String Theory

String theory

Back when I had depression, one thing I did was detach from the world. From everyone, except a very, very few family members, and about two friends. Instead, I just curled up in a proverbial ball (sometimes I curled up in an actual ball) and hid away from everyone. I was sick, and I couldn’t deal with the world, and so I withdrew to the extreme.

I actually developed extreme social anxiety too. I remember once being out shopping, and a random boy started chatting to me, and sweat started to pour off me in such rivulets (dripping down my back, my legs, my arms) that it actually looked like I had wet my pants. Didn’t matter whether I’d known someone for two minutes or two decades, I didn’t want to engage with them, I didn’t know how to, and I would have extreme physiological and emotional responses to such situations.

The reasons and scope and extent of my social detachment are a story for another day. But let it suffice to say that my world became very, very small. Immediate family, two friends, that’s it. Everyone else I completely cut out. (Which, I will freely and honestly tell you, is one of my biggest regrets. I lost a heap of wonderful people from my life. When I Got Better and tried to reconnect, a bunch of them totally understood and graciously welcomed me back into their lives with open arms. Others did not, which I found very difficult to accept at the time, but which I came to understand. It was gut-wrenching, but eventually I was able to accept their decision with love and understanding. Albeit still with a wish that one day in the future, we will somehow become friends again…)

So, now that I am Well, and have been for some time now (about three years maybe? Four? Either way, it makes me happy and proud and still a little bit sad). But despite all this time being Well, social connections are still something that I have to actively work on. I have to actively cultivate them and nurture them and occasionally force myself into them. It still doesn’t come entirely naturally to me.

However, I was struck by an image the other day. I had spent three hours having coffee and awesome conversation with my Dad on New Years Day, then the next day had a similar length coffee and similarly awesome conversation with another awesome friend, then the next day had got this amazing email from my best female friend who lives faraway. All of these interactions made me absolutely glow in my insides. They filled me up. They made me so very, very happy.

And I was struck by this image of string. Sometimes I feel like I am tying string between myself and those around me that I love. Connecting us. Giving us a relationship. Positioning myself with reference to the other. And I realised that I have so many strings now, connecting me to the world, and to people and to life. More strings than I have had in at least ten years. Maybe even more strings that I have ever had.

And I am so heart-burstingly grateful for them. At one stage, it would have made me feel panicked and trapped and burdened. And lost.

Now it is what fills me up, and makes me so very, very found, so very much here. I don’t define myself by my relationships, but they certainly help. And there are so many amazing beings out there who I am connected to and who are feeding and lighting up my heart-strings, as I hope I do the same with their strings.

So now I am tied up and tied down and attached. String is my new thing. And I love it.

categories: Love

6 Responses to “String Theory”

  1. amber

    This is exactly how I responded and behaved during my worst depressive episode three years ago. Unfortunately, I developed social anxiety to the extent that I could barely even speak with my then boyfriend, a man I still love. We ended up breaking the relationship about six months into my illness, and even though I improved dramatically only a few months after that, he has never wanted to have anything to do with me since. It breaks my heart and I deeply regret the decisions I made at the time, but they were the only decisions that I was capable of making. I was just so sick. All I did during that time was sleep, cry, and study.

    Thanks for sharing this personal stuff. I feel that little bit less alone in my experience.

    Here’s to wellness and strings. x

  2. thejuicypineapple

    Thank for such a beautiful post. Your honesty resonated deeply with me and I am sure with many people who have experienced depression and the self-inflicted loneliness and detachment that it creates. You are so right; we are all connected, and it is through returning to nurture these connections that we can heal and start to believe again in that love deep inside ourselves.

  3. Miche

    Thank you for sharing Jess. I admire your courage. I keep coming back to reread parts of your post. I haven’t ever had depression, so it is very helpful to learn about it from someone who has. Hopefully it will make me more understanding in the future.

  4. Rachael

    It’s amazing how hard it can be to get those relationships back. I feel like I’m about in the same spot right now so this post resonated with me. In the worst of my depression I couldn’t even look another person in the eye when speaking. I pushed even my family away. It’s encouraging to see how far you’ve come in retying the strings!

  5. Kylie

    Beautiful post, Jess! I love the metaphor of strings. Your blog is definitely one that pulls at my heart strings! x