Disconnect

I am ill. Again. This time I feel excessively sick, and tired. Not sick and tired, as in angry or fed up, more vomitous and sleepy as in ill.

I have been ill a lot over the past year, it is, they say, a side effect of depression. A very generous illness – can’t sleep, often ill, crying for no reason etc etc

However, the thing I am finding the most difficult at the moment is something that has been building over the past 6 months ago. I feel entirely disconnected from the world around me.

When I initially had my nervous breakdown last year, I was single and aware that being alone was incredibly unhealthy for me. I was out and about all the time. I was incredibly sociable and developed some incredible friendships which got me through the toughest year of my life.

I guess this made me think ‘maybe I am not one of those depressed people that doesn’t want to see anyone!’ This made me happy, as I love my friends and the idea of driving them away by hiding away makes me sad. One of my greatest fears has always been rejection. Like everyone else, I just want people to love me!! Selfish, maybe but pretty standard in my limited experience of the world.

Yet, over the past 6 months I have found myself withdrawing more and more. This is frustrating, not least because I am happier and more content than I have been for a long while!

Perhaps this is part of the cause. I now believe that my friends do love me and therefore do not feel the need to be around them all the time. However I think not.

I do believe my friends love me, often despite my being a complete hermit and therefore not really available for them. I really do want to be there for my friends. I want to be helpful. I care deeply about them and will fight for them, just give me a bit more rest time first…

I guess the main reason I don’t think I am withdrawing because I am comfortable is because I am finding that I feel more and more disconnected from God.

I feel a bit like a bit of pastry. I am getting rolled out, which is great, but I just keep getting rolled. I am stretched too thin and can’t really contain anything.

This last few weeks have been interesting. Around all the talk about Internet abuse there have been some interesting points. Vicky Beeching has spoken of a ‘broken binary‘ where the ‘real world’ and ‘online world’ are now one and the same, and yet we continue to talk as if they are not.

At focus I met a woman I now consider to be one of my closest friends. We have been communicating for months and developing a deep and precious relationship. However, I met her for the first time less than 2 weeks ago. It was weird. It didn’t feel like a first time meeting, it felt normal, natural and just like seeing one of my best friends.

I think this is where part of my problem lies. I am one of those people talking about ‘online’ and ‘offline’ worlds. Yet I don’t live the distinction I speak. I am someone who loves relationship but I feel drained as I am not putting boundaries into my life. I expect to be able to invest in relationships all the time, and yet – because of the nature of the internet being always with me on my phone, when I am alone, I am not really alone.

I am still investing in relationships, either by text, twitter, email, blog or any other way. I am always in communication with someone.

This has left me exhausted and questioning how on earth I am meant to invest in anyone. I miss my friends. The ones I have had for years. The ones I see less of. I love my new friends, the ones I meet up with on twitter. I don’t know really how to create an effective boundary to ensure that being for ever available does not actually get in the way of creating space to just be. Quiet and alone.

It is in these spaces that my relationship with God has always been given the opportunity to flourish. I invest here, I read the bible, pray, listen and reflect. So, if I keep my phone ever with me, am I running the risk of investing ‘too much’ in my friends online and not enough in my relationships not found through the Internet?

This is all a new revelation to me. I love the idea of a broken binary put forward by Vicky. I believe that the relationships I make online are as valuable as those offline, therefore I must take time to step back from both when needing to rest and regain strength. Through doing this, perhaps I will regain that sense of balance.

Maybe I will offer the necessary support, love and strength to all friends regardless of what the context of our relationship is. I would like this. I am tired of feeling disconnected and useless. Tired of feeling like a failure and tired of being ill.

disclaimer…

I am happy! I am doing well, I say all of this because I am pondering the nature of my relationship with the Internet and the world. I am now heading off to the country. Despite the rambling nature of this post, it is going up anyway… what can I say? I am living on the edge!

17 Comments

  • Hi, Katherine, Sally here. I am afraid of being rejected too. That’s why I have not been in touch with you; I said to my therapist that you can’t have time for me because you are well known and I am unknown relatively so you won’t have spare time to be in touch with me.
    I have had depression since I was about two years old. I am now fifty-one. I would love to be in touch with you. xxx.
    PS In early September, I will get my results for my ‘Studying Theology For The First Time’ course I did, in which I wrote about about your father as we had to write something about a contemporary subject in faith today. I researched your father’s biography and I wrote about his documented experiences in a positive way. I learnt a lot from this. I could send you it if you like.

  • To God you are loved. Jesus IS your friend. As a fellow sufferer and a retired GP I found that you are of most help to all when you accept that you can’t do it all for everyone. Look after yourself. Accept help yourself including medication if it works for you. Get well. God bless you for your inspiration to others

  • Katherine

    I hope your time in the Great British Countryside is restorative. When I go for a break I always take a stack of books. Never read any! It is only on a hol that I look at what a crazy and stupendous world we like in. I have to touch a leaf to convince myself. Connect and humble myself as a small part of all this.
    I hope you enjoy the clouds, mostly the big puffy ones.
    Cheers
    Mark

  • hello, going to the country sounds like such a wonderful idea, I hope it is refreshing and beautiful. Brain’s a bit muddled at present so don’t have anything helpful to say, but the last sentence (before the italics bit) resonated a lot…pray for you sometimes.
    I’m also struggling with friends/relationships and even working out how to initiate social contact, I become a hermit but know it’s not good for me.
    Guess it’s about perseverance isn’t it?

  • Hi,
    Love your blog, love your honesty and will keep you in our prayers.
    Sometimes, when it all becomes too much I remember the words of a wise friend… “Don’t wrestle, just nestle”.

  • Hi Katharine.

