5 Unspoken Social Rules That I Routinely Violate

1. Talking openly about therapy and anti-depressants.

Because of movies and TV and Woody Allen and my inherent assumption that everyone is as miserable as I am, for a long time I didn’t even know that therapy had a stigma. Most of America is on pills and it’s my belief that even the sanest person could benefit from a check-in with a shrink.

I don’t understand the big deal in admitting that you’re a little groggy because you’re switching up your psych meds. I don’t understand the big deal in quoting something your therapist said — and citing her — if it’s relevant to the conversation. It took me six months to catch on that the eye-blinking, stilted reactions I got from people when I casually referred to therapy as though it were a nail appointment was because it is a thing that other people think is an intimate and momentous admission. To me, dealing with head sickness is not so different from dealing with body sickness. We’re all a little scewed up in our own ways, just like we all have our own little ailments of poor circulation or back pain. So why don’t we talk about it the way we talk about Zicam and Advil? To me, chill openness about being in therapy or on meds reveals not craziness, but a mature interest in self-improvement, and even better, a bold declaration of a lack of shame. At least, that’s what my therapist told me.

2. Eating Alone at Restaurants

I don’t need someone to sit across from me in order to enjoy my delicious sandwich. Going out to eat isn’t always about being social; sometimes you just want a solid meal and to just sit there and to have it served to you. Being surrounded by people who are laughing joyously in groups while they eat doesn’t strike much envy into my heart, so don’t feel sorry for me if you see me hunched over baked macaroni n cheese, alone and silent, at the corner table of a busy restaurant. I am content. The same goes for seeing movies alone, although I get the sense that society is generally more comfortable with that one.

3. Not Liking Your Dog

I don’t like dogs. I am allergic to them. Plus their slobber/odor/spasmodic eagerness repulses me. Most dog owners believe their dog is Jesus, therefore you are a sociopath if you don’t want to pet your friend’s dog as soon as it maniacally leaps at you when you come over for a barbeque. I used to jump away and murmur-giggle, “I’m kind of allergic to dogs!” as an explanation. Now, I admit it: My aversion to canines hugely transcends allergy. I’m finally willing to brave the passive-aggressive replies: “Well, she’s hypoallergenic, so it’s okay!” and “But she’s not like other dogs! She’s more like a cat/baby/wolf!” I hold my ground: I don’t care; don’t let it touch me.

4. Eating Cookies for Breakfast

I live above a Lenny’s and when I walk through the door, by the time I get to the counter, the girls at the register have a black and white cookie wrapped up and ready for me. I don’t know if I’m the only one who craves sweets immediately upon waking, or if I’m the only one who acts on it. All I know is that I once overheard them call me “cookie girl” and I was not ashamed.

5.  Starting the Night Before Midnight

This is more of a call for change than a social rule that I actually violate because to try to violate it would be logistically impossible. You know how the Facebook event page for a party always says it starts at ten, but you’re not actually supposed to show up till midnight? I want to show up at ten. When the sun falls I am ready to party; I want to rage hard. And then be asleep by one or two. If we started our nights as soon as it was dark out, we would be able to party on weeknights more often. This call for change is a result of the combination of being too excited and impatient to get out there and start having fun, and of being in early-onset old lady mode. Black skies are for partying; why does what’s on the clock matter? TC mark

image – j_anet


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  • http://raymondthimmes.com/ Raymond Thimmes

    I completely, one hundred percent, agree with number five. I guess it was my upbringing or something, having a bed time of like 8 for like 15 years, but even in college I couldn’t make myself stay out past about 1 am. I have never successfully hooked up, obviously. I rock.

  • http://twitter.com/Andorka1 Rhythm_is_therapy

    I can wholeheartedly agree with all of these

  • Markhamf

    #1 for real. And I really dgaf. Mental illness stigma is rampant and I’m doing my part…regularly…to move beyond it.

  • bee

    movies/concerts alone!

  • Michaelwg

    Dogs > Jesus
    Dogs = Jesus

  • Anonymous

    I love movies alone. 

  • Guest

    I couldn’t disagree with #1 more, especially as it concerns medication. Otherwise I’m with you.

    • hrfe


  • Krysiacpage

    I don’t trust people who hate dogs….personally :-P

    • Ladylilithx

      The last guy I dated, was so close with his slobbering/odoring/spasmodic/self chewing dog, that I somehow got the picture in my head that he probably fucked it too (and I normally have a strong intuition!).
      I will never trust dog-people again!

      • ARDRA

        Hahaha! That’s funny!

