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I spent the last days of the old year and the first days of the new overthinking and watching films. The films I saw were these:

Excellent

The Bounty

Howard’s End

Very good

Master and Commander

Good

Treasure Island (1990)

Berkley Square (1933)

No, still not liking it

Lawrence of Arabia

One of the worst films I’ve ever seen

Mysterious Island (1961)

******

I cannot summarise my thoughts so neatly. Generally speaking, I was thinking of my relation to the world and the people in it but obviously also the usual programme of my everyday dilemmas. I felt much more socially insecure, my identity was adrift and I didn’t really know what to take hold of. Sometimes I was unhappy.

How does a person deal with stigma? And what is one to do if the truth about yourself would inevitably lead to stigmatisation, ostracism, and in the best of cases, pity and charity friendships?

I’m by nature a confiding and open person, sometimes even inclined to overshare, so I do suffer a great deal under having to hide a lot of myself away. Sometimes so much that I want to give up people entirely. This mood passes but sometimes with consequences of having actually effected it.

Now that my social anxiety has improved and I feel prepared to slowly re-integrate myself into society, this topic has come to weigh on me somewhat. How do I tell people some of the more unusual facts of my life and myself? Nothing positive is going to come to me for it, only the earlier-mentioned stigmatisation or pity.

The first days of my great think I felt that it was inevitable that I cannot afford myself the luxury of sharing these things until I’m quite close to the person. I was quite shattered by how hard it’s going to be though. It’s a very disintegrating experience when you cannot be fully open and true to yourself.  There’s simply too much I need to keep stumm about too, and it wants to desperately get out.

Unfortunately, I cannot imagine any argument that might convince me it is for the better. People don’t work this way. Society doesn’t. What I wrote will follow is going to follow and will bring much unhappiness to me. I considered seeing a specialist regarding this topic because they might know better how to re-integrate people with unusual and socially unacceptable life stories into society. I wanted very much for there to exist a way.

So much that at one point it stopped mattering. And then and there I decided I will put myself through that. I simply can’t handle the masquarade, not even to protect myself.

I do need advice on how to cope with what is going to follow though. All that eye rolling, rejection, incomprehension, confusion, hurtful remarks caused by any of the mentioned. The detached and scientific side of myself considers it an intriguing social experiment to be able to live through. Sadly, there is little to no hope that my hypersensitivity won’t make it a misery.

But I don’t know. At this stage I still feel optimistic that I can handle it, my Romanticism probably also helps: do your worst but it’ll reflect worse on you than me and I will be the noble outcast. That sort of stupid thinking. I cannot stress enough that my tendency to Romantic excess is really helpful in getting through bad spots :).

Bad times and the hard times

My evening depression’s back! So hello, pet, how’s it been? Haven’t seen you around lately. Take a seat, let’s talk of life and love. Have you got your instruments of torture with you? I see that you do, good. I missed you, you know. Your morning sibling paid me many calls last weeks. Why did you stop? She’s so much worse than you. Let me have you, if I must have one.

*

That’s when I first began to suspect I had depression. It came in the mornings and I didn’t want to wake up. It felt like being under an iron press. Generalized ache in the gut and the chest. Skin stripped away. Staring blankly at the pillow’s corner for an hour. Letting songs play on repeat but not hearing them. People being kind and bringing presents, but not being able to feel. Everything a chore, except breathing:

  • do your work
  • do your home work
  • make a hairdresser appointment
  • buy that Elton ticket already
  • clean the floor
  • clean the kitchen table
  • go and make a sandwich
  • set up your birthday table
  • act normal
  • wash your hair
  • write a response to a person who asked if I felt more hopeless

I didn’t feel more hopeless. To feel hopeless, you need a conception of hope, a source and subject. I was under the press. It was generalized pain. Hope didn’t enter into it.

One night I experienced the first sign of the press lifting. I could peek into the cause a little but it was too painful. I drew back to prefer the generalized ache. Then I got ill. Physically. Some minor viral infection, which turned out to be my unexpected medicine for depression. I had an excuse to lie in bed all day and ask myself off work too.

Now it comes in the evenings again. Fewer things are chores and I manage to do more than stare at pillow corners. I do feel beaten up from the preceding weeks but healing.

I’m not certain if I will make a full recovery or if this is just a brief pause, but I feel optimistic. I was afraid I couldn’t get out of this with my own resources any more. But I did and this is a success.

I’m afraid to disturb this equilibrium though. I try to think little and dream little. Today I came up with some ideas for what work I’d like to do in the future in addition to/instead of what I do now or have already decided to do, but I shut it down a bit. I don’t feel well enough to plan and dream yet.

I’ve done all my homeworks reasonably well though and slept well and ate tolerably. And that’s as much as I’m going to expect of myself until I stop feeling beaten up. Really, a huge pat pat for me for doing all my homeworks so well and tomorrow’s ones today. I’m normally not doing anything a day before the deadline.

