Several things have inspired the ideas behind this post. A realization I had when I read Ruby’s post “Behind the Curtain” sparked an idea. DeeDee’s post about compartmentalization has jumpstarted my thinking gears. Finally, there are just my own thoughts of late . . . I think I can synthesize all of these issues, and that’s what I’m going to try to do with this post.
After I read Ruby’s post and her reply to my comment, it occurred to me that I let my mental health issues define me simply by focusing on hiding them. I’m always afraid someone’s going to discover something out of place, and my whole tenuously constructed edifice will come crashing down. By being constantly on the alert, by constantly concealing my mental health issues, I am basing my identity on those issues.
I contradict myself, and it blows my mind.
I am a firm believer in the idea that mental health issues should never be the defining factor of people’s personalities. Sure, it’s a part of my personality, but it is merely a small piece of a larger whole.
My mind’s en garde stance means that my mental health issues are at the source of everything I do.
In order to lessen the degree to which my mental health issues form my identity, I need to find a way to reframe how I operate. I’m not saying I should go out and wave a flag saying, “I am someone with mental illness!”. God, no. Rather, I should refocus my impulses. Not every action has to involve mental acrobatics to conceal what lies beneath. Because that’s not even nearly all that lies beneath, first of all. But also, by living in this fashion, I am allowing the mental illness to control me while simultaneously attempting the very opposite.
Here’s an example of how I could behave differently: Often when people talk about mental illnesses and stereotype them, I say nothing because I’m afraid my mental health issues will be discovered. The other party might think, Why does she care so much? If and when they deduce the truth, they might dismiss my perspective as null and void because I am tainted.
Let’s tweak this scenario. If the discussion were about race, I wouldn’t have a problem with trying to combat stereotypes. Heck, I have no problem arguing against female gender roles, and I’m a woman.
Arguing against a misconception about mental illness doesn’t mean people will automatically think I deal with that issue. Even if it does, so what? Shouldn’t I position myself as someone who disproves the stereotype rather than someone who will be categorized as belonging with it?
That brings me to what I’ve been thinking about for the past few days, my insecurity. I can’t snap my fingers and stop being insecure. (Actually, I can’t even literally snap my fingers. It’s true.) Insecurity is a significant personality trait, even if a chunk of it derives from mental health issues. As I mentioned in my last post on my blog, I’ve felt stuck for the past couple of years. I don’t have a direction, nor am I interested in exploring a direction. This leaves me stunted.
Part of me is afraid that I can’t handle more than what I have now. Why can’t things just stay like this? What if this is the best I can do?
What if this is the best I can do?
This question has revolved in my mind for the past few weeks. It haunts me. I don’t know the answer to it, and I don’t know how to find the answer to it.
What if my mental health issues hold me back? If so, then how can they not be the foundation of my identity?
Am I permanently shattered, always cracking at the seams, or did I break in one monumental sundering? Can I put the pieces back together? If I put the pieces back together, will they fall apart again? Are the pieces lying around waiting for me to reassemble them, or are their edges constantly chipping off?
Can the pieces be adequately combined into a new product, or do they function only when they’re in their former arrangement?
Just because I shattered doesn’t mean I will shatter again.
But doesn’t it?
This idea relates back to the theme of identity. By dwelling on my breaking, am I letting it define me? Would there be less danger of it reoccurring if I changed my focus?
At any rate, my identity is rigidly compartmentalized. I feel like I can’t have any of the lines intersect without the entire flimsy edifice toppling over.
Friend life segregated. Check. Family life segregated. Check. Work life segregated. Check.
Blog life segregated. Check.
I fear that I won’t have the freedom to say exactly what I want to if my blog life collides with any of the real-life sections. Would it change how people in real life view me? Would they try to bring up my posts in everyday conversation? I couldn’t handle that. I think what I am most afraid of is people wanting to talk about my blog writing with me in real life. It’s much easier for me to have a conversation in writing than in real life. Yes, I’m pulling out my crutch here, the social anxiety. It influences how I operate when around others; it can’t be helped.
Being anonymous affords me more freedom. But being anonymous also constrains me.
When I began my blog, I mentioned that I wanted to reveal my real-world identity one day. I think I still do, but that day is far off in the future. I can’t handle coming out right now.
I’m also not sure if I can refocus my mindset. Not with where I am now and with what I worry about.
Hopefully the right time will come. Until then, I will remain en garde.
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