‘No more self-deprecating jokes’, I whisper in between soft sobs.
For the longest time now, I have constantly made jokes about things that could be deemed controversial by many. However, even though they were more about me and my mental state, it would trigger almost everyone else around me.
I mean, I get it. No one wants to deal with negativity, regardless of what their relationship is with you. There have been days where people would walk up to me asking if I needed to talk, or would simply ask me to stop with the terrible jokes.
Now here’s the thing, I’m sure this whole post triggers many of you, but I figured that talking about this will not only help me feel better. But it will probably resonate with more than half of you out there, and that doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?
Why Is Everything So Heavy?
Yes, I’m a drama queen, sue me. But this whole self-deprecating pattern started from when I was a wee teen. The jokes weren’t as extreme as they are now, but the self-hatred was at its highest point.
Most assumed that this was a weak attempt at being as the youngsters call it, an ‘edgelord’. But I was just an extremely anxious teen who didn’t want to be seen by her peers. Or anyone else for that matter. All I wanted to be visible to the people who mattered, unfortunately, I had bad judgement in friends. But let’s not dwell on that.
What most don’t realise is that I have always been an anxious girl, and the only thing that changed was that I learned to disguise it better. But back then, if I did end up having an anxiety attack, I’d somehow push it back down. They were always quite intense, probably because I would never ride it out. But apart from just wallowing in self-pity, I honestly didn’t feel like I belonged.
I can say that junior college wasn’t as bad. I had my best friend and a group of friends along. But college is when I was vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong, I had amazing experiences in college too, but it was one of the loneliest times of my life. I wasn’t doing that well academically, partly because it didn’t interest me, but also because I simply didn’t like it.
I was part of the college committee, but I also had a ‘friend’ corner me regarding my eating habits. It doesn’t seem like a huge deal now, but back then, her telling me we can’t share a plate, like we usually because of her mother’s religious beliefs, shattered me. Many friends accepted me for who I am, but the heart always wants what you can’t have. If only I knew college wouldn’t affect me as much later on in life, I probably would’ve dealt with things differently.
Happiness Is A Myth
And regardless of what I say now, dropping out of college was extremely hard. It was always because I felt like an absolute failure. I wasn’t very open about how I felt, but I regretted that one for a long time. But I also felt terrible about dropping out solely because I felt like I would lose all the friends I’d made there.
The fear of being lonely was at such a high at this point that I was constantly anxious and paranoid about a whole lot of things. But I still hadn’t learned to deal with them. I probably acted out more than I usually do now, but all that mattered to me by this point, was that I had to hide how I felt. So I resorted to what I do best, writing. This was back when Funky Poet stayed true to her name, every time I felt like I couldn’t deal with my emotions quite well, I’d write. And this was around the same time I created a blog page for Funky Poet on Blogspot. But it was nowhere close to being considered a blog; it was just a space for me to emote and lash out I guess.
But I remember the change happening right after I dropped out of college. I happened to be drowning in self-pity, while also coming to terms with the fact that this wasn’t doing me any good. So I decided to get back to studying, only this time it was something I actually enjoyed. And this happened to make a huge difference for so many reasons. This forced me to meet new people, I happened to leave the house occasionally, and I got to write.
And even then, I wasn’t quite happy with how things had turned out. The thought of having failed only intensified when I started comparing myself to some of my friends from college, it got so bad that I even started comparing myself to other people my age. As if that was going to make things better for me.
I was content with what I did for the next year and a half. However, my mental health was on a downward spiral, and it wasn’t going to get any better. Because of the very simple fact that I wasn’t doing anything to make it any better. What’s worse is that I stopped writing because in my head, I was always busy, nothing inspired, or I just didn’t want to. So I had no means of letting my thoughts and emotions out.
As the years went by, my emotions kept piling up. And apart from my occasional outbursts, I would be fine on the outside, but an absolute mess on the inside. However, my ‘wannabe edgelord’ personality came out when I started interning at my first job. I still wasn’t as sassy as I try to be now because I happened to work with a family member in the same space, but it was there. It was also around this time where my depression hit an all time low.
I wasn’t doing too well at my job, and instead of trying to get better at it, my first response was flight. I didn’t want to outright ask for help or find out what I was doing wrong. I wanted to run, hide, and hope things went away. And as my internship came to a close, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do what I loved doing, which further affected my self-esteem.
A couple of months of acting out and applying for jobs, I finally heard back from one of them. And even though this looked like a job I’d enjoy, it was the worst for my anxiety. I mean it was my first full-time job, and I was writing blog posts almost every single day. But the environment at this workspace was incredibly toxic that if you walked into it, you would be completely oblivious to it.
I remember spending almost 10 minutes every single day crying in the ladies room because I didn’t know what else I could do. And I thought I had a friend in the space, but turns out I was only allowed that privilege if I could prove my loyalty to the space we both worked at. And being a kid who pushed almost everyone away, having this person corner me wasn’t quite pleasing, but I still endured it. Why? Because along with being a friend at our workplace, she helped ease me into the community, despite partially judging me.