  • Anonymous

    #1 is interesting. I learned from my mom that it’s not cool to share your crazy with others, so I don’t and I find it hard to understand people who do. I applaud you for being able to do so and be cool with it. But it’s possible that the reason it’s an unspoken rule that you don’t talk about it is because of people who do it gain attention and it just gets boring.

    • M.J. Corey

      Really true – after I wrote this, I had flashbacks to middle school and those days when sob stories were a social currency for pre-teen girls. At some point, I want to think more/write on the difference between casual disclosure and attention seeking. There’s empowerment, and then there’s, like, draining everybody around you. 

      • Anonymous

        Ahh yeah, I knew so many of those girls (and guys too) who were all “look! scratches on my arm…because I’m sooo depressed. ”  I can see why people get tired of it. 

        Would genuinely love to read your thoughts on that subject.  Look forward to it!

    • hrfe

      My mom also told me that, but my mom is crazy, so not talking about it doesn’t get you anywhere. I say it when it is pertinent to the conversation. I don’t go “hi, I’m HRFE, I’m depressed” but if I’m telling a story or something where this information effected events leaving it out seems weird.

  • hrfe

    I got over being awkward about therapy/meds. I DGAF anymore, because the only way to de-stigma it is for more people to be more open. I routinely tell people I can’t do something because I’ve got to talk to my shrink or that I can’t go out tonight because my new pills are making me mad tired.

  • http://twitter.com/JonTargaryen Carly Fowler

    I just gave a thumbs up at my screen when I saw number 1. I have no problem talking about it. I tend to be more quiet about my suicidal issues so I don’t look like I’m seeking attention. 

  • http://imlikecocaine.wordpress.com/ Ana

    Number one. Oh yeah, it took me many stares, awkward comments and a weird reputation of “crazy girl” to stop talking about it, although, like you, I don’t see why it’s such a stigma attached to it. BPD, yeah, survivor of it, so go away with your judgemental looks and “will power” advice.

    • hrfe

      I want to punch people who give me “will power” advice. Really, if I just “think positive” I won’t be depressed anymore? OMG you just cured everything.

      Fuck those people.

      • Melmallow

        Right? I hate that so much! I want to ask, “If AIDS ridden children in third world countries thought positively, would they be cured? If I thought more positively, would people be less stupid around me? Did my cat die because I wasn’t positive enough?”
        Telling everyone that thinking positively will make our depression/ anxiety/ trauma, etc. go away is infuriating.

      • Anonymous

        Hmmmm, I think what they mean by “think positive” is less about making things magically better, but instead about framing it in a healthy way. E.G. Instead of saying positive thinking will “cure AIDS”, it would be something like, “AIDS is not a death warrant, and thus I still have a chance to do something with my life including making good life changes and help educate other people on the circumstances”.

        Or somethin’.

      • hrfe

        What I think MelMallow was saying re: AIDS was an exaggeration on the point, which is that simply telling someone who is clinically depressed to “think positive” is not only exceedingly unhelpful, it can actually make the clinically depressed person feel worse. When you are depressed, thinking positive can literally be impossible, so that advice is so so so frustrating that it hurts.

  • Luvr

    lenny’s is my favorite place in the entire world………….i’m crying right now i want a chickavo!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    My parties generally start around 5PM, involve a lot of food and end around 5PM the following day. I think that’s the best way to  party

  • Liz

    just move to London — pubs and bars close at midnight or one regularly and clubs don’t even stay open past like 3am.

    • elle

      Pubs close at 11, most bars are open till 4 am and dance clubs are open till 6 am

    • Anda

      You’re drinking in the wrong places, I’ve lived in London my whole life and as far as I knew pubs close around 1/2 and some clubs are open till 8/9am…

  • Ihateanimalhaters

    Definitely a sociopath. 

  • http://twitter.com/Amphx AnnamariaPhilippeaux

    I’m really interested in seeing how many people agree with you about #1. For me, those topics are ones I never ever dare to bring up in casual conversation, and I still feel a little shock when others do, not because it is something that offends me, but because of the direct violation of the social norm that dictates that these topics are off limits. I am very aware of the social stigma surrounding mental illness and am afraid of subjecting myself to it, but that aside, mental illness issues are a private matter that I don’t feel are meant to be shared in a casual, public setting. Yes, they are much more akin to physical illnesses than many people realize, however, I wouldn’t bring those up in conversation, either. 

