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This is long, and as always, I'm grateful to people who read anything I post. Sometimes I feel like, at the age of 29, I am too old to still be trying to figure this shit all out. I still have what seem like such basic questions about myself. I have elemental doubts that I'm "ill enough" to be on SSDI, or to have the trouble functioning that I guess I do. I'm still in denial a lot of the time. 

 

This pet hypothesis has occurred to me in the last couple weeks, and I wanted to run it by people here before I take it in to my tdoc later this week. 

 

BEGINNING OF WINDY DISCUSSION OF PAST SELF

 

For most of my life now, I've functioned primarily due to depersonalization and derealization, basically unplugging from my life for large stretches of it. If I don't, I become anxious and paranoid. Deadlines of any kind put me under a terrible pressure. This was problematic even when I was young. I remember getting bad marks on some things in my first, second and third grades because I was struggling with a problem or two on my homework, and would just refuse to turn it in out of a shame of that blank place. This in spite of test scores somewhere near the top of the class, and a college reading aptitude by the age of eight or so. All anxiety driven. 

 

I couldn't ask for help. I'm not sure why, but I've always, as far as I can recall, had a paralyzing fear of drawing attention to myself. That was at home, at school, in public, everywhere. I'd sneak from room to room in my own home, trying to figure out who was in a room before I decided whether it was "safe" to go in there. Depersonalizing was a relief. I could be a bright, fake automaton, friendly and always with the right answer, and never be vulnerable or wrong or draw any attention to myself. I remember elementary school as one long, fluorescent lit hell, spent wanting to crawl out of my skin and slither out of perpetually too-hot rooms to anywhere else. 

 

To be "right," to have the "answer," consumed my young self. Never make a mistake that another could see. Never participate in the childish, silly games of my peers (never mind that they didn't want me around anyway, and made that clear). Never be wrong. Never say no. Don't raise a fuss.

 

I got praised a few times for being bright, and suddenly that was my identity. It was safe to be smart. But it was a lot of work. I took refuge in irascibility and superior ivory tower snotbaggery. Peers didn't want me? Fuck them, I didn't want them first, and my disdain was far harder. I had a few friends, but damn few, and they weren't allowed close to me. I had a special fake persona just for them. Every day was a fresh blooming disappointment. I began to see every tiny dismissal, every time I shut someone down in conversation by using big words or getting heated. Every single miniature rejection of the odd, awkward bombast of a child and teenager I became. And fuck, they were everywhere, even where I didn't make them up. 

 

Didn't help that I grew up asexual and aromantic, in a body that disgusted me so much I had longing fantasies of starving it into the shape I saw in my mind's eye. I was a perfectionist, needing to be right, needing to have the answer and yet not draw attention all at once. The older I got, the worse the divide became. I knew by the age of thirteen that I would never kiss another or have a child. By fifteen, I eschewed any kind of contact, even where it was offered (increasingly sporadically, thanks to my being a superior, obnoxious shit).

 

I never got a break from these feelings. If anything, they were worse at home, where I felt pressured at all times to never draw attention to myself or make a scene, but also couldn't say no to any task (lest I upset the asker and cause the very uproar I was trying to avoid). 

 

I wore responsibility, perfectionism, and correctness like an albatross around my neck. All I wanted was to be left alone, yet I didn't get much time to myself. At school, I was an overachiever. At home, I was an overachiever who couldn't say no to things like interminable tabletop gaming sessions that I didn't want. I took increasing refuge in fantasy, and began to disconnect more and more. Angry all the time, eventually becoming a crucible whose contents were so hot and under so much pressure that I stopped checking into the body at all for whole days at a time. I let the automaton out front and kept my face turned inside, cruising along in a perpetual fantasy realm. I was occupied constantly by gory fantasy stories that didn't bother me, though I knew not to share them. I avoided all social contact. I believed it was not safe to be known, not honestly anyway. I was an easy liar, maintaining an entire web of arbitrary opinions about everything from pop culture to world politics, none of it any deeper than my automaton skin. I had a whole identity no more real than the projector's image hovering inches above the white sheet.

 

By the time I sought help, I was burned hollow by it, self-harming every day, constantly thinking of death. I attempted suicide, and said nothing to anyone. Joined CB around this time, if memory serves. 

 

That crucible broke all to shit for good a couple of winters ago. I had a psychotic break, went on an AAP, eventually had to quit working altogether, because I could no longer withstand the intense pressure I'd been under for so long. 

 

END OF WINDY DISCUSSION OF PAST SELF

 

Now...I'm adrift. I know that I won't mend completely. But I also know that I won't even manage to do what little mending is left to me unless I somehow connect to myself. 

