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I don't want to be rude I'm just feeling vulnerable / 10 October 2011

I'm doing an Engage Residency at Dundee Contemporary Arts. This is a post in response to something that happened - a small everyday occurence. But sometimes it's the small everyday occurences that trip us up.

It’s a constant dilemma, but mostly i know where i stand. If someone asks me how i am then i tend to answer truthfully. Mostly i know people aren’t actually remotely interested in ‘how you are’ - it’s a social construct - they just want you to say fine, or good, so you can move on. People (mostly) don’t want to know where you are on your own anxiety scale, or how close to the edge you are, or how well you are coping - well enough to be out but not to fully integrate with the world - well enough to be out and only do the things in your safe zone - well enough to be out but don’t want to be ambushed by new things in an already unsteady and unstable world. I’m sure you get the picture.

Yesterday I was on the well enough to be out as long as i mediate my interactions in the world really, really tightly. I was introduced to someone whilst talking to someone else. I was the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. I know the social mores etc - say hello and shake hands - except i didn’t - couldn’t - face that personal contact - and such was my level of anxiety that i couldn’t really engage even on a superficial level.

Now my dilemma comes because when asked how i was by the ‘introducer’ i said ok - but that was because i didn’t want to expose myself in front of a complete stranger in a situation where it would be inappropriate to divulge your inner psychological fragilities. But then that lead to the further awkward exchange and me not shaking hands - which makes me appear just a bit rude - not vulnerable. So today i feel i have to go and do some apologising.

So should I have been emotionally honest and exposed myself emotionally in front of a stranger? Should i have explained myself? Should i have stayed at home? I don’t know. It’s fraught. And i guess it has a salience to the residency which is why i am blogging about it here. Maybe i should think of doing some contextualising rather than apologising and maybe engender a debate around this and similar issues.

 

Keywords: art,bipolar,mental health,self monitoring,social constructs

Comments

Colin Hambrook

/
21 October 2011

In that kind of situation I have a habit of saying I'm ok - and then qualifying by saying that actually I'm feeling a bit crap, when I realise I'm giving off awkward signals socially. Certainly, staying at home [if it can be avoided] doesn't help, mostly, as it just exacerbates that sense of frustration and sense of not being able to do anything. If I gave in to the M.E. and decided not to go out, I'd miss at least 90 per cent of my limited social interaction, and would feel I was making myself a victim of the condition. There's no easy solution Aidan!

Louise

/
17 October 2011

hmm, difficult, isn't it..

I like the picture btw. I would say-

don't join queues!

I know that sounds glib, but, queues, yuk, who needs 'em.

On the other matter of what to say to strangers, my general rule is either admit feeling rubbish, briefly and with self-deprecating humour, or employ some on the spot thought-calming.

I feel for you because it's not a nice thing when you've used all your effort to go out and then are unlucky enough to be forced into an unwanted social contact.

I don't, generally, care if I appear rude to people I don't know and will not meet again - I'm much more concerned about the relationships that are daily.

That's just me. I don't think you should worry about appearing rude when you're concentrating on keeping yourself afloat and getting out n about,

Louise

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