I Don’t “Fit In”
I Feel Like An Outcast
Do you struggle with thoughts of “fitting in”? Do you try your hardest to be “normal” but still feel like an outcast? If so, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and assume you either have an anxiety or depressive disorder. If you do, you are not alone.
Growing up, I felt the same way. As I stated in the blog introduction, I grew up poor and I suffer from a combination of anxiety and depressive disorders. Life was revolved around being “perfect”. Some of my disorders are genetic, but others may have developed over time due to the environment I grew up in.
Welcome to very first post of the first series on this blog – ‘I Am That I Am’. This series is going to introduce you to me, my story, and hopefully show you how I can help you to live a healthier life. As my close friends and family already know (but don’t completely understand), but I long felt uncomfortable stating, is that I suffer from several physical and mental ailments. I’ve decided to write this series for several reasons, including:
- Help fight stigma and stereotypes of sufferers,
- Give hope and support to sufferers,
- Educate sufferers and non-sufferers alike,
- Help and inspire you through my story and products I use and trust.
First I’ll state what each mental disorder that I suffer from is (physical will be covered in the next post); each followed by a brief description. Then I’ll discuss a little about myself and my experience this far in life and what I’m doing to cope and find relief.
“Bipolar disorder is a serious brain illness. It is also called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. People with bipolar disorder go through unusual mood changes. Sometimes they feel very happy and “up,” and are much more energetic and active than usual. This is called a manic episode. Sometimes people with bipolar disorder feel very sad and “down,” have low energy, and are much less active. This is called depression or a depressive episode.Bipolar disorder is not the same as the normal ups and downs everyone goes through. The mood swings are more extreme than that and are accompanied by changes in sleep, energy level, and the ability to think clearly. Bipolar symptoms are so strong that they can damage relationships and make it hard to go to school or keep a job.” – National Institute of Mental Health
Borderline Personality Disorder (also known as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder):
“Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a condition characterized by difficulties regulating emotion. This means that people who experience BPD feel emotions intensely and for extended periods of time, and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event. This difficulty can lead to impulsivity, poor self-image, stormy relationships and intense emotional responses to stressors.” – NAMI.org
People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.” – National Institute of Mental Health
“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that centers on the inability to manage emotions effectively. The disorder occurs in the context of relationships: sometimes all relationships are affected, sometimes only one. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood. While some persons with BPD are high functioning in certain settings, their private lives may be in turmoil.” – BorderlinePersonalityDisorder.com
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
“PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.” – National Institute of Mental Health
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. But PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime.People with PTSD continue to have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.” – American Psychiatric Association
Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder):
“Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.” – Mayo-Clinic
“Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is a form of chronic depression. It’s a relatively new diagnosis that combines the two earlier diagnoses dysthymia and chronic major depressive disorder. Like other types of depression, PDD causes continuous feelings of deep sadness and hopelessness. These feelings can affect your mood and behavior as well as physical functions, including appetite and sleep. As a result, people with the disorder often lose interest in doing activities they once enjoyed and have difficulty finishing daily tasks.” – HealthLine.com
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
“Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with OCD feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life.The frequent upsetting thoughts are called obsessions. To try to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called compulsions. People with OCD can’t control these obsessions and compulsions.For many people, OCD starts during childhood or the teen years. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times.” – National Institute of Mental Health
My real problem didn’t start right away. In my early years I thought I was just a normal kid in a normal family. But as I started making friends, I quickly became envious of them. I’m not going to plaster all my family issues on here, but I will say it was rough. I didn’t understand then why things happened the way they did, but I do now after talking to those involved about our past. Understanding the past, however, doesn’t erase what happened or the voices from my past in my head as a result; nor does it fix a few seemingly irreparable relationships. A lot of what I’m going to say here I never really told anyone because my dad was big on the idea of “what happens in this house stays in this house”. And I was also largely in fear of what others would think of me because of my life.
As I said above, life had to be “perfect”. Chores were never done good enough or fast enough, I couldn’t get anything under an A+ without getting yelled at, the slightest things went wrong and it was as if the world ended. By slightest thing, let me give an example or two:
- One day my dad came home early (I don’t remember if he was working two or three jobs at that point) and set up as always to eat dinner in the den. Mostly it was wrestling, occasionally sitcoms. We didn’t have a table down there, so we would use food trays. My kid sister, I think she was only 3 or 4 at the time, just wanted to say high and proceeded to climb onto his lap underneath the tray. The tray shook and spilled his drink. His response was to toss the entire tray over and throw her across the couch. Then proceeded to scream about his wasted food.