 

I think I am at such a loss in part because I never allowed myself to be a child, or to have a teenage rebellion. By the time I was a teenager, I was already Schizotypal as all hell. I fit most of the textbook symptoms by the time I was fifteen; depersonalized more or less constantly, lost in a little internal fantasy world and feeling utterly alienated by this one. More than a little deluded, with dreams that slopped over into quasipsychotic waking experiences, and presences who hung around me during the day. Weird dress, weird mannerisms, weird spirituality, etc. etc. Escapist, miserable, paranoid, anxious. 

 

"Necessity arbitrates" has been the mantra of my life, even before I used those exact words. I've always done what I saw as being needed, or useful. I treated myself as a tool, even while making myself so thoroughly miserable that I had to disconnect to do it. I've never felt safe, and so I went forward the best way I could think of, even though it meant digging myself deeper and deeper into this hole. 

 

That's the core. 

I've never felt safe. I don't know what safe would feel like. I don't know how to give it to myself. 

 

I think I never felt safe, and so I didn't allow myself to explore or make mistakes. Yet, because I didn't explore or make mistakes, I dug myself one hell of a crazy hole, all the way to Clive Barker's Narnia. 

 

I don't know what to do with that thought. I need to ask for help. And I don't know how. I don't know where to start. In trying to be safe, never vulnerable, never wrong, I have fucked up everything. I can't think. I can't trust. I can't accept help. I can't even internalize praise or criticisms. I know everything is wrong with me and I don't know what to do about that. I am totally fucked and I don't know what to do about it. And I'm fucking thirty years old and this is all just a little ridiculous to be this old and still struggling. 

 

And I am desperate enough tonight to print this out and take it in to the therapist, but by the time the appointment rolls around I will have talked myself out of it, or apathy will have settled in and I will have convinced myself that I can't trust her to do anything about it anyway because we are alone out here and always have been and we will die alone. 

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Hi ... I just wanted to say I read what you posted, and can relate to some things you wrote about.

 

I think it would be a good idea to print this post before you decide you don't want to, so you can give it to your therapist.  I also think it would a good beginning of a start to a good conversation.

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Thank you just for slogging your way through that. I appreciate it. 

 

I am anxious about this post now. I am afraid of it, even. I haven't been able to bring myself to read back over it again, even to proofread (yikes) since I hit "submit," which was itself a feat. Which probably means that you're right and I do indeed need to print it out and take it with me to the therapist's appointment. The appointment is tomorrow (Thursday) evening. 

Edited by Mim
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I read it too.

 

I think we're born into being alone, but we're not actually born alone, for one thing because our mom kinda has to have been there.  Nor do we die alone-- we die with our memories and our long, hopefully well-lived lives.

 

 

I've never felt safe. I don't know what safe would feel like. I don't know how to give it to myself.

[...]I don't know what to do with that thought. I need to ask for help. And I don't know how. I don't know where to start. In trying to be safe, never vulnerable, never wrong, I have fucked up everything. I can't think. I can't trust. I can't accept help. I can't even internalize praise or criticisms. I know everything is wrong with me and I don't know what to do about that. I am totally fucked and I don't know what to do about it. And I'm fucking thirty years old and this is all just a little ridiculous to be this old and still struggling.

I feel the same way about my own problems. Trust me.

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I read it too.
 
I think we're born into being alone, but we're not actually born alone, for one thing because our mom kinda has to have been there.  Nor do we die alone-- we die with our memories and our long, hopefully well-lived lives.
 
 

I've never felt safe. I don't know what safe would feel like. I don't know how to give it to myself.

[...]I don't know what to do with that thought. I need to ask for help. And I don't know how. I don't know where to start. In trying to be safe, never vulnerable, never wrong, I have fucked up everything. I can't think. I can't trust. I can't accept help. I can't even internalize praise or criticisms. I know everything is wrong with me and I don't know what to do about that. I am totally fucked and I don't know what to do about it. And I'm fucking thirty years old and this is all just a little ridiculous to be this old and still struggling.


I feel the same way about my own problems. Trust me.

 

 

Thank you for chiming in. I appreciate you relating, and again, just reading that un-proofed, un-reviewed rant. 

 

I guess when I say alone, that comes from the deep sense I have of not belonging. Whether it's true or a persistent delusion, I don't feel human. I feel like I'm borrowing a body and a life that aren't mine. I feel like, as broken as my communications are, and given that I get no pleasure or fulfillment at all from relationships, if the way things are now does not change, I'm probably going to go right on keeping things superficial. I know I "should" want to change that, because relationships are important to social survival, if nothing else. Yet...that burden of change sits weird on me, because I can't picture what it would be like to be any way but this. And I'm not exactly motivated to expose myself to social situations, which I've never handled well, and now cannot handle at all, because my ability to grin and bear it seems to have broken during the reactive psychosis I had. I can barely sit through a two hour film with my family members, because I don't feel like I have an escape from that obligation if I need it. 