I made so many jokes about death and depression during this period because it felt like the only thing I could do. It wasn’t about making other people laugh, but it was more about letting some of my pain and frustrations out. It helped, just a wee bit. But it was way better than me crying about being lonely and useless at everything I do.
Now here’s the thing, I’m not writing this because I want pity, or because I have some over the top poetically positive message to share. I’m still that lonely kid who smiles the widest but is extremely bitter on the inside. The only reason I want to talk about it is because I know I’m not the only one, that would be impossible.
If you think that self-deprecating jokes help hide your pain in plain sight, you’re not wrong. If people ask you to stop being negative, you can tone it down around them, or drop them but don’t stop. This isn’t negative, you’re allowed to feel this way. I know how exhausting it gets when people constantly ask me to be more positive. Sir or Madam, if I could, I definitely would. No one likes harbouring negative thoughts in their head deliberately, it just happens.
That’s partially why my blog has so many “negative” posts on it, I only write when I feel a certain emotion, and to most, that emotion happens to be negative. I’ve had so many people tell me that I shouldn’t put myself down because I’m the following adjectives – lovely, amazing, talented, smart, strong, beautiful, and so much more. But here’s the thing, I’ve never been able to see any of these things. And no, I’m not trying to fish for compliments either. Trust me, I hate those, they make me so anxious. But at this point, there’s so many things that do.
Not everything has been terrible. I’ve had some really good highs. But with how my mind is wired, it’s the lows that have the most impact on me. And even though I can’t act to save my life (my high school Drama professor can confirm this), pretending to be happy has been one of my biggest achievements.
Help I’m Alive
I’ve previously mentioned in “Overthink. Freeze. Overanalyze. Repeat.” how my previous workplace always got me extremely anxious. Think of it as my mental health drowning in this deep space called “professional work culture” with cinder blocks tied to it. Let me explain.
I have worked the longest in my career at my previous workspace, and it really took everything out of me to even get them to respond in the first place. Looking back at it, that should’ve been the first red flag, but it didn’t matter back then. While the first few months were easy sailing, I’d like to point out that I was still trying to find my footing in that environment. Things went down south when they ‘promoted’ me. Because like Peter Parker famously said: With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility, it happened ever so slowly but then it never stopped.
I would also like to point out how it was here where almost everyone was done with my self-deprecating jokes, to the point where my friends were possibly concerned about my wellbeing. However, it was how we handled responsibilities and work in this space that really broke me. While I would like to say I was partially at blame, I would let them take credit for helping my anxiety reach its maximum potential. I often joke saying this space gave me PTSD, but I genuinely wouldn’t be quick to dismiss this claim since it quite possibly has.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some incredible professional and personal memories at this space, but I wasn’t truly myself towards the end of my employment. I’d slowly become this person I loathed, and quite frankly, I just wanted this version of me gone.
See, some of my friends and acquaintances tend to say that I haven’t changed. I’m still that bubbly, happy, slightly childish person that I was all those years ago. But here’s the thing that was never really me. I’ve always been an anxiety-driven kid who doesn’t know where to draw the line. I always felt like the biggest failure, and to this day still do. Many of my peers are doing incredible things, while I’m here in bed, typing this out for my blog. I hated pretending that I was fine, but I didn’t want to say they weren’t and be vulnerable in front of people I cared about. I know, that sounds incredibly stupid, but I still stick by it. I hated feeling like a failure, but I wasn’t doing much in my opinion to change that, I still haven’t.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, the only reason I pretend to be someone I’m not is because no one would accept who I truly am. My low self-esteem, self-hatred, and self-deprecating jokes have and always be a part of me. The only difference is that they might not show up as often at some point in the future. But that doesn’t mean that it will be completely gone.
I remember someone trying to give me advice and failing at it so hard, I almost pitied them. I was being incredibly hard on myself, and made a terrible remark which led to this person looking at me and saying, “don’t be too hard on yourself, other people have it worse.” Honest to god, if anyone ever says that to you, drop them faster than a bag of weed, and run in the opposite direction. You can’t compare sadness, trauma, depression, anxiety, or more with other people. It doesn’t matter who has it worse, every person experiencing it is suffering, and each of them deserve some much needed TLC.
I know I’m rambling, but I will say this once more. If being a self-hating, anxious kid cracking an alarming amount of self-deprecating jokes helps, then be it. If pretending that you’re happy, and nothing bothers you helps, then do it. What matters is that you’re being you. Everyone handles grief differently, I just happen to make terrible jokes about it, and that isn’t going to change.
Self-deprecating jokes are an acquired taste, but if you’ve been going through something similar, then you’re not alone. I’d say talking about your issues usually help, but I haven’t done much of that, so I won’t be a hypocrite. However, I’ve talked about how bottling my emotions didn’t work out either, and you can read about that here. But if this has been an enjoyable read, then you can find more of my work here!