TBT: Personality and Psychological Disorder

Note: I wrote this in 2014 as a requirement for my Psych101 (Introduction to Psychology) Class. Since it is a Thursday here, it’s throwback Thursday! This is an edited and filtered version. Lol. Also, please support #MHActNow. Looking back, I was such a weird kid. Haha. I still kinda am.

Personality and Psychological Disorder

When we were discussing defense mechanisms by Freud in class, I couldn’t help but think: “Ay weh, ‘yun pala ginagawa ko.” (Oh, That’s what I’m doing right now). I was (and maybe still am) guilty of various types of defense mechanism mentioned by Freud. There was a time when I was so frustrated and with a batch mate of mine. He was a shiftee from an engineering course, and he was so good at numbers and at studying, but I was angry at the fact that he shifted to accounting when I think he should have stayed in his original course because that’s where his skills and talents can be fully utilized, but no, he just had to shift to a course where he’s really not needed because a lot of people are trying to get into that course already. Then I realized that first of all, what he does with his life is really none of my concern, because we’re not even friends and second, I was just projecting my annoyance and frustrations at myself from shifting from economics to accounting because I think I was good at economics. I was so bitter about my choice because I believed that I could have done more if I stayed at my previous course. There are times when I still feel that way (especially since I got removed from accounting), but it’s a lesson that I’m still trying to learn: that we have to move on and make do with what we have and where we are right now.

I am guilty of a lot of other defense mechanisms, but that’s just who I am I guess, an amalgamation of defense mechanisms in order to survive this world.

The criteria of normality are efficient perception of reality, ability to exercise voluntary control over one’s behavior, self-esteem and acceptance, ability to form affectionate relationships and productivity.

I was still able to do all of the five criteria, so I considered myself normal. Sure I sometimes worry over things more than my peers, and sometimes I would stop functioning properly when I agonized over situations (it would only last for a short time), and I do get distressed by a lot of things. I knew I was a bit neurotic since I was a kid. But deep down, I knew that there was nothing wrong with me, I just have a higher standards and a different way of thinking than others. I’d cry, get tired, and rant about things; complain about my lazy group mates and all that but in the end I would still be able to get the results that I want. People would think I had a problem with my self-esteem and self-acceptance, but I was just good at impression management and expectation setting (they wouldn’t expect too much if I told them that I was a bad at something that I already know I can’t do well, would they?). I was proud of myself for being responsible in things that I cared for and I knew how to handle myself. I had control over my actions. Most of all, I was happy with how productive I was no matter what happened, and I was able to make a lot of friends. I created a lot of coping mechanisms for the shortcomings that I knew I had, like planning and doing my school work early because I’m forgetful and I am also bad at cramming things I’m not good at.

The three criteria of abnormal behavior as mentioned in class are deviance, maladaptiveness, and personal distress.

I didn’t fully notice how my behavior went from normal to abnormal because it was gradual. It didn’t just spring on me one day like a nasty flu. I thought I was still normal, because I thought it was just how I am usually. My reactions over simple things became deviant from the social norms (a normal student wouldn’t be cry, get hysterical, and hyperventilate over getting a terror professor for a long time like I did, they’d just rant about their rotten luck and try to move on). I wasn’t able to function effectively anymore. My personal distress reached a new high record. My parents finally decided to have me checked by a doctor (much to my horror, relief, and mostly embarrassment at having to reach that point) who prescribed my some medicines and told me that it wasn’t really my fault (I still have doubts about that), that I have to stop pleasing other people and to be honest with myself. After a few checkups, the doctor deemed that I was “better” but that I “had to be careful”. My self-acceptance and esteem really took a blow since then, because I still couldn’t fully distinguish which part was my personality, and which part of it was just a “disorder”.

Currently, I’m still trying to accept the fact that what I had was something I couldn’t control and that it’s not really my fault, or at least not totally my fault. With my personality, I am predisposed to feel and act in a certain way but that doesn’t mean that it’s not normal and that it would automatically mean I’d behave abnormally. I have a choice to improve myself and get rid of any illness that I may have. It’s not hopeless. It was never hopeless, and people should never give up. One time, we were required to watch a movie for a class, and the movie ended at 8pm. I was stuck waiting at school ‘til 9pm because my parents were only able to fetch me at that time. For an hour, all I could feel was anxiety and fear, and negative thoughts would enter my head (what if somebody attacks me? Hala wala ng tao, isasara na yung building! Papalaysin na ko ni kuya guard huhu) (Oh no, there are no more people around, they’re going to ask me to leave the building), because it was dark and I was all alone except for the guard and the occasional grad students passing by. It struck me at that exact moment that it was what I felt for the whole time last year, and it was not normal to feel that way every day. It’s not normal, should never be normal and nobody should ever feel that way. Psychological disorders may manifest differently from physical disorders, but it doesn’t make it any less threatening or harmful. “It’s just in your mind”, yes, it is, but people must learn when exactly it’s normal and abnormal.

