I have come to the conclusion that I am one of the most inept persons in social situations that ever existed. When I talk about social situations, I mean any platform which requires interaction with other persons in any capacity, whether it is work colleagues, family/friends, via social media or just mingling with Joe Public down town. My lack of ability in the social stakes has been in gradual decline for the past few years, some of it conscious some of it not. What I am aware of is that it predominantly stems from my uphill struggle with depression and highlights my total intolerance of certain situations. It results in a lot of anger, both at myself and at people. I have a constant cauldron of anger bubbling away inside of me. It’s not very nice. In fact I hate it. And I don’t know how to deal with it or get rid of it. It also brings into the equation a lot of self doubt because I’ve lost perspective on whether the anger I feel at people is justified or not. But that’s the problem with depression – you totally lose perspective and the ability to rationalise things. I am at this state. And all it does is increase the anger in myself at being unable to sort the problem.
I try to treat people as I would like to be treated myself. I am an avid believer in the mantra ‘behaviour breeds behaviour’. But I am constantly disappointed because I am realising that this mantra is not reciprocated and it is one of the big issues which fuels my cauldron of anger.
I have a circle of ‘friends’ that I have know for in excess of 11 years now. I met this circle of friends following the birth of my son and I so desperately needed it following a nasty bout of post natal depression (lesson number 1, never be desperate!). When my son started school 7 years ago, I had a very quick decline into depression again which was partly self inflicted due to weaning myself totally off the happy pills, plus I turned 40 years old, and was giving my son away to full time education. Whether due to the depression, or due to real situations, I started to get niggling doubts regarding my relationship with this circle of ‘friends’. The routine of school life invariably did not fit in with meeting up for our weekly tea and cake resulting in my not being able to join them more often than not. I’m hoping that I was still fairly level headed and realistic at the time and, consequently, realised that things would change now my son was at school, as is life in general. But I was hoping for some cognisance of my dilemma and a bit of meeting me half way. Unfortunately, other than a few cursory comments over not seeing me/my son as often, this didn’t happen. And I readily admit that I was miffed. I felt neglected and left out. So in true Anthea style, I let them get on with it and withdrew. And spent many a day wallowing in self pity. I’m pleased to say I eventually bit the bullet and went to the doctor who put me back on happy pills and arranged counselling. I subsequently got a job as a dinner lady at my son’s school for a bit of pocket money, assisted with school trips and events, and met a couple of new friends. Eventually I started socialising again with this particular circle of friends when we could such as during school holidays or for special occasions. But I distinctly felt that things had shifted and, for one reason or another, we were losing commonality. Our lack of commonality continued to become more apparent over the years. We continued to meet when possible but I often found myself sitting there drinking my tea and not being part of the conversations due to not having the same school/nursery circle. I invariably did not know the people or children they were talking about. Their children shared the same school/year whereas my son was a year ahead so I didn’t have like experiences or issues to talk about. This is nobody’s fault. I don’t blame anyone. It’s very usual for people to discuss common views, and they were more than happy to fill me in if I asked. But I soon realised that what they had in common was always going to dominate the conversation and I became hyper-sensitive to this and the fact that I couldn’t contribute or join in. And it really hit me with force when I realised my son felt the same.
Roll on to more recent years, and I haven’t seen this circle of friends for a fair number of months now. I’ve got almost a phobic feeling about meeting up with them. And one of the big reasons for cutting myself out of this group? I’m not a forgiving person. My son received notification of his secondary school a year ago. Only one member of this particular group of friends asked me what school he had got. Bearing in mind how controversial and quite stressful the allocation of school places is in this competitive day and age, this was quite an important event for me and my son. Yet only one of them was kind enough to enquire. In fact, one particular individual actually had the audacity to comment that she didn’t know what school my son was going to in excess of 3 months after he started at secondary! I don’t expect to be asked about all aspects of my life or for us to live in each other’s pockets. We’ve all moved on to a certain extent, got jobs, mix in other social circles, etc. But I expected more from ‘friends’ I’ve known for over 11 years. It doesn’t take 2 minutes to send a quick email asking how things are. Despite this, I still wish them all the best with the allocation of school places for their children this year – an issue which I’m sure will have been discussed in great detail between them because they’re now going through it……… But I’m buggered if I’m going to ask them! Hence my mantra, behaviour breeds behaviour.
I hate Facebook. In the past year I’ve closed my old Facebook account and opened a new one with very minimal ‘friends’ because I was getting so upset at the number of friends who ‘liked’ posts of mutual friends but never ‘liked’ the occasional post I put on. In fact it’s still going on despite the fact I’ve got less than 70 friends on Facebook. Why do people do this? Why do we join such social media and leave ourselves wide open to rejection and inferiority? Facebook is so socially alienating and destructive, yet I make myself so angry by persisting in going into it numerous times a day! Fortunately, other than Twitter, it’s the only social media site I go into. And I have very few followers on Twitter which suits me fine because I’ve realised I prefer the anonymity of strangers who can’t emotionally affect me. Social media just highlights the fickleness of friendships.
I am a depressive. I’m always questioning the purpose of life. I don’t think there is a purpose in life most of the time if I’m honest. Such realisation would generally encourage a more optimistic person to make the most of life because it is so short. But when you’re in a continuous cycle of depression, its very easy to become so self absorbed that you cannot stop the turning and you spiral down even further instead. I’m not in the pits of depression……if I was I would reach my life long dream of weighing 8st 12lb (the one positive of my depression is that it is generally better than weight loss surgery for me!). But I currently seem to be balancing on the edge of that pit and I’m getting worn out.
A significant effect of my current state of mind is that I become a reclusive. This has been getting progressively worse over the last couple of years. I find it easier to be by myself because I find that socialising leaves me wide open to hurt and rejection. I am happy with my own company. I have a few people I hold dear, including my son and husband, my mum and mum-in-law, and a couple of very close friends. Where is the incentive to increase my close knit circle when I invariably get shit upon from a great height?
I joked recently with my mum and a good friend that I should work in a morgue/undertaker’s. The irony is that I seriously think dealing with dead people would actually suit me…….they can’t talk back for f*** sake! And who knows…….it might actually help my phobia of dying.
Unfortunately my husband feels that my reclusive nature is not healthy which is one of the reasons he feels I should get a job. I don’t agree with him. I get a job to serve basic needs in life such as paying the bills. That’s it. I am currently on a career break and evaluating my options. And I am massively enjoying it. Plus no jobs have come up in the local funeral parlour as yet and despite a a new crematorium being built on the outskirts of Gravesend!
So where do I go from here? I don’t know. But I do know there’s such a thing as cause and effect. If you don’t hear from me there is a reason. If I’ve become a hermit, there is a reason. If you’re not a friend on my Facebook, there is a reason. And if you think I’m giving you a hard time, believe me, I’m giving myself just as much of a hard time!!