Why I’ll never have a Youtube channel.

no_youtube

Yesterday, someone asked me why I don’t have a Youtube  channel.  That’s a good question and I’m going to answer it.

Having an accompanying Youtube channel seems to be increasingly popular among bloggers, especially those who blog about mental health issues. It’s so ubiquitous these days, that it seems almost required to have a Youtube channel to get any sort of traffic for your blog (this blog does just fine traffic-wise without one).   If you’re a mental illness blogger and aren’t on Youtube, people wonder why the hell aren’t you? They suspect that maybe you have something to hide.

Let ’em think whatever they want. Because you won’t ever see me nailing up a shingle on Youtube. No way, no how. And I’ll tell you why.

1. I’m socially awkward and not very articulate.
It’s true. While I express myself very well in the written form and can present myself well verbally when I must (such as on job interviews and horrible office Christmas parties), the latter is very exhausting for me. As an INFJ and a person with Avoidant Personality Disorder, I’m an introvert and socially anxious. That extends to speaking into a camera on my computer, knowing that my voice is what people will be listening to and my face is what people will be looking at. I pepper my spoken language with a lot of filler and “ums” and “uhs” and “you knows” and “likes” and do strange things with my hands and face while speaking to cover the fact my mind goes completely blank when I have to speak in front of other people, even if it’s recorded ahead of time.

2. I’m not a performer.
I know not everyone with a Youtube channel is trying to be a celebrity and many mental health and narcissistic abuse v-loggers are wonderful people who probably have good hearts and really want to help others. But for me, talking to an audience for the purpose of making a video comes very close to feeling like a performance, and that’s just a whole lot of stress I don’t need or want.

3. I don’t want to worry about what I look like.
When I blog, I’m usually lounging around on my bed or on the couch, my hair uncombed and my face as naked as I was on the day I was born. I’m usually dressed in some grungy pair of threadbare in the thighs jeans or yoga pants 3 sizes too big (I lost a lot of weight the past couple of years but haven’t replaced many of my clothes) and a holey T-shirt covered with coffee stains. On a few occasions (especially in the summer when it’s hot), I like to lounge around in nothing but my underwear and a tank top. I also like to eat or chew gum while I blog, and have no particular desire to be talking to an audience while snapping Wrigley’s or munching on a mouthful of Herr’s Cheese Balls.

So don’t go looking for me on Youtube, because the only thing I’ll ever be doing there is commenting on other people’s videos.

 

 

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On having seasonal affective disorder (SAD), dishonesty, and a few other things.

This is going to be a long post, because I have so much to say.
I haven’t been completely honest about why I haven’t been posting as much (being overworked and tired is only part of it) but I was very confused about all these emotions I’m having and wasn’t sure where to begin, even though I wanted to talk about it. I just felt so overwhelmed and confused I was sure anything I wrote would overwhelm and confuse the hell out of anyone reading it and make no sense. Even now, I’m having trouble knowing where to start and am not sure this is going to make any sense, but I’m going to try, since I have the time.

1. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

tigger_SAD

Let me start with the most obvious and simplest to explain. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Last fall, I was so new to blogging and so excited by the novelty of it that my excitement over my new “toy” overrode my usual feelings of depression I get when the days become shorter, colder, and gloomier. I even thought I’d been spontaneously “cured” but it’s back this year. It always starts around late August, when the days are becoming noticeably shorter (and this year, the trees begin to change early too). The fact that it’s still as hot as a pizza oven makes no difference. SAD is triggered by lack of daylight. It really starts to kick in after the autumnal equinox (September 23 this year) when the days begin to become gloomier and grayer and the nights are longer than the days. In this part of the country, there’s always a lot of rain in the fall and overcast days. I know we need the rain, but my brain doesn’t care and the darkness always triggers depression, which causes me to feel sad (SAD is a good acronym for this disorder!) and as gloomy as the gray days, and any motivation I have or energy goes out the window.

