Throwback Thursday: Inside My Head – How Mental Illness Makes You Bitter, Jealous, and Horrible

It’s that tiiiiiiime agaaaaaaain, my friiiiiiiiends! Join me as I plunge head-first into my own past, and unearth written treasures that I have all but forgotten about.

I wrote this post on 31st May 2013. I clearly had been having a bit of a rough time of it. I can tell, because it feels like I’m reading the pages of my teenage diary… except I was 24 years old when I wrote it.

I’ve got to be honest; I was seriously considering not posting this one. It shows a side of me that isn’t pretty, and the fact that I still get like this sometimes becomes more embarrassing the older I get.

But hey, this blog is meant to show all of my writing chops, and this post is… certainly one way I can write. Plus, I think it offers some good insight into what having mental health problems can sometimes be like.

So, here it is. Enjoy (if that’s the right word).

I have long acknowledged the fact that I am probably the most boring person I have ever met. I’m very clever, but not in an endearing way or in a way that makes people automatically assume it (basically I have to tell/remind people that I’m clever, and even then they don’t believe it). I’m geeky, but not geeky enough and not over fandoms that people get really enthusiastic about. I’m fat but I don’t own it as much as I’d like to, I’m so ugly that it has long been assumed among the meaner of my peers that I am at least part troll, and I tend to be the person that people will talk to if there is nobody else around and is immediately ignored as soon as someone more interesting comes along, at which stage I am relegated to interjecting random and often unintentionally insulting harmonies to the melody of the conversation, and if a communal effort is made to change locations I tend to be forgotten and left behind.

Now, is all of this actually true? Probably not. Or at least, not as true as it seems to be. The reasonable part of my brain knows that most of this is nonsense. I can’t possibly be as awfully mundane or invisible a person as I’ve just indicated. If I were, nobody would want to be my friend or would listen to me whine about UKBA or whatever else I do more often than I should (and for this I humbly apologise to my friends, but your ever-patient ears help me a lot :P).

But then there’s the other part of my brain. The part that is and always has been ruled by Mental Illness. This is the part that takes every situation I’m in and puts the most negative spin on it it possibly can. I’ll give you a few examples of how this has manifested recently.

1. I was in a show in Brighton with a bunch of friends. We were flyering for the show, but had pretty much finished. While some of the others were chatting, I sat down at a street display and had a bit of a play. I got up to discover that my friends had all left without me. The rational part of my brain figures that they had thought I’d already left. It’s not like I’m the type to specifically tell people to wait for me or anything. The Mental Illness part of my brain then told the rational part of my brain to shut the actual hell up, because clearly they left because they do not care about me, and if I had been anybody else they would have asked where I was, seen me there, and said ‘let’s wait’. They care about each other, but not about me, because I’m boring and annoying and not very touchy-feely and who the fuck would care about me anyway? Nobody likes boring people who are too petrified of the possible consequences to so much as hug anyone.

2. In various committee or society meetings, I will occasionally make a somewhat ludicrous suggestion, or say something that makes perfect sense to me that does not to anybody else. Somebody will say “no, that doesn’t really work” or something along those lines, and often explain in some detail why it would not work. The rational part of my brain figures that, yeah, that was a dumb suggestion, or an illogical thing to say, or even a logical thing to say but nobody else has read it in that way, and that is totally fine, and other people occasionally make dumb suggestions too. The Mental Illness part of my brain then says, well, no, that’s not it at all. They disagree with you because they think you’re stupid, and no matter how many times you remind them of what you have studied, the marks you’ve gotten, the relative ease with which you can figure out MENSA brainteasers, or whatever else, they will continue to think you stupid because you look like you should be stupid, and that insults you to no end because as far as you’re concerned, your intelligence is all you have going for you.

3. When you get a bunch of Gen Y-ers sitting around, drinking mildly alcoholic beverages and discussing topics that interest us, discussions of past relationships and the like will inevitably enter the picture. And depending on how drunk people are, various intimate details are exposed. The rational part of my brain thinks two things. It thinks that I am perfectly within my right to say that this line of discussion is making me uncomfortable, and can the topic be changed, or if that seems too mean, I could leave, saying that I would rather not be part of a conversation for which I have nothing interesting to contribute. It also thinks that these things should not make me uncomfortable, and that just because these things have not happened to you yet, that does not mean that they will not happen someday. There is nothing inherently wrong with me; I just haven’t found the right person yet. The Mental Illness part of my brain then looks at the rational part and laughs so loudly at it that it shrivels into a corner. You, the Mental Illness part of my brain says to me, are pathetic. 24 years old and never been in a relationship? Who DOES that this day and age? Who is that horrendously inexperienced unless there is something seriously wrong with them? And let’s face it – what ISN’T wrong with you? You’re shy, you’re insecure, you’re loud, you’re annoying, you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re rude, you’re lazy, you sweat too much, you’re too masculine, you’re BORING, you’re just PATHETIC. Who would EVER want to spend ANY time with you? Who would even look at you?

I think a lot of people think these things every now and then. We all have self-doubt in some way or other. Next to nobody thinks themselves the most incredible person on the planet. Everybody will at some point read an occurrence in their lives in this sort of extremist way. It could be argued that the only difference between those with Mental Illness and those without is that it happens to people with Mental Illness more often. And in a way that might be true. In my experience, however, I’ve found that the main difference is that, regardless of how illogical we know the Mental Illness part of our brains to be, we still, at least to some extent, see what that part of our brain tells us as truth, all the time. I believe that I am an unimportant entity among my friends who will always be forgotten. I believe that everybody thinks I’m stupid. And I believe that I never have been and never will be looked at as somebody to love, or desire, or see as special enough to want to spend time with over anybody else.

So, as a revised answer to the question “Is all of this actually true”, the most accurate thing I can say is “I don’t know”. It doesn’t seem like it should be true, but I honestly, and constantly, believe that it is. And it is very seldom indeed that I can convince myself that it is just the Mental Illness part of my brain talking.

Posted by Gillian

Hello. My name is Gillian Brown. I'm a freelance writer living in the UK, with an Australian accent to offer as a starting point of conversation. As a writer, my main areas of interest are social activism, ethical consumption, linguistics, comedy, and marketing. My other interests include dancing, tabletop role-playing, crocheting and cooking.

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