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.

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Who am I, really?

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I’m not bipolar or cyclothymic or anything like that (hypo/mania is thankfully something I don’t have to deal with.) My mood isn’t steady though, within 48 hours I have been the happiest I’ve been in years and back to suicidal again. I’m not over dramatising, I was cursing my luck that I left the pills at my university flat last night and the last train back had already gone.

People seem insistent that I should be the “happy” me and that when I’m down it’s the fault of depression, cause unknown. What if I am the sad person and when I’m happy it’s an aberration? Even when I’ve been in a good mood, I don’t suddenly find life wonderful and valuable. I don’t thank my lucky stars that I didn’t kill myself 2 weeks ago, or even 3 years ago when I first seriously planned to. Things are better than they were back then but not so good that I’d willingly go through it again.

Maybe I’m just one of those people who is always going to be unhappy, it seems more likely to me every day. I can imagine that if I won the lottery or something then I’d still be miserable. Perhaps it’s just who I am, but I don’t want to be that person.

I don’t know when I’ll feel suicidal next, it could be tomorrow or even later this evening. (I wrote this next bit in an email to someone, hope they don’t mind me reusing it) I am worried that if I feel like that again, I might go the whole way next time. Each time I have gotten closer and to be honest (if you ignore the fact that I wouldnt be here to say this) I wouldn’t be hugely regretful if I had killed myself a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t suddenly found life to be wonderful, I just don’t feel quite so crushed that action needs to be taken to end it. I have the energy to carry on for a bit more, but I don’t really know why I’m bothering other than I am worried about an OD going wrong or being paralysed if I jump. It’s hard to explain how I feel and I’m not sure a rational, sane person would understand but that’s the best I can do.

I wish my family hated me so I didn’t have anything holding me back, I’d honestly rather get this over and done with if it wasn’t for the fact that it’d upset them. As things stand, I’m just edging closer and closer towards the point where wanting to escape becomes stronger than not wanting to upset my family. I wonder how long they want me to keep up the pretense that I enjoy and want to live.

The crisis team are coming to see me tomorrow afternoon, the right thing to do would be tell them this, but I realise I can’t verbalise it properly. I feel ashamed that I want to die because I have things so easy compared to people with real problems. Perhaps I could write it down but I still have bad memories of trying that on my first GP appointment and him refusing to read it. I’m pretty sure I know what their answer will be; “The CBT will help you address this”. But I have major doubts it will change my attitude to life.

I don’t want to come over all nihilist, but I don’t see any value in my life. I want to know why people want to live so much, I fear I already know the answer and it’s because they experience things I have never and never will, things like true friendship, feeling a part of something, having someone who loves you.

Last night I annoyed one of my online friends by talking about this. I have a hard time believing that a fat, ugly, boring, inexperienced, lifeless, suicidal, depressive, quiet, immature, loner who has never managed so much as a kiss on the cheek in 24 years of life will be able to find a girlfriend. I can back all those adjectives up by the way.

What on earth would any girl want to do with a person like that? There isn’t really much more I could do or be in order to become less attractive.

I remember another boy in school who used to get made fun of because he never had a girlfriend when we were 15. In retrospect, that was pretty harsh and at that age being in such a situation probably isn’t too uncommon. The thing is, there will be girls around that age who haven’t had a boyfriend either and even the ones who do won’t expect much maturity from teenage lads (if they do, they’ll probably be disappointed). At 24 though, things are rather different. I suspect discovering that a guy who was still a virgin at that age would raise a lot of red flags, there must be something wrong if it’s not for religious reasons (I could make a point about the foolishness of such reasons but I don’t want to get even more sidetracked.)

I think women in their mid twenties have justifiably higher expectations from men than teenage girls. My friend tells me that it’s never too late to catch up, but I don’t see how it’s possible. When my parents were my age they’d been married 5 years, I know of people that went to my school in years below who have families now. It’s almost impossible to explain how utterly inadequate these things make me feel.

That 15 year old boy was probably nervous the first time he kissed a girl, but the odds of his partner being in a similar situation (according to the data I’ve found, assuming they are the same age) were reasonable so there would be the benefit of knowing that they were both in the same situation. I have to ask myself what girl (assuming they are insane enough to get past all the other crap and somehow like me) would put up with such inexperience from a person of my age? That’s just one simple example, I have no idea how to be in any kind of relationship.

In my whole life I’ve never talked about sex with anyone. I can’t remember when I found out the mystery of where babies come from but I wasn’t so sheltered that I had to learn in year 8 science class. People have made me feel as though I’m not allowed to think of myself as a sexual being though. That is a laughable thought. I’ve never talked to any of my “friends” (post coming about them later, it’s ok you can return from the edge of your seats now) at school about girls because to everyone there I was a non-person. Just a laughable entity who worked and got made fun of occassionally. During the whole time I was at high school I never once started a conversation with a girl and I only spoke when spoken to.

It was incredibly difficult for me to write that paragraph, I still can’t see myself as a person who deserves or is capable of forming that kind of relationship with a person. I am human though and I’m not assexual. I have a lot of issues, obviously and it seems to me that as I get older and older the chances of coming across someone who can accept such immaturity and inexperience are becoming exponentially less.

