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Mental Wellbeing 2


Xray the Enforcer
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Damn, spending two weeks in constant anxiety is so incredibly draining, but it seems I can't make it stop even when it appears it starts to stop.

Somehow these last few weeks everything has been hurled at me at once. First I had unexpectedly become mentor for an intern, so I started putting 300% effort into my lessons in order to not make a fool of myself in front of her. This also has a neat side effect in confronting me with what certainly comes across as my anti-social behavior, what with the other colleagues instantly using informal pronouns with her while I retain formal pronoun distance.

In any case, there is the thing that right now is turning me crazy. I was trying to do a big step. A huge step even. One of my goals that I had set for myself is that I want to live and work in a school abroad at some point. All of a sudden one of the schools I really, REALLY, really wanted to attempt to apply has put out an ad two weeks ago that they are seeking a teacher with my subjects. It would mean leaving the country for three years, working there and then coming back.

I... made my intention clear that I want to apply. And my mother is furious beyond belief. Saying that I'm a selfish idiot who doesn't know the worth of money because working there would likely mean making less money than I do, especially since I have to afford another home during that time. She is also extremely worried and vocal about me not getting my position at my current school back afterwards, claiming in no job you will ever get taken back after a leave of three years, though while it is true that I by law don't get a guarantee, my principal when asked said they do expect to take me back and is supportive of my attempt. Even if my position gets filled, I'm a computer science teacher, I can't believe it would be that difficult to get a different school if all else fails. But my mother doesn't want to hear it, she keeps saying I'm throwing away everything she helped me get, that I will end up jobless and homeless. Before I asked my principal for support, she was also fearing that just telling her would cause her to bully me out and I'd be jobless regardless.

I told her to stop, because her telling me stuff like that is the reason why I drag out even the silliest shit out for weeks (like the jogging and swimming decisions years ago). She absolutely exploded that I was blaming her for my mental health problems and went on a rampage, smashing everything in sight for more than an hour, threatening to kill the cat when it came looking what was going on and kept threatening to destroy everything I own when at school and unable to stop her. I did manage to talk her down, apologize and reaffirm my intention to stick to her plan that I will still save up for a house for the two of us. That calmed things down for nearly a week...

... and then today happened when I finally sent the application. It all bubbled back up and once again she was furious with me. That I have been using her all this time just to save money and now I fuck off and leave her to die while in another country. She's utterly convinced she's about to die soon, because she has something, but is unwilling to elaborate what it is and also refuses to go see a doctor (accusing me I want to accelerate her death when I suggested going to one). Another worry of hers is what happens if I die in an earthquake, then she won't be able to be with me either.

At the same time a group of people from another forum invited me to join their Dead by Daylight game group. In an attempt to push past my comfort zone, I accepted and played with them last Sunday, but the stress of failing them, accelerated by my anxiety levels having been through the roof anyway, had been putting me even more on edge. The thing is Monday I had turned down another invitation for playing because the exhaustion and stress had totally overwhelmed me, at first just pushing away the call and playing dead... and today was another meet-up where they wanted to show me the ropes as a Survivor. And I just couldn't because of my mother's angry rant again having shaken me up. Even though in the hours between my sending the application and my mother's anger bubbling up, I was at ease with myself for the first time in two weeks. Now it's all gone already.

Why is mental health so damn difficult... I just want to live my life... But then again, maybe these goals I set myself are selfish and I am trying to get distance between us, which is essentially the same as abandoning her and leaving her alone. I just... I don't know how to deal with her finality that she's about to die soon (just because she's at the age her own mother died) and that I need to stay with her until then. Maybe she's right and I'm self-destructively selfish, that I have nothing to gain by living elsewhere and could save up much more money just keeping on like this.

Edited by Toth
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1 hour ago, Toth said:

I told her to stop, because her telling me stuff like that is the reason why I drag out even the silliest shit out for weeks (like the jogging and swimming decisions years ago). She absolutely exploded that I was blaming her for my mental health problems and went on a rampage, smashing everything in sight for more than an hour, threatening to kill the cat when it came looking what was going on and kept threatening to destroy everything I own when at school and unable to stop her. I did manage to talk her down, apologize and reaffirm my intention to stick to her plan that I will still save up for a house for the two of us. That calmed things down for nearly a week...

You do realise that that is outright abusive behaviour on her part?

1 hour ago, Toth said:

... and then today happened when I finally sent the application. It all bubbled back up and once again she was furious with me. That I have been using her all this time just to save money and now I fuck off and leave her to die while in another country. She's utterly convinced she's about to die soon, because she has something, but is unwilling to elaborate what it is and also refuses to go see a doctor (accusing me I want to accelerate her death when I suggested going to one). Another worry of hers is what happens if I die in an earthquake, then she won't be able to be with me either.

