Take care of yourself versus (???) supporting others

I have been moving (hate it, but that ‘s not the point of this post!)

A few weeks ago (during the week I was getting stuff out of the one place another), I had a conversation about being willing to accept help from others / that we all need each other.  This is a fair point to aim in my direction.  I definitely don’t find it easy to ask for help, and if I once ask for help from someone and get turned down it’s doubly unlikely that I’ll ask again.  I have a pretty strong sense that there are certain things I need to do all by myself, and sometimes I even feels that asking for help is wrong.

At the same time I had a friend who was hospitalized (in the psych ward).  Having had my own struggles with depression, this is the kind of situation where I have a fairly strong sense of “there but by the  grace of God go I,” and spending days in a hospital ward sounds pretty miserable to me.  So visiting when I could seemed the only right thing to do.  But when I was heading out to visit him the first time, the same person who was all “you need to be more open and the let people kelp you more!” in the previously mentioned conversation seemed a bit dubious that I was spending time doing this during the move (never mind that I also needed a break from the misery of moving).  I was told that I might “need to take care of yourself first.”

This is actually a kind person, who I have seen be quite supportive of others, and this set of conversations floored me.  I have several thoughts (mostly in the form of questions) as the result:

How can I expect help from others if I have no willingness to put out any effort for them?

Kindness may can be hard (although it really wasn’t for me, in this particular situation), but what’s the point of the rest of life’s events and activities without it?

Only helping others when it is convenient is another form of isolation, just like not asking anyone for help.

Some of the common, glibly uttered thoughts about maintaining equilibrium and mental health are actually kind of messed up.

I don’t want to work so much . . . . right?

I generally think that I work to much and socialize too little for a healthy balance.  And it’s not that  I’m so passionately wrapped up in my work that I just  forget or don’t get around to the social part of my life, it’s more a combination of certain tedious parts of my work taking up too much time, and a  fear of dropping the ball and losing a job. (Although I never lost a job when I was clinically depressed, I felt close to it because of how poorly I functioned, so there is a fear left over from that time in my life.)

Related to this, I had a little experience the other day that brought me up short.  I stopped by a local coffee shop to grab a muffin on my way to do some work.  No one was expecting me at work, no one else was even at work, I just needed to get this item done some time that day.  At the coffee shop, I ran into a friendly acquaintance., and the whole time I was speaking with her I was feeling anxious about getting going and needing to get this project done.  About half way through the conversation I was really really noticing myself doing this.  Wanting her to wrap up the conversation, wanting to get to away from the conversation, although the conversation was pleasant and I was interested in it.

This is not how I want to react to friendly social encounters!

Fear and comfort . . . . isolation or not?

I’ve been having regrets about a decision that was leading to lots of lost sleep — that annoying frustrating monkey brains of stewing and trying to figure things out that really gets going as soon as I turn out the light.  (So I don’t get enough sleep, which leads to a more poorly functioning brain, then  even more monkey brain and stress!   AARGH)

In this kind of situation, I normally pull more and more into  myself, and wait until I have really worked things out in  my head before I even mention it to anyone.  And as I feel rather foolish,  I have very little desire to have anyone else see how foolish I was!  However, I have talked about this with several people (who’ve been supportive) and it is interesting how that has reduced the worst of the night time screaming brain.  It so easy to believe that I am protecting myself by isolating, when really  the opposite is true!