Head aches

This morning I woke up very depressed. It also happened yesterday and normally never happens.

My depressive slumps are always worst in the evenings and my mornings are usually the brightest times of the day. Often I wake up feeling good but gradually remember things and think myself into a state of depression by afternoon or evening. Last two days I’ve been very cheerful during the day. Almost hypomanic and carefree. I suppose the misery has to go somewhere and the hypomania is a desperate attempt to drown it out. It isn’t a truly sincere cheerfulness, even if it feels so at the time.

It did feel so at the time. Last night there was a beautiful crescent moon over the sea and I felt like twirling around at the seaside to my favourite Elton songs. But sadly, even the darkest areas of the seaside don’t feel private enough for dancing. My social anxiety was as low as it can possibly be. I was vibrant, friendly and talkative. None of the difficulties seemed to matter. I’m still not sure that they matter.

Later I watched three episodes of War and Peace with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre Bezukhov. I love him. His Pierre has always been my favourite but I’m enjoying it with even greater relish on a second viewing. Sometimes I don’t even listen to what he is saying but study the way he does a socially awkward person.

My favourite Pierre moment is when he says a brazen thing he doesn’t mean and asks himself immediately after: what did I say that for? I’ve rarely seen that done in a socially anxious person portrayal and it’s quite relatable. Sometimes I also feel it is my words that speak and not myself. Some of the things that come out of my mouth when I’m socially anxious are really not things I mean or think at all. I also like how he is unintentionally rude because he is too oblivious or awkward. I’m rude too sometimes, less for obliviousness (though that happens) but more for plain overpowering anxiety. I still recall woefully how I accompanied a girl to the train station once and it didn’t occur to me to offer to help with her luggage, even though she said that it was heavy and was obviously struggling. I was feeling so anxious I couldn’t operate on the level of situational cues and missed it completely. I can start conversations/topics too abrubtly instead of sliding slowly into them too. That’s a deliberate disregard of small talk though, so probably not relevant. Other than these things there is also much that is different in mannerism and I’m not really like Pierre, but he is definitely part of my tribe.

I’ve switched tribe in recent years. Maybe it’s not good for my mental health that my tribe includes people like Elton John, Hart Crane and Dylan Thomas and I should strive to be a balanced citizen and look up to people that hold it together better, don’t make spectacularly wrong life choices or resort to alcoholism and debauchery to drown out the world. I do look up to them, but they are not my tribe. My tribe is people that make mistakes, emotional, sensitive, self-harming-in-the-process, struggling people. When I was younger, I couldn’t see it quite as broadly as I do now. I don’t drink almost at all, for example, and including an alcoholic in my tribe would have seemed quite alien. But it’s not about drink or drugs or whatever a person’s chosen way of drowing it out is. It’s about the emotionality and sensitivity underneath and having that struggle. Resorting to drink and drugs is just sad. That entire downward spiral is. I hope I’ll never have to know.

I think all weakness is the same weakness, really. It doesn’t matter what anyone has: eating disorder, alcoholism, butt implants, casual sex, drug addiction, obsessive working out, gambling, gaming addiction. It’s all the same root and what ends up being your thing is sometimes just a matter of upbringing and the kind of influence you have around and what your priorities or interests are. I’ve been fortunate to have so much good influences around me to protect me from many things like that – except for spectacularly wrong life choices – but I do have that weakness in me. And when you see things as connected, it’s easier to be sympathetic to weaknesses you don’t share, provided the person underneath is alright.

I think my way of drowing it out is to be totally passive and watch comedy or detective shows. But it could have been partying or food, so.

 

Melancholia

Maybe the reason I’ve been making progress with my social anxiety is partly due to the fact that I simply have nothing to lose any more. And when you don’t care, it makes you stronger. It’s one possible cause. I don’t think it’s the only one.

But while realising how I’ve progressed was an uplifting event, tonight is melancholy, the counting of losses and unhappinesses night.

The thing I want most right now, more than any other thing in the world, would be a fun, imaginative, positive and playful friend.

I am so terribly bored with the unimaginativeness of adults and so alone with my sense of play. Even my particular brand of loving nature sets me apart.

If I ever saw another person wondering in the woods like I do, a girl, with her eyes up towards the treetops to catch sight of an elusive bird and her step slow, if I saw a girl like that, god, I think I’d stepped into a world of fiction where life-changing encounters happen right in the middle of the forest.

Okay, let’s not exaggerate, but it’d be very special.

Anyway, it’s not so important.

Imagination and spirit is what I want most. Another wild soul who’d go on a picnic with me on a starry and snowy winter night. And no, I don’t mean the people who’d find the thought charming and would gladly humour me. I mean those whose soul would be in it, too. It doesn’t have to be this idyllic or eccentric, of course.

Reasons for living

Sometimes, when I’m very very unhappy and don’t know why I live, I think of the trees and feel responsibility. Who is going to love the trees when I die? No one in the entire world cares about those trees except me. And that seems important somehow, that trees are noticed and cared about.