When we have depression, we oftentimes find ourselves withdrawing from our loved ones and sometimes, pushing people away. We don’t always know why, and it’s not always a conscious thing either, it’s confusing, painful and unsettling.
It can be confusing for those around us, too, because if we don’t know why we’re pushing them away, they won’t know why either.
We have no energy
Feeling as though we’re lacking in energy can be tough when we’re alone. We have to be careful when managing what little energy we have, so that we don’t completely exhaust ourselves. Having no energy when we’re around others can be even worse. We’re expected to talk. We’re expected to smile. We’re expected to join in. Sometimes, we don’t have the energy to be around others. We don’t have the energy to follow conversations or think of things to talk about. We push people away because we don’t have the energy to be around them. We worry that we won’t meet their expectations of us.
We struggle with concentration
It takes a surprising amount of concentration to follow conversations. When we’re low on energy, and have the concentration span of a flea, following conversations can be impossible. This is stressful because we worry about looking silly or rude, or of losing track of what’s going on. The fear that we won’t be able to keep up can make us freeze. It’s feels easier to push people away than worry about having to do things that we don’t feel able to do. We just don’t want to let anyone down.
We get irritated
Depression can cause us to have a low tolerance level for things – the illness in itself is overwhelming and overpowering. We might get easily irritated and annoyed. We might lash out at those around us, especially if they do things we don’t expect, or change things without warning. Sometimes we push people away because we are trying to stop ourselves from lashing out. Sometimes the fact that we do get irritated and snap, or lash out, can feel as though we’re pushing people away which feeds into the guilt we already carry.
We don’t think people want us around
People can tell us that they want to be around us until they’re blue in the face. But we won’t necessarily believe it. Depression makes us feel worthless and useless. We can’t understand why anyone would want to spend time with us because we worry that we have nothing to offer, that we might bring them ‘down’. When people do invite us to things, we worry that they are ‘just being nice’, asking us out of a sense of duty. And we don’t at all feel worthy of their time.
We don’t want people to see us this way
We are aware that we aren’t ourselves, we feel gobbled up by depression and socialising can feel awkward. We might not be showering as much as we ordinarily would, we might not have run a brush through our hair in a while, and we may only really feel comfortable in our pyjamas. Our sleep is all over the place. We feel like a bit of a mess, and don’t always recognise ourselves when we look in the mirror. We struggle to see ourselves this way and with that comes a sense of shame.
We feel like a burden
Depression can cause us to feel like a burden. Having no energy, struggling for motivation, having low self-confidence, and other symptoms of depression can contribute to this feeling. We don’t see ourselves as bringing any value to our relationships. We feel worthless. We see ourselves as a drain on those around us. We push people away because we don’t want to burden them.
We don’t want to bring others down
We feel rubbish. We feel low. We struggle to smile and keep on a ‘happy’ front when around others. If someone asks us how we are, we can’t honestly answer ‘fine’ (though this is normally our stock response). We don’t want to talk about how we are because we don’t want to drag others down. We don’t want to share our misery with them for fear that it will worsen their mood. We don’t want to inflict our rubbishy feelings on those we care about, so we push them away.
We don’t want to hurt people
Sometimes, when our loved ones hear how awful we’re feeling, it can upset them. They care about us. It can be hard for them to see us hurting or in pain. If we begin to feel suicidal, and share that with a loved one, we see the pain and worry in their eyes. We see them wondering what they’re not doing enough of to help. Our loved ones might struggle to understand why we feel the way we do. It might hurt them, and we don’t want that, because we love them. So we push them away.
We’re scared of getting hurt
We’re scared of getting hurt. We’re scared that people will get sick of us and leave. We’re constantly waiting for people to drop the ‘nice’ act, and walk away from us. If we push people away, they can’t leave us, because we’ve already left them. It’s within our control. Sometimes we’d rather be isolated than constantly worrying about when people will get fed up with us and leave.
We find it easier
Sometimes we push people away because it’s easier than having to pretend we’re okay. It’s easier than having to confront how far we’ve fallen from the person we once were. It’s easier than having to wash, sort our hair out, plaster a smile on our faces or get dressed. When we’re by ourselves, we can often kid ourselves that we’re okay. But being around others can be a not-so-welcome reminder of the fact that we’re far from okay.
We push people away because we feel as though we don’t match-up. We’ve put the people we love on a pedestal and we often feel as though we’re not enough for them. We also understand how painful that can be for our loved ones. If you’re supporting someone who has depression, we’ve put together some resources to help and support you.
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