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Hi,

This past year I developed an ocd type fear of being a narcissist. This came about after a period of starting to face my issues more and looking at all the false beliefs I had. I know things have intensified for a number of reasons, but I've been having a pretty terrifying identity crisis on and off.

I know rationally I'm not psychopathic, what concerns me is that ultimately I know I'm not the person I often present myself as. My sense of self is completely skewed, and pretty much non existent. On the one hand, I know I am very sensitive and intuitive in some ways. I always thought of myself as a good, compassionate person with high empathy and intelligence. However, since doing lots of meditation, I've started to see that this is not entirely true. I'm not the person I thought I was, although I don't know how far that goes and what part ocd has to pay in this.

It's very hard for me to admit this, but I've realised that I have always had many of the following traits (anyone who knows me would clarify this too): a quiet sense of superiority (particularly with those closest to me), covert manipulation by being 'ill' a lot or being emotionally distressed, an inability to be vulnerable in front of people, episodes of nasty rage, jekhyl and hyde type behaviour, being a total know-it-all, never being able to be wrong, belittling my mother and younger siblings, being emotionally melodramatic and swinging from narcissism to self-loathing, telling little lies a lot, justifying my behaviour and therefore having everyone think I am just a 'complex, tormented' soul, being passive aggressive, covert attention seeking, a terrible martyr complex, and probably more. The worst thing is, I don't think I've ever been able to be completely open, honest and vulnerable to anyone in person my whole life. The terror comes from knowing I can't properly connect with anyone, ultimately without that you'll just go crazy, become nastier, or die by suicide.

This has disturbed me so much and has been going in cycles of fear, shame and ocd obsessing as to how bad it is, to denial and blocking it out, to just trying to get on with things and sometimes forgetting about it completely. Even so, as soon as I'm around others again I notice how these horrible, vicious traits seem to surface. My empathy in general is low because I've been in so much pain, I don't know how to deal with other people's emotional stuff. I also have periods since reducing the medication of severe apathy, not feeling or caring about anything. Sometimes I can visibly see how uncomfortable people get around me, I know it must be pretty toxic. I tend to isolate a lot, which both helps and hinders.

I did also read that it is not uncommon for people who believe they are empaths to actually be on the narcissistic spectrum. Being highly sensitive doesn't automatically equate to empathy. It feels like all my obsessive self analysis and absorption has made me just someone who can't be honest, and a covert narcissist. All of the ways I behave are of this nature, in fact I don't see how I could NOT be one. It also seems to run in my family (my brother is a borderline psychopath, and my sister is pretty narcissistic). The worst thing is I did always on some level believe I was a better person than them, but with honest reflection I'm not. The only difference is I'm not obvious about it in the way they are.

It feels like I'm getting towards the truth, but at the same time I feel on the verge of complete mental collapse or psychosis. I have episodes of just having to hide away and cry, feeling dissociated, disgusted with myself. I simply can't face people because the act just starts all over again, to varying degrees. I can only tell people on the internet, I couldn't say this face to face. Not even to my therapist. Yet a part of me craves authenticity. I just don't know how I could have deceived myself this much. But at the same time I think I've known this on some level all along, I just became fixated on reassuring myself I was 'good'.

Does anyone have any insight on this? I feel like there's no hope really. This level of low self-esteem and the created persona to go with it is, from what I know, pretty much not treatable and only gets worse. Any therapist will tell you narcissists rarely change, because it's just too painful. How do I live with myself?

Thank you for reading if you got this far

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The irony of all this is that you seem to abhor the thing that you think you are becoming or are and id argue that people who loathe a particular personality type are generally far removed from that type as they can become. I think you are probably far less than you think you are. Also, most people have some level of narcissism. I think that pretty common. I think your OCD is making you ruminate about this and it in turn is making you feel bad. Try to gently push these thoughts away and not to give them too much thought if you can. 

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5 hours ago, Saffie said:

quiet sense of superiority (particularly with those closest to me), covert manipulation by being 'ill' a lot or being emotionally distressed, an inability to be vulnerable in front of people, episodes of nasty rage, jekhyl and hyde type behaviour, being a total know-it-all, never being able to be wrong, belittling my mother and younger siblings, being emotionally melodramatic and swinging from narcissism to self-loathing, telling little lies a lot, justifying my behaviour and therefore having everyone think I am just a 'complex, tormented' soul, being passive aggressive, covert attention seeking, a terrible martyr complex, and probably more. The worst thing is, I don't think I've ever been able to be completely open, honest and vulnerable to anyone in person my whole life. 

