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Sophy

How much of your depression is due to "being different" - not fitting in, not being part of the herd, not being mainstream, being unusual etc

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I'm starting to wonder how much of my depression is due to "not fitting in" to many situations in life.

I come from a family where people kind of pride themselves on being different and unusual and not being "part of the herd".

This is a big issue for me too - I don't seem to fit into most "mainstream" categories.
To a certain degree, this is fine/ interesting, but sometimes it grates.

(Also, I see a kind of circular loop where being depressed about not fitting in means you fit in even less, which makes you more depressed and so on.)

I think for me there's 2 main things connected to this - one is how it felt to "not fit in" as a kid and teenager and the other is how it feels now, as an adult.

As I child, I grew up quite independently minded and was pretty much allowed to do "whatever I wanted to do" all the time. Back then, "fitting in" was not even a category I thought about.
When I was 7 my parents moved overseas to a quite different country and culture, with a different language.
Suddenly, "fitting in" became quite a huge issue.

All of the things (toys, food, clothing, whatever) that had been wonderful and normal in my country of origin seemed "weird, exotic, unusual" to the kids in the new country.
This made me start feeling like a FREAK.

Unfortunately, I had no-one to talk to about it (my family was going through a super rough time) and my parents were zero help.
So I felt quite overwhelmed with the situation at age 7 and did not know how to deal with being "completely different" so suddenly, when I had been basically "completely normal" before (at least I had been in my own child consciousness - I had FELT normal).

I never really learned to process or deal with this "not fitting in" being forced upon me.
Just "dropping" my own identity and doing "whatever" to fit in with the other kids didn't feel like an option to me. That would've felt really fake.
So I kind of tried to blend the old and the new, but it never felt comfortable.
I also RESENTED being made to feel like a freak at that young age, which didn't exactly make me WANT to fit it. It made me a resentful little kid.
I liked some toys and food in the new country, but heaps of stuff also seemed massively inferior to me.

I also remember finding it weird to move from a country where boys and girls were treated equally and were friends to a country where there was a BIG gender role divide and boys and girls were NOT friends ever. I also grew up in a country where kids generally liked their teachers, unless they were mean and would say hello to their teachers. In the new country, kids ignored their teachers as much as possible and did not treat them as human beings, but treated them as a "role" - someone who made you follow the rules and who graded your homework.

As puberty/ the teenage years hit, fitting in seemed to become a TOTAL OBSESSION for my peers.
In hindsight I know this is also because my parents sent me to a very weird highschool, where this behaviour was SUPER prevalent.
It was a very snobby high school where FITTING IN was the be all and end all and you were DOOMED if you didn't fit in and didn't make fitting in your ABSOLUTE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY above all else like actually being a nice person, having nice friends, learning stuff at school, etc.

I continued to be independently minded and someone who was unusual/ unique and who hated the herd mentality and who despised those of my peers that sacrificed EVERYTHING to fitting in. I thought they were horrendous and superficial and lame and a nightmare. Unfortunately it was a very intense school with dehumanising behaviour being the norm.

It took me quite a while in therapy to realise that I went to a very dysfunctional, dehumanising school where violence was prevalent. Initially I had assumed that "all" high schools were like this and that "everyone's" teenage years were like that. It took me a long time to work out how sick and dysfunctional *this particular* school was.

As I continued to grow up I found myself seeking a non-mainstream lifestyle and copping HUGE amounts of flak and pressure both from society and my family for it.

I recall family members basically screaming at me hysterically that if I didn't follow a traditional/ mainstream path in life or whatever life choices those family members considered to be "right" then I would end up destitute and homeless and developing a crack habit and having to prositute myself to finance it... *sigh*

Given I was already coming from an abusive childhood and struggling with depression, panic attacks and PTSD, this was not particularly "helpful" behaviour to be exposed to.

So being someone who has always believed in "taking the path less travelled" and wanting to explore life, I feel like society finds about 500 ways each day to overtly or subtly let me know that I DON'T FIT IN.

I find this quite depressing in the overall sum.

While I am quite good at shrugging some stuff off, I just feel like it's this RELENTLESS BARRAGE of messages that I DO NOT FIT IN.

Since I moved from the city to a farm in the middle of the countryside (my nearest neighbour is half a mile away) I feel a LOT more comfortable.

Yup, I'm not living a mainstream life. But I'm not having my nose rubbed in it like EVERY TWO MINUTES.

I still drive to the city every day for work, but it's kinda in-and-out so I'm not exposed to many cultural norms at the moment.

Also, my work place is quite unsual and ecclectic, which definitely helps!
Due to the nature of my work, I work with well over 50% colleagues from other countries and the other 50% are very pro other cultures and other ways of life.
This workplace has been a blessing for me.

For once, it feels comfortable that everyone has their own kind of normal and that's FINE.
People genuinely find each other's way of life INTERESTING and do not feel the need to CORRECT them and FORCE them to be like the rest of the herd.

So I am living in a faaaaar more comfortable situation re this stuff nowadays.
But it has certainly had big negative impacts on me in the past.


Anyway, I'm just wondering how many people think that this issue plays a major role in their depression.

And I still can't believe how NARROW MINDED society as a whole is.

I mean, I grew up in 2 affluent, western countries.

It's 2018 and we've still not truly overcome things like racism, homophobia, and all the other prejudices out there.

For everyone living a non-mainstream life, it's a constant exposure to STRESS.

Yes, you eventually learn to live with it. But it still feels like you're some kind of donor organ that is being rejected by the body you don't fit into and only large doses of immuno-suppressants are keeping the situation workable.

Grrrrrrr.
Sigh.

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Oh, I also wanted to add - the reason that I thought of this topic is that the other day I happened to be driving through middle-class suburbia.

You know, MAINSTREAM at its most full-on.

And I had to almost giggle at how unbelievably triggering I find mainstream suburbia. I dunno whether to PUKE or have a panic attack, or both.

I mean, how can SUBURBIA be this much of a trigger??? Haha.

But honestly! This amount of mainstream stuff FREAKS ME OUT TOTALLY

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I've always been the odd duck. As a kid, I had red hair and freckles--automatic bullying targets. I was also puny because of some health issues so I didn't perform well in PE class. As a result I was constantly getting belittled and even beat up. I was bookish and liked to talk about astronomy and meteorology, another big strike against me. I had no idea who the sports figures were that everyone else seemed to worship...leading to even more humiliation.

In high school, I began to catch up physically so I could at least hold my own climbing the rope and peg board. But I was still a geek in the sense that I loved science and math. I still read all of the time. I also became a "greaser" of sorts, hanging around with all of the gearheads. I was--and still am--fascinated by machinery.

Now I'm a complete radical when it comes to societal expectations, politics, world affairs, etc. I'm a pariah among family and friends because of my views. I'm eccentric and live with my cats. I don't socialize because that depresses me even more. People still talk about sports and little else...and I'm still clueless about that subject. I simply don't care about it.

But yeah, the constant submersion into what I see as a violent, greedy, and narcissistic society can really drag me down. The last thing I want to do  is conform to it, but I'm also weary of trying to swim upstream every second of every day.

On edit: suburbia disgusts me. I grew up on a farm but moved into "the city" when I went off to college. For 25 years, I lived with my ex in an older suburb where I had to mow the lawn, sweep the driveway and all of the other bullsh!t. The sound of lawnmowers is a "trigger" for me, especially late on a Sunday evening. Now I live near downtown in a higher density area, which I like in many ways.

Edited by JD4010

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1 minute ago, JD4010 said:

But yeah, the constant submersion into what I see as a violent, greedy, and narcissistic society can really drag me down. The last thing I want to do  is conform to it, but I'm also weary of trying to swim upstream every second of every day.

Yessss...

I too adored books and LIKED learning (big no-no!) loved subjects like maths and HATED P.E.

(Being a girl, I had the "menstruation" excuse and OMG I fibbed about it alot... I think I told my P.E. teacher nearly weekly that I had my period.... hahaha... P.E. made me HATE sport and exercise with a passion - something I still struggle with to this day. It took my DECADES to realise that there is such a thing as NON-COMPETITIVE sport, like cycling, running, hiking, yoga where the point is NOT making the other team feel like losers, but just ENJOYING exercise.... Don't get me started on P.E. teachers and P.E. I think it is a form of torture and abuse and I'm shocked it's allowed to be part of the school curriculum.)

But yeah, I don't even understand the pressure to CONFORM.

