Monophobia is also commonly known as autophobia and is defined as the fear physically alone, ignored, or isolated. 1 It goes deeper than a child like fear of the dark.
It can drive people to isolate themselves even though they are terrified of being alone because the thought of someone else forcing them into isolation for whatever reason causes their heart beat to rise.
Growing up, I was never really alone much. I was an only child for six years but I was always with my parents. When I moved away to college, the reality of how extremely lonely college life is struck me hard.
My dorm room turned into a prison cell. Most nights the realization of how alone I was would send me into a restless night's sleep dominated by sleep paralysis.
I had friends. I had a boyfriend who loved me more than I could ever imagine. I had an awesome roommate.
So why was my mind consumed with thoughts of isolation and secludedness?
Even when I was not physically alone, I still felt the anxiety of being alone. Monophobia is tricky because it leads you to believe that what you need is to be around people and friends while what you really want is to feel accepted and loved.
Surrounded by a group a friends, monophobia whispers that those people can't actually be your friends and love you for who you are.
Ironically, I had to seclude myself to battle these lies. The nights seemed longer, the days seemed shorter, and time I spent with my friends seemed meaningless as I went to war with the thoughts in my head.
Sometimes I felt like I finally had won and I wouldn't need to worry anymore about facing my fears in a fit of sleep paralysis. The very next night I would wake up crying from the horrors of what reached out to me in my dreams.
I learned to intentionally put every fear behind me before I went to bed and instead focus on the good things God had done for me that day. I would pray with tense muscles and sweaty palms that I didn't have to encounter those horrors again that night.
Eventually, the sleep paralysis episodes became scarce. My mind seemed to think clearer now that I was not focusing on my fear of being alone.
I have never been more alone than I am at college. There are still days when I seclude myself because the idea that a failed conversation with a classmate means I can't function in society lingers in the back of my mind.
However, I am stronger than my mind leads me to believe and I am able to stop those thoughts before they can sprout into anything else.
Monophobia means having the fear of being alone but that does not mean you have to live that way.