A wrongness

In general, I’m a pretty happy person. On a scale of 1-10, I’d say I average somewhere around a 7-8 in my every day life.

Sometimes, though, I feel like there is something wrong with me.

Mostly it’s some vague niggling thing in the back of my mind that lives there quietly and doesn’t bother me. In a lot of ways, I just don’t seem to function like other people in the world, and that’s okay. I realised this long ago and slowly, but I do remember some pivotal moments where I made decisions that changed who I was in the world. We all do this of course, and we all think we are special snowflakes, right?

Occasionally though, this feeling peaks and I look at myself and feel like screaming, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

The annoying thing is that for someone with what I think is a pretty healthy level of self awareness and introspection, I can’t put my finger on what it is or why and I have no clue how to fix it. An early symptom of it is that I lose the desire to write, even for myself. I can’t organise my thoughts, can’t hold firm to ideas, exercising that intellectual energy suddenly becomes all too hard.

You will see it in this post, written in this frame of mind. It veers from one vague thought to another and ends some 180 degrees from where it started. I’m not going to edit it. It probably illustrates what the wrongness feels like more clearly than the words.

I wonder sometimes if I have some kind of mild mental glitch: a touch of ‘something’. I have no idea what. Just something ‘not quite right’. I used to be worried that I was some kind of low level sociopath due to the way I was detached from most people, seemed to have no need for human connection, have such a weird disinterest in bonding, though I’ve looked it up enough times to double check and I don’t have the lack of empathy that seems to define it. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a ‘neutral’ sociopath: Someone who doesn’t engage with other people like a normal person, but who doesn’t wish to harm anyone to further my own ends.

On the rare occasion when I actually make a connection with someone, I feel ‘normal’. Or what I imagine normal feels like. Perhaps ‘whatever is wrong with me’ is part of why the connections I do make are so all-consuming for me. They are so rare and precious that I value them beyond imagination and throw everything I have into them.

And these kinds of thoughts come to the surface when I’m feeling like I am now. A vague kind of worry and discomfort, a restless flightiness. I am not myself.

I don’t feel ‘depressed’ exactly, but I do feel adrift, restless, obsessive, unfocussed and everything is just so much trouble. I’ve read enough to know that that might be some kind of mild depression. The feeling doesn’t stop me functioning: I go to the gym, I do pilates, I interact with people normally, all that. But underneath it feels like I’m struggling.

I know something is wrong with me, and part of how that manifests is that it highlights ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE WRONG WITH ME. Like some dark creature that feeds on itself. I’ve been here before and I know it will pass. It’s just frustrating.

I still remember a long ago ex saying to me, “You always do what you want, but you’re never happy.” I’ve thought about that a lot over the years and it scares me to think that he might be right.

Sometimes I fear that I don’t know how to be happy.

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  1. I think anyone can want something, say a relationship, but not have it because, well, it is not easy finding someone that will be a good fit, and, while we can carry one with everything else in our very good lives, it nags at us subconsciously, lurking in the background.

    At times, it may manifest itself much as you have described. I can relate. I did not have a sexual relationship until I as 33. I rarely dated, even that was just getting to know someone, did not go very far or long.

    And, at times, I felt very sad. Depressed probably. But those were rare occasions, mostly life was good. I think we can mentally wall away these gaps in what we hunger for, so we are not aware of them much of the time. But they can still come out to make us sad.

    At least that is my experience and my pop psychology of what I understand from my experience.

    Hang in there, the other things I have found is that it could always be worse and it always seems to get better, one way or another.

    Best wishes,


  2. Yeah, I get that too… I’m in a relationship and sometimes wonder what’s wrong with me, why I don’t always value it as much as I ‘think’ I should. Going through the motions of everyday life sometimes on autopilot.

    I just accept that’s part of me, this ambivalence that lives inside me. Not something I share with my partner or anyone else really, but this disconnection from life and people. Maybe that’s the key? I don’t know.

    1. Thank you for the ‘me too’, though I’m sorry that you feel it also.

      I know that the feeling isn’t directly related to ‘relationship or not’ for me, but if I get it when I’m partnered I get a massive dose of guilt on top. Much like you described, I feel even more like I ‘should’ be happy.

