Friends in Low Places?

"All logistics aside, whom among your friends here would you want to be with you right now?" my therapist C asked.

Just minutes before I'd given her a laundry list of depression-like symptoms I'd been experiencing over the past several weeks: anxiety, inability to focus, excessive sleep, weight loss. Overall I felt like I was being pulled underwater by an undertow, or riding my bike uphill with a full-force wind gusting against me. No matter how much I fought, I could not seem to pull myself up. For a relatively competent, strong-willed person, this was proving to be...well, depressing.

Of course the break-up and subsequent flailing about have been tough on me. But lately it had begun intensifying, and the feelings of sadness were becoming more extreme and debilitating. I've had my bouts of gloominess and mourning at different times in my life, but never had I experienced the despair of feeling like I could not get out of bed, could not take a shower, could not function normally. And it was freaking me the hell out. Part of me was hoping she'd say, "Let's get you an appointment with a psychiatrist." Let me pop some pills, let me be abdicated of any responsibility. But the symptoms were relatively new. At least for the time being it was "episodic," a "depressive state."

In addition to feeling like shit, I was feeling isolated, too. At some of my hardest moments, all I wanted was some company, to be with somebody else. But when C asked me the question, "Who do you want to be here?" and I mentally went through my list of friends in the area, I could not come up with a single person I felt I could call to come sit with me in my puffy-eyed, unshowered misery. "I can't think of anyone." The truth killed me.

Somehow in the following days I managed to get my momentum going. I forced myself out of the house, to happy hours, to friends' houses, to the gym. I bought myself ingredients to make my favorite soup and cozy new sweatpants. I practiced the kindness to self that's so new to me. And by the next week I returned to my time with C feeling like things were getting back to normal again.

Feeling normal, that is, until my weekend in North Carolina when I was reminded of what it's like to be loved and known. I cried the entire six hour drive back to DC. I kept saying to myself, "Why am I torturing myself by living here?" Hell, even if I was just as miserable in NC, at least I'd have friends there who care for me just down the road and family close by. And since then I've barely managed to get out of bed. I'm back down in the valley and feeling more discouraged than before. How can I muster up the energy to pull myself out of this shit yet again?

I see now that what I really want is what I'm lacking most here. Not friends, not acquaintances, not social groups, not outings, not happy hours. It's the feeling of belonging somewhere. Of having friends who not only are up for a night out but are there in the dark places. Of having community, connection, realness. The person I have that most with here is SCL.

My friend L said it best: "It's like you are having to fight for every ounce of happiness you have there." That's exactly how it feels--a fight, a battle both internal and external. And I'm just getting exhausted. C says it's normal to feel like there won't be anything other than these feelings. I guess in that way at least I'm "normal" because I'm just not seeing a way out of this one.


  1. What I am about to say may or not make sense right now, but it may at some point.

    Unless you are born in this area, I would venture to say that no one really feels like they belong here. I know I sure as shit don't. Although I have never felt like I belonged anywhere since I moved so many times growing up and never really had a place to call home.

    Furthermore, you may be surprised by how many of your friends and acquaintances here actually are in dark places. I think though that since this city/area is so hung up on appearance/power/status/ who you know/what you can do for me that so many people mask their dark places because they do not want it to negatively impact a certain image they want to project.

    But the amount of people who are fucked up VASTLY outnumber the people who are not. And that is why we are the normal ones. Because one cannot live in the city and not be fucked up to some extent. (and I don't mean fucked up in a negative light)

  2. @ The Divorced Guy-- "I don't mean fucked up in a negative light." Haha, then how do you mean it? Just as in it's normal to be fucked up? If so, I agree.

    What you wrote is reinforcing my suspicion that DC and I weren't meant to be.

  3. This may sound weird, but I would totally sit with you if you needed someone to just be there. I'm a pretty good listener and I always cary a box of tissues ;)

    Maybe moving back to NC is the right thing for you. If it is it doesn't mean that you have failed by not fitting in in DC. This is a tough town to deal with. I've been here almost four years, and I still can't decide if I love it or hate it yet. I have faith in you, you're going to make the right decision about where you're meant to be.


  4. Remember my Franzia afternoon? I'd have another one with you.

  5. You know if I was close I'd be right there for you.

    I have lived near this area since I was 10. Granted I am not from this town but the town I am from is, at most, half an hour away. However, if I really thought about it there is no one that lives close to here that I would want to ask to come be with me in my time of need. I mean, if Dustin and I had a fight there are people I could CALL but none of them is close enough to come over here.

    I think it comes with being an adult. When I was younger I had friends that I could call and we all were right there. But as I've gotten older that's changed. And it's kind of a bummer.

    Wow. Yeah. So that said, I'll bet there are a lot of people who feel what you're feeling. I know at times I do.

    P.S. I SO want to come visit you, I've only been to the area twice and it's never enough. And you know you are ALWAYS welcome here - but definitely when it's not so horribly frigid, ugh.