- Years after that episode, at a drag race event we had purchased some hot dogs and drinks. We may have had funnel cake as well. My youngest brother (a teenager at the time) was carrying the tray with our drinks. My dad’s telling him to slow down so he doesn’t spill the drinks (we were all walking pretty slow). Well, a whole drop came over the top of the cup and he proceeded to slam the tray to the ground out of my brothers hands. Then went on about all the money that was wasted on those drinks….allegedly by my brother.
- Every spring and summer we had to clean the yard. We used electric hedge clippers. On more than one occasion I was to do it without my dad. Just about every time I did the clipping, it wasn’t good enough. When he came home to look at it, he immediately would have to grab the clippers and go re-do it because he would find so much as one leaf just a hair longer than the rest, then yell because we now had hedges of branches with no leaves. As if it was my fault. He felt the need to re-trim the entire hedges because of one leaf a hair out of place. When he did the clipping, we were yelled at because we couldn’t seem to rake up and bag the mess fast enough. After yelling he’d proceed to throw the clippers down and I’d have to put them away.
That’s just an example of how things were. Not that I’m trying to paint my dad as some evil incarnate, we since agreed to put the past in the past after talking about the past and the why behind it. He explained he was frustrated with how things were with my mom and at work. And my mom wasn’t any better. My dad was non-existant due to work, and when he was there noone wanted to be home lest we walked on egg shells. He had a poor way of dealing with stress and took it out on everyone. But my mom, who was home all the time, seemingly didn’t care. No concern what we were doing at school, where we were going, what we did. Only thing she was concerned about was watching her soaps, diving into the bottle and hiding from my dad. She seemed to favorite my sisters over us boys as well.
When I was young it was hard to notice certain things. But as I got older, I picked up on the fact my mom was dumping vodka and other alcoholic beverages into her coffee first thing in the morning. We had empty alcohol bottles stashed all over the house. Her life was alcohol and soap operas on the tv.
Again, this was addressed and is being left in the past. This isn’t being stated to make my parents look evil but to help you see the environment I grew up in and help you to see what may have caused my depressive and anxiety disorders.
Needless to say, this caused problems with all of us. And as stated above, we all spoke about the past and uncovered the why and have since moved forward. The only unfortunate thing is that my parents, I don’t believe, realized then or now how much of an effect our past had on us and had things been directed properly and the eventual divorce happening sooner than it did, that a lot of these problems most of us are suffering from wouldn’t even be an issue. But knowing the “why” it happened, albeit bringing some sort of clarity, doesn’t change what the past caused.
As I grew older, and more envious of the seemingly perfect families (who did still have “normal” family issues), I also began to notice I was different. I had a hard time talking to people, constantly worried about what people thought of me, and had an increasingly difficult time making new friends and meeting new people. Not only did I know I was somehow different, but people seemed to know I was just by looking at me; despite the fact that I dressed the same, spoke the same, and was into all the same things. Conversations always started pretty awkward when meeting new people and quickly became awkward talking to those I knew. I was literally so unsure of myself I couldn’t properly express my thoughts.
Can you relate to this so far?
In high school, I had a small tight-knit group of friends. Largely outcasts in their own right. Looking back, they were the truest friends anyone could have asked for. They didn’t judge based on physical or mental abnormalities or disorders. I say did because several of them met an unfortunate young passing. One friend passed due to a physical ailment, others passed due to depression and how they decided to cope with it. But I’m not stating any of this looking for a pity party. I’m trying to prove a point.
Despite having a small circle of friends, I wanted everyone to like me. You might be thinking this is normal of all kids. But I was like this most of my life, and to the extreme. I couldn’t handle rejection at all and didn’t understand why the “cool” kids bullied me or what made them “cool” and the rest of us not.
The earliest memory I have that I feel triggered this obsession with needing everyone to like me and what exactly made me different goes back to the first grade. I was playfully fighting over my lunchbox with a friend. Little did I know that fight would forever destroy our friendship and cement me in the class of the “uncool”. We were on either side of the lunch table when she began fighting over my lunchbox, playfully. At first we were laughing and enjoying ourselves. But I got to the point I just wanted to eat my food. So I leaned forward to pick my knees up onto the bench. When I did this, I fell forward and “kissed” her hand. It wasn’t an actual kiss, my lips just happened to hit her hand. She immediately let go of the lunchbox, which launched me backards, and began screaming “eww, he kissed me!”. I went into a state of panic.
Normal kids play like that. We all know this. And if I was a normal kid, I would have been able to play it off. However, I went into a full state of panic. All I can think was “I didn’t kiss you! I fell!”. But that didn’t matter. All that mattered was she was disgusted at the idea of it. Between her childhood disgust and my not being able to handle the situation, I instantly got marked as “uncool” and she would never talk to me again from that day forward.
