You can’t just turn it off

Mental illness sucks. I don’t want to admit that I have a mental illness. Admitting it in public scares the shit out of me, to be honest. I have social anxiety disorder. I also have a retail job. I am deeply humiliated to have a retail job, despite being repeatedly told that I should be grateful to have a job.

For someone like me, working retail is an unending nightmare. I can’t handle meeting new people, and meeting them while in a subservient position just makes everything worse.

Nobody in the United States has any respect for retail workers. Let’s face it. You know it’s true. I’m already insecure, already terrified of the public at large and now I’m looked at as if I were scum.

I recently had an episode at work. I made a mistake and I started bawling in front of a customer. I’ve been at this place for five months and this has happened only twice (the recent incident being the second one, obviously), which, for me, is not that bad a record. Apparently nobody else agrees with me. Well, the mistake was easily rectified but the episode still happened and cannot be undone.

I come back to work and I’m essentially told that, oh, everybody has problems and you need to “handle” it.

Well, not everyone has a mental illness. I do. I can’t just “turn it off” — it doesn’t work that way. I am barely keeping it under control as it is, every day. This is hard. I’m sorry I can’t turn it off. I’m sorry my meds aren’t as effective. I’m sorry I’m bitter over working retail.

I’m trying my best. I try every day. It, apparently, isn’t good enough because people think mental illness is just some random thing you can place in a box and leave at home. This only makes life that much harder for people like me.

I HATE having social anxiety disorder. You think this is fun? You think I enjoy being terrified of every single person I come across? You think I enjoy worrying endlessly about how someone’s going to think I’m an idiot because I don’t know how to fix a sink or whatever? I don’t. I don’t enjoy any of this. I wish I were a nice, normal person who feels comfortable about greeting customers and attempting to answer their questions.

I don’t use this as an excuse. I don’t talk about it to anyone and I don’t use it as a sort of social virtue signaling thing, like half of the twats on Tumblr do (like, zomg u guise I have anxiety disorder! Woe is me). This isn’t fun and games. It’s just total misery. I can’t even stand to be around my own family members anymore, it’s that bad.

As I said earlier, I know everyone has problems. But, and this is important to reiterate, not everyone has a mental illness. Dealing with “ordinary” or even “extraordinary” problems is a lot harder.

I wish more people understood mental illness a lot better. I kind of understand, because I know someone whose mental illness is a lot more severe than mine, and sometimes it is hard to understand why he is the way he is. Then someone tells me to compartmentalize my emotions, as if it were that easy, and I understand again.

I feel so overwhelmingly alone. No matter where I go, this will always be a problem, and I don’t know how to fix it, and it’s very unfortunate.

So thanks, world. Thanks a whole lot for your “understanding.”