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afflicted

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So this will be me venting, I guess.

I've known since I was but a punk kid that something was off about me. I come to discover later on in adolescence that it was disorder material. Now that I'm well into adulthood, intense anxiety around social situations causes severe bouts of depression (along with job loss, isolation, suicide attempts, family stress, and financial ruin). I'm also aware that I'm an introvert and have come to realize that this combination really doesn't play out well and others take notice, particularly when I try to socialize. I'm very conscious of appearance, posture, eye contact, and all of that so I'm never really comfortable in my own skin.

I'll be starting my third week (training) on the job on Monday. Things have been a little uncomfortable for me and I'm about to get a good push into work that will challenge me like nothing I've experienced before. This is because my job will be very engaging and active in the community. There is also safety and liability concerns. My new coworkers seem to be excited and we've had this last week to mingle amongst each other. This was challenging in itself. I feel the same way as I did when I was a kid, out of place. My efforts to contribute to discussion required some forcing while it seemed so natural to everyone else. I mean, I can get by but not always without coming off as aloof. I had a coworker (social butterfly) make a few unsettling remarks to me that suggested that I was being rude or angry. And then when I gave another coworker a ride home, she laughed in a way that conveyed "really?" when I said "see you next week". Maybe I sounded too as-a-matter-of-factly? I don't really know. I'm just concerned about social ineptitude getting in the way of my job and the relationships I need to build.

I was seeing a counselor but my case has been closed. I'm tapering off meds as I wasn't convinced they were all that helpful, aside for sleep. I don't want to put myself at risk of spinning out like I've done in the past but it seems that's what's happening with the changes going on. Feeling like you're an outlier wherever you go is frustrating. Didn't have anywhere else to take this so on the forum it goes.

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Does you worrying or ruminating about the problem solve the problem?

This is the first thing I want you to think about. Really consider it. Examine past examples that stick out in your mind where you painted a situation, in retrospect, negatively. Did worrying and ruminating about that event, as you are doing now, and your small understanding of it, solve the perceived problem in future situations?

If it did not, then you are only hurting yourself by thinking these thoughts, making yourself the culprit.

You need to be able to focus on the present moment if you are to overcome your issue of "feeling uncomfortable in your own skin." Learning to shut down negative thoughts of the past or future will help serve in this purpose.

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I try to think that I'm overanalyzing but there are some comments and cues I pick up on. In the past, there were obvious ones that I couldn't pass as my mind playing tricks on itself. There were a few most recently as well though I didn't explain.

Ruminating solves nothing. But figuring out what's wrong so that I can better adapt can. I know what's wrong, I just don't know what to do about it. Do I have to change the core of who I am? If so, how do I do that? This doesn't seem like a culture for the timid. Sathor you suggest that I stay present. I agree. What can I do in the present to help myself succeed? I have to be able to somehow shut off my stress response to nonthreatening situations. I can tell myself that everything is fine but fight or flight has a mind of it's own. It's as if I should be constantly sedated.

Edited by afflicted
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I mean to change personalities. To become gregarious, resilient, outspoken, and risk-taking. These are qualities that are valued. People who aren't so bogged down in themselves (inward thinking). I don't know what it is to be one of those people but I can't help but to feel at a disadvantage if I'm not. Survival of the fittest mentality.

I'm just tired of dealing with myself. I've been through counseling over the years and had a plethora of meds thrown at me to little effect. I feel ill-equipped to handle many situations in life. I want the problem to go away so I can get on with it.

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You don't have to change yourself, just your method of communication. Don't get bogged down in the criticism of the moment, that's self-sabotage, these aren't lasting valuations of you-- just comments on you as a worker.

If you find yourself struggling, maybe say something stupid? Who cares what they think, you're not there just to be a likable co-worker.

I don't know what this job entails but I'm sure you have something you can add to it, you gotta believe in yourself.

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@Teddy545

Yes, I see what you're saying. I suppose I should have replaced that with "ambitious". Naturally so. The types that are their own kings/queens of the world. We've all met those people who seem to coast through life without too much trouble. Well adapted. That's the personality I was trying to portray.

My impression over the years is that people don't get me. I never really belonged to any particular crowd or cause. I type at an INFJ which I understand to be the least common of all Myers-Briggs personalities. I also have traits for Avoidant Personality Disorder. Then comes the social phobia and depression. All of this, along with my difficulty in verbalizing, rubs others the wrong way. On several occasions, I've had this mistaken for being standoffish, which is rarely my intent.

@hystericalanduseless

What method of communication should I be using, if you could elaborate on that? And yes, not caring what others think would be great, however, the particular job that I will be doing requires me to. I'd also like to start off well with my coworkers and supervisor.

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communication is vital,yet, it depends on what you want to achieve.

do you want to influence others, or to support others, or just to get along, to keep things sustainable, as in a good community?

first know what you want to achieve when you consider communication.