I ADORE having friends from all walks of life it is so  I*N*T*E*R*E*S*T*I*N*G

It seems that's a concept many people have never even HEARD OF

Thank you for your metaphor of "swimming upstream every second of every day".

That's what the constant pressure to conform and to be mainstream feels like to me to. It is relentless.

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I think it plays a much bigger role than most of us acknowledge, unless someone is on the psychopathic spectrum they will have a strong need to fit in. Evolutionary speaking isolation was often a death sentence, it causes our bodies to produce stress hormones which lead to a myriad of physical symptoms and our brain ends up developing anxiety, depression and other problems. There's a reason isolation is used as a punishment, after a while people would rather socialize with ******ers than be locked into a room with no human contact. 

The need to belong to a group is real, mind you it doesn't mean that people seek acceptance from the mainstream. There are plenty of people who will view themselves as unique and have no desire to meet society's expectations but even they have the need to belong to a group and that's why you get all kinds of countercultures such as goths and what not. 

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8 minutes ago, JD4010 said:

On edit: suburbia disgusts me. I grew up on a farm but moved into "the city" when I went off to college. For 25 years, I lived with my ex in an older suburb where I had to mow the lawn, sweep the driveway and all of the other bullsh!t. The sound of lawnmowers is a "trigger" for me, especially late on a Sunday evening. Now I live near downtown in a higher density area, which I like in many ways.

Yeah, me too!

I either like where I live now - super remote...

OR living in a downtown area that is really mixed/ varied/ and more anonymous where everyone also kinda gets to do whatever they want.

Either remote countryside or BIG BIG city for me : )

And OMG yes, I find lawnmowers a trigger too!!!!! People beating their lawns into submission!!! The lawn must conform!!!!

Aaaaaaaaarghhhhh I think I need to stop driving through suburbia!!!!!

LOL : )

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1 minute ago, lonelyforeigner said:

I think it plays a much bigger role than most of us acknowledge, unless someone is on the psychopathic spectrum they will have a strong need to fit in. Evolutionary speaking isolation was often a death sentence, it causes our bodies to produce stress hormones which lead to a myriad of physical symptoms and our brain ends up developing anxiety, depression and other problems. There's a reason isolation is used as a punishment, after a while people would rather socialize with ******ers than be locked into a room with no human contact. 

The need to belong to a group is real, mind you it doesn't mean that people seek acceptance from the mainstream. There are plenty of people who will view themselves as unique and have no desire to meet society's expectations but even they have the need to belong to a group and that's why you get all kinds of countercultures such as goths and what not. 

Yeah.

Well, I think BOTH needs are real. The need to belong AND the need to be unique/ an individual/ to have freedom to breathe.

I think what becomes toxic is when certain groups/ cultures turn it into an either/ or thing.

EITHER you conform and are part of the herd OR you get bullied and excluded from the group.

There IS a good middle ground - healthy, functional groups that permit their members to be different and free while belonging to and caring about the group's core values.

I think society's either/ or approach is the problem.

And then people are made to choose - either sacrifice your identity and freedom so you can belong.

Or sacrifice your sense of belonging so you can have some degree of freedom.

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I love dandelions. But you can't have those in your yard out there in suburbia. The "neighbors" will call city inspection on you. I refused to put any chemicals on my lawn and indeed tried to have native plants instead of stupid golf-course grass (and don't get me started on @#$%! golf courses). BZZZZT! Wrong answer. Even your damned lawn has to conform!

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Just now, JD4010 said:

I love dandelions. But you can't have those in your yard out there in suburbia. The "neighbors" will call city inspection on you. I refused to put any chemicals on my lawn and indeed tried to have native plants instead of stupid golf-course grass (and don't get me started on @#$%! golf courses). BZZZZT! Wrong answer. Even your damned lawn has to conform!

O

M

G


You freak you!!!!   : )


Yes, I had the EXACT SAME garden issue going on in suburbia. I had the dandelion cops being called on me too.

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Just now, JD4010 said:

I love dandelions. But you can't have those in your yard out there in suburbia. The "neighbors" will call city inspection on you. I refused to put any chemicals on my lawn and indeed tried to have native plants instead of stupid golf-course grass (and don't get me started on @#$%! golf courses). BZZZZT! Wrong answer. Even your damned lawn has to conform!

