A revelation

January 31, 2010

By way of typing words into Google at 2 am. And no, sorry, nothing sexy or kinky here.

I’ve been frustrated with how badly I feel I’ve been botching all my relationships: personal and professional. I couldn’t figure out why everything was going wrong for me. And lately, certain tendencies I’ve always had have been getting worse. It’s gotten to the point where these tendencies are taking a serious toll on my life, narrowing it, damaging possibilities, ruining friendships.

When I read the list I found, I was able to put a mental checkmark next to most  of the items on it. Memories of past incidents, situations, relationships suddenly revealed to me an underlying pattern of behavior. Viewed through the narrative of the list of symptoms, my life began to make a scary kind of sense. Scary because it revealed the seeds of a possible, unwanted future.

For awhile, I thought I just had a constant, mild case of depression. Now I think the depression was just a result of the actual problem. It is comforting knowing that there are other people just like me, that it’s a recognized disorder. My personality finally makes sense to me. It is also not comforting because it’s not well-understood and can seem like normal behavior since aspects of it affect everyone in certain situations. I think it will be difficult to explain this to people in a way that doesn’t make it seem like I’m just a fuck up or trying to get sympathy or something.

The difference is that the things everyone feels and does on occasion are things I feel and do all the time. The same kind of thinking arises in both casual and high-stress situations. And the behavior arising from that thinking is automatic, irrational at times, hard to control, more extreme.

It wasn’t so bad for awhile. I was able to fake normalcy pretty well, convincing even myself that I’d changed. But the past few years have been really rough. I’m in a more stressful place, professionally, and I think that has exacerbated these disordered patterns. I just wish I’d known about this a lot earlier. I don’t think I would have done things in the same way if I’d known that there was something that distorted my perception and affected my behavior in these very specific ways.

I’m going to set up an appointment to talk to a professional about this. I have tried therapy in the past, but it didn’t work, I think, because neither of us knew what the real issue was. And annoyingly, the disorder tends to make you want to avoid situations where you have to talk about your problems, which is why most people who have it are diagnosed later in life.

But strangely, I feel so relieved that I’ve figured out what’s wrong with me that I want to tell everyone. I want to have cards printed up with a little explanation so I can hand them out to people when I first meet them. But another part of me, the messed-up part, is strongly vetoing that idea: “They’ll think you’re crazy and unstable! Or that you’re just high-strung and hysterical! Keep quiet, lay low, don’t draw attention.” Now I have to figure out how to not only identify that controlling, anxious little voice, but resist it.

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