drwex (drwex) wrote,

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On how to be considerate of.... well, me

In a recent LJ entry (which she tells me was also posted to FB), minkrose wrote about "... how to be considerate of those who struggle with this season". It's an unlocked entry, and worth reading if you have not.

I felt uncomfortable reading it because I know I've done things she says not to do, for which I am sorry, and I am uncomfortable for having... well, just about the opposite feelings. I've documented some of my own struggles with SAD and my perpetual hatred of this time of year, so I feel like I fit into Mink's classification of "THE MAJORITY of people [who] struggle with this time of year". But my responses are different. Let me show you them, by pull-quoting from her post:

Please don't tell me you are sad I am not coming to (or staying at) your event

Please do tell me you are sad, if that is true. One of the biggest problems I have with this time of year is isolation. I feel like I am not popular, nobody likes me, everyone else gets invited to things to which I am not welcome, and those people who do invite me are going to hate me for not coming and stop inviting me. Little touches, even formalities, that convey the idea that people have not forgotten me, do not hate me, and would like to see me mean a great deal to me.

Nobody but me is responsible for inside my head, and I certainly don't expect anyone's expression of interest to be a sudden cure, but where Mink says "I don't understand what POSSIBLE response I can have to that that doesn't make both of us feel shitty." I have the response "Thank you, it's nice to be thought of." I realize I'm not always very good at saying it out loud, but that's what it sounds like in my head.

please don't tell me how excited you are to see me at [event that is happening soon]

This is a little trickier because there's always the chance I wasn't invited to said event. That's a social faux pas and I try to do my best Miss Manners and pretend nothing was said. But the idea that someone is looking forward to seeing me falls into a category similar to the previous one. On the further plus side there are actual documented instances of me going to events where I was not likely to go before, just because someone took the time to tell me they'd be there and hoped I would, too. There remains a part of my brain that realizes hermiting in a locked cave and snarling at anyone who dares come close is bad for me. I do it, but I also eat junk food and fail to exercise. Getting me out of my cave is, again, nobody's responsibility but my own. But weights on one side do tip scales and sometimes a little weight is all it takes to tip the scales into me doing more healthy and good things.

anything you say that assumes I am going to do something, or assumes that I should do something, or assumes that what YOU want me to do is more important than what *I* want to do -- just don't fucking say it.

Well, yes. I think we agree it's disrespectful if you're not signing my paycheck or running my household for you to behave as if your wants are more important. And I further realize that depression is a lying illegitimate spawn of a jackal and will often make me think that someone is doing this when it's not their intention.

But you know what? Do it to me anyway. Over the years I've experimented with various degrees of hermiting and I've come to think that for who I am these days it's better to have even bumpy and possibly awkward social interactions. I am responsible for my own boundaries and saying "no thank you" or some more forceful version of that is on me. People who assume I'm going to say no without checking infuriate me as much as people who assume I'll say yes.

I think we'd all also agree that once an answer has been given it's good to respect that. Wheedling, guilting, cajoling, and similar forms of emotional manipulation go over really poorly when I'm in this state. But I can be bribed, and I can be reminded that last time I did a thing it was enjoyable. Nuanced and thoughtful interactions - even those that might push me - are good for me.

Finally a note about the "me" thing. There are people commenting on Mink's entry agreeing with her. That's great - people who can coherently express a point of view make my world a better place, whether or not I agree with that point of view. I have tried to write this entry in I/me language to say "Here is my point of view. It is different from those peoples' point of view. Neither is right or wrong in any global sense." Perhaps that's me reacting to what I saw as Mink's broad titling of "...those who struggle."

Here I document where I am that I think sets me in a different place than the place from which she speaks.

(Normally I f-lock stuff like this but I'm leaving it public in respect of Mink doing so and to enable anonymous responses. Comments will be policed.)
Tags: personal, thinky stuff
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