I could have written this about myself. I thought I was a narcissist as well, it turned out that it was an obsessive theme. I had joined an OCPD forum but people on there kept telling me I was empathetic and could not have OCPD. This was without me asking them by the way or by modifying my behaviour to skew their perception to this outcome. I had accepted that I was a narcissist. But as it turns out, I'm not. I bet it's just another OCD theme playing on your guilt for things in the past and on your doubt over your identity. Try to not meditate on it because I think it's going into rumination land.

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7 hours ago, Orwell1984 said:

I could have written this about myself. I thought I was a narcissist as well, it turned out that it was an obsessive theme. I had joined an OCPD forum but people on there kept telling me I was empathetic and could not have OCPD. This was without me asking them by the way or by modifying my behaviour to skew their perception to this outcome. I had accepted that I was a narcissist. But as it turns out, I'm not. I bet it's just another OCD theme playing on your guilt for things in the past and on your doubt over your identity. Try to not meditate on it because I think it's going into rumination land.

Thanks for your reply Orwell. It's the intense shame that makes me feel this is the case, it's always been there but surfaces so violently I can't bare it. Without the numbing of so much medication it's as if I'm finally seeing things more clearly for the first time, and I can't handle it. I've been monstrous to people. And all the while they feel sorry for me because I'm 'sensitive' and 'unwell'. I'm literally vibrating with shame, like I can't bare to be awake or around others because I'm so mortified. I remember feeling this many times before, but finding ways to block it out or rationalise it. How do you accept you're someone who can't accept themselves due to a deep, lifelong sense of shame? It doesn't seem possible. I've no idea how things could've turned out like this. 

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Do you have a meditation teacher? I was just wondering because I think sometimes the way that meditation is taught in the west can be a bit dangerous. Intensive Buddhist mediation is supposed to be for monks who have constant support from each other and a teacher so they can deal with any problems.  I'm no expert so I may have this very wrong, but I used to meditate a lot and broadly speaking my understanding is that insight mediation is supposed to increase self awareness so the person can recognise and eliminate any selfishness and desire (or 'sin' using western terms) while also recognising (amongst other things) the true state of reality which is that there is no such thing as a self and the present moment is all that matters. So the fact that your meditation has revealed to you your lack of sense of self and your own 'narcissism' is to be expected. However, monks can live ego free selfless lives because they do not have jobs or children and they survive off donated food, however for ordinary people a degree of selfishness is necessary because we have to compete for jobs, feed ourselves, give preferential treatment to our children etc. So while your meditation may have revealed to you some aspects of your personality you may want to change, please don't get too caught up in trying to be perfect because it impossible for ordinary people. Hope this wasn't too preachy! I wrote a similar thing on the post on Eckhart Tolle too if you want to read it. 

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11 hours ago, BigDave said:

The irony of all this is that you seem to abhor the thing that you think you are becoming or are and id argue that people who loathe a particular personality type are generally far removed from that type as they can become. I think you are probably far less than you think you are. Also, most people have some level of narcissism. I think that pretty common. I think your OCD is making you ruminate about this and it in turn is making you feel bad. Try to gently push these thoughts away and not to give them too much thought if you can. 

Thanks BigDave. I thought the same myself, but in reality narcissism is rooted in self hatred. Non existent self esteem to this degree is dangerous, to both self and others. Aside from all my external erratic behaviour is simply absolute terror, which is classic narcissistic fear or not being worthy. I can sometimes feel how toxicI am to be around, which is probably why I have hardly any friends left. I've isolated myself so much but it's really been from fear because I can't honestly connect with others. I'm just terrified this will lead to suicide. 

