Collective Soul – Needs
I don’t like people very much. They are hard to understand, and it takes a lot of energy to learn how to interact with them. Which is slightly ironic, since I work in outside sales. But, back to people. I have a hard time with making them real. A lot of times, I’ll see a human as their title. “friend”, “sister”, “co-worker”. They don’t have a name associated with them, and they aren’t “real” in a sense.
I’ve struggled with it for pretty much as long as I could remember. It was one of the initial things that brought me to therapy. The main thing was that I didn’t miss people. My dad was in the Navy growing up, and he’d leave for months at a time while deployed, and I never missed him. This isn’t to say I don’t have a good relationship with my dad. He’s always been one of my biggest role models. It’s sort of like when you watch a TV show or movie, you have this idea that they don’t actually exist. My mind works like that, but with everyone.
Another good example, my best friend, Hannah, has also started blogging (found here). I can be talking with Kate Cavanaugh, and be completely blind to the fact that she’s also Hannah. To the point where if I don’t actively think about it, I could very easily talk to Kate or Hannah about the other and not realize they are, in fact, the same person. I have to actively work on it.
So what does that look like? I have a book that I use to keep track of people I care about. In that book, each person has their own section. In that section, I write down things that I find important about them. Whenever I feel myself slipping from keeping one of those people real in my life, I reference what I’ll I’ve written. I also never take anyone out of this book. Even before my diagnoses, I’ve realized this was a problem in my life, so it’s been collecting people I think are worth taking the time to get to know. I’ve been keeping this book since I was fifteen, and after ten years, I have ten people in this book. I don’t talk to most people who I have in it anymore. But I still reference what I’ve written for them so that I can keep up their memory and keep alive the idea that this is a real person who actually exists.
One of the reasons I struggle with this, the world I live in is removed from the one you live in. It’s sort of like that TV example. To an extent, that is how I live my life. I watch it from the sidelines, sometimes not even feeling that I’m even in the same room, but instead watching from a distance. When I’m in a large group, I’m an observer of life, not a participant in it. Sometimes to the point of out of body experiences, where I don’t even feel like I am the person who is standing in the room.
Head and the Heart – Down In the Valley
It’s a different name for sure. The name has come to be my personification of my emotional state. But that’s not how it started. It actually started as a pet name by an old girlfriend.
When I lived in Hawaii, there was a group of people I’d hang out with. I would consider one of them to have been a true friend, the rest were because they were his friend. I will more than likely reiterate this multiple times, but a lack of friends doesn’t bother me. As long as I have two or three close friends, I’m completely content. So the idea that I only considered one of them to be a true friend has nothing to do with how I was treated, I just didn’t feel the need for other friends.
There are four major players in this story, Kim, Susan, Justin, and me. I was interested in Kim, Susan was interested in Justin. But, Justin and Kim were interested in each other. At the time, Justin was my best friend. Ultimately leading to me not getting in his way when it came to him and Kim. Eventually leading to the two of them getting into a relationship, and sort of forgetting about everyone else. When this happened, Susan and I started to commiserate together. We found out that one on one, we actually got along very well. However, it was around this time that my dad decided to retire from the Navy, and we were moving to Texas.
Because of this, we didn’t really want to start something because of the long distance. But, after I moved, we stayed in contact. After about a month, we decided to give it a shot and started dating long distance. At this point, I didn’t know that there was something mentally wrong with me. I knew I was different, but had no idea why. But Susan knew of my differences, and did her best to help me out where she could. At the time, we just chalked it up as me being extremely introverted. She made a joke once that I was the opposite of a social butterfly, which for some reason to her, the opposite of a butterfly was a dragonfly. For awhile, it was just “my dragonfly”. I don’t remember when “social” was added to it.
MC lars – Twenty-Three
One of the ways that Schizotypal Personality Disorder manifests itself is a belief that everyone hates me. I have an extremely hard time forming friends because I am convinced that they dislike me. I’ve spent most of my life convinced that those who have hung out with me only did so because I was there and they had no choice. This was reinforced in my mind by being a military kid. Every time you move, your friends say “we’ll keep in touch.” Or “we’ll come visit for sure!” But in most cases, that doesn’t happen. In every place I’ve moved to, and the friends I’ve had along the way, only one friend visited me, and he only visited because I paid for his trip.
I don’t like having friends for this reason. I’m in a constant battle with myself on if the person likes me or not. If you ask me, I would say I have two close friends, and good friend, and a few people I would call friend, but consider more as acquaintance. That’s about all I’m able to handle. Anything else I can’t keep up with. The war in my mind over if they are truly my friends becomes to hard, and I give up. If I have decided to call you a friend, even a distant friend, it’s because I’ve decided you are worth the daily battle that goes on in my mind.
One of the main ways I decided to deal with this was through cutting. There would be days that I would cut to the point I could hardly stand. I don’t remember exactly when, but I do remember one day I had fallen asleep on my ex girlfriend’s bed. This had been probably a day or two after I had put some pretty intense cuts on my body. I would cut on my leg so that I could easily hide them. But I had moved in my sleep, which raised up my pants enough to see the cuts. I remember her being concerned and urging me to seek help.
At that particular time I didn’t. But that conversation did start something inside of me. It was one of the first times I actually realized that I couldn’t get through whatever was going on on my own, that I needed help, and not just the help from friends. But I was stubborn, and decided I could do it on my own. I had done a few things to make it look like I was getting help, I had gone to the counselor at my college and talked with her once. She told me that she wasn’t equipped to deal with the problems I was having. But gave me a list of resources to call if I needed help. Most of them cost money, but one of them didn’t. So I tucked it away for later.
