One of the other big things that has knocked me on my ass during this whole fucktastic depression experience has been the loneliness and isolation I’ve felt throughout. I’ve spent nearly my entire life actively avoiding these two concepts. I’ve always been a social person. Even in high school, my entire reason for existence there wasn’t to learn about the American Revolution or the goddamned Alamo, it was to hang out and get drunk with my friends and go to parties where trashcans punch invariably got spilled on someone’s parents’ carpet. I dated a guy that was three years older for my entire high school career and, looking back, I wonder if part of the reason I stayed with him for so long is that dating someone who can buy booze for you and your friends provides a definite cachet in high school.
College was no different. I was all about making sure I was at every party that was ever belched forth from the basement of a frat house. I did keg stands. I got arrested. I made cigarette runs to Choctaw Indian Bingo across the state line to buy cigarettes in bulk for everyone and sold them at a profit. I dated our campus’s weed dealer. I loved being in the thick of it.
When I moved out to the Bay Area and worked my way through my twenties, I noticed that I seemed to collect friends more seriously than the average person. And I discovered that, as a result, I was somewhat of a connector. I LOVED getting friends from one group of friends with friends from a different group if I thought there was a reason they would love one another. I loved being the glue that was holding us bitches together.
When the pain started, of course my social life changed. Because of the pain, I literally wasn’t able to do a lot. By the end of each day, I was so exhausted from the simple act of coping with the pain. That was understandable. My friends understood what was going on and were sympathetic and supportive.
But even as I found relief from my pain and the symptoms subsided, I found that since the depression was hanging around like a fly in a Mexican restaurant, I was less eager to hang out with people than I used to be. Was it because I’d just gotten used to having NOTHING to talk about since my whole world had been consumed in pain? Had I forgotten how to be social? Had I turned so inward with all the pain the past couple of years that I was no longer able to connect with other people? Unable to have DNMs (deep n’ meaningfuls) wherein I revealed my innermost workings? I mean, most of my best conversations with my friends throughout my life had been sitting up, drunk, late at night, just spilling gut. Was I, literally, incapable of doing that anymore? Was it the Cymbalta that was preventing me from connecting with people on that level?
I found myself becoming increasingly bored with life. I realize that’s also a symptom of depression, but it didn’t keep me from blowing off engagement after engagement because I’d think “I dunno, we’re just gonna sit around a table and get drunk and have the same old conversations we always have.” At the time, I was becoming increasingly interested in politics. My friends were talking about sleep training and potty training and which pacifiers were the best, and I wanted to talk about the inequality in our economic system. In short, neither of us wanted to talk about the things the other wanted to talk about. And since I wasn’t talking about my feelings, then it didn’t leave much. I started feeling emotionally distant from everyone in my life. If I wasn’t, at least in some part, sharing what I was thinking or what was going on in my life, how was I supposed to feel a connection to the people in my life? Everything felt like small talk. And I knew it was my issue. My friends hadn’t suddenly become shallow assholes; I was the one with the problem(s).
So I’d make plans for my wife and I to hang out with friends then, the night of, I’d beg off and say I just didn’t feel like going, leaving my wife to go alone (which brought on a whole separate issue with us, of course, since she was sick of making up excuses for me). My bed was my Happy Place. All I needed was my big fluffy bed and my iPad. Send in a pizza every once and a while, and I could stay forever.
The problem is that, when you’re behaving in ways that are not inherently you, there’s a little voice inside your head that natters away behind everything else going on in your soupy, sludgy, depressed brain that says “Remember when you were someone who lived life to the fullest? Remember when you were traveling, meeting people, throwing parties, organizing weekends away? Remember when you weren’t just watching life sail by on an iPad? What the fuck is your problem, bitch?! Shake this shit off. Woman up! Get back in the game!” And suddenly my brain was like a bad football coach screaming at the clumsy nerd who doesn’t even want to be playing football except his dad made him.
So, ya know, that was fun.
And hence the life coach, this blog, meditation, fuck…anything that would help me get my mojo back. I’ve made some strides fighting depression with these things, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done, but I’d still be a much happier camper if I never had to leave my house, and that is just not okay. I haven’t found the magic bullet to scare away the self-imposed isolation. I’m not unhappy, per se, but mostly I wanna be left alone. And that is counterintuitive to all I am and the way I’d like to be leading my life. And I’m fucking stumped. How do you force yourself to be social? I need my friends and my wife–they ground me and make me feel connected to the planet. I mean, what is the entire purpose of life if not to make connections with other people? IT’S THE GODDAMNED MEANING OF LIFE, PEOPLE!!! And yet, here I sit, propped up by my pillows, iPad in my lap, listening to electronica, petting my cat, and feeling safe, excited by the prospect that we have no plans tonight which means we’ll stay in.
Any of you geniuses out there have an answer for this? I could sure use some help.