I had a single motivation when choosing to express the extent of my mental and physical health struggles at the start of December.
The emotions that were expressed in those words were weighing me down to a point where I couldn’t function to any degree. The motivation was to simply express myself. To translate the confusing, overwhelming and overpowering emotions into words.
It was not, in my mind at least, a cry for help. I wasn’t begging and pleading for others to make a difference. More an attempt to help myself.
Help and support, however, arrived in incredible amounts. For a brief period, the emotions that were overwhelming changed from crushing to empowering. A belief that I’m better than the person my situation makes me think I am, and a belief that others believe I’m a better person than I think I am.
For the majority of my life, and certainly from the start of my teenage years onwards, I have been made to feel isolated, excluded and marginalised. I have made myself feel isolated, excluded and marginalised. Never have I felt so appreciated, supported and valued as I did in the evenings that followed writing that post.
Strangers who had made no interaction with me before, providing me with words of care and encouragement. Words that many have probably forgotten sending, but words that I will always treasure and value.
People I knew, going out of their way to offer support they simply didn’t need to, but meant so much. Not just showing that they cared, but showing appreciation for what I do, and for me as an individual.
The handwritten message on a shirt sent by Johnnie Jackson, the invitation from Chris Powell to be a guest at a Derby County game, and the handwritten letter from Bradley Pritchard (which I have chosen not to share). Three people who I idolise offering incredible levels of personal support. I don’t believe I can make anyone truly appreciate just how much those acts mean to me.
This incredible amount of support in general, that I didn’t call for or even expect to a single percent, is something I’ll never truly be able to express my appreciation for. Every word, every act. I truly value.
I feel like the extent of it all means it should be lifechanging. Or at least have provided me with tools to fight against how I feel. I should feel anything but alone, isolated and unwanted.
So it is with extreme guilt that I must admit the previous few months have been unbearable. I feel like my overall position has got worse. I’m certain that I have become even more trapped in a state of isolation and loneliness.
Guilt, because so many people in so many different ways went out of their way to make me feel like I was anything but alone. That I feel even more alone, or at least even more crushed by this sense of loneliness, feels like I’m disregarding everything that was done for me. That I’ve just ignored it all, and not given it the value it warranted.
I don’t know how I prove it, but I want everyone reading this to know and believe that that simply isn’t the case. On countless occasions have I referred back to that support in my mind to control my emotions and make myself believe I don’t deserve to feel like I do.
That Jackson shirt, the tip of this iceberg of support, sitting in the corner of my room, as a reminder that people do care, and I need to keep fighting against how I feel for the people that care. The blunt reality is that Jackson shirt, and everything that goes with it, has quelled suicidal thoughts on more than one occasion.
The support is a motivator as much as it is an arm around the back. I try so hard to use it as a motivator. But since the turn of the year, I’ve been failing.
In other regards too, but it’s the loneliness that is really destroying me. It’s the loneliness that I should be using this support to address, but instead it’s only got worse.
I guess loneliness to most people is the idea of being alone. Something that involves having no company, and can be addressed by finding some company. Loneliness (isolation, marginalisation, worthlessness, self-loathing etc etc) is much more complicated in my mind.
There is, obviously, an aspect of it that reflects the traditional notion of what loneliness is. I’m alone. I don’t really feel like I have any friends, I spend almost all of my time on my own.
I don’t have the social skills, the opportunity, or the mental capability to address the fact I’m always on my own. I can’t communicate with people, I’m struggling more than ever to leave the house unless my dad is with me, and anxiety and depression prevents me from engaging in conversation with any sort of confidence.
I do make attempts to address it. I attempt to converse with people online, but every exchange leaves me fearful and anxious. Constantly scared about how the person I’m talking to perceives me, and most of the time I just retreat.
Something that stops me from talking to people I used to be friends with. A fear that the reason they’ve stopped talking to me is because of their perception of me. Fighting against these perceptions, that are really just perceptions I have of myself that I believe others share, isn’t something I’m good at.
And opportunities to address that loneliness would scare me. I want to hide, and want to be alone, and yet I hate it and want to fight it. The idea of being around others is terrifying. I’m just stuck.
There are times when I do challenge that loneliness. I think the only one that actually makes some sort of difference is when I’m refereeing. I adopt a confident character, that can handle both conversation and being in control, but it is just a character.