      Mostly I just accept it also, but when I’m ‘off’, it feels like wrongness.


  3. It seems so silly to say, but…exactly. That horrible feeling that something inside is just wrong. Off. And trying to explain it to another person is impossible. There are symptoms and I go on with my usual routine but I know that everything is going to be harder.

    I feel guilty because Snake always knows that I’m going through this and he wants to fix it. He thinks it is something that he is doing and it never is. It’s within me and I simply have to ride it out until it goes away until the next time. And I know for sure that it will return at some point and I still won’t know what it is.

    1. It *is* really hard to explain to someone else. Especially someone who loves you and wants to make you happy.

      I was exactly the same with the guilt when I was in a relationship. I felt selfish and mean on top of feeling the wrongness, so I’d work extra hard not to impact them with it on top of trying to deal. That made it worse.

      And you are right: it will pass. Knowing that absolutely helps, but it’s still frustrating.

      Thanks for your thoughts.


  4. It is interesting. I feel like I know exactly what you are talking about but that doesn’t mean I do. It only means that I have experiences that I would describe similarly.

    As you can see from the comments a lot of us have similar feelings. Maybe it is part of the human condition. There are times that can last for an evening or a day or maybe a week. I’m not really sad or lonely, maybe dissatisfied is a better word. I generally describe it as melancholy. Life is pretty good, my boys are becoming good young men, my ex is a good friend and we work together to be good parents, I have a job I like and it gives me a lot of freedom.

    And yet… I feel like I want. I’m not even sure what I want. Then after a time I’m fine again.

    I don’t know if it helps but know you are not alone and a lot of us are sending good thoughts your way. Take care.

    1. Thanks so much for your good thoughts.

      And you hit it well with this: “And yet… I feel like I want. I’m not even sure what I want.”


      When everything’s good, and I STILL feel it, there’s an additional incredulous layer of ‘WTF is wrong with me?!’. It’s a kind of self-blamey shamefulness.


  5. Hi Ferns,

    I’m a bit of a lurker on your blog; I don’t believe I’ve ever posted here before. We once spoke briefly via a group on Fetlife and you said you hoped the group would hear more of me (a compliment I’m very appreciative of!). Until very recently I’ve been terrible about maintaining my “online life” though, these past few years I haven’t done much communicating. But reading this post I couldn’t help but chime in.

    I’ve experienced some very similar feelings to what you describe in this post (and, incidentally, we seem to have other similar emotional reactions to things, I’ve noticed from other posts).

    I’m not entirely sure if we’re experiencing the exact same thing, but how you described this experience is very similar to mine. I have bouts of inability to think clearly, to organize my thoughts, as you said. The desire to be creative won’t ignite. Too frequently I find myself wanting to connect with someone (the few times I’ve been seriously emotionally attracted to someone have been the times I’ve felt most “normal” in this regard) but not really feeling the energy or sense of connection to talk with anybody. Like you, I don’t have a sociopathic drive to use people, and I don’t really lack empathy (even if I’m not feeling things strongly at a given time, I still have a general sense that things are bad when someone else is experiencing difficult circumstances). But I also find it difficult, too often, to really “feel” other people’s feelings or put in the effort to communicate with people.

    I also have a related sensation sometimes, which is difficult to explain, that my emotions “aren’t real.” Last year I had a rather emotionally difficult night with my girlfriend. At the end of it, after feeling a mix of relief at us finally having a difficult conversation, and intense stress from the content of the conversation, I felt suddenly overcome by the sense that maybe my stress wasn’t “real.” Like I was just playing a role, that my emotions were like a “costume” I was wearing to play the role of an upset person. It almost seemed that, if I really wanted to, I could just turn those emotions off and not care about anything.

    Now, I don’t really believe the emotions were “fake.” But sometimes I get that sense. I also note that it’s difficult for me to passionately enjoy much of anything, except rarely. My mind tends to over-analyze things and view things too critically to enjoy them, as I get older. Despite that, I’m not confident that I have depression, or at least not primarily. I started researching it and discovered my symptoms seem to match up with, at least in part, something called depersonalization disorder.

