It’s true. I’m an one of the dreaded category of people who flake out on appointments and commitments.
I say this not as a form of penance, but to own the fact that keeping commitments and obligations while also managing the duality of depression and anxiety is exceedingly difficult. I mean, I could never make plans at all and then I’d never flake on them, but then there’s even less of a chance that I’d go out and engage with friends and colleagues.
Not healthy at all.
Flaking is something I do not by choice, but by necessity. I’m all too happy to make appointments and plan to meet people for coffee; but sometimes the stress and hopelessness I feel in actually fulfilling the act is too much to bear.
Will I say something dumb? Is the person actually interested in seeing me? CanI be a good conversationalist? Will they just get bored and leave? Am I going to make a fool of myself?
These questions dart around in my mind every single time I go out to meet someone. If you think they disappear when I actually arrive, your be wrong. They amplify, getting louder as if a freight train was bearing down on me with its whistle blaring.
Needless to say, commiting to going out is far easier than flaking. The guilt that fills me pierces me like a spear and hurts all over. So really, going feels like torture and flaking feels like agony.
How can you help?
It’s tempting to think that when someone flakes persistently that there’s maybe more than meets the eye. Are they just not good at committing, is there some underlying resentment, or maybe they’re just not that into you. Reality can be far removed though.
The next time someone flakes, check in with them instead of just saying “okay” or “all good.” See how they are feeling. Ask them if there’s anything you can do. Check in a few days later for a follow up (the guilt makes me feel so ashamed and afraid someone will say no if I ask again). The fact is, flaking when you have a mental illness is a form of self-care. It’s less about the person’s ability to make and maintain commitments, and more about maintaining a healthy inner balance.