100 Posts

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I just realised that my previous post was the 100th I’ve made on this site. I’m amazed at how quickly I rattled off 1000 words without really thinking about it, I guess loneliness and depression is one subject I know a lot about. 

This site began with some blog posts I made on the now defunct social anxiety friends website, a place where I met some people who I still talk to online regularly and have met a few of in real life. I’m glad that I found them, they’re pretty much the closest thing I have to real friends and were probably more instrumental in improving my life situation than anyone else. I wouldn’t say that I’ve made huge strides since then, but I’ve done quite a few things I’d thought I’d never have the courage to do. 

I really appreciate the people who read my website and post comments, thank you – you keep me (relatively..) sane and have genuinely helped me. It’s kind of liberating to talk about my problems with such lucidity on here, something that I can’t do in real life, though I sometimes wonder why I bother to announce these things to the world. It’s something I’ve been considering over the last couple of days and I guess that what I really want is an answer. I know in all likelihood there is no solution, I find it hard to believe that enough people have gone through the same experiences as me (I seem to be an aberration even on social anxiety sites) to make it likely that any will run across this site and give me any words of wisdom.

I suppose the fact that I’m still here must mean there is a small part of me that still has hope. Every day is still a struggle to find reasons to carry on though, I genuinely wonder (please tell me) if my life is really hard enough to warrant feeling this suicidal? Can people read my previous couple of posts and think that is a decent way to live? Once again, I do realise I could be a blind leper with cancer, and I do realise how lucky I am to have a roof over my head etc. Maybe I’m being naive but I imagine some people would be shocked at how badly (admittedly mostly due to my own faults) I live. 

I just read this quote on a forum for people with social anxiety:

I’m a sexual being and I also want a lover. I’m not willing to compromise on that. Well for short periods of time, during illness and that – yeah, fair enough. But not in the longer-term.

This isn’t something I can even comprehend, that a person could make such demands of life. This may be pathetic, but that kind of thing is to me, in the same realms of possibility as winning the lottery, that’s genuinely how I feel about it.

Maybe it’s what blogging is all about, but I feel compelled to apologise for attention-seeking. I’m just so desperately lonely and deprived of human contact (I barely even feel human myself now) that I want someone to hug me and tell me I’m going to be ok, even if I know it’s not true. I wish I could feel alive even for a little while 😦

Note: I’m not criticising the person who I quoted. You’d better believe I’d feel similarly, were I in a position to do so.

Problems

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I’ve been extremely lucky in a lot of ways, I’ve never had to deal with the kinds of problems that most people experience. I’ve never broken up with anyone, fallen out with friends, had to deal with ex’s. Never had to worry about anyone else apart from myself really (of course I do worry about my family). Of course all this came at the cost of always having been alone and deprived of human contact but I’ve rambled enough about that already.

As I sit here hungry again because I’m too scared to go into the kitchen and face making dinner with people around (this time I’m worried that they will ask what I’m having and think I’m weird because all I ever seem to eat is pasta, namely because it’s quick and easy to make.) I wonder what my life would be like if I wasn’t paralysed by fear of mundane and quite frankly, ludicrous things. I don’t think I could cope with being a real person. I don’t deserve to call myself a man, I’m just an overgrown child. If I ever managed to become normal, form relationships with people, have friends who want to spend time with me, go out, actually let someone know the real me (whoever the fuck that is, I don’t know any more) I don’t think I could cope with all the extra responsibilities and burdens. I just don’t think I’m cut out for life, not even this easy one I was lucky enough to be born into.

Getting “help”

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I’ve all but given up on making this blog useful, apologies if you came here expecting something helpful.

I had another psychiatrist appointment last week. I faced the dilemma that many people with mental illness have to deal with; whether to say the right things, jump through their metaphorical hoops and and take the easy way out, or whether to face up to the hard task of telling it how it is and facing the consequences of that. Last time I took the first approach, she seemed quite pleased with the progress I was making. In the days leading up to my latest appointment though, I’ve been feeling extremely hopeless and suicidal again. It often seems to disappear as soon as I get the chance to talk to someone about it and I feel like I’m being overly dramatic by bringing it up but this time I was determined to speak the truth about it.

I haven’t been feeling the desperation that I did before, I don’t feel the need to go out there this minute and do it, it’s more of a realisation what my life is going to be like. The horrible truth hangs over me every day, reinforced more and more with every failed social interaction, every rejection, every person staring and laughing. I feel crushing jealousy as I see people with friends, even glancing at groups studying together brings out a great sadness in me. I am totally alone here, and everywhere except in my home. I can no longer see how I’m going to get past the fact that I am hopelessly socially retarded, my appearance scares people and I am incredibly boring. There’s too much to overcome before anyone would even be remotely interested in knowing me, never mind the fact that I’ve already established myself as the weirdo loner here. It could be worse, at least I know a couple of people’s names, but I never dare interrupt their groups to talk to them, even if I could think of something to say.

