To Be Someone Else…

What would it take for you to notice
I am a heart on fire, and all the world’s a fuse
So don’t get close
Trouble and the worth
Am I better off on my own?

– ‘Methadone’ by Rise Against

I don’t have enough propranolol to kill myself. Or at least, it would be unlikely to kill me.If I do eventually commit suicide, I will choose a method where survival is extremely unlikely, as I do not want to end up being still alive but severely disabled/ brain damaged, and being an even greater burden to my family. I’d like to point out that I’m not planning on doing anything in the near future. Life is hard but dying is harder.

Of course, I don’t think anyone who is suicidal truly wants to die. Of course we’d choose a life that we could be happy/ content with over self-annihilation. In my case, I find myself wishing that I could be reborn as someone else. Other than being reborn without social anxiety disorder (which is the single most important thing that I’d like to get rid of), I’d also want to be born with a different personality. I’m so damn sensitive to everything. When someone rejects me, especially if it’s someone I was close to/ good friends with (like my online friend, who is currently not speaking to me), it hurts me so much emotionally that they may as well stick a knife in my arm. I don’t really know why I’m like this, though I suspect much of it has to do with how much it hurt me to suddenly be rejected by my childhood best friend (I’ll do a post on this later). I’m very reluctant to get close to anyone because of this, and that’s probably the other main reason (with the first being my SA) that I find it so difficult to make friends. I don’t want to be hurt again. And yet, stupidly, once I have been able to finally let someone new into my life, I always seem to make the mistake of only having one close friend at a time. So inevitably, when they leave/ reject me,  I fall to pieces and I’m a complete wreck. Perhaps I become too reliant on that person. How does one balance being too reliant and being too distant? I’m always one or the other. Perhaps people who befriend me eventually just get utterly fed up with my negativity, anxiety, depression, and tendency to over-analyse everything, and want to be friends with someone who isn’t such a downer/ so annoying. This is exactly what happened with a couple of my old online friends. They also had mental issues, but somehow got better (mostly through making offline friends and going out and doing stuff with them – can you tell they didn’t have social anxiety?), and were then irritated with me because they didn’t think I was even trying to overcome my issues, and seemed to think that my problems were as simple to fix as theirs were. When it comes to those previous friendships (and also occasionally my friendship with my current online friend, though perhaps that’s just me misinterpreting him), I’m reminded of the following lyrics:

 You like to give an inch
Whilst I am giving infinity
But now I’ve got nothing left
You have no cares and I’m bereft

– ‘Dead Inside’ by Muse

I’d do everything I could to help those people, often staying up very late and depriving myself of sleep even though I needed to be up for school in a few hours (I was still at high school at the time), because they were in crisis. I feel that one old online friend in particular often manipulated me and took advantage of me in this way. I’ve always seemed to care far more about my close friends than they ever cared about me (or maybe they just didn’t know how to show that they care, or showed it in different ways). I’ve often sacrificed my own needs/ priorities to attend to them when they’re in crisis, yet it seems that I’m lucky if they even give 1% of that back. I’ve always been deeply affected whenever a friend has been in crisis, so much so that I feel almost as bad when a friend is suicidal as I do when I’m suicidal. I cry and can’t stop worrying about them, and I’m aware that much of this (particularly the self-sacrificing) isn’t healthy, but to me, it’s all worth it if I can make them feel better in some way/ help them to get through the crisis. This is also why it hurts so much that others seem to just abandon me whenever I’m the one in crisis. I will always stick with them no matter how painful it is for me to help them through a crisis, but people always seem to get fed up with my crises, and stop giving a damn.

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So how does one avoid being hurt? The answer is simply to never trust anyone, and never get close to anyone, which I have often considered doing, and am considering doing if my online friend really doesn’t want to talk to me/ be my friend any more. But I feel that if I do that, and therefore deprive myself of human connection for possibly the rest of my life, I really may as well be dead. I worry that so much time spent alone has indeed made me selfish and incapable of sustaining friendships/ relationships. I worry that I will never be able to trust another human being enough to be in a relationship with them.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round  with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

– ‘The Four Loves’ by C.S. Lewis

One of the problems I’ve encountered with a couple of the friends I had in the last six years is that (much like I described in my previous post) they can’t seem to understand why a seemingly minor event could trigger such profound distress in me. To be honest, even I don’t know how this works. I suppose it’s because I’m constantly thinking of all the ways that social anxiety affects my life and storing up all the pain and misery associated with that, and then some minor trigger will just serve as the straw that broke the camel’s back. They also seem to think that I’m somehow exaggerating, or overreacting to, the extreme pain and misery that my SA, low self-esteem, and social isolation, cause me.