The string of upcoming holidays, which seem to mitigate the gloom for normal people (and even make them feel happy), don’t help me one bit. In fact, they make things worse. Halloween isn’t too bad (it doesn’t cost much and isn’t a “family” holiday), but Thanksgiving and Christmas are a different story. As a person with no money and who is not in contact or close to most of my family, the holidays, especially Christmas, are very difficult for me. Besides my children, I have no one to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with. Christmas is so overcommercialized and you are made to feel somehow defective or different (in a bad way) if you can’t afford to buy a ton of gifts (and don’t get many either), don’t love Christmas music, or can’t get into the “holiday spirit.” I know Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, not crass commercialism, but unfortunately our society has made it that way, and if you’re a poor person with hardly any family and few close friends, it’s really hard to not get depressed.

I always begin to feel better sometime after Christmas, and usually by early February my mood is improving, despite the cold weather. Again, this has to do with the lengthening days. In fact, every year I look forward to the winter solstice, because it’s then that the days begin to grow longer again. It doesn’t take too long for my body to notice it. And once Christmas is over and done with, I feel relief. Then it’s just a matter with putting up with 2 more months of cold and gloomy, overcast days. And because I live in the South, the winters here are not long. It’s usually warming up by early March or even the end of February, and the first signs of spring can be seen then too. I always notice my energy level and motivation increasing, and my mood becomes more upbeat and positive.

So the lack of motivation caused by my SAD (and blogging no longer being the novelty it was last year at this time) is partly responsible for my not writing every day the way I used to. But that’s only part of it.

2. Coming to terms with being a covert narcissist.

covert_narcissism2

The other part is a lot harder for me to talk about, even though I’ve talked about it before, and nothing bad happened when I did and people didn’t unfollow this blog in droves, the way I had feared. About two months ago, I began to self identify as a covert narcissist (in addition to my having BPD and Avoidant PD). It explained the “Aspergers” I was sure I had up to that point. I don’t want to belabor again how I made this discovery or why (if you’re interested in reading more about that, I wrote several articles about it in early-mid August and started another blog, intended to help people with self-aware covert narcissism and BPD who do not want their disorders), but for some reason, I began to feel a lot of shame associated with the “NPD” label, based on the general attitude toward narcissists, especially those who have been abused by them (and the attitude is understandable).

Although I didn’t want to be dishonest because this blog has always been a place where I can be completely honest and would not have discovered this truth about myself had it not been for writing honestly about my feelings every day, I clammed up just the same. I began to fear people’s judgment of me for being “one of them” (even though I’m mindful and think I do pretty well not acting in narcissistic ways) and feeling like maybe I should downplay the “narc” label. After all, it’s just a label, right? And not even a label given to me by a therapist or mental health professional, but a self-diagnosis which might be wrong anyway. I can’t even bring myself to add “covert narcissism” to my list of disorders. BPD’s bad enough.

But in spite of all that, in my gut I know my self assessment is correct. I’ve become very hesitant to call too much attention to it however, because of my fear of negative judgment (which in itself is a part of both BPD and covert NPD). I know it’s silly, because it was abuse itself that made me this way. In the past few months I’ve hesitated to write articles about abuse, because knowing I have covert narcissism made me feel like a fraud. But I’m not a fraud because I am myself an abuse victim–one so badly damaged I was infected with narcissism myself. That’s why once I got over my rage and hatred toward narcissists (which I worked out through my earlier blog posts) brought on by their abuse, I found myself attempting to understand why they did the things they do. It took several more months of completely honest writing (running naked in public) that pulled the scales from my eyes and made me realize that I myself had the disorder and was trying to understand myself!

It took an email I got this morning from an ACON (who I had confessed about my narcissism to) that said she could understand how I could have been infected and that as long as I was aware and trying to change (which I am doing) that there was nothing wrong with my writing for ACONs and in fact, she had been helped by my articles and would continue to read them. Most people, in fact, have been very supportive and understanding. I was actually shocked by this, given how demonized NPD is.