A character to the extent that the moment I finish refereeing, a return to the fragile mess I normally am. I begin to fear that the players and coaches involved in the game I’ve refereed despise not just as a referee, but as a person. I feel hated, having felt confident and calm while actually having a whistle in my mouth.
I think that that’s the basis of this loneliness, this isolation, this marginalisation. I can’t help but despise myself. I can’t help but believe everyone else despises me to an even greater extent.
It’s why that support I received a few months ago was so important, and why I do truly value it. And it’s also why it’s incredibly upsetting that that support hasn’t challenged my perception of myself, or how others perceive me. The evidence is there, and yet I can’t accept it.
I know where, in addition to the general state of my mental health, this comes from. This self-loathing, that makes me believe everyone else loathes me in similar ways. That makes me look for the smallest, smallest thing that others a suggestion someone has a negative opinion of me, and turn it into a showing of hatred.
I’ve always been alone. Always isolated. Always bullied.
Bullied throughout school, and the feeling that everyone was against me always there. Sometimes not just a feeling, and actually expressed. So many instances of people, classes even, collectively ganging up against me in words or actions.
Bullying that led to me having to deal with anorexia for the best part of two years. The transformation of my mind into an anorexic one where this sense of loneliness and fear that everyone dislikes me really comes from. Long recovered from anorexia, but never shifting the perception of myself that I believe others have.
Bullied in a similar manner once I went to university, and a huge part of the reason I have worsened to such an extent over the previous three or four years. Locked in my room, knowing those outside of it were all against me. The feeling that everyone is against me just something I haven’t been able to shake.
In those periods, academic success was my saving grace. It doesn’t matter that I’m lonely and disliked because I’m getting As. The amount of times a teacher told me to ignore the bullying because I would have a better life in the future countless.
Now I feel like I’ve wasted that academic success, and feel I have another reason for people to dislike me. Constant panic attacks about being a failure, and a failure in the eyes of others. I certainly don’t have the better life those teachers promised.
Another reason to feel isolated and marginalised.
It’s something I feel when watching Charlton. Nothing to do with the state of the club, and everything to do with me. Believing that people around me dislike me without logical reason.
Maybe it’s the fact people I don’t know might know who I am, or at least know I’m the chap behind this blog and dislike me accordingly. Sometimes I wish I’d never started this blog, and didn’t have this persona. I just want to hide.
Maybe I should just bin off the blog, and attempt to hide. Maybe it’s holding me back in my attempts to get better. But it’s a distraction, a focus, and something I get a sense of enjoyment from.
At the same time, there’s a loneliness that comes from this blog. The fear that people reading it dislike what I’ve produced. That’s not to say that I should be criticised or questioned, it’s more the criticism and questioning that I don’t receive, that I effectively make up and believe exists.
And I guess, on top of all that, is a certain loneliness that comes from being unwell. I can’t do justice to the feeling of detachment and isolation that comes after having a seizure. Seizure provide plenty of physical pain, but the mental impact eclipses that.
It means several days in bed, lacking both the mental stability and energy to engage in life. It’s not just direct pain, but reaffirmation of my loneliness. How restricted I am, or at least how restricted I feel, and how isolated my situation has left me.
A sense of being different, too. The medication, the hospital appointments, the symptoms. I can’t have a normal life, and as such it’s hard to believe everyone sees me as different.
All of this loneliness, all of these aspects that create a sense of loneliness, filtered through a mind that’s crippled by depression and anxiety.
The loneliness increases. The depression and anxiety increase. The loneliness increases. Stuck.
And that’s really what the overall feeling is, I think. One of being stuck or trapped.
Stuck and trapped in this sense of loneliness, despite that support that should have allowed me to break free. Battling against a sense of guilt, that I’ve let people down, and just a simple sense of sadness, that I’ve not been able to make any sort of progress. I have to keep telling myself, and I feel like I have to keep telling everyone else, that I do want to get better despite the fact I’m getting nowhere.
I don’t really know what this is. It’s not a cry for help, or that would make many of the words I’ve said meaningless. Besides, I don’t know what would actually help, and I don’t know how to help myself.
I guess it’s just a consequence of feeling like this, after a time where I briefly believed I no longer would, since the start of the year and needing a way of expressing it. It’s probably a mess and doesn’t make much sense, I’ve just tried to translate my thoughts into words again.
Sorry for posting stuff like this on a Charlton blog. There’ll be a report from Shrewsbury tomorrow, so miserable readings about football will soon replace miserable readings about real life. Thank you for reading.