyone. Maybe I did say things to people, or maybe when they reached out, I responded with stony silence or in some very cold, reserved way. I don’t remember anyone — except one person — reaching out, and yet everyone acted as if I’d built the Great Wall of China around me, put in moats and stocked the walls with burning tar and so on.
And not a one called to check on me. I would have thought that if I was sick, people would be concerned. These had been friends, long time friends, after all. Friends from college. Yet there was not a peep. And if they didn’t want contact, then I didn’t want contact.
All I wanted was to be wanted. I wanted to be wanted. If I wasn’t wanted, I could tell, and I wouldn’t make an issue of it. I wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just disappear from their attention as best I could. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone who I felt didn’t want to converse with me.
There’s a real chicken or egg question here. Did I start this or did I react to feedback from others? In the end, it felt like to make a virtue of necessity, and for my own pride, I had to decide I didn’t want to talk to any of them. I know I was ashamed of myself and didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone. I would lie to them if I did. Deny I was in trouble. I didn’t want to have to lie, so I didn’t want to talk to them. I’d put up a false front, and pretend things were ok, but my responses would be cold, designed to discourage any further contact.
The weird thing is, even though I knew if anyone called, I knew I’d do that, and yet, except for one person, no one else called. Maybe after the one called, or maybe it was the last group gathering where maybe I was acting really out of character — after that, everyone somehow knew, and stopped reaching out to me. Like I say, it was incredibly weird — as if people can pick up these psychic waves, but we have no conscious awareness that we are picking up these messages.
Like I said, there could be many reasons why you don’t feel like talking to anyone. The reason why I stopped talking to people (or people stopped talking to me) had to do with the shame I felt about my life and my personhood. I didn’t deserve to talk to anyone. Somehow, feeling that, the vibe got into the air and everyone knew. Maybe I did more things than I remember or was aware of. But it felt like some psychic switch was turned, and everyone knew, and that was that. David is no longer part of the crowd. Forget me. And it was so.