I know as a blogger who writes primarily as a form of self therapy, that I cannot get any better if I stop being honest. I worry far too much about what others are going to think, or that I will be disliked, or people will judge me harshly. I suppose this is natural, having been judged harshly by my narcissists all my life, so I always assume the worst will happen. It rarely does, but just the same, it makes me clam up and leave things out.

These labels can be so damaging, and make those of us who want to change ourselves afraid to admit the truth. It was bad enough admitting I was BPD, because of the negative stigma associated with that. But admitting you’re “N” is even more scary. Some people think you’re the devil himself. But why should it be that way? It’s just a label. If I’m not acting out or hurting anyone, then it makes no difference to anyone but myself. It’s something I need to deal with. I can’t get any better if I don’t come to terms with that reality and on some level, accept it.
I could be wrong anyway (but I don’t think I am).

I felt so much better when I left nothing out, when I was so candid and brutally honest about the most personal and embarrassing and shameful things imaginable. It was scary but I never once regretted it, and found myself growing and changing, becoming happier and more confident (in a real, not a narcissistic way). I was feeling more empathy for others and becoming less shy. I was finding myself connecting with people in a way I was never able to, and was beginning to feel like I mattered. So why would I stop?

I judge myself and don’t want to “own” this label, but realistically, how could someone have been raised the way I was and NOT develop a Cluster B disorder like BPD or NPD? I was both scapegoat AND golden child, and constantly receiving contradictory, mixed messages (I was perceived as either “better” than others, superior, and expected to live up to some ideal image of a child my parents had for me, or I was told I was worthless and bad because I was unable to live up to that unrealistic ideal). This isn’t something I chose; it was something done to me. Narcissism is contagious.

And that brings me to the third issue behind my depression and lack of motivation…

3. Fear of parental disapproval.

angry-parents

There’s another reason why I’ve been less motivated to write. The way I was raised has everything to do with all my emotional problems and my mood swings, inability to connect with anyone emotionally, or feel like I’m leading a fulfilling, successful life. It even explains why I married a malignant narcissist and spent 27 years with him as a codependent, abused wife (covert narcissists–and BPDs–often pair up with higher spectrum or overt, grandiose narcissists and are almost always codependent).

But lately I’ve been afraid to write about my parents and their emotional abuse of me, even though they were my first (and because my personality was still forming, my most toxic), abusers). I can’t blog honestly if I leave my experiences with them out. But I’ve been afraid to write about them just the same, and that’s because about 6 months ago, I found out my parents had found my blog and were reading it. That might make anyone clam up, but no real names were being used, so I wasn’t guilty of slander or libel. It might even do them good to read about the way they made me feel, even if they didn’t care or tried to project everything back onto me (because I wasn’t lovable enough as a child, or am a “loser” who makes “bad choices” today or whatever it is they’re saying about me). It would certainly do ME good to be honest about what happened. After all, this blog is my self-therapy and with any therapist, you would talk about your childhood and the bad parenting you got, so why wouldn’t I write about it? It’s not as if I’m losing anything by doing so, since (as far as I know) I’ve been disowned anyway. I’ve been the black sheep for years and am NC with my mother anyway.

But I still fear their judgment, for God knows what reason. Why do I write openly about my ex’s abuse and not fear his negative judgement? What makes it so different? What makes that “okay” and writing about my parents “not okay”?

I worry way too much about the negative opinions of others, and that in itself is part of my narcissism. I was bullied as a child and that didn’t help either. I put far too much importance on what other people think. I don’t think I lie excessively, but leaving things out is a kind of lie too. I lie by glossing over things, not talking about important things that affected me and caused my problems, not admitting the way I really feel about something, downplaying both my abuse (due to fear of my parents judging me even though they already do) and my own disorders. When I lie by omission, it’s still a lie, and I’m not doing myself any favors either. In fact, the fear of negative judgment feeds on itself, and I imagine the worst outcomes and that tends to feed my fears even more, making me even less motivated to write.

So what I need to do is not worry about what everyone will think, and go ahead and write what I feel and let the chips falls where they may. If I’m harshly judged by some, so be it. Those are probably not people I would want to have anything to do with anyway.

