The other day, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and I saw a tweet that got me thinking more about my depression more than I ever had before. It said, in essence, that depression isn’t being perpetually sad. It’s being continually numb. That definitely hit me hard, as I’d never sat back and evaluated exactly how I felt or how it might be affecting the relationships in my life. I know that I’d never really had a long-term romantic interest, but I never thought to connect that to my mental health.
I started to really dig into the crevices of my mind, looking for a clue about how to describe the way I feel — should someone ask. The only thought I could muster was “numb”. The word bounced around my head like a ping-pong ball, overpowering my underlying feelings. The tweet had captured it perfectly. Looking back on past friendships and almost-but-not-quite-relationships, it was now clear as day what the problem had been all along — my depression was keeping me from having a social life.
People Doubt That I Care About Them
It’s hard to wake up everyday and decide, “I’m going to hang out with so-and-so today”, and actually stick to that plan. It sounds great when you first think it, and even better when you imagine how great the day could go. But actually getting up out of bed to follow through, at least for me, is one of the hardest tasks that I face in my life. More often than not, I end up bailing on plans last minute or coming up with an excuse not to go.
Oh, and it’s not just agreeing to and going through with social actions that are a problem for me — no. It can be sending a simple text. A friend could text me “hey”, and I simply won’t have what I call the “social energy” to respond. Sometimes, I’m so deep in a relapse that looking at my phone, and seeing unanswered messages there brings me to tears. The stress and heartbreak of feeling like I’m disappointing friends can be debilitating.
That unhealthy behavior pattern convinces most of my friends that I don’t want to be bothered, which causes them to respond with distance. Soon, I assume that he or she must hate me, so I push myself further into a shell of isolation.
Now, if you were to put yourself into my friends’ shoes, how do you think you’d feel? Like I was giving you the cold-shoulder for no apparent reason? Like you’re not a priority in my life, and that I’m intentionally ghosting on you? You’d be wrong, but I wouldn’t blame you. I would know that you have no way of understanding why I’m being so nonchalant about our relationship all of a sudden.
I’m Almost Always Too Apathetic To Invest In New Relationships
Another hard part about life with depression is that I’m almost always socially drained. I’m usually too disinterested in my peers, or social surroundings, to actually engage. This causes me to regularly miss out on meeting new people, and if I’m being honest, I don’t mind.
The apathy that comes with depression erases any motivation I have to step out of my little isolated shell of comfort. I think, “yes, I’m lonely, but what can others offer me that I can’t offer myself?”, because I just can’t see how people, hobbies, etc., can make me feel differently than how I feel right now — numb.
I can honestly say that this particular setback was enough to finally put me on a therapist’s sofa.
I Want To Be Closer To Friends and Family, But I Can’t Commit To Showing Up
Promising to go out with a friend on the weekend, or to visit my sister in her new apartment sounds so easy. Most people get invited and become giddy with excitement. For me though, it’s mostly just dread. I dread of having to get out of bed. Dread of getting dressed. Dread of leaving the house. But more than anything, I dread having to act like everything is okay. A lot of you with depression can relate to not wanting to answer, “what’s wrong?”, or, “why the long face”, the entire time you’re out. It’s endlessly draining.
I know my point of view in situations like this, but I can only imagine that my friends and family merely see that I never come out. I’m sure they assume that I don’t want to be bothered with them. I have strained relationships with a lot of my family members, and many of my friendships have faded away because of this. I want the people in my life to know how much I love them, but I just can’t show it in the way most people need to be shown.
At the end of the day, depression is nothing but a disease. It’ll only affects us for as long as we’re willing to let it go untreated. I’m currently in therapy, and working through the underlying issues that cause me to have these depressive relapses.
If depression is affecting your social life, or you notice it affecting a friend’s, don’t give up. There’s always time and plenty of resources to help you pull yourself out of that sink hole… trust me. It will get better. Your good friends will stick around. Your family will still love you when you are healthy enough to love them back. Stick in there.
Image credit: it’s me neosiam