Space

waltons-arguingRemember those old westerns where there was a family living on a homestead, and the oldest son desperately wanted to get off the farm, but his parents wouldn’t let him go? He would always go storming out of the house, and the mother would always begin to pursue him, but the father would grab her and say something along the lines of “Just let him go. Give him some space.”

Personally, I am not a big fan of “space.” I’ve always believed that if you give a person in a bad state of mind more room to move, the more likely they are to do something rash or stupid. I usually prefer to stay and slug things out, even if it is a terribly uncomfortable and unfruitful process. There are obviously times when some space would be a good idea, but I am rather stubborn about this. I would probably grab that kid on the way out the door and not let him leave the house.

Sometimes when a person is depressed or sad or disturbed about something, the people around them want to give them space. “Just give him a little room to get over it.” I think one reason this occurs is because depression can look an awful lot like anger to the outside observer. You have someone who is not really talking to anyone, not making eye contact, and making virtually no effort whatsoever to be sociable. Mad people need space to cool down, right?

Many times, though, the person you thought was angry is really very, very depressed, which can make communicating with anyone a considerable chore. Symptoms that accompany depression can be extreme feelings of shame, anxiety, guilt, and, yes, even anger. Many people who suffer from it tend to isolate themselves, which creates an odd paradox within themselves: They don’t want anyone to bother them, but at the same time they feel dreadfully, painfully alone.

This is why I don’t believe granting space is always the best course of action. I know in my personal experiences of attempting to isolate myself, I have been screaming inside for someone, anyone to make an effort to reach out to me. I don’t have the strength to come get you; I want you to come get me. Granted, I don’t always like what people have to say to me in those moments they come after me, but I do appreciate on some level the fact that they at least tried to do something. Too often, though, I see people walking on eggshells around me, afraid to find out what’s really going on inside.

If you are more in the “space” camp, I totally respect your point of view. Sometimes hotheads need to get away from everyone before they can cool off and think rationally. Too many times, though, I have seen people fall though the cracks of “space,” and by the time anyone notices they’re gone, it is too late to help them. Think about it. What is one of the most common statements following a suicide? “I had no idea…” I don’t say this out of condemnation, but rather out of concern. Not everyone needs to be left alone.

So the next time you notice someone drifting way or being more quiet than usual, ask them a question or two. You may not get an honest answer, but you may let them know that someone cares about them. They may still want to leave the farm, but at least you tried to keep them around for one more crop first.

Advertisements

Catching Up

Every article I’ve ever read on being a successful blogger says the same thing: One of the keys to increasing readership is to write at least one blog post a day. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to post more than one entry per day, with the length of each entry being shorter in nature. This, apparently, encourages traffic to your site.

I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but I haven’t posted anything here since this past Friday. I believe I had 12 page views today, so maybe all those experts on blogging are onto something. As I’ll explain in a moment, I had some pretty good reasons for going that long between postings, but I quite honestly have many times questioned the wisdom of posting more than once a day. That just feels like overload to me. Plus, I don’t understand how people have enough time to do that anyway.

Prior to Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of this week, I honestly felt as if I had somehow managed to drop off the face of the planet. I’m not sure how it happened, but I managed to become incredibly, almost frighteningly, isolated this year. Most of my evenings seem to be spent doing what I’m doing right now – working on this blog. Don’t get me wrong; I love writing, and I love being able to use this space to contribute something to the growing discussion on depression these days. Creating a compelling blog does not a fulfilling life always make, however.

I have mentioned here before that I have struggled with social anxiety issues for a long as I can remember. I consider myself a very introverted person. Given my preference, I would probably choose to be alone as much as possible. It would seem to make sense, then, that living a life of general solitude would be very appealing to me. Lately, though, I’m finding the opposite to be true.

I need people … darn it.

Sunday night I played basketball with a group of guys; Monday night was our company Christmas 1503361_10154899491520551_4710955220160445037_nparty; and last night I attended a showing of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with some friends. Three nights in a row of not sitting on my couch and actually interacting with other people, a fairly miraculous achievement for me. I’m not sure I would have the mental stamina to keep up that kind of schedule all the time, but I feel infinitely better than I did this past Saturday, when I found myself sitting in my bathroom wondering if I ever wanted to come out again (That will probably be the subject of another post soon…).

Isolation is one of the classic traps of depression. You start feeling as if everyone has forgotten about you, that no one knows how you’re feeling, and that no one particularly cares about either one of those two points. Perhaps even more insane, you start actually believing you can handle everything on your own, leading you even further down the path of being alone. Bitterness, anger, loneliness, and all kinds of other negative emotions can follow. It’s a downward spiral.

Today, I am catching up on this blog, but for the past three days I feel as if I’ve been catching up on being a normal human being again. I’ve been re-learning how nice it is to have casual conversations and play games with other couples and eat out at restaurants without having to make sure a high chair is available. I missed writing here Monday, and there was no Tuneful Tuesday entry yesterday, but I think I can live with a few less page views if it means me reconnecting with reality.