A small part of my depression is because my car needs major repairs and my job only pays enough to pay the bills so I’m living pretty much from one paycheck to the next (and working a lot more). I’m going to go ahead and ask for donations via Paypal but I’ll do a separate post for that and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone.

So that’s where I’m at. I need to start writing about everything I’m feeling again, starting from today and stop worrying about what a few people think and censoring myself because of them. They don’t matter, but my growth as a person does, as well as those who get something from reading this blog. Censoring myself for fear of negative judgment is one of the things I need to work on getting over. It helps no one, least of all me. Haters are always going to exist, no matter what you blog about. I can’t lose my original focus and why I started blogging in the first place, and lately I’ve been slipping. That needs to stop now.

You may find this article inspiring too, if you blog and are afraid to be completely honest.

I need to get out more.

church_choir

I’ve decided to join the choir at my church.

I don’t normally go in much for church-related activities, but I’ve always loved to sing and I love music, and I feel like this is a way I can encourage myself to interact with actual people in a way that might be fun and not require too much actual social interaction since we’d be spending most of the time singing and not talking.

I know that isolating myself as much as I do isn’t healthy. Introversion is fine, but not to the point where you live as a near-recluse, shunning any social involvement at all. Deliberately avoiding all social interaction isn’t going to help me conquer my Avoidant PD or my covert narcissism or whatever. While I have to accept (and do accept) that I’ll never be an extrovert or social butterfly, self improvement requires me to take this step.

Lately my isolation from others has been bothering me. I’m lonelier than I like to admit. I want to connect with people, even though it’s hard for me to do that and there’s definitely an element of anxiety. My shyness has not gone away.

If I’m ever going to meet people I can become potentially close to, just being around them in an environment where we’re sharing a fun activity (like singing) seems like a good way to start.
So tomorrow night I’ll be showing up at choir practice. I’m actually sort of excited about it!
Why limit my singing to my car where I’m my only audience?

23 signs you’re secretly a narcissist masquerading as a “sensitive introvert”

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Ruji posted a link to this article from Scientific American and I thought it was so interesting it deserves a blog post of its own. (It’s also quite funny.)

Ever known anyone like this? Of course you have. He’s the nerdy bookworm you know who always talks (proudly) about what an introvert, INFP, or HSP he is, but always changes the subject when you have a problem you want to talk about or is suddenly “too busy” when you need help moving.

She’s your long-suffering, martyred mother who constantly whines about how much she does for you and how unappreciated she is.

She’s your quiet coworker who cries at the drop of a hat but complains loudly when others are given credit, rewards or praise and she isn’t.

He’s the sensitive songwriting hipster who writes confessional ballads about heartbreak and rejection but treats his girlfriend like a piece of furniture or sometimes a punching bag.

All narcissists are highly sensitive about themselves and cannot tolerate criticism, rejection, or being ignored. They are all very easily hurt and cannot laugh at themselves. But all narcissists–whether covert or grandiose/aggressive (the more traditional type recognized by the DSM)–lack empathy, which means they are highly insensitive to the needs of anyone else. The difference between an grandiose/aggressive (traditional) narcissist and a covert one is a matter of, well, grandiosity and aggressive behavior. An aggressive or grandiose narcissist believes they are special, unique, better than everyone else and demand to be treated as such (and will rage and attack if they are not), while a covert narcissist believes they are beneath contempt and expect everyone to give their problems #1 priority (and are more likely to sulk and whine than overtly attack). But make no mistake–both types of narcissists are emotional vampires because both think they are the most important human beings on the planet and manipulate and abuse others to get what they want, even though one advertises their emotional vulnerability and low self-esteem and the other masks it behind a facade of stoic invulnerability. Covert narcissism has been referred to elsewhere as “vulnerable narcissism.”

Reading this, a question formed in my mind. The items on the test for covert narcissism seem suspiciously similar to many of the characteristics of BPD (except for the introversion, but borderlines can be introverted too). In reading about covert narcissism and BPD in general, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference. Covert narcissism is not recognized as a disorder by the DSM but BPD is. Are covert narcissism and BPD the same thing? I seem to have a lot of these traits. Guess I’ll have to take the test at the end of this article.

