Starting from a young age, there was always a part of my brain that separated myself from others. As I grew to understand my homosexuality I thought of dating as a concept experienced by other people, and not for myself. I developed an unhealthy self-image during my adolescence and young adulthood, and would obsess on certain physical traits over and over to the point where I believed everyone was just as critical of them as I was. Inside I knew I was an attractive person, but I found my nose too misshapen and disproportionate to my face and I would spend hours dwelling on its appearance. Being so self-conscious and nervous of social interaction made connecting with people difficult, so I retreated inwards.
The internet was a safe place to build connections with others and not face judgment so I began to spend most of my time online. As a result, I now had the opportunity to talk to other gay guys who were also feeling isolated, but the more time I spent ‘instant messaging’, the more of an addiction it became. I would spend hours on social networking sites and chatting eventually turned into meeting people. The result was always the same; casual conversation followed by a movie and then fooling around or sex. Rarely did it progress to a second date. This pattern of behavior continued for years and it was all under the pretension that I would eventually meet the right person and something serious would transpire.
Whenever I did meet someone, my thought processes were just as misconstrued. I was either immediately drawn to them physically and emotionally and would block everything else out; or my preconceived notions of the person would not be met and I would become disappointed and withdrawn. I developed fixations on certain individuals and would directly compare everything about myself to them. If someone thought university was stupid, I was stupid for being part of it; and if a guy was pursuing a masters degree, than I was inadequate for only working on an undergrad. I really wanted to change myself and become someone desirable to others, but I always found something about my looks or my personality that needed correcting. I knew I could at least enhance my physical appearance by removing the bump from my nose, and I underwent rhinoplasty in 2008. I was amazed by the results, as were a few others, but overall most people saw me the same way they did before and my place within my community remained the same.
Despite all these bizarre mental processes, I did develop one actual relationship for an eighteen month duration between 2004 and 2006. It began quite well, but due to my obsessive thought and anxiety as well as some other issues, our relationship suffered a great deal and we broke up. That was eight years ago and I have identified as a single gay man ever since. I cannot figure out if this is entirely by choice or if on some subconscious level I am engaging in behaviours to prevent a relationship from occurring as a self-defense mechanism. I still want to connect with the right person, however the idea of a relationship still feels like something experienced by others and unattainable for myself.
Moving forward I can admit I still dwell on missed opportunities, however I no longer compare people to a self-constructed ideal as often as I did before and I make every effort not to fixate on individuals. Living in Toronto has been amazing, but with a big city there also comes opportunities to feed addictive behavior. There have been several occasions where I have slipped into previous habits with ‘online hook-ups’ during moments of weakness. Despite the positives and the negatives however, I have come to realize that obsessive thought, anxiety and depression may always be part of who I am and I have accepted that. What really matters is understanding the mental processes which inhibit us so we can take back control of our lives and not allow our future to be predetermined by our past.
About Mark Rob
Mark Fraser is a 30 year old man who has lived with depression, anxiety and obsessive thought for much of his adult life. Since coming out as gay in high school he's had difficulty relating to others in his community and has experienced self-doubt and a pensive outlook for his future. Mark moved to Toronto in 2012 and has become involved in Second City Improvisation classes as well as personal training in order to maintain his physical and mental health. He has expressed interest in blogging with Healthy Minds as a means of reaching out to others who feel isolated and as a way to express himself in a positive space. You can connect with Mark on Twitter or Facebook.