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communication is vital,yet, it depends on what you want to achieve.

do you want to influence others, or to support others, or just to get along, to keep things sustainable, as in a good community?

first know what you want to achieve when you consider communication.

To be accepted. To develop professional and personal relationships. Also, to help support others as that will be my job.

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Hey Afflicted!

Can I just say your post really made me think. If I was in a job, I feel I could literally have written your post myself as I relate to it so much. I too am an INFJ personality! That's interesting, I never knew this was the rarest personality type! No wonder I've found it easy to make basic emotional connections in my life but never truly feel connected with many people at all! I feel if we met, I would love to be your friend.

Before you mentioned being an INFJ I was actually thinking that you sounded like one. You sound highly assertive and sensitive to your environment but the social anxiety prevents you from acting upon your amazing mind. I really understand where you're coming from.

Years of this constant inward battle is bound to make anyone feel depressed. Your talk about "survival of the fittest" really hit home with me. A few years ago when I was less at peace with myself I would tell my mum things like "I'm the weakest in the pack. I can't cope with anything. I'm over-sensitive and the tiniest thing breaks me. Some people just weren't made for life." Unfortunately for people like me and you Afflicted, we just have to work ten times harder than everyone else. And there's no special medal or acknowledgement from others around us for coming so far on our journey. It is a dog eat dog world out there and people are selfish. We just have to do this for ourselves, as you say, so we can cope with the daily struggle of life. :)

I'm just tired of dealing with myself. I've been through counseling over the years and had a plethora of meds thrown at me to little effect. I feel ill-equipped to handle many situations in life. I want the problem to go away so I can get on with it.

I'm not going to lie, this pained my heart to read. I really wanted to reach out to you after this. I would hug you if I could. I know beyond KNOW how you feel. It's not fair, and it's so difficult. But I promise you can get through this. You don't need to be this transformed confident character. And it's easy for people to just pigeon whole everything into once sentence and say "be yourself, confident with who you are, stop caring what others think, stop over thinking and analysing everything". Like seriously? Are we on a depression forum or...? Surely you guys know its not as easy as that.

It's not like you want to be like that, right? It's not like you can give up a huge part of yourself.

What are you good at? You're an INFJ so you're very assertive to your own feelings and other peoples feelings, and are very sensitive to life. Try to harness these qualities.. :) The world is one big show case so you will have to "show" people this side of you for them to be able to make a connection about it to you. I know the anxiety sucks.. But you'll get there with baby steps. Try to find other INFJs or ENFJs.

If there's anything else troubling you PLEASE feel free to message me and try to reach out to someone who seems more caring on the team. People will never know if you don't tell them and it sucks to be constantly disappointed and frustrated over people being unintentionally ignorant.

Stay strong! <3

Ella

Edited by EllaMight
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I think it is as easy as that. Just shift your focus to something else, like video games, lol. I'm also a bit avoident and I have specific social phobias. These are the things that helped me.

I don't agree with you. It's not easy to stop long formed habits. Sometimes is a life long process. We're constantly improving as people day by day, Video games are awesome! But shifting your focus really doesn't fix the problem. It really doesn't. We're still all on this forum for one problem or another, right? Also there's social phobias and avoidant personality disorders to varying extremes. I think it should be appreciated not a one size fits all. I don't know how severe Afflicted is but some of what he said wanted to make me reach out to him pretty strongly.

You didn't seem like you had communication problems when you were talking to me.

... A forum is very different to real life.

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supporting others requires not just compassion but empathy.

to see the world through anothers eyes is truelly a communion of splendor and it takes effort. its not s a judgement, its not a dependence. its an intellectual and emotion understanding.

what really matters to the other person? thats empathy in a nutshell.

stephen R covey has a good list of books dedicated to empathy

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Fair enough! I personally like help and related understanding which was more what I was more going for. But each to their own!

INFJs respond better to "feeling", probably why I was more aware than I usual of the curt answers people were giving. :)

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Just be assertive as possible. Fake it till you make it. You didn't seem like you had communication problems when you were talking to me.

I lacked assertiveness growing up. I tried to keep to my own business as much as possible so there would be no conflict. Sometimes conflict seeks you out though. As the years went by, I understood that I couldn't get away with that anymore. I still have trouble with presenting assertive and it's a conscious effort. Underneath the surface I can be quite assertive, it's just a matter of getting it past the social filters. Like EllaMight says, it's tricky with the sensitivity (oh yes, I'm also HSP).

