Thoughts on Depression

I tend not to post when I’m depressed. Not because I’m trying to isolate myself–I’m not.

Perhaps it is a symptom of the depression, or perhaps it’s just pragmatism. I figure it’s not interesting unless you’re directly effected by it. My boyfriend? Sure, he wants to know what I’m thinking because it matters to our life together. My mom? Of course. ‘Cause she’s my mom. The handful of friends I talk to on a near daily basis? Yes. My therapist? Well, duh. Aside from that, I don’t normally feel the need to tell people.

There was an interaction that happened over and over again when I was at Fogcon. Some friend I hadn’t seen in a while would start pressing me to come hang out. Meet their kids, meet their new SO, see their new place…  Really pressing. Not in an unkind way. But very emphatic. And I was trying to politely decline, and it just wasn’t working so finally I simply said, “I’ve been depressed lately. I don’t have the bandwidth.”

At which point, the other person would immediately back off. Most were incredibly solicitous and tried to talk with me about my depression and where it was coming from. And I appreciated that, though I didn’t really want to talk about it. And this pattern happened over and over again. Which made me wonder why we think it’s okay to attempt to press people into social interaction. Why is that the default? Why do we suddenly respect a boundary *only* when someone reveals an illness?

I felt like I was doing something wrong in telling people I was depressed. I did it anyway, because I also am in a phase of forcing myself to be blunt, to counteract my usual people-pleasing, conflict-avoiding ways (I’ve been in this phase for two years, and man, it’s hard but worth it). I’m thinking most depressed folks wouldn’t be able to say it. So they’d continue getting socially pressured. And continue feeling trapped. And have no escape. And then be even less willing to go out and interact with groups of people. Thus reinforcing isolation.

I’m lucky. My community is one where people make an effort to understand depression, or social anxiety, or introversion. Also one that doesn’t tend to stigmatize these things. Many communities aren’t. At least people backed off with me once I told them I was depressed. I can’t imagine the nightmare of dealing with people who don’t get it and won’t back off.


2 Responses

  1. Ahhh, social pressure. It’s a tough nut to crack. I feel you on this one… I quite hate social pressure. But I also hate letting people down. It’s hard.

  2. Thank you for the insight.

    As I learned it, pushing people into social interactions tends to fall under a) blind pattern following, e.g. when you don’t get what you want bargain for it, or b) good peer pressure (like the kind that is used to help people to church) rather than the bad peer pressure ( like the kind that starts the smoking and drinking down by the 7/11 ). Their hearts may be in the right place. They simply lack enough knowledge to understand that they are not helping.

    I like the solution you found; A reasonable cadre.

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