Mental Illness Changed My Personality | Sortin’ My Life Out
You know, when you put yourself in a new environment, you notice different things about yourself.
Things you’d never known, you could have guessed, and even things you thought you knew.
Over the past month, I’ve put myself into a lot of new situations. Or, situations that have become new since my last mental health episode.
Since getting better and back on my feet, I haven’t thought much about how a mental illness could change me. Sure, it changed me while I was going through a bad time, but it couldn’t change me after… could it?
Turns out, maybe I was a little naive about what I actually went through, or at least what I remember about myself before.
I started to not feel so hot back in the end of 2016. I quit my job, starting taking medication, and had to deal with a lot of stuff on my own before people understood and began to support me. Parts of me changed. I started to fear leaving the house, got overwhelmed being present in big groups of people, and thought a lot of bad things about myself. It turns out, a lot of these things are pretty common in anxiety and depression.
When you come out of a bad mental health episode, it’s not like waking up after a few days with the flu. You haven’t got a spring in your step, thanking the paracetamol and carrying on your merry way. It takes time to get used to things again.
But now, in 2018, not only do I still suffer from the things that made my bad days bad, but there are very parts of me that have intrinsically changed. And I’ve only just noticed them.
I can’t navigate conversation/socialise
It’s not like I was a social connoisseur before, but I distinctly remember getting on with people very easily. At school and in previous jobs, I was very good at adapting to my surroundings and the people I was with. I think some of it was self preservation, but most of the time, I just knew how it worked. What to say and what to do. Now? I struggle to make eye contact, I can’t find the words that seem right in that situation. Groups of people tire me, physically and mentally, but one on one doesn’t seem too bad. I knew it had become a problem because I was having the same trouble with an old group of friends who I shouldn’t have been uncomfortable around. But I didn’t think it would carry on. I didn’t know conversations would feel like the oral Olympics.
I can’t accept praise
This has always been a thing I struggle with, but in the last year, my mind just cannot compute doing a good job. If I push myself to work on a good thing, my mind will not let me feel proud of myself. Instead, it tries to change the perspective; I haven’t excelled, I’ve done the bare minimum. You are not working at a high standard, you are doing what everyone else is already doing.
Even when I receive praise from external sources (not my brain), my mind will look for the negative, find that little seed of doubt and let it sprout until the praise is all but a false thing. It’s something I want to work on. I want to be proud of myself, give myself a little pat on the back. Even if it’s not something extravagant or something a lot of people do, my self esteem deserves the praise.
I’m struggling to write
Writing blog posts is one thing, but fiction? I don’t know her.
There is something about fiction that feels so personal to me, more so than writing blog posts such as this. My stories are a part of me, an extra limb. I used to be able to write so much, and wrote almost everyday (or at least every weekend). Now? I just don’t do it, unless it’s Nanowrimo (which I can’t even take part in this year).
I really, really want to get back into the swing of things with my writing; I have so many ideas. But there’s still a thing in my brain that’s stopping me from getting there. My creative juices are being used elsewhere, and there’s not enough for fiction right now. But I know it will come back eventually.
There are so many things that have changed about me since ‘the bad times’, and I honestly don’t know if some of them will ever go back to the way they were. I think that’s OK; experiences will always change you as a person, even if it’s the smallest things. I hope though, that as my life moves forward in a good direction, I can piece back together the aspects of me that I lost, but also continue to move away from the things I don’t care for anymore.
I’m still working on that though.