Texting, depression, and how to stop chasing people

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I’ve been dealing with depression lately. I’ve also been sick which means a bit of self-imposed downtime to think about things.

As I was working on my sleep etiquette the other night, a ton of writing topics started dive bombing my brain. It’s a common occurrence, for ideas to come to me as soon as my head hits the pillow. I usually get stressed out thinking about the possibility of not getting enough sleep when it happens, but this time I was relieved.

I was relived because when I get depressed I lose my drive to do anything.  

Shortly after this fresh bout of blah came on I became physically ill as well, which made the scenario all the more difficult. I always worry when I get into these mental spaces, because I’m never sure how long they will last. I spent close to 20 years depressed. So when I felt the pull to write the other night, I was extremely relieved, because it was a solid sign the cloud was lifting.

One of the ideas that came to mind was to write about a situation from 9 months ago. This ‘situation’ wasn’t an interaction with anyone specifically – it was an unwavering, lighting-strike moment of recognition. At that time, I made a firm decision that I would stop chasing people.

I’ve said I would stop chasing people before, but I never went cold turkey on it. I would still contact and coddle people over long distance phone calls because I felt obligated. I would reach out to some people because I had known them for so long; others because they were family; and some because I felt the ego-based need to keep them in my social circle. But 9 months ago I said f*** it to all of it: not to the people, but to the act of chasing them.

A major component to letting go of my people chasing activities was giving up my people pleasing tendencies. I spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to please the wrong people over the years. My need to be liked by others often overrode my need to like myself. I sacrificed my emotional well-being and intelligence for quite some time, with some pretty terrible results.

9 months ago when I decided to stop chasing people, it sounded like a pretty great plan. More time for myself; less drama; a more peaceful existence. But there’s a secondary part to the act of not chasing people: dealing with the rejection when people don’t chase you.

Riding through the emotional badlands can be majorly disheartening.

Thankfully, I’ve had some time to accept the reality of it all, and am no longer riled up about it. Besides, I’ve got a lot to distract me at the moment (building my freelance writing website and business, social media marketing, writing everyday, and working my part-time gig.) I don’t have a lot of time to revisit being disgruntled.

Working on bettering myself has been an excellent distraction.  

But I didn’t send out a public service announcement when I decided to change my ways. No one got the memo that I was hanging up my people pleasing shoes. It was inevitable someone would reach out asking something of me.  People were going to treat me the way I had always allowed myself to be treated, which is exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago.

Someone texted me who hadn’t reached out in 9 months, and asked me to do something for them. And here’s the necessary component that was lacking in the interaction: tact. When you haven’t spoken to someone in over 9 months and your first attempt at communicating is asking someone to do something for you, your request isn’t going to be received well.  (Side note: someone needs to bring etiquette school back, 2016-style.)

Texting is the lazy-man’s casserole version of communicating.

I’m going to go old school for a minute: if you want something from someone, pick up the damn phone and call them. Texting is the I-don’t-care-enough-to-take-the-time-to-call-you way of communicating.  A text is the lazy-man’s casserole version of communicating. I would even be OK with an email over a text, because taking the time to compose and send an email feels kinder to me.

Anyways, this person was one of the people who fell off the radar when I stopped initiating conversations. Obviously I wasn’t all that important to them, which I can accept. I’m a big girl and can handle rejection. But the lack of kindness the ungraceful request ushered in bothered me.

My job is to make sure I don’t get taken advantage of.

In the end I responded to that not so tactful text with a tactfully worded no. Is the person pissed off? Probably. People don’t like being told no. But his or her reaction isn’t my problem. My job is to make sure I don’t get taken advantage of.

Some people will spend their entire lives focused on themselves and it works for them. There are a lot of people out there with tiny flickers of self-esteem, who latch onto ego-maniacs out of desperation. What will happen if he/she doesn’t get what they want? Will they have a tantrum? Will they leave? Maybe you won’t get invited to the party?

Catering to a narcissist is impractical.

You can look at all the ways you might be rejected, but you can also choose to accept the rejection as an opportunity to look after yourself. Catering to a narcissist is impractical. Not telling a jerk they are in fact a jerk, creates a more aggressive, dangerous, and damaging jerk. Enabling contributes to the downfall of society. Case in point, the US republican presidential candidate who shall not be named…

I have a hard time watching people be jackasses. 

Physically, you need to tape my mouth shut when I hear people say unkind things, or when I witness selfish acts.  I can’t stop myself from calling people out. To be clear, I am not running around town calling people jerks, but I am assertive in that I usually tell people when I think they are being unkind.

If something bad happens in front of us, isn’t it up to us to call it out, instead of enabling?

I don’t always have the courage to speak up, and sometimes mumble the old adage “choose your battles” to myself.  But is it ever really up for choosing? If something bad happens in front of us, isn’t it up to us to call it out, instead of enabling? That’s something I question quite often.

So it appears my first foray back to writing in over two weeks is a complaint piece. But it is a blog, which could be considered one hugely drawn-out opinion article.  It’s important to me that I am honest about the things that bother me, and present them as they are, sans the shiny silver platter I have caught myself laying things out on in the past.

The truth is I get depressed. I don’t always deal with stressful scenarios in the most optimal and productive fashion, My feelings get hurt easily. I am human, and imperfection is in my DNA.

Perhaps the perfection is in the imperfection.

I can promise there will be plenty more imperfect moments to come, at which point I will lay them out on my worn, yet strangely beautiful truth platter for all the world to see. When the dust settles, every struggle is an opportunity to create a newer, more truthful version of myself. Every event or feeling is a chance to better understand the what and the why.

And for me, every evening offers a bit of insight into the events that have unfolded. Even if I do lose an hour or two of sleep contemplating texting, being depressed and how to stop chasing people.

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Image courtesy Allan Eppler

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