Saturday, August 22, 2009

Making plans

Deep depression made dealing with people incredibly exhausting. Being incredibly exhausted by social interaction for no reason I could identify (I didn't know I was depressed) made me feel incredibly inept, socially - so I struggled harder to be "acceptable" around other people.

Because of this downward spiral of energy and anxiety, it was very difficult to make any kind of social plans. In the months prior to diagnosis I reached a point where I would only accept a lunch invitation for the current day. I could be fairly certain how much energy I'd have in a few hours, but if you asked me on Tuesday to have lunch on Friday? Who knew what kind of shape I'd be in on Friday, whether I'd have the energy needed to make conversation?

For years, I fobbed off all social invitations with some version of "I'll see" or "I'll try." I generally ended up showing up, but I had to have that escape hatch.

This week I made reservations for a business trip, with a few days visiting friends tacked on at the end, and I realized I still have difficulty making plans. I'm much improved from the old days, but there are still areas where I hesitate, where commitment becomes difficult.

I have no trouble making plans for work. I think I've always been vividily aware that I don't really have a fallback for financial support - I am "it." (Even when I was ill, what reserves I had went to my job first.)

I have no trouble making plans for myself. I have traveled overseas, I routinely buy tickets for arts performances months in advance.

But social plans are still difficult. For nearly ten years I've lived less than 200 miles from my college roommate, and I've visited her once. (And on that occasion, behaved less well than I would have liked.)

I have dear friends who invite me to their home in the mountains every August and every Thanksgiving, and I have not been there in years. In fact, I decided on a whim to see them last year, not having thought things through, and had to cancel because driving for two days during the holidays to have a one-day visit just seemed foolish.

I need to work on this. I haven't been going out as much as I used to, and I think old habits of thinking have been sneaking up on me. The more I stay in, the more I will stay in.

Rather than jump in with both feet, and involve other people, I think I'll start making regular plans for myself - specific days, specific events, a week or more in advance. I've already started, by making plans to see a concert next weekend with my sister. Then I think I'll start making very specific plans that require me to be at a certain place, at a certain time, money in hand, ready to enjoy myself. Whether it's a movie or a meal or a play or an art exhibit, I need to remind myself that I can be relied upon.

But first, I need to make some hotel reservations for after the conference. As for my friends in the mountains - your turn is coming. I promise.

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