All That Was Said Before

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July 1, 2018 by bck1402

Admittedly, there was a point in my life when I figured I’d be the cornerstone of some psychiatrist’s practice. It’s not like I was totally unaware of certain mental issues that might have been residing in my head all along, After all…
I write.

I suppose that might have been a release in a way, not that it was the only avenue. 

I KNOW I have issues.
… and it might all lead into my being an introverted, quiet, seemingly contemplative, mildly agoraphobic, unemotional individual. Not too sure if any friends or relatives can attest to any of that, but I’ve rarely expressed feelings openly. If you find me in any pictures of family gatherings, i’m the least likely to have a broad smile, even if it’s my birthday party. If there’s a group outing (usually relatives), I’m the one behind the camera taking the picture for everyone else, not wanting to be part of that group and having to force a smile, or ruin the picture. Once, perhaps, it was a friend’s Christmas party a few years back, that I remarked it was the best time I had… and that was just sitting there quietly, casually and minimally chatting with a few familiar strangers who I see maybe once a year or way less. Crowds make me very nervous and claustrophobic. But I’m trying every once in a while…

Anyway, this little ditty got sparked because of this poster.

It popped up on my FB feed (the original source is tagged in the image) and I’m not going to say who shared it. Looking it over, I know these are the kinds of ’triggers’ or might be considered ‘insensitive remarks’ these days. To say any of these things nowadays… well… I don’t mean to be insensitive here or disparage anyone who might be suffering from mental illness, and especially not to any of my online friends. This is just me.

I was born in the early 70s and grew up mostly through that decade and the 80s. I have heard each of those lines directed at me over those decades and beyond, some more often than not. Maybe its the culture or the people dynamics around me, but the idea of mental illness in those times had a very different connotation, so those phrase were often used to ‘snap you out of it’ and not make a big deal of whatever issues you think you may have.

Clumping the phrases together: “Things could be so much worse.” “Things aren’t that bad.” “No one ever said life was fair.” would lead to “It’s all in you mind.” “There is nothing wrong with you.You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself.” “Stop looking for attention.” “Just snap out of it! Get over yourself.” 

In a weird way, the first batch ended up giving me some perspective that yes, I probably have a problem, but in the greater scheme of things… it doesn’t matter. It kinda made me withdraw into myself a little more, perhaps, and the releases I needed poured out into drawing and writing things that can never ever be shared. There was a period where whatever negative issues I had ended up on the paper, then into the metal pail and burned. 

It was only a momentary cathartic release.

Whatever those issues were, I’ve learnt not to share it with anyone, keep it all hidden, don’t let it out. I know how dangerous it would be if I lost my temper or gave in to some of those other thoughts. So in drawing and writing, those are the times when certain emotions come out, and that’s it.

I wrote elsewhere before that I don’t know how to be a friend, much less have a clear understanding of the word “friend“, and it’s more likely gotten to the point that I don’t know how to be emotionally invested in another person. I was in a relationship for almost 9 years and it did not end well. I didn’t want to let out certain feelings then either, but I did try, probably a little too hard. I suppose I could be supportive, step up when needed, but not always. Everything else is kept locked inside, far from the surface. It’s the kind of isolated mentality I can recognise mostly in the Japanese of a certain generation. The expression of emotion can often be misconstrued as inappropriate and therefore restraint is favoured. An emotional outburst, even to declare love, is selfish.

And yet, that is what I want too.

Whatever issues I’ve had or currently have, I’ve learnt to live with them mainly by ignoring them, getting over myself, that I’m not that super-important. While I may crave a little attention for my work, I really don’t want to be noticed either, and yes “You are always so negative.” “You need to get out more.” “You aren’t pushing yourself enough.” “You have nothing to worry about.” And because I do all this to myself, “It’s your own fault.” for not trying, for not stepping out more, for lacking the confidence, for not taking the chances life has afforded you…

But, day by day, I’m trying…
I live with it and after all this time, I’m trying…

…writing it out, posting it, practically asking for attention I don’t particularly want…
… and whatever thoughts that may come because of it… all be damned.

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July 2018
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