Socializing can be taxing for me, especially around unfamiliar people. Make no mistake, there is always anxiety around communicating with others, in person, by phone, or even social media. Writing things out permits me time to convey, accurately, what's in my head so it can be easier to handle. Having to actually come up with things on the fly is a challenge. When we were playing games, I wasn't sure what to say much of the time but the game itself provided a means to ground the conversation. I get by with conversation but it's like pushing a boulder up a hill in my mind. Even talking to family can seem like that sometimes. Also, something about those of us who are socially phobic.. we put a lot of resources into making it appear as though we aren't.

@EllaMight

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I can tell that you understand. I wonder where these people like me are because I've never met them personally. I will definitely shoot you a message once in a while and of course feel free to do the same.

@sutra

Empathy will be huge in my field of work. I will be working with troubled teens and young adults, potentially homeless.

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  • 2 months later...

On YouTube there is a channel called "nfgeeks", about helping NFs own their NFness. I am not an NF but still find it informative and entertaining.

About socializing, my best learning resource has been thepopularclub dot com.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Afflicted. Missed this somehow.

I truly understand a lot of what you discuss here. I also appreciate your sharing here. I could be wrong but before at times have sensed a guard around you when discussing things. I could be projecting of course! but if not then I think I understand that wall quite well.

I have no doubt I would have been diagnosed as AVPD in the past. I still have traits. I do also think a lot if NF things can be hard to adapt to in life and especially in certain situations. I hope you don't mind me bringing it up but it sounds to me like you were brought up in an emotionally barren environment. I suspect being NF and having that happen is particularly damaging. I think it tends to make us be at war with a fundamental part of our nature rather than being able to celebrate it.

When intuition, empathy and sensitivity are the core of ones strength and everything around us pushes us to reject these essential parts of ourselves then interacting with ourselves and the world around us becomes terribly complex and draining. You know I am reading myers briggs stuff at present :rolleyes: (INFP). I was reading a description of the NF's in class in school being being self conscious in the back of the class somewhere whilst the artisans (SP's) and guardians (SJ's) take over the space. It's such a shame that we tend to value authenticity so much and yet analyse ourselves in such a way that makes being present in the moment and therefore authentic feel so hard. The very act of filtering out and double guessing ourselves can be exhausting and make us feel inauthentic. It can also put distance between us and others when our true nature is to engage.

I do very much think these things can improve a whole lot and that this can get better for you. I hope you find a way to be OK with your empathy, introspectiveness and your intuition and let it be free in the world. I don't mean putting yourself out their emotionally without protection as I think we all need to be really aware and careful and look after our feelings and vulnerabilities. But rather to not second guess ourselves all the time. I think invalidation and lack of understanding whilst developing is terribly damaging for emotionally sensitive personality types.

Some people are not going to like you. Some people are not going to understand you. But a whole lot of people will appreciate you and respect you when you start appreciating yourself and accepting who you are. Its not a crime to say the odd clumsy thing or to be socially a little stiff at times. Life is a messy business and that is OK when we learn to trust ourselves more.

Edited by Fizzle
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Hi Fizzle (& INFP),

I can be guarded or very open. I want to be open, as I often am in my line of work, but I know that for men doing so risks being perceived as weak (and being manipulated/taken advantage of). When I had attempted suicide my first time and told my father, who I have a good but distant relationship with, he felt guilty and responded that "I should have raised you to be tougher." Although he meant no harm in it, it really tells me that we fail at raising boys because we have a destructive concept of masculinity. Another example is when I met my ex-girlfriend's best friend at party where she announced that "guys these days are such pussies!" I could go on and on but I'm sure I don't need to because it's quite obvious that men have little room to express themselves (happy or mad, that's about it). Vulnerability can be powerful on paper but it's more complicated in application, just like you're aware that we should be careful about putting ourselves out there.

As far as my work environment goes, I've been pretty open about the fact that I have some personal challenges. In any other job, I wouldn't be so much. Still, I'm the odd one out. One of my coworkers half jokes about me being the target of "social experimentation". Another coworker recently placed her palm to her face when I was trying to contribute to a meeting and struggling to communicate fluidly. Yesterday, she likened me to some character from "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". Funny stuff I suppose but I've never read the books or seen the movie. Yet another coworker seems to want to date me and somehow has it in her head that I feel the same way about her (not at all). Because they seem to misread me, I recently decided to help them out by posting an "INFJ" printout to my cork board in the office as well as a funny stab at myself regarding my social anxiety. My job is draining enough already and I don't need this kind of attention. It causes me to want to guard myself.

Bleh.

Thanks for understanding! At least someone does.

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Hi Afflicted,

Wow. Some of that sounds pretty intense. I have some idea about the environment you are in (not exact of course) and although I don't have personal experience I do have some second hand knowledge as my sister has been in that world and I have two people I am friendly with who are too. With all three I have known them before they were in it and then heard all the goings on as the years have gone by. Conversations and what colleagues discuss are quite different to normal environments from I can tell! The comment about the sisterhood of the travelling pants leaves me a little flummoxed. I did watch it and although I can't really remember it, her comment makes little sense to me. I love that you posted up the INFJ thing! Certain advantages to being in the world you are in.

