Struggling To Feel Seen

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I wanted to speak on how social distancing is a common issue for me and others dealing with mental illness. I’m always walking the line between over-posting and completely deleting social media. Both scenarios are extremely lonesome and I often feel I’m so isolated that if I were to disappear no one would notice.

I often post or use social media because it’s my only real social community, even before Covid-19. I’ve always had friends, though I’ve not had a best friend since probably my early 20s. I think because of my secret and not so secret addictions I kept people away, not intentionally but out of my need for privacy. I wasn’t ashamed of my struggle but I also wasn’t willing to let people see it because they wouldn’t understand. I was all in, I wanted to vanish, but also it was the only way I could be social at all.

I’ve always spent a lot of time alone, despite having friends, I’ve never been that type to want to be part of a circle. It gives me anxiety, likely because of being bullied and brutalized by “friends” in my younger days. My trust that people actually care is never very solid and I often beat myself up for caring about people who never reciprocate it. Then I feel guilty, like I am supposed to make them love me. It’s a vicious cycle.

When I was living in Philly, I would not leave my apartment for days. Even when I had roommates, because I felt so alone, and scared of the world. So I got high or drunk and I was okay, but never myself. I’ve always been honest and open, but like everyone I’ve also held things inside. I wandered the streets alone, riding my bike, unless I could drink myself into a place I was comfortable.

I tried to be more spiritual but honestly I prayed mostly with one eye open, cuz it never felt real. When I dove into the Christian world, trying to find a purpose and a place, I was never comfortable. Even as I rise up to leadership, was around influential people, even rising stars, I never felt they truly cared for me. So I was afraid, often alive, and very unstable.

I spent a few years in complete turmoil, living in several places, moving around, never being settled. I just couldn’t sit still, and I felt if I stated anywhere to long people would eventually gate me, so I would just disappear. I figured, no one would miss me, plus they didn’t need me. I always felt like my best friends were best friends with someone else, so I was expendable.

Even after I was married, had a church of my own, was speaking all over the country and working in music, I felt so alone. I knew my wife loved me but I knew she needed more in her life. I knew my friends cared but they cared more for other people who were more actively seeking out ways to be social. I was a confidant but I had few confidants. I was miserable and an alcoholic, drinking to simply stay somewhat connected. I knew o was loved but I also felt I was an acquired taste at best.

For being a person people came to for advice or for a non-judgemental ear, I think I was feared, because I didn’t betray that trust. I knew and know a lot of people’s secrets. I won’t ever tell because I am not like that, but I always felt that affect my standing in the friendship realm. Also I was so open with my feelings and thoughts, it could ge overwhelming. I’m great in a crisis, I’m calm and rational, but also often stoic and too emotionless. That is my PTSD for witnessing or experiencing trauma, and likely the result of a childhood brain virus. I just don’t feel a lot in moments of tragedy.

My faith became a burden, I just was too full of doubt. God wasn’t this father figure or a close friend, it was a warm conceptualized ideal I tried to hold onto but it was fading. Love, which I wanted to believe, was supposed to be unconditional but all I saw was people expecting to much, giving to little and trading it in for hollow pleasure. I felt alone in that doubt and in those feelings about it. Jesus on paper was great too, but in reality I was trying to visualize this savior but all I got was a feeling of emptiness. Screaming at a sky only to hear your own voice in the echoes of desperation. That became my faith struggle, and while I clung to hope and preached it too, I was barely alive. I tried to encounter god in new ways, with different people and while I saw sone weird things I believe now most of it was in y head or hallucinations brought on by my own desire to encounter god or by the mental illness in my mind.

When I got divorced, it stung, but it made sense. I did feel rejected, again, but I understood because it all made sense. It was rational and it was sensible to end our marriage. We both needed to change, and I was not stable enough in my mental health to be in that relationship anymore. We had grown into different people. I still felt hopelessly alone and I by this point my community was falling apart, my support system was shaky at best and I wasn’t okay. So I fled, moving around, never letting myself sit for too long. Never taking too much time to worry about goodbyes or any of that. I did that a few times, and I felt it wasn’t beneficial, I rather vanish.

I’m still battling my mind, everyday, likely until I die. It’s a sick mind, but I’m not ashamed, I’m in recovery, and in therapy. I’m still alone despite having relationships, I just feel so alien. Through therapy I’m learning that my mind is different, and it’s okay, but it does make things hard. I desperately want to be sought after and desired, to be wanted, as a friend. I just have trouble seeing it. I have trouble seeing my worth, my purpose, or myself most days. My art and my writing are all that really matter, because it is my best way to express my inner self. I surround myself with records, art, and books, just to find some sort of comfort. I love my friends deeply, I hurt deeply due to those I’ve lost, but I have trouble feeling love from others, I always have. So this is my transparency. I’m online because it’s how I can be social, as a sober person. I connect but I’m never fully connected, despite my desire to be. I don’t have the substances anymore to numb me into a place of confidence that gets me out. Most days I am hiding away, and hoping a few people might find me, just to say hello. This is a process, I’m trying to do my best, but I’m always teetering on unplugging and running away again.

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