I’ve often wondered what I would have turned out like had I not had mental health issues throughout my life. It’s safe to say that my problems didn’t begin to surface until I was 11 (back in ye olden days of 2004), but we all go through so much ‘growing up’ during our teenage years, I don’t want to simply presume that I’d be an adult version of my 10 year-old self. I was brash and bossy and pedantic as a primary school aged child and I was merely tolerated by my peers.
I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve had a personality disorder. Part of the reason a doctor was so hesitant about diagnosing me with one is that there’s scepticism over whether they actually exist, or if PD’s are just people with ‘bad’ personalities. I don’t really agree with that though. You see, in my head it feels like I’m leading a double life. My ex-boyfriend from 2013 perhaps summed it up better than I ever could, he told me that I was both the coldest and the warmest person emotionally that he’d ever met. And it’s true. There’s one half of me that’s evil, conniving and un-feeling whilst the other half would save their worst enemy from a burning building, sacrifice themselves and bequeath their enemy all their worldly possessions in their dying breath. Then there’s the half that can effortlessly charm and chat and laugh with customers whilst the other half of me needs to hide in dark, abandoned corners at all times and never talk to other people. Sometimes, I really feel like I’m split down the middle, only both halves are 100% me. I constantly feel like I have all the emotional capacity of two whole humans beings and, at times, it’s unbearable. One of the symptoms of my MH diagnosis is only being able to think of things as being ‘black or white’ and I think this is the reason that these two ‘halves’ of me won’t meet in the middle and I feel both sides of them simultaneously at 100% horsepower. On my worst days, I can be laughing, sad, euphoric and terrified all at once. These are the days when I become aggressive quicker and need to watch my tongue. If I’m rude to you on one of these days, stop, make eye contact with me and tell me to try again. Not rudely, please, just ask me for a do-over. I’ll remember to stop, think and rationalise and everything will be okay. It is never ever personal. Perhaps this is the one thing I’d like everybody who ever comes into contact with me to know – if you think I’m being rude or harsh, please remember that I have absolutely no idea I’m doing it and I do not mean it. I can, of course, control it, but only when I know it’s happening. Just tell me and I’ll apologise and buy you some chocolate and be your best friend. Or at least the first one, anyway.
But back to the actual topic in hand. I always wonder, which half of me would I be, if I was wired correctly? I like to think that the kinder side of me would come further out and the laughter and ‘chattiness’ would be genuine rather than faked. Paring down my emotions would mean I wouldn’t fly off the handle so quickly or get unnecessarily upset at myself or others. I’d go from 0-1 instead of 0-15 all the damn time. But then I wonder if my wit would still be as sharp and my sarcasm just as dry. If I halve my emotional capacity, could it harm the parts of me that I actually don’t mind?
Other times I wonder if I would’ve ended up like 8 year old me, who played the lead character of Boss Lady in the school play who (offstage and off-script but still audible to the entire audience of parents) told a boy in their class he got his lines wrong and made him cry. One of those loud, abrasive ‘characters’ who everybody always assumes I am, despite never seeing me be the centre of attention with their own eyes (because there’s no way in hell I’d let that happen.)
This in itself, is a strange phenomenon. I’ve been told by countless bosses that I have confidence, that I am the most ‘natural’ seller in whichever branch. Not the best, but the most natural. I am never more unnatural or fake than when talking to customers within my retail job. Ever. I am always ever so paranoid of slipping up and saying something wrong as I never really know what I’m going to say until I say it, which, with me, isn’t always a good thing. Luckily, some kind of intuition takes over and I always seem to be fine, but I suffer with imposter syndrome incredibly badly all the same. I think, naturally, I’m an introvert, as I draw real personal strength from being alone and re-charging my batteries, whereas even the simplest social interaction saps my energy. So perhaps I would be quiet but sarcastic. Reluctant to go near a crowd but also able to slot into a friendship with ease.
Hang on a second, I’ve got it.
If I wasn’t me, I’d be Jughead Jones from Riverdale.