Over the last two years I've become more reclusive than ever before. I left school this time last year and have worked from home all of 2013. I used to travel to the university every day to attend class or work. i worked at a computer lab, a very public place where I would help students who needed any kind of help - technical or just someone to help them with homework. I was pretty good at it, to the point where I considered for a brief period that I should become an instructor.
But school and work were really my only two outlets for interaction. Most of my friends (all but one) had graduated and moved away from Las Cruces, luckily my best friend (who I moved down here with in the first place) stuck around after he graduated. He made friends through his new job and they had weekly parties, which I'd attend sometimes but mostly stayed in. Which was alright, I still had school and work to keep me pre-occupied and if not, I always had GDA.
Every time Green Day starts touring I go to multiple places around the US (usually California or New York), and attend shows and attend meet-ups - meet all kinds of interesting and fun people. Last year we met up for the American Idiot Musical in San Francisco and had an awesome time. This year, I refused to go anywhere. For the first time in my life Green Day was playing less than 45 minutes from my home and I turned down a free ticket. That seems like madness to most people, hell, it seems like madness to me, but it still felt like the best thing to do.
At the time I was at a low point with depression. Something I've talked about here and to my friends. It took months to climb out of that hole of feeling pathetic, feeling that I didn't deserve to do anything. I got back on anti-depressant medication for a while and it helped some. After a month I stopped taking it because I felt better, and I was. It's been a while now since I've really felt depressed like I did earlier in the year. I do genuinely feel I have more clarity now than I did most of the last two years.
With that clarity, it's starting to hit me about just how anti-social I am, and how much I hate it. I can make any excuse to not be around people: "sorry, I don't have money to go out", "sorry, I have work to do", or just matter-of-factly "no thanks, I don't feel like going out." The truth is that I do enjoy being alone, but I'm not actually sure why anymore. I don't spend my time doing things I find fulfilling, I just find ways to waste the minutes away. There are times where I would just rather sit here watching some tv show or watch YouTube clips of bands I like playing live - but I also know I need to have fun with other people so I don't go crazy.
But knowing that and changing it are two very different things. Sure it sounds easy to most people, but my initial reaction to any invitation is always "no", and rarely will I come around and say "ok, I'll go". Years ago (2005 or 2006 when I first started dealing with depression) I started turning down invitations to go out with my friends. It was a fucked up way of looking for attention. I would say no, then hope some friends would beg me to go out. Like I had to validate their friendship every single time they wanted me to be around them. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't, I'm sure that type of attitude can be tiresome for any person. I'm not proud of that. But over time I became very insular and eventually I just genuinely would rather stay home. Whether working on GDA or playing games, I just enjoyed that more than "dealing" with other people.
So here we are today. What spawned this blog post? My friend/roommate is planning on having a New Year's party at our place. The idea of having to socialize with people brought on this level of anxiety where I've almost felt sick to my stomach for a couple days. It's non-nonsensical, and I know it is, but the knowledge alone doesn't help. I know what will happen, I will feel very anxious about it until people show up and I start socializing and either I'll enjoy it and have a good time or I'll get bored and come back upstairs to my office. It won't matter, it won't be a big deal, but I'm dreading it for some reason. "Oh god, what will I talk about? People I'm meeting for the first time, what will they think of me? Should I try to be funny or will that annoy people? Maybe I should try to stay quiet. Will I come off like a weirdo?" These are the dumb things that have crossed my mind. It's not something that should matter, it's not something a normal person would be worried about a week in advance.
Tonight I've come to two conclusions. 1) I need a psychiatrist. 2) I need to start going out more so this feels normal and the worry disappears.
Well, I can manage the first one at least.