Shared Experience?

I often find myself feeling closer to people who have had similar experiences as I have.  To be sure, some of that is simple human nature: People tend to like others who are similar to themselves, and when we’re talking about things that are a large part of who we are–whether we would like them to be or not–that emotion is strengthened.

But for me, I think it is more.  I was musing about it the other day when I realized that part of me is looking for understanding.  I have been depressed, chronically and acutely.  I have been, and am, socially isolated.  I am not comfortable around people I don’t know and I avoid those kinds of interactions–which is an interesting Catch-22 (how do you get to know people you avoid because you’re uncomfortable about not knowing them?).  

In turn, my social skills are essentially nonexistent.  I can communicate well, especially in writing and especially anonymously (hi Internet!), but I avoid the interactions.  I don’t do the things normal people do.  The Friday before Memorial Day, we were debating closing the office early.  One of my co-workers asked if I was going to come with if they went out for drinks, something I had turned down two or three times before.  “You don’t have to drink,” she said, “just socialize.”  But I still turned it down.  If I got off early I was going to go home and… I don’t know, be alone I guess.  

That’s not who I want to be, but it’s who I am.  And so something I think I need in a friend, a reason I am so attracted to people who have had similar experiences, is understanding.  Understanding why I am who I am and how I am, naturally, but also understanding when to push and try to get me outside my comfort zone, yet also understanding when to back off and they’re pushing for something I am not in a position emotionally to give.  

It’s a tough balancing act and a lot to ask.  Why would any friend want to deal with my shit?  Why would anybody want that responsibility and that burden?  For somebody like me, who has no particular self esteem, it’s an even tougher question than it would be under otherwise identical circumstances.  But then again that’s not the point of this post, is it?

Perhaps this is part of the reason I find making friends to be so hard: I need too much.  I’m not sure it even enters my head to reach out to people who don’t fit that criteria, and I honestly don’t even know if that is a good thing or a bad thing; the last thing I need in my life is to open up to another friend who realizes later that I am more headache than I am worth, so perhaps this kind of “pre-screening” might be appropriate.  

Who knows.  If I had answers this blog probably wouldn’t exist.  I’m just a guy struggling with a lot of questions and self-analysis and trying to muddle through them out loud.

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On Reaching Out

This is not one of my self-directed rants, as I suggested would be the blog’s focus.  It probably will, and I ended up writing one of those today as well.  But rather, I want to muse briefly on the difficulty in reaching out.

I feel strongly that I am a small push in either direction from salvation or decimation.  My main issue is that I am simply lonely, that I am unable to see any worth in myself that others might find endearing.  A friend–a real friend–might be a push sufficient to turn everything around.  Lack of it, or any number of other negatives might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

There are people I like, who I would love to be friends with, but I can’t reach out to them.  Why?  First of all I don’t like the weakness, but if it was just a matter of making myself look like precisely the kind of fool I am that wouldn’t be a hindrance.  

Rather, I refuse to burden them with my shit.  I tried that once.  I had a friend who made me feel safe, who made me feel like I could share my burden, and I did.  It didn’t take overly long for him to realize that I was more trouble than I was worth, however, and I got thrown to the curb like a sack of trash.  That is a lesson I did not fail to learn.  More than that, though, it’s simply not fair.  “I can’t handle this so uh — here, you do it.”  No.  That’s not fair, and it’s not something to do to somebody who I’m claiming I want to be friends with.

More importantly, the only way a friendship matters, the only way it can have any kind of positive effect, is if it is genuine — and I believe that it is genuine.  It can’t be because somebody pities me.  That’s not going to work for anybody.  

That makes what should be a simple thing, what probably is a fairly simple thing for the Normals out there, a rather tall order.  When you have no idea what you might have to offer people how can you offer it?  “Do you want to be my friend” might have worked in Kindergarten but its time has passed.  Unfortunately my social skills have not matured much beyond that.

So I reach out, kind of half way.  I just kind of float shit out there: “Something wrong?  If you need somebody to talk to I’m around.”  Essentially offering friendship and hoping that if they take me up on it that there might be a reciprocation at the end (not a reciprocation of an offer to let me bitch; I am over that, as I said).  Needless to say it does not go well.  Yet it is also as far as I have an ability to go.

Yay.

A Hearty Hello

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

What, you ask, is this blog all about?  As you probably guessed from the title, the blog’s focus is dysthymia–a chronic, mild form of depression often punctuated by brief bouts of major depressive episodes.  According to Wikipedia, in addition to the chronic depressive qualities, dysthymia presents as low drive, low self-esteem and a low capacity for pleasure.  My photo is not yet next to the definition, but it may as well be.

However, I am not a doctor.  I do not feel qualified to talk about dysthymia as a disease.  I have also not been officially diagnosed, because I lack the strength to actually admit the problem and seek help.  You will find that to be a recurring theme.  Through all this, though, I am quite certain that I do suffer from it.  In fact, I have been suffering through it for almost 20 years.  And let me tell you: It is exhausting.

Just talking about the condition and how it affects me might be interesting, but it is not the route I have chosen to go.  Rather, I have chosen to publish some of my musings (for lack of a better term).  Periodically, when I am hit with a particularly dark period, I essentially rant against myself in writing as a form of catharsis.  These writings are never actually shown to anybody; many times they are deleted immediately after they are finished.  Now I am going to share them with the world, to illustrate exactly how dark and how dangerous this “mild” form of depression can be.

In order to accomplish this, in order to provide the most open possible glimpse into my head, some details are going to need to be changed.  I will be writing this blog anonymously.  Insofar as I believe that certain details may serve to identify me, I will alter or remove them.  If I feel that other peoples’ names should be changed if I need to talk about them, I will change those as well.  However do understand that they are in no way embellished, they are in no way manufactured — they are, in short, nothing but a raw glimpse into a diseased mind.

If you want to see the toll 20 years of depression takes, you’re in the right place.