Takers and Mental Health

I’m still struggling with depression currently, which sucks but is not all bad. The silver lining is that these depressive periods always allow me to reflect on aspects of my life I don’t often explore. Granted, it’s because these aspects of my life bum me out. But I do feel like it’s better to be full self-aware, even if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is just how many takers I seem to know. I have always been a very open person. I don’t hide my thoughts and feelings, though I am often quiet. And I don’t withhold help from people, even casual acquaintances. If asked, I will almost always help, and if I don’t it is generally because I simply can’t, not because I’d prefer not to. In fact, I often find myself doing things for people even when I would really prefer not to, because I would want people to help me if the situation were reversed.

Which brings me to the takers. Nearly always when I do things for people, they express some version of the sentiment “If you ever need help with anything, just ask and I am there.” But in the event that I do ask, they are never there. This sentiment is a common one expressed by people en lieu of actually returning a favor. Most people in my life seem to really hope to never have to return that favor, and will go out of their way to avoid it.

I was reflecting upon why this would be. I know plenty of people who seem to do each other favors all the time. So this phenomenon seems to be one I have unwittingly invited into my own life somehow. I seem to be giving off the vibe that I am a person worthy of asking for favors, but not worthy of receiving them. I think this occurs for several reasons. For one, I am generally a very capable and independent person (both behaviorally and physically). I do a lot of things myself that other people would seek help with. As such, perhaps when I do seek assistance there is an idea that I don’t really need it? Perhaps, paradoxically, those who more frequently need assistance are also more likely to get it, because that is their normal as opposed to an occasional exception. Are those who only occasionally need help also less likely to get help when they need it?

I’m also kind of an absent friend, which I am sure contributes to this. But then again, one of the reasons I am an absent friend is because my friends do not make the effort to include me or arrange meetings. If I want to see my friends, I always have to be the one to reach out and arrange things. So while I can admit that part of my problem is caused by my own behavior (not reaching out often), part of it is also an extension of this very same phenomenon. I have to give of my energy (arranging meetings, inviting people to events), but rarely receive.

Anyway, I know all of this kind of comes across as victim mentality. But I do wonder what it is that causes so many people I know to treat me this way. I could say I am an easy mark for takers, and that would be true certainly. But then that implies that all of these people I know fit into that category, while I know for a fact that many or even most of them are very giving in their own way (just not toward me). So it really does seem to be something I am causing. I am somehow giving off the energy that I do not wish to be included, or I don’t really need help… or perhaps I am just not a likable person.

Jenny says “The way people treat you reflects far more on them than it does on you.” She is lovely and wonderful to me. But I kind of find it hard to accept those words when taking from me without reciprocation is the normal for my relationships rather than the exception.

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