So I’ve had some time to work on this idea of experimenting with my depression, and I’m back from the field to report my findings! Non-scientific science-ho!
Finding the first: Nothing is simple.
That seems disgustingly trite when it’s written down. But let’s back up. I’ve got reason to type that.
I had a couple theories of what would make me better. One of them was fairly simple in theory: Being around other people would distract me and make it harder to feel bad. And I got the perfect opportunity to try it out, since by coincidence, a couple of friends came to stay with me for a few days.
On the first day it was great. I had actually gotten things done that day (cleaning the apartment pre-visitors) so I felt good about that progress. And they were only here for a couple hours before it was bed time. So I felt good, didn’t have down time to feel awful, and it seemed like the idea was a success.
Then the second day was good. I felt bad that I didn’t get enough done while they were there. I also managed to find new ways to beat myself up. Like feeling like I was a bad hostess, because we all sat around on our computers that evening. When we had games and conversation and things the night before! But I also couldn’t let myself fall apart while they were around, so I ended up functioning pretty well.
By the third day I was ready to burst. Even though I hadn’t consciously thought about it, I was suppressing the way I felt so I could appear to be fully functioning while my friends were around. And turns out I can’t do that without being totally stressed! So I got cranky and impatient. Which made me feel bad. Which made me crankier. You can see the cycle starting here, I’m sure.
We went to a party that night, which alternated between bad and great. I would start feeling awesome! I chatted with people and had some good food and enjoyed (finally!) being out of the house. And then I would feel separated from everyone, like I was just observing while everyone else enjoyed themselves. I felt invisible and inconsequential. I had to make a conscious effort to rejoin them, to say or do anything. And then it would pass and things would be better.
So on the whole I’m not sure if this ‘be around people’ thing is bad advice or good advice. Was it my introvert nature combining with the depression to pull me under? Or was it all the depression, cutting me off from things that normally make me feel good? I honestly can’t say.
If anyone else has tried this, did it help you? Do you experience similar things? Do you think being an extrovert or an introvert helps or harms you dealing with these issues?