Depression for Introverts: A How Not To Guide

There are lots of things to love about being introverted. You gain an appreciation for silence. You know the comforts of being on your own, and the independence that brings. Time spent snuggled up with fuzzy socks, a cup of tea, and a good book is treasured. A cozy night in with your cat will always win out over a night of drinks and dancing in the city.

But when you have depression, being an introvert causes a lot of issues. In my experience, the best way to cope with depression is to spend time around other people and to be active. It’s a lot harder to drown in feelings of worthlessness and abandonment when you are surrounded by loved ones. And in theory,it should give you something to look forward to. My problem is that being social often feels like more stress than it’s worth. When you’re depressed, all you want to do is recharge your permanently drained batteries in the comfort of your room. Going out is work. It feels like putting on a show because it’s far, far easier to pretend everything is fine and not ruin everyone else’s night out rather than talk about how hard it was to take a shower that day. And besides, why would they give two shits about how you’re feeling? You don’t really matter, and nothing makes you feel that more intensely than seeing your friends laugh and smile with each other while you sit there, absently stirring your poorly mixed cocktail. They don’t need you.

It’s incredible that being around other people can leave you feeling even more alone than if you’d just stayed in to begin with. But when you cancel on friends, you feel like a failure for not being able to shake the anxiety and depression off long enough to get out of the house and do something. It’s a precarious tightrope walk that I wish I never had to take. I thought medication would make it better; for awhile, it did make a real difference. But now I’ve settled into a new normal which is still not happiness. I feel the same listlessness I first felt when I was in seventh grade and first started experiencing the beginnings of anxiety and depression.

I don’t remember what it was like to not have depression anymore.Naturally, I’m still happy sometimes, and I’m able to have fun with my friends and family, but it never lasts. I’m told that’s just part of being human, but I can’t accept that I’m supposed to spend 90% of my life deeply unsatisfied, unmotivated, and exhausted. What the hell is the point of living if that’s all life is? People tell me how strong I am, and that I have so much to give. I’ve had people tell me the way I deal with my depression is inspirational. I don’t feel like an inspiration. I just feel tired.

I always said I wanted to inspire people, and help people, and change lives. I never considered that in helping other people I was avoiding helping myself. I haven’t done my laundry in a month. I do the bare minimum to keep myself presentable for work. I cut and dye my hair when I feel emotionally vulnerable so I can pretend I’m in control. I just want to feel like I have a reason to get up in the morning.

All my love,

Katherine Wheel

Nightmare Anatomy

I had a nightmare last night; I dreamed I was getting married to my (ex) boyfriend at a large, but humble church wedding in front of dozens of guests, including an old flame from college whom I credit with bringing out my anxiety and agoraphobia full-force. I was over the moon that it was finally happening. I flew to the altar so I could stand beside my soulmate. My eyes brimmed with joyful tears as the service began. And then, he abruptly left to smoke a cigarette while I stood there dumbfounded and ashamed. I chased after him, only to watch him be shot to death before I could reach him.

I think this is my brain’s way of dealing with my fear of dying alone save for my cat and some potted plants. Every day I see women my age, and some even younger, getting engaged and married and pregnant and giving birth, while meanwhile what I had hoped would be my last relationship for the rest of my life crumbled no matter how hard I tried to hold onto it.

When I ended things, he told me I was “giving up” because I expected a faerietale ending where we would never fight, and we’d live happily ever after. All I wanted, for lack of better words, was normalcy. We abused alcohol and drugs and each other until I accepted it was not going to get better. Sometimes, no amount of love can make a relationship work.

Even though I know I made the right decision, in my own time, I still feel like a failure. Failure lies at the root of all of my nightmares. If I started a dream journal (and I might), I’m sure at least half of them would be work related. I have dreams where my headset stops working or I can’t get my computer to work while I have a claimant on the phone constantly. Even better, I still have nightmares about when I worked at Five Below of a similar nature, and I haven’t worked there since 2015.  You’d think maybe that taking anti-anxiety medication before bed would alleviate some of my constant fear of fucking up, but it’s done very little. Even after seeing statistics telling me I am one of the highest performers both in my company and on my team at the office, I still panic.  I had chest pains every day for a week in December and it took concentrated breathing exercises when I feel the first twinge of pain to keep them in check.

I wish I was a calm, confident person who wasn’t afraid of being an unlovable failure. And I’m hoping someday I can get there. But for now, I need to learn how to live with these nightmares and figure out what they’re trying to tell me.

All my love,

Katherine Wheel