I have an amazing group of friends, seriously they are the best. I was playing games before I met them (the earliest I met when I was about 13) and they opened my eyes to co-op and other games. Now we are in our mid to late 20s and we still get together to play video games, board games and D&D. But I constantly feel like a stranger.
My memory is pretty bad but it wasn’t until I was around 18 that I realized that people don’t feel like rubbish most of the time, wonder about how to kill themselves on an almost daily basis and put on a fake smile when out in almost every situation. I had felt like this for as long as I could remember and when I realized it I didn’t know what to do, a friend’s mother (not one of my gaming friends) had noticed that something was off with me. I had never spoken to anyone about how I really felt and someone confronting me on it was terrifying. To cut a large section out, they helped me see professionals who decided I didn’t have a problem and told my parents, who I then lied to saying I was getting help and eventually said I was better. I now associate talking about my true feelings shame and betrayal, shame that when I did talk openly about how I felt I was basically told I had no problem and piss off (not what happened but how it felt). Betrayed by a person who I thought was there to help me, who had seen me at my most vulnerable (I don’t doubt that she thought she was helping but not how it felt.).
So when everyone kind of split apart for uni or college it wasn’t too bad, I didn’t have to deal with social stuff so much, I went to uni (living at home) I could be a different person and come home and stay in my room playing games. It was so hard, dealing with people who didn’t have any interests I had, having to remember who I was being, researching topics to sound like I was interested, it was tough. I got a degree and again people I met went separate ways…It was only by chance I ran into one of my old gaming friends. We caught up, others were coming back from uni, we hung out, we went on holidays together, attended weddings for some of the couples in the group. It continues and can be good…but I am still a stranger.
None of them know how I feel, that I have the thoughts of dying/killing myself, that I feel like the most worthless, pointless, unnecessary human on the planet, because I feel that’s not the person they chose as a friend. They chose the happy, jokey, quirky me, if I were to say to them “hey guys you know all those fun times we have had? Well most of the time I feel like crap even when it’s good times!” then they would disown me (of course I wouldn’t say it like that but that is how I feel it would be interoperated). I constantly feel I am being judged and if I make a mistake I won’t be worthy of their friendship. I know this is insane, one of the group came out about his struggles with depression recently and is quite open about it. Nothing changed. Yet here I am feeling guilty for not being able to speak up.
As I grew I realized that this was the group of people I truly loved. I am not unsuccessful, all going well I will soon finish a second degree and become a mental health nurse (irony?). Yet I always feel I am hiding, I am not the person they think I am, I keep putting on a face for them fearing I will lose them if I don’t. I am some guy in a mask, a mask that looks like a person but you will only see parts. Some people want to be able to remove the mask, I want to put it on, I want to feel that I don’t need to worry about expressing myself, that I can be who I am, that I don’t have to play at life. That I can live it.