I imagine that you know that her "illness" is hypochondria at best and completely fictitious at worst, and that she is using it as a weapon to control you. The bit about not wanting to see a doctor is telling.

1 hour ago, Toth said:

Why is mental health so damn difficult... I just want to live my life... But then again, maybe these goals I set myself are selfish and I am trying to get distance between us, which is essentially the same as abandoning her and leaving her alone. I just... I don't know how to deal with her finality that she's about to die soon (just because she's at the age her own mother died) and that I need to stay with her until then. Maybe she's right and I'm self-destructively selfish, that I have nothing to gain by living elsewhere and could save up much more money just keeping on like this.

You are absolutely not being selfish. Getting some distance between you is the obvious sensible thing to do. What is more, it will probably be good for her too - without you there she will be forced to work out some sort of life for herself that does not revolve round her dysfunctional relationship with you. Good luck with your application.

(Bad practice to give online advice I know, but your situation is just so clear I can't resist.)

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12 hours ago, Toth said:

Damn, spending two weeks in constant anxiety is so incredibly draining, but it seems I can't make it stop even when it appears it starts to stop.

Somehow these last few weeks everything has been hurled at me at once. First I had unexpectedly become mentor for an intern, so I started putting 300% effort into my lessons in order to not make a fool of myself in front of her. This also has a neat side effect in confronting me with what certainly comes across as my anti-social behavior, what with the other colleagues instantly using informal pronouns with her while I retain formal pronoun distance.

In any case, there is the thing that right now is turning me crazy. I was trying to do a big step. A huge step even. One of my goals that I had set for myself is that I want to live and work in a school abroad at some point. All of a sudden one of the schools I really, REALLY, really wanted to attempt to apply has put out an ad two weeks ago that they are seeking a teacher with my subjects. It would mean leaving the country for three years, working there and then coming back.

I... made my intention clear that I want to apply. And my mother is furious beyond belief. Saying that I'm a selfish idiot who doesn't know the worth of money because working there would likely mean making less money than I do, especially since I have to afford another home during that time. She is also extremely worried and vocal about me not getting my position at my current school back afterwards, claiming in no job you will ever get taken back after a leave of three years, though while it is true that I by law don't get a guarantee, my principal when asked said they do expect to take me back and is supportive of my attempt. Even if my position gets filled, I'm a computer science teacher, I can't believe it would be that difficult to get a different school if all else fails. But my mother doesn't want to hear it, she keeps saying I'm throwing away everything she helped me get, that I will end up jobless and homeless. Before I asked my principal for support, she was also fearing that just telling her would cause her to bully me out and I'd be jobless regardless.

I told her to stop, because her telling me stuff like that is the reason why I drag out even the silliest shit out for weeks (like the jogging and swimming decisions years ago). She absolutely exploded that I was blaming her for my mental health problems and went on a rampage, smashing everything in sight for more than an hour, threatening to kill the cat when it came looking what was going on and kept threatening to destroy everything I own when at school and unable to stop her. I did manage to talk her down, apologize and reaffirm my intention to stick to her plan that I will still save up for a house for the two of us. That calmed things down for nearly a week...

... and then today happened when I finally sent the application. It all bubbled back up and once again she was furious with me. That I have been using her all this time just to save money and now I fuck off and leave her to die while in another country. She's utterly convinced she's about to die soon, because she has something, but is unwilling to elaborate what it is and also refuses to go see a doctor (accusing me I want to accelerate her death when I suggested going to one). Another worry of hers is what happens if I die in an earthquake, then she won't be able to be with me either.

At the same time a group of people from another forum invited me to join their Dead by Daylight game group. In an attempt to push past my comfort zone, I accepted and played with them last Sunday, but the stress of failing them, accelerated by my anxiety levels having been through the roof anyway, had been putting me even more on edge. The thing is Monday I had turned down another invitation for playing because the exhaustion and stress had totally overwhelmed me, at first just pushing away the call and playing dead... and today was another meet-up where they wanted to show me the ropes as a Survivor. And I just couldn't because of my mother's angry rant again having shaken me up. Even though in the hours between my sending the application and my mother's anger bubbling up, I was at ease with myself for the first time in two weeks. Now it's all gone already.

Why is mental health so damn difficult... I just want to live my life... But then again, maybe these goals I set myself are selfish and I am trying to get distance between us, which is essentially the same as abandoning her and leaving her alone. I just... I don't know how to deal with her finality that she's about to die soon (just because she's at the age her own mother died) and that I need to stay with her until then. Maybe she's right and I'm self-destructively selfish, that I have nothing to gain by living elsewhere and could save up much more money just keeping on like this.

