Mental Health

My Strongest Demon

Curiosity has always been one of the traits I was proud to have. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things and trying new experiences just for the love of learning. When I was younger, I did not think too much whether or not I’d like the experience, but rather what would I learn from it. This sparked me to get into things, learn what I could about them, and then decide whether or not to pursue it further, or drop it and move on to the next thing.

However, as I have gotten older, and my life has had its share of trauma and success, my curiosity has been throttled by the nagging thoughts that delving into something might not be an efficient use of my time. Or that I will not like the experience, and now I’ve wasted the time I could’ve been doing something I liked. This thought process caused me to withdraw further and further into the things I knew I liked, relishing the creature comforts of habit and familiarity.

These same thoughts didn’t just apply to hobbies, entertainment choices, etc. It also applied to relationships. Rejections early in my life made me cower away from feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed, preferring to keep to myself, not risking the possible hurt of rejection despite the promise of a positive interaction. This has prevented me from having any intimate relationships with anyone, save for a few one night stands.

It’s taken me a long time to finally realize why these habits have slowly become my modus operandi in life. The realization was not without its own pain or discomfort, and I’m still dealing with getting a handle on it. I think publicly admitting it will be a big step in coping with this problem.

My strongest demon, bar none, is fear. I’m utterly, completely, embarrassingly, scared shitless about life.

Every aspect of my life is controlled by fear, from my day to day life, to my thoughts, beliefs, and world view. It’s all tainted by fear. Fear is driving me into a life that I’ve always wanted to avoid, and right now, I have no way to stop it.

Every day begins with me waking up, realizing that I have responsibilities, and immediately the fear takes over. Am I able to fulfill my responsibilities? Will I do something at work that will lead to me getting fired and my life collapsing under me? Will someone point out that I look and smell like shit because I didn’t feel like showering or doing my laundry? Am I worth being alive if I’m horrifically bad at taking care of my responsibilities?

Throughout my day, I run into new people. Each one that interacts with me triggers my brain to immediately not trust them, not care about them, or even completely ignore them, all in the fear that they will give me bad news, point out one of my failures, ridicule me for being me, or taking up precious time I could be using to do something I want to do. This prevents me from making new friends.

On a larger scale, I’m always afraid of sounding like a hypocrite. I use up most of my mental energy managing what I say and do so my walk matches my talk. This is utterly exhausting. I’m so afraid of slipping up and being judged for it. I know it’s human to fuck up, but I’m so worried that some troll will destroy what little semblance of a public image and make people who know me doubt me.

I’m afraid of going somewhere new, or trying new things, because my brain wants so badly to stick to what I know and like already. New experiences used to be thrilling and engaging. Now they are anxiety inducing and terrifying. I hate being made to look at best, naive, and at worst, dumb. Ignorance is even worse.

I’m scared to make things because I don’t want to be told I suck. I don’t want to dump hours into a project that won’t result in monetary gain. I’m stuck in creative neutral because I’m not good enough in anything creative to be profitable. And to get profitable, I must invest time into getting better, which seems like torture to me.

My biggest fear is being poor. Being homeless, hungry, and without a minimum of creature comforts is my definition of hell. I don’t live lavishly. I’m pretty minimalist, but those things I do consider precious are things I cannot live without. Having no money also makes me feel like I’m in a prison, unable to control my life as I want to. I’m always being controlled by an employer and their schedules and policies, always in fear that they could ruin my life with one simple email to my manager. On the flip side, I’m scared of being my own boss, as there would be no one around to keep me motivated, thus driving me into poverty even more.

Conquering fear has been spotty at best. I did get past some of my social anxiety and joined a D&D group, made up of guys I’d never met before. They’re all pretty cool, but they all have cool government or tech jobs, while I work a shade over minimum wage in an auto parts store. I fear that they look down at me, even though there is literally no evidence they think that way.

My friends consistently remind me that I did something that should be evidence that I can overcome my fear. I moved from a little town in Florida to Washington, D.C. with little more than a job promise and a few hundred dollars in my pocket. I do reflect on this as a positive achievement in my battle against fear, but other forces within my brain prevent me from accepting the praise for doing it.

Every day, I battle this fear. It exhausts me to no end. I barely have energy to do anything, even if I wanted to. Other mental illnesses also prevent me from beating fear, and I know getting help would be incredibly beneficial. However, I’m not in a financial space where I can afford it, which is another anxiety I have. I’m taking baby steps to overcome this, and looking weak to others is yet another fear I have, which causes me to not ask for help.

I do need help. All the help I can get. I want to beat fear. I want to be creative, productive, and live the way I want to live.

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