I managed to tell the psychiatrist that I have been having the thoughts again and then of course I had to talk to the terrifying consultant. He’s incredibly intense, always staring and picks apart everything you say. I already over analyse the way I say every single thing to make sure it’s no misinterpreted but he sends me into overdrive. It can take me 30 seconds to answer a simple question, I get scared he’s going to get angry at what I say, especially after he smashed his fist on the table after I deigned to ask about anti-anxiety medication. The end result of it all was that he didn’t seem to think I was serious about it and just upped my venlafaxine to 225mg and said I’d benefit from one to one psychotherapy. I was referred a couple of months ago but still haven’t heard anything.

I don’t know what to do with myself now. I wish it was possible to transfer a confident person into my situation (of course no normal person would be in this position in the first place) and see what they’d do. I simply have no idea. I could carry on going to lectures, sitting alone and speaking to no-one for practically the entire week. I’m scared of the people my flatmates bring around here, I’ve missed several meals because I’ve been too afraid to leave my room and go into the loud, social atmosphere of the kitchen.

I’m so screwed up, laughter scares me now. If I here a group of people (especially men) laughing it just triggers a fear response inside me. I suppose it’s some kind of Pavlovian response after all the years of mocking and torment but I wish I didn’t feel like it. I don’t have a clue how I’m ever going to be normal*.

* Now I know the usual response to this is that “nobody is normal” or normal people aren’t interesting, but that’s not what I mean. I think most people would agree it is pretty normal to have at least one friend. It’s reasonably normal to be capable of going out somewhere without being crippled by fear of being laughed at and humiliated. I’d love to have someone to talk to, who I didn’t feel like I had to put on a show just to seem like less of a freak to.

I was asked some difficult questions by the consultant; “Have you ever had any close friends?” Not since I was a young child. He asked about when I was about 15; “Lads have mates who they go out and do ‘lad’ things with” he said. Not me. I had people I hung around with in school because I was too scared to leave them (they bullied me as much or worse than the other people) but I never had the slightest desire to spend any more time than absolutely necessary with them. I never saw them outside of school. I’ve been a loner for the vast majority of my life, but that isn’t how I want to be. I’d say the problem is probably made worse by two enormous problems. First, I am not the kind of person people like. I’m no fun to be around, I’m far too quiet and I don’t like drunkenness and parties, I look hideous, I’m probably too arrogant and élitist in my own introverted way. Second, I lack the basic skills that seem to come naturally to other people, probably through trial and error when they were younger and social faux-pas weren’t as heavily punished. I find it incredibly hard to explain just how little I know about how to interact with people, a lot of people think they are “shy” or whatever, but I’ve not come across many as socially maladjusted as me. I know nothing about what people do, I know they don’t spend every waking hour reading or on the computer like me but all I have for reference is what I see on TV and in movies (which I do realise aren’t realistic, by the way). I feel completely out of place as a human adult.

Anxiety Resurgence

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It’s been a long time since I was around a lot of people on a regular basis, so I haven’t experience huge amounts of social anxiety for quite a while. There have been odd days here and there but not prolonged periods like when I was at school or work, avoidance has been doing it’s trick. Now I am at university, however, I am starting to get those feelings again more often. I’ve already missed a few meals because I’ve been too afraid to go into the kitchen because I can hear voices of other people in there who I don’t know. I’ve even got to the point where I came out of my room to get a drink, walked to the door and heard people laughing and shouting and just walked back to my room to hide until they had gone.

One thing I’ve been told several times is that university societies and clubs are good places to meet people, and wanting to try and make some friends I decided that I would challenge myself and go along to some. I really wanted to join the Cine society but unfortunately that wasn’t running 😦 I ended up asking the president of the psychology society if it was ok if I joined now, since I didn’t sign up at the fresher’s fayre and she said yes. Last night they had a film night so after much worrying and arguing with my mum over MSN about going, I eventually plucked up enough courage to go there. Now, one technique you see in a lot of literature about tackling SA involves making predictions about social events or occasions and then going along anyway, then comparing what happened to your prediction and hopefully then realising that you were wrong and things turned out better than you expected. Unfortunately for me, last night was another occasion where what I predicted turned out to be exactly right; the other people there were all friends and knew each other and I ended up on my own looking like a loser. There were only 7 people there and the other 6 were all talking about people they knew and things they had done on previous nights out and stuff, hardly topics I could join in on even if I could bring myself to butt in on others conversations. So that turned out to be useless just like the other times I have been out, other people just don’t go to things alone looking to make friends. Despite what my mum says, it is highly unusual for someone to be my age and have zero friends, everyone else has people to go places with.

I don’t know what to do now really, I’d been told that everyone at uni would be in the same situation; that they wouldn’t know anyone either so they’d all want to make new friends, but that isn’t how it’s turned out for me. Everyone already knew tons of people from college, school or their jobs, on the first afternoon here when I went into the kitchen to say hello to my flatmates, there were already a bunch of their friends in there and I didn’t know who was living here and who wasn’t at first. I didn’t arrive with a prepared social group, I’m alone.