 

 

How'd the appt go?

 

My sleep schedule is weird, so I tend to track the days according to time--sorry for the confusion. It's just after midnight as I post this, and my appointment is at three this coming afternoon. I appreciate the wish for luck. I am going to print this and take it in. I'm kind of freaking out, but I'm going to do it. I might even take it in to my pdoc, if the therapist doesn't have some kind of wack reaction. 

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I really appreciate the effort you took to find words for your experiences.

 

To some degree, I struggle with alienation and otherness as well. Trusting that people are truthful and genuine, and truly feeling safe in the world are challenges for me too.

 

I got an image as I was reading... about you adopting a plant, then a pet, then volunteering somewhere with elders or young children. As difficult as it might be, I have hunch or an inkling that there might be something useful in that for you.

 

Learning how to connect is a skill. I suspect it can be learned at any age. Most of us learn it implicitly, but some of us have to learn it explicitly.

 

But bear in mind I'm also just another random wingnut on the internet.

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I really appreciate the effort you took to find words for your experiences.

 

To some degree, I struggle with alienation and otherness as well. Trusting that people are truthful and genuine, and truly feeling safe in the world are challenges for me too.

 

I got an image as I was reading... about you adopting a plant, then a pet, then volunteering somewhere with elders or young children. As difficult as it might be, I have hunch or an inkling that there might be something useful in that for you.

 

Learning how to connect is a skill. I suspect it can be learned at any age. Most of us learn it implicitly, but some of us have to learn it explicitly.

 

But bear in mind I'm also just another random wingnut on the internet.

 

Thanks, Woo. 

 

There is a major core of lack of trust in this, for me. I don't even fully trust that, indeed, all I see of people is not a lie, just because so much of myself is, and I project that. It isn't even a negative thing, this assumption. After all, to me being unable to trust enough to be truthful has felt like a survival skill, so how can I begrudge the whole rest of the universe equal falsehood? I can sit here and think to myself that I know other people have true, emotional lives, fall in love, have fights, sometimes get so worked up they marry and have children, or commit homicide. But it's hard for me to accept that, viscerally, as a truth. To me, it's just a fact I know about the universe, no more real than any fact I might know about a movie world I understand reasonably well. So that's definitely something I need to work on. I didn't bring that up in therapy today, but I think perhaps I'll write it down and take it next week. 

 

I suck at house plants, but I have a couple cats. The older cat has been through all the last eight years with me, and by now it feels like she's a little piece of myself, just happens to have her own separate heartbeat. The younger cat has taken root under my skin, as well. I'm capable of connection, in a way, I just don't deal well with the demand that human relationships require. I struggle both to give, and to receive from people. Volunteering has merit, once I get enough of a hold on the anxiety not to pitch into suicidal desperation when I feel my escape closed off by continuing obligations. The need for an escape is so strong I can barely force myself to sit through a board game with my family, at this point. Explicit learning of social skills is definitely on the agenda, probably pretty much exactly how you've described, Woo. I understand a lot about social flux and the dynamics of human relationships. But I don't know how to bring that into myself. if that makes sense.

 

I talked about that at length with the therapist today. We didn't work out a plan, as such. No conclusions were reached. She just asked me a lot of questions, and I answered them. She wants to discuss it again in our next session, and has encouraged me to bring in any further writings I might do on the subject. Today, we mostly discussed the rant itself, especially the core ideas: of a lack of safety, the resulting need to have an escape route or lose my shit, and the way it's crippled my life as a result. To be honest, I don't remember much of the session. It was difficult, and right now I'm tired and still depersonalized. I've considered asking her if she'd mind me tape recording these sessions, so that I have them to refer back to if I need it later. Not remembering the important conversations is not a good tactic. 

 

I'm hoping I'm not coming across as combative, just dismissing the suggestions I'm being given. I promise this is not a dismissal. I may not want to do the work that I know I need to do, because I have to tear down and rebuild entire sections of my whole self, and it's going to be hellishly difficult, but I do understand that the path to functioning better lies this way. So yeah, I do mean to at least give it hell. It's just difficult, and I need to learn some different tools. Probably also a better med regimen. 

 

I am going to stay open minded, and keep the possibility that this will work firmly at the front of my mind. This therapist seems handier than my last one, and I think, if I can get her to understand how broken down my social and emotional skills actually are, she may be very helpful. Talking is all well and good, and has helped me figure out some things. But I've come to a point now where all talking does is frustrate me. I want to act, but I don't know how to start alone. I need to see it through the eyes of someone who does not see like I do. I need to go back to very basic concepts and start again. How to communicate. How to listen. How to ask, how to tell. Then, eventually, how to not be too afraid and paranoid to receive. Or to give genuinely, and not just out of a desire to be "right." 