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Seeing as how I mentioned Myer-Briggs* (yes, I’m aware that it has many flaws and limitations, and is overly simplistic), I’d like to briefly touch on it again to help explain something. One of the things I hate most about my personality and the way my mind works is that I am almost never (probably <0.000000001% of the time) actually living in the present moment. I am always either worrying about the future, obsessing over the past, obsessing over my problems, deep in thought about something, or simply off in my own little fantasy world somewhere. I find it extremely difficult to just focus on the present moment, or to simply breathe/ be and take in my surroundings. A pink elephant could probably walk past me and I wouldn’t notice, because I’m too focused on what’s going on inside my head to pay attention to anything else. This is probably a large part of why I’m often so depressed/ miserable, and it’s also why I feel mindfulness might be of great help to me, if I can actually do it. It might also explain why I’m so prone to derealisation. I was terrible at meditating when I tried it before because I have no idea how to just “be”. I also don’t really understand what one is supposed to gain/ achieve from meditation. Or maybe the point is to be okay with not achieving/ gaining anything, or to not be obsessed with what can be achieved or gained, for a few minutes?

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* It irritates me to no end that I’m not a “thinking” type, even if my “feeling” preference is only slight. I’m usually fairly logical, though I definitely haven’t been over the last few days. As INFJs are supposed to be one of the rarest types, I’m wondering if this is why I feel that no one I’ve ever met has truly understood me. Anyway…just my thoughts on a limited (and probably outdated) personality test.

I’m also wondering if the reason that no therapy has worked for me so far is a combination of my personality and also my inability to trust other people. I do not trust so-called “mental health professionals” at all after my previous experiences with them, and I don’t believe that anyone can truly help me. Another reason that I found so much of therapy (particularly counselling) such a waste of time is that it seems one of the goals of therapy is to make a person more self-aware. I am already self-aware, and so counselling had no purpose or positive outcome for me other than catharsis. I worry that nothing will ever work for me and that I’m treatment resistant. I worry that my anxiety, thought patterns and learned responses are too deeply ingrained to be changed.

I’m going through a bit of a self-hate session. I hate everything about myself: my personality, my negativity, my social ineptitude, how I look, my voice, how pathetic I am, my inability to connect with others, how easily stressed I am, how sensitive I am, how weird I am, my weird sense of humour, my posture, how incredibly annoying I am/ seem to be to other people, how much of a pushover I am, how much I doubt myself, how easily hurt I am, and so on… Oh wait…I just realised that I’m beating myself up. I’d better go and sarcastically read that Dr. Richards handout to myself, because that magically makes all those thoughts go away! I don’t understand how to truly love myself. I am getting a little bit better at forgiving myself for the things that my anxiety makes me do, but I’m still unable to love the person that I am. I feel that I don’t belong anywhere in this world and I never will.

A large part of me feels that I only ever hurt other people with my negativity, and for this reason I shouldn’t even bother with friendships or relationships. I don’t want to hurt others or be a burden to them due to depression/ anxiety. I also cannot stand the pain of rejection. I want to be in a relationship but I don’t want to be a drain on another person’s emotions, or to hold them back/ prevent them from enjoying life in any way. I don’t think it’s fair to subject another person to everything that my anxiety/ depression entails. It is better for me to be alone, or that just something I tell myself because I’m too afraid to trust another person that much?

By the way, I’m aware while writing this post that it probably seems all over the place to anyone reading it, as my thoughts generally fly all over the place, and in about 476,952 different directions, when I’m writing. Wheee! I kind of wish I had a more linear thought process, as it would make writing blog posts, and also doing uni assignments, much easier.

What would it take for you to notice
I
am a hand grenade, pin already pulled
So don’t let go
As we chase the sun
My shadow slows us down
And without me along,
You’re better off and I know
You’re better off and I know

– ‘Methadone’ by Rise Against

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11 Responses to To Be Someone Else…

  1. John says:

    I wish I knew the magic words which could change things for you instantly but unfortunately I don’t.
    One thing that is clear though, after reading your blog for a year or two, is the massive amount of progress you’ve made with your SA. Travelling, learning to drive, getting a new job, the dating sites, SA meetups, your befriender; these things may not have worked out the way you wanted so far, but as far as I can tell none of it was/is your fault. Idiotic drivers, horrible colleagues, weird high guys, and befriender’s who don’t understand loneliness is not something you should blame yourself for.
    If somebody would’ve told you a few years ago that you’d do all this stuff, you’d have said it wasn’t possible, but you have done it and you should be proud of that. There aren’t many people in society who find the courage to meet new people online, use dating websites, hell, even my “normal” sisters are too scared to take driving lessons.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever read this blog (link below) but if you want something stupidly funny to read as a distraction then look through the posts. Some of it is related to SA.
    https://wordpress.com/read/blog/feed/34773825

    I hope you feel better soon

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. It’s very true that I never would have believed that I could do any of that a few years ago. I’ll have a read of that blog. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Clementine says:

    Oh, Gemma, I am sending healing thoughts to you… I’m so sorry for your pain. Keep processing and working your way through the bad stuff, until you can get your head above water again. I promise, your brain is lying to you…
    “I worry that nothing will ever work for me and that I’m treatment resistant. I worry that my anxiety, thought patterns and learned responses are too deeply ingrained to be changed.” THIS IS NOT TRUE!
    I’m sorry, I haven’t read your blog long enough to know what your past history with mental health professionals has been, but I will go back and do that. In the meantime, I can share my experience. I was completely opposed to taking medication for most of my life. In hindsight, I was too smart for my own good. While my time was not wasted learning good coping strategies (like meditation), I continue to blame myself when none of it really worked. When I finally allowed myself to see a psychiatrist and start medication, my whole world changed. All that bad and scary stuff in my head that I thought defined “me” was actually just “bad wiring” and bad chemical reactions. Medication gave me the space in my head to use my tools to get better (and to maintain my mental health better; it doesn’t just get fixed, unfortunately.)
    From my experience, it all had to work together (medication, therapy and self-help). But without the medication, I didn’t stand a chance. Also, that terrible “rejection sensitivity”… turns out, for me, it was all chemical. It has virtually disappeared on medication.
    I’m not in your country, so I have no idea what your healthcare options are… but any chance you can see a reputable doctor that can evaluate you? Ugh, what a terrible conundrum – bad healthcare, bad past experiences, and your SA combined! But if there is any chance for you to try medication treatment, all I can share is that it was very successful for me.(But the first med does not always work, so you may need to try a few times.)
    John (in the comment above) did a great job of illustrating what you are capable of…maybe print that out to reread and remind yourself… no matter what, you are tough, girl! Keep up the good fight!
    Sending you hope and peace and love!
    Take care,
    Clementine

    • Gemma says:

      I’m almost certain that SA is something I was born with, and have been wondering lately if medication is indeed the answer. I’ve tried 2 different SSRIs before (fluoxetine and sertraline), but they didn’t help. In fact, I think the sertraline may have actually made my depression worse. I suppose I could always try and convince a GP to prescribe me different medications (though this would probably be a lot more difficult without seeing a psychiatrist, and I’ve already had some negative experiences with ignorant GPs), and try to find something that works. Like I said, I think sertraline might have made things worse for me, and since then, I’ve been reluctant to go back on medication but I certainly haven’t ruled it out. At the moment, I’m still waiting to hear back from the psychologist I saw a couple of months ago. I’ve been considering seeing a private psychologist/ psychiatrist, but I’m not sure if I can afford it or if it would really help. I think I need to come up with some kind of “plan of action”.

      I’m glad that medication and therapy were helpful for you. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Trinity says:

    To begin with, you are not the only one feeling this way or will you ever be the last… I know this because I’ve been through everything and more that you just describe in this post. I can’t read it all, unfortunately, because I’m too tired but I have read at least half of it to know your experiences too well.
    Negativity is part of this equation. It is normal to over think things through because we tend to have a different, sometimes distorted, perception of our experiences. At least we think and try to change what makes us feel bad, or improve ourselves to avoid the extreme suffering. Gadgets are what most people are addicted to as a quick fix to what they can’t cope with or don’t want to, because it takes hard work… (Who wants to live like that? Not me…)

    Human relationships will always be hard and very complex. In brief words, we need know what do we want from that person/s and decide who is worthy of the best in us and act upon it. Don’t give up on having friends, just choose them carefully and show them that you have limits and rules so they can, or not, respect that. Showing our fragilities only to a real friend not to anyone you “hang out” with.

    And as for helping so much everybody (I’m so guilty on that one) Do it if only you understand that no one will give back as much. Instead do all of that to yourself in order to help the most important person in your life, YOU. I hope my suggestions help you deal better with life. (It’s very hard to say so much In a comment a lot was not said, sorry.

    • Gemma says:

      Yes, I agree that I can’t expect other people to give back as much as I do in close friendships. I suppose it wouldn’t be healthy for other people to do so, and I need to stop sacrificing my own needs so much. I would never tell anyone other than a close friend (or mental health professional) about my vulnerabilities/ history of mental illness. I have been trying to choose potential friends more carefully but I still have my doubts sometimes. Throughout my life, I have often kept talking to someone who wasn’t really my friend/ treated me badly, simply because I have low self-esteem and often feel that I don’t deserve any better. I really wish I knew how to care for myself as much as I care about other people. Sorry to hear that you’re also suffering. Thanks for your comment.

      • Trinity says:

        I’ve learned something about real friends and intimate relationships and that is; although you have to always work on it, it should feel very natural and open the way you interact with a boyfriend/girlfriend or just a friend. (Meaning, you should feel good about that interaction or something is very wrong and you should evaluate that relationship) As for your lack of self-esteem only depends on you, but you have to draw a line to anyone that thinks they can cross it just because… (You have to respect your limits) I too had to learn how to take care of myself more than the help I was giving to others. Look at yourself from a distance and pretend you are your best friend, what would you do to help your best friend knowing what she needs? I hope it helps in any way you see fit. I helped me tremendously.

      • Gemma says:

        Thank you. I agree.

  4. Pingback: I wish I was somebody else...… - Pivotal Moments

  5. Anna says:

    I could genuinely have written this I’m slowly slowly shrivelling up more and more and don’t think it’s ever going to get better. I think feeling too much is a huge factor in not getting better. the self hatred is so intense, set backs fling me back to square one no matter how minor or big. You genuinely seem to feel the exact same way I do.

    • Gemma says:

      Yes, self-hatred is definitely one of the biggest barriers to getting better. I’m sorry that you feel the same way. I’ve been looking at books on self-compassion recently, and I’m curious to see if reading those will help.

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