Clumsy

I thought I’d try writing short stories again. So I did. Plus I wanted to let things out.

“I trip. But I always get up. I don’t understand why people think tripping is a big deal. Unless you trip down a flight of stairs and end up in a hospital, that’s another matter. I would trip from time to time, because I’m only human, a clumsy one but I’m human. Normal people trip right? It just so happens that I fall too often, but I always get up. I always try to get up. I may lie down for a moments, just to get my bearing, but I always get up,” said a girl with a short hair who was lying down on the grass on her back.

“You’ve been lying there for more than thirty minutes,” a boy replied while rummaging around his bag looking for something. “You have to get up sooner or later.”

“I’m just feeling the grass, plus I’m just tired, I thought I could take a lil nap. Is there something wrong with that?” she haughtily said while using her arm to cover her eyes from the glaring sunlight. “And don’t you remember the time I fell in front of the class because of stupid gravity, I got back right up.”

“. . . .” the boy was speechless, not knowing what to say to her or how to even react at her seemingly pointless statements and unusual actions.

“What. I have the right to enjoy the greenery. Plus I was the one who tripped and scraped my knees. Not you,” said the girl, not moving an inch from her position.

“Get up, your knees are bleeding,” the boy offered the girl a hand which she hesitantly took. “Come on, up you go,” he pulled the girl up easily and the girl stood.

“Yeah yeah, but I told you, I always get up, I’ve been doing it on my own all this time,” the girl happily exclaimed as she dusted her clothes.

“Hmm, right. Here. Clean those wounds,” the boy offered the girl a first-aid kit, he was oblivious to the growing turmoil inside the girl.

“Why won’t you understand?” the girl suddenly whispered to herself, not taking the offered object from the boy’s hand.

“I always get up, no matter how many times I fall, no matter how much I just wanted to stay there. I always get up.” the girl repeated out loud, as if to prove to herself and to everybody else something which only she knows.

“We’ve established that, yes. You just tripped and got up again, which is what people do when they fall. So what’s the big deal?”

“It’s not just. . .you. . ” the girl spluttered and realized it was another lost cause. The girl took a deep breath.

“You know what, it’s nothing. Overthinking and things. I’m sorry for acting strange. I’m fine,” she said with a big smile, taking the first-aid kit from his hands with her own shaky ones, both of them noticing it but neither acknowledged. “Thanks.”

Girl Next Door

To the girl who loves beauty
To the girl who laughs loudly
To the girl who smiles brightly
You just have to look into the mirror
and look at what I can see

To the girl who scolds so harshly
To the girl who fights so fiercely
To the girl who cries so brokenly
You just have to keep silent
And find inner peace and serenity

To the girl who does not love perfectly
But loves very much, wholeheartedly
Leave some for yourself, give all to the All-Mighty
Give what you can give, take what you can take
Because love is never forced, love is given willingly

To the ones you love, to the ones you cherish
You pray that those feelings would never perish
But like silver, it would somehow tarnish
When you know it’s not pure and not everylasting
But unlike others it can surely be polished

To the girl who feels she is never enough
To the girl who know she is more than just fluff
To the girl who thinks this is all just a bluff
It is okay to bleed, it is alright to break
That’s what humans do, be faulty and stuff

You know how to live, so learn how to let go
Be it humans, emotions, feelings, and ego
Life is so colorful, from red fo indigo
You will always be right, you will always be wrong
It is up to you to decide, after all it is your show

Living in an Ivory Tower

ivory tower

To live or be in an ivory tower is not to know about or to want to avoid the ordinary and unpleasant things that happen in people’s lives.”

Not all people know what it’s like to live and exist in an ivory tower.

People in fairy tales, people who lacks the understanding of the reality. Or perhaps people who knows too much of reality and chose to be safe and to be locked alone in a cold looming ivory tower for fear of the pain.