Edited by Mim
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I may not want to do the work that I know I need to do, because I have to tear down and rebuild entire sections of my whole self, and it's going to be hellishly difficult, but I do understand that the path to functioning better lies this way. So yeah, I do mean to at least give it hell. It's just difficult, and I need to learn some different tools

 

Are you in my head?!?  :P

 

I'll try to remember to come back to this tomorrow when I have more brain.

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I've considered asking her if she'd mind me tape recording these sessions, so that I have them to refer back to if I need it later. Not remembering the important conversations is not a good tactic. 

 

 

I think this is a good idea.  I can't think of any reason for her not to let you tape record the sessions.

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I may not want to do the work that I know I need to do, because I have to tear down and rebuild entire sections of my whole self, and it's going to be hellishly difficult, but I do understand that the path to functioning better lies this way. So yeah, I do mean to at least give it hell. It's just difficult, and I need to learn some different tools

 

Are you in my head?!?   :P

 

I'll try to remember to come back to this tomorrow when I have more brain.

 

 

Curses. Caught out again. Must increase stealth parameters. 

 

I appreciate you reading, and your insight (as always). 

 

 

 

I've considered asking her if she'd mind me tape recording these sessions, so that I have them to refer back to if I need it later. Not remembering the important conversations is not a good tactic. 

 

 

I think this is a good idea.  I can't think of any reason for her not to let you tape record the sessions.

 

 

Thanks. I thought about it a lot today, and I can't decide if it sounds smart or excessive. So I appreciate the feedback. 

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I'm about to ask my therapist if he minds if I tape record his shit too, so don't even worry. I dissociate like a motherfucker during those sessions. (I swear to god I'd understand him better if I were high or drunk, too but I obviously can't test that theory in person.)

It's funny that you talk about this need for an escape route. For me, I see people and yes, my 'favors owed' as escape routes. I'm completely nuts about the need to have one too--thus the trip to San Francisco earlier this year, and my sleep apnea surgery which I had basically because I'm terrified of the mask.

 

I don't know what else to say except relating my own experiences.  You describe it so well I feel like I can't possibly have more insight into the problem than you do, you're obviously intelligent, and you haven't come up with many solutions that are workable, so I'm intimidated.  I know how to gain social skills, and how I went about integrating back into the world, but as an extrovert* I'm kind of on the other side of the spectrum from you and don't want to give bad advice.

 

*for years I thought I was an introvert due to chronic pain

Edited by saveyoursanity
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I'm about to ask my therapist if he minds if I tape record his shit too, so don't even worry. I dissociate like a motherfucker during those sessions. (I swear to god I'd understand him better if I were high or drunk, too but I obviously can't test that theory in person.)

 

I really appreciate this. It helps to know I'm not the only person who's thought of the tape recorder. Going into session drunk might be possible, but I'm pretty sure my therapist would not be amused. I'd be a hell of a lot more forthright, though, maybe. I'll let you know how it works out if I decide to do it. Same for the tape recorder, heh.

 

 

It's funny that you talk about this need for an escape route. For me, I see people and yes, my 'favors owed' as escape routes. I'm completely nuts about the need to have one too--thus the trip to San Francisco earlier this year, and my sleep apnea surgery which I had basically because I'm terrified of the mask.

 

 

See, this makes sense to me, too. I come at it differently, but I think underneath, it sounds like we are operating under the same impetus. I, too, have done some nutty stuff to escape. Walked out on jobs, taken myself places without letting anyone know, quit a doc, etc. 

 

 

I don't know what else to say except relating my own experiences.  You describe it so well I feel like I can't possibly have more insight into the problem than you do, you're obviously intelligent, and you haven't come up with many solutions that are workable, so I'm intimidated.  I know how to gain social skills, and how I went about integrating back into the world, but as an extrovert* I'm kind of on the other side of the spectrum from you and don't want to give bad advice.

 

I feel bad that I've put you off. I never mean to, and I hate when I do it. It helps a lot just to know that I'm not the only one thinking or feeling these things. It's the difference of others' perspectives that makes them so valuable to me, stuck in my own weird bubble as I so often am. I think part of what I suffer from most is being stuck in my own perspective without the ability to reach out to others, especially in meatspace. But then I feel guilty for blathering too much here. Yay anxiety. 
 