Goo Goo Dolls – Notbroken
One question that is often asked is “are you happy?” I hear this question at least once a week, and I ask it of myself probably every day. But what does that mean? The answer they want to hear is “yes” and if I don’t answer that, the follow up question is “why not?”
By all rights, I should be happy. I have a great job with great hours, I live a few minutes from my family who loves me, I have the best friends I could ask for. I also have the money to do what I want without breaking the bank. All these things, according to the world, are what makes us happy. So it leaves me wondering, what exactly is happiness?
To me, it’s not an emotion. I’m mean, yes, there is the emotion “happy” or “joy” but to be happy, it’s not an emotion exactly. It’s the same with love, love is more than just an emotion. It’s a choice. If you love someone, you have to wake up every morning and choose to love them no matter what. It’s the same with happiness, you have to wake up every day to choose to be happy.
It’s not easy. It’s something that I have to fight every single day. Some days I make it, some days I don’t. I could go on and on about how I’ve beaten myself up about the days that I didn’t make it. The days where I’ve called in sick to work because I just couldn’t handle it. But, that misses the point. It’s not about the days we don’t make it. The important part is looking back on the days I did.
To be able to look back and say “you won that battle, but you haven’t won the war.” Practically though, what does that look like? How do you do that when all seems lost? It’s learning from your mistakes, to pick yourself up, and keep pushing forward. But, it doesn’t mean you have to push forward right away.
For example, I recently got back into playing Minecraft. It’s been one of my favorite games for awhile. I’m playing a customized version of it that starts you on a block of dirt with a tree on it. All around you is void. It has mods installed on it so that you can build other things besides just wooden structures, and eventually you could get anything you could normal get and do in the game.
With this mode, it starts out slow, waiting constantly for the trees to grow so that you can continue building out a platform. I had put about five hours into the game, finally gotten to a point where I could start doing other things besides watching trees grow constantly when my game crashed. It corrupted my game file, and I lost everything I had done the past couple of hours.
When that happens, the last thing I want to do is start over from scratch and build it all up again. So I don’t. I turn off the game and do something else, either play another game, go to sleep, read a book, anything. In that moment, I can’t deal with the game, and trying to wouldn’t lead to anything with a positive gain.
I think that’s something people often don’t realize. You don’t have to face everything right away. It’s not weakness to put something off until you are ready to deal with it. That doesn’t mean that you put it off forever, you do eventually have to deal with it. Just like I’ll go back to the game and play it again.
So to bring this around to happiness. For me, to be happy, it’s not about the money I have, or the quality of my life. It’s my ability to pick myself up, and face the problems I’m having.
One of the aspects of my condition, I have a hard time with emotions. I don’t process them “correctly.” By the time the emotion I’m suppose to be feeling actually reaches my body, it’s gone through so many filters, it doesn’t actually take effect. I’ve struggled for years on how to describe what this actually looks like. The best way I’ve been able to describe it. By the time the emotion takes it’s effect, I’ve been removed from the equation. It’s as if I’m looking at myself from a third person perspective. I see that I’m laughing, crying, or whatever the emotion is. I see that I’m experiencing that, but my mental cognition doesn’t register it. I’m basically experiencing two different things at the same time.
I fight dragons – Disaster Heart
The first thing people generally find out about me, is that I’m a military brat. Specifically, a Navy brat. I spent the first 19 years of my life moving every three to four years. The idea of a hometown is a foreign concept for me. I’ve never been able to truly understand what it’s like to live in one place for so long or what it’s like to have a childhood friend.
But, I’ve also experienced the world. I’ve lived in seven states, two countries, and seventeen different houses. I’ve spent months between duty stations where we’d travel around the United States. One of my earliest memories is standing by the Grand Canyon holding my dad’s hand. For those who are wondering, I lived in Japan for four years.
Many people would say that this is the dream, but it wasn’t for me. When I was 23, I started going to therapy for my depression. I had gotten to a point where I could no longer handle it, I felt alone and forgotten in the world and that the only escape would be to end it all. Luckily, my girlfriend at the time, and my two best friends strongly encouraged me to seek help. I’m not sure if they knew how bad my depression was at the time, but they had seen enough to step in.
Once I started going to therapy, I started to understand some of the things that weren’t right. I was originally diagnosed with PTSD. However, after further looking into my problems and further treatment, my therapist came to the conclusion that it was a misdiagnoses and was officially changed to Schizotypal Personality Disorder (previously known as borderline schizophrenia). Basically meaning that to an extent, the world I live in and see, is not the same as the world you live in and see. I have an extremely hard time understanding other people’s emotions and behaviors. Over the years, I had learned the correct social ques. If someone said something, and others laughed, I knew that meant it was funny, so I’d laugh, but more often than not, I didn’t really understand the meaning behind it. That isn’t to say I never laughed, stand up comedy has always been one of my favorite forms of entertainment.
One of the biggest ways it’s shown itself is if I’m in a setting like a concert. I’m often asked if I’m enjoying myself, or if I’d rather not be there, because I stand relatively still most of the time. Which isn’t the “socially acceptable” response.
Once this diagnoses came about, my depression doubled. I knew the stereotypes that are associated with schizophrenia, and even though I wasn’t diagnosed with full blown schizophrenia, I still couldn’t bring myself to admit I was part of the same family. So instead I kept it hidden. A few months after the diagnoses, I stopped going to therapy. I had gotten fed up with my therapist telling me I needed to open up to people and tell them my problems and trust that they’d help me. But I refused.