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How to be social after being isolated for so long? (6+ years)

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  • This topic has 8 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks, 1 day ago by
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  • #961852 Reply

    I decided to make an account to get some advice on this, since I never really thought about it until now, and could use some advice. I’ll be writing my life story as far as I’m comfortable telling it, my apologies in advance.

    Back in college, I dropped out on a case bout of depression within the first year. I was failing my classes and struggling with the fact that up until that point, I’ve always acted as what people wanted of me, not necessarily what I wanted to do, so I felt my personality was pretty fake. I later learned through some talks with a therapist and some testing that I had been living with ADD for my entire life without realizing, hidden by the fact that I did well academically prior to that point. When it came to subjects I was interested in, I was a model student, but I ended up failing in everything else. I felt that it was mild enough to not require medication, but I could have been wrong.

    I decided take a step back, and try to figure out who I am, while casually helping out my dad with his business in the mean time. Through a series of attempts and failures, I eventually just landed on living life doing activities I found fun at home, whether that was reading, playing video games, watching stuff. I found I have a particular interest in teaching others, though there wasn’t much I was qualified in except for video games that I played for way too long. However, combined with my ADD, over the years I ended up neglecting a lot of life skills beyond the bare minimum for living by myself.

    At the start of this year I decided to stay in Japan to help with my dad’s business, though it doesn’t require much from me, so I was free to do whatever. Then the pandemic hit, and I decided to stay in Japan over going back to the US, especially since my apartment is in the NYC. I stopped being able to go for walks, and it’s hard to encourage myself to do something active in my small apartment in Tokyo. With my ADD, I got really invested in a hobby for about a month, so much so that I essentially stopped others like video games altogether, but eventually my headstrong attitude and lack of people skills from being in my own head for all these years led to me burning up a lot of bridges and ultimately disliking thinking about that hobby anymore. Now I’m here, with a lot of free time, no specific attachment to any of my previous hobbies, lost on what to do, and in a country that I still don’t know the language of.

    I realize now that I’m not preoccupied by anything, and taking some time to just focus on thinking about my position in life and my personality, it’s legitimately been years since I last had an actual friend or significant relationship outside my family, since my ADD makes it hard for me to keep any unless our interests were to align perfectly. I’m easily distracted from really thinking about this type of stuff because there was always something I found interesting that would distract me. I have a habit of completely disappearing or moving on from something completely if a bad event occurs. I’m 24 and lack a lot of skills that would be useful if not borderline necessary for someone at my age because of how skewed the way I’ve been living has been until now. I’d use my hobbies to distract myself from any potential problems in my life. I’m afraid of making connections with others because of how naturally gullible and trusting I am. Any advice on where to go from here, specifically with making friends/relationships, and just what I ought to do with my life in general would be appreciated.

    • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by avatarDerpyStudent. Reason: Added another introspective thought about myself
    #961865 Reply

    It sounds like deciding to follow your ‘true personality’ rather than doing what others expected, coupled with your reaction to an ADD diagnosis has transformed you from a person who was coping reasonably well with life to a person who can barely cope at all. It seems that staying mainly within a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and have no friends isn’t working for you. I think that you should come home.

    #961867 Reply

    How are you supporting yourself now? Where is your income coming from – I’m assuming your parents? It sounds like the first things you need to do are be seen by a doctor and start therapy – you need to get your ADD and poor/addictive coping habits under control. Make an appointment with your doctor and get a referral from him/her for a therapist and start going. In therapy you can start making goals and plans for an education, career path, and developing some of the skills to come out of isolation. I agree with Ron that living in a foreign country where you know no one, have no support, and cannot speak the language is probably not the best place for you.

    #961868 Reply

    It sounds like your parents have been enabling you maybe? Otherwise how could you just stay home and play video games and do nothing else?

    First thing I would recommend is to stop using your ADD as a reason why this or that is gonna be hard. LOADS of people with problems that are much worse manage to make friends. You can do it. But, yeah, you have to either go to school or get a job — something in real life. There definitely will be times when you’re bored with it, or not into it, but don’t just stop at that point. Get therapy to help you get through those low energy moments; we all have them.

    You have to aim at something, just to show yourself you can follow through.

    #961870 Reply

    This is going to take some explaining, but I first want to say that all of the advice given was valuable and I will factor that in for future life decisions.

    I have actually discovered the reason for my depression, and actually the reason for why I’ve essentially been in a battle with myself for 24 years.

    We all have heard of toxic masculinity, right? I’d say a very problematic aspect of it is how it affects your ability to think. For 24 years, I have been told my way of thinking is wrong compared to toxic masculinity thinking.

