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When Your Mental Illness Makes You 'Unlikable'

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If being given a natural resting bitch face (thanks Dad) wasn’t enough to divert any form of friendship or opportunity from happening, it seems my mental illness has a role to play in my persona — a persona that is apparently a little bit cold and unfriendly.

It’s very frustrating because I’m this person who laughs so much every day, acts like a child and lives for fun in this best way, but most importantly, gives so much time and love to those around me. You know me, babe, I’m loyal — no I seriously am.

I’ve made mistakes which I will happily own up to. I cannot blame all my mistakes on mental illness — though they may play a part — it’s still my responsibility to do no harm and apologize when I do. No one’s perfect by all means.

Yet, I cannot tell you exactly how many times I’ve been told off for not smiling at work or in a picture or have someone ask me what’s wrong because, I quote, “you look like sh*t.” In truth, it’s really offensive because my face is just resting, I feel like I look fine and I’m smiling or being friendly; apparently that is not the case. For this, I tend to get in trouble for things I am not guilty of.

My anxiety on another level makes me incredibly introverted. I don’t want to bore or annoy people so I guess I expect that they’ll talk to me if they want. But this gets misconstrued as me being distant. I’m the first to cancel plans or make changes when my mental illness is behaving like an ignored toddler. I don’t regret this because I believe mental health should always be above everything else.

Even when I apologize and explain, people seem to take this as rude; yes, I’ve literally had people complain to me about going home to rest or eat. It’s no wonder people give up and stop making plans with me. I think part of all of this is that I literally do not understand humans. I have no social skills because of the way I was raised (extremely Victorian) and also my dad, my idol, was massively introverted too and I mirrored that. Even when I reached out and made an effort, I’d be shot down or told off; like even me talking or being in another’s proximity was a crime.

Naturally, all of this has led me to be an extremely isolated and cautious person. It’s not that I am scared of other people, it’s that I don’t want to cause a problem or be pushed back into childhood memories — rejection to me feels like being picked last in sports lessons; something that always happened to me. I even had someone moan at the teacher because I was put on their team.

So, If I don’t talk to you first, it’s literally because I’m not sure what to say without burdening anyone with my existence. It’s sad but being abused can do that to you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk though, most likely I’m practicing how to say “Hi” in my head but I’ve got verbal block. If I go silent or get distracted, it’s probably because I feel ignored or pushed out the conversation. Rather than say anything and cause a problem, I try to avoid that.

If I take a long time to reply online, it’s because I find it exhausting and it takes me so much energy to even respond to one message; it’s nothing personal and I will get around to it… eventually.

If I never make plans with you, it’s because I expect to be rejected like I always have been. When you get bailed on pretty much your whole life or left out, you start to believe you are the problem and unworthy of such events.

If I’m repeating myself or acting all weird, this is a sign of my anxiety flaring. Silences to me are bad and equal rejection, so please understand I’m just trying to encourage you to respond or add to the conversation.

Really, I’m complicated, but it doesn’t mean I am a bad person.

My mental illness and physical appearance should not define what kind of person I am; which is hella nice by the way. If you are patient with me and give me a chance, you’ll have a friend for life.

Unsplash photo via Riccardo Mion

Originally published: November 26, 2018
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