  6. Does this mean you're thinking about moving to N.C....because it seems like it might be the right place for you. As much as I say I want to leave Florida and I might do that if the right job comes along, I really feel like I fit here. It's the place my family is, I grew up in, and I love.

    That said, I'm not averse to moving somewhere else, to see if I fit there. It takes guts to move away and pursue a career away from home so I give you major props for that.

    But you have to be happy. And if you're not happy, you have to do what makes you happy.

  7. @ Delilah--At the very least it'd be fun to meet up! I feel like I know you already. Shoot me an email. :-)

    @Katie--I'll be purchasing a box o' wine in the near future. It's a date.

    @Krysten--Maybe you're right about the growing up piece, though I hate to think growing up means you realize you're alone in the world. That is just depressing! But, a visit is definitely due. That is something to look forward to fo sho.

  8. You and I already have a dinner date for Thursday night! Be there!

  9. As weird as this may sound, I can really relate to what you've written here, down to the minute details. I remember having a very similar conversation with my therapist recently.

    Its important to keep close the people (you described) who can provide the kind of intimacy you are looking for. Is it possible for you to recreate that here, eventually? If there is a slight glimmer of hope that can happen, then that's perfect. The initial adjustment period is always difficult. Otherwise, if you feel that the adjustment might be too difficult, and your heart is just not in it, then I suppose that means you've got a decision to make about moving back. Ultimately, do what makes you the happiest, whether that means working at a really great job you love or being close to your support system.

    You will pull through this depression, of that I am sure. I can see you are a resilient person. Keep your chin up :)

  10. I have to agree with you about 'belonging' somewhere and having those CLOSE (not only location wise, but emotionally) friends who will always be there. I had/ have a close group of girls that I grew up with. We all went to different universities and now 3 live together in NYC, 1 in DC and I live in Boston. And its tough, at least for me, because I don't have friends like them here. And wherever I live, I'll probably never have friends like them. I've known them since we were 8-ish and that sort of friendship can't be replicated.

    I still call where I grew up home even though I've lived in Boston now for 1.5 years. It still doesn't feel like home. Yes I currently live here, but its not the familiar feeling of home and I think not having my support system here is a big part of that. Anyways, I totally get you with this. And obviously I havent figured it out myself. Perhaps its just part of growing up? I don't know.

  11. I agree with what the Divorced Guy said. Most specifically, I think he makes a really good point when he talks about how people are so caught up in power and status that they mask their own depressing situations.

    I'm kind of a gypsy - because of my former career, I've had to live/travel all over. I have spent significant amounts of time in all 50 states, and have lived for longer than six months in seven major US cities. That being said, DC was the hardest adjustment I've ever had. I gave DC three years and then had to bounce, girl!!! I made some great friends, but even then it never felt like home. People were constantly looking over my shoulder to see if Someone More Important was approaching, I couldn't keep up with the political banter (nor did I care to), and I was sick to death of being off-loaded from the Metro every other day. Everything was so......"taupe". I became known as the "DC hater", yet everyone who called me that would constantly bitch that they were hopelessly single (no men) and always late to work (crappy Metro). I was the vocal ex-New Yorker so I was an easy target, even though everyone was bitching about the same thing! Even to this day, I have sweaty palms when I have to travel back to DC for various functions. I feel like DC was a bad boyfriend that I'm forced to revisit every so often. BLEH.

    Take care of your heart. If your heart feels more fulfilled in another place, go there! Everything eventually falls into place. A crappy job in a city you love is much better than a great job in a city you aren't at peace with. You sounded so content in your last post - and it sounds like you had some really rich moments while you were away. Wouldn't it be great to have those moments more often? Take care. You're too young to be having this much stress and anxiety. If you are able to make changes in your environment that you know will directly influence your happiness, go for it!!!

  12. @Stephany, I'm at least having wishful thoughts about it. Will keep you all posted!

    @Date Me, DC!, Yes, this relationship is getting quite serious. Time for a DTR.

    @Philosophia, I agree that it takes time to build real friendships. I've been here about a year and a half, and while I've got plenty of friends and fun things to do, I just haven't found the kindred spirit. And, I find that it's hard to get together regularly with the same people, esp my friends are spread out all over the DC-metro area.

    @Meredith, It's good to know this is a normal feeling, but it doesn't make it any easier! Just talked with a friend who just moved to Boston and she's feeling the same way.

    @Kristen, DC is tough! Part of me is totally the city girl, but then there's part of me that misses the slower pace of life in the south. Oh, and I miss my adorable nephew. And my mom. And my brothers. And my best friend. Lots of missing going on.

  13. I would come over too, with a book, a box of tissues, a tub of ice cream, whatever. We could mope together. I'm totally cool with being "meh" - especially considering the shitty time I'm going through too that seems to be mirroring yours. I know comfort levels take time to develop though. We should definitely hang out. I didn't start to feel like I belonged in this area until really, last year when I started to hang with a big group of extremely caring and deep individuals who have become very close friends. Would love you to join us. Want to go see Harry Potter tomorrow night in DC with like 10 other really nice people? At least 3 of which are mourning like us. Email me. xoxoxo