Changes

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I remember sitting on a bench with my dad some time in the early 2000s talking about how England were bidding to host the 2006 World Cup and I started thinking how I would be 21 by that time, which seemed a very long way off, and that I would probably have a good job then and would hopefully be able to pay for me and my dad to go and see some of the matches. Back then people used to tell me that because I was good at computer stuff I would get a good job and have a lot of money and I foolishly believed them. As it turned out, that world cup was eventually hosted in Germany and by the time it rolled around I had already dropped out of university, gone to a virtually useless college course and was about to begin an extremely low paid (less than the minimum wage if you worked it out hourly) tech support job that I hated and have written about at great length on this site.

One of the traps that I fell into then and several times afterwards was assuming that, given time, things will work out or change for the better. Many times in the past before I was depressed, I used to think about things might be better in the future. The thing is, unless you can do something about it then nothing will change. I have wasted so much time and that’s why I still find myself in virtually the same situation (except massively in debt) as I was back in 2002 or whenever it was.

I don’t know how other people do it. There must be something (or many things) that I am just incapable of doing because I can think of no end of people who I used to know in the past who you would think didn’t have things together as much as me, but they have turned out vastly more successful than me (not that that is difficult, but you know what I mean). It sounds bitter and I supposed I really am bitter, to talk about this but I can’t help but feel defeated when I think about the people I knew at school that were very far from being the most intelligent or hard working, people who probably got bullied as much or more than me for being weird, who have managed to make something of their lives.

I hate showing these ugly emotions, but when I think about how I used to be thought of as clever and was picked on for that reason (among others) I feel fucking furious that I have absolutely nothing to show for it all. Why did I have to get all the downsides of being intelligent but get none of the supposed rewards?

What changed? How did they do it? I know what changed for me: nothing. In some ways I am the exact same person I have been for years. Hating myself, terrified of what people think and say about me. I think I might have been mistaken in the past. I probably could have made something of myself if I’d been able to get some kind of help and know what I know now. I didn’t used to be a completely lost cause, but with each passing day I crept closer and closer to what I am now.

I have written about this before but it bears repeating. The easiest thing in the world to do is nothing. Things will never change if you don’t make things happen. I don’t know how to do that any more, I don’t know if I have the chance to change things for the better. I will address this in a future post but there is a vicious cycle keeping me where I am and every part of it makes it impossible to break out of any of the other parts.

When I first seriously contemplated the idea that I had social anxiety and depression back in 2007, I can distinctly remember sitting exactly where I am writing this post now and I reading a forum about social anxiety which essentially started me off on what I think of as a new “chapter” of my life. One of the people who I met on that forum eventually gave me the courage to think about going back to university and even moving away to a different city, which had previously been unthinkable to me. The next two years saw probably the biggest changes I had been through in my life, including it almost ending.

That I have been on a backslide ever since I left university causes me a lot of anguish. To some people it doesn’t mean a lot, but even though I went through some enormously testing times including long periods of feeling suicidal, it was the best time of my life. I felt like I had a purpose. I sometimes wonder now if it was just escapism, but back when I was there I didn’t feel like I should be ashamed just to exist. I would not have described it this way at the time, but I was proud to be a university student at last. Nowadays I feel like I am looked down upon just for walking along the street. People here have an almost psychotic hatred for those without a job.

A few months ago I went back to the city where I lived while I was at university and it was the first time I had returned since I went to my graduation ceremony in 2012. I didn’t write about it here, only in a personal journal thing. It stirred up some strange emotions though. Last year I had seen a photo of the view I used to see from the road that led to my flat and I felt very sad that I didn’t live there any more but I wanted to go back there. It’s not an amazing place, just your average English town really. I thought about going back there a few times but I didn’t know if it would make me too sad.

Almost on a whim one day in July I decided to get the train and just go for a few hours since it doesn’t take too long to get there. When I got there I realised I could conceivably have started and finished another bachelor’s degree in the time since I left. I wrote in my journal that it felt like a dream, and it really did. I almost went back into the same routine, walking down the same part of the pavement I did for 4 years and almost as if I was on autopilot. It seems odd to write about it like this because it’s probably not a special or deeply significant place to anyone but me, but the whole experience was so surreal. I walked past where my old flat was in the halls of residence and up to the university building itself. It’s changed a little bit in appearance but it felt different somehow.