Well doje and good luck!

From what you’ve said, your mother is an emotionally abusive person who is wrecking your mental health. Why woukd you save up for a house for both of you? So she can eventually die and you’ll be left alone in middle-age? 

Get out of there.

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18 hours ago, dog-days said:

But you sent the application? I'm so glad you did! 

Thanks. I indeed did. The dice are about to be rolled and I'm not sure whether I should be more afraid of success or failure. The next month at the very least will be a rough walk on eggshells either way. Which stands in such baffling contrast about how giddy my principal was today about my idea, telling me of a college friend of hers who did the same to the same country years ago.

18 hours ago, A wilding said:

You do realise that that is outright abusive behaviour on her part?

She was angry at me insulting her like this and threw a nasty tantrum yelling "I don't deserve this! I don't deserve this!" over and over again. If it was meant as abuse, it was by accident. I think she just wanted to vent about me betraying her like that. Doesn't change the fact that I was a(n especially) nervous wreck the next day, dreading what to find when I came home, not entirely sure whether she'd still do something out of revenge despite my apparent success at calming her down.

18 hours ago, A wilding said:

I imagine that you know that her "illness" is hypochondria at best and completely fictitious at worst, and that she is using it as a weapon to control you. The bit about not wanting to see a doctor is telling.

Maybe, maybe not. She is deathly afraid of doctors and has been living with severe toothaches for 10 years now. I once made a bet with her years ago that she'll get them looked at if I go remove my wisdom teeth that were starting to rearrange my other teeth. This unfortunately backfired as she saw my swollen patched up face afterwards as a proof that going to the dentist is truly insane and refused even more adamantly to consider it. She also has some back pain that should be expected at her age. Otherwise I don't know anything. She angrily said that her not complaining isn't proof that she doesn't have something, it just means she has accepted her mortality.

 

I of course should note that you are only getting my biased take on this. She herself claims I'm just blaming her for my own irrational insecurities (since there are countless adults up until their forties who still live with their parents and don't have a problem with it) and have been turned against her by writing with people online (huh). She also denies that she's trying to talk me out of my ideas. She is saying she is only worried and that without being a parent I can't understand how much a mother can worry and she does it about me because I am so naive and unknowing of how the world works and that she wants to cushion my inevitable despair that awaits me by showing me how I'm going to ruin my life by following dumb selfish ideas out of stubbornness. She is also aghast that I'm not more thankful for all she has been doing to get me where I am and how much money I was able to save so far due to us living together. And of course of the time I had with her, given that she lost her parents at a very young age and would wish she was in my position now. At the same time it's of course clear that I lack her independence that she was forced to develop and as such she fears that I can't function on my own because I would only act this impulsively without her guidance.

Edit: And now she came home and acts as if nothing happened again. I'm getting whiplash.

Edited by Toth
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I have started, so I will continue for a bit ...

1 hour ago, Toth said:

She was angry at me insulting her like this and threw a nasty tantrum yelling "I don't deserve this! I don't deserve this!" over and over again. If it was meant as abuse, it was by accident. I think she just wanted to vent about me betraying her like that. Doesn't change the fact that I was a(n especially) nervous wreck the next day, dreading what to find when I came home, not entirely sure whether she'd still do something out of revenge despite my apparent success at calming her down.

Sorry, but your mother, in your words, "went on a rampage, smashing everything in sight for more than an hour, threatening to kill the cat when it came looking what was going on and kept threatening to destroy everything I own when at school and unable to stop her". And she kept up this behaviour until you had apologised and promised to do what she wanted. Even taking into account that this was your version of events, that is unquestionably abusive, however much she felt that you had insulted her.

1 hour ago, Toth said:

Maybe, maybe not. She is deathly afraid of doctors and has been living with severe toothaches for 10 years now. I once made a bet with her years ago that she'll get them looked at if I go remove my wisdom teeth that were starting to rearrange my other teeth. This unfortunately backfired as she saw my swollen patched up face afterwards as a proof that going to the dentist is truly insane and refused even more adamantly to consider it. She also has some back pain that should be expected at her age. Otherwise I don't know anything. She angrily said that her not complaining isn't proof that she doesn't have something, it just means she has accepted her mortality.

Probably hypochondria then. But listen to her claiming credit for "not complaining" while saying that you must stay with her until she dies because of this vague unspecified illness that she refuses to see a doctor about.

