My mum cried again today. She’s very poor at hiding her emotions, but usually manages not to cry. Her side of the family is in crisis because her mum (my gran) is dying. Her cancer came back and it’s very aggressive, and triple negative (so it’s really hard to treat). Mum reckons she has a few months. Her family all seem to look to her for answers, comfort, some kind of miracle, who even knows. She likes to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders and act like she’s really strong and has her sh*t together when really she’s even more neurotic than I am.
Her whole family seem pretty childlike, self-centred and completely consumed by their own emotions in the face of a disaster. They’re irrational (/blindly panicking) and inflicting themselves on my mum who in turn cries on me because she’s not sure what she’s supposed to do. I try to tell her she’s not ‘supposed’ to do anything, and that she should lay down boundaries rather than let them all push her to breaking point.
I’m over here struggling with my ‘do not exist’ injunction, anxiety, depression, PTSD apparently, probably some lowkey avoidant personality disorder… while also trying to mother my mother, who also reverts to a child when stressed and just cries in frustration at the fact that she’s ‘a fixer’ but there’s obviously no fix to terminal cancer.
Also I went to see the occupational health doctor yesterday and got told I’m medically unfit for my job on mental health grounds and had to be immediately redeployed and I’m just… reeling from how sudden it is after being in the same place for over a year (it’s the longest I’ve ever been in one job) and I know I needed to get out but at the same time I didn’t really feel ready and I just. I don’t know. I feel so lost and shaken up by everything.
On top of all of that, I’m meant to meet this guy tomorrow and maybe it’ll go well and I’ll actually feel a little better for it but I’m worried that I’m just not going to be very good company because I’ve got so much going on and impressing some guy I just met is right at the bottom of my priority list right now. Ugh. Dying alone would be way, way easier.
Here’s a question I have often asked myself, both while single and while actually dating people. It has prompted me to break up with people more than once, and I’ve actually dated someone else who struggled with mental health issues who broke up with me because he just felt like he needed to focus on recovery.
I mean, I’m on dating sites. Halfheartedly, admittedly, and not really making any real effort to find anyone. I spoke to 2 guys last month (they messaged me first) who both seemed really interested, really keen. And I just kind of… fell off the radar and stopped messaging them. Some stuff happened and I just decided that maybe it’s better not to bother. My ‘do not exist’ injunction corrects – maybe it’s better that you don’t inflict your pitiful existence on other people.
Alas – a guy matched with me on Tinder the other day. He’s cute, his bio actually has some information on it and he seems pretty genuine and like he’s actually looking for something more than a hook-up. I break the habit of a lifetime and I message him first. It takes me longer than I’m proud to admit to drum up the courage to do so.
But anyway, it’s done and we’re talking and he wants to meet and I’m consumed with guilt. He clearly thinks I’m awesome. He’s really excited about it. I feel like a fraud, because I think I’m rubbish. I went on a date with someone once and pretty much laid all my issues on the table from the get-go, in some weird kind of self-sabotaging test. Like, are you ready for this? For ALL of it? Are you SURE?
But this time I haven’t spoken about my mental health at all, not even once. And I feel dishonest for it. But he’s a relative stranger, I don’t owe him my entire medical history, do I? I wouldn’t expect his. My therapist suggested that perhaps I’m sabotaging my attempts at relationships because I don’t think I’m capable of having a successful one. I look for reasons for it not to work and then when it inevitably fails, I’ve proved myself right.
So I’m trying really hard to be aware of my thoughts, feelings and actions, and where possible… if I spot a self-sabotaging one I’m trying to find an alternative. It’s just really difficult when these damning and very destructive thoughts are so frequent and invasive.
“They’re messages subconsciously transmitted to us by our parents at an early age. They tend to inform the scripts we develop to navigate our way through life – almost like conditions to get your needs met.”
My therapist explained that the parents don’t intend (or even realise) that these messages are conveyed, and there is an element of us bringing our own interpretation to their words and behaviours in order to arrive at these injunctions. They can include things like ‘do not be seen’, ‘do not feel’, ‘do not be a child’, ‘do not grow up’, ‘do not succeed’, ‘do not be important’.
Mine? Mine is probably the worst of the lot –
That’s a pretty upsetting thought, to be honest. But I was unplanned, caused untold upheaval, financial difficulty, necessitated moving house, and then didn’t really get to bond with my caregivers as both had to go back to work very soon after I was born due to aforementioned financial situation. My mum struggled with her own mental health issues before I came along, and these worsened after, so… I guess it makes sense.
I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve kind of struggled with this. I initially denied it, then started to realise that it kinda fits, realised that a lot of my experiences support it, realised that a lot of my dysfunctional behaviours are probably caused by it. I told my therapist about some of the behaviours I’d noticed in myself that seemed to tie in with the theory. It seems pretty bleak.
I have a deep-seated belief that I shouldn’t exist. That I don’t deserve to. So I often try to hide myself away and be as inconspicuous as possible, as this is where I feel safe. I blame myself for my own suffering because I feel like everything is my fault for continuing to exist.
I took on a very challenging job that flies in the face of this, and I’ve pushed myself to perform as a musician as well. My counsellor noted that these are pretty huge feats for someone with this injunction, and I told her that I didn’t think anything smaller would even make a dent in it. We kind of agreed that the scale of the injunction is pretty daunting, but at the same time there is obviously a part of me that is fighting it very hard and throws me into situations where I’m forced to exist and to make my existence felt by other people. Perhaps I need to find a way to capitalise on that part.