Measuring Up

Not much has happened in the last few days.  We’re bracing for a snow storm to come in over the next couple days.  I’m still sleeping in my recliner as I’m still nursing my bad back.  Mentally I guess I have been okay even with fighting off the occasional bouts of boredom and anxiety.  I still feel kind of paranoid about people in general.  Since I have pretty good hearing, I can hear everything that goes on in the hallway outside of my apartment.  I don’t like unanticipated visitors as I have always been paranoid about that. I enjoy visiting people, but I can’t stand someone coming over unannounced when I am already self conscious about myself and my place.  My entire life I have had a fear that I don’t measure up in anything and that nothing I do will be good enough.  And since I’ve been fired from a few jobs in the past for things I didn’t know I was doing wrong and have lost friendships over people being annoyed with me being eccentric, many of my paranoias have been confirmed.  At least they are confirmed in my diseased mind but probably not in anyone else’s.  And since I don’t have the ability to read people very well, socializing has become a nightmare I would rather avoid.

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Being Alone With A Mental Illness

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It’s been months since I’ve had any kind of normal for any real length of time.  But I think I’m entering a phase of normal in what has been traditionally a tough time of year for me.  I am still diligent about what I eat and I still make an attempt to exercise daily.  I have started lifting arm weights a week ago.  I can feel my stamina from lifting weights begin to rebuild even after only a few sessions.  I feel pretty stable mentally for the most part.  And when I do feel flare ups coming on I make it a point to isolate and avoid people.  I would definitely hate to have a mental breakdown around someone who doesn’t understand mental illness.  In my apartment complex we had an individual who got belligerent with a fellow tenant and it got so seriously out of hand that the police became involved.  I have had my problems in the past and I still isolate and avoid people when I feel the mental illness coming on.  But fortunately the police have never needed to be involved with my problems.  Which is a good deal as I have an unhealthy paranoia about the police to begin with.  I just don’t trust them or any other authority figures.  I’ve had too many bad experiences and too much paranoia to trust anyone with any kind of power.  Makes life tough but I don’t any other kind of life being available to me.

I still don’t get out of the apartment complex much as I fear dealing with irritable and short tempered people.  We now have an overabundance of irritable and short tempered people living in my complex.  I have decided that I no longer want to deal with that kind of nonsense.  It’s no different than the kind of nonsense I dealt with in high school when I was dealing with my angsty peers who had a complete lack of empathy.  I don’t feel sorry for the people who live in my low income apartment.  Anyone who ever said there is virtue in poverty has never lived in HUD housing.  I face the same cross section of jerks and losers as every other social class.  The only difference is I can’t run away from these people.  No one knows how tough it is to be really smart but have a mental illness that prevents you from working.  It sucks.  I can’t even do the day rehab and group activities offered because most of it is at such a remedial level I feel like I’m back in grade school with those programs.  I can’t interact with normal people because of my mental illness and lack of a family.  And I can’t interact with mentally ill people because I am usually much smarter than most of the people the outreach programs for mentally ill people were designed for.  I am mentally ill but I am not stupid.  Stop treating me like I am stupid.  I would give anything to have someone I could interact with locally who had some kind of intelligence.  I am just tired of always having to discuss the weather  or politics because that is all most people can deal with.  I am tired of having no one to talk with.  I am tired of being always alone.  I am tired of being the only smart person I know.

 

Social Mistakes

We’ve all had those times when we committed ‘social mistakes.’  These are also called ‘faux paus’ and ‘social gaffes.’  It can be that moment when someone takes what we’ve said wrong.  It can also be that moment when we said something without completely thinking through the consequences.  It is also that moment when we fail to properly acknowledge our thanks and appreciation for what someone close to us means to us (think the spouse who forgets an anniversary or the boss who doesn’t always acknowledge the hard work his/her employees put in everyday).  We often do these without thinking or intending any harm.

For those of us with mental health differences from the ‘norm’, socializing can be really tough and even daunting.  This is often because we don’t always pick up on social ques such as body language, inflection and tone of voice, or are as aware of social situations as the ‘chronic normal’ or neurotypical people do with such seeming ease.  I have committed numerous social mistakes over the years without even knowing what I was doing.  I have lost friendships, alienated myself from coworkers and bosses, thought things about others that were not true, and made myself to look like a fool many times as I had no awareness of social rules and norms that I was breaking.

I never broke these norms or unspoken rules just to make life difficult for myself or others.  I was simply unaware of the boundaries I was crossing.  Maybe these boundaries are always known for most people, but I never picked up on them to a degree to make myself an extrovert.  As the years went by and I was committing more and more social mistakes, with the price of such social mistakes going higher and higher as I became an adult, I had no idea why I was offending people that I had no intention of offending.  I had no idea why I was reading people wrong.  I had no idea why I wasn’t advancing in my former work or why I wasn’t making lots of friends.  The reason was, because of my mental health issues, I simply was missing many unspoken and unconscious social signals that most people take for granted as being ingrained from birth.  I didn’t understand how the social game was played by everyone else.  I still don’t to a degree.

As I was losing ground socially, I gradually withdrew from most people and most social situations.  That was a mistake.  I thought that people simply didn’t me because I was different from everyone else.  That was not only part of my natural paranoia, but also because I hadn’t sufficiently learned to socialize on a level where most people could.  What resulted from me isolating with the exception of family and close friends was my not learning the social skills that are needed to adequately socialize as an adult.  So I was falling even more behind than I normally would have had I ignored my paranoia and kept socializing.

I have now had an official diagnosis for over thirteen years.  I have made many mistakes in my life with the diagnosis and being different than most people.  I have, and continue to, pay for the mistakes I have made socially.  Yet I am optimistic about right now and the future. I know the mistakes I have made as I have made them plenty of times.  I can now advance in my life and see what’s next to be learned.  If I, or anyone else, had everything learned and completely figured out, then there would be no point to keep going and striving.