Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Through A Fish Eye Lens

It's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. Maybe my busy weeks are catching up to me, or maybe I'm going senile at my old age of mid-30s and forgetting what day/week it is. Anyway, it's been a rough couple. There's been lots of topsy turvy, up and down action in my life and my brain, in which I seem to be cycling more rapidly than usual. I also seem to be dealing with more depressive episodes than usual and let me tell you, I don't like it one bit. For all of you who battle long depressive episodes or major depression and manage to continue to function as a normal human being, you have my utmost respect. And those of you who cycle from full mania to full blow depression (as opposed to my hypomania and less intense depressive episodes)... well, you guys must be superheroes humbly dressed as every day people.

I've been going through one of those phases in which I completely question almost everything about myself. Ever have those times? It feels like I'm on the outside looking in, examining myself as if I were a potential friend or dating partner or something. When I try to create a mental picture of what I'm going seeing, I imagine the view through a fish-eye lens, in which things are most likely distorted, by you can't entirely tell what, and by how much. In addition to subjecting myself to brutal honesty, it is a bit paranoia-inducing in that it causes me to question my own perspective - am I actually seeing/hearing/experiencing this right, or is it skewed because of my cyclothymia? From this bizarre perspective, my level of excitability, which I always thought endeared me to people, looks annoyingly hyper instead of charmingly, if perhaps a bit awkwardly, energetic. From this vantage point, my being happy, lively, and a bit quirky looks like I'm trying to call attention to myself instead of just BE myself (the latter which may cause attention, positive or negative, but is not aimed at doing so). My voice sounds too loud. My conversations sound too self-focused. From this perspective, every loud word or laugh, every talkative conversation, every time talk at all about myself, feels like it's happening at rapid fire and in slow motion at the same time. That's confusing, I know - it is to me too. It feels like it happens so fast I can't stop it, and then it replays over and over again in slow motion to ensure substantial regret and kicking myself for not being able to shut up.

The result? I'm becoming closed up. I'm drawing into myself. I still have bursts of energy because it still comes naturally and, let's face it, I have hypomania. But I'm becoming afraid and, if it's possible, more socially awkward. Now more than ever, I have trouble looking people (who I'm not very close with) in the eye, because I feel so awkward, nervous to have any attention on me, even if just through simple one on one conversation. Now I'm concerned that all this time, I haven't accurately been perceiving myself, my personality, and my actions. Now more than ever I'm worried that most people merely tolerate me and don't really want me around because I'm annoying/loud/embarrassing/fill in the adjective. In short, my view of the happy, sweetly energetic, humble woman who brightened a room with her smile and laugh, who disliked the spotlight, who loved to focus on others but not herself, has been destroyed - or at best, seriously put into question -  and I'm left wondering who I am.

I'm not sure of the solution. I don't know how to tell what people really think, and what is just based on my anxiety. I'm don't know if I should trust my own judgement, that of others, or some combination. If I believe in the person I thought I was, and others' positive opinions of me, am I in denial of who I really am? If I don't, am I giving in to some cyclothymia-induced brain warp and trying to be someone I'm not? Is there another solution that I'm completely missing?

I realize I've just talked about how I am trying to stop talking about myself and don't want attention on me, and now I've just written all of this about myself. But this blog, and this alone, is my turf. This is the one place I know I'm safe to say what I need. If you think I'm writing any of this for self-pity or using my condition as a crutch - and yes, I've been accused of both by those who have never had this condition - let me tell you that in this and this alone my perspective is crystal clear. You're wrong. I have never used the "I can't do this I have cyclothymia" excuse. I've never once said "screw it I'll just give up on myself I can't ever change". I've never asked for people to feel sorry for me (to clarify, asking for support and asking for people to feel sorry for you are NOT the same thing).

Take what you will from this post. I'm sure that it's not going to win me any popularity contests, but as I've never been a contender for the popular crowd, that's ok. I simply wrote this to get it out of my head and into space. I so often write to inspire that I feel sometimes I need to share the difficult moments as I'm in them. As always, if you ever are going through something similar and need a thought, a vent, or a virtual hug, please feel free to reach out. I undoubtedly can't solve what you're battling, but I'm happy to listen and offer support as best I can. 

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