I haven’t participated in Working On Us by Beckie of
for a while, so I thought I would this week. THe topic of this week’s mental health prompt is rejection.
1. Have you ever been rejected by family/friends because of your mental illness/disorder?
No. I think it’s mostly simply because I usually do not tell people about my mental illness or such things, or if I do it’s very briefly if necessary. I have experienced some negative or invalidating reactions, in particular from my Dad, which often felt very hurtful to me, but I wouldn’t call that rejection. Rather a lack of understanding and flexibility in thinking. My Mum is very supportive in all sorts of practical ways and I wouldn’t do without her, she is also more open-minded than my Dad, she tries to understand it but it’s often not easy for her as she’s never experienced things that I have, and often says hurtful things more or less unintentionally. I used to struggle much more with that but I’ve never thought that it could be their way of rejecting me. Other people are far more likely to reject me because of my blindness than mental illness.
2. Has anyone mistreated you to the point you felt like you were nothing?
Don’t know if it made me exactly feel “as if I were nothing” but I had experienced some emotional abuse at school, particularly from one of the boarding school staff, who was humiliating me in a veiled way and diminishing me and all I did, which caused me a lot of confusion and feelings of inadequacy, and made my self-esteem drop quite a bit, and it never was particularly high. It took me a lot of time, only as an adult, to figure all that out and make some sense of that situation, because for a long time I felt like it kind of wasn’t real and that I perhaps misunderstood her words or actions or something like that. There were also many other situations there where I felt like people were making me feel very shitty about myself but it wasn’t as bad and I think wouldn’t even affect me as much as it did if not my overall life situation – that I was miles away from my family and could never fully adapt there. – When I got older I frequently experienced quite spectacular reactions of people to my disability, like, I assume some people must be terribly afraid of catching optic nerve hypoplasia from me or something, I’ve had people treating me like I was a mass of air. That felt very unpleasant for sure and as if I was nothing to them, but I can’t say I cared very much or felt significantly hurt, it was frustrating and annoying, but more funny than seriously hurtful, it’s funny when people are so silly that they’re so scared of you that they can’t talk coherently when they see you. 😀 It’s paradoxical when people are scared of you and you’re a sociophobic.
3. Have you ever confronted the person/persons that have made you feel this way?
No. When it comes to that staff person, I was a child then, I didn’t really feel safe talking to her at all, let alone confronting her, also, I’m sure you guys know how it is with toxic people, emotional abuse and all that. I actually had no clear idea what was going on. I wouldn’t think it was abuse or that she was treating me wrong in any way. First because I was a child, even if fairly intelligent and enjoying observing and analysing people’s behaviours, and second because it’s all always so veiled and subtle, I wouldn’t know how to talk about it to her and not sound irrational or something. I think I would still have trouble in such a situation if it happened to me now, it’s just tricky. I tried talking to another staff member who was a really competent person and whom I quite liked, but she didn’t really get it, I honestly don’t think she believed it because that other woman was always so positive and everyone saw it, so how could she do such things? I only talked to her because my Mum told me to do so.
4. If the answer to #3 is “Yes”, was anything resolved?
When talking to that staff member didn’t help my Mum talked to her – that other staff member, not the one who was nasty to me – and things have changed a little for good, but not significantly.
5. Has rejection changed you in any way? ie… Self-Esteem, Depression, and/or changed your opinion the way you feel towards the human race as a whole?
Wellyes it did. I have avoidant personality disorder in which fear of being rejected is one of the features, and it often develops in people who have experienced it early in life. I had never thought about it this way, but some time ago my Mum wanted to talk about it and her theory is that when I went to that school (I was 5) I might have felt rejected by my family and confused about what was happening. I just never saw it this way, I always thought it was normal I must be there and that the problem is rather that I can’t adjust there and accept the situation. But perhaps when I was 5 I didn’t understand what it was all about, why I had to be away from home, and why people were coming and going, or taking me home for a few days and then leaving me there again. This theory makes sense to me now. But obviously I don’t blame my parents now or anything like that because I know they didn’t feel like they had a choice and their motive wasn’t that they wanted to get rid of me. But I think such an experience could successfully make me more sensitive to rejection. I wouldn’t say this is the strongest AVPD symptom in me, like that the primary reason why I avoid people, why I struggle with social situations, why I don’t do socialising is because I’m afraid of rejection. I don’t think that’s most important here, though at the same time it’s hard to say what is that core thing, I just think it’s a mixture of loads of things. I’ve heard about many people with this disorder struggling with this particular thing the most of all. For me, I’m not desperate for acceptance from everyone, I won’t typically tell you that I like something just so we would agree and be friends and would like me or I won’t tell you my opinion on something because yours may be different. I don’t go around in search of people who will accept me and if some relationship doesn’t go well or if I see that someone doesn’t really feel the connection I won’t desperately try to keep them. I do value my individuality even if at the same time I hate it because it makes me feel like such a flippin’ alien. I guess when I interact with people, they may see I’m anxious or depressed or such things, but I think I’m pretty good with hiding my AVPD related difficulties in daily life or in casual interactions with people, but perhaps that’s just what I think. I have no problem with, for example, people I know online for a little while when they suddenly stop writing back to me or something, unless there are some other things involved, but when it’s people I feel attached to that reject me or I feel that they reject me it’s crushing. For me, the fear of rejection manifests more in the way that I hate being clingy, for example, I just hate clinginess, both in myself and in other people. I don’t want to feel like a burden for people or someone needy, either emotionally or in any other way, yet I often strongly feel like I am. I often don’t let myself close enough to people I would like to be close with, and keep at least a bit of a distance, ’cause then they can’t reject me. Or if I have a possibility, first I do an in-depth observation and analysis of a person before I start talking to them. With people with whom I am more close with I always sort of have a radar on, which is in a way very yucky and a bit paranoid, I think I have this particular tendency from my Dad, but then again, I’ll do everything for them not to realise that. Often I’m just simply scared of closeness with people. I’ve realised some time ago that I often test people that I meet and that I feel we could be friends, or when I just feel very insecure, I do it often almost unconsciously, kind of automatically. I virtually only realised I’m doing it when I got diagnosed and was reading about it a lot, I had no clearer idea before that. It feels quite yucky too but you do have to protect your brain don’t you? You’ve got only one and when it’s already screwed up to begin with you have to be careful. I suppose they’re not aware of that testing thing, or maybe it’s just my wishful thinking. It feels rather gross when you think about yourself that you’re “testing people”, but that’s true, even if not always fully voluntary. If the test is negative, I have the possibility to retreat before they reject me, it makes me feel more in control of my own life and feelings. I’m often afraid though that I would become attached to someone so much that I won’t be able to notice it in case they would no longer accept me for whatever reason or never truly did, and then they would suddenly reject me without me even being able to prepare for it emotionally in advance and accept it.
6. Or, has rejection done the opposite and made your stronger and more resilient?
I don’t think so, but I do think my tolerance for it has increased over time.