23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert.
By Scott Barry Kaufman

If I see one more listicle about introversion, I’m going to cry.

It started out with the fairly reasonable “31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re An Introvert.” Sure, many of the items on the list offered an exaggerated version of introversion, but there were some real gems that had a large grain of truth. Like this one:

covert_narcissist

But then this happened:

22 Signs Your Dog’s An Introvert

“He often wears headphones with no music playing, in the hopes no one will try and talk to him.”

You’d think that’d be enough for a lifetime of listicles. But no… they kept coming, mixing together many different traits under the general umbrella “introversion.” For instance, some lists include shyness-related behaviors, but it’s well documented that shyness is not the same thing as introversion. Shyness is more related to being anxious and neurotic. There are plenty of introverts who prefer alone time but really aren’t anxious or shy when interacting with other people.

Another common misconception perpetuated by these listicles is that introversion and sensory processing sensitivity are the same thing. From “23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert”:

“While extroverts tend to get bored easily when they don’t have enough to do, introverts have the opposite problem — they get easily distracted and overwhelmed in environments with an excess of stimulation.”

Actually, sensory processing sensitivity is not the same thing as introversion. There are plenty of socially introverted folks who can deal with loud sounds and bright lights, even though they may get emotionally drained from too many superficial social interactions. Vice versa, there are plenty of socially extroverted individuals who get overstimulated by sensory input. A number of studies support that idea that sensory processing sensitivity is much more strongly linked to anxiety (neuroticism) and openness to experience than introversion.

But when I saw this listicle, I just about flipped my lid:

7 Signs Kanye West Is Secretly An Introvert

Really? Let’s clarify something here: Narcissism is definitely not the same thing as introversion.

Have you ever met someone who constantly tells you how “sensitive” and “introverted” they are, but all you actually see is selfishness and egocentricity? I’m sure you have, because these people exist in spades.

When most people think of narcissism, they think of the public face of narcissism: extroversion, aggression, self-assuredness, grandiosity, vanity, and the need to be admired by others (see “How to Spot a Narcissist”). But as far back as 1938, Harvard psychologist Henry Murray noticed another breed of narcissist among his undergraduates: the covert narcissist. While the “overt” narcissists tended to be aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and have extreme delusions of grandeur and a need for attention, “covert” narcissists were more prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, hypersensitivity, anxiety, and delusions of persecution.

In the 90s, psychologist Paul Wink analyzed a variety of narcissism scales and confirmed that there are indeed two distinct faces of narcissism, which they labeled “Grandiosity-Exhibitonism” and “Vulnerability-Sensitivity”. He found that both shades of narcissism shared a common core of conceit, arrogance, and the tendency to give in to one’s own needs and disregard others. But that’s where the similarities ended.

While Grandiosity-Exhibitionism was associated with extraversion, aggressiveness, self-assuredness, and the need to be admired by others, Vulnerability-Sensitivity was associated with introversion, hypersensitivity, defensiveness, anxiety, and vulnerability. Further research by Jonathan Cheek and Jennifer Odessa Grimes at Wellesley College found a moderate correlation between covert narcissism and the Highly Sensitive Person Scale developed by Elaine Aron.

In other words, while introversion, sensitivity, and narcissism are all partially separate traits, hypersensitive covert narcissists are more likely to report that they are introverted and sensitive.

Are You a Covert Narcissist?

By this point, you’re probably wondering if you’re secretly a hypersensitive covert narcissist masquerading as a sensitive introvert. Without further ado, here are 23 items that will allow you to gain greater insight into your personality. In a recent study conducted on a group of 420 undergraduates, Jonathan Cheek and colleagues found that higher scorers on this “Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale” tended to also score higher on tests of entitlement, shame, and neuroticism, and tended to display lower levels of self esteem, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. In contrast, maladaptive overt narcissism wasn’t related to shame, self esteem, or neuroticism, even though overt narcissists reported feeling just as entitled as covert narcissists. It seems if you have to be a narcissist, it’s better to be an overt narcissist than a covert narcissist!

