Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries – 22nd September 2020
TW: PTSD, obsessive behaviour
“There is an intensity to my experiences and existence, which I recognise is different from other people. In most cases, I hide this behaviour as I know that it isn’t something that people want to be around. However, occasionally, there’s the connection that I have with someone, which allows me to be expressive and be met with reciprocal feelings. Yesterday I was considering old patterns of behaviour and realised that I often became obsessive with someone at a stage that seemed far too premature. Through socialisation, I understood that I shouldn’t express it but I would act in all sorts of strange ways. It’s really hard for me to know whether I am still the same or whether it manifests as a healthier appreciation. Thinking about it right now, I realise that when I feel comfortable and safe in a relationship whether that’s romantic, familial or one with a friend, it allows me to be appreciative without falling into obsessive traits.
Yet, equally I know that I exist as much in the weird obsessive parts of my mind as I do in reality. Sometimes, especially when I am alone at night, I spend hours going round in circles that I have followed many times in the past, trying to figure out something with little to no change. My anxiety in relationships is rooted in what my honesty tells someone about me and sometimes whilst seeming to be honest and open on the surface, internally, there’s all these things bubbling up. When I was at primary school, I didn’t have many friends but by the time I was at university, there were at least people around me that did like me. Truthfully though, I only really experienced the deepness of real life friendship after I had therapy for complex PTSD in my mid twenties. Before that, most of my close friends were people that I had connected with online and in one special case, I still have that friend in my life. I understand now that the trauma had made me guarded with the inability to connect with others but I also feel like that the disconnection started at a young age. Even now, I get those moments where I feel like everyone in the room must realise that I am behaving differently to them.
Thinking back to my teenage years, when feeling despair was an everyday phenomena even if I was semi functional, I was always different. From my early teens, I had realised that I was attracted to women and I am only now coming to terms with what that did to me internally. Being able to live as my authentic self wasn’t a worry I had at the time because I had a headstrong personality that was determined to do as I pleased, even if that meant living a double life. However, the first person that I ever loved was someone in my class and having to keep that a secret, in hindsight, affected me. It’s almost comical now realising that it was her intensity that freaked me out, that made me feel suffocated and overwhelmed. She was open about her life but I was paralysed by the idea of opening up about the difficulties I was facing at home during that time. We had reconnected and I had made amends for my behaviour during that time but my last breakdown meant I went off the radar. Speaking of her now, I realise that I really want to repair that friendship even if there’s a risk that I might disappear again.
This week has taught me that healthy boundaries and expectations are possible like having a code phrase with a friend for when either of us need to cancel on plans. It’s intended as a ‘Get out of jail’ free with no explanation required and by extension, no guilt is supposed to be felt. Though we have yet to use it, I instantly feel happier with this particular friend because I know that we respect each other enough to understand our needs. A space where I have acknowledged will never happen is when it comes to my mum’s family. As much as I love them, the way that my heart beats faster and my voice becomes angrier, when I interact with them, indicates that nothing will ever change with them. The trigger that they have on my life isn’t simply about the individual relationships I have with each of them but the complex relationships that exist between each of them that I have to carefully navigate at any given time. In an ideal world, we could have whole family therapy but I can just imagine how that would turn out. As extreme as it seems, I feel like I want to cut them out of my life because the last week has dragged me into the trivial drama, which always lacks any perspective and always exacerbates my anxiety.
Today, I’ve written a great deal about relationships with others as it’s what I value and what feeds my soul. In completing it all, I should speak about the relationship I have with myself: It is the one that I feel at peace with but there’s also so much internal fear. I remember during my breakdown that I fled my place because I didn’t trust myself being alone with myself. At my worst, I can be hysterical blaming myself for every little mistake that I have ever made, planning out drastic escape plans involving packing my bag or something more permanent. At my best, I can be the confidence boost that I need to succeed, reaffirming that I am fortunate to have made the choices that I have, experienced the life that I have and that this has all happened because I’m me. So much of the time, as someone who is unmedicated, I struggle to know what is causing my behaviour. Complex PTSD explains away a lot of my behaviour as relating to trauma but who was I before this? As a daughter of parents’ who have themselves inherited so much trauma from their parents, was I always going to be this way? All I do know is the concept of who I am is constantly moving and adapting.
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