This is how depression affects the way you perceive social situations
For me, the most common trigger is change
I’m pretty sure almost everyone has experienced that deflated sense of boredom and dullness that follows after a big event, party or change. Most often it’s referred to as PPD (Post-Party Depression), and feels like the come-down from a big high, a sort of crash back to reality so to speak.
Most of the time the feeling goes away soon enough, but what do you do when the feeling persists, filling each day that follows with a sense of emptiness and dread?
At least for me, the most common trigger is change. I realized this the moment my flatmates moved out at the end of my first year, leaving me alone in our empty flat. What was once a fun and lively place was now just a depressing reminder of how alone I felt. It dawned on me how quickly time had gone by, and that all the great times we’d spent there were now in the past and that I’d never be able to relive them. I went on to spend that summer moving around different digs until the lease for my new place started, feeling like a stranger in my own town and passing my days by working and staying in bed, reluctant to see my friends for fear of just dragging the mood down.
During that summer I went out one night with two of my close friends. The night went pretty normally until we got into the club. I hadn’t had enough to drink to have reached the level of blissful numbness that normally helped me get by in moments like this. The bar smelt like vomit and the floor was sticky with alcohol, the music thumped through me dizzyingly as I looked around and took things in as though I was just waking up. My body felt like it was on auto-pilot, dancing along to the music almost robotically. I stopped myself only to feel completely disconnected, suddenly wondering what I was doing there. I escaped to the ladies’ room to catch my breath, pushing through people before locking myself in a cubicle.
Inexplicably, questions started to buzz through my head as to why I had come here, what was the point of it? Despite having come out with my friends, in a city I had lived in over 10 months, everything suddenly felt disturbingly unfamiliar and in that moment I wanted nothing more than to go back to the place that was currently one of the stand-ins for ‘home’.
Coming back out to meet my friends, I apologized and admitted that I needed to get out and cut the night short. I wanted them to enjoy the night without me, but they insisted to take a taxi back with me. On top of my confusion, I now felt guilt at ruining what, were it not for me, would have been a good night out.
It’s easier said than done to, ‘live in the moment’, when depression itself so often causes us to fixate on the past and all the things that we can’t be changed. While often times that can be really frustrating, it can also be a good thing. Those good times you had are in the past, and no one can take them from you. The reason you look back on them with a mixture of melancholy and comfort is because of this. The fact that you once felt so immersed in a moment that made you feel so good speaks for how capable you are of happiness. And you will feel it again. Even if it feels like you’ve tried everything and nothing is working.
Stop chasing that feeling, because it’s as elusive as it is precious. All you can do is give yourself things to look forward to, whether big or small, and surround yourself with the people that make you feel happy. Not that superficial, posed stock photo kind of happiness, but real contentment. Reach out to people that make you feel this way, get in touch with that person you haven’t spoken to in a while. Set yourself goals, even if they’re as simple as getting out of bed in the morning, having a shower, calling your mom, break things down until they become routine again.