The Fear Of Being Me
I think I represent most of us when I say that we keep masks up every day, showcasing a very different social personality from our private ones. Of course, we all have the right to present the sides we want (I do so too) because the world isn't very kind often. Personally, however, I keep my mask up because I habitually look into the mirror and often don't like what I see. I have substantial complexes and insecurities around my self-worth, but it is not too difficult to suppress those for the shinier side.
However, a few recent incidents triggered some of those issues, making it very difficult for me to keep the mask on until I spoke with some close friends who helped me pick myself up. So today, in the spirit of keeping aside my mask, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about my mental health and how I'm working on these problems.
How I See Myself 👀
Being present in communities in a more influential capacity has typically meant that I get to have a voice people will listen to more often. Moreover, working in communities (with them being the social groups they are) usually means that my work is heavily people-centric and that I have to spend a substantial amount of time with larger groups.
That doesn't, however, make me extroverted by nature. On the contrary, I have always preferred solitude. I like to spend my nights after work similar to the image above, with my headphones on, music running, and me dancing to my own little beat.
Solitude can be very healthy occasionally. It gives us time to introspect and look back at our deeds, actions, and intentions, thus enabling us to better ourselves for the future. I enjoy the "me" time this gives me, and I am now at a point where I need it to recharge at regular periods. Otherwise, I feel lost.
How This Gets Unhealthy For Me 😰
In times of distress, however, solitude can be rather dangerous (for me). This distress is typically triggered for me in instances like a professional failure (even a small one) or if I have a fight and mess up any of my relationships with people I care about. The big reason this solitude can become dangerous is that, post any such incident, I tend to do the following two things:
I blame myself for any bad incident with my involvement, even if it isn't my fault.
Because I blame myself and feel that I'm the one causing problems, I constantly attack my self-worth, believing that anything I have earned is something I've been handed out and don't deserve.
These two habits can create a loop of impostor syndrome that can continue to build up to a point where your self-worth drops so severely that you end up secluding yourself from most people in an attempt to seek solace. I start pushing away people trying to help me as well. And the line between wanting to be alone and getting lonely is so fine and easy to cross that I have ended up getting lost in the spiral in the past, not being able to find a way out.
At this point, I stop dancing entirely and stand waiting for the night not to end. This consequence I impose upon myself is the one I fear the most. It is my rock bottom, and I must solve this, lest I should cause further repercussions and pain to myself.
How I Have Exited This Spiral In The Past ➿
Once I get to the bottom of this spiral, the solace can seem very enticing and relieving, but getting back out as soon as possible is crucial. Spending too much time at the bottom of this spiral can cause further repercussions in other work and relationships that are irrelevant to the original issue.
Fortunately, the biggest benefit of hitting rock bottom is that you can't fall any further. So you can rebuild yourself however way you want.
Just a disclaimer, neither am I a mental health professional nor have I received formal training in this space. You are well within your rights to disagree with my method; in fact, I highly recommend speaking with a professional if you need any help. But yes, here's how I have solved my issues in the past:
Stop pushing away and start accepting the help.
You must accept your support system, regardless of whether you think you deserve it. It is fighting with your fundamental nature at that time. But it is important. Just realizing the love and care you get can enable you to start believing that you're better than you think.
Open up to your close ones.
We hide our faults and truths because we believe they overpower and control us. Every time I have recovered from this sort of a spiral, I've seen the opposite. Being able to share allows you to legitimize your pains and fears, which is necessary to be able to set them aside and move forward.
Note: If the two steps above don't work for you or aren't an option, I strongly recommend getting therapy and working with a professional. It will encompass both of the steps above, help you manage these consequences you imposed on yourself, and maintain your privacy.
Start with and complete small tasks.
The problem was initially triggered not because of further underlying issues but because of a mistake or an action. In whatever space things went wrong for you, doing a small right and then another one (and so on) will let you slowly build up self-confidence and self-belief once again.
It's like laying a brick wall. The only way to build is piece-by-piece, layer-by-layer.
We'll Be Okay 🫂
We all have problems and issues that we need to deal with from time to time. I know how faulty and flawed I can be. But that doesn't mean we deserve to live through pain and suffering and beat up on ourselves to achieve that. We are humans. We aren't perfect and maybe we're not even to be. And it's okay to just be you and make mistakes and grow through each of these issues. As long as we remember that, we'll be just fine.