That may sound silly to some of you, but my home life played a huge role in who I was and how I responded to things. I wanted to eat, not only because I was hungry, but also because food was scarce in the house. And I was ill-prepared to handle that situation because of my home life. As children, we learn from our parents how to handle different situations. I was never taught how to handle that type of situation by watching my parents because my parents seldom had their friends over and rarely did I get to be around them infront of their friends. All I knew was my mom responded to everything by ignoring it and my dads response to most things was anger. So what was I to do? Get angry? Try to hide? So I panicked and went on the defensive.
At home, aside from the examples I gave above, I often heard I was a failure, that I would never succeed at anything in life, and that I was a mistake. Not exactly the best morale or self-confidence building statements to hear growing up. All these statements did for me is make me largely unsure of myself, questioning everything I do; and gave me the obsession with being perfect. Ofcourse, because everything has to be perfect, I either would seldom complete projects I started, do the projects over and over again because I felt it wasn’t good enough, or I simply wouldn’t even start because of my fear of failure.
For the first time, that day in first grade, I truly felt different from everyone else. I was hurt, anxious, and angry all at the same time. But I didn’t know why. How is a 7 year old kid supposed to justify such feelings? More importantly, why should a 7 year old kid feel the way I did that day? Things only continued to get worse as I got older.
I was obsessed with trying to understand what made me different. So in high school I started studying psychology. One day in psychology class we covered a topic that almost described me perfectly. Then a few years later (early 20’s) my worst nightmare came true when I went to a psychologist and he diagnosed me. I didn’t want to believe what he was saying at all.
At the age of 16, when I got my first “real” job I discovered all the problems I had at school I was also having at work. I have a large work experience, in large part from working two or three jobs at a time. But the longest I have ever been able to hold a job was two years. Fired from most, quit a couple. Even the business world hasn’t been easy. In 11 years, I have either been a partner in or owned six businesses; a few of which were network marketing.
I’m not going to go into the countless reasons that led to my job firings or quitting. But I will say, as far as the businesses go, I do feel at the time I did my best to make them work. Two of those businesses failed simply due to wrong industry in the wrong area at the wrong time; basically lack of research on my part. But the business I have now I love, using lessons learned from the previous failures I will make this one a success. But that’s another story for another time.
At work I felt as though the only ones that I got along with only spoke to me because they felt bad for me or viewed me as different. Does this sound familiar?
There were also those co-workers and bosses that I just couldn’t get along with. I was friendly with everyone, but these people seemingly had it out for me. At least that’s how my mind percieved it. The harder I tried to be “liked” and “fit in”, the more weird I appeared. The harder I worked and more I accomplished, the more my bosses would yell and find something wrong with my work.
I didn’t like being home because I didn’t know when the temporary peace would end or what would end it at any particular time or day. I also despised going to work, something I once enjoyed and used as an escape, because the work environment was seemingly the same as home; just different names and faces. Most jobs I had, the excitement would only last a week or two. Though my first job I loved until the end. I’m not going to go into all the details, but towards the end of my first job I got into a fight initiated by a co-worker. I tried to avoid any physical altercations. But the manager sided with the co-worker, which led to statements being made that led to my firing. Had this job for two years to the day before I was fired because of an incident that was out of my control and my inability to just move on and deal with it.
Now, some things I went through may be due to a combination of my disorders. But I’m sure you can relate at least in part to what I’ve said. The feeling like you’re somehow different, hard to make friends, feeling like your friends or co-workers pity you.
You may have a hard time keeping a job, or at least keeping a good paying job. Or you may have had some success in your career. Either way, you feel stressed. Constantly worrying about what others are saying about you, wondering if or when you’re going to be fired, wondering if your work is good enough. But despite all that, you smile and try hard to be “normal”.
Looking back on a lot of my experiences, I find that I am apparently like-able. But it still poses the question “why?”. Did they pity me? Did I appear different to them? Or did they genuinely see me for me?
One such case, that when it happened made me feel good, is when I ran into a former co-worker. I used to work at 7eleven in several different locations on Long Island, NY. At one location I had met a co-worker that I got along with pretty well. Then, ultimately, I moved on to another job. The co-worker and I never met up outside work, so it was about five years later I bumped into him at a 7eleven in Brooklyn, NY. He saw me first and wrestled with the crowd (huge coffee rush) to get to me and say hi. Though, admittedly, I didn’t recognize him at first.
Being recognized and liked enough he had to say hi and catch up made me feel pretty good. And did show me that I am apparently like-able and I am seen by some for who I am. But this didn’t sway my anxiety at all. Around the same time this happened, I also found out that my former business partners wife believed something was wrong with me just by looking at me day one she met me. Which only gave credence to all the looks I would recieve on occasion from the general public. All of which only fed my anxiety.