As for the guy stuff, I can only begin to understand how unhelpful and annoying that must be. Tricky enough being a sensitive female. I have to say that I felt as you do earlier in my life. I won't go into detail but my father had an unhealthy attitude to what he judged as weakness. I am very sorry about your father's comment. I think it exactly represents the lack of understanding people have about suicide and mental health issues. As if "toughening" anyone up ever resulted in anyone being less suicidal. It's the absences and the addition of damaging things that has such a negative effect. I think that total lack of understanding and that automatic reaction of wanting to fix the situation by making people "tougher" is extremely common and regardless of the sex of the sufferer. The trouble when we are sensitive, and especially if AVPD is a part of it, is that words hurt a lot. They create large wounds easily. So instead of people just getting things wrong it becomes a little like being verbally assaulted all the time. Or it was for me anyway. Not making any assumptions on your part.

I know with personality disorder evaluations that things are seldom cut and dried and I have to say that for me I think I had a good nod in the direction of borderline on top of AVPD. None of the usual anger and related issues and little impulsivity (in BPD terms anyway) but some of the other stuff. That description of feeling like one is walking around without skin and like an exposed nerve felt very true to life for me. It no longer does than goodness. I can be very sensitive to comments but it is usually more PTSD related. Comments from others no longer wound me in the way they did before and as a result I think it allows me to be buffeted around by the inevitable stuff without feeling totally overwhelmed by it. I guess I would say I now mostly live with and accept the INFP stuff and that some of the difficulties that can come along for the ride are no longer there and most of the AVPD no longer there. That leaves me still sensitive and highly intuitive and different but in a way less uncomfortable or painful.

When it comes to guardedness it is so hard isn't it? I was trying to think of my stance on this and the best I can explain it is that I think it is wise considering who we show what to. I am still vulnerable in many senses. I try to think if they have earned that access to me or not. Separate to this though is the second guessing of myself and filtering myself out because I think I am not acceptable in some way or other. Trying to pretzel myself into something I think others want me to be at the expense of my own self respect. I have come to realise the cost to my self esteem when I essentially betray myself in some way or other. Also that being accepted when I am being untrue to self does not give me anything whereas anything when true to self does. Not in a way where I am overly exposed unnecessarily and rather that I am not ashamed of who I am internally. Still a process of course. Anyway. Bah blah bah...

Edited by Fizzle
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  • 1 month later...

Well it's four months into my job and I can't say I feel any different. I'm way too concerned about what my coworkers, supervisor, and other professionals think of me. I tell myself that it doesn't matter and that I can't control what they may think so forget about it. I wish that was good enough for me.

Attention finds me. I'm extremely self-conscious, tense. Comments about my image and demeanor reinforce this. I can sense the discomfort - I'm the odd, quiet one in the group. I try to portray myself as if I don't care and I think it works most of the time. It's draining to keep up.

I was at a training over the past few days and everyone seems so practiced in happy.. an overflow of "bubbly", engaging personalities. It shouldn't bother me but it does, in part because it draws attention to the person that's not (me). It's like a competition to see who can stand out the least.

F*** it anyways.

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Yeah, it's about focusing on the present moment. The thing is I already pay full attention to what I'm doing.. I'm highly self-conscious, very sensitive to what's going on around me which keeps my baseline anxiety level high. I would say it's a great exercise to do alone and in the right place (like a park).. but....

I'm constantly aware of my posture, breathing, foot/hand placement, eye contact, and all of that... even when I'm alone. That sucks. My gut is sucked in all of the time. I'm very tense and uncomfortable.. shoulders, back, you name it. Yuck. In short, everything is a conscious effort.

Edited by afflicted
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I know how that is. I have a hard time with deep breathing because I end up hyperventilating. Maybe try to be aware of making yourself more comfortable. I have to make sure my sholders are relaxed a lot or I'm tense all the time.

Do you ever notice other peoples posture, breathing, ect?

Yes, I certainly do. I'm always aware of how others present. I'm always trying to read them.

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Something you might also get out of that is that the none depressed people aren't reading you that much.

I wish I could believe this but it's tough when you're presented with evidence to the contrary. I don't think it's irrational at all to think that people are in a perpetual mindset of sizing each other up.

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It seems like I shouldn't even be experiencing this at all. This can't be good for my health.

Something that stood out from last week.. one day I walk in and ask the front office staff (people I don't really know) for help with something. The three of them all coughed and cleared their throat in succession when I greeted them. Now why the hell would they do that? Just a week before this, I caught one of them take a quick look at me and then tell her coworker, in a hushed voice, "That guy scares me". What the **** is that?

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