How My Depression Makes Me Feel Awkward in Social Situations
It’s the pink elephant in the room. It’s the black cloud that covers me everywhere I go, and I feel it, even if others don’t. I’d like to be able to forget about it. Sometimes I try to pretend it isn’t there, but it’s sneaky and strong and always finds a way to make its presence known. What is it?
How does my depression manifest itself in social situations? Well, it happens in several different ways. Some of those ways are blunt, while others run the gamut from mildly noticeable to quite subtle. The determining factors are my current mood and the comments other people make. The more nervous I feel, the more likely I am to blurt out something that is much closer to the blunt side of things. For example, at a cookout with people I’d just met, I told them I’d recently been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I knew they were aware I had depression, so I felt it was best to “clear the air” and see if they would still like to be my friends, even after knowing the full details of my “dirty little secret.” Also, I have a dark sense of humor and will sometimes make jokes about depression at my own expense. I can tell it makes others uncomfortable, but I keep doing it anyway. It’s as if I am testing them to see if they truly care enough about me to stick around for the duration. My level of bluntness is directly proportional to the amount of nervousness or perceived judgment I feel.
Sometimes I’m around people who don’t know I battle depression or that I was hospitalized for a near suicide attempt. They will say things about “crazy” people or “lazy” people who refuse to “just snap out of it,” or they will talk about some “selfish” person who took his own life. Then I give them quite an earful, which, in all actuality, they deserve. Yet still, it makes for an awkward situation. I end up being the one who makes people uncomfortable, yet again.
Then there are the times when I’m with friends or at a social event in which I don’t talk at all. Even though people try to have a conversation with me, I find it too difficult to converse back. This happens on days when fighting my depression has gotten the best of me, and it’s taken all my energy to just get out of the house. When people try to talk to me, and I don’t really talk back, well, let’s just say that makes for some very awkward silences.
On my worst days, I turn down invitations to go places. That’s when I find it too exhausting to fight the depression and also keep up appearances. This leads to isolation, which only makes things worse when I finally do go out again. Plus, if you keep turning down invitations, eventually people quit extending them.
Being socially awkward as a result of my depression has been difficult and painful. It has cost me some friendships. Sometimes it makes me hate who I’ve become. I am working on it though, through therapy and with the love and support of the family and friends who have stood by me. I am learning to be patient with myself, and I am also learning to reach out to others who appear to be struggling. I’ve gained empathy for other people, and that’s all I ask for myself as well. After all, I feel awkward in dealing with my own depression sometimes, and I could use a friend.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via IG_Royal.