Sometimes people who live in these ivory towers place themselves in a pedestal. An unreachable pedestal to others, and it is an unreasonable and impossible standard that cannot be achieved through normal means but these people die trying to prove otherwise. How would they know it’s impossible? They live in their own reality where they are the master of their worlds.

What others do not know, or perhaps they know but do not understand, is that this pedestal, these standards, they are not unreachable and impossible to the people living in their quaint towers.

They are the norms to these people. They live in a different reality wherein they believe that they can achieve it and they feel so wrecked and disappointed when they do not reach the standards because they’re supposed to achieve it. They’re supposed to reach it because they know in their hearts they could have, they should have, they would have.

But the moment the doubts enter into their minds, their world gets torn apart and they rush into the defense of their seemingly impenetrable and infallible tower.

The moment they try to reach out to the existence of the world outside their tower, they get hurt and feel so helpless which is unacceptable to them, cursing out the truth of the world and creating their own truths for their convenience. Living in their ivory tower makes them feel safe and secure, but that’s not living, is it? They’re merely existing in an secluded space of a place of their own construct.

And you can’t force these people out of their towers. They know what they’re doing is wrong, maybe not totally wrong, but it’s ingrained in them. It’s part and parcel of who they were, and who they are.

As for who they will be in the future, there is still a chance to get down from their ivory tower and be one of the people in reality.

But they find it hard and they sometimes they need help. They’ve been stuck too long in a vicious cycle of running away and ignoring reality that even though they want to, even though they need to get out they can’t, not without help. But they wouldn’t call out for help. Either because of their aforementioned standards or because of fear of their pitiful cries not being heard.

The fact that they think they’re already safe and secure had twisted their perception of reality and because of their sense of self-preservation they are torn apart between getting out and staying in.

But who is to say that their perception is wrong anyway? Maybe just skewed, because everyone perceives things differently, even more so for them.

Their tower served as a defense, as a shield from all the pain and suffering of the world, but it also served as an impediment to other wonderful experience.

Nothing gets in. Nothing gets out.

By blocking out all the ugly things, they have also forgotten the fact that they are also blocking out the beautiful things. It’s not a world of just black and white, of pain and relief, of joy and misery, but it’s a myriad of emotions and a rainbow of experience out there.

And bless these good people who try and help these hermits into getting away from their tower. Bless these people who try to climb the walls to reach out to the lonely souls living in their own reality, neglecting the existence of the world that has a lot to offer. Bless these people who succeed in opening up their world, of destroying the fortress that deterred their growth.

Living in an ivory tower is a cold and lonely experience of misunderstandings and emptiness.

And people can get out of it if they wanted to (and some of them do, they really do want to), and there’s always a helping hand out there, willing to guide these sheltered people into the beauty of living and existing.

Botched Interview: In Terms of Snobbery and Selfishness

I asked a friend of mine if I’m arrogant. Said friend told me that I’m not arrogant. I’m just a snob.

A snob.

According to Webster:
1 British : cobbler
2 : one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors
3 a : one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior
b : one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste

Obviously I’m not a cobbler. It would be nice though, I’d be sweet and all that but then I’d get eaten.

Clearly I don’t imitate or fawn with social superiors. Fawn. Psh. And socializing is kind of my frenemy.

So I fall under the third definition. It didn’t occur to me that I was being a snob, a somewhat elitist, until she pointed it out to me. There’s a difference between being an elite and being an elitist, it’s one of the lessons I’ll never forget from my beloved Kas 1 professor. I prided myself with being understanding and tolerant elite when in reality I was acting snobbish.

I was in for a rude awakening.

Last June 15, 2015, I experienced the first panel interview of my life.

In terms of preparation for the said interview, I did badly according to my standards. There were so many mistakes that could have been prevented but I didn’t.

First mistake: I didn’t recognize I was already exhibiting a defense mechanism against anxiety. At least I did on a subconscious level maybe, but I didn’t outright recognize it. I avoided any heavy preparation for fear of reminding myself of the anxiety. I didn’t research much, I just went on with my usual routine of ignoring reality and pushing through with reading fiction. I snubbed reality believing that I was enough.