1 hour ago, Toth said:

I of course should note that you are only getting my biased take on this. She herself claims I'm just blaming her for my own irrational insecurities (since there are countless adults up until their forties who still live with their parents and don't have a problem with it) and she also denies that she's trying to talk me out of my ideas. She is saying she is only worried and that without being a parent I can't understand how much a mother can worry and she does it about me because I am so naive and unknowing of how the world works and that she wants to cushion my inevitable despair that awaits me by showing me how I'm going to ruin my life by following dumb selfish ideas out of stubbornness. She is also aghast that I'm not more thankful for all she has been doing to get me where I am and how much money I was able to save so far due to us living together. And of course of the time I had with her, given that she lost her parents at a very young age and would wish she was in my position now. At the same time it's of course clear that I lack her independence that she was forced to develop and as such she fears that I can't function on my own because I would only act this impulsively without her guidance

Of course she has her self justifications, and of course she wants to sell those self justifications to you as well. But read what you have said! She denies that she's trying to talk you out of your ideas when clearly she is trying to talk (and rage and guilt) you out of them, and explicitly insisting that you must stay with her whatever your ideas are. Of course mothers worry endlessly about their offspring, but only dysfunctional ones try to keep them tied to their apron strings instead of letting them make their own mistakes and learn to fly by themselves. And her labelling your wish to do your own thing as "selfish" gives the lie to her claim to only be wanting what is best for you.

As for her being "aghast that you are not more thankful" for all she has done for you - I can only give you my stance on that. Which is that we don't ask to be born and so are not in debt to our parents for birthing us and (hopefully) bringing us up. What debt we incur is one to be paid forward to our own children. We owe our parents honour, as the biblical commandment has it, and we should support them in their old age where possible and necessary, but once we get to adulthood we do not owe them obedience and we have the right to chose our own path.

 

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@Toth best of luck with that application! Get out, walk away and don’t look back.

 

Not sure why I’m falling apart today, but I’m falling apart today. This is one of those days when I would knock on my neighbor’s door with a bottle of booze and sleep with him - if I were in a Netflix show. But I’m not in a Netflix show - sadly. I asked some friends to drink with me this weekend as the next best thing. 

In fact I know perfectly well why I’m falling apart I just don’t know how to react and proceed so I’m standing in one place and falling apart. I will try to journal this out which may help how I feel about it, but it sure won’t help with the reality and facts of my problems.

And I’m even procrastinating work. I did a load of laundry, I sorted some clothes for donation, I had lunch, I made tea, I watched YouTube, I picked a new hairstyle on Pinterest, I worked on my needlepoint stitching project, I journaled half my problem, I’m posting here and then I’m going to clean my makeup brushes.

maybe it would solve a lot of my problems if I acted more like I’m in a Netflix show. 

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On 9/21/2022 at 10:06 PM, Toth said:

maybe [...] I am trying to get distance between us,

Even if that is correct, this is a good thing. You sould be putting as much distance between yourself and her, because she is manipulating you and abusing you (verbally and apparently financially) and you need to get out of there.

On 9/22/2022 at 4:28 PM, Toth said:

I of course should note that you are only getting my biased take on this.

You seem to be trying to find excuses for her behaviour. Try to read your own posts again about what she has been doing. What would you think of this situation if somebody else told you about it?

I am really really rooting for you - good luck with that application! Going out of the country is one of the best things to gain some independence (and parents who believe in their children would support such a decision) and I hope you manage to get that spot and gain an excellent, challenging experience. :)

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On 9/26/2022 at 8:36 AM, RhaenysBee said:

maybe it would solve a lot of my problems if I acted more like I’m in a Netflix show. 

It wouldn't, but you would have different problems at least.  Sometimes that's the best you can do :)

@Toth Good luck.  I really hope that you get the application, and if that doesn't work out, that you are able to get out some other way.  I reiterate what other posters said that the relationship you have with your mother sounds clearly abusive, and is making your challenges with anxiety and interactions worse.  I firmly believe you would be better off taking care of yourself by yourself.

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I think deeply and say that I am at a point where I am the happiest I have ever been. Then I drink too much Diet Coke and it disturbs all my symptoms. I was having trouble sleeping as well. And well - - it's up and happening again. The big happiness boost. I am glad for that dosage upping of one of my medications. I truly am. I have this long life to have happen and I'm the star of it. What am I going to do with my role? I think I should tell you that life rocks when you do take it in and smell the roses. It's beautiful and it's exciting. I like where I'm at and it's probably saying so much when I take a look at where I was in the past. But I have so much more and some people even think it's not enough. Am I merely content? Well I truly believe I am steadily astounded that these things and those things happen to me and these and those things are present in my life and that I have more self-love than self-hatred and a body positive look at me and relationships with people at all. I am a changed woman in just these past three years and I am glad I must live as me. I am can be optimistic and sweet. And I have maturity in my ways but I am young at heart.

