An Unlikely Children’s Book Review: Social Isolation

An Unlikely Children’s Book Review: Social Isolation

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I loved The Bear Books for my eldest when he was a toddler (my goodness … over a decade ago).  Matthew’s first book of the series was “Bear Snores On” (if you don’t have it for your little one, I highly suggest it – super cute and fun to read).  So, I was way too excited to see that Chick-Fil-A was offering a variety of them with their children’s meals a couple of years ago. 

Joshua picked out Bear Says Thanks (that he received in one of his kids’ meals) to read before bed a few nights ago. We’ve read it many times, but the gravity of the storyline finally hit me! This particular story tells how Bear planned a party and all of his animal friends showed up with something for the meal, but he realized that he had nothing to contribute to the meal. All of his friends consoled him and told him not to worry because they had plenty. This was the point where my tears started flowing!

Lifetime Friends

“Lifers” (as my BFF likes to call lifetime friends) don’t concern themselves with how much their friends can or cannot bring to the proverbial table.  There are times in our lives where we have nothing to give, not even to ourselves.  This past year, especially, has been a perfect example of this for me.  Between my cancer scare and PTSD diagnosis, to my mental breakdown, social isolation was common of me towards my family and closest friends.  Many of my friends took it personally and I rarely hear from them anymore.  However, my “lifers” realized that my emotional cupboards were so empty, that I had nothing to contribute to a friendship.  Despite that fact, it didn’t worry them about our friendship.  There will be times where I can reciprocate and give everything I have to help a friend in distress and then I have times such as this where I just can’t.  Even in my recovery, I still feel empty but I can feel myself slowly coming back.  Not only am I coming back, but I’m coming back with a fire and even bigger than ever.

What research says

From a trauma like mine, my trust in humans was lost, I felt like the world was hostile and scary, and that it was only up to me to protect myself.  While I was in the Army, we were trained to trust our colleagues like family and, well… that just didn’t happen reciprocally for me.  I trusted my colleagues, but my trust was lost after being harassed over a situation that I had no control.  Social Bonds and Posttraumatic Disorder is a literature review that focused on how social interactions play a role in PTSD recovery.  A long story short – personal assaults negatively affect how someone views friendships and trust, regardless of how positive a relationship might be.  While it is intuitive to say that positive relationships should aid in the recovery of PTSD, it isn’t always so.  

PTSD sufferers have it in their heads that all people are bad and so much so, that we feel the need to shield our emotions even more from further attacks.  All I can ask for friends of friends with mental health disorders is to be patient and don’t pack your bags just yet.  Please understand that our emotions are barren at the moment.  I have some ways that you can show your steadfastness as a friend, that will help build up our confidence:

  • mail a letter of encouragement;
  • send a quick text to say hi;
  • post a funny meme to your friend’s social media page;
  • send encouraging quotes or greeting cards; and
  • stick around!

It will get better! I promise.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. caressa walker

    Wow so powerful! I am so sorry that you went through a phase where you did feel support! Be blessed!!!

  2. Jean

    Wow just WOW! No kidding on the friends who are “Lifers” vs the others. I’m thankful for your friends who are “Lifers” 💜

  3. Mary

    PTSD is such a terrible disease. One that so many people suffer with, and suffer alone. Prayers to all who suffer from PTSD.

    1. Kimberley

      It’s an amazing feeling when you have friends who will stand by you and support you in your lowest moments. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  4. Carletta Shannon

    Your post is a very important and powerful message to those who are suffering. PTSD makes it very difficult to carry on relationships with others. You are blessed to have Lifers who support you and who clearly have compassion. More people need to understand the challenges of those who have PTSD. Thanks for using your voice to educate others.

  5. Kris

    Here I am again! Yes, after isolating….you find out who your “lifers” are! I had someone tell me that had I shared with her what was going on with me, she would have been there. 🤔. That’s a mighty strong statement to make AFTER my “crisis” point. I have found that I would rather have a small circle of
    caring friends that understand when I’m quiet than a big circle of “friends” than just want to know what’s going on. Stay with the small pack❤️

  6. Phylecia M

    What a powerful review and statement. I’m sure this was difficult to write. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Stephanie

      I appreciate that, Phylecia! Thank you for stopping by.

  7. Friends and social bonds are so important. So many of my students seemed bereft without being able to go to school to see their friends this spring. Thank you for the reminder of how important it is to maintain contact even when friends seem to be pushing us away. You never know how much a card, text, or phone call will mean.

    1. Stephanie

      Yes, you are SO right, Tracy! I encourage my eldest son daily to check in on his friends. I hope that the pandemic will be a monumental teaching moment for children and what it means to be a friend.

  8. idara Joy

    This post highlights one of the effects of the pandemic. Where children were unable to socialize and build upon the bond they share with their friends at school. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Stephanie

      Yes, Idara, you are absolutely correct! Not only can this story relate to isolation symptoms of PTSD, it also relates to mandated isolation due to COVID! Thank you for pointing that out.

  9. Monica Tatomir

    Your post is so powerful and hopefully will offer encouragement and hope to all those who have PTSD. I am happy you have Lifers around you, and can only say that you offer a strong voice for those who are in a similar situation.

  10. Navina

    Wow !!! What a read !! It’s a powerful statement. Stay blessed

  11. Christina

    Wow! I love this book!💖 But, your post is an in-depth, accurate, analysis on the meaning of friendship especially during this difficult time when more people are being diagnosed with PTSD. Thank you for enlightenment. The people who love us no matter what are rare and precious. Reciprocate when you can, and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. Powerful lesson.💖

  12. Lisa Marie Alioto

    Wow – what a great article and really hits home about PTSD. Such an important story to share!

  13. Laura

    I think you hit the nail on the head about trusting other people. Sometimes they come through for you, and sometimes they don’t. When they do, it makes you feel worthy of being helped and most of all, unloads that weight that you were planning to carry all by yourself. It’s our community culture that has led humans to where they are, and I think we all need to be more aware of when and how to help those who need it. Great post!

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