Just a warning, this is really, really long.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt a little off. It’s hard to describe, but it affected my relationships. I remember having trouble with friends–not exactly making friends, but keeping them and being close with them. Some years in my childhood, I’d happily hang out, but then something would happen–often summer break–where I wouldn’t feel comfortable being close with a person or a group of people anymore, and would then just spend several months or even a year just not being close with anyone. I felt lonely.
In middle school, a new feeling surfaced. I don’t know if I can call it depression, because rather than ever feeling empty–that’s very rare for me–I would feel intense loneliness, and I felt like I was going to lose all my old friendships and get caught up in new ones. At the end of middle school, I spent most of my time alone and not hanging out with anyone, and then I felt like I wouldn’t have any friends and that people didn’t like me. This continued into freshman year.
By sophomore year, I’d come to the conclusion that anyone avoiding me was just an accident and that any “dislike” was all in my head, so I did my best to become closer to people. Every time I seemed to fail, however, I would experience strong negative emotions. Strangely, I was boosting my self-esteem and didn’t look at myself with hatred like I had for a while, but I did criticize myself harshly.
This year I managed to make friends, and I’ve been doing my best to keep them close. I’ve always desired closeness, both emotionally and physically. I’m a very physical person. I like cuddling and hugs, and my arms feel somewhat empty if I haven’t been doing it for a while.
The problem now is, I’d thought for a long time that I had depression, as well as some anxiety disorder, such as social anxiety disorder. I’d had several of the characteristics. I often have suicidal thoughts, and have gone so far as to plan out my death multiple times, but in comparison have made very few attempts to kill myself. It’s somewhat easy to reboost myself out of that and stop myself by reminding myself that I am important and all the good things about myself–because somehow, I still have a decent self-esteem, although I did use to hate myself. That’s why I thought I had depression.
I thought I had social anxiety disorder because I share some of its characteristics. I still struggle with using the phone, can’t go to parties (let alone host one) without worrying constantly, feel incredibly self-conscious eating in the lunchroom, still somewhat avoid people because I’m convinced they don’t like me anymore, and constantly feel like people are looking at me even though I know how irrational I’m being.
However, all my suicidal thoughts and fears have sprung up because of social situations, but they occur AFTER. I don’t always worry before something socially related and frightening happens, but if I feel like I’ve mucked up or done something wrong, THEN I worry and criticize myself and at worst, think suicidal thoughts. My mood can drop particularly low because of something social, but it’s never happened just on it’s own.
It’s ALWAYS involved with something like, “My friends aren’t sitting where we usually sit and I have no idea where they are. They must have decided to sit elsewhere. Why didn’t they tell me? It doesn’t take that long to let me know, and they stop by the lunchroom, anyway. I bet they didn’t let me know because I’m being too clingy. I’m being silly. I’m too whiny and childish. It’s fine. Nothing’s wrong, I’m just being stupid. No one wants to be friends with people like that, that’s why they didn’t hang back and let you know. You’re too obnoxious.”
Or, “They seem kind of annoyed today. Is it because of me? Did I say something or do something? It’s probably because I’m acting childish. Normal people don’t go around giving hugs to everyone. You shouldn’t expect others to be in the mood to hug you all the time. Why are you feeling hurt and annoyed? Aren’t you all about consent? You’re being immature. Just sit down, there are other people who want to hug you. Don’t be childish.”
And most recently: “Okay, you’ve finally worked up the courage to hold a party at your house. It’s a movie and you won’t be talking much, so it’s safe. You won’t have to hold up a conversation and feel too nervous. Now you just have to work up the courage to ask others. Everyone’s looking at me. It’s okay. Just act normal. They can come, they can come … See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Okay. Wait, they can’t come? They canceled, and so did they, and them, and her and him … I can’t believe it. At the last minute, too. They don’t like me as much as I thought. No, that’s stupid, of course they like you. People don’t need to put you first all the time. Besides, it was so short notice, anyway. You aren’t a priority because you’re annoying. Look, you acted passive-aggressive and now he’s mad at you. I’m angry at him, why would he tell me that “that’s life”? That’s not nice. You’re being immature. Just grow up. Normal people don’t cry over these sorts of things. I was going to be so proud of myself, too, for having a party … getting over a big fear of mine. That’s selfish. You don’t just invite people over for your own purposes, you do it to be nice. Just try again later.”
These thoughts are often accompanied by sadness, loneliness, and in some cases, crying. I have difficulties with other people disagreeing with me or disapproving of me, which leads me to be angry at them and subsequently angry at myself, calling myself immature and to grow up. It’s like a fear of rejection (which is why I thought it could be social anxiety disorder), abandonment, and/or disapproval, as well as a fear of being in the spotlight when I didn’t want to be.
I don’t know exactly what it is. I often feel, when I talk with others, that I’m acting, and am very self-conscious of what I say and do. However, I am also an excellent public speaker and a good actor as well as a singer, and I actively try out for the play and have been in the play and in a concert choir every year I’ve been in high school. I willingly tried out for a public speaking competition. I like to do it, and though I do get nervous, I don’t think it’s particularly unusual. However, if speaking or doing something in front of a large group is suddenly sprung on me, I get very nervous, and while I would never avoid it, the nervousness is much, much worse and I feel unprepared.
I don’t know how to describe these episodes I get. I don’t know whether or not it’s like an anxiety attack or panic attack, but I know it’s not something like dissociation, because I am extremely aware of my surroundings. I break out in a cold sweat, I tremble and shake, and often feel like crying. I also get heart palpitations and struggle breathing, as if I can’t get enough air in or I start breathing manually instead of automatically. In worst case scenarios, my stomach hurts, I feel nauseated, and I have to rush to the bathroom. This only happens when I feel like I’m being watched by too many people, I’m particularly nervous in a social situation, or I think I’ve upsetted or bothered someone in some way.
I always feel like I’m acting because I go back and forth from acting in an outgoing and often cutesy way, which I feel most comfortable in. However, while the person I become when I act these ways is part of my true personality, it feels oddly forced, as if I’m trying too hard, and fake, although obviously as it is naturally a part of my personality, it’s not quite that. It feels as if I’m constantly being recorded, like I’m a reality T.V. star, and doing something I don’t usually do or that others disapprove of will end up with more people looking at me and paying attention to me and or disliking me. And despite all this, I still wholeheartedly believe that I am smart, intelligent, beautiful, and important, and that I deserve to be loved. I also refuse to compare myself to others.
I do my best to be mature, and am typically a cautious person. I’ve never done any drugs, never had sex and don’t ever plan on having unsafe sex, I take care to drive safely, and do my best to help out others and not expect anything in return. If I get suicidal thoughts, I’ve learned how to calm myself down, and if I ever get the urge to self-harm, I know how to calm those thoughts down and relieve those urges in a non-harmful way (I draw on my arms), which has led to me never self-harming.
I’m still not sure what this could be. I know it’s not quite normal, and I’m sure whenever suicidal thoughts and whatever those episodes are is certainly cause for worry, and I want to make myself safe, happy, and comfortable, because I believe that’s what I deserve. Any advice or suggestions? Unfortunately, I am not currently in a place where I can see a psychiatrist or get a medical diagnosis, so this will have to do for now until I can get to a place where that is possible.