Depression is no fan of social gatherings, especially family get-togethers. There are times where I don’t show up at family get-togethers. I feel especially guilty when it’s a birthday, graduation, or any other kind of milestone. I am also afraid of the misconceptions people have of me when I don’t show up. But the truth is, I don’t want to feel guilty or ashamed anymore. I’m always trying to do what is best for me and my mental health. I always try and stay in control. I feel like I never get to explain why I hardly show up at family get-togethers, or why I’m so quiet and on my phone the whole time. So I decided to share my side of the story and settle all the misconceptions people have of me. Some truths may come across as harsh, but it depends how you look at it. My intention in this post isn’t to offend anyone, but to try and help people understand.
I love my family. I love spending time with everyone. I feel loved by them. I love seeing what everyone’s been up to. I love watching the kids play with each other. I love talking to the adults. I never ever want it to be assumed that I don’t like it, or that I don’t like my family because that’s not the truth. This is the truth: Depression hates social gatherings.
I have to put on a brave face. Fake a smile. Pretend life is going good. “How have you been?” “Good.” Which is the biggest lie ever. I have to turn into a whole different person the moment we walk through the door. It takes a lot of work.
You’d think being around people would be a distraction. But it’s the other way around; depression is the distraction. Depression makes it harder to enjoy things. I have to pretend to enjoy it. I feel uncomfortable trying to enjoy it. Then I feel horrible, guilty, and awkward for not having fun, even if no one can tell.
I often get social anxiety when I’m depressed and would just rather stay home. I don’t like having people coming up to me and talking to me. I feel pressured to keep up the conversation. And sometimes I feel like a burden because people try too hard to entertain me. There’s really no way to make me happy if you don’t even know that I’m upset.
Generally, writing and listening to music helps me feel better. It’s great that I have something to help me feel happy. I can’t do that in the middle of a get-together, in front of people. That would be rude. So I would rather stay home and do the things that make me happy. I’m most happy living a productive life, so if I’m working on something, chances are I won’t be happy if I stop, or I’ll continue to think about it and do it on my phone when I’m out.
When I’m depressed/struggling, I normally talk to my friends and they help. Like a go to person if I need help. Talking helps. It’s the only reason I am able to stay and be ok. If I didn’t, I’ll have anxiety, feel lonely, and the voices in my head will be screaming at me. So please don’t tell me to put my phone down or judge me for texting too much. I’m not texting for fun. I really try hard to limit my texting and enjoy the company but there are times where I can’t.
Sometimes when I’m supposed to be at a family get-together, I’m with friends instead. I’m more comfortable around friends than family during these depressive episodes. There’s not really a clear answer as to why. But they know everything, I can express my true emotions and be myself around them. This does not mean I love them more. I love my friends and family equally. There is just some things friends can do but family can’t.
Does any of my family really, truly know me? The answer is yes and no. There’s obviously bits and pieces that I keep hidden, but that’s everyone. I have a pretty big family, I’m obviously not going to expose myself to everyone. Everyone has things that they don’t tell everyone, only their closest friends. But everyone knows what they need to know. Everyone knows that I suffer from depression and anxiety, but yet no one really knows why or how I got like this and they don’t need to. Why do I have to fake a smile and pretend? Well because family get-togethers isn’t about story time. Family get togethers is about having fun and enjoying each other’s company, or at least trying to. Also, family is the one and only outlet I have where I can fake happiness, where I can be a different person, where there’s no drama, and I kind of comfortable with it being that way.
My depression is different than most. I’m not depressed all the time. I have depressive episodes. Which means there can be a period of time where I am severely depressed, and then all of the sudden, I become a happy, normal-functioning human being. So sometimes I actually am happy when I seem happy and sometimes I actually do enjoy being with family. I’m not always faking happiness, sometimes I am genuinely happy. But also, since my moods are always unpredictable, I may not commit to attending a get together and may say things like “I’ll see how I feel.”
I really do not like missing out on these things. I really don’t because I love my family. But I can’t control my moods. I can’t control how I feel somedays. During a depressive episode, depression takes over. I have to take care of my mental health and do what’s best for me at the time.
Below I’m going to type up a few things for you to do/think about. I’m going to start putting different ones at the end of each post. Do me a favour and actually do it/think about it. If you feel comfortable, post your responses in the comments on the link to this post on facebook/Lovato.club/wherever you’re getting this from.
- If you deal with something similar to this, or are surrounded by people who misunderstand why you act a certain way, try talking to them, or write a message to them if you don’t feel comfortable talking face to face. Or even just post a general post on Facebook, blog etc. like I’m doing right now. Trust me, I’m feeling way better right now that I have set the facts straight.
- Being open and honest with family is hard, but it is important. Is there anything you want to tell someone in your family but feel like you can’t? Is there something you need to get out? Find the courage and tell them, even if it’s just part of it, then maybe one day you’ll be comfortable enough to tell them the whole truth. Take baby steps.
Stay strong lovelies <3