Last night, I was reading something on the self-defeating things we do when we have depressive episodes. Today’s topic is isolating; one of the several things we do which seem to be contradictory to our desired outcome. I don’t know why people with depression do this, or more specifically me. Here’s what I do know, but it barely scratches the surface.
There’s a feeling inside that it’s not OK to be down, and that I can drag other people down. I read something yesterday where the person said, “you’re better off without me…I’m an inconvenience or nuisance to you”. Some truth there.
There’s a sense of looking for an external cause, and maybe it’s other people, so eliminate the “problem” by eliminating the person. Don’t take offence, I also see as potential external causes the things that used to bring joy: exercise, artistic pursuits, being in nature. Well, part of that is that there is that thinking about “should I go do this” makes me think, well, that’s not going to help. So I remove these things from my life too. But partly, I think, I, in my depressed state, see those pursuits as possibly the external cause for this feeling. A side effect of removing things that used to be pleasureful is that that it leads to further withdrawing from life, i.e. more isolation.
And having to face people who don’t understand, and can’t possibly understand, but who act as if they think they understand. Or worse yet, there’s the potential of getting criticism, even from friends. Criticism can take the form of a friend’s comments such as “If I have a positive attitude and take positive actions…. blah blah blah”. Preachiness is not welcome. At all. At least to me. Ever.
I know I’m excessively self-involved when in a depressive episode. It’s the nature of the beast… living inside my head. So a conversation with a friend may be too much about me, and really, I have a little trouble even hearing the problems of others during these times. That makes for a crappy friend, I think…. and so I avoid talking to people because I’m just involved in my own stuff.
And sometimes I just don’t feel like talking to anyone.
That’s not the half of why I isolate. I’m just speculating at some of this. I don’t know why I isolate. I think it’s just simply a symptom of depression.
The article went on to say that social support is one of the things that we MOST need in order to cope and get past this. So, armed with that knowledge, though my brain says, I just want to recede into the background when around people, I chose to make an effort today. Enough pushing people away. It’s gotta stop. Push hard enough, and they will go. So, despite what my depressed brain wants, I go and say hi, greet a few people. And you know what, I’m glad I did.
I was thinking the last few days, “I may not look like I want to be around people, make no attempt to acknowledge you, and even appear to ignore you, but it’s important that you are there, and it brings me a lot of comfort that you are just present.”. I can’t stress that enough. I said I can’t stress that enough.
What I don’t want is anyone offering solutions, because, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has anything that can help to the least. People may be well-meaning but the efforts, sometimes, are not helpful. The exception to this would be someone who has suffered from depression for decades and will continue to suffer from depression for decades.
I’m a little angry at these things I read that say “1 in 4 will suffer depression at some time…”. That’s not depression. That’s sadness. That’s grief. That’s loss. Yes, even if they are on medication for 2 years, they may think they qualify. Sorry. Not in my book. Different ballgame altogether. Too bad the word “depression” is so overused.
Here’s something I found in an article “Whenever I seem to want the most space is usually when I need the most support.”. Well support for me is a hug. That’s all. To me, this quote means, when I’m at my worst, that’s the time I need the feeling that people care.” I think the person who posted this said they didn’t want to hear “are you OK?”. I probably don’t either. But it’s important I know you are there for me, and will continue to be there, and that you are thinking about me. Usually, that can all be accomplished without saying anything. Sometimes less is more.
I edited the picture here, and removed some stuff that wouldn’t work for me, but I’ll leave you with what to say to someone depressed: