Why do I push people away: Stories of my past insecure self

pushing people away

My fear of being with people

I have to admit, when you are struggling with depression, having people around you can occasionally make your mental condition worse. It’s not like I don’t love my families, my friends or my coworkers; my life would actually be miserable without their constant support and care. 

But it’s an unavoidable situation where I constantly find myself drained out of my energy,  just by being with people. I became seriously irritated by something others said or did, even when I know it was never meant to be taken negatively. I’m pushing people away both intentionally and accidentally.

I have no energy to interact with others

When I was in university, I once had a conversation with my boyfriend at the time about my upcoming exams, mentioning how nervous I was since it could affect my overall result for the semester. I was in my worst state of mind those days, and nothing scared me more than the thought of doing badly at something. 

My boyfriend, understanding my stress and anxiety, would ask if I needed any help whenever we had the chance to talk. At first I thought it was so considerate of him, but gradually, those seemingly normal attention became too much for me to handle. 

I stopped taking his calls, avoided meeting him, saying that I was too busy studying while in reality I knew I wanted a break from others. I didn’t know how to stop pushing him away from my life, and I regretted it more than I ever imagined.

Why have I been shutting people out?

Pushing people away in relationships is something we don’t always know why we did. It’s confusing, annoying and distressful. It turns us into the bad guy even though we never had any negative intention.

Not only does it ruin my connection with others, it also stresses out the people around me. It’s impossible to figure out what’s going on in my head when I don’t even know what’s wrong with myself either.

“Why do I push people away?” you might be asking yourself. It can be for multiple reasons, all of which have to do with the way depression and anxiety screw with our minds. For me, they made me awfully insecure.

my insecurity pushes people away

‘I didn’t have the strength to interact’

When I was depressed, it deprived me of my mental energy, affecting my desire to interact with people as a result. I felt like I was forced to talk, to laugh, to take part in a conversation, all against my own will. I felt like I couldn't meet others’ expectations of me understanding their stories. 

With that little energy of mine, I couldn’t concentrate on whatever people were talking about. I just didn’t want to let anyone down or make them think that I disrespect them by not listening. It only adds up unnecessary burden to the list of things I already had to worry about.

‘I didn’t want to hurt others’

I used to view myself as a rather patient and calm person. But things changed when I got caught up in this mess of a mental situation. Sometimes my feelings were too much for me to bear, it was so overwhelming and staggering that I felt irritated all the time. 

My tolerance level was at an all-time low as I discovered my new hatred for unexpected changes or interruptions. I went back to my parents’ house for spring break, and had an argument with my mom out of nowhere just because they had changed my room’s carpet without me knowing (and I didn’t like the color). 

Whenever I think about those kinds of situations which can be easily solved with rationality, I can’t help but fear that my loved ones will continuously suffer from my bad temper, my sudden lash out, my out of control demeanor. 

I continue avoiding conflicts with them by not interacting with them at all – which is both understandable and stupid. Depression withdrawal from your loved ones eventually hurts both the parties, leaving either wondering what you did wrong.

I guess loving people means we don’t want them to see us in a negative way, or want their feelings to get hurt because of our insuppressible words. You sometimes start pushing someone away because you love them, as you don’t want to drag important people down with your negativity.

you push people away because you love them

‘I was afraid of being hurt’

Back in those years, I used to spend a long time staring at my mirror every morning, wondering what kind of person I’ve become. Only the reflection of a distressed figure stared back at me. I couldn’t sleep for more than 3 hours a day, my eating disorder made my complexion terrifying to look at, and hair started to fall out of my head at an alarming rate. Who would want to be around such a person like I was? 

I fenced people off because I felt inferior to them and had no confidence in myself. I didn’t want to get hurt if they ever shut me out first, so it’d just be easier if I pretended that I was completely fine.

How to stop pushing people away

Of course, there would eventually come a time where I realized I couldn’t keep shutting people out of my life. It’d just cause more damage to my already messed up life. 

My doctor, fortunately, helped me understand how pushing people away is considered an unhealthy psychological habit, and I couldn’t be more grateful. From all the stories I’ve shared, there were always answers to how I could have turned the situation around without putting more pressure on myself. 

What I needed was time to rearrange my thoughts, and to slowly increase the number of times I meet people. I made sure my family and friends understood that sometimes I needed a break, reminded them to endure my sudden temperament and hoped they would be supportive regardless. 

look for support in others

I also gave myself a new mindset that I should be more proud of small achievements, such as sleeping a bit more or gathering up enough energy to go out at times. It took a while taking these small steps, but I was glad I found the right answer for my habit of pushing people away.

If someone you love is depressed and is pushing you away, don’t be discouraged as they never meant for you to get hurt. Take your time to understand their struggle, be patient with them and help them regain their confidence again. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to know that there are people who would still be with them through their tough time. I mean it.


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