At the time I wrote how I felt as though people knew I shouldn’t be there any more, this was no longer my place to be. I walked along the roads I still knew so well but I didn’t feel welcome any more. Nobody said anything to me of course, why would they? but I felt so sad that this was no longer home to me, I was just a visitor now. I was glad I had sunglasses on because I actually got tears in my eyes.

As I returned to the train station this feeling was underlined. I used to go there most Friday’s to come back to my parent’s house for the weekend but I knew I’d be heading back to uni in a few days. This time I was going back for good though, I was only here temporarily. In my journal I wrote that, with hindsight, I was wanted here. I was welcomed by people I never thought would want me to be there, they asked me to share a house with them. I had members of the university staff fight for me to get my fees waived for the year I had to re-sit. I didn’t know how lucky I was at the time and I feel a deep sadness now that has all passed.

I don’t know if I will ever have anything like that again. I did not appreciate it at the time and I now feel like an idiot for ignoring all the good things I had back then.

I sit here, right back where I was in 2007, on the same bed, feeling the same feelings of hopelessness. This time I am older and have let another chance at making something of my life slip through my fingers. I was ridiculously lucky to get a second chance in 2008. I don’t know that I will ever be afforded another opportunity like that again.

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Perfectionism

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Relevant song lyric of the day: “I’m not afraid of dying, any time will do”

I had to call and cancel my crisis team visit, I can’t handle having to talk to people at the moment, I feel ill (cold coming on, it wasn’t just the meds) and that kind of flat, empty depression has taken over. I don’t feel desperately sad or like crying as I sometimes do, just lifeless and bereft of happiness and will to live. I had somewhat of a revelation which I wanted to write about but I am too tired to get into it properly today.

I was thinking about the time when my first psychiatrist asked me if I was a perfectionist. My first reaction was to almost laugh in disbelief; I don’t know how anyone could look at me and ask that question. I don’t exactly look like someone who wants to be perfect. When I think about it more carefully though, I think that I am sort of a perfectionist, in my own twisted way. My (subconscious, or is it unconscious? I can’t control it anyway) idea of perfection is different from what most people would think of as perfect, and I seem to hold myself and others to this ridiculous ideal.

I want to conform to societies ideas of where and what I should be, even if I don’t actually want the things themselves, if that makes sense. I want to want to be a normal person. This probably sounds insane and it most likely is. I don’t think I could actually give up certain aspects of my life, I could never be one of those people who always has to be around others, I need time alone a lot more than others even when I’m not anxious. 

Having something like social anxiety makes you analyse everything to a huge extent, I remember details about inconsequential conversations from years back and a million other useless things that would pass most people by. It’s quite odd really, you can almost appear psychic since people tell you things and then forget that you ever talked about it but I remember most things (probably on account of the fact that I have about 1000x less conversations than the average person). 

I don’t know if I could give up my level of self awareness and the things I know about how people manipulate you, but while I have these dubious qualities I don’t think I can ever be happy or “normal”. When I think back to the time when I was actually happy, when I was a child, I had no idea about how cruel the world was and how people take advantage of any weakness you show. I hate this site, but the description of stages explains what I mean better than I could, the blissfully ignorant stage. I don’t even want to consider the advice that it preaches, maybe I am embittered and destined to be like this forever but I just can’t become the person that it seems I need to be in order to fit in.

My twisted perfectionism makes me want to be all things to all people. I realise that everyone probably does this to some extent, but I change who I am based upon who I’m with. I don’t know who the real me is, maybe it’s the person who write this narcissistic, self obsessed drivel. This is the only place I am honest after all. I can’t be that person in real life though, I can’t express myself verbally. I’d be too scared about being thought of as a stuck up snob, which maybe I am.  I come across huge problems when I don’t know what people want me to be though. I think this is a big reason why I am so scared of meeting new people, I don’t know how to present myself because it’s been so long since the real me has been allowed out, it has withered away.

To fit in, you need to expose yourself, part of your personality and let people know about you. I find this terrifying, even giving away the slightest details about my opinions is often beyond my comfort zone. I can’t offer any opinions on music or anything else that most people talk about without a second thought. I’ve been through so much mockery and psychological grinding down that I can’t give away any chances for people to do that to me again. 

