It sucks away the good.
You know the weekend went okay, at the very least. Overall, people are happy. There have been hugs, laughs, discussions about industry, about craft, about life. There’s been thanks and appreciation.
And there have been photos. And that’s where wave upon wave of self loathing and despair rise, crashing down on you, burying you in the sand of your own making.
How is it that you get up on stage feeling a little better about yourself, a tiny bit more secure, but as soon as you see the photos, you realize just how mistaken you were? And then it spirals, and becomes this issue of, well, let’s call it dysmorphic proportions.
Because it’s not just about size, though there’s unquestionably that. It’s about the lines in the face, the way the clothes show just how big you are, the way the lighting shows the scars on your face. It’s about your hair looking greasy, your eyes glassy, your arms enormous. And when you see these things, when you’re mortified that that’s what you look like, you spiral deeper.
And this is where it gets dark, and ugly(er). Then it’s a question of existence. How can you possibly stand up there and expect people to listen when you look like that? How can you subject them to your presence, to your nearness, when you’re such a fat, wrinkled, troll of a human being? How can you even leave the house? How dare you live?
Yes, you’re aware of the noxious absurdity of that. You wouldn’t ever think it about another person; but when it comes to yourself, you simply can’t help it. You wish those photos, those videos didn’t exist. That way, people won’t be reminded of the ghastly horror they had to deal with all weekend. They could forget about you, and concentrate on the good stuff, the fun stuff, the other people.
No, there is no logic to this. No, you’re not looking for people to tell you you’re wrong, that it’s all in your head. Because that doesn’t work; they’re just being kind, they’re just trying to help. But the truth is captured on film, and there’s no getting away from that. Granted, it’s your perception, your dysmorphic, unheathy perception of yourself, and probably not what other people see. Logically, from a distance created by therapy and people whose opinion you trust, you know that. (You were convinced you were nearly too big for the shower, until your wife stood with you in it and pointed out the empty space around you. That helped.)
Still, it persists and you can’t help but know that what you see is exactly what other people see; and it makes you want to curl up into a ball and never show your face again.
Mental health is violent, muzzled dog, just waiting to be let off its leash so it can rip and tear away at anything it can get hold of. Some days it sleeps, stays muzzled, somewhere in the backyard of your mind. Other days…not so much.