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my ex firlfriend is going through a very very bad time, mental health wise and self destructive behaviour and i think if things continue this way, it could end very very badly for her.  she is spiraling and i dont know what to do. i told her to please seek help, porfessional help, even offered to go with her to return to therapy but she also need medication, but she doesnt have the energy or the will to go trhough that. im thingking of talking to her family but i dont know if its the right call. i feel like she doesnt have anybody else that has her back, her best and only friend is not good, and makes things way worse for her.

i feel so bad for her and afraid and dont know what to do, she doesnt think she deserves to be happy, she thinks that she is rotten to the core, she is having paranoid thoughts...

she is having erratic behaviour to, last week she told me she didnt have the energy to talk to me, and this sunday she called me, and i think its becouse she in some part of her, is looking for help, but this is soo above me....i just keep telling her to please seek prefessional help. fuck.

sorry, i just needed to vent a little.

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Last week I had my first appointment with a Neuropsychologist, which went extremely well as I left the office full of hope. Today her office emailed me the estimate cost of the follow up sessions. I'll use my covid stimulus to pay for those. With this, being back in class, and my upcoming trip with my siblings to visit our dad for the weekend, I feel like I can do anything. I feel so encouraged. 

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On 10/5/2022 at 10:10 PM, Conflicting Thought said:

my ex firlfriend is going through a very very bad time, mental health wise and self destructive behaviour and i think if things continue this way, it could end very very badly for her.  she is spiraling and i dont know what to do. i told her to please seek help, porfessional help, even offered to go with her to return to therapy but she also need medication, but she doesnt have the energy or the will to go trhough that. im thingking of talking to her family but i dont know if its the right call. i feel like she doesnt have anybody else that has her back, her best and only friend is not good, and makes things way worse for her.

I hope things have either improved or you managed to speak with other people close to her. I'm thinking your first hunch sounds correct in that she's needing to see that people care about her.

 

Well, compared to that my current troubles seem... well, for my usual stuff comparably amusing again.

So I wonder whether it's just a side effect of my all-present anxiety or simply my introverted nature, but while continuing with the Dead by Daylight session and fighting my frustration about loosing every single match with the others and trying my hardest not to blame my stupid ass for it...
... at the same time I have become aware that I had acted even more withdrawn than usual with my colleagues, just sitting there on my lonely table scrolling through Discord in breaks while the others talk about their weekends and new hobbies that they had picked up while I wasn't looking. I should mention hobbies that I have zero relation to whatsoever the same way they wouldn't have to my silly DbD group stuff that is constantly on my mind.

While observing that and thinking I should try to... well, ask how they are doing or stuff that would be socially expected and failing that because they are always already in conversations, I did notice one other thing about my behavior. I think I mentioned before that I really don't like addressing people with informal pronouns and first name, mostly thinking that since we are only colleagues, it would be intrusive to pretend like we are 'friends' or something, so I tend to use formal pronouns and last name... which always causes irritated responses because among my colleagues informal and first name is pretty much used for everyone except the principal and a few very old colleagues. So my solution so far had been... to avoid directly addressing people altogether.

In any case, despite that I have noticed that when greeting me, the colleagues from my staff room very deliberately always say my first name along with it, even in front of students. I'm getting the impression that this is an attempt to get me to ease up/lure me out of my shell, but while I think I should be grateful for it, I can't stop being irritated about it. Again, they are my colleagues, we barely if ever talk with each other, so I don't think it's appropriate to pretend like we are friends or anything. Heck, I myself didn't bother to memorize most of their first names and even if I did, I never use them when addressing them or when having to drop their names in conversation with others (which also sometimes causes raised eyebrows or confusion because some colleagues genuinely don't know each other's surnames, somehow). I... I really don't know how to act. I feel like I should adjust to fit in more and dismiss any inner voice that is telling me it's inappropriate, but... well, that voice is very ingrained in my very being.

It got once again to my attention because yesterday I had a run-in with the most extreme case of all. A relatively new colleague who in our very first interaction was absurdly arrogant and demeaning towards me, thinking I'm a student. And no, I don't even remember the context, I just know I immediately dismissed him as a giant asshole. When I pointed out to him that I'm a fellow teacher, he seemed thunderstruck and from then on... started to greet me stupidly sleazily with "It's so nice to see you again!" and stuff like that, acting as if we are the best buddies ever, while I always barely respond at all or just roll my eyes. Granted, there were also a few odd moments where he for some insane reason asked me for advice for very private legal troubles and acted stupendously grateful even though I could only offer educated guesses and the common sense answer of who he should actually ask. Still.. very uncomfortable to think that he might actually trust me because of that, despite weirding me out all the time with this buddy buddy nonsense. In any case, yesterday he asked whether anyone would have anything against it if he switched to my staff room and I gave a resigned shrug as my only response, triggering some laughter from one of my other colleagues who must have read my mind. Sigh...