    I’m still researching it myself, but some symptoms of it do feel familiar. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe you’re experiencing some variation on it too. Of course, I’m not any sort of expert and it’s possible that I’m totally off. But it might be worth looking into.

    If this was of no help, then I’m sorry. Maybe it will be of some use, at least indirectly, I don’t know. But I hope so, and I hope it passes soon. Best wishes from one sufferer of that vague sense of “wrongness” to another.

    1. Hyde, I’m really glad other people are ‘me tooing’ at this.

      And THIS is familiar to me:

      “I also have a related sensation sometimes, which is difficult to explain, that my emotions “aren’t real.””

      I sometimes feel like the only REAL emotions I feel are those towards my partner and everything else is just me imitating what I should be feeling. But I’m not quite sure. So yes, I hear you on this.

      The emotions feel real, but at the same time, I’m detached from them. A way this manifests is with friends who I genuinely like (and goodness knows there are few enough of them), but if I never saw them again I wouldn’t care. It seems like the two things can’t really exist in the same space. So it seems like the idea that I genuinely like them can’t REALLY be how I feel. Or perhaps there is some kind of lack of emotional permanence there, like babies have with objects: That once something is out of sight, it ceases to exist. I don’t know.

      And MOST of the time, that stuff is fine, unnoticeable (by me or others). There is just a gentle humming of acknowledgement in the back of my mind. But when things are WRONG, all of these things clamour to the front of my brain and scream ‘THIS TOO!! AND THIS!! AND THIS OTHER THING!!’ Ugh.


  6. Hello Miss Ferns,

    All I can say for now is: you’ve given me so much to ponder.

    And: forget the ‘sociopath’ thing. Not you at all!

    Well, I think you know that now.

    Sir Puppington Lothian.

  7. Drink more booze and eat more chocolate you know it makes sense!
    I think everybody has these moments Ferns, I think for you because you are: A) Introverted,B) Very self aware and C) Very intelligent, it is worse because you over analyse thing, sometimes far more than you need to. I don’t really have an answer but perhaps you will if you look at those points,. Oh and do a graph and a list and…. Egads I’m turning into you STOP IT!
    Oh and ignore the pup Sociopath is the new look this year Daahling!

    1. *smile* Thank you for making me laugh. I appreciate it!

      Booze and chocolate ALWAYS makes sense, you are right.

      Do these pants make me look like a sociopath?


  8. *hugs*

    I know this feeling, your not alone (:

    I missed my weekly dose of Ferns! please write! anything!
    You have been such an inspiration for Me.

    1. *smile* Thanks so much for the hugs and sweetness (and the lovely encouragement to write ‘anything’ – that made me laugh), I appreciate it.


  9. The Theratrix sez:

    Loners can get temporarily sick of being loners. You know, that empty feeling.

    Maybe you need a totally new project?

    One that makes you interact for a while with (a small number of) new people, in the flesh.

    I dunno, take a break and join a tour to Kilimanjaro, or Everest Base Camp.

    1. I know that company is never a solution to anything for me, but I think you are 100% right about needing a new project. I can be in danger of self-obsessive wallowing if I’m not careful.

      I’m vaguely intending to take a little trip, so once I get that rolling, that will be my new project!


  10. This feeling, or unfeeling?, is so difficult to describe. To put into words is almost impossible. Reading your words on it is as close as I’ve ever come to thinking that there is someone else out there that could actually understand some of what bumps around in my head.

    There are times, more frequently than I would like to admit, that I feel very detached from the people around me. Sometimes I feel that way w/ the person I’m with as well. It’s almost like I wake up still me, but not me at all. A shell of me. A shell that holds no emotions or emotions that are faded.

    I can go about my daily routine, accomplish needed things, but it’s exhausting and I can’t explain why, it just is. I feel completely drained by interactions and would rather be alone.

    During these times the only thing that doesn’t feel like it’s sucking the life out of me, are my animals…in them, I find solace.

    I hope solace comes to you soon, Ferns.


    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Faith.

      I have felt this way when I was partnered (I mentioned that above) and that feels a lot worse. It feels unfair to them. But it doesn’t change anything.

