This blog is not FDA approved
Note from Le Clown: I’m honoured to have The Narcissist with us today on Black Box Warnings, and you should all know that she is celebrating her 40th birthday today. Please join me in wishing her a wonderful and magnificent™ birthday. Thank you.
I have never written about my emotional issues for two primary reasons. Firstly, I don’t like having someone underestimate my ability based on their preconceived notions about my emotional state. The second reason… I don’t feel like I am in anyway inhibited by an issue I have dealt with all my life. Having and learning to cope with my emotional problems has benefited me more than it has hindered me.
I don’t feel impaired. I don’t feel like I am capable of less. Honestly, I have always secretly felt like I have super powers. I am determined. I am keenly self-aware and I learned at very young age that I needed to protect myself (sometimes from myself) if I wanted to survive. Doctors refer to my special powers as anxiety and obsessive personality disorders. I’ve read a lot of work over the past few days, recollections of painful experiences, the trials and tribulations of living with mental illness. My aim here isn’t to imply that mental illness isn’t a daily battle. Anyone who suffers due to emotional issues has had to struggle and fight to get to where they are; every single one of us can relate to that. We have developed ways to cope with ourselves without even considering the stresses of daily life, the ins and outs of our relationships, our jobs and those unexpected curveballs that present themselves at the least opportune times. I experience all of that too.
Like most people who suffer from anxiety, I wasn’t medicated until I was an adult. I am thankful every day that I chose to seek out an aid to help alleviate what I could not control. But for thirty-six years of my life I wasn’t medicated and like everyone else who has dealt with emotional issues I learned to cope with my issues. I developed skills that helped me manage a lot of what I was feeling and challenge the false truths I had come to believe about myself.
Initially I just suppressed everything. I locked myself away from the world. I observed my environment from a safe distance. I didn’t want to or understand how to participate. I began to focus only on things that fascinated me. My interests were varied. The intensity in which I fixated on a particular subject was noted as obsessive but that intense desire to understand something helped me succeed at almost everything I tried.
A Brief List of my Former Obsessions
Writing – I’ve been an avid writer all my life. Every job I have ever had has had a heavy writing component.
Marine Biology – At the age of nine I was obsessed with becoming a marine biologist. I study everything about marine biology and oceanography I could. I spent better than a year memorizing the scientific name for every sea creature I read about. This developed into an uncanny ability to retain tons of useless information. In high school I realized I hated biology and immediately lost interest in the subject.
Television and Video Production – As a young woman I became fascinated with the technical side of video production. With no experience I began reading everything I could on the subject. I taught myself how to edit. I learned to write scripts. I was hired at a studio and production house in southern Oregon as production assistant and was promoted to senior studio producer in two years. I won three national awards for production at that studio and two more at the studio I worked for when I moved north.
Me – I’ve always been pretty self-obsessed. Most people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression tend be pretty introspective and appear to be the primary if not sole focus of their existence. The perk of this particular focus is that you develop a strong understanding of yourself and how you function. I know who I am, why I do what I do and how to adjust what needs adjusting.
Even with these skills and my understanding of what drove me I struggled daily with pessimism, self-doubt and no shortage of negativity. These issues seemed to be things I could not deal with on my own. I knew that I had accomplished so much. That I had learned to live with something that could just have easily ended my life as provide me with a strong desire to achieve in spite of it. I still had a hard time appreciating what I was capable of. I still struggled with the fact that I couldn’t truly appreciate everything I was capable of.
I just couldn’t shake the negativity. At the age of thirty-six, I talked to my doctor, for the first time about medication. It was the missing piece of the puzzle. I finally knew what “lightening up” felt like.
I spent the better part of the past few years learning to appreciate everything I have experienced and the gifts and tools that have developed as result. My issues with anxiety and depression never hindered my personal growth or damaged the person I have become. They actually made me stronger. I learned about perseverance and inner strength. I learned to appreciate what I have and can accomplish. I learned to face challenges head on. I have learned to be proud of and love me.