I’ve spoken to my online friends about this before and they always try to tell me that I’ve been unlucky with the people that I’ve been around and that not everyone is so malicious and cruel, but I can’t honestly put all that down to luck. I could start thinking that I’m the unluckiest person in the world, something my dad seems to do and I want to avoid. There’s no point in trying to pass off my own failings as someone else’s fault, I don’t want to blame the world for my problems. If there is one good thing that can be said for me, I want it to be known that I take full responsibility for my own actions and I realise it’s my own fault that I am such a wreck.

In the past I never considered myself to have a short temper, but recently I find myself being increasingly frustrated with people. I hate banal small talk, I don’t want to try and sound superior – I know that I’m definitely not. I just wish that I had some kind of flash cards I could hold up to save answering the same old shit over and over.

I think I expect everyone to be “perfect” like a robot, like I am. It might sound ridiculous, on this website I probably come across as a histrionic maniac, but in real life I am extremely reserved. I can’t stand to do things “wrong”, I’d rather not try than fail. This is one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I am terrified of making mistakes in all areas of life. To pick a random example, we used to have a pool table in the sixth form common room. I never played a single game on it even though I used to like it when I was younger and I always wanted a snooker table of my own but we had no space for one. I was so scared that I’d make a mess of it and everyone’d laugh that I never once played. I could list a million other examples of how this has held me back. This is incredibly difficult for me to say (being the master rationaliser that I am, I think I have avoided admitting this for other reasons) but perhaps one of the reasons that I have never had a girlfriend is that I’ve never asked anyone out or shown any interest (irl). I probably never had any friends because I’ve been too scared to approach people in case I make a fool of myself and so kept to myself and my group of abusive associates (I refuse to call them friends any more). 

One of my sisters friends once had a birthday party at one of those places with bouncy castles, ball pits and slides etc to which I was invited. I can still remember vividly being afraid to go on any of the things or do anything other than sit at the side. I was scared that I’d fall over or do something else to make the other kids laugh at me so I did nothing. I was probably under 8 at the time, but I can remember the feeling and it’s the first time I can remember someone explaining the concept of “regret” to me. My mum told me I’d have a good time if I went and played and that I’d regret it if I didn’t (I just realised that sounds like a threat haha, it wasn’t said in that way). How right she was.

My whole life is littered with examples of wasted opportunities, I never did anything at a young age while it is still acceptable to be less than perfect and you have chance to learn. For example, I never used to play football with the other boys. When I got to secondary school this would return to haunt me as we were forced to play in PE and I was obviously awful, embarrassingly awful at it. I used to get so worked up and anxious in the days leading up to PE, begging my mum for sick notes, forgetting my kit on purpose and ending up with my first detentions. It seems like most of my readers are women so maybe this sounds pretty inconsequential (not being sexist, I just think society seems to push boys and girls into different areas around that time in adolescence) but not being good at sports is a great way to make yourself unpopular and an outcast at that age.

There are literally hundreds of other things that I avoided rather than risk embarrassment which have hurt me massively in the long run. Not attending any social events is probably the biggest of these.

I wonder if it’s too late to repair this massive damage. I am literally an empty shell of person, devoid of any life experiences, significant or otherwise. At the moment I feel that it is too late for me. Maybe if I was 16 or younger then I’d have a shot, but I’m supposed to be climbing the career ladder and buying houses now, not worrying that I don’t know how to kiss or any other basic life skill that should have been learned 10 or 15 years ago.

This post is all over the place, I’m sorry. I only got a couple of hours sleep last night and I’ve barely eaten again so my concentration isn’t exactly brilliant at the moment. I highlighted the main bit in bold if you don’t want to read the whole lot.

Sticks and Stones

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The old adage “sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you”, simply is not true, according to researchers.
Psychologists found memories of painful emotional experiences linger far longer than those involving physical pain.

From BBC News

Well that doesn’t really surprise me. I haven’t had many painful injuries myself, but the mental damage that happened to me over the past 10 years has had an extremely profound effect on me, so much that I’m now accused of being delusional about my negative qualities. I just can’t believe anything positive about myself, I see hidden motives and lies behind any compliments I receive. A lot of my SA stems from a horrible image I have of myself due to the psychological bullying at school and sixth form. I just can’t let go of it, no matter how many people tell me that I have changed or that what those bullies said wasn’t true. I think psychological bullying can be just as devastating as physical bullying.