So here’s the test. Be honest with yourself!

Take the test and read the rest of the article here:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/23-signs-youe28099re-secretly-a-narcissist-masquerading-as-a-sensitive-introvert/

The chatterbox and the hermit.

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“Shy and Outgoing” by Cammy Senpai, Deviantart

I’m two different people.

Most of you already know what I’m like online. I made a vow to be completely honest and hold back nothing (within reason) and so I am doing. This has been a wonderful thing for me because it has given me courage (and takes courage!)

But I’ve always been outgoing online. I talk about the things that concern me, my feelings about them, my relationships, my mostly painful and sordid past. I tell you if I’m happy, sad or mad and I tell you why. I actively seek out friendships and post on other people’s blogs (when I can find the time since I’m always on this blog). I’ve become active on social media too, something I never thought I’d be. If anything, I’m probably a little too confessional!
On the web, I’m comfortable being completely myself and do not suffer from the shyness, shame or self-consciousness that plagues me IRL.

In the real world (which I prefer to call the physical world, because online life is every bit as real as any other form of interaction), I’m the opposite of the above. I suffer from both Aspergers (which I was most likely born with) and Avoidant Personality Disorder, brought on by abuse and always feeling off balance because of my MN mother and my enabling, alcoholic father, not to mention being a frequent target for school bullies.

attachment-types
From “What’s In It For Me?” on Zombie Shuffle’s blog.

In the physical world, I’m a very different person than the one you know online. Although I have the same emotions (which I talk about here), I don’t discuss them openly or even at all. I have few friends, am not close with anyone in my family other than my children, and prefer the company of myself, my books, or my pets to that of other people. Lots of noise and large groups of chattering people are very triggering to me, and I find myself tensing up and retreating if possible.

Most people know very little about me. I don’t say much, I rarely initiate conversation, and am very shy. Some people think I am cold and aloof; others think I am just stupid. I’m neither, but my avoidant personality makes me seem unfriendly or insecure. My Aspergers makes me seem awkward which exacerbates my problems relating to people.

I am terrified of intimacy and romantic relationships. After a long, abusive marriage and 7 more years of hell living with him after we divorced, I think I’ve had enough. I don’t trust men enough or trust my own judgment enough to dare take the plunge again into a new relationship. I also feel like my age is a problem, even though I look far younger than I am. I haven’t had sex in 9 years and really, that’s not a problem for me. I like the idea of having a relationship again (who really wants to die alone?), but I don’t know if I could cope with the reality of one. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen though. It just scares the living daylights out of me.

I can’t stand talking on the phone and a ringing phone is very triggering for me: I always expect to hear bad news. I know it’s just my hypervigilance, but I can’t help my reaction whenever the phone rings. As far as talking on the phone, it’s just awkward because I can’t pick up nuances in speech (due to my Aspergers) which is made worse by the fact I can’t see their facial expressions or body language. I try to end phone conversations as quickly as possible, which makes people think I’m unfriendly or don’t want to talk to them.

I don’t connect well IRL with most people, although I do get along with most. I’m not hard to get along with, just hard to get to know.

Blogging has enabled me to open up and be the self I want to be. It’s enhanced my self esteem and my creativity. Being courageous enough to post the sort of things I post gives me even more courage. Journaling online to complete strangers has helped me understand a lot of things I never used to understand and it’s even helping me develop more empathy.

But this isn’t the Matrix and I can’t live inside my online world all the time. I do think, however, that my increased self esteem and self awareness will soon translate into my relations with the real world. In fact, I’ve been told I seem more relaxed, happier, and more confident than I used to be, even though my extreme reservedness remains. I smile and laugh more. Most people do seem to like me, even though they can’t get to know me well. They have no idea the shy, mysterious, taciturn woman who tends to clam up in social situations or avoid them altogether actually runs a blog where she talks about the most personal issues it’s possible to talk about.