I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling lately :[
As someone who has battled depression for a long time, I understand how exhausting and debilitating it is. I promise that things can and will get better though. And above all else, I promise that you aren’t alone and don’t have to face this alone.
You brought up a lot of different issues, so I’m going to try to address each one individually:
1. It’s okay to not know what to say to people.
It isn’t your job to be entertaining and have interesting things to say. And I can imagine that a lot of your social anxiety is being fueled by the pressure to say the “right” thing or the “most interesting thing”. Things that will make people like and accept you. But again, that isn’t your job. And more importantly, there is no “right” thing to say. Whatever feels right and true for you is worth sharing. And if people don’t like you for that, it’s on them and not your problem to worry about.
The reality is that most of us struggle with talking to people we don’t know very well. We’re all worried that people won’t like us or that we’ll say something dumb. And more often than not, people are so worried about what you’re thinking about them that they aren’t even thinking about whether or not you’re saying something interesting. We’re all caught up in our own insecurities. The only one judging you and what you say, is you.
2. The way other people act is rarely about us.
I know how easy it is to jump to the conclusion that someone is ignoring you when you don’t get a response response. I fall into that trap all the time…the truth though is that their silence isn’t usually about us. More often than not, people are just busy, or they get caught up in something and forget to respond.
Other times people don’t respond because they don’t know what to say or how to help, and not saying anything feels easier. And if that happens, that’s about them and their own limitations and discomfort; not about you. There are definitely cases where people don’t respond because they’re upset with us or don’t care enough to give an answer. But again, that behavior says a lot more about them than it does about us. And you don’t have to internalize that.
3. Be honest with people about how you feel.
If you send a message to someone and they don’t respond, confront them about it. You don’t have to say it in a nasty, attacking way. But you can definitely say something like, “Hey, I just wanted to check in and see if things are okay between us. I sent you a message and never heard back…I know you might just be busy, but when I didn’t get a response, I felt really hurt. So I just wanted to make sure we’re okay.”
Being honest in that way can be scary, but it’s so much better than keeping how you feel inside. And more often than not, the person will apologize and explain that it wasn’t intentional at all, reminding us that just because something feels true doesn’t always mean it is.
4. Finding self-acceptance starts when you realize that you’re already enough.
You don’t need anyone’s approval or validation in order to feel okay. Because your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s opinion of you. It’s something inherent. You exist and therefore, you’re important and you matter. It’s as simple as that. You are enough. And you always have been. The only one you have to convince of that is you.
5. Try to figure out where your insecurities stem from.
You weren’t born feeling inadequate and needing other people’s approval. At some point in your life, you were sent the message by someone or some experience that who you are wasn’t enough and that in order to be okay, you needed other people to confirm your worth. That said, the first step to getting to a place where you can validate yourself is to identify who taught you these lies about yourself. Because whoever did, they projected their own pain and insecurities onto you. But it’s not yours to carry. You don’t have to internalize their issues.
6. Start challenging your negative thoughts.
When the negative thoughts in your head start to get loud, the next step is to challenge them. It may seem silly and useless, but it really does help. You might not feel differently for a while, but the more you talk back to those thoughts and replace them with self-loving and accepting truths, the easier it will be to believe the positive affirmations. It’s difficult and takes a lot of practice and persistence, but with time, I promise that you will see a change in how you feel and think about yourself. If you have a hard time thinking of positive things to counter the negative thoughts with, think of what you would say to a friend who was having the same insecurities and apply those counters to yourself. Because you are not an exception and deserve to be treated with the same kindness and compassion you would give to anyone else.
7. Make a relapse prevention plan.
The thought of relapse is definitely terrifying, and rightfully so. But if you can make a plan and create a support system, the chances of it happening are much, much less. My advice is to make a list of red flags and give them to a friend or family member you trust to keep and be cognizant of. That way, if you start showing signs that you might be heading towards a relapse, your support person can step in to help you take care of yourself so that a full on relapse doesn’t happen.
I also recommend making a list of things that trigger your depression and beneath each, list ways that you can either avoid those triggers altogether or take care of yourself — in a healthy, non-destructive way — in the moment when they come up. If you aren’t already seeing one, I definitely suggest working with a therapist — and if medication is something you’re comfortable with/interesting in trying — a psychiatrist.
I know that asking for help can be really scary, but I promise that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all need help at some point — especially when it comes to mental illness. If you’re struggling, you have every right to get support. And if you really want to make sure you don’t relapse, getting help — professional and otherwise — is a pretty sure-fire way keep yourself accountable and on track.
8. Keep track of your progress.
When you’re caught up in your struggles, it’s easy to forget all the progress you’ve already made. So when you start to feel hopeless, remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Like you said, it’s taken a lot of hard work and strength to get to where you are — and that is something you need to acknowledge and deserve to feel proud of. Every triumph and step forward, no matter how small, is important. Healing isn’t about being perfect. It isn’t a constant uphill process. It’s an up and down, all over the place journey filled with slips and struggles and mistakes — all of which contribute to our growth and help bring us to a place of healing. You’re doing the best you can to survive and heal and that’s all you can ask of yourself. It’s enough, and so are you.
9. Don’t give up.
I know how hard it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re stuck in the darkness, but I promise it’s there. And more than that, I promise that just because you’re struggling right now doesn’t mean this will be your life forever. If you keep reaching out for help, do self-care, stay honest with yourself and your support network, and work to challenge your negative thoughts, things will get better. Not immediately, but with time, you heal and find peace. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. And you don’t have to do it alone.
Sending a lot of love your way,