I’m thrilled to introduce Charlotte, The Sunny Shadow’s first guest through open submissions. Charlotte runs the website and blog, How Humans Connect, where she’s trying to make meaningful/interesting conversations the rule and not the exception. To encourage this connection, Charlotte designed shirts with various “Ask me. . . ” and “Tell me. . . ” phrases written on them. They’re available for purchase on her website! –Thank you, Charlotte, for opening up and sharing part of your story with us. It’s an honor. *Show Charlotte some love, comment & share*
I have never been diagnosed as clinically depressed, so let that serve as a background reminder for this little account. However, I intermittently prefer not leaving my room for days on end, not talking to others, oscillating between feelings of worthlessness, paranoia, and heart pumping anxiety. So whatever you want to call it – that’s occasionally how I’ll feel.
At this moment, I am unemployed so it’s probably not particularly surprising I feel like a worthless, anxious pile of shit. Anyway, what has been surprising to me and perhaps others is how bad of a friend I am during this period when I most need them.
Missing Out on Events
I currently live with a friend from college and two other great roommates in a new city. Everyone’s been great at including me in things and whatnot. But occasionally, I go AWOL. This was pretty easy to do when I lived by myself, but unsurprisingly, missing your friend’s birthday party when it’s going on in the next room is kind of more difficult to explain.
But what can I say? I knew I should’ve come out if even just for a bit, but honestly I just didn’t want to. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I understand the event was a celebration for my friend and others are going through their own shit that they put away for the day, but I just couldn’t bear it. I don’t like pretending like things are fine and quite frankly I’ve been told I’m not very good at it anyway.
Not Caring About Others’ Problems
This seems bad, but I have more difficulty being empathetic to others’ issues when I’m in a funk. “Oh you had a hard day at work at the job you generally like?” I’m unemployed. Every day is hard and no one pays me anything! My ability to care is considerably downsized. I can recognize the difficulty others are going through, but I generally keep to myself that I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I’m not trying to make it some tit-for-tat contest on who has it worse, nor do I think I even have it the worst, but I just don’t have the mental capacity to care for others when I can’t quite care for myself.
Similarly to missing out on events, I just don’t want to answer any form of communication. I hole away in my room – purposely timing my exit for sustenance needs/bathroom duties to coincide when others are not likely to be around. Back in the confines of my room, I’ll read my texts and emails then promptly turn away and cuddle back underneath the covers.
Ironically, after all my purposeful ditching and disconnectedness, it’s difficult seeing others move on. I understand I am the one that has to make amends in order to move forward. But in the meantime, it’s hard hearing everyone have fun. I don’t want to be paranoid, un-empathetic, and selfish. But at this point, this is where I am. I take onus that my actions have an equal and opposite reaction. I understand unanswered texts soon turn into no texts. Both are disconcerting to me, but it doesn’t make things any easier. It sends me further into a pit of self-loathing and jealousy.
I hate that I can’t have the fun that’s right in front of me. I can’t have it until I make amends and I can’t make amends until I get out of bed and make a change. And that’s hard dammit when your bed is a comfortable memory foam perfectly adorned with various blankets and pillows.
At the same time I don’t want to apologize. I’m angry and vindictive of the happiness of others. It seems as though others do have it easier (in their ability to deal with stress) and any collateral pain my detachment inflicts feels as if it’s setting the world closer to a balance. My suffering is gaping, suffocating and pouring out the seams of how I experience life. It’s only fair others experience not only the highs of my joy, but the depths of my sorrow as well.
Where I’m at Now
Life is difficult when I feel this way. I’m tired of answering questions of how I am doing with “Pretty good! Things could be better, but I’ll get there.” I feel like it’s a lie. Besides, I’ve always hated life platitudes. The admission of “but it’ll get there” seems so false and disingenuous, because I’m not sure if things will get there. I’m drowning in self-doubt and frustration and don’t see an end in sight – even if I do find a “dream job.” I fear I’m one of those people who just doesn’t know how to compromise and be content. There’s always something better and I’ve always made a mistake that puts my goals just out of reach.
But alas no one wants to participate in a sad conversation that doesn’t end on a positive note, so someone invariably adds the “but it’ll get better.” At this point, I’ve realized who I am – good and bad – and the changes I need to make going forward. I can’t expect everyone to put up with my occasional shittiness, but I can explain it to them. I can work on my happiness the same way people work at school, a job or a beloved hobby. I try and say I can’t give up on myself until I consistently work on the five pillars of happiness that a random friend sent as a group challenge. I don’t know where it’s originally from and I’m not saying it’s the end all be all of how to get better, but it is something to focus on. It essentially has to do with re-framing how you view life and living more in the moment.
- Write three things you’re grateful for today.
Journal a positive experience that happened today.
Do mindfulness meditation.
Do something genuinely kind/thank someone for something today.
I’ll sigh, and turn over in bed. I’ll try not to give up until I’ve tried harder. Tomorrow will be another day to try.
I am admittedly young, naive, and just as lost and curious about the world as others. I created How Humans Connect in order to facilitate connection among others, share my voice and shed a light on important issues that aren’t given as much attention as I believe they should. When I’m not writing, I enjoy cycling, eating cookies, and the comfort of being with others. 🙂