      Maybe a huge number of us feel a measure of this, but we just don’t talk about it. Maybe because it’s hard to articulate and maybe because we know (and trust) that it will pass, so we wear it quietly and wait it out.

      I can imagine that animals can help with this. That thought makes me smile.

      Thank you for the good wishes.


  11. I have been thinking this over a bit over the last few days and I think it is possible that it would have something to do with how we perceive the world and our place in it.

    I know for me some of these feelings come as a part of dealing with depression, not everyone might experience this in the same way. As a society we don’t do well when it comes to talking about mental and emotional health.

    I think it is because that we don’t talk about these things that we often feel as we are the only ones who experience it, talking about it would help to process and understand , also to destigmatise these feelings which could aid understanding.

    When I was younger I just hugged my dog. Hopefully this feeling will ease soon for you. Best wishes.


    1. You are 100% right that these issues are not something that we are encouraged to talk about and we *don’t* deal with them well as a society.

      I think that depression is getting a lot more recognition as a mental illness now, and mental illnesses on the whole are becoming less stigmatised.

      I don’t talk to anyone about this mostly because with the ‘low level psychopath’ thing, that’s just ‘how I am’ and mostly it’s perfectly fine. With the ‘wrongness’, I know it will pass and giving it a lot of attention seems unnecessary and unproductive.

      And as I write that, I wonder if that’s how people who really DO need support and help feel also…


  12. I feel this way at times. My ex used to tell me the same thing. I’m nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but I have noticed it is worse after intense interactions. Yay adrenal drop. One of the most important things I’ve been taught was to get out of my own way and just learn to enjoy every moment good and bad because there’s happiness even in the most stressful situation.

    1. Ahh yes, drop. Also PMT used to make me feel all depressed and awful too.

      At least when that happens it’s easy to blame it on hormones and chemicals, and I can confidently say ‘I know exactly what’s going on here and why’ which helps a lot in trusting that it’s not ‘real’.

      I think a slide into some kind of mental illness is a lot more insidious than that.


  13. Another “me too!”

    This hits really *really* close to home. Even when I *should* be happy or understand, logically, that “things are great,” there is no feeling of joy, no love.

    It’s really frustrating.

  14. I have depression. I was diagnosed several years ago. It’s not a feeling that can be controlled as you know. What you describe is very similar to depression but just as you identified it doesn’t sound like a major depression. I can somewhat relate but at the same time I was diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, and PTSD. So if I allow it at times and not focus extremely hard those things of going out to the gym, interacting with people, etc become almost impossible for me. Not because I don’t want too but because I just can’t. I’m so glad for the most part I got mine under control. I still to this day, often in fact, do the “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

    Just a thought and I could be way off base:

    “Sometimes I fear that I don’t know how to be happy.” This could be way off base but I’ll ask same thing I was asked by my therapist. Is it that you don’t know how to be happy or you don’t allow yourself to feel happy? I found myself to be doing exactly what she said and I just don’t allow myself to be happy most times.

    My feelings are in reverse though that I put myself so much into those few close relationships/friendships that if they disappear it really impacts me hard. I have very close friends who are exactly as you describe yourself and we have gotten into arguments because I do detect that it doesn’t bother them if I was to disappear or not be friends and that bothers me.


    1. “I have depression. I was diagnosed several years ago. It’s not a feeling that can be controlled as you know.”

      No, though once it’s diagnosed at least there are options for managing it. Though I know a lot of people really struggle regardless: there’s no easy fix I know.

      “Is it that you don’t know how to be happy or you don’t allow yourself to feel happy?”

      In that statement, I really meant that I fear that I don’t know what I need in order to be happy.

      My ex was making the obvious statement that if I was doing what I wanted, then the logical outcome should be that I’d be happy. If I was doing what I wanted, but I still wasn’t happy, then WHAT WAS I EVEN DOING?!

      It was a fleeting thought from my mood. I think there may be some truth to it. Perhaps I want too much, in all things, and so nothing is ever enough. I’ll contemplate it again when I’m in that mood, no doubt.


  15. Sounds , as much as the feelings can suck, pretty normal :)

    If solution is the search, your long ago exe’s statement might hold the key


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