:violin:
 
I appreciate you reading through all this crap, and then coming up with your own experiences. Reading that someone else thinks or feels similarly makes me feel less...unworthy, almost, for the thoughts that I have about the general MI situation and myself at times. 
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I feel pretty alien.  Experiences have shown that I AM pretty alien. I have to mask that, that's survival.

My definition of "trusted" is "Can hurt you."  

"I" have been rebooted before.

 Now that I've figured out "I" am actually a surface person, a shell, being dramatically resorted by processes I'm not in charge of makes a ton of sense.

And I am under an imperial shitton of stress ATM, and my brain is not spitting out cogitations too well, meaning I might come up with something more after I've forcibly relaxed myself.

But suffice it to say I really identify with some of what you said.

 

 

Drawing attention terrifies you.  Okay.

 

...Do you think there might be value in using the kind of therapies used to treat phobias?

 

http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/agoraphobia-discussions/general-support/3623082-flooding-vs-systematic-desensitization

 

I'm agoraphobic, it sort of comes and goes.  I have to make myself go out in public to keep myself desensitized to clumps of people

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Mim, i just wanted you to know i'm reading.  and that there are several things you've said i can deeply relate to.  the pressures you placed upon yourself as a child, to never be wrong, to never be childish, to never say no, no never need - and to always be the smartest, to have the answer to everything.  when that falls apart i know it's like losing your entire identity.  i still haven't really found one to replace it that fits.

 

that constant need to have an escape (and oh how you phrased it!  that even needing an out from playing a board game is THAT important, that jumped right out at me and made me say YES!!).

 

i don't have answers, but i wanted you to know that you aren't alien in feeling this way.

 

i've had two separate therapists & types of therapy where i had all my sessions recorded so that i could review them later.  after the initial discomfort, it soon proved to be a GREAT idea.  we went so far as to use a video camera so that i could also see how i present under different circumstances, but i don't think it's necessary to go that far.  just audio really helps.  you can build it into the sessions as part of your "homework" - spend some time talking about things from the past session that you weren't able to really stay present for at the time, or things that you notice upon thinking twice about your responses, or whatever you need.  or you can just listen for your own benefit.  i do recommend having someone to process that with though, even if it means talking about what you learn here.

 

you've done so well to get this far.  it's rare that i meet someone who seems so introspective, but yet whose explanations of self come from such an objective place.  i hear that about myself in therapy a lot - that i know so much already about who i am and why, that it's hard to know what to say to help me sometimes.  all that knowledge is great but damn it can get in the way of changing anything, or feeling that there is hope for change.  i'm not even sure i can explain why that is.  some of the bricks in your wall look familiar to me, i guess, is what i'm trying to say.

 

i'm glad you started this thread, and i hope you are too.

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I feel pretty alien.  Experiences have shown that I AM pretty alien. I have to mask that, that's survival.

My definition of "trusted" is "Can hurt you."  

"I" have been rebooted before.

 Now that I've figured out "I" am actually a surface person, a shell, being dramatically resorted by processes I'm not in charge of makes a ton of sense.

And I am under an imperial shitton of stress ATM, and my brain is not spitting out cogitations too well, meaning I might come up with something more after I've forcibly relaxed myself.

But suffice it to say I really identify with some of what you said.

 

 

Drawing attention terrifies you.  Okay.

 

...Do you think there might be value in using the kind of therapies used to treat phobias?

 

http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/agoraphobia-discussions/general-support/3623082-flooding-vs-systematic-desensitization

 

I'm agoraphobic, it sort of comes and goes.  I have to make myself go out in public to keep myself desensitized to clumps of people

 

Yeah, I have also found that masking is safer. I knew from the time I was small that if I explained what I was thinking, it discomfited adults and made my peers, who lacked adults' more complete instruction in manners, push me away or turn into bullying little bastards. As a kid, I guess that happened because I was overly bright and could read and talk at levels beyond my development. As an adult, it's because I'm fucking weird, partly involuntarily, and I'm not all here all the time. 

 

I've given a lot of thought to your definition of trust. I don't know what mine would be, actually. That lack strikes me as a pretty large foundation brick to be missing, so I guess I'll have to think on it some more, and probably take it to the therapist. Thanks for that. 

 

As for the "flooding" and similar therapies, yeah, there could be some merit there. Though I don't know anyone who'd sit long enough to see the complete machinery of my thinking.  :lol: I know it would terrify the shit out of me to be "seen." I can barely stand it when someone asks me what I want for my birthday gift. The profound, constant lack of safety, such that I can't identify what it would be like to live any different way, is, uh, problematic for living among people, yeah? 

 

I wonder how such an exercise would come out, actually. As it is, if I'm drunk enough to be honest about my thoughts and feelings, even my family backs away slowly, or redirects the conversation to safe ground. It'd need to be a tdoc in some capacity. 

