The trouble with being a private person is that sometimes you have to face people who think your life is perfect. Of course, nobody’s life is “perfect” but sometimes it’s easy to think that when you don’t know someone very well.
In my last two shifts I have had to deal with two crying staff members. The autism in me is terrified of this emotion and had no idea how to deal with it. I’m not an initiating hugger, so that’s off of the table. In all honesty, I‘m incredibly awkward, so I kind of just made some bad jokes about myself and tried to move on.
A few days ago I told someone I work with (who doesn’t know about my mental health problems) that I had been given some sleeping pills. She seemed fairly shocked, what could I possibly have in my life that was stopping me from sleeping! I’m probably just being silly.
But I know a lot about these people’s lives, their family drama, relationship drama. But they don’t know anything about me. I’m writing this before I start work and I’m in the staff room and it’s a prime example. The staff member who was just crying said to me “I hope you sleep better tonight” so I said “you too”, and talked about how my new sleeping pills are kinda weird, I was talking she seemed uninterested and pretty much left at the first opportunity. Which is fine. But I didn’t realise I was here to be the sad story equivalent of a confession priest. It’s not everyone I work with some people here know more about my life then I probably do. They know more about my relationship, then my partner probably does. And I know I can vent to those people and they can vent back and it’s fine! But it’s not easy for me just come out with my problems. I mean, I can’t respond to someone who tells me their mother just went into hospital with “Well, I was thinking about killing myself last week… And I went to the doctors and they, basically, nearly sectioned me, but they didn’t and so I went home and gouged a chunk of my shoulder out in anger” can you imagine the look I would get?
I don’t have problems like everyone else. I have problems with me (mostly) of course I have family stuff, relationship stuff to deal with but my biggest problem is the constant battle between me and depression. My problems are no worse than anyone else’s and I’m not trying to say they are. All I want is for people to realise I’m not a child with insignificant problems. I do have problems and I like to discuss them as much as they do! I’m almost 25 for Christ sake, not 12.
I like to be there, I like to help. But in helping I just want people to understand that I’m not perfect and my life has some pretty huge holes into. Something that’s always been a problem for me at work is that everyone sees me as a child. I don’t look 24 I look younger and I always have. I used to work only weekends until I was 23 which also made me seem younger but I guess the things I joke about and talk about are also rather childish in the eyes of many the people who work there and as I don’t seem as old as the younger members of staff I’m always seen as the youngest. And I think that’s why everyone sees my problems as being trivial. Like I don’t know “real problems” because I haven’t lived!
So maybe I should try it. Next time someone tells me their drama and doesn’t want to listen to mine I’ll be blunt. “Oh, that’s a shame, hey, I attempted suicide in February and I’m still dealing with the aftermath in my mental health and my relationship” then I will watch them stand speechless then slowly back away in absolute fear. And then they will understand what I feel like when they are crying at me and I don’t know what to do.
The Elephant in the Room