I have a pretty self-deprecating sense of humor, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the time it’s more harmful than it is endearing or even funny.
I’m a super frantic person. When I was a teen and would eat dinner at my friend’s house, her dad would take a big deep breath when I was finished telling a story because I talked so fast. People are constantly commenting on my high-energy—and sometimes it’s a compliment, but not always. When you combine this naturally frenzied behavior with my extreme emotional sensitivity, you get a super-special brand of neurotic.
Lately I’ve been having a hard time with a new kind of anxiety and stress. I’ve been getting periodic headaches that are more painful than any I’ve experienced before. I end up sensitive to light, extremely agitated, and have even had to leave work. The second I am back in my home I feel instantly better. When I talk about it, I’ve said “I feel crazy,” “I feel insane,” “I feel like I’ve lost my mind,” always in a joking tone, like “hahaha, this is funny, I’m losing it and don’t even know why!!” But you know what? It’s really not fucking funny. It’s scary.
I’ve written before about being a “feeler” and that I’m pretty comfortable with sharing my feelings. There have been a few moments when I let all the stuff build up and then it accidentally comes spewing out, and then I make a joke about how I can’t breathe, sound insane or need to be tranquilized. And it happens across all of my relationships, with close friends and family and also with people I’m sort-of dating or don’t even know very well.
You know how they say that if you smile even when you’re unhappy you can trick your brain into believing you’re happy? I think the same principle applies to things you hear, in positive and negative ways. Maybe it’s a partner telling you you’re beautiful, and you start to believe it. That’s a positive thing for sure. But when I’m constantly trying to balance the description of how I’m feeling with some sort of self-deprecating joke, I think I start to believe what I’m saying. The bad stuff.
I’m realizing that when I feel particularly down and try to understand why, the reasons I give myself are just stupid ideas that I put in my own head. In that way, I think I’m the meanest person I know. I want to start being nicer to myself. I want to start telling myself all the good things every day, having some sympathy for myself when things suck or when they’re scary, and not being afraid to be honest about how I’m feeling even when it feels embarrassing to do so. Because at the end of the day, no matter how eccentric, all of these experiences and worries are valid. It certainly takes time to understand it all and respond to it the right way, but being hard on myself for feeling it isn’t productive at all.