Second mistake: I might have been overconfident. Not sure if that is the term since self-esteem is still something of an issue to me. But I believe I really was. I thought I could wing it, I thought that my sincerity and determination would be enough. I fooled myself into believing that: “Kaya mo yan!” And forgetting the important qualifier: “Kung naghanda ka ng maayos.” I snubbed the fact that practice makes perfect.

Third mistake: I forgot. I forgot that my speech cannot keep up with my thoughts, which is why I would stick to scripts during presentation and why I believe I do so much better on paper than oral exams. Impromptu speech is not my thing, it never was. I snubbed oral communication believing that writing is so much better and hence the lack of motivation to prepare.

Fourth mistake: I just prepared lightly. I didn’t let myself succumb to the other side of me that wanted to prepare for every angle that they can attack me. I didn’t want to succumb to my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I’m snubbing even myself right now.

Mistakes set aside, on the day itself I just prepped myself to believe that I’d weather through it because I already have a vague idea on to why I want law and things.

Hah. Vague. That in itself should have been enough of a warning for me.

But it wasn’t the idea of why law that was vague but rather on how to say that idea.

Because my idea for taking up law was really to help people (for self-fulfillment of course. I’m not a martyr though I somehow want to be). I didn’t know if the panelist would want a wishy washy idealistic, stuck-in-an-ivory-tower kid taking up law. And I didn’t like sharing my thoughts with those I’m not close with. I was selfish with my thoughts.

I cannot, for the life of me, recount the whole details without having the urge to hide my face and cringe or bawl in a corner of the room. The gist is I botched it pretty badly because of being nervous, deaf, stupid, snobbish and selfish.

And I keep on having flashbacks. It’s that bad.

Maybe it wasn’t that bad, maybe it’s just my view and perfectionist tendencies but I don’t know.

That’s the thing, I don’t know. Aside from the fact that I did so poorly by my standards, and I wasn’t able to express myself properly like I wanted to.

Botched up. All because of my snobbery and selfishness.

And I sincerely pray to God that it won’t happen again. That I’d have the strength to change and move on. And that I’d stop face palming every time I remember it.

As the song goes, there can be miracles when you believe. And I pray hard to believe that even though I botched the interview I’ll get through it, Amen.

Of Arrogance and Confidence, and Everything in Between

What is confidence?

Is it believing that you can do it? Is it something you can eat? Is it something innate? Is it just a concept, a justification of one’s ability?

People keep on saying that it’s just believing. Believing and not faltering. Being absolute in that trust of whatever it is.

Can you learn it? Can you buy it somewhere? Because if so, please show the way. I clearly don’t know how to be, or I might not have it at all.

For some convoluted and twisted reasons, I cannot clearly delineate between arrogance and confidence.

Arrogance is defined by Webster as: “an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people”.

And of course, being arrogant is simply not acceptable to me, and yet sometimes (maybe more often than I notice) I come off as being arrogant instead of confident (either in my head or in actual conversations and actions).

It’s a block. It’s a frustrating block of mine that I can’t seem to get rid of. That block which is explaining myself to others.

They ask me to describe myself, to market myself, to convince them why I should be the one for whatever position/school/thing/what have you. And I can’t answer them properly. I usually can’t unless they ask a direct question of: “what are your likes, where do you live, what do you do.”

I can’t even take a proper compliment without feeling embarrassed.

I keep on asking myself why? Why the hell do I act that way? Why is it that I’m rarely content, rarely confident, rarely appreciative of what I have?

I can think of many reasons. Most probably due to neurotic tendencies and complexities, there’s also the factor of living in a damn ivory tower (and here I thought I was finally free) and the factor of being arrogant in the sense that I have don’t have to explain myself because actions speak louder than words. There is also the fact that I’m just naturally a vague and shy person.

Neurotic tendencies.

Now that is one big can of worms. I can’t accept a simple compliment because I have always believed that I could have done more, could have achieved better. I have standards, standards which I thought I have lowered but hello denial and subconsciousness. This is so frustrating and embarrassing. I could blame it on the fact that I’m surrounded by overachievers and they usually belittle what I have whether it is just in my mind or they say it outright.

Not that it’s totally their fault. I can’t feel inferior without acknowledging that they are superior and somehow they are. I let myself believe that I’m such an inferior human being. It’s quite insensitive of me to think that way because there are those who are less capable than me, what of them then?

And here comes Desiderata by Max Ehrmann: “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” There will always be someone better than you, and there will always be someone who is worse than you.

Living in an ivory tower.