 

Thank you for relating, and for replying. I appreciate you being here, especially since I understand how difficult it is for me to function when I'm having cognitive issues. The insight and compassion are valuable. 

 

Mim, i just wanted you to know i'm reading.  and that there are several things you've said i can deeply relate to.  the pressures you placed upon yourself as a child, to never be wrong, to never be childish, to never say no, no never need - and to always be the smartest, to have the answer to everything.  when that falls apart i know it's like losing your entire identity.  i still haven't really found one to replace it that fits.

 

that constant need to have an escape (and oh how you phrased it!  that even needing an out from playing a board game is THAT important, that jumped right out at me and made me say YES!!).

 

i don't have answers, but i wanted you to know that you aren't alien in feeling this way.

 

 

Thank you for reading through all that--I've talked a ton in here--and for relating. It really has felt like losing my identity, to have those anxieties and illusions stripped away. It's felt at times like there is no person underneath all the depersonalization and the masking. I feel hollow in this life. It doesn't help the anxiety to have the idea that others are going to discover that I'm not really a person. I know that must sound odd. I hope I'm coming across. 

 

 

i've had two separate therapists & types of therapy where i had all my sessions recorded so that i could review them later.  after the initial discomfort, it soon proved to be a GREAT idea.  we went so far as to use a video camera so that i could also see how i present under different circumstances, but i don't think it's necessary to go that far.  just audio really helps.  you can build it into the sessions as part of your "homework" - spend some time talking about things from the past session that you weren't able to really stay present for at the time, or things that you notice upon thinking twice about your responses, or whatever you need.  or you can just listen for your own benefit.  i do recommend having someone to process that with though, even if it means talking about what you learn here.

 

Thanks for the feedback on this, too. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a good idea, and not excessive at all. I am probably going to bring it up with my therapist the next time I see her. I could take recordings easily enough on my phone, if she didn't mind. That way, if she wanted copies of the sessions herself, I could send them over email as mp3s. 

 

Building it into the homework part was exactly what I had in mind. That way, I could make notes of things I wanted to talk about, but I could also listen to it as a refresher when I'm on the way into my appointments every other week, since it's kind of a long trip. Thanks for the suggestion of processing with someone else, too. That's a good plan. It's likely to be the sort of thing that ends up in my blog here, actually. I don't have anyone offline who'd do that, I don't think. Not willingly, anyway. Like I said above, discussions tend to end up being redirected, or aborted entirely, with family, and I don't have friend type resources of any sort. 

 

 

you've done so well to get this far.  it's rare that i meet someone who seems so introspective, but yet whose explanations of self come from such an objective place.  i hear that about myself in therapy a lot - that i know so much already about who i am and why, that it's hard to know what to say to help me sometimes.  all that knowledge is great but damn it can get in the way of changing anything, or feeling that there is hope for change.  i'm not even sure i can explain why that is.  some of the bricks in your wall look familiar to me, i guess, is what i'm trying to say.

 

i'm glad you started this thread, and i hope you are too.

 

 

Thank you. This is kind of you to say. 

 

I know what you mean; it is very frustrating, to have the facts and know what's going on, yet not be able to use them to solve the problem. That is what I'm facing right now, actually. It's struck me that, sometimes, what I need isn't necessarily to have things further explained to me, but rather to have some sort of help in using that knowledge. Knowing is no good if I can't see past this illness to what else might be. It's also seemed to me in the past that knowing things makes it harder to ask for pure support, especially from family. I've wondered if that's because it looks like I already have a bunch of answers, so they think there's nothing to say. 

 

You're right, though, it does make it hard sometimes to hold out hope. I start feeling like I'm frozen out, and then assume I must be seen as whining for attention. So the next time I'm less likely to say anything. I've wished for an objective eye on it, but of course that's a little hard. 

 

edited because I left out half my response

Edited by Mim
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i'm just gonna talk a bunch about my experience to see if you can find anything in there that feels right. (because that's what i do when i don't know what else to do - i look for me in someone else).

 

i was that little kid too - way too smart, way too verbal, way too different because of those things for any of the other kids to know what to do with me - except avoid or bully.  no wonder we mask and depersonalize.  

 

i did learn i could manipulate grownups into keeping an emotional distance with that advanced speech and comprehension - they treated me like a small adult, not a child (and at that time that was exactly what i wanted, because i thought it made me special).  but because of that, i was expected to have the considered, weighted emotional response of an adult as well.  fulfilling that expectation (which i did) was like calcifying my entire being, however - it got hard, and fake, and STAYED that way, because it's solid as bone.  it withstood the blows of the other children.  it withstood the blows of my family (for whom "smart" was not enough to be "special").  did you grow bones on the outside, too?   mine only broke twenty years later because i went nuts and then when i couldn't be stoic, or the smartest one in the room, or have all the answers, or display no emotion at all, i became "nothing".