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3 minutes ago, Wren said:

Do you have a meditation teacher? I was just wondering because I think sometimes the way that meditation is taught in the west can be a bit dangerous. Intensive Buddhist mediation is supposed to be for monks who have constant support from each other and a teacher so they can deal with any problems.  I'm no expert so I may have this very wrong, but I used to meditate a lot and broadly speaking my understanding is that insight mediation is supposed to increase self awareness so the person can recognise and eliminate any selfishness and desire (or 'sin' using western terms) while also recognising (amongst other things) the true state of reality which is that there is no such thing as a self and the present moment is all that matters. So the fact that your meditation has revealed to you your lack of sense of self and your own 'narcissism' is to be expected. However, monks can live ego free selfless lives because they do not have jobs or children and they survive off donated food, however for ordinary people a degree of selfishness is necessary because we have to compete for jobs, feed ourselves, give preferential treatment to our children etc. So while your meditation may have revealed to you some aspects of your personality you may want to change, please don't get too caught up in trying to be perfect because it impossible for ordinary people. Hope this wasn't too preachy! I wrote a similar thing on the post on Eckhart Tolle too if you want to read it. 

Not preachy at all, thanks. I don't meditate with a teacher anymore as things got so bad I took a step back from it. Since the medication issues it's very hard for me to meditate and I don't force it, just some simple inquiry stuff or breathing meditation sometimes. I also moved to the country so am not near the classes anymore. 

Revealing this to myself has skewed my sense of everything. I trust myself even less than ever, my whole life feels like a lie, all the ways I distracted myself for years were just making it worse. I've no idea how to live with this. 

 

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I stoped meditating too because of intrusive thoughts and I couldn't find a suitable teacher, I think the power of meditation is often underestimated and not something to be undertaken lightly. It sounds like you are experiencing the 'dark night of the soul' stage so to speak which is why I think sometimes it is easier to stay being 'ill' but you can get to the other side and be well. But remember you have ocd so your 'spiritual journey' will not be the same as other people because ocd exaggerates all your perceptions of yourself, maybe you are sometimes selfish but then absolutely everyone is, you are not a monster but just an ordinary struggling person.  You can get through this and come out the other side, I trust that you can. I know I keep saying it but have you read about compassion focused therapy? I think it is also worth going back to review basic CBT concepts if you are feeling unmoored.  

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6 minutes ago, Wren said:

I stoped meditating too because of intrusive thoughts and I couldn't find a suitable teacher, I think the power of meditation is often underestimated and not something to be undertaken lightly. It sounds like you are experiencing the 'dark night of the soul' stage so to speak which is why I think sometimes it is easier to stay being 'ill' but you can get to the other side and be well. But remember you have ocd so your 'spiritual journey' will not be the same as other people because ocd exaggerates all your perceptions of yourself, maybe you are sometimes selfish but then absolutely everyone is, you are not a monster but just an ordinary struggling person.  You can get through this and come out the other side, I trust that you can. I know I keep saying it but have you read about compassion focused therapy? I think it is also worth going back to review basic CBT concepts if you are feeling unmoored.  

Yes, this dark night experience started around a year and a half ago. I thought it was ending, but it's only getting worse. I was doing cbt with someone, although we only have four more sessions funded. Also seeing a somatic experiencing therapist. I'll read up on compassion based therapy, it would just be financially difficult to start something else as I don't work anymore. And psychiatry won't refer me for anything because they don't deal with protracted withdrawal cases generally. Compassion seems so painful, the problem is that I can't ever allow myself to experience it from myself or anyone, because it feels hollow. I don't know who I am, so connecting with anyone in that way just doesn't feel possible. It's complete agony, I can't even describe it. 

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Some people describe hell as the complete absence of love, does it feel like that? My take on life is that being a human is inherently hard because we are conscious but we cope through love - love of ourselves, love of each other, love of nature, love of god (or what you chose to believe). But people and nature are all inherently flawed - no one escapes and is born perfect - so in order for love to exist forgiveness also has to exist. 

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29 minutes ago, Wren said:

Some people describe hell as the complete absence of love, does it feel like that? My take on life is that being a human is inherently hard because we are conscious but we cope through love - love of ourselves, love of each other, love of nature, love of god (or what you chose to believe). But people and nature are all inherently flawed - no one escapes and is born perfect - so in order for love to exist forgiveness also has to exist. 

Yes, that's exactly what it's like. A complete absence of love or the potential for love. Just darkness, like I'm dying and there's no way out. But worse than dying because there's no relief. 

It feels like this is the thing that has been waiting for me my entire life. The thing I denied and couldn't face. I agree that being human is inherently hard. If there is hope of forgiveness, change, love etc I can carry on, get through it. But without that there's nothing at all. 