Yes. I’ve been stamped as a person living in an ivory tower separate from reality (because reality sucks, throw it down the window, we don’t need it, and it doesn’t need us). But see here, comparing yourself with others can go so wrong. This is why I just benchmark myself with my own standards. I compare myself with what I believe I can do, and what I actually do, but I come off as selfish and arrogant to myself which I really try to avoid.

So hello again ivory tower which I thought I’ve finally exited. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

Being vague because I’m arrogant like that.

I can be specific, but most of the time I’m just vague because I expect people to understand or at least try to understand. I’m vague when I feel that things are obvious and I don’t really have to explain anything at all. I’m vague when I’m unsure of myself. I’m vague when I myself don’t know what to say. I’m vague because I don’t want to be understood, and yet I want to be understood by those who I feel deserve to know me (hello again arrogance).

But the reality is, not all people are mind readers. Not all of them will make the effort to understand you, the world would be a better place if everybody is understanding and respectful. But they’re not. And people why wonder why the world is at war. I’m getting off topic. My wandering mind is so hard to control.

So here I am, still meandering between confidence and arrogance. I’m making progress, I think.

I should hope so. I get the believing part. It’s just that I botch things up once in awhile (scratch that, maybe often) but I’m still trying.

Oh how I hate making excuses.

Yeah. Here we go again.

While I’m having debates with myself for lack of confidence and being arrogant, or maybe for just being so contradicting, there’s this thing called having faith in God.

Because really, losing faith in yourself is one thing, but losing faith in God is just plain horrifying.

Confidence in God is always better than having confidence with yourself.

Surface

When a person looks at someone, all he sees is the surface. Some people are intuitive in the sense that they are able to see pass the facade. They are able to see the truth and the heart of the matter. But somehow they can’t see it all.

And it’s a scary feeling, to be vulnerable, to know that somebody might see the real you. What’s scarier though, is that they see something in you that you try so hard to hide but you know it’s futile because they can still see it.

If they knew how deeper it runs, how it was so much worse, how the things that they are seeing are just the tip of the ice berg. If they only knew, how you are not the person you seem to be.

It’s just the surface. They’ve barely scratched the surface. The murky waters kept them from seeing what’s truly underneath. No matter how you are bursting to correct them, to tell them that they are wrong, you can’t. You simply can’t.

Because somehow you want to think that what they said was the truth. You want to believe that they’re right, you’re somehow wrong. And perhaps, there is some reality to what they are saying.

They don’t know how hard you’ve tried to change yourself, still trying, still improving, still looking and still working. It’s the depressing part, isn’t it? The part where you’re trying to show who you are, how much better you are right now but somehow they see but don’t understand because they don’t know and you can’t let them know; and you feel that they will never understand.

What they’re looking at is just the surface, and the only way to let see more is to either clear the water or let them wade in and swim through your depths of personality. The first option takes a lot of effort and hard work, but they wouldn’t really notice it unless they were paying attention, and the second option . . . . is just something unacceptable until you learn to trust them and hope that they won’t ever take advantage of what they will see in you.

They won’t be able to reach the bottom unless they’re willing to swim through the cold and harsh waters.

Reflection

There is something about mirrors, that when you look at them, you are unsure of what you are seeing.

You know you should be seeing yourself, but somehow you don’t. You see yourself clearly, and yet you wonder why they can’t see you for who you are. There is a dissonance between your viewpoint and theirs. They have a different set of adjectives to describe you, and you have a different set of adjectives to describe yourself. Who is right? Who is wrong?

Do you truly know yourself, or are you deluding yourself into being someone you are not? Which is true? Which is false? When you stare at the mirror while wearing a mask, it will show you wearing a mask. It will not show your face when you are clearly wearing a mask.

The conflict between who is right and wrong will continue, even though there is nothing right or wrong about it. It’s all about perspective and acceptance. In order to reconcile the warring sides, you have to accept the fact that sometimes you see something that they don’t, and they see something that you don’t.

It’s not that they’re wrong about you, or you’re wrong about yourself. It’s just that a person is rarely so simple underneath the surface. A person shows different facets and sides. Human beings are complex creatures, sometimes they’re predictable, but often times they’ll surprise you. Generalization is a dangerous fallacy. Try to learn and see beyond what is obvious, maybe then you’ll understand.

People change. Feelings change. It’s no wonder that your reflection changes too.