Painful Epiphany

I’ve been having a pretty good time (well, relatively, anyways) recently.  I had a work attachment experience this week with some equine vets, and it’s just wonderful to be around them.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack on my way home.  I didn’t think too much of it, as I do periodically have sudden and unexpected panic attacks, although I did wonder what had triggered it.  But today, near the end of my shift, my mood went from okay-and-maybe-even-almost-happy to my-life-is-no-longer-worth-living in the space of 45 seconds.  I’ve never had my mood crash quite so quickly before, and it was scary that it could happen like that without any particular inciting incident.

Initially, I thought that this was an unfortunate coincidence (ups and downs are pretty normal for me), but I’m starting to realise that it probably isn’t the case.  I thought about the panic attack, and realised that it was neither sudden nor unexpected.  The anxiety I felt had actually been building up over the course of my work attachment.  The same for the depression: although during work hours, I was doing quite okay and managing, every day after work, my mood had been steadily dropping.  I also realised that something similar had happened before with other enjoyable activities.

So this is the thing: What if the things I really, really enjoy are causing me more pain overall?  I think it’s happening.  I think I even know why it’s happening.  When I’m around people I admire/respect, I hold myself to impossibly high standards out of a belief that they will think less of me if I am somehow less than perfect.  I know that I am less than perfect, after all, who isn’t?  But this leads to incredible fear and anxiety that something I say or do will show that imperfection to the other person.   And when it happens, as is inevitable, as I really don’t know everything there is to know (if I did, I wouldn’t need the work experience) nor am I capable of doing everything perfectly, then I feel like everyone is disappointed in me and that they all hate me and would be better off without me and I feel disappointed in myself and that just makes my depression that much worse.  But this need to be perfect is so much greater when I am in a position I want to be in.  When I’m with people I greatly respect or admire (people I desire to spend more time with), I feel a greater need to please them or to appear as good as I think they are (which, incidentally, isn’t always the same as how good other people think they are).  I want to impress them so I can have more of their time and attention, and that just doesn’t normally work well for me.

I think it’s incredibly sad that the things which should bring me the greatest joy also bring me the greatest pain.  I wish I could get past this so I could truly enjoy the experience of doing these things or being around these people.