Posted by spooks
14th Jun 2014

Forming friendships is one of my biggest challenges. Simply put, I’m just not that great at interacting with other people. I find conversing with other people difficult; I’m never particularly interested in what they say, and am particularly averse to small talk. This means that there are particular social occasions that I don’t tend to enjoy. Parties or large social gatherings for one; the kind of event where I have to talk to people I’ve never met before, going through the motions of introductory conversation: “Where do you come from?”, “What do you do?”, “Are you enjoying the party?”, “Are you as bored with this conversation as I am?”. I am always more interested in deeper subject matter: philosophy, favourite film directors, the global trade system. My preferred social occasion therefore involves more intimate gatherings, with people I know and am comfortable with; in short, friends, people whose company I enjoy. These occasions could be meals out together, nights out together, holidays together – anything, as long as it’s with them.

This is by no means a symptom of depression. I am merely describing a character trait of mine. I exhibit signs of an “introvert”, someone who isn’t particularly outgoing, enjoys “deeper” conversation, and can count his friends on one hand. I know a good few extroverts, and am always impressed by how sociable they are, and by just how many friends they seem to have. That’s just not me though, and I’ve come to accept that there’s nothing wrong with either personality type; each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Being mindful of who you are and how you function is very important if you suffer from depression. Depressives often berate themselves for acting or thinking in a particular way. In the past I have often found myself very uncomfortable at parties or dragging my heels at the prospect of attending an event everyone around me is saying will be “fantastic” and “unmissable”. I would berate myself and tell myself that I’d have to go. And so I would go, not enjoy the party, leave early, and go home by myself, feeling like I’ve wasted an evening simply because I’m not good enough or unable to get enjoyment out of something everyone else does.

Being more mindful has helped me overcome this. In fact, I’m even opting out of a social gathering as I write this – not berating myself, but simply understanding that I’d prefer to spend my time differently, and that that’s OK.

It sounds like a very minor thing, but I need to replicate this mindfulness to every other aspect of my personality. The overall result is that I am far less vulnerable to depression and suffer far fewer episodes. If I am experiencing an episode, it also means I am better at coming out of it and recovering. So really, it’s far from minor.

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