😂 HOAs can be a real pain too, last place I lived they dictated what color window blinds you were allowed to use, heaven forbid someone messes up the pristine appearance of the neighborhood. 

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Hahaha. If I had my way, I would have been growing GOH (God's Own Herb) in my yard rather than turf.

On edit: I love this thread!

Edited by JD4010

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What are HOAs @lonelyforeigner ? : )

I hope you have the "right" colour of window blind now.

Else anarchy could break loose and that would be the end of the civilised world as we know it.

OMG I am surrounded by FREAKS!

Dandelions and wrong coloured window blinds.

*sigh*

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Home Owner Association. They're always concerned about someone devaluing the property and you'll get nasty letters if you choose the wrong colors or a lawn isn't maintained up to their standards, lol. Oh, and we couldn't store bicycles on balconies either...

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3 minutes ago, lonelyforeigner said:

Home Owner Association. They're always concerned about someone devaluing the property and you'll get nasty letters if you choose the wrong colors or a lawn isn't maintained up to their standards, lol. Oh, and we couldn't store bicycles on balconies either...

Oh @lonelyforeigner

You are meant to drive a CAR not a bike.

CAR = mainstream

And NO you may not store those on your balcony either.

Please learn and get with the program  ; )

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23 minutes ago, lonelyforeigner said:

I think it plays a much bigger role than most of us acknowledge, unless someone is on the psychopathic spectrum they will have a strong need to fit in. Evolutionary speaking isolation was often a death sentence, it causes our bodies to produce stress hormones which lead to a myriad of physical symptoms and our brain ends up developing anxiety, depression and other problems. There's a reason isolation is used as a punishment, after a while people would rather socialize with ******ers than be locked into a room with no human contact. 

The need to belong to a group is real, mind you it doesn't mean that people seek acceptance from the mainstream. There are plenty of people who will view themselves as unique and have no desire to meet society's expectations but even they have the need to belong to a group and that's why you get all kinds of countercultures such as goths and what not. 

I wanted to add a bit to this thought...

Yeah, when I was a kid, something always seemed a bit "odd" to me on how some members of my family would be kind of "proud" of not fitting in (this was especially true of the intellectual types in my family).

Like you said, I could sense that "fitting in" was a basic human need and that it must feel uncomfortable not to and that this "pride" had a kind of stubborn note to it - a kind of "well if they don't like me I can not like them back twice as much".

By fate/ chance/ whatever I've inherited this to some degree and am now scornful of a society (still) so obsessed with conformity.

(Tho I had to laugh the other day when I heard two teenagers bickering good-naturedly and one of them dissed the other with "OMG you are so MAINSTREAM" haha)

As I said above, what I resent is the either/ or nature of the pressure to conform. That the "RULES" seem to be so strict that even the colour of the window blinds is an issue and dandelions are forbidden.

How ON EARTH can any normal, healthy, thinking, feeling person wish to conform with that level of insanity?

I would like to "belong" to society, but I honestly feel like I'm *protecting* my mental health by removing myself from the pressure to conform with that BS.

I agree that "subgroups" and "counter-cultures" are VERY important.

Finding a subgroup you can belong to and feel comfortable with seems to be of the essence.

It's a way of belonging and staying sane, while not bowing to mainstream society's pressure to conform.

It can be a bit tricky finding a good subgroup tho - cos some subgroups are just a collection of really annoying people, haha...  But I guess they have found each other and like being in a group.

DF is one of the subgroups I feel comfortable in belonging too. I don't feel any big pressure re conformity here.

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Yes, DF is my go-to subgroup. I also belong to a few on-line classic vehicle clubs and I get to interact there. Most of the dudes and dudettes in those groups are geeks like me! Same with groups for meteorologists, astronomers, "alternative history", and other fun sh!t for me.

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7 minutes ago, JD4010 said:

Yes, DF is my go-to subgroup. I also belong to a few on-line classic vehicle clubs and I get to interact there. Most of the dudes and dudettes in those groups are geeks like me! Same with groups for meteorologists, astronomers, "alternative history", and other fun sh!t for me.

What is alternative history JD? I have a few books by Howard Zinn (A People's History of the US, etc) but am not familiar with the term alternative history.

