How have you been?
How are you currently feeling?
I originally thought I would cover the topic of mental-health & modern technology in one post (I was probably being a little too ambitious there), but decided to make it a series instead, even as I sit here contemplating just how emotionally vulnerable I should render myself.
As an introvert and an only-child, spending time with my thoughts has gone from a survival necessity to something akin to a specialty. It has benefits and disadvantages: I am almost never bored*, but when an episode of depression hits, I can feel my life slipping away from me.
In slow motion.
*cue dramatic choir music & background explosions, in Dolby Atmos & IMAX, respectively*
I don’t know if you have ever experienced an episode of major depression or not (I really hope you haven’t), but it usually starts with your environmental factors playing footsie with your biochemical characteristics (I’m referring to your hormone levels & their influence on your brain here, as well as neurotransmitters), and the next thing you know, you barely recognize yourself for weeks – months on end (or in some severe cases, years).
Your thoughts become tinted, your judgment becomes clouded, your level of motivation becomes depleted, your decision-making ability becomes diminished, and you feel drained physically even though you probably just spent the previous 15 hours in bed, and it’s only 4pm. You lose interest in most of your hobbies, while become increasingly curious about what would happen if you were to no longer exist. Those would only be a few of the things you notice about yourself, as for other people? Well, frankly, you tend to avoid other people due to how irritable you have become.
Hint: social interactions usually manifest themselves collectively as a metaphorical, Category 5 shit-storm. I say this as a mellow guy.
As an introvert**, I’m predisposed to seek potential solace from everyday stress in self-imposed solitude that at times goes beyond what’s considered to be socially-acceptable. This predisposition makes me more susceptible to the effects of depression, which makes having a positive support system crucial. But there is an interesting dynamic between the system and yourself. With few exceptions, this system, for the most part, when given enough time, inevitably tell you to ‘snap out of it’, to ‘cheer up’, or a variation of it. If someone you know is guilty of this, tell them to:
I say the following with 100% seriousness: that type of response to someone with mental illness is unhelpful, ignorant, and condescending. It reduces mental illness into a matter of will-power, and as if those with mental illness derive their joy from personal psychological agony and emotional misery. That type of attitude can also become a legitimate source of anger, frustration, and resentment between two parties. I have seen friendships ruined because of this, and also had it cause rifts in my relationship with my parents.
Being in the middle of a depressive episode isn’t mutually-exclusive with having a sense of self-awareness, I would even argue this sense of self-awareness is heightened in the case of depression. In fact, I would also say it contributes to the tendency to withdrawal socially along with the feeling of inadequacy.
Paradoxically, the period of social withdrawal is simultaneously healing and debilitating. This is where modern technology, specifically social media, complicates things for introverts, and I will delve deeper in the next post (I can’t speak for extroverts, so if you are one and have experienced depression, feel free to add your input in the comment section).
Until next time, remember to unplug, we’ll Randezvous again.
**For a more thorough analysis of introversion, I recommend “Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, by Susan Cain. Alternatively, you can watch her TED Talk on the topic for the central observations & the main arguments.
*This can be cumbersome for dating, especially with a verbally-expressive extrovert, but this isn’t a dating column. I just needed to be objective.