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Yes, I've been there. It's why I describe my ocd as a coping skill to cover up this feeling. I tried to describe to therapists that it's worse than death but they don't seem to understand which is why I turned to spirituality. I've also read it described as abandonment depression - it's the feeling a small child which has been abandoned gets ie for a child, not receiving love means death because they can't practically survive on their own and they can't comprehend why they are not loved because to them love is as natural as breathing.  

Right now I'm on the other side of this feeling, I can't guarantee that it will last but at the moment I'm ok. I got there by letting go and trusting that love and forgiveness exist - even if they don't exist in a supernatural sense they are things which we as humans can choose to create because life without them is unliveable - and I believe that is true for all of us not just the 'mentally ill'. I have to remind myself of the literal truth that love can't exist without forgivesness, so in order to get back into the light, to feel love, you have to forgive. It's like hanging on a cliff edge and refusing to let go while a person above you keeps telling you to let go because five inches under your feet there is a ledge, at some point you have to just trust.  For myself, I've made the active choice that it is for god to judge whether I am good or bad, not me, I don't have the ability, it's not my job, all I can do is try my best from now on to be a ordinary loving person and stop the compulsions to control everything, so I let go of the cliff edge and so far it seems that I'm not in hell anymore. 

 

Edited by Wren

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22 minutes ago, Wren said:

Yes, I've been there. It's why I describe my ocd as a coping skill to cover up this feeling. I tried to describe to therapists that it's worse than death but they don't seem to understand which is why I turned to spirituality. I've also read it described as abandonment depression - it's the feeling a small child which has been abandoned gets ie for a child, not receiving love means death because they can't practically survive on their own and they can't comprehend why they are not loved because to them love is as natural as breathing.  

Right now I'm on the other side of this feeling, I can't guarantee that it will last but at the moment I'm ok. I got there by letting go and trusting that love and forgiveness exist - even if they don't exist in a supernatural sense they are things which we as humans can choose to create because life without them is unliveable - and I believe that is true for all of us not just the 'mentally ill'. I have to remind myself of the literal truth that love can't exist without forgivesness, so in order to get back into the light, to feel love, you have to forgive. It's like hanging on a cliff edge and refusing to let go while a person above you keeps telling you to let go because five inches under your feet there is a ledge, at some point you have to just trust.  For myself, I've made the active choice that it is for god to judge whether I am good or bad, not me, I don't have the ability, it's not my job, all I can do is try my best from now on to be a ordinary loving person and stop the compulsions to control everything, so I let go of the cliff edge and so far it seems that I'm not in hell anymore. 

 

I appreciate you sharing this. It resonates a lot. My ocd is definitely a coping mechanism for feelings of extreme abandonment in all senses. I remember the first time it happened when I was 16, just sitting there at the computer one day, something I read triggered it and that was it...the whole world collapsed. It certainly is worse than death.

When I let go I find a similar thing, that things go sort of numb for a bit and just kind of carry on, but nothing so bad happens. What I find makes this go in intense cycles is that I don't feel I can let go of who I feel I am at my core, that it's not possible to feel real love so whatever I do feel after that is just delusion. As you say, life without love is unliveable. And some people are so damaged, such as narcissists, that they aren't capable of love. This is what it boils down to at the moment, that all the periods where I'm feeling 'normal' are just an elaborate illusion I've created to cope, they aren't real. And that I'll always come back to this because it's the truth. I don't know what to do with that.

It very much feels like it would take a complete identity breakdown to move past this, and possible psychosis. Like you say, therapists aren't usually familiar with the spiritual aspect of this which is why spiritual emergency is often treated in our culture as mental illness. I've no idea if that's part of what's happening, or if the medication has just screwed me up. Either way, there's practically no help even if I was able to reach out for it. Thank you for your kind replies, just getting through one minute at a time right now.

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Saffie- no need to reply to this. I really and truly think you should investigate aspergers. BPD and OCD are common misdiagnoses for aspergers in women. The intense emotions and deep loneliness you experience resonates with my own experience of life. Aspergers explains it all. I got a diagnosis last year and it has definitely helped me accept myself and if things go wrong, at least I have a reason that makes sense and I don't blame myself as much anymore. I've been horrible to people too in the past, but it's all to do with self defence, self preservation and a reaction to sensory overload. I was not being nasty for enjoyment sake. Please look up aspergers in women.

