Saturday, September 20, 2008

Socially retarded

I had another therapy session yesterday. I was actually considering canceling it. I don't know why, I've just been feeling really down lately - and I didn't want to talk about it. But I went anyway.

He asked some probing questions regarding what happened to bring this on - but the only thing I could tell him is that it just happens at times, it ebbs and flows, and I just need to time to get out of my funk.

He explained that there are times when depression is justified, such as the death of a loved one, and we just need to let it run its course in those situations. But, it seems to him that I've simply accepted my depression as something that happens, it's just part of my being - and that can't be good. It's not healthy, and I need to figure out a way to address it.

Then he asked me about some of the thoughts that go through my mind when I'm feeling like this. I told him that I feel like a social retard with no friends. He asked me to create, what he called, a sociograph. It is basically a diagram where I draw a circle in the center representing myself. I then draw other circles for other people I'm involved with in my life with their proximity to my circle representing how close I am to them. After examining my sociograph, he observed that I don't have much social interaction with others outside of family. He then referenced some events from my timeline that occurred at critical points in my life and said that it seems that I lack experience in building social relationships - experience that other people normally get while growing up,

so, I guess it's official now, I am a social retard!

One way to address this is through a desensitization where I consciously force myself into social situations in order to gain that experience. That is, of course, much easier said than done. How exactly does a social retard like me gain socialization experience? We talked about my role at church; but, he said that doesn't really help. It is a defined role with a defined expectation of behavior - he said even the most introverted person can fulfill a role. Social interaction skills help us in situations where we don't have a defined role.

So, I need to get out more to socially interact with others; but, I don't know how to do that because I'm a social retard. Does anyone else see the problem here?


Sean said...

Social retard, eh? Hmmm, it might be wise to have a dinner party with some people from the ward or neighbors. That could provide social experience. You could also do this with some coworkers. I don't know what else though. Sorry man!

Can one get medical benefits for being socially retarded? ;)

Beck said...

I agree that the church leadership position really isn't socialization. I'm very introverted except when "called upon to fulfill a role" and then it is expected and I do it and do it quite well (to the point that people think I'm socially well adapted to all kinds of situations). But, take that role away and I'm right back to being an introvert.

You love to cook and do barbecues and the like. You have a great yard and garden. You like to play music and take photos... in all of that you've got to be able to create social opportunities, no?

Large social gatherings make me depressed and uneasy. Smaller groups and one-on-ones are still socialization, right? Maybe you start small and build from there?

I don't think you're a social retard. Or maybe one social retard viewing another doesn't see anything unusual or so abnormal?

A.J. said...

Hey man, don't be so hard on yourself! I bet your not socially awkward you might just be comparing yourself too much to what you think you should be like... that always makes me depressed .

Philip said...

I also was socially challenged. Events involving lots of people drained my energy. I am much better now but still prefer one on one.

What I did to overcome my shyness (actually wasn't shyness but that is another story) was to primarily focus on my interests and passions and make the social aspect secondary. That way I could still enjoy myself even if the social aspect wasn't working out.

What about social groups involving interests you have? For instance, a photography club in your area?

Or charitable or political organizations dealing with topics you are passionate about?

Or a group that challenges you intellectually especially about who you are and how you feel about yourself?

PFLAG met most of the above critieria for me. I was interested in gay issues, passionate about equal civil rights for gays and my wife was the only straight person I had ever come out to.

Being out to a group of straight people for the first time forced me to focus on issues I didn't know I had regarding straight people. Addressing those issues brought about some very positive changes in my life. For instance, I realized I mistrusted all straight people even my wife. Exposure to a gay-positive group of straight people helped to overcome that mistrust and also cancelled out much of the negativity I had grown up with that I had previously been unable to shake. I also learned that when it came to homosexuality that gay people could learn from straight people, as well as, the other way around.

Hope this helps!


Philip said...


There is something more I want to say.

Is part of the reason you have so few friends because you are so closeted?

When I was deep in the closet, I was afraid of outing myself so I avoided social interaction as much as possible.

When I couldn't avoid social interaction, I was constantly on guard. I wanted to make sure I didn't say or do anything that gave me away. I rarely felt comfortable around others.

However, since I was 12 when I first went in the closet, I mistook my lack of social interaction and uncomfortableness with others for shyness (as mentioned in previous post).

So can you imagine my surprised when at 41 (when the doors blew off my closet forever) I discovered I wasn't shy at all.

Now don't get me wrong. I will never be a social butterfly and sometimes I lack tact but, to use your own words, I will never be socially retarded again.

Think about it.


Abelard Enigma said...

it might be wise to have a dinner party with some people from the ward or neighbors.

Neighbors? You mean those people who live in the houses near mine? That's way too scary.

We do actually have people over for dinner fairly regularly (although, we very seldom get invited by others, but that's another issue). But, I always seem to find myself gravitating towards the women and their conversations, which I find much more interesting than how the BYU football team is doing. Seriously, we live in Texas, can't they, at least, talk about the Dallas Cowboys (not that I would find that any more interesting).

Socializing with coworkers is not practical since none of my coworkers live in Texas :( One of the downsides from working out of my home.

maybe one social retard viewing another doesn't see anything unusual or so abnormal?

You said it, I didn't :) Although, there is a difference between a social retard and a social recluse.

you might just be comparing yourself too much to what you think you should be like

Perhaps, but is it really so unreasonable to want to have, at least, one friend? Right now, the closest I have to friends are the husbands of my wifes friends - and then only because we both get drug along.

Is part of the reason you have so few friends because you are so closeted?

That's an interesting idea that I'll have to ponder.