It’s not exactly easy to go through life when you’re nervous talking to people in general, and multiply that 100X for job interviews. And then feeling worthless everytime the boss dis-approves your work or you get fired. What hurts even more is family and friends don’t or won’t see the pain you’re going through or the struggle because of it.
Why Am I The Outcast?
Those who suffer from anxiety and depressive disorders are constantly wondering “why?”. Why doesn’t anyone like me? Why does everyone pity me? Why does my boss nag me but praise everyone else? Does this sound familiar?
This was me most of my life. Sometimes even today, minus the boss part since I’m now my own boss. School, home, at work, I couldn’t help but think everyone was talking about me, laughing at me, looking down at me. I was essentially the black sheep. I understand first hand what those who suffer go through. I was there. Voices from my past still haunt me to this day.
Much of my life, I have felt that people deliberately prey on me because I’m somehow noticeably different or they can somehow pick up on what’s wrong with me. They then use my own mind against me in their twisted attempt to express power and control.
This is in large part due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This can also be genetic, caused by your environment, or a combination thereof. Our brain produces serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, and a few others that regulates our moods, emotions, sleep, etc. If too much of either one, or not enough of either one, are produced, this could create our disorders. The degree of the disorder would then be determined on how off the chemicals in the brain are, and our ability to cope. Though depression and anxiety isn’t just a chemical imbalance. As stated above, many factors, such as genetics, our stress, trauma, etc all play a role in developing depression and/or anxiety. For an in-depth explanation of causes of depression, see Harvard Medical School, WebMD, and HealthLine; and for anxiety see MayoClinic and WebMD.
Most of us who are diagnosed with anxiety or depressive disorders are prescribed medications. But seldom are we taught coping skills. We’re told to have faith in the prescription being given to us. Where as lower-degree disorders may see optimal results through such, higher-degree or more severe levels need more than just a prescription. We need to learn how to cope.
Learning coping skills takes time and can be very frustrating, which turns many sufferers into anti-social introverts. Though many you would never guess are introverts based on their career choice. For example, I’m an introvert but I’ve been a pastor for the past eight years (at the time of this writing).
What’s helping me cope, minus medication, is knowing I’m helping so many people in different areas of their lives. And you too can learn not only how to cope, but get relief from your disorder and live a fulfilling and successful life.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Was/is any part of my life similar to what you’re experiencing?
How To Find Relief
Many, as mentioned above, find relief in meds and meds alone. But many more don’t and even more aren’t on meds whether they choose not to take them or they were never officially diagnosed. I’m not stating to come off your meds if you take any, so please don’t misconstrue what I’m about to say.
I stopped taking my meds and refuse to take pharmaceuticals after doing extensive research into health and wellness. Many medications contain flouride, which is actually rat poison. Aside from the fact it’s poison, it also calcifies the pineal gland and could cause adverse effects on your health later in life. That’s only part of what I learned, so follow this blog so you don’t miss a post.
After realizing pharmaceuticals are essentially poisonous to our health and may cause additional ailments down the road, I wanted to find something I could do to help balance the chemical imbalance in my brain and help me to feel relief from the stress and anxiety I feel everyday. What I found is that something so simple as pure nutrition can do just that.
Pure nutrition is more than just eating the right foods. Eating non-GMO and organic is a plus, but our foods just don’t have the nutritional value it once did. This is because our soil isn’t as nutrient rich as it used to be. So it’s beneficial to supplement our diets, regardless how well we eat. I was truly taken back when I discovered this.
Over the years I have tried just about every product on the market. I would say all, but new companies and brands are popping up everyday; so I’ll say most. I’ve tried traditional brands as well as those from network marketing companies. I finally found a product that not only has non-GMO ingredients, is grown and processed here in the United States in an FDA approved facility, but is also specially formulated to guarantee maximum absorption.
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Thanks to this product, I’m gaining more control over my stress and anxiety. I’m also seeing a change in my depression. It’s a specially formulated nootropic supplement. There is nothing like it on the market. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or disorder. I do, however, feel that it could help you based on how it’s helping me.
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- not stressing the small stuff,
- not worrying about the small stuff,
- being able to focus on you, your family, and your career (one that you truly enjoy).
Wouldn’t that be amazing? I’ll admit, less worry and stress over the small stuff does feel strange in the beginning. But it is so very worth it to go through life without anymore racing thoughts. Instead you can focus on one thing at a time, and only that which needs your focus. No more unnecessary worries or thoughts creeping in.
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