I'm kind of scared to ask tho, cos it sounds a bit like Trump's "alternative facts"....!!    : O

: )

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All my family members are living well, holding good career positions, have a good home, few cars, holding at least a degree. I have none of the above  except a small job, holding only a diploma, a small car. I always find it hard to fit in. They are my elder sisters and brothers. Family feel ashamed to neighbors that I didn't do as good as the others. I wasn't intended to make them feel ashamed for not doing well. Struggling to survive from physical and mental abuse  from mum since young was a major  issue for me more than anything else. More often than not, I always feel suicidal when thinking about family. Nothing is important anymore in this world if our family dont love us.

Edited by Camellia

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9 minutes ago, Sophy said:

What is alternative history JD? I have a few books by Howard Zinn (A People's History of the US, etc) but am not familiar with the term alternative history.

I'm kind of scared to ask tho, cos it sounds a bit like Trump's "alternative facts"....!!    : O

: )

Maybe I should have used the term "hidden history". It's the stuff that doesn't make it into the official history texts that we were subjected to in school. Take the Native American holocaust that cost 50+ million lives and destroyed countless cultures as European immigrants took over. Yeah, we hear about the "first thanksgiving" but not the wholesale slaughter that followed.

Zinn's work is an excellent source for a lot of that hidden history. Being the radical that I am, his works are proudly displayed on my bookshelves!

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7 minutes ago, Camellia said:

All my family members are living well, holding good career positions, have a good home, few cars, holding at least a degree. I have none of the above  except a small job, holding only a diploma, a small car. I always find it hard to fit in. They are my elder sisters and brothers. Family feel ashamed to neighbors that I didn't do as good as the others. I wasn't intended to make them feel ashamed for not doing well. Struggling to survive from physical and mental abuse  from mum since young was a major  issue for me more than anything else. More often than not, I always feel suicidal when thinking about family. Nothing is important anymore in this world if our family dont love us.

Hey Camellia,

Yeah, that's difficult isn't it. I think sometimes we have to accept that our family of origin isn't our true family. They are just strangers we happen to be related to by blood. Our true family are other people (friends, etc) and we need to find them.

Yes that's more hard work than just having a good family of origin, but it's something that many, many people struggle with.

It's hard to accept that our family feels like a bunch of strangers and that they don't care about us.

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2 minutes ago, JD4010 said:

Maybe I should have used the term "hidden history". It's the stuff that doesn't make it into the official history texts that we were subjected to in school. Take the Native American holocaust that cost 50+ million lives and destroyed countless cultures as European immigrants took over. Yeah, we hear about the "first thanksgiving" but not the wholesale slaughter that followed.

Zinn's work is an excellent source for a lot of that hidden history. Being the radical that I am, his works are proudly displayed on my bookshelves!

YAY : )

Yup, Zinn's books are proudly next to my Chomsky books too and others of their ilk in my overcroweded bookshelves...

Books rock! Writers and thinkers rock!

Btw I bought a book called "Some of my best friends are books" last year by Judith Wynn Halsted... You might like it (it's about bookish kids!)

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1 hour ago, JD4010 said:

 I also became a "greaser" of sorts, hanging around with all of the gearheads. I was--and still am--fascinated by machinery.

I just had to laugh at a funny memory... I was always fascinated by physics at school, tho it's not one of my strong subjects AT ALL, I'm afraid to admit.

But I adored working out how everything worked - the tides, machines, whatever.

This'll give you an idea of the kind of freaky teenager I was: I'd go around (laughingly) telling people that anyone who didn't know how their TV worked, shouldn't be allowed to watch it.

There's a way to get popular!  : D   : D  : D

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17 minutes ago, Sophy said:

Hey Camellia,

Yeah, that's difficult isn't it. I think sometimes we have to accept that our family of origin isn't our true family. They are just strangers we happen to be related to by blood. Our true family are other people (friends, etc) and we need to find them.

Yes that's more hard work than just having a good family of origin, but it's something that many, many people struggle with.

It's hard to accept that our family feels like a bunch of strangers and that they don't care about us.

@Sophy  Yes. Its hard. I'm confused sometimes about family and other people. The one thing I know is, with family we cannot run away. We have to see them, reach to them other wise we will be marked as a bad child. I'm very confuse. I always  say to myself, I didn't ask to be born in this family. @Sophy  Yes you are right, other people appreciate us more than family.

I'm sad when I read your post and others here. 

Edited by Camellia

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