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It is hard for me to understand why you would want to remain on a formal basis with your coworkers.  As adults in society, we all have relatively few human interactions, and it is nice to talk to people who know your name.  Yes, you aren't best friends, but I talk to a few of my coworkers as often as any of my friends (not counting my wife), so why not at least try and make that into a pleasant interaction?  There are people I met at work who I genuinely became friends with, and still talk to even after they've left the company.  Coworkers should have at least something in common, since you both pursued academia for a reason. 

As for that one colleague in particular, he sounds rather boorish.  It happens. 

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47 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

It is hard for me to understand why you would want to remain on a formal basis with your coworkers.  As adults in society, we all have relatively few human interactions, and it is nice to talk to people who know your name.  Yes, you aren't best friends, but I talk to a few of my coworkers as often as any of my friends (not counting my wife), so why not at least try and make that into a pleasant interaction?  There are people I met at work who I genuinely became friends with, and still talk to even after they've left the company.  Coworkers should have at least something in common, since you both pursued academia for a reason.

If I am reflecting deep, it's probably because I want to go out of my shell and approach them and then make that transition to an informal basis, not have it forced upon me because it is expected. It just... doesn't feel genuine.

But yes, I guess in the end I need to grit my teeth and throw away this mindset eventually. Of course, another problem is that I'm then also not sure whether I actually am genuine myself. There is very, very, very little overlap in interests and if I try to cling to that, I look very one-note. When observing their conversations, I see how reactive these conversations are and how they prod another tell them of their hobbies even if they don't share them, though most of the time they do share them or rather only picked them up because of each other and therefore it all interlinks just by itself. Meanwhile I once years ago tried carefully talk about my reading interests and then the colleague got the attention of another colleague coming in with a different topic and then she never bothered to come back to our conversation, showing me that I was actually boring her and she managed to get out of the conversation at the first opportunity. There were many other instances where I tried to weigh in in an existing conversation, only to be interrupted even before I finished the first word and then I just kind of give up and walk away.

During the last end of the semester party there was also a 'funny' scene where we stood huddled around a table, I was kind of semi-part of the conversation and stood there with a slight distance because I was a bit uneasy about there not being any masks. Then another colleague thought I wasn't really standing at the table, so she wedged herself in in front of me and joined their conversation, leaving me to just stand directly behind her breathing into her neck for a few seconds before I just retreated into a corner.

It's quite hard to deal with my kind of invisibility and quick resignation when it comes to social interactions.

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Responding indirectly to you, Toth, with some of my own reflections on collegiate relationships - mainly in the UK. I don't know your workplace, but as you describe it, it sounds fairly typical to me - not a paradise, but not an organisation that's plunged into some horrible negative spiral either. Well, not as bad as the UK government, anyway. 

I know that a lot of social advice tends along the lines of "be authentic" and "be yourself" but I've never found that very helpful, doubly so in a work environment where we've signed a contract, we have commitments, and we're typically stuck in the same organisation - sometimes in the same building or the same room - without an easy means of escape; like sub-mariners, the main thing is to be able to get along without driving each other mad.

Yes, there are people who do more than that. (Like a German teacher of mine from Iraq who used to get teased about his lunchtime 'harem'. Like the middle-manager in my current job who wanders through different team offices and gossips and talks about his tech obsessions). But these are advanced-level skills, and the people who do it tend to have a level of social confidence that is, if not inherent, then apparently unscarred by bullying and feelings of low self-worth. 

I'm possibly autistic, ugly, withdrawn and suspicious. Not (m)any people in my unit are likely to share my interests. So, I have a work personality. It helps me survive, and at least get invited to office occasions/events/after-work drinks. My work personality isn't a social butterfly, but just tries to follow various guidelines as drawn up by me. I'm using 'you' here as in 'one should', not you in particular. It's how I talk to myself. 