    Coincidentally, the very first comment I  made on an essay on here briefly referenced my own experience in therapy, and when I reread it several months later, I was shocked that I had posted it! My very own statement contradicted the belief I’d had about the need for discretion regarding such matters. Interestingly enough, the comment received several likes supporting the idea. Perhaps the stigma is actually fading. 

    • guest

      I’m with #1!  if bringing up my little mental deficiency is relevant to the conversation or if I have a funny story about it I usually just go with it even though sometimes people seem a little uncomfortable. I figure if I bring it up casually enough people will adjust to it as something normal.

  • Guest

    It’s like we’re the same person. Except the dog thing. Dogs are awesome.

  • Kmodek

    Ive learned that talking about my bipolar-ness ends up with the other person revealing that
    they’re on meds too. I’ve been on disability for 9 years because of my inability to keep a job. When I’m in a bad phase, I can’t function normally, and my sleep patterns are never anything I can control, so during those manic 36 hour lapses, I’m not capable of normality.
    I also freak the hell out when I’m stuck somewhere & can’t leave if my anxiety hits. It doesn’t last 10 minutes, it lasts for WEEKS and I’m incapable of functioning. Luckily, I’ve found a good combo of meds and have done pretty well for a few years with no major anxiety attacks. But at 40, and the fact that if I work, I lose my insurance, I’m kinda stuck.
    Overcoming the “you’re lazy” stigma is my major issue.

  • Anonymous

    I thought I was the only one who didn’t like dogs… 
    Thank you!

    • Areyoucereal

      Yeah. Sure. You were the only one who hates dogs in a world of almost 7 billion people.

      Oh wait! Now there are two of you!

  • mt

    I agree with #1, although with my friends it’s never really an issue? I tend to feel it more with family members, teachers, bosses, etc. I think the social stigma of it has lessened in my generation, but is still prevalent with the older generation, hence the weirdness. 

  • Daily TC Reader

    And #5. When you’re out of NYC, “late night” places close at 2 or 3. If I’m starting the night at midnight, that gives me two hours to party. IT TOOK ME TWO HOURS TO GET READY. Let’s have 5 hours of partying, please.

    • Ivy

      Late night NYC spots close from 4-6am on the weekends.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QAEK5MDE7OIWSJVWW5MO3RRYXM WotcherTonks

    I agree with all of the above except instead of dogs, it’s usually your kids. I love animals. 


    What does Woody Allen have to do with #1? Woody Allen goes to (and jokes about) psychoanalysis. Going to see an analyst in that regard is not the same thing as going to see a mental health therapist like some spoiled 22 year old. Don’t drag poor Woody’s name through the mud like that. As he says, he’s not a morose character. You are.

    • Nathaniel

      I’m afraid I’m not quite sure what distinction you’re drawing between the two of them (author and Woody Allen) seeing a mental health professional. Is it due to the difference in the therapies themselves (I presume you’re assuming that the author is in some sort of talk therapy, while Allen was in psychoanalysis)?

      • AARON

        Woody Allen attends a Freudian psychoanalyst. That is not the same as a person going to a psychiatrist to get a prozac prescription filled out due to an inability to cope with their sadness

      • hrfe

        I go to talk therapy every week with a psychologist and a psychiatrist every three months or so to get my prescription. Go fuck yourself, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • AARON

        The content and aggressive nature of your post literally made me laugh. You, in therapy? With THAT sunny disposition? No… ! Anyway, you dysfunctional retard, if you’ve read your Woody Allen, you’d know that his Freudian psychoanalysis isn’t really about sickness or self-improvement and certainly not about misery, which the article seemed to align it with. 

      • Guest

        Please never have children. We don’t need more people like you in the world.

    • Kaagers

      Why is every aaron in my life being a snob today? For shame Aarons, for shame.

    • LazyReader

      Dear Aaron,
      Two years ago, while I was going through the breakup of my 7 year relationship, I was nearly date raped by an old friend, my car was broken into, my ATM card was hacked, and my apartment flooded completely in a freak rain storm costing me thousands of dollars in lost and damaged property. I wanted to walk away from my life.  Instead, I went to see a therapist, and after two months working with her, the decision was mutually agreed upon that I would begin taking anti-depressants.  I was 38 at the time.
      It was the best, healthiest and most empowering decision I made. It helped give me my life back.
      How exactly does my going to a mental health therapist to help me through an extremely difficult time in my life make me like a spoiled 22 year old?
      Please explain.

      • LazyReader

        ….and note, that the string of “bad things” that occurred, all took place within about 6 weeks of one another….

    • Guest

      Yeah. Um. Fuck you.

  • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

    we’ll have to talk about #3 but wanna go out

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