    Thank you for your beautifully honest and vulnerable post. It is encouraging to hear such honest voices online as well as offline! Thank you for blessing others with your honesty and allowing them to ask the hard questions in life.

    I just wanted to recommend something which has helped me very much during the past few months. I had a breakdown in May and have been receiving treatment for depression and I have struggle with the balance of relationships and time for myself etc. Being 23 I worry a great deal about friendships, even if they have very solid foundations. I love being sociable but often I feel drained and withdraw from investing due to the nature of depression. I’ve been reading “Radical Hospitality” by Lonni Collins Pratt and Father Daniel Homan. It has a beautiful chapter on Cloister, Community and Hospitality. How we balance solitude, relationships and serving others. I have been refreshed by reading this. It has helped me relax knowing I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend or save world hunger by myself. I highly recommend it. I’m reading the new and expanded edition if that helps.

    I am glad you had a wonderful time at Focus. I attend St James in the City in Liverpool – about 40 of us came to focus and I was excited to hear that Erin came from Liverpool to be with your family. She sought us out!

    God bless you! And just let you know you are in my prayers and you are certainly not alone 🙂

    With love,

    April

  • Bless you for being so open, and inspirational. I have struggled and do still struggle with the concept of boundaries, the dichotomy of wanting to nurture friendships (vital) and mesh this alongside time for prayer, reflection (vital) …I have found that the best way to make such boundaries is to simply make the decision, and do it. It sounds as if your friends know and love you and will absolutely respect your need for this time. The country side sounds perfect. Be alone in nature, leave your phone inside. Touch the grass, the leaves, the earth. Engage your senses, the smells and sights, and thank God for his gifts. Reconnection this way lies.

  • Hi, Katherine,
    These are real raw and honest thoughts, I’m 39 and suffered a breakdown about three years ago, although I think the breakdown was 15 years too late. It was inevitable it was going to happen, I just slowed the process down. I think everyone who is open to truth and meaning has a breakdown at some point of life, if they don’t it’s because they numb the pain with other drugs or certain lifestyle choices or goals. On a positive note, you have suffered one in your young years so now it’s a matter of learning to live with it, or if possible control it.

    I found on exploration that my breakdown was due to me ignoring or not listening to deep inner longings that I had (which were not bad) but thinking I was not good enough or allowed to pursue them, because of my problem with self rejection. I also learnt that a breakdown, is not really a breakdown of emotions but a breakdown of figuring out the meaning of things, life or relationships.

    Take heart in knowing that you are not alone and others can totally relate to what you are going through, you are normal and what your experiencing is normal to most people as well. Hope you enjoy your time in the country. Keep these reflections up.

  • I really like the ‘don’t wrestle, nestle’ advice; that’s what I’m doing now. Even though I OUGHT to be out, I just want to be in, by myself, not interacting at all. I’ll be ok soon, it goes in waves. I haven’t even got the energy to go out into the garden at the moment, let alone further afield. Keep well! x

  • I came to your blog via Vicky Beeching. I always love the real-ness of your posts. Have you read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar? I really like that analogy of the glass jar coming down over your head. That’s what depression so often feels like – a deadening, disconnecting thing, even though it all looks the same.

    I always think it’s difficult to talk about depression when you’re in the middle of it.( As in – people will get worried).

    Anyway. I totally agree with you and Vicky about the continuity between online and offline life. I am housebound with severe ME, and have ‘met’ people online who have become email friends, then Skype friends. If I ever get well enough to visit, they will be visity friends too. I think it is a both/and rather than an either/or.

    Fab post. Thanks!

  • I get this. I also had a kind of mental breakdown this year. God has felt all at once remote and imminent. People too. I am growing in different directions while being challenged to ‘cut down and focus’. The journey has been rather surreal already – I’ve been making a blog toolkit of things that have helped me break the cycles of thinking. See http://www.threescore.wordpress.com (yes, I am giraffe bread mum). I pray you start feeling that things are improving soon. Thank you for sharing honestly, it’s a real blessing to me.

  • Hi Katherine
    I so love the open and honest way you bring things to the table to twitter and blog to name but two.To those who are mere aquaintaces rather than friends you provide inspiration and encouragement to deepen the prayer life get more into the Bible spend more time with God.Yes it is indeed so easy to get caught up with the things of the Lord – friendships an the like as well as work (for me as a Vicar) that we don’t get caught up with the Lord of all things as we should. Yet as John Donne put it no man is an island and we need that touch of friendship be it physical or in the ether.
    I pray that God continues to bless you and sue you so wonderfully in the midst of all you bear.
    every blessing and many prayers
    Stephen

  • Hi Katherine
    This is not a reply but a response to your twitter question to Mike, the line about love being joy resting etc is quoted in John Stott’s book ‘the contemporary Christian’ at the end of the chapter on the fruit of the spirit, as coming from a forrmer miisionary with the old Rwanda Mission during the East AFrican REvival, I’m away from home hence don’t have exact page numbers/names etc, but hope that helps you
    Jane

  • Your post is interesting, quite philosophical. It is hard to find balance in life, it’s a challenge. I personally suffered a lot of heartbreak because I lost contact with good friends since I was withdrawing, finding difficult to socialise. I’ve struggled with that for a while, and I don’t know the reason why. I’m making a huge effort to change that. To drag myself out and meet new people. You mentioned in your blog the feeling of loneliness. It’s something that I’ve always carried and I really believe that at the end of the day I’m own my own (my life depends on my choices that interconnected with events, which I believe are a matter of coincidence, probabilities, chance). I don’t believe there is any meaning in life (beyond of what it is), any plan or destiny. Nothing. There is this feeling of emptiness. At times I search for some kind of answer that would point out for a meaning, a path…Anyway keep posting. I enjoy reading around your blog. I wish you all the best and hope you’ll feel better. Best Wishes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *