I’m noticing something about the cycles of how I run my life….
I have times where I’m feeling more confident in who I am and I reach out to others and try to interact. I book to do interviews online or I make coffee dates with friends. I comment more on Facebook. I write more. I talk more.
For a while the reaching out ends up boosting my confidence. I like that I reach out. I like that I’m trying to interact with the world. I like who I am and I want to share that self with the world.
However, the more I let myself be myself, the more I move just slightly out of sync with the world. I pursue my crazy passions and bubble over with excitement about them. I let myself think those thoughts that are slightly rude because they question things other people accept as normal. I question things.
Sooner or later being myself ends up leading to me recognizing the ways I am out of sync with the world. Sometimes someone reacts badly, but sometimes I just notice the disconnect on my own. I start to feel uncomfortable. Like a hurt animal, I withdraw.
I want to hide away. I feel embarrassed about who I am. I start to worry that the person I am is somehow awful, that I blunder as I do.
I hide away, but it isn’t a comfortable hiding away. It is a sense of rejection. I desperately want to reach out to other people but I’m scared to do so. I’m scared that doing so will make me look needy or weak. I’m scared to try to talk because it feels like the only thing I can think of or potentially talk about is how messed up I am.
In this stage, where I’m hurt or needy, the posts I see online about depression hurt. I see all these memes about how people are there for those who are depressed and how they’d be there for their friends. And I’m sitting there thinking “where are you?” And maybe I do reach out or maybe I don’t, because depression is a long lasting thing and I’m scared to involve others in it. I think “all those people who say they’re there for their depressed friends don’t realize how big a job that is!”
Sometimes I do reach out. I admit how I’m doing. Sometimes people are supportive. Sometimes. Sometimes I get nothing but awkward silence and the relationship becomes strained. So I learn not to reach out.
The Problems with Reaching Out
Reaching out when one needs help is really, really hard. You put yourself out there, and what if the others don’t respond? What if they offer just a little help and act like that should be enough and you know it should be enough but it really isn’t because… yikes.
Reaching out is a problem because we know everyone is really, really busy. It’s hard to ask others for help when you know they probably don’t really have time for it.
Reaching out when one needs help is hard because it can change how people see you, and no one wants to be seen as weak or needy, and there’s still so much stigma about being depressed or anxious. There’s lots of memes and stuff about how we’re supposed to break the stigma and not feel embarrassed, but the embarrassment is still there. People are still more willing to talk about how others should speak out admit to mental health problems than they are willing to admit to their own mental health problems, because doing that is still embarrassing and stigmatized!
There’s still this weird message out there that being depressed or talking about the depression is just self-centered naval-gazing, like I should just make the choice to not be depressed. We can make that choice over and over and still be depressed and then feel like somehow it’s our fault for not making that choice right.
Stopping the Cycle
I think the key for stopping the cycle is somehow going to be accepting the awkward person that I am. I think it is going to have been plunging ahead with the contact with others, even when I feel out of sync. I have to believe that being the awkward person who says the wrong thing is still ok. I have to believe that I’m still worthwhile, even at the times I feel least able to be normal.
I remember hearing someone talk long about how polite society is like a rock tumbler, where we get our edges knocked off so we’re smooth and can interact nicely. In some ways I still believe that. I believe in letting our sharp edges get knocked – I don’t agree with those who say, for example, that they should get to swear and yell and throw fits wherever they want just because hey, they want to express themselves. I believe we should let others opinions and thoughts influence us.
But I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible for me to get my rough edges knocked off without crumbling completely into dust. Maybe I have to just go ahead and be a sharp pointy rock that’s uncomfortable to be around at times. I’m going to question and challenge things. I’m going to be awkward. I’m going to say the wrong thing. I’m going to talk too much sometimes and not enough other times. I’m going to say things and then think “yikes! I shouldn’t have said that.” I’m going to want to talk about the wrong topics. I’m going to do that lots.
I don’t know how to do this, but I want to try.
Writing this post is about part of saying to myself that even when I’m in the worst shape, I’m still worth being and it’s okay for people to see me like this.