Hello, Papa Bear.
Before I begin, I would like to give a trigger warning for anyone reading. I will be talking about depression, self-harm, and suicide.
I have been depressed for two to three years. Recently, I was placed in a mental hospital for attempting suicide. I still struggle with self-harm and self-loathing, however the happiness within the furry fandom relieves that somewhat.
What I wanted to talk about is in regards to my recovery plan. My doctor has assigned me a therapist and prescribed antidepressants, but they also tell me that I need to work on my social dynamic. One of the main reasons why I became suicidal was a lack of connection with other people. I was always a reserved and introverted person, keeping to myself and not often sharing my emotions. But when my depression lapsed, this turned into an unhealthy type of isolation. Instead of simply enjoying being alone, I ended up cutting off all contact with everyone in my life, including my family, because I did not want to be emotionally close to anyone (or physically for that matter). I realize now that this was incredibly detrimental.
However, now my doctor is saying that I need to let people into my life and start developing friendships again. This is the very last thing that I want. I'm sixteen years old and in high school, and I have never been able to relate to the other people my age. While I want to discuss philosophy, politics, and art, they only seem to be interested in clothing, popularity, drugs, and superficial relationships. In every conversation, I'm at least three topics behind everyone else. It feels like I'm surrounded by toddlers. I know not to expect to get along with everyone, but so far I've only met one other person my age that I can actually trust. And they live halfway across the world. Anyone else ended up leaving for somewhat ignorant reasons ("You're asexual? Isn't that one of those made-up things people use to get attention?"). I'm not exactly the nicest person in the universe, but I thought I would be able to have a meaningful friendship with more than just one person. It's discouraging.
I have also had several negative experiences in the past, which may be a contributing factor for why I am not interested in having any friendships. Possibly the worst was with someone whom I trusted enough to admit to them that I was depressed. When I explained my feelings to them, they reacted by calling me selfish and several other terms I would rather not list here. Needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed. They continued to harass me over text and in person for about a week after the fact. Later, they gave a sorry excuse for an apology ("I'm sorry, but you really ought to consider how you make other people feel when you say stuff like that"). I honestly did not care enough to get mad or upset, so I told them they were right. They think we're still friends. But I don't.
I've had many other experiences similar to this, not necessarily always related to depression. I've sort of lost the ability to trust other people. Don't get me wrong, I have tried again and again to open up to people, but it's only ever worked out positively once. I know not to expect perfect fantasy-style relationships, but everything I've been through so far has crossed the line for what I consider to be mature and acceptable behavior. My family is this way as well.
Maybe the problem is me. I can't really imagine how or why, but it's the only explanation I can think of at this point.
I would like your opinion on this situation. What should I do?
I'm not close with my family and I really don't want to make friends. But without some sort of way to get my feelings out, I fear I may fall back into unhealthy habits.
Any help is much appreciated.
Cobalt (age 16)
* * *
You are experiencing the complications of what I call "Old Soul Syndrome." Whether or not you believe what I'm about to explain is up to you, but one old soul to another, I feel for you.
To believe in the old soul concept, you have to believe in reincarnation. An old soul is someone who has lived before--the more times you have lived, the older your soul. Older souls tend to be more serious, wiser, and more intelligent than younger souls because they have experienced more. This does not necessitate your remembering what happened to you in your earlier lives. Those experiences are ingrained in you, so even if you don't recall earlier lives they remain in your soul.
Young or new souls are still figuring out what is important in life. They tend to be still wide-eyed and bushy-tailed about it, overly impressed with the material and sensual and less so by the spiritual and intellectual. Thus, they appear to older souls as shallow and overly self-involved.
The good news is that old souls are less prone to making foolish mistakes about their lives; also, the wisdom they have, if shared with others, can be a positive force in society. Old souls tend to be more sensitive, more emotional, more empathic, more sympathetic, more creative, more willing to look at the big picture about life and existence.
The bad news is that there are many more new than old souls in the world, so it is harder to find people with whom you can relate, which can lead to social isolation. Depression is also possible--usually as a leftover from tragedies you experienced in previous lives, but also as a result of feeling disconnected from most of humanity. Again, you don't recall past hurts, but the emotional scars carry through to your current life and future lives.
Yes, you need to socialize, but you need to socialize with other old souls because those are people you can see eye-to-eye with. Here is an interesting site run by Lonewolf that might help you: https://lonerwolf.com/old-souls/. And there is also a Facebook group run by Lonewolf here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/imanoldsoul/.
Check them out and let me know if those sites help you. I have a feeling they might.
8/15/2017 12:32:10 pm
A clinical equivalent to Old Soul Syndrome might be "giftedness." (I hate that term, but that's what it's called in the literature.) The letter writer sounds like me, but in my case I was classified as "gifted," skipped multiple grades ahead, and put together with people much older than me in advanced university courses. That helped a lot.
8/15/2017 02:05:46 pm
Oh, yes, indeed, it might be a matter of intelligence. I didn't want to assume, necessarily, that the writer had a higher-than-normal IQ, but it did occur to me. My IQ was measured higher than normal and I had trouble relating to others, too. Good feedback, thanks!
8/17/2017 06:48:45 pm
Of course, it should also be noted that higher intelligence does not preclude shallowness. A person can be very smart and also preoccupied by the pursuit of the material and mundane.
8/18/2017 02:43:47 pm
Purely out of curiosity, might I ask what your IQ is then? I've never had an official test, but I did do one online once, and it scored me at 124.
8/19/2017 05:04:02 pm
I'm a bit disappointed that my comment about giftedness has turned into a discussion of IQ and intelligence. There is so much more to giftedness than that. (And IQ tests are not always reliable at identifying giftedness, by the way.)
8/20/2017 04:05:34 pm
My apologies. Those topics sound fascinating. Can you provide some recommended links to learn more about asynchrony and overexcitabilities? Thanks!
8/21/2017 12:14:44 pm
For a quick read on asynchronous development, check out "Many Ages at Once" by Lisa Rivero at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creative-synthesis/201201/many-ages-once
8/20/2017 04:08:53 pm
"Allegedly Gifted" is correct that IQ tests are not all that accurate, except in very general terms. Mine has been measured everywhere between 136 and 155. It kind of depends on the test, which is the problem. Also, there are all kinds of intelligence. Just because someone has problems with an IQ test doesn't mean they are not smart in other ways. Critics of IQ tests often point out that they are more geared to white people who live middle and upperclass lives, while, say, a young black person coming from a bad school district and poor family situation would have more difficulty. Doesn't mean that he is dumb, just not suited to the test.
8/21/2017 12:17:05 pm
Another issue with IQ tests is that in "twice exceptional" cases where an individual is both gifted and mentally disabled at the same time (yes, it's possible), the giftedness and the mental disability can cancel each other out in a testing environment, causing both the giftedness and the mental disability to be missed. Modern methods of identifying giftedness do not rely solely on a score from an IQ test.
8/21/2017 12:40:59 pm
Oh yes, I'm for certain that IQ tests are have their flaws, including race/gender biases and not considering other forms of intelligence. I'm just being curious is all. You are one fascinating specimen, Papa Bear :-)
8/23/2017 08:13:24 pm
Old soul roll call, sound off now!
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