Recently, it’s been a lot harder for me to respond to text messages and calls from friends or loved ones.
I can’t pinpoint a specific reason for this—whether I’m just busy or actively avoiding meaningful conversations and isolating myself—but the result is the same; a tremendous feeling of guilt.
As a person with ADHD, I thrive when I make to-do lists; I hoard sticky notes and post them along the route of my daily routine, hoping that I’ll remember to complete my tasks for the day. I even made a sticky note list with the names of friends I need to call/text back, plus the dates when we last talked.
But each time I see the list stuck to my computer screen, I don’t feel motivated to reach out. Instead, I feel an undeniable sense of dread.
Why, though? I love my friends and family, and I want to know what’s going on in their lives. I also have the emotional resources to support them if they’re struggling and plenty of days when I have extra time for catchup calls.
Maybe it’s the time difference; I’m out east, and all my friends are on the west coast. But I could plan for that, calling them at night or later in the day on the weekends.
What I’ve realized is that I don’t want to talk about my life. I’m busy trying to get schoolwork done, be on time for my job, and have spare time to write.
Even if I do have an evening free, I want to spend it recovering, catching up on TV shows, or luxuriating in self-care. Does this mean I’m a terrible friend? Or that I’m depressed and don’t want anyone to know?
I find myself needing to remember that spending time and energy on yourself—your everyday, in-the-moment life and responsibilities—isn’t an indicator of poor mental health or underdeveloped social skills. It just means you’re trying to compartmentalize.