I’ve always struggled to explain what sort of personality I have. When I’m out in groups of friends or family I feel like an extrovert, I can be loud and chatty and funny (if I do say so myself), I feel comfortable in large groups and I do enjoy going out and having fun. However when I’m at home, or when people ask to meet up or make plans, it takes a lot of energy and motivation for me to get up and be involved. I love going out and I rarely regret it, it just takes a lot for me to get there. I used to think my behaviour was anti social, but I kept saying to myself, no, I want to be around people, I want to have fun, I just can’t get myself to get out of the house at times.
The past few months have been really hard for me, I’ve become quite a busy person during the past couple of years, from involvement in different mental health organisations, working 4-5 days a week, and being a full time college student. Unfortunately for me, my social battery doesn’t last long, a full day of work leaves me drained from all the interaction and if anyone asks me to meet up afterwards, I feel like I physically can’t. Of course I’m always so busy on purpose, I love keeping busy and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but sometimes I wish I could have more energy and motivation for my personal, social life. Missing out on plans with friends due to my lack of motivation/energy doesn’t help with my mental health. It’s a bit of a vicious circle. I stay in and miss plans to make myself feel better and more comfortable, but then missing out on fun nights out and enjoying myself makes me feel down and disappointed in myself.
For weeks I’ve been apologising to friends for my behaviour, for not interacting as much as I should, for missing out on plans, I know I shouldn’t have to do this as they’re my friends and they love me regardless, but the paranoia that everyone hates me for missing out on plans is sometimes too much.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been doing some research to see if my behaviour is normal and I came across the word ‘Asocial’. Asociality refers to the lack of motivation to engage in social interaction, or a preference for solitary activities, not to be confused with anti social behaviour. An asocial person’s behaviour is not due to their lack of social skills but rather their fear of ridicule, embarrassment or a lack of self confidence. I started reading more into this and it turns out asociality is prevalent with people who suffer from depression and anxiety. And at that moment I felt relieved.
I realised that it seems I am not the only person who has ever behaved or felt like this, and this doesn’t define me. Suffering from depression makes you lose interest or motivation in partaking in activities you may have loved at one time. My depression can be fine at times but still hits me hard every so often, sometimes I forget that I still suffer from this illness, and really, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I am learning more and more about myself every day and I am learning new ways in which I can cope with these obstacles my mental health throws at me. And really, that’s all I can do, continue to learn and grow and hopefully one day I’ll be able to overcome all this social anxiety I have pent up within me.
For now, I refuse to feel ashamed about taking time for myself to recharge my batteries, self care is not selfish and even though I may need a little more self care than the ‘average’ person does, it’s still just as important for my life and wellbeing.