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3 minutes ago, Orwell1984 said:

Saffie- no need to reply to this. I really and truly think you should investigate aspergers. BPD and OCD are common misdiagnoses for aspergers in women. The intense emotions and deep loneliness you experience resonates with my own experience of life. Aspergers explains it all. I got a diagnosis last year and it has definitely helped me accept myself and if things go wrong, at least I have a reason that makes sense and I don't blame myself as much anymore. I've been horrible to people too in the past, but it's all to do with self defence, self preservation and a reaction to sensory overload. I was not being nasty for enjoyment sake. Please look up aspergers in women.

I was actually discussing this with my Mum recently and looked it up. My little brother was also just diagnosed with aspergers. Some of it does certainly resonate, although my mind is so screwed up I can't discern too well at the moment. I don't want to convince myself of something else, as I'm good at that. But maybe it's something I should bring up with my therapist? Thank you

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Please do bring it up with your therapist, a better idea might be bringing it up with your GP to see if you can get an assessment done. Waiting lists are long so it might be better to find someone who specialises in aspergers in women and just speak to them on the phone. 

http://www.aspiengirl.com/faq

Edited by Orwell1984

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Sorry to be repetive, but mediation can reveal that you have no inherent sense of self and the self is a delusion - this why it's a teaching that is reserved for trained monks, not ordinary people. I think spirituality when unmoored from its culture and religious traditions can go a bit wrong sometimes so I would tread carefully and it's why I gave up on intensive meditation, although I still use a 'lighter' form of mindfulness. I now follow a more 'embodied' version of spirituality which is more humanistic and doesn't view the self as a delusion. 

I've spent my life ruminating on whether I'm inherently bad and irredeemable, or not, but the reality is uncertainty is a fact of life, I'm not an all seeing god, and I have to stop needing a definitive answer to everything. The fact is that you feel remorse so can feel empathy, and can feel the absence of love so you must be able to feel the presence of love. 

Orwell, I was diagnosed with Aspergers by a private therapist and it made a lot of sense to me but the nhs disagreed, however they did say I may have traits which also makes sense as a diagnosis is not a black and white thing. I think it makes sense why I have deep longing to belong and connect but yet I frequent fail to do so, therefore I turn to nature and spirituality to get love instead, but the ocd turned spirituality into rumination nightmare fuel so I ended up feeling abandoned by god too - hence the hell feelings. 

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I don’t know many narcissistic people that are upset at the thought of being one or that are even aware that they are one. I’ve met a few and 1 in particular would surely berate the life out of me if I were to tell him he is one, I think a good logic to go by is if OCD is throwing this at u then u can be pretty certain it is the opposite of ur true character! 

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11 hours ago, Saffie said:

Thanks BigDave. I thought the same myself, but in reality narcissism is rooted in self hatred. Non existent self esteem to this degree is dangerous, to both self and others. Aside from all my external erratic behaviour is simply absolute terror, which is classic narcissistic fear or not being worthy. I can sometimes feel how toxicI am to be around, which is probably why I have hardly any friends left. I've isolated myself so much but it's really been from fear because I can't honestly connect with others. I'm just terrified this will lead to suicide. 

No I hear you. I myself have been feeling suicidal recently, for more than one reason but the above being one in terms of not being able to connect with them. I feel like I’m living a lie and that I’m not the person that they see before them. That I’ve done mean and unkind things and that I have like a hidden life of mental health demons that I tell no one about. That I’m in my thirties and a virgin etc. When you ruminate on these things, you can start to feel really depressed and low which is why some people think that depression is often a knock on issue from OCD, at least that is what my therapist says. But you are not alone, not really. There are people here who understand exactly how you feel. Embrace it. You may even find new friends here. 

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8 hours ago, Orwell1984 said:

Please do bring it up with your therapist, a better idea might be bringing it up with your GP to see if you can get an assessment done. Waiting lists are long so it might be better to find someone who specialises in aspergers in women and just speak to them on the phone. 

I will, and thanks for the link. Many of the things described sound like it could be a possibility, although I questioned it a lot initially because socially I can actually be very good with people. I was really good at sales over the phone for instance in a previous job, and when I had a social life was often very lively and talkative. But then again, this fluctuated, and maybe I'm jst extrememly good at adapting to situations. The chameleon thing resonates a lot.

