Living with anxiety makes me feel like I have a great big target on my back. That might sound strange and slightly far-fetched, but let me explain.
Because every situation is so over-exaggerated, it almost feels like everyone expects me to mess up. Now, when I say “mess up”, that could be anything, from just saying a simple sentence to something like placing an order at a restaurant. And because of that über-self awareness, I imagine myself as a giant walking target, waiting for people to mock or ridicule me.
For me, it’s a bit like that feeling you have when you’re watching a horror movie and you’re anticipating the next character’s inevitable demise. For everyone around me, I imagine it being like watching a circus clown and just waiting for the big pie-in-face moment – something you expect to witness.
My own version of “big man syndrome”
Quick disclaimer (and the reason the subtitle says “my own version”): urban dictionary have a definition of Big Man Syndrome which is as follows:
Big Man Syndrome (BMS) is when you are a bigger person and you feel the need to overpower a situation just because you are a big person. It can happen in someone that is fat or someone that is muscular, most commonly found in muscular people.
So just to clarify, when I say ‘big man syndrome’, I’m not referring to myself as a douchebag…
Now onto my definition…
In part, I think it has something to do with my physical size. I’m 6 foot 4 and therefore have had to live through years of being told I fit into the “lanky” and “clumsy” stereotype just because I have longer limbs than everyone else.
Now I’m a fully grown man, there’s even more situations where I’ve been hyper-aware of my size. Public transport is a good example – I have to crouch when I’m on the tube or stand right in the centre because otherwise my head’s touching the roof. Sitting on the bus is extra awkward because I’m just broad enough to overlap the middle of two seats meaning whoever sits next to me has to either sit on half a seat or sit sideways.
There’s more to this than just awkwardly trying to physically fit in tight public spaces. Another part of my theory lies in the fact that I think people in general just believe bigger people can take more abuse. As if for some reason our extra bit of flesh and bone means we’re not particularly bothered by things “smaller people” say.
Again, this is no doubt something that I’ve just made up in my head by myself, but my own life experiences suggest otherwise. When I’m in a group social situation for example, I can’t help but feel I’m the first person someone is going to see because, well, your eyes notice whatever is biggest in the room right? So when anyone is setting themselves for a joke involving someone else/fancy taking to piss out of someone, I feel like I’m the first to grab their attention and they take a jab at me.
The class clown
What’s rather strange about all of this is that I used to be fully comfortable with being the target of a joke. When I was in primary school, my school report would regularly have the advice of “does well in class but tends to take the role of the class clown”. It got to the point in my third year of primary school that I was actually moved to a table that was facing the wall and was adjoining my teacher’s table. Through a star-a-day-for-good-behaviour-and-a-packet-of-football-stickers-if-I got-five-stars-in-a-week system, my clownish behaviour died down.
I was still relatively loud in my following primary school years until I went through the dark times (what some refer to as “the teenage years”) during secondary school. With bad skin and a pretty bad sweating problem, it was pretty hard to maintain any sliver of confidence.
But I did. I had a pretty large group of friends around me who I was comfortable with so I would always feel confident around them. I still felt like the clown of the group which was something I liked to play up to.
I think there’s many things I can point to as what was responsible for me losing that ability to soak it up. My cancer diagnosis at the end of uni did quite some damage to my confidence. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a few of my closest friends drifted away during my treatment. That no doubt did some damage. I also had an arsehole girlfriend in my final year of uni who, looking back now, must have destroyed my confidence considering some of the things I let her get away with.
Aside from uni, I was in, what I would describe as, relatively toxic work environments. My first part-time position, which I started working at just as I finished my radiotherapy, was pretty much a gossiping ground where there were virtually no secrets kept – which was especially annoying as I didn’t really want all of my new colleagues to know about my cancer diagnosis at the time (I’m not really sure why not). I do feel slightly bad about calling that job a “toxic environment” because in reality, I met some really good friends there and I was pretty lucky I had the job in the first place. I feel like my pretty low confidence at the time skewed my opinion of that place somewhat.
For my next job however – my first ever full-time job – I can definitely say that environment did not help me in the slightest. I had a manager who was the true definition of twat. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had some serious confidence issues herself with the amount of backhanded comments she gave and the general dismissive, holier-than-thou attitude she possessed. God she was an arsehole… And let’s not forget that I actually had to leave that job because I was eventually diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
I think that it’s more than likely just gradually caught up with me over the years. With every rite of passage, I feel like something has happened to chip away at my confidence, resulting in my current anxiety issues.
This is all of course a theory from the skewed mind of someone with mental health issues. Maybe this is just me trying to make sense of my own problems… it’s like some next-level inception shit…
Anyway, sorry for the extra long post. I haven’t posted in a couple weeks so I thought I’d give you some bonus craziness in this post! Hope you enjoyed it 😉