 

now there's all these immature, unripened, mysterious pieces that keep spilling out because the bone-mask is cracked to pieces, and who knew - those "childish" things i rejected were all still in there.  and i still hate them all.  but i keep picking them up as they fall to the floor, and i try to stuff them into my pockets or my purse or my ears or anywhere else i can find to hide them before i have to really get a good look.  sometimes i'm brave when one falls out, and i actually show it to someone before i try to put it back.

 

i've gone through trying on a bunch of different ways to be "something" other than what i perfected as a child, since that's gone forever now.  what i've noticed so far is that all my attempts involve trying to be "special" again.  not because i want to elevate myself above everyone - but because "special" in my child-mind means "worthy".  worthy means people want to be around you and value you and listen to you and help you.  i find it very, very hard to shake the idea that i have to be extraordinary in some way to be worthy of anything at all.  i don't have to work harder/smarter/faster/better to be the best employee in the history of paid labour.  i don't have to starve myself to death to show how good i am at being thin.  i don't have to know everything there is to know about psychology and be able to help anyone with anything.

 

i can have an identity that does not involve being anywhere near perfect at anything.  indeed, it's who i am, just a person who is imperfect.  but i don't know how to consciously be that person.  i don't identify with that person.  i only identify with the little girl who was NEVER WRONG.  the one who needs to be special to be worth of taking up space.  anything else feels like "not me".

 

i can't lie, i've been roaming aimlessly for a few years now trying to have a sense of identity without that.  there have been many therapy attempts.  which of course i can totally understand intellectually!  but it doesn't get much further than that.  the bones might be broken all to hell but they're still there.  it's like what you said about having all that knowledge - it means what we really need is the support to explore, but i am as clueless as can be about how to truly accept that support.  or trust that the support is strong enough for me to wander from my well-worn path a little - if i get lost, or fall, is anyone really going to catch me?  is anyone really strong enough or patient enough for that?  because i can be slow and pretty heavy to lift.

 

i always, always feel like i'm whining.  always.  but i'm better now at saying something anyway (and then reproaching myself afterwards, but at least i did it!).  i hope you can do that too - speak to us even when it feels like whining.  because nothing you've said sounds like whining to me.  it sounds like a human being trying to reach out and discover their true self.  that's brave to me, not whiny.  we only get one shot at this life and if i have to be stuck living this one, i hope i can at least die saying that who i am in the world and who i am in my head are the same person, and that i like them both.  tall order, i know.

 

mkay enough of inflicting tomes on you this morning :)

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Wow. I realize I keep saying this, but thank you. I'm grateful that you've taken the time to put all this down--put yourself out there like this. I appreciate it a lot...it seems like a feat to me to do it myself, so I'm always surprised when someone takes the time to reach out at this level. Thank you for the tomes. :) 

 

i did learn i could manipulate grownups into keeping an emotional distance with that advanced speech and comprehension - they treated me like a small adult, not a child (and at that time that was exactly what i wanted, because i thought it made me special).  but because of that, i was expected to have the considered, weighted emotional response of an adult as well.  fulfilling that expectation (which i did) was like calcifying my entire being, however - it got hard, and fake, and STAYED that way, because it's solid as bone.  it withstood the blows of the other children.  it withstood the blows of my family (for whom "smart" was not enough to be "special").  did you grow bones on the outside, too?   mine only broke twenty years later because i went nuts and then when i couldn't be stoic, or the smartest one in the room, or have all the answers, or display no emotion at all, i became "nothing".

 

now there's all these immature, unripened, mysterious pieces that keep spilling out because the bone-mask is cracked to pieces, and who knew - those "childish" things i rejected were all still in there.  and i still hate them all.  but i keep picking them up as they fall to the floor, and i try to stuff them into my pockets or my purse or my ears or anywhere else i can find to hide them before i have to really get a good look.  sometimes i'm brave when one falls out, and i actually show it to someone before i try to put it back.

 

 

Yes to all this. I've never thought of it in this exact way before, but reading what you said allowed me to frame my own experience in a new way. I was basically a tiny adult, and the only way I could do that was to entirely reject all things "childish." But the result was, as you so aptly describe, growing bones on the outside. I was never brave enough to tell my family, so I'll never know how they might have actually reacted, but the few times I did make a scene about something, my parents took a pretty dim view of it. Maybe it was even that, by the time I went to school, I already had such a fear of "rocking the boat"--of drawing attention--that it didn't seem that odd to have to do the same at school. I doubt I'll ever remember it well. 

