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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

It's the fleas that get you

When I was younger, probably aged eleven or twelve, I was at my auntie’s house having dinner with my cousins. I was swinging my legs having conversations and being chatty, as I usually am. I didn’t realise that whilst I was swinging my legs I was kicking my feet against the table leg and they were bleeding heavily. Someone – my brother or one of my cousins/aunties – noticed that there was blood all over the floor. Everyone freaked out, except me. My auntie went to go and get cleaning stuff and bandages and everyone asked if I was ok and if I had noticed. I just sat there, calmly and cheerfully; unfazed.

When ‘big’ things happen, most people freak out. Death; someone having a fit, a general election, a terrorist attack. People went crazy over Trump winning the election. People lose their shit every time a bombing happens. At funerals, everyone cries. If someone’s parents split up they’d be an emotional wreck.

Since I was little, big things don’t have a massive impact on me. I’ve never been to a funeral, but I’m sure if I did that I’d sit there stony faced and numb. I’m a big crybaby, but I cry if I lose my house keys or guitar capo or I’m running late or I upset my friend. I don’t cry over stuff that’s socially acceptable to freak out over. This has caused a lot of difficulties for me and for others. It’s led to me bottling up emotions; drinking, or exploding into random fits of anger. And needless to say, other people freak out over those.

I suffer from panic attacks, and I’m smart enough to realise that they tend to disturb those around me (except my brother, who has the similar ‘shit happens’ attitude that I have). I also suffer from self-harming, and rationally I’m aware this is a bad thing, but emotionally I don’t care. A fierce part of me doesn’t see what’s wrong with it. I look at the scars on my arms and legs and see them as a badge of honour; a visual expression of how miserable and empty I feel at times. I’m generally a cheery and positive person but I do suffer from clinical depression.

Maybe that’s partly why I’m so apathetic to big problems; I see suffering as part of life, and awful things as inevitable, so they don’t bother me as much. I expect the worst, if you like. When I was in sixth form, it was announced that a guy that used to go to the secondary school died in a horrific climbing accident. I felt nothing. I didn’t go to the school, just the sixth form, and didn’t know the guy. People die every day. I’m sure he was a nice person and I empathised with those who cared for him on a basic human level but I mostly didn’t care. In fact I was annoyed because it was all anyone would talk about for days and I was trying to revise for exams.

No, I’m not a sociopath. I’m highly sensitive, and that is probably the reason I close off when it comes to major problems. I also use humour; I tend to laugh nervously at bad or disturbing situations. My body automatically reacts by closing off or laughing. If I allow my emotions to run wild, I’ll be trying to hang myself within a week. A sociopath is all logic and no emotion, but a histrionic is all emotion and no logic. In heavily emotional situations I find it safer to rationalize the problem rather than to allow it to consume me. If I allow myself to feel, really feel, I’ll be running down the ‘life is pointless we all die it’s so unfair’ trip. So I rationalize. It’s a defence mechanism. I used it to cope with my parents separating. I use it to cope with most heavy things in life. Logic and intellect has saved me from myself. Without my ability to logically process things, I’m lost.

Of course at times it is necessary to allow our feelings to be. Feelings cannot kill us. But I am at a point in my life where I’m still emotionally fragile and unstable. I can wail and whine over the little things, but I still close off when it comes to the big things. I can’t handle them. It’s easier to accept the fact that elephants will stomp all over me and kill me in one instant, but fleas will sting me and bug me and irritate me for ages.

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