  • be broadly positive, especially about colleagues. Don't gush creepily about them or make a thing of it at all, but if your colleagues get the impression that you're nice about others, they'll be more relaxed around you. That doesn't mean being insincere. I was brought up by a father that made fun of sucking up to people, and it took me rather too long to grasp that it's actually okay to notice good things people do and remark on it. 
  • do make small talk. It's the equivalent of dogs sniffing each other's arseholes. You might not get the importance, but they do. 
  • remember things people tell you and ask about them, not to a stalkerish extent, but enough to show that you're interested
  • you might have the best intentions and be the kindest person in the world, but no one will know that unless you take opportunities to demonstrate it. So look proactively for chances to show you're decent. Help carry stuff. If someone's sick, say you've got paracetamol. I think it's harder for men. Female-dominated professions tend to encourage people to bring in cake/biscuits/that kind of thing. For men then letting slip that you're involved in/support charity x/cause y may work. Obviously, you do actually need to be involved in said cause. 
  • have some hobby/habit that identifies you and makes you seem unique, in an unthreatening, maybe even positive way. People like that, for some reason. In one job, it's been baking. In another, it's been cycling to work. Neither needed much academic intelligence to perceive and understand. If you don't have such a thing, find one. 

I wouldn't say my work personality is fake, exactly. However, it is carefully curated. 

I'll admit now that I've had few genuine connections in my life, and even with the people I've been closest to, it's never been 100% genuine. A filter always comes into play somewhere on my side, and probably on theirs as well. I think that's quite normal. Partly I think we do it to try and protect each other - if necessary from ourselves. (I got kicked out of my longest, closest friendship nine years ago after an argument over the moral value of intelligence. I think me saying that intelligence largely helped the trains to Auschwitz to run more efficiently may have been what did it.) 

My optimistic/happy side hasn't really been in evidence much lately, but since happy dog-days generally copes better socially than cynical, angry dog-days, I'll let the former out a bit to say:

Although sticking to small talk and avoiding serious subjects, or subjects you're passionate about, can seem deeply tedious, over the long run it can turn into genuine connections. Asking someone every Monday how their weekend was can seem pathetic, but it builds up over time into something more complicated. The glory of the safe and trivial. People at work often hold back from talking about what they genuinely care about, but over time and with an attentive (but not creepy) listener, it starts to seep out. 

Re: levels of formality. In English I'm happily untroubled by the pronoun dilemma. When I write emails, I always try and mimic the formality of the person I'm responding to. If I'm the first emailer, then I follow the organisation's normal practice, which tends to be "hi + first name". I do lament a bit the days when titles and surnames were still used; like you, I feel that the chumminess of current discourse is rather fake. It often seems to be a way of plastering over hierarchies and salary differentials, a big game of pretend. But when in Rome...

Also (and here's my optimistic voice muscling in again) a couple of the organisation's translators have written to me using ti/du, and that's always been very nice because it's generally been part of a friendly and thoughtful email. That said, spending chunks of my free-time in language class, where everyone's the informal pronoun, has made me expect it. Chi/Sie would feel quite weird and distant after the informal address being standard. 

Re: the colleague who thought you were a student. Sounds as if he realised he pissed you off, and is now trying to compensate for it by asking you for advice, since people generally take it as a compliment if you ask them for advice. (I once asked for directions on a U-bahn platform in Stuttgart. I was nearly steam-rollered by the enthusiasm of little old Swabian ladies.) 

Edited by dog-days
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  • 2 weeks later...

I think since my Mom broke her arm, I have found some way to reason with the world. I have to pay attention to her and to whatever else I need to do for the day and not let anything get too hectic. I haven't gotten too flustered with the whole experience and it really does allow me to learn. I cannot believe it but my Mom breaking her arm was for the betterment of mankind. I have these skills of getting up and getting things done that I did not have before. Now, I feel like I definitely can get a job and that it will even be alright. I've always had job anxiety and I think that it is optimistic and happy go lucky to say I have learned something from this as it would mean that my Mom got hurt for it to happen. Ahh!

I joke though.

My mental well-being seems to be adjusting to become good out of things that I may be able to actually handle. For once I want to let my hair grow out since it is the length of a pixie cut. And I want to finalize the things that constitute beauty for me in words that make sense to me.

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On 10/12/2022 at 11:52 PM, dog-days said:

I wouldn't say my work personality is fake, exactly. However, it is carefully curated. 

I'm sorry that I didn't reply all this time. I hope the heart managed to express that your post was pretty much exactly what I needed to hear, even though creating another me at work might seem tiresome for me at times.^^

I should note that only a short time after your explanations I got an unexpected free lesson where I ended up inserting myself into the smalltalk of two other colleagues and... well, forced myself to use informal pronouns and even dropped the name of one of them in the conversation, though notably not yet in addressing but as a subject when referencing a previous event. Yes, it's a ridiculously small step I ended up proud of myself for.

