“Actually, I would rather not go to your brother’s birthday,” I said to my partner, “but of course I would like to join anyway.” “What? What do you mean? ” She said a bit frustrated. “If you do not want to come, you do not need to. Do not feel obligated! ” “No, I do want to come!” I said. The beginning of a quarrel seemed inevitable.

My shadow side
Of course it is at times very confusing with me. It happens quite often that I say opposite things; that I want something and at the same time do not want it. That is,not only very incomprehensible, annoying and frustrating for me, but especially for outsiders, family, friends and especially for my partner.

I do not really want to go to social gatherings because of my anxiety. I do not like to go to places where there are many people. Then I feel watched, anxious, insecure and failed. I have an ache in my stomach, need to go the toilet ten times and become stiffen. Preferably I crawl in my safe bubble and stay at home. But at the same time I want to get out of the house, be among people. I love people! Personally, I am very social.

I am actually an extrovert person. But alas one with traumas. Because of these traumas I have developed an anxiety and avoidance personality disorder. This combination often causes conflicting feelings, thoughts and behavior. Out of my anxiety I avoid many activities, but I am not happy with that. To talk about this to other people is a difficult matter because it is so confusing. Confusing for me and for them. “Do you want it or not?” They ask me, slightly annoyed. They do not know how to deal with my conflicting behavior. “You do not need to if you do not want to … ” they’ll say angrily. “I do and I don’t” I reply. This often leads to misunderstanding, impatience and sometimes even to quarrels. People feel personally addressed, indignant or even attacked.

My mad whims
You cannot always see it at a glance. Sometimes I am just plain old me, super relaxed, nothing wrong. But sometimes a single word, sound or smell can trigger my trauma. Then suddenly my eyes wet, I can not utter a word and you see me swallow away “something” with a distorted face. Sometimes I burst into tears full out. That is very embarrassing; the others often are too. It also can happen that I freeze with big eyes, crawl into myself and react like a robot. Or I just respond in panic and suddenly run away. Just for no reason. So I look a bit weird sometimes!

In other situations I can become quite over-stimulated. When people are around me for too long a time, my anxiety makes me feel super exhausted – even if it is my own beloved partner! My ‘alarm system’ will then be on high alert for too long. I know that it is not necessary, but I feel very anxious and tense anyway. After a while I become quiet and wary, overly sensitive and enormously tired. I close up, away from the world, and to others I come across as distant and uninterested. For the outsider it seems that I do not want to be social, that I do not like the other person or something like that. They often take it too personally. And that gives quite a lot of tension in relationships.

It would be nice if I could warn the other person in such situations and explain what happens in my body and brain. That I can indicate in a neutral way that I do not do it deliberately, that I do not respond with a reason or intention. That I would rather have wanted to be different myself too. It would help me a lot if I could make it clear that it is not the responsibility of the other person and certainly is not aimed at the other person. The other person could then understand that he does not have to take it personally, just need to be open to my ‘mad whims’.

Code word
My partner and I have come up with a code word that can provide a solution. The mentioning of such a word when I act a bit strange, takes away a lot of misunderstanding and frustration. When I say that word, she knows that she does not have to feel offended or attacked when I show strange behavior again, when I say one thing and want another. When she hears the code word she plainly accepts the situation, because she knows that it is not me personally but that it is my condition that affects me. Because of this we both feel less guilty and peace can return quite quickly.

My code word is therefore ‘mad whims’ and really is a blessing. When I feel anxious but still want to go to a party, for example, I do not have to cover up my feelings and anxious irrational attitude. I also do not have to lie about it. By saying that I am suffering from my mad wims, me and the other can distinguish between myself as a person and myself as a patient – to say it a bit dramatically. When I use that word, my partner knows that what I feel and say at that moment can be incomprehensible, contradictory or weird. That it can even sound very blunt.

Lately I even use my code word with family and friends. It makes them not feel indignant when I seem not to respond socially enough. Because of this, they do not attack me in order to defend themselves, or step into a helping role and make them feel obligated. All I want is them to accept the situation.

As soon as I say ‘mad whims’, people now know that they do not have to interpret my sometimes strange behavior in a personal manner. Its says, what is happening is nobody’s fault. It’s just as it is. That way I can keep the conversation light and open. That way they can respond neutrally and ask questions out of interest how I’m experiencing it. There is also room for them to say how they experience it. Or just give each other a hug and accept what there is. By agreeing a code word, the relations become a lot easier.

Share this post! If this post was insightful for you, share it with your loved ones so that they can better understand what you are going through.
Deel dit artikel! Als dit artikel voor jou inzichtelijk was, deel het dan met je omgeving - laten we het samen hebben over mentale gezondheid.

Rogiér Cenin

I am a philosopher, teacher and experience expert in the field of anxiety, PTSD, depression, personality disorders and just life! I am coming from far and would like to share my experiences and thinking with you.

Related Posts

Gerelateerde berichten

Heb je een vraag? Onze professionals en ervaringsdeskundigen staan voor je klaar.

Ask your question to a professional or former client!