I don’t really know what is going on in my head.
It might be—this just popped into my mind—that I am suddenly around other people all the time, and what is real for me is not real for the people around me. And that makes me see myself. This isn’t “us,” what is going on inside me. It isn’t average or typical. It is distinctly me. And if I grew up having “me” being a terribly shameful thing to be, then feeling uniquely myself will feel overwhelmingly shameful.
One thing on my mind lately is actually my mind. It is trying to keep my mind from breaking apart—I describe it that way, because that is how it feels. It basically just stops working. I can feel it, just a sense that synapses aren’t firing.
I was reading about trauma and memory, and trauma affects working memory. Stress affects working memory. It affects it generally, in a long-term way, where decreased myelination slows processing speed all the time, and it affects it in a short-term way where processing speed is slowed during stressful experiences.
Why that happens, I don’t know, but I notice it. I notice something very minor happens that makes me feel stressed and suddenly I can’t keep my shit together. It is not an emotional experience. It’s purely cognitive—it seems that way, anyway, because I can regulate my emotional reaction, but I can’t regulate my mind. Odd. Suddenly, I can’t seem to put my socks on before my shoes—not literally that, but things like that.
That’s not real for anyone else. It’s just part of not being a competent adult.
The thing is this has always happened, but I have been more able to use coping skills to prevent it: I become hyper-focused on what I am doing so that my mind can still manage what is coming in, even though what it can process has suddenly reduced. You can’t do that when you are around other people. They want attention. They talk to you and expect a response. You have to summon up an appropriate response to them. You can’t just narrow your focus to what needs to get done and to hell with other people. I have spent more time alone or less aware of potential judgment and criticism so the stress response is not triggered in the first place.
Overall, this might be good: as the level of challenge increases, I get to gradually rise to that challenge. In the short-term, it is hard on the self-esteem. It affects my sense of competence.
But it’s also not real to anyone else but me. I feel I am having some kind of trauma-related reaction to stress that is transient. Irritating, but transient, and something I am trying unravel (What was the trigger for that? What can I do in that moment to keep my mind still working?) For people around me, I am kind of flaky perhaps. Not a full-fledged grownup.
Yesterday, my friend asked if I knew about the dryer vent. Well, I am 43 years old. I know to clean the lint out of the dryer. Evidently, it had looked very clogged one day, and she thought I might not have worked out that I needed to do that. An olive pit fell in the garbage disposal that I hadn’t seen, and it made a noise for a second before I switched off the disposal, and she said, “I usually fish around down there to see if anything has fallen in.”
This is probably why I am in her house. Because that is how she sees me. Someone who, at middle age, can’t use a garbage disposal.
That may be neither here nor there. Or maybe it’s part of a larger issue that deserves its own post.
What I am getting at is that my mind cannot coordinate information under stress, and I can feel that and I am interested in that. To someone else, it wouldn’t seem that way. It would seem like my personality, because it doesn’t happen nearly as often when I am alone. At school, VP Ma’am once said to me I am a little bit like her: “a little bit panicky.” Well, I am not. Most people describe me as very calm. They have described me that way all my lie. But she is terrified a lot of the time, and she also attacks me without any warning. I find it hard to cope with the fear this creates for me.
Which is fine.
Except what I am getting at is I have to recognize that my views are different from the views of people around me. I have to see my uniqueness, that I have my own thoughts about myself and about the world. And it’s hard.
That’s an understatement.
I feel so ashamed suicide seems hard to resist. But I do. Don’t worry. It’s hard, and life goes on anyway.