5 hours ago, Wren said:

Sorry to be repetive, but mediation can reveal that you have no inherent sense of self and the self is a delusion - this why it's a teaching that is reserved for trained monks, not ordinary people. I think spirituality when unmoored from its culture and religious traditions can go a bit wrong sometimes so I would tread carefully and it's why I gave up on intensive meditation, although I still use a 'lighter' form of mindfulness. I now follow a more 'embodied' version of spirituality which is more humanistic and doesn't view the self as a delusion. 

I've spent my life ruminating on whether I'm inherently bad and irredeemable, or not, but the reality is uncertainty is a fact of life, I'm not an all seeing god, and I have to stop needing a definitive answer to everything. The fact is that you feel remorse so can feel empathy, and can feel the absence of love so you must be able to feel the presence of love. 

Orwell, I was diagnosed with Aspergers by a private therapist and it made a lot of sense to me but the nhs disagreed, however they did say I may have traits which also makes sense as a diagnosis is not a black and white thing. I think it makes sense why I have deep longing to belong and connect but yet I frequent fail to do so, therefore I turn to nature and spirituality to get love instead, but the ocd turned spirituality into rumination nightmare fuel so I ended up feeling abandoned by god too - hence the hell feelings. 

You're not being repetitive. I agree it can be a minefield and many people just don't have the support to deal with what comes up, in the old days we had communities for things like spiritual awakening. But being more isolated as a culture has made this a lot harder. I became obsessed at one point that I needed to 'pick' a tradition of Buddhism because it became all important to commit fully, right now, or I'd lose the 'chance'. At the same time I also knew it's not something you can force or practice effectively with a sense of urgency. So I entered a big spiritual crisis.

It sounds like we've experience a lot of the same things. Thank you for sharing this. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one.

38 minutes ago, Wonderer said:

I don’t know many narcissistic people that are upset at the thought of being one or that are even aware that they are one. I’ve met a few and 1 in particular would surely berate the life out of me if I were to tell him he is one, I think a good logic to go by is if OCD is throwing this at u then u can be pretty certain it is the opposite of ur true character!  

That automatically springs to mind at times, but another side of me is in deep conflict with it and feels I just am terrified of being this weak person. There are so many nuances and complexities in the human psyche, I know to analyse it is completely pointless. Yet this morning it was more real than anything I've experienced in a long time, except once or twice during 'episodes' like this this past year. It's like a terrible black hole of another reality I fall into, I don't understand it at all.

17 minutes ago, BigDave said:

No I hear you. I myself have been feeling suicidal recently, for more than one reason but the above being one in terms of not being able to connect with them. I feel like I’m living a lie and that I’m not the person that they see before them. That I’ve done mean and unkind things and that I have like a hidden life of mental health demons that I tell no one about. That I’m in my thirties and a virgin etc. When you ruminate on these things, you can start to feel really depressed and low which is why some people think that depression is often a knock on issue from OCD, at least that is what my therapist says. But you are not alone, not really. There are people here who understand exactly how you feel. Embrace it. You may even find new friends here. 

Thanks for you kind words. That imposter feeling of hiding awful things has never been so strong, except maybe when I had my first sudden episode as a teen. Although I think that was triggered by going on the contraceptive pill, as I went from functioning fine to a complete wreck shortly after going on it. That first time of whatever that was has haunted me ever since. And over time you form new knock on issues as you describe to cope with the fear. I appreciate you reaching out.

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19 minutes ago, Saffie said:

socially I can actually be very good with people. I was really good at sales over the phone for instance in a previous job, and when I had a social life was often very lively and talkative. But then again, this fluctuated, and maybe I'm jst extrememly good at adapting to situations. The chameleon thing resonates a lot

This is called 'masking' and it takes a lot of effort to keep up. Do you ever feel exhausted after socialising a lot and need to just be alone? Or use alcohol to appear more energised in front of others? I was in sales too for a while and was good at it. The high stress, pressure and constant go go go nature of the job and office environment took its toll mentally though. 

