I had to think long and hard about whether to post this. Mainly, because, as you will gather, I am terrified of what people think of me and am scared people will not like me. But fortune favours the brave and if I am ever to try to overcome these demons, then something has to change. I am not posting this to garner sympathy or to curry favour, rather I am being honest - with myself as much as anyone who may read this.
My situation is one of permanent pain, ongoing inner turmoil and medical vagueness that continues to frustrate and infuriate me.
For about 5 years, I have suffered physical pain - most notably in my back and right hip, but with additional pain that is transient and unpredictable. I have had no answers other than a chronic pain syndrome.
In a less overt manner, but no less debilitating is my mental state which has lasted for as long as I can remember, perhaps from 9 or 10 years of age. I have had a diagnosis of depression and anxiety for about 10 years, but I have never found that to be a good fit. Recently, I chanced upon a description of Avoidant Personality Disorder (more details here) that seems to fit exactly.
For as long as I can remember, my overarching feeling has been one of not being good enough in any scenario and in any respect. In a room of people, I consider myself the worst person in the room. In any social setting, I am painfully shy and want to withdraw into myself. I tend to be excessively sycophantic and am a people pleaser to my own detriment due to my absolute need to be liked and accepted even though I never, ever believe I am liked or accepted. I hate being alone but find myself increasingly isolating myself because I don’t feel that others want me around and I don’t want to drag others down. I have been divorced twice and both times I have instigated the splits due to my neediness and not feeling loved.
I am not currently working but in any scenario where I have been employed I have been terrified of being judged and not being good enough to the point of feeling nauseous and not wanting to attend work. This has been severely crippling and exhausting at times. I have numerous qualifications including a PhD in Molecular Genetics, a Certificate in Humanistic Counselling and I was a freelance music journalist for a decade but in none of these fields, despite achievements, have I ever felt good enough.
I will hold grudges for long periods of time over small issues and I will feel extremely hurt in the face of even the slightest criticism which then reinforces my belief that I am not good enough. I desperately want close friendships and romantic relationships which I idealise to the point of unrealistic expectations and when those expectations are not reached, I deem relationships a failure and, by extension, myself a failure.
In writing, I am erudite, eloquent and expressive but in direct interactions with people face to face or by telephone, I hold myself back to such an extent that I am a shadow of who I feel I am or I could be and after the interaction, I will berate myself for not being the person I find it so easy to be in writing.
I believe I am extremely empathetic and crave close, tactile personal relationships and paradoxically do not feel I can succeed in relationships so I shy away from them leaving me feeling desolate and lonely.
In addition, I often feel extremely fatigued and this is compounded by the fact that for most of the nights in any given week, I do not sleep at all. I am desperately tired, but cannot seem to sleep.
The only aspect of myself that I feel moderately confident about is my intelligence and as such I love quizzes. I can attend quizzes and people gravitate to me on account of my ability to retain useless information. But recent occurrences of being accused of cheating have hit me very hard - it feels like my final chance of social interaction has been pulled away from me.
If you ever meet me, I will probably come across as shy and introspective. This is not who I am - it is who I am reduced to being and I criticise myself for it mercilessly. I will be sycophantic to curry favour due to my fear of being disliked and not accepted.
This is my life. As I say, I do not want sympathy or pity. I am trying to improve - to push myself and challenge myself and in this respect, this post in itself represents a massive achievement to me as I open up my inner world to public scrutiny.