Hi, My Name is Amanda, and I’m…Different.

normalIf nothing else, the following is true for me –

“Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.”

– Anonymous

*******

What I’m about to say goes against all advice given in any self-help meeting, but it’s how I feel, damnit.

I have often felt different than most, not a part of, less than.

Not always.  Sometimes, I feel on top of the world, totally present, and I love everything in my life.  And sometimes, I feel just like every other “bozo on the bus”, another nameless face in the crowd, which is honestly ok.  But often, I feel…different.

Why?

Well, let’s pick apart the seventy different kinds of recovery I’m in.  I can’t diet, I can’t drink in safety (in the words of Biggie, if you don’t know, now you know) and my therapist has diagnosed me with depression (that requires medication) and some trauma stuff for a long time now.  Let’s say this:  if you were a clinician, and you saw my rap sheet, you might wince a bit and say, “Jeez.”  You might expect me to be doin’ a lot worse than I am now.

Cause I am doing pretty damn well for the “stuff” I have.  I got my master’s degree, am successful in a field where I can turn my misery into someone else’s avoidance of said misery, and  have a family of my own.  I am fairly high-functioning; I am lucky.  Or resilient.

But there’s something funny about high-functioning anything-ers: they can slip more easily between the cracks.  They, in turn, can feel more different, because they mingle with the “normies” of society.  At work functions, at family parties, at friend’s BBQs.  They can be around people who drink or diet or binge or don’t experience the glory of mood swings, but it doesn’t make it any less hard.  In fact, it can be a particular kind of hard because they’re often the sole “different kid” in a group of “normies”.

So that’s why I feel different.

Self-help groups tell you to identify as just another worker among workers, which helps sometimes.  I’ll often use this example: I have a friend who is allergic to basically any kind of food.  So, I try to remind myself, “Wow.  She must feel the same way – like everyone is staring at her when she orders her food.  Maybe she feels different than, too.”

(And I do realize there is no normal.  And I do realize everybody’s got their thing.)

But I do think it can seem overwhelming to an individual when they realize –

“Hey!  I need an everything-anonymous!”

Fun.

How do YOU feel different?  Is there something that sets you apart from the crowd?

12 thoughts on “Hi, My Name is Amanda, and I’m…Different.

  1. Amanda, I know exactly how you feel. As a highly functioning trauma-survivor and sometime self-loather, I too feel out-of-place amongst people who seem “normal” and able to eat, drink, make friends, and go clothes-shopping without shame. I look at my body and hear some of the things that come out of my mouth, and I find myself wondering how on Earth anyone can put up with me sometimes. It’s deep-seated, and seems just a little more stubborn than any amount of love or affirmation people might attempt to offer me. Even after years if therapy, I wish I could just forget the things I have been through and be barrier-free. Just be free. But I’m not, and I never really will be.
    I take solace in knowing that the people who do get close to me, and who do stand by me, really do love me and all those non-normal parts as well as the easier-to-love bits. I hope you do, too, and know that I really admire you and love reading your blog. Thank you for doing this.

  2. Michelle,

    Thanks for your insightful comment and your continued support of this blog. I would like to attest (wrong word?) that perhaps people like us are important in this society – we examine things and aren’t afraid of the “dark side”. Kudos to you for your work in your own trauma recovery.

  3. I have bipolar, anxiety & past trauma too. I think you’d be surprised just how many people truly feel different. Maybe all of us different people need to band together. By the way, if you’re interested I recently started a mental health blogs Facebook group. Message me if your like to join. I bet you’d find more than one kindred spirits 🙂

  4. Some days I feel this way – but more often than not these day…I have suffered in the past from depression, body image issues, and a few other things…not the worst of lives, but certain parts could have been better, but I’m glad for it all because it makes me…me. And with the things that still bug me, meditation and yoga have helped immensely…light and love to you Amanda, even if you feel different, are different, you’re being you! And there is no one like you but you – and that it totally awesome 🙂

    1. Thanks, Joy, for following my blog consistently and for being so supportive! Yeah, I definitely have my better days where I feel completely capable, but the day I wrote this, I totally identified with that “different” feeling. That is awesome that meditation and yoga help you – it may be time for me to try yoga!

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I, too, am a high-functioning recoverer. Our rap sheet sounds (on the surface) fairly similar – alcohol, depression, food issues, past trauma. Sometimes I minimize my pain because I look at all I’ve accomplished in spite of it and think, it probably isn’t as bad as you think it is – look what you’ve done – so stop whining, self. (I’m not always very nice to myself). High-functioning is also a symptom – one of my isms is perfectionism. I love your honesty. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your comment and I’m so glad you related! I minimize too – I can’t tell you how many times my therapist has told me, “Yes, Amanda, you have an eating disorder.” (as a reality check) Ugh, it’s such a tricky balance, “being happy and normal”.

  6. I feel like I also am high functioning in a crowd. I try so hard to appear and act “normal”. To look like I have it all together. To be the perfect person that everybody else wishes they could be. I’m very good at faking it. And in a sense this act helps me make it in public. I often have people ask “how I do it all.” They comment on how “amazing” I am because my life appears so grand. I smile and accept their compliments. But, In my head I answer them by saying “if you only knew how messed up I am you’d think otherwise!” I know I am very different. I know the thoughts in my head about food and exercise and calories are not normal and it bugs the crap out of me that I am the way I am. I feel so lonely at times as I continue to hide the different part of me away from the world. After all, I know how the world would judge that part of me. I will keep plugging away at recovery alone and hopefully one day I won’t feel so different and can really be the person that I appear to be.

    1. Hey there,

      Thank you so much for your honesty. When I was in treatment they had us do this activity where we drew the “outside world” us and the “inside world” us, and when I looked at mine, I realized my two sides were so different! So I totally relate. I have total confidence that you can mesh those two sides…I still am working at it myself! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  7. I can fell like this at times, especially with my daughter who has so many special needs and fits no one criteria.

    I spent most of my twenties and thirties in a lot of NYC church basements identifying with others like me. And I think the one thing it did for me was show me that I’m not alone. So many people felt the same way. I found so much comfort in that. As for normal, having my kids did a lot to “cure” me of that. I spent so long wanting to be normal and average and then I had children who didn’t fit the mold. It was as if they knew the “real” me and felt they belonged in a family that my husband and I could provide. Thanks so much for this post. Lovely to find you!

  8. Hi Kathy,

    Yay for church basements! 😉 Thank you for the support, and I like your perspective on your kids and your life!

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