Loopy, Lonely and Lost

Hell is other people.

Posted on: October 1, 2011

Lately, I’ve been feeling like, eventually, I’ve learnt to take care of myself. At least a little bit. I’ve been shouldering my own burdens, and mostly staying upright, not collapsing under the weight of them. There have been some hairy moments, but I’ve been feeling like my strength, such as it is, is just about enough to keep me functioning.

There are two people at work who’ve been (or claim to be) developing mental health problems. And they’re doing what all vulnerable people seem to do: latching on to me.

Everywhere I go, it happens. I don’t know why. Perhaps they sense a kindred spirit, or perhaps they believe the heartless bitch persona and they think I can cope with anything.

But I can’t. I can listen, sometimes. I can give advice, occasionally. But I can’t cope with the endless crying and sharing and revelations.

Because any supportive relationship I have is one way. It’s mostly my fault – I can’t confide in people, I can’t trust them, I can’t rely on them, and in my experience a problem shared is a problem multiplied by about ten. So other people unload their problems on to me, and I try to deal with my own problems too, and I bend and warp under the pressure of it.

I know I seem uncompassionate and unfeeling, but I’ve been here before. I’ve tried to help people who refused to be helped. I’ve tried to offer advice to people who refused to listen. I’ve been an endless listener, companion and protector of people who sought that from me. And it fucks me up.

The only thing that keeps me functioning is to be hard, to be unfeeling, to squash any and all bad feelings, to only allow them to come to the surface when I can afford it. The only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is determination. I only cope by pretending, aggressively, that there’s nothing to cope with. And it’s probably not something a doctor or therapist would advise, this forceful repression, but so much more than anything that’s ever been advised to me, it allows me to carry on with my life. Perhaps not as happy or as successful as I once dreamed of being, but as someone who’s steady and reliable and doesn’t waste every day.

But it takes so much energy, and I have so little to spare for trying to improveĀ the complicated lives of other people.

It irritates me. It makes me angry. It feels unprofessional, like every day is Bring Your Shit to Work Day. For fuck’s sake, I’ve had panic attacks at work, and vaguely tried to hang myself in the toilets once (not seriously, just absent-mindedly, testing it out). I’ve heard whispered insults on the phone, and been paranoid to the point of snapping at my colleagues because I was so scared they were talking about me. I’ve been so insanely hyperactive that I’ve been too loud and too fast and said weird things and made people laugh at me, not always in a good way.

But I’ve never stopped being able to do my job. I’ve never – not once – hindered someone in doing their job by telling them my life story or describing my feelings in intricate detail. As far as they’re concerned, I’ve been occasionally quiet, and occasionally a bit weird, but I’ve never asked for anything. I’ve never once let anybody in my workplace think I needed help, or needed looking after. I’ve never laid my burdens on anyone else.

And I know that everyone experiences things differently. I know that other people have more problems than I do. But if I – weak and stupid and selfish as I am – can push through the shit and not make other people feel like they’re responsible for my well-being. If I can go to work and work, not cry all day and do nothing, then why can’t other people? And if they can’t, why do I have to be the one who has to not only do my work, and their work, but also hold their hands and try to make everything better?

I don’t have the strength to keep it up.


1 Response to "Hell is other people."

I used to work with one of those “cling on” types, who was always spilling her guts and crying over stupid crap in her life. It really hindered my ability to do my job, and sometimes was quite “triggery” for me. Like you, Laura, I have never got in someone’s face like that at work. I’ve always been professional, even when I was manic or depressed or off my tree on Valium. Eventually I had to say something to my boss, even though I felt like a total biatch.

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My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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