In the past couple of years, I've grown increasingly reluctant to speak much about myself or really be open about what is going on in my life. Part of me feels ashamed and guilty for the fact that I can't seem to pretend that everything is fine anymore, at least not to the degree that I used to. I often feel like I ruin the mood. That my presence brings other people down and changes the atmosphere at times. I don't mean to, and honestly, half the time I don't really realize that I'm acting any differently, which leads to people asking me what's wrong and I spend the rest of the night second-guessing myself and wondering, "Yes, actually, what IS wrong?". I become self-conscious about the way that I sound and what I say, because I start to feel guilty and embarassed about the fact that others seem to notice that something's going on and, for once, maybe I felt like I was having a pretty good day? Or I was trying my darnedest to ignore how I was feeling, so I was blissfully unaware of how badly I was failing at concealing it to the rest of the world... no matter how well I'd managed to make myself forget, even for just a moment, about whatever it was that was troubling me at the time.
And the other half of the time? I know that I'm not feeling well. I know that it's showing, and I know there's very little I can actually do about it. I feel agitated, annoyed, tired, paranoid, anxious, stressed, exhausted, afraid, lonely or... sad. Inexplicably sad. Even then, I usually don't know right away why I'm feeling that way. It takes some serious soul-searching before I'm able to start narrowing down the reasons I'm feeling any of these things on any particular day, or moment. Once I start to narrow it down, I transition into a whole different kind of guilt. All of it is associated with some form of guilt, for me... but this kind of guilt is something that's brought on by doubt. Seriously invasive self-doubt that I've cultured since I was very young. I second-guess myself in every part of my life, every moment and about just about everything you can imagine. I second-guess everything I think and feel, because that's what I was taught, and that's what I know. I spent most of my adolescence being corrected about what I thought and felt when I dared express myself, where my thoughts and feelings were fed back to me as something completely different than what I originally thought. I didn't feel the way I thought I was, and not for the reasons I thought or said. All of it was corrected, so to the point that I just stopped trying to express myself on a regular basis and "trusted" in others to know what was right, because evidently what I thought and felt was wrong. Now... I know that doesn't make sense today, and trying to explain that to anyone is very difficult, including any sort of explanation for why that impacts the way I think and feel today and why that has seriously slowed down any sort of progress I would've been able to make with regards to finding and getting to know myself, my problems, my weaknesses and strengths, and how to overcome them and survive in spite of them. I had no real clue, because I did not have enough trust in myself, my thoughts and feelings, to make any sort of progress. I put my faith in my family, and the medical professionals. That's all I had---putting my faith in the fact that others knew what was "right", because I believed that I didn't. Some part of me still does.
I don't like to talk about myself, because I'm the sort of person who, more than anything else, wants to make others happier. I want to be a positive force in other peoples' lives. I define my self-worth by how successful I am in this, and especially in recent years I haven't felt particularly successful. I never feel like I have anything good or inspiring to say about myself or my life and with the sort of progress I've been making offline, it's becoming more difficult for me to conceal... anything, really. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing. It means I'm starting to accept and come to terms with all those things that I've been ignoring or otherwise been unaware of for so long. All the problems that I wasn't initially aware were problems at all, and all the pain that I started to realize wasn't normal. I don't know what "normal" is. I never knew how much pain was "too much", and to a certain degree, I still don't. It's a work in progress, and something I learn more of every single day. Even so... I realize that talking about myself is, perhaps, one of the things I need to get better at. I need to be able to talk about all that is going on, because I never knew how, before. And before I know how to explain what is happening, I can't move past it, and I can't get the help that I know for a fact that I need.
I made a lot of progress recently, though it's been equal parts terrifying and scarring. A lot of things have moved and shifted in my life, in mostly good ways, but it's been difficult for me to keep up and I've been forced to put some faith in people I never thought I'd have to be involved with. Agencies and social functions that existed but I never knew about or had the wrong idea of what they actually meant. I've had to learn to ask for help (which is an ability I previously did not possess, and still experience great difficulty with) and then accept the help when it's offered to me. All of these things are incredibly difficult for me, for reasons I can't adequately explain right now.
Last Monday, I was officially diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was something I had suspected for a very long time, but it wasn't finalized until this last week. A lot of other stressful events surrounded this particular incident, but of everything that's happened... That one is good. I know that without a doubt. It means we're making progress, alongside all the other things that are currently being investigated so that we can start making real progress in any sort of treatment. But, the most important thing, to me... was the sort of affirmation you can only get when someone looks you in the eye and tells you, with finality; "You're not just making this up. This is real. It's not just your imagination."
"You're not crazy."
That last one was more internal. Because one of the things I've been particularly bad about for many, many years... was to think that I was crazy. That it's all in my head, that I shouldn't be feeling or reacting to things the way I am, that the "mood" I'm picking up on in conversation is nothing more than my paranoia. It's not hard to imagine how stressful that was for me, and how much worse it made it for me at times. When I freeze up in fear and anxiety because I have to look back at what is happening and second-guess myself and my reading of the situation, how I'm thinking and feeling at the time, because something's "off". Something doesn't feel right. I don't know what it is, but it's there, and no one else seems to be able to see it but me. Of course I'll start to question whether I'm just losing it. It's been a desperate uphill battle at times for me where I've clawed my way through in desperate anger and frustration because it all feels so "wrong", and I feel so deeply, intimately violated by my own self-doubt, like I'm being crushed from the inside even though, for once, I actually know that I'm not crazy. I know I'm not imagining. I know I'm RIGHT, but I can't accept that without tearing myself apart. Without second-guessing, and without doubting.
And now, because it's on paper... even if it's just one thing, four letters, it's a massive relief. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy.
I'm not crazy.
I have a long way to go before things will start to feel okay again, but it's a step in the right direction. There's a lot of stuff in progress in my life right now which has kept me busy, hence my absence on the site. I intend to change that because, at the end of the day, I enjoy being here and doing what I do. I just needed a bit of time to process some of what has happened, and land in my current situation. And, of course, to put a few words to the whole thing. I know it doesn't necessarily make sense, and it lacks a lot of the context, but it was a valuable exercise for me. I need to get better at doing this, no matter how much I dislike it, because it helps me think. It helps me sort and organize my thoughts and feelings and, more importantly, come to terms with them and accept that they are mine, that they are real, and that I'm not just imagining it. That I need to trust in what I think and feel, for my own sake, and putting it in writing is one way for me to grow more familiar with it all.
I'll be okay. Eventually.