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Well, I'm almost 24, never held a job, have rarely had friends, and don't know what I'm doing with my life.

 

I've been very isolated since I was a child, never really fitting in anywhere and suffering from a severe case of social anxiety. Trust issues. This most likely began with emotional neglect by parents and rejection by peers (partly due to physical disability), but it grew into something completely out of proportion to any causes, eventually creating plenty of its own self-fulfilling prophecies and leaving me with hardly any grounds on which to relate to people.

 

I became suicidal in my late teens and spent over a year in a state psychiatric ward. I met someone very special there who saw through all my defenses and grew to love me in spite of them. I'd never experienced that kind of love before or since. I regained the will to live and by the next year began to find myself improving by leaps and bounds, starting to get out in the world. She didn't do as well. She wanted to have a baby with me, I said no. Eventually she became pregnant by a man twice her age. We moved in together for a (very) short time before it all collapsed. We haven't spoken since.

 

I ran to community college and started taking classes aimlessly, just the ones I wanted, not really interested in a degree, just wanting to learn. It devolved into something I could tell people instead of saying I do nothing whatsoever, and a way to appease my parents' concerns and expectations. Now I almost have an associate degree in liberal arts but no idea what to do with it. School is an excruciating place for me to be.

 

In all these years I became increasingly involved with my own fantasies, abstractions, and fringe interests. Nothing that I could really do justice to with words, or use in any casual conversation. My entire life has been my inner world. The very first thing that people do when meeting each other is size each other up through career/school, hobbies, etc. What am I supposed to tell them?

 

Underneath it all is the intense desire to be connected with people. But I'm also scared less of them and find it impossible to open up. At the point when more "familiarity" is offered in conversation, the emotional give-and-take automatically closes down in me. Complete dissociation between what's written on my face and what I'm feeling. Which is often pain or panic. My emotions are so intense, stuck, and bottled up that even when I'm beginning to enjoy a conversation, they begin to surface naturally with whatever enthusiasm I'm feeling. Then I stuff them back down again to avoid the terror of losing control. The concentration of what I've stuffed down is so intense that I'm extremely fearful of what would happen if I let it go. But then I'm left without the connection I'm wanting.

 

The disconnection is so complete most of the time that even when I'm alone (especially when I'm alone), I usually can't cry it out. It just stays stuck in my chest, my throat, my stomach.

 

For about four years now I've had transgender feelings (and people questioned whether I was gay before I was aware of any difference in myself). But they're so vague and undefined that I don't know what to do with them. But still very persistent. Even after seeing two transgender therapists I still haven't figured much out. I look in the mirror every day and stare into my eyes, wondering just what the hell I am. And wondering, how did it get this way? Has it been there all along or is it the pathological product of a deprived person? And how am I supposed to even begin to relate to others if I don't even have a starting point, an identity?

 

I've been through the medications, the psych wards, the therapists. I just don't know what to do. Everything feels overwhelming and oppressive. My current therapist, the best of the lot and a PHD, says she thinks I'm "neuroatypical" (umbrella term for things similar to autism) and that the things that work for other people may not work for me, that we need to find other ways of working with me. It's difficult to see a future for myself.

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