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I Am Somehow a Hikikomori

I first learned about Hikikomori when I watched Welcome to the NHK way back in 2006. It resonated with me more than any work of fiction I have seen before, after, or since. At that point in my life, I had dropped out of college, given up looking for a job, and was literally living in my parents' basement playing Runescape and watching anime all day. Just counting down the days until I could move in with my online boyfriend and get away from my father.

I moved across the country to be with him. He supported me and I barely left the house. I am not proud of who I was in that time of my life. I withdrew completely. I hardly socialized even online. I didn't call my family nearly as much as I should have. I disconnected from most of my support network.

I was not happy.

I didn't grow as a person for close to 11 years.

I was in a relationship where I wasn't happy. I was comparing myself to his success while I had nothing. The inequality made for some unhealthy dynamics between us. I was afraid to be myself. I was a shell of a person.

There was some personal stuff going on that I don't really want to elaborate on here. But ultimately, I had to make a change in my life. I left the relationship. Moved back in with my parents. Got a job and moved out on my own.

Even though I work a full time job where I am constantly interacting with people, even though I support myself and get out regularly, I still consider myself a recovering hikikomori.

I still have days when I dread the thought of going outside or talking to another person. The anxiety doesn't go away. It lessens, but it comes back in waves. Sometimes I think I should seek out medication to help, other times I go months without it being an issue. Regular exercise, a consistent sleep schedule, and healthy eating help immensely. And constant exposure to the things I fear most remind me that it's not so bad.

But occasionally, usually in the winter, life feels like too much, and I just want to hole up and shut everyone and everything out.

Even though I have reintegrated into society, I feel that my time as a hikikomori will always be a part of my identity.
masterofyou · 70-79, M
Sorry this happened to you, do you feel some how this is an addiction???
Olivine · 31-35
@masterofyou Never really felt like it was an addiction. There's nothing really I'm consistently attached to. I mean I get obsessions from time to time but then I get bored of them. Like I'll spend a lot of time online for awhile and then I'll get bored of it and I won't. Or I'll spend a lot of time playing a game, then I'll get bored of it and just forget about it. I have wondered if the cycle of obsession and apathy may be symptomatic of something like bipolar disorder but I have not sought professional help (even though honestly I know I should. I just get really overwhelmed going to new places, talking to new people, and taking on additional responsibilities).

The thing that is consistent is the sense of wanting to avoid things that make me feel overwhelmed. And lots of things make me feel that way. Going to new places. Talking to people that are new to me or really different from me. Feeling like I'm in the way or bothering people. Changes to my routines or plans. Even things like having to take a different route to the store because of a road closure. Trying to find parking downtown. Making my way through a crowd. Having to renew my driver's license. And especially bigger things like moving or taking on new responsibilities at work.

It's like I have a meter for how much stress I can handle before I just break down. Some things wear it down faster than others. And if I do something enough it gets to the point where it doesn't get to me as much anymore. But I feel like new stimuli overwhelms me a lot more than it does most people. And I feel like I have a lower capacity for dealing with changes to my environment and my routine than the average person. And when it gets to be too much, I just shut down. Sometimes it's an outward expression and I'll start freaking out, crying and talking really fast. Other times it's an inward expression, and I'll stop talking at all and my mind just kind of separates from the world and I just go through the motions of the bare minimum to get by like some sort of zombie.

So I don't know exactly what's wrong with me. I think it's different from an addiction. I've got coping mechanisms, and if I take changes in my life slowly I manage to get by. And when I crash these days I can still manage to do my job and pay my bills, even if sometimes things like cleaning and car maintenance get put off for far longer than they should until I'm feeling better.
masterofyou · 70-79, M
@Olivine I guess it is like bipolar but you aren't the only one that goes through what you wrote... I too go through this... I'm my wife's care giver we have been married 45 years she has had Multiple Sclerosis for 43 years... So I know anxiety.... With her it is a battle just to think what will be next for her... I wake up in the early morning just to have my mind playing games with me knowing what am I doing wrong and I'm not getting things done, my brain is playing the "what if" game... When I can't take it anymore I get up and start to do things to make it go away.. So I can understand a little at what you go through....
Olivine · 31-35
@masterofyou Yeah. Everyone has their own struggles. Your life sounds difficult and I am sorry you and your wife have to go through that.

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