Touch Starvation & Depression
Something I was reading about that makes total sense to me is that “touch starvation” can lead to depression, and I fit the category 110%. Affectionate human touch is essential to connecting with others, as it stimulates oxytocin, the love hormone that reduces stress and pain, helps with emotional well-being, and naturally increases overall physical health. An article from Psychology Today reports that “Lack of physical affection can actually kill babies.”
So if touch starvation can kill infants, what does it do to adults? Studies have shown adults that lack affectionate touch are inclined to be more depressed, have anxiety issues, are lonelier, and have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Somehow deep inside, I know all of these things, because I can feel it. Sometimes I feel that I’m fucked, and I will probably die at an early age. And to drive the anxiety level up, my fear is to die alone, like one of those people found weeks later with her cats gnawing at her dead body.
I come from a family that didn’t hug much or showed very little physical affection towards each other, so I’ve never been a touchy-feely type of person unless I’m in love. I recall being forced to hug strangers in church when I was a kid, and I absolutely despised it to the point it sometimes made me sick to my stomach. For all I knew, I was hugging some pedophile hiding under the guise of being a godly person. Since I also feel people’s energy, hugging those with bad or “off” energy doesn’t work for me, as I tend to “catch and carry” whatever it is they have. I have experienced my fair share of “bad” touch, which is an entirely different topic, but I wonder if it makes a person unresponsive to any sort of touch?
Experience has taught me that invited touch (i.e. cuddles, massage) from the opposite sex often leads to unwanted and uninvited touch or forces me to do something I’m not ready for, another double-edged sword that can screw up a person’s mind and make them fearful of intimate physical touch. It takes me a while to fully trust in someone, but at the same time, I have also gone full force too soon trusting those that ultimately hurt me. When I meet someone that can respect my boundaries, that’s when the trust begins. As soon as someone breaks trust in any way (physical or emotional), their touch repulses me, and it never comes back, which brings me to this:
A few male friends have almost crossed boundaries, which makes me not want to hang out with them anymore. Usually, drinking is involved, and when I am just friends with someone that has a few drinks and suddenly finds his hand touching my knee uninvitedly or arm around the back of my chair in public as if we’re a couple, it turns me off. My body language is very clear about what I invite into my space, so if I want a man, he will know it. When I don’t, my body language will say it, but I have to realize a lot of people don’t know how to read body language.
The other evening when I had sushi with a new male friend/acquaintance, I was not turned towards him or gave him any indication I was interested in anything more than friendship and conversation; however, towards the end he ended up sitting closer to me as if we were on a date, and his body language said the opposite of what I wanted. Just because a man pays for my meal and a couple of drinks doesn’t give him the right to disrespect my physical space and boundaries. If my female friends paid the tab, they wouldn’t try to make out with me, so why do men think it’s okay? It’s NOT.
On the opposite spectrum, my ex was super needy and touchy-feely to the point that I felt suffocated. Too much touch is just that – too much. I’m not the type of person that can give another person that much attention; otherwise, I’d have had more children. A healthy balance is nice, and it’s what I had with OC, and I haven’t experienced that since.
Being an introvert probably doesn’t help with my situation, because I expose myself to far less people than an extrovert would. Massages help tremendously when I can afford to have one, and I notice a huge difference in how I feel afterwards, not just physically but mentally. Sometimes it’s the only human touch I get for months. How pathetic that I have to pay for it. At least I have a cat, because touching pets does help, plus he has great unconditional loving energy. However, I truly miss being cuddled by a human, especially on cold or rainy nights. No wonder I’m a fucked up, depressed mess. Maybe I should get more cats.