Here's another link on masking https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/costs-camouflaging-autism/

its hard not to mask though and it's hard to tell where the mask begins and the authentic self ends so it's best not to analyse the boundary

Edited by Orwell1984

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33 minutes ago, Orwell1984 said:

This is called 'masking' and it takes a lot of effort to keep up. Do you ever feel exhausted after socialising a lot and need to just be alone? Or use alcohol to appear more energised in front of others? I was in sales too for a while and was good at it. The high stress, pressure and constant go go go nature of the job and office environment took its toll mentally though. 

Yeah definitely, I used to use alcohol and drugs a lot, although not anymore. Socialising is pretty exhausting, but this has got a lot worse over the last year or so. I need to be alone most of the time now. I also used to go on highs working in sales, then crashed. They'd up my dose of Prozac and I would be high as a kite for a few months, then level out, crash, up it again, crash, add new meds, crash and ended up hospitalised a few times. It was a really messed up cycle really. Luckily I no longer have those extreme highs since I got down to 5mg, and my 'normal' periods of mood are not high, but quieter and more even. But they sure did leave their mark. Although now I'm stuck with a 'bipolar' diagnosis from that time, which is ****. I was in hospital with people who had real bipolar and I certainly don't have it. I'm really loathed to trust professionals with diagnosing stuff after all the things they've thrown at me in the past. It seems to be mostly a careless guessing game.

Anyway, went off on a tangent there. I very much am confused by the mask and where it ends and I begin, I think this could quite possibly be a big part of the identity confusion. At some point during the withdrawal stuff this just exploded, as if I broke up into pieces and have been frantically trying to keep afloat since. At the same time I've been letting go as much as possible, because during many deeper meditations I sensed that this sense of self is really just an illusion anyway. As mentioned above, without proper guidance and continued practice, this probably complicated things. There have been many experiences meditation wise where all these 'issues' become literally non-existent. Things like ocd etc just aren't a thing, because I'm not 'me' anymore, but in a good way. There's nothing but peace and the movement of thoughts etc happening. I'm sure this is a common meditative experience, but the cognitive dissonance between that and experiencing its polar opposite as described above, is extremely distressing mentally.

Good to consider this, I'm sure I will more when my head is a bit clearer.

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I think integrating spiritual insight back into everyday life is hard, especially when living inside a culture which doesn't really have a spiritual identity anymore. I haven't read it, but I think Jack Kornfields book 'After the ectasy, the laundry' deals with this matter. I also think that meditation can sometimes become yet another avoidance/distraction activity if we are not careful. 

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14 hours ago, Wren said:

I think integrating spiritual insight back into everyday life is hard, especially when living inside a culture which doesn't really have a spiritual identity anymore. I haven't read it, but I think Jack Kornfields book 'After the ectasy, the laundry' deals with this matter. I also think that meditation can sometimes become yet another avoidance/distraction activity if we are not careful. 

I actually have that book on my Amazon 'saved for later' list. Jack Kornfield is great. I've mostly been listening to Adyashanti's non-dual inquiry talks this past year, and doing gently inquiry into the nature of 'who' is thinking, observing etc. It helped a lot. I don't know if I could go back to certain practices after some of the experiences, it's like Pandora's Box - once you see that most of us live in complete illusion every single day, you can never fully 'unsee' it. Learning how to live in the world after that is the hard part. You're right in that our culture is spiritually cut off, it's why there's so much suffering. We're just so far from out true selves we've forgotten who we are.

The 'other' personality attacks this and says it's not true, that I have always been a selfish, dramatic person and have created this whole illusion to deal with that. It's not even a matter of fearing that at some points, when I fall into that reality it is the truth. It's only when I come out of it, like a bad drug trip, that I start obsessing of 'what's true'. Sometimes I don't know where the line is between psychosis and obsessive thinking, I've definitely slipped over at times. Today I'm pretty numb to it all, everything looks different again, but not bad. It's insane how quickly it switches. There's nothing I can really do with it except hang on as best I can, and go with it.

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Sounds like you are stuck in same ocd cycle as me - peace/joy when I feel I am a 'good' person (or lately, that the universe is good place); overwhelming abandonment depression when I get some kind of confirmation that I am bad and condemned, or the universe is fundamentally bad; and then never ending avoidance and rumination on ethics, morality, and religion when I can't decide which is true. Sometimes I don't even know what the trigger for the abandonment depression is, and like you say it's often in the sequence joy: depression: obsession, it is like being on a rollercoaster. 

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