Unfortunately it's always one step forward, two steps backwards for me. The next week I messed up big time with my DbD group (twice), playing while feeling very miserable and then acting very childishly about it, essentially just giving up because of my frustration and killing myself in the later half of our games. And when the others tried to show me how much they got my back by trying to take protection hits, coming all three to take me off a hook or just ignoring me when one of them was playing Killer in a custom match as to not upset me further. I tackled the one trying the protection hit away, throwing myself into the killer's knife so that they don't have to take damage for my stupidity, ran away from them when they tried to heal me and ran after the killer when they spared me out of pity. On the second day where I played with such a negative mindset, it was even worse. The woman who invited me praised me for doing well after I spent half the match running in circles on the SAW map, not finding anything and anyone except the Killer who then put me out of my misery. I actually very harshly snapped at her to cut it out, because it triggered my intense dislike of getting praised, especially when it's this ridiculously undeserved. I know she just wanted me to feel better, but making shit up is just increasing my shame. I did apologize afterwards though (several times) and took the lesson to heart that I can actually say no to joining them when I feel bad. Something I did do just yesterday.

And THEN... ugh... well, I guess I'm trying to still take lessons with me from defeats. Because last weekend I had a rather massive one. For the second time ever I went to a con and went again with my cosplay. It was... hard. There were a LOT more people than at my first con a few months ago, with a much, MUCH higher cosplayer ratio and the quality of the cosplays being much more intimidating as well. On the other hand I tried to be more proactive, approaching some people, praising their work, but still not daring to ask for photos and whatever conversations I had were very superficial. There's also the observation that probably because the greater scale/my niche fandom, there were also no people whatsoever approaching me (unlike the last time where I had a couple of people trying to guess who I am). I also signed up for three workshops, mostly because those interested me, but admittedly also to selfishly increase my chance of socializing. The first was a stitching course which was super useful for future endeavors, the second about photography turned out to be more about the practicalities of being a photographer than posing, but the third... hoo boy...

I signed up for an impro theatre workshop because I must admit I always liked theatre in school and acting out different characters. It's one of these things that I'd like to try out signing up for for real in the future, to gain better communication skills. However... as a warmup game, they wanted us to do what was essentially a rock-paper-scissors tournament where everyone had to jump around in silly ways mimicking animals until you beat people 5 times in a row. I put down my phone, prepared myself, wanted to make myself participate... but the very fact that it's an exercise where you can loose and there was a punishment for it caused my anxiety to spike and my head blanked out during the explanation of the four stages of movements we should do and then I was too afraid to ask for a repetition when the game was about to start and so I short-circuited the same way I always do in social situations: I took my bag and ran out without a word except a faint "I'm sorry" at the door when I noticed the irritated stares of the others.

I then tried to go to the main stage to at least get some music or something for my money, but couldn't reach it because the halls were far too full of people. In my already fairly hazy state of mind my panic just increased and so I aborted and went home after not even six hours of con experience.

Well... I read up a bit more of root causes of anxiety afterwards, which in this case was probably a good thing to do. I noted that when my flight response overwhelmed me again, I had flashbacks to my school time where warm-up exercises like this where your 'opponents' can be decided by deliberately choosing you, my classmates always deadlocked the game by always making me do it until I loose and then the teachers got upset with me when I dropped out and refused to continue to participate. I know I wasn't really in danger of bullying like that because of there being only total strangers, but I did realize I don't really have a fear of loosing, instead I have a crippling and irrational fear of shame that comes with loosing in front of others. In a way I suppose my DbD group is a nice exercise to try to get rid of that mindset, while at the same time it keeps triggering that fear. Ugh...

On 10/12/2022 at 11:52 PM, dog-days said:

Re: the colleague who thought you were a student. Sounds as if he realised he pissed you off, and is now trying to compensate for it by asking you for advice, since people generally take it as a compliment if you ask them for advice.

Oddly enough, I recently got evidence that he seems genuinely blissfully unaware of how much he pissed me off in our first meeting and how much I want to keep my distance from me. One of my students was particularly bouncy that day because of her birthday, somehow felt the need to tell me that she had a conversation with that guy about their favorite teachers and that he somehow inexplicably named me as the one he "respects the most for his structured mind-set". That threw me off quite a bit, given how downright hostile I felt I was acting towards him at times.

Edited by Toth
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Toth, as a fellow sufferer of anxiety, I understand what you are going through. Personally I think you did a great job of getting out and trying to deal with social situations. It is hard doing what you do. It does get easier as you do more.  You are making progress, even if you don't see it yourself. Sometimes you just have to be blunt and tell people that you are extremely shy and things can be hard to do.

Stay strong buddy.

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