    In toxic masculinity thinking, there is essentially a whole rule book of ways to act and think about situations that literally don’t make sense when put under scrutiny. For example, your attractiveness to women is defined by your looks, and you need to look good to have a chance with women. If you’re overweight or any other undesirable aspect, you need to eliminate that before even talking to a women to have your best shot at having a relationship. This is the thinking that has been drilled into my head since birth as the right way to think.

    My ACTUAL opinion though? Attractiveness is defined by multiple different factors, and it’s literally different from woman to woman, so it’s useless to focus on some common goals to work towards versus finding a woman that matches your personality, and then working from there. The ideal woman is one who matches your personality perfectly, with passable looks, and mutual understanding to work towards having the skills necessary to live together, because you can stay with them until you die, whereas if you focus on the physical aspects, that can literally change overnight.

    But the thing is, that thinking of mine, and a lot of my other ideas, run counter to a how a guy is usually meant to act in modern Western society. I have needed to suppress the way I actually think with what society told me to think (hide your emotions, don’t show weakness, be stoic, never cry), and as the result I kept getting depressed over the hypocrisy of my own actions. The average man in society is a lot more colder and harsher than how I would act in the same scenario, and I kept getting angry at myself for how much I didn’t agree with my own actions, but I felt forced to do them because that’s what was expected of me by society.

    It wasn’t until I finally decided break one of the stereotypical man’s biggest taboos, writing out your thoughts and talking about your insecurities, and decided to tell women about them (another taboo in male thinking) that I started to realize my thinking is a lot more aligned with women than with men, and I’ve been constantly depressed about how much I’ve needed to compromise because I’m a heterosexual man with these thoughts. This might all sound crazy, but I’ve literally just discovered how much toxic masculinity has ruined my ability to think critically since birth. I think I can do a lot better in society now that this fundamental issue with how I was raised was just solved, but I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the matter.

    #961871 Reply

    There is no ‘how a man needs to act’. We long ago, as in 50 years ago when I was your age, accepted that there is a whole wide spectrum of thinking and behavior for what is male and what is female. You don’t have to adopt tozic masculinity. Perhaps it predominates in your neighborhood/friend group, but… there are wider horizons. You won’t find them huddled with your video games in your parents house. You need to find your own people. That is one very big thing that college is for. You said you were good at school, if you liked the subject. Well, the good news is that once you get past freshman year and other distribution requirements, you can take a higher and higher percentage of courses you like. In some colleges, you can do that from day one. There is hope to get your life back on track and get with a group which allows you to be accepted as yourself.

    #961872 Reply

    While there is no “how a man should act” literally, I do believe society recommends a series of assumptions that a man should follow. Men shouldn’t cry. Men should be strong. Men should be the breadwinners, as just a few of the huge list of how a “man” should act. All these assumptions build on top of each other, and force men into creating the toxic masculinity mindset. My mind was severely hampered since birth because my own thinking ran counter to this toxic masculinity mindset, and the worst part is that the toxic masculinity mindset was additionally drilled into my head because every male I knew growing up shared similar thoughts. I needed to think similarly to them if I want to fit in, and I was scared to let my true thinking show because it ran counter to what a “man” should be.

    I’d easily get called girly and ridiculed if I tried talking about my feelings, or cried, or generally not think like how a “man” thinks, and so I suppressed my actual reasoning with the toxic masculinity mindset. I got depressed from this internal struggle that I essentially have been fighting against my entire life where I fundamentally disagreed with my actions, but I mentally forced myself to think this way to properly fit into society. I’ve only recently seen the light now that I’ve allowed the toxic masculinity mindset to not cloud my thoughts anymore.

    #961874 Reply

    Dear Derpy:

    Perhaps you can begin by befriending your father’s other employees. Try not to be overly-concerned about toxic masculinity.

    The qualities which will help you attract friends are actually genderless: kindness, honesty, genuine concern for others, a good temper, and a decent sense of humor.

    Practice cultivating these, and your friendships will flourish! 😊

    #961877 Reply

    You need to get into therapy. It seems you grew up in a family and/or community where strict, old fashioned gender norms were enforced. That can definitely be difficult and is harmful to grow up with. But you’re telling us your cognitive dissonance around that has lead to you becoming a complete recluse who is unable to participate in society in literally any way. There are other things at play here also- mental illness, anxiety, obsessive thought patterns, unhealthy coping skills, depression. This isn’t something we here at Dear Wendy are equipped to address. Please reach out to your regular doctor, get a full check up, and start therapy as soon as you can.

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