 

Mine broke a couple of winters ago, when I had a full on psychotic break, instead of the quasipsychotic symptoms I'd had up til then. Since then, I haven't been able to put that bone mask back together so well, and it doesn't function. Like you, I feel like nothing now. Like there's no person in here. I don't even know where to start finding whatever else might still be in here. Again, your language is perfect: immature, unripened, mysterious pieces that spill out and I don't always know what to do with them. 

 

 

 

i've gone through trying on a bunch of different ways to be "something" other than what i perfected as a child, since that's gone forever now.  what i've noticed so far is that all my attempts involve trying to be "special" again.  not because i want to elevate myself above everyone - but because "special" in my child-mind means "worthy".  worthy means people want to be around you and value you and listen to you and help you.  i find it very, very hard to shake the idea that i have to be extraordinary in some way to be worthy of anything at all.  i don't have to work harder/smarter/faster/better to be the best employee in the history of paid labour.  i don't have to starve myself to death to show how good i am at being thin.  i don't have to know everything there is to know about psychology and be able to help anyone with anything.

 

i can have an identity that does not involve being anywhere near perfect at anything.  indeed, it's who i am, just a person who is imperfect.  but i don't know how to consciously be that person.  i don't identify with that person.  i only identify with the little girl who was NEVER WRONG.  the one who needs to be special to be worth of taking up space.  anything else feels like "not me".

 

i can't lie, i've been roaming aimlessly for a few years now trying to have a sense of identity without that.  there have been many therapy attempts.  which of course i can totally understand intellectually!  but it doesn't get much further than that.  the bones might be broken all to hell but they're still there.  it's like what you said about having all that knowledge - it means what we really need is the support to explore, but i am as clueless as can be about how to truly accept that support.  or trust that the support is strong enough for me to wander from my well-worn path a little - if i get lost, or fall, is anyone really going to catch me?  is anyone really strong enough or patient enough for that?  because i can be slow and pretty heavy to lift.

 

I identify with this, too. Especially the perfectionism, and the need to be, not just useful, but better at it, in order to be considered worthy. It took me a long time to learn to handle failure, and I think I only got the hang of it because blunted affect and depersonalization took away my ability to care. I'm concerned that, if/when I do figure out how to start interfacing with the bits of this younger self, that may come back raging. I'll need to figure out ways to be ready for it. 

 

And yes, it isn't so much that I elevate myself above anyone else, or seek to. Only that, in my mind, everyone else has always had a much bigger advantage than I had, because they're normal and they think and feel in normal ways, so I need to work extra hard in order just to get by. Then I get paralyzed, because I have so many things to be responsible for, and do nothing for long periods. Go into deep mental and emotional "sleeps" and end up depressed and starting the perfectionist cycle all over again. I think, for a long time, I "pursued" illness, because it seemed to validate things so well. But of course an illness isn't an identity. It was hanging out here, more than anything, that got me past that particular thought train.

 

I think I'm still searching for some kind of identity. I've been "the Vigilant" for a long, long time, standing vigil over a vision of the world that no sane person would pursue. It's a lot of work to be like this, heh. If I can't be that Vigilant, that leaves me sitting naked, surrounded by a paralyzingly huge pile of bits of a life I never pursued. I have a lot of catching up to do, and the thought is daunting. And, like you, I could understand intellectually if a therapist has something to suggest, but I'm honestly not sure how to change, and I need someone who can break it down into far smaller steps than it seems a person of my apparent "capacity" should need. It's hard for me to force asking words past my lips, and I'm not so good at accepting or making use of advice once I've received it. I understand it, sure, but implementing it...not so easy. The distance between myself and what I see in others seems so vast. I don't know where to set anchors, let alone build anything like a bridge. 

 

i always, always feel like i'm whining.  always.  but i'm better now at saying something anyway (and then reproaching myself afterwards, but at least i did it!).  i hope you can do that too - speak to us even when it feels like whining.  because nothing you've said sounds like whining to me.  it sounds like a human being trying to reach out and discover their true self.  that's brave to me, not whiny.  we only get one shot at this life and if i have to be stuck living this one, i hope i can at least die saying that who i am in the world and who i am in my head are the same person, and that i like them both.  tall order, i know.

 

I think I need to keep this in mind. It's hard to be vulnerable, so I automatically tend to assume that everyone is sick of listening, especially when I talk about the same things more than once. But you're right. Self-reproach isn't necessarily a reflection of actual events. There's a difference between whining, and questing--even when the questing leads down the same path more than once.

 

I think that's a good goal to set, actually. Tall order, definitely, but worthwhile as well. 

 

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