I've never understood why solitary confinement is used as a punishment.*
It's that time of year when the parents of year six children troop around their local secondary schools assessing to which they should apply for their precious darlings.
There always seems to be an almost unhealthy glee in the voices of the teachers as they point out the isolation unit, where disruptive children are sent as a punishment. There those children have to do their school work, alone, and in absolute silence, under the strict eye of a member of staff to see that they don't just kick back in their chair and stare vacantly into space. Apparently it works very well.
When we visited one such unit with my eldest daughter, three years ago now, I could see the gleam in her eye. "Mummy," she whispered as we left, "Do you think they'd let me go to the isolation unit without me being naughty?"
You see for her, as for me, the concept of being left alone, in peace and quiet, to get on with our work, with the built-in discipline of a watcher, is alluring indeed.
Real people are scratchy, they are distracting and demanding, they are emotionally needy, they take our energy when we need all that energy for ourselves.
Not always of course. My daughter is socially poised and confident, she works well with others. Most people cannot possibly believe I am an introvert; the life and soul of the party is what they see. Most of the time we have energy enough to give away. We enjoy giving it away. We like being with others.
But, oh, we love to be alone. When I'm down at the bottom of my bi-polar cycle it's a necessity. I just can't cope with people.
I know I'm not alone (ha ha) in this. One of my friends likens her withdrawal to being in her fortress with the drawbridge up and the moat well stocked with piranha.
I would ideally stock my fortress with a computer and the internet and an e-reader. But just pencil and paper will do. Or even nothing at all.
Because whereas real people are a distraction, the people in my head are a delight.
You're never alone with a good book. Even if it's one you're writing yourself.
A Moodscope member.
* And please – yes, I know solitary confinement is a severe punishment for most people, that it is over-used in our prisons and causes psychological stress and damage and that the rates of recidivism are higher for prisoners subjected to this. This hopefully light-hearted post expresses my own very personal point of view only.