My Inferiority Complex

My Inferiority Complex

What’s the point in writing about yourself if you can’t open up and lay yourself bare to whomever is reading. I don’t mean this in a photographic sense as if I were losing weight, there will be no unnecessary photos of a middle aged man disrobed – that would be myself literally laid bare and there’s no need for that. I am talking more about opening up my soul for everyone to see. This will be in-at-the-deep-end therapy and there’s really no going back.

What I mean by laying myself bare is that you have to be able to read my words and know me to be sincere; to know that there is not a disconnect between the words I write and the man that I am. To me this is quite scary, but there was always going to be a time when I’d have to do this if my blog wasn’t going to just be a short lived novelty to make me feel better for a while. 

I have written fourteen pieces now on this blog since the start of February, 2022 so my writing content and style is still taking shape, but I have kept to two rules from the start – be honest and be light hearted. Today, I am not specifically writing this as a bipolar article – this will be about Paul, a man who happens to have bipolar, and some of the problems he has faced in life.

For as long as I can remember I believed I lived under the shadow of a great man. That man was my father. People who know me well figured this out ages ago as almost every story I tell features him in some way. It is almost as if I were an ‘extra’ in his biopic. For the avoidance of doubt he was a wonderful man and this is him (above) with myself and my son Jimmy when he was just one.

When you take a person who has very little feeling of self-worth most of the time and pair them with a father who:

  • Worked his way up from near poverty to considerable wealth
  • Was an outstanding sportsman
  • Was the first in his family to graduate from university – and a top one at that
  • Had a job that he loved in TV production and broadcast
  • Travelled and experienced most parts of the world
  • Married an absolutely beautiful lady and had two wonderful kids (I can say that now without feeling ridiculous)
  • Was good at just about everything he did
  • Had generosity without bounds

Then you are going to end up with somewhat of an inferiority complex (even if you too are many of these things listed above). To make things worse, this complex would be amplified by every single person who met him telling me how wonderful he was. He even had a lot of proper awards – like an Emmy for being bloody good at stuff or something or other. As if I didn’t need reminding of how great he was.

This complex lasted up until my late thirties when I ended up in The Cardinal Clinic – a private mental health hospital on the outskirts of Windsor. The ailments I was afflicted with have been addressed in other blog entries so I won’t go over them; but I was not a well man. And I was not admitted because of an inferiority complex.

Before this time, I did not resent my father in any way – he had provided a fantastic lifestyle for my mother, my sister and myself and had worked incredibly hard to do so. Throughout my life I would put myself on a podium placed several notches down the ladder from him – I thought I would never be the man that he was. I looked up to my father, but placed him so much higher on the achievement scale of life, this really did weigh down on my very existence. I would never be a great man such as he.

Then the strangest of things happened when he visited me in the clinic – something he did almost every day for the five weeks I was resident there – we got to know each other as human beings. I let my guard down, and my father kindly reciprocated and we talked father to son, then as two men and it was beautiful. If we had talked together as three men, then I would need to have been treated for something else altogether – although strangely enough Quetiapine which I am taking these days is a treatment for schizophrenia! 

I didