Off the Cuff #6 – “I’m worried my depression will make me date a guy I don’t feel attracted to.”

Hi Vichet,

I met this guy through a mutual friend and I never thought he was attractive enough for something to happen between us. Call it shallow, but he not really the kind of guy I want to be with.

So, since I didn’t feel any type of romance for him, becoming friends was pretty easy. We got along well enough but it wasn’t anything like “I’m so glad we’re friends!”

As time goes on, he admitted that I spun his head around (in the good way) and thought I was amazing. He begins to throw more flirtatious compliments out there and it gets to the point where it makes me angry. My gut would twist up, I would picture myself screaming at him to stop. It was.. creepy in a way.

Now, when we met, I wasn’t lonely or searching for any type of love. But, for the past couple months, I’ve been in a depression/anxiety spell. I also am home schooled so I didn’t have a lot of friends. Any person who gave me good attention, I fell in a love trance with, even if it wasn’t romantic. I adored anyone (still kind of do) who I have a good time with.

Because of this, I almost got into a relationship with another guy, but he left due to wanting different things.

This crushed me.

After that, I was extremely happy one moment, extremely depressed another. It was terrible. I lost a sense of who I was, and what I really wanted, and what wasn’t wanted. One day I want to be independent, and the next I feel like if I had friends and a boyfriend, I could be content.

Now, here’s the problem.

I’ve been thinking about the guy I’m not interested in. And I don’t want to. I almost feel like he unintentionally is manipulating my brain to like him.

When I’m too bored and alone for a while, he’s all I think about, and I hate it.

I’m scared that since I’m so desperate, I’ll take a chance with him, and he’ll be a good boyfriend to the point I would never leave and never get to experience all of the types of guys I dream about being with.

Some people have said take a chance. But what if I take a chance and realize I couldn’t like him at all and he would be let down, again? Worse, what if I take a chance and confuse myself into liking him, and never leave?

I deeply apologize for the length, but I thought you should know everything, for you to have a final answer.

Confused Girl from Reddit

Hi Confused Girl from Reddit,

I’m gonna cut to the chase – your depression is the real problem. Not the guys who left. Not the guy who annoys you. Depression.

Get rid of your depression in ANY way you can. See a counselor/therapist, take up more hobbies, follow your passions, pursue life, do what you need to do. If you are depressed, and I speak from experience, everything you do will be affected by it, in many cases completely ruined by it.

Now, before you get all scared by what I just said, let me clarify something. Depression is a HUGE problem, yes, but only if you let it be one. You have a choice in how you let it affect your day-to-day life, even if it’s so bad you think you can’t do anything about it.

In my experience, my biggest success battling depression was to make sure my feelings didn’t keep me from doing what I have to do in order to be happy.

Some days I would wake up and lay in bed thinking “what’s the point?” The reasons would be different every day – “no one cares,” “nothing’s going my way,” “nothing’s going to change.” That kind of stuff. It was like that on and off for a couple years during high school and college, and then really severe after I graduated college.

So, listening to those thoughts and feelings, I would make bad decisions based on them.

I stopped eating healthily and stopped exercising. Stuff like that took work and thought, and who wants to do work and put in effort when they’re feeling down? So, I decided to give up my good habits, just because I felt depressed.

As usual, the bad effects then made me feel MORE depressed. I gained weight, had all sorts of weird health problems, and was tired all the time. More than 3 days a week, I would literally lay in bed all day, doing nothing, or otherwise spending my time playing video games so I wouldn’t have to think.

I managed to graduate anyway, pouring what little effort I had left into the one thing I still enjoyed doing: writing. Things got worse, because like you, the person I loved at the time broke up with me.

On top of all of that, I didn’t have a job – and returning home without one became a huge factor in my depression. I felt like I owed people – my parents, my school (who gave me a TON of money to attend), my friends and family who all felt like I was going somewhere big. I felt like I disappointed them. I felt talentless, useless, and like a waste of space.

That’s depression – persistent negative feelings that you feel like you just can’t shake.

And, I would use those feelings as an excuse not to apply for jobs, or do anything worthwhile, because I wouldn’t see the point.

You could see how this contributes to a vicious cycle.

All that was small fries compared to this one, BIG misconception that depression had me believing: I began to look for other people that I thought could get me out of it. I started clinging onto girls just because I thought maybe they’d make me happy.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and I wasted three years doing that, when I could have been getting better.

You CANNOT put your happiness on other people. They will not only resent you for it, but they can’t provide that for you even if they wanted to.

So, I reached a breaking point. That’s when, luckily, my mom gave me a book. Larry Winget’s “Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life“. A lot of the things he said resonated with me.

Specifically, and I forget the exact quote, but I’ll try to get the gist of it here:

If I continued living my life trying to avoid difficulty and any kind of hard work to make my life better, using the excuse that I’m avoiding bad feelings, I would just make those bad feelings worse.

Somehow, one day, I just decided that enough was enough.

I started doing all the things that my depression made me give up. I made myself make choices that I’d been avoiding every day for years. They were tough choices to make, because when you’re depressed and don’t want to do anything – well, you don’t want to do anything.

But, see, that’s the big trick of depression – you’re asking yourself “what’s the point” because you think that unless something makes you happy right away as you do it, it’s not worth it and will never contribute anything to your life.

Problem is, the best pay-offs in life aren’t immediate. This is where Larry Winget’s philosophy came in big: “It’s called work for a reason,” he says. You have to put in the time to get the pay-off. Sometimes, you’ll get no pay-off, sure, and that’s just life. But the one guarantee in life is that if you do nothing, you’ll get nothing.

I took that and ran with it. I started eating right. I started exercising. I applied for 15 jobs a day. I wrote furiously. I took dance classes. I stayed busy with the things I knew I loved, even though my depression was trying to tell me every day that I didn’t want to wake up and do all that work because “it’s pointless.”

It didn’t change overnight. It was hard, and I fell off the wagon a lot. But I kept at it for months. Then years. Now, it’s how I live.

But eventually, I did notice changes. I started smiling more. I started thinking less about how “there was no point.” I started noticing that I was good at things again. I started noticing that I liked DOING things again.

I’ve had ups and mild downs since then, but overall, every down was followed by a more powerful UP, and it’s because I’m making good decisions for myself.

It’s not about being perfect. I fail a lot. But I learn every time, and the biggest thing I’ve learned was to not let negative, self-defeating attitudes keep me from doing what I need to get done to be happy.

I know it’s tough, but you CAN do it, and when you break the vicious cycle, your life starts spiraling UP instead of down.

Remember – what you do today has an effect on how you feel tomorrow. If you make bad decisions because you feel bad today, you will feel worse tomorrow.

Everyone has bad days – but bad days turn into depression when we use them as excuses for bad decisions like “I don’t feel well enough to do that today,” or “I’m going to eat two whole pizzas because I feel sorry for myself” (the second is something I’ve done multiple times per week in college).

This is the only point I will speak to because it’s the root of EVERY single issue you brought up to me.

You’re depressed. You’re looking for a way out, but you’re looking for that way out from other people instead of yourself.

This has you thinking about the guy you don’t like, but who is willing to bolster your self-esteem. That may work for a little while, but ultimately, you’ll resent him again because you will feel like you owe him for being around.

Some people have said take a chance.

Yes. Take a chance – but not on HIM. Take a chance on YOU. Take a chance on finding out what YOU want out of life, and what YOU want to be able to say about yourself before you die. We all end up in the same place in the end – but trust me, you will care about how you get there.

Men are not what you need right now. You need to be independent and HAPPY.

Then the men you choose to spend your time with will truly be a choice based on preference, rather than a choice based on perceived necessity.

I know you’re a girl, but you need to read the entire “Dating Doctrine” series that I wrote, and also my article on “Mutual Independence.”

You also sound young – this is a good thing because you have so much of your life ahead of you. Reaching these fight or flight moments earlier, even though they’re really tough, can be a good thing – the triumphs, and even the failures, will put you ahead of others your age.

Never be afraid to take a chance on yourself, because failure isn’t the end of the world. Take that from an Asian guy who would get grounded for A- work when he was younger.

Hope it all works out for you – even better, it will work out for you because you will make the choices you need to make to be happy, regardless of how you feel at the time of action.

-V

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