I’ve written before, many times, about my depression and anxiety, and how it affects all aspects of my day-to-day life. One of the biggest challenges for me is its effect on the simple tasks, the things most take for granted, like socialising. I’ve always typically found it hard to socialise and meet new people anyway, but my poor mental health over the past few years has made it even tougher.
Depression and anxiety hugely affect both relationships and friendships. Months pass by in a blur, and suddenly you find yourself having lived in a new city for almost a year and not really taken advantage of your new surroundings. Living alone is great, but it can be lonely at times, but it’s not easy to change that. There’s also the fear of rejection, of not being good enough, of things somehow just getting worse. People often think they have all the answers for you; the most frustrating being “you just need to put yourself out there”, but let’s face it if you have a job, family, and friends, you are already “out there”.
At University, the challenges were different. I was on a course with people who had similar interests, living with people in similar situations to myself, but this is a different story. I’m practically the youngest at work and those around are in different stages of their lives, I live alone (which I do love), and working full time leaves very little time for other activities anyway. I see so many people making it look so easy, both online and offline, balancing hectic lives with being able to socialise, meet new people, and put themselves out there. I can’t seem to do that.
Being an introvert means it takes up stacks of energy to put myself out there and to be social. But living with depression and anxiety zaps that all away. It’s hard to make plans not knowing how you’re going to feel that day, worried you’re going to let someone down by cancelling those plans. As I’ve written before, I do worry about the huge effect these problems have on my life, not only right now, but going forward too. I worry it might hinder my ability to progress up the ladder at work, to meet new people, stop me finding someone, stop me having the future I desperately want.
I did ponder before how best in the future to somehow find a way to make it all easier. I suppose one way I’ve put myself out there over the past year or two is through my writing, as a way of expressing myself, especially in areas such as politics and mental health. I also said a good idea would be to try and use my hobbies to find things to do in the city, I’ve started to do that. I’ve gone on more walks exploring the city and its (rare stretches of) nature, thrown myself into more projects at home and at work, and even played board games in pubs with strangers.
Now, this is where I pretend to be someone with vast knowledge in the subject area. If any of you reading this find yourself in a similar situation, here are some little tips I’ve learnt along the way.
- I know it’s hard, but try to be the one to reach out and suggest a plan, and it’s very unlikely that people will flat out say no.
- Take up any opportunity to can to get out there and socialising, try not to say, “I’m busy”.
- It’s okay to cancel, so long as you’re honest and mature about it.
- Working on projects or studying? Move it to a coffee shop or library.
- Acknowledge random people – not in a weird way, but just a simple smile and a pleasant nod can make someone’s day.
- Search for common interests – use the website Meetup.
P.S. Don’t use Tinder, it just makes you feel crap about yourself when you get no matches. Am I really that unattractive?