One thing I don’t talk about very often, especially because of this blog, is the anxiety that I feel in relation to how my mental illness presents itself to people. As we know, and if you’re reading this I would guess you do, I am happy to be open about my depression and anxiety, alongside many aspects of my journey with recovery, which makes it feel extremely hypocritical to admit that a big part of my repressed anxiety revolves around people seeing me as ‘crazy’.
On my anxious days, on top of that nothing-in-particular-has-happened-but-I-feel-the-fear freak out that is going on in my body, I then gain a whole other level of anxiety that makes me worry that I am actively making people around me uncomfortable when I am visibly anxious, causing panic to the point that I practically shut down. I feel terrified to come across as psychotic, probably relating to a deeper issues I have from younger years, to the extent that I swear I sometimes lose half of my personality in this horrible little mental process.
I’m naturally quite a loud and strange person, in a somewhat great way, but when my anxiety is at a crippling level, the lines between what is my personality and what is my mental illness become blurred to the point that I can’t tell what is what, and trying to be any sort of authentic self in that moment feels impossible. It honestly becomes such a subconscious toxic spiral of self-obsession that it is humiliating to even admit to. I struggle to speak, to remember my sense of humour, to remember how I would normally respond in similar situations, how to breathe. It is as if my brain just dissociates with my body and I’m just left floating and desperately trying to reconnect. It feels like I am an imposter having to put on an act to pretend to be my normal self, and that everyone around me knows exactly what is going on.
The confusing thing, is that I never think about other people in this way. I know for a fact that it is not a big deal to show symptoms of mental illness, especially when surrounded by trusted support systems, but I just don’t seem to be able to apply the care and empathy to myself in these situations that I provide to others, which is something I desperately want to learn. How do we control the standards we hold ourselves to? How can we let go of a subconscious fear of humiliation and rejection? Why is it there to begin with?
Though these are things I guess I might learn more of over time, for now I just have to cherish the days that I do feel like myself and can be as wild as I like without a care in the world, and pay close attention to what triggers the bad days, because breaking out of them can feel like breaking out of a prison that I have made just for myself.
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