Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Stroke Survival: Social Isolation

A fellow strokee, Megan Whitaker, wrote about social isolation recently (post can be found here). It got me thinking. God help us all! Jo's been thinking again.

What the heck is social isolation?
Wikipedia says...
Social isolation is a state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects a temporary lack of contact with other humans. Social isolation can be an issue for individuals of any age, though symptoms may differ by age group.
Okay, I understand that. As someone living post stroke, I can see where other survivors might feel this way. Your regular friends from work really can't understand where you are at now. Your whole world was turned upside down. You may be still battling paralysis, PBA (Psuedobulbar Affect), difficulty communicating,  or a whole host of difficulties that prevent you from being with others as you used to. This even includes family members. You feel alone even in a crowd I feel like many times being both a stroke survivor and a widow. I feel like I have two strikes against me from the get go. Nobody on Earth could possibly know how I'm feeling or goes through my head unless it's another stroke survivor and a widow too.

As a widow, you are faced with a whole bunch of issues if you live in the same place as you did with your husband. The first question everybody asked is how are you doing? I could answer honestly and say... that my beloved and better half has been ripped from my side. Even after almost three years. There is still a gaping wound and I don't believe it will ever heal. But I don't because that's not what they want to hear. I simply respond that I'm doing okay. This is the major reason I moved six hours away and don't go home unless I have to. Being there is painful. Yes, I'm a coward, but it's my way of coping. This is a form of self social isolation.

I push myself as a person living post stroke to be the best possible me I can be. As a Christian, I believe God heals. Why He hasn't healed me yet to full recovery? Well timing is everything. I actually bring more people back to Christ being this way. But even so, I believe in social networking. No, not FaceBook or any other internet social group although I'm a player in those circles too, but real one one one communication. I belong to a stroke survivors support group, I'm active in various community outreach programs and I talk in person to groups. Yes, even with my aphasia.

Even within my stroke support group, I feel a sense of social isolation between me and others who are lucky enough to have no visible signs of a stroke. It's not jealousy or envy. I just feel excluded from the recovered parties within a support group where no one is worse than me. Not that I'd honestly wish that on anyone else.  My participation is a deliberate choice to keep social isolation at bay.

But everyone these days feels a certain amount of social isolation.  Every time my children texts me instead of calling me, I feel a sense of this. Emails across vast distances draws you closer but pushes human contact farther away. I've got several hundred, if not a thousand, "cyber" friends, but only a few that I have met eye to eye with. Isn't this also a form of social isolation? We hide behind devices instead of actual human contact. I understand all the excuses why we don't develop this social skill more. We're too busy. Are we really not as busy than our grandfathers? I think not. They were in fact busier. Oh, just get with it, Jo. That's just the way things are now. Maybe I'm just an old fart, but I mourn the loss of human contact. A lot can be said for touching someone else's hand in support or compassion. Giving an actual hugs instead of a smilie or emoji. 🤗 Today's society is kind of a lonely existence. A kind of semi imposed social isolation.

Let's make a change.

Nothing is impossible.


  1. I feel this, too, the social isolation. But I realize some of it is welcome. I am so handicapped that the way I used to participate in life is no longer possible. For example, last Sunday I went to the movie with my husband and a couple of friends. The movie (Adrift) was great but very emotionally exhausting, and I haven't wanted any more social contact until yesterday, when I got a few minutes. That was enough. I never would have thought, before my stroke, that that would be enough, maybe it's old age a bit also, but now I find I'm ok with it.

    1. While it's true social interaction is exhausting after a stroke, but it is a necessary evil.

  2. I feel no social isolation - I have loving family and friends, with only a couple from pre-stroke dropping out of touch. I understand that I'm unusual in the amount of support I've had post-stroke.

    As for FB, yes, I think it makes us feel more isolated - like the conversation is out-of-body, not really experienced. I limit my time on FB to just once a day to check in.

    1. I no longer FB or Tweet since my strokes. I lost a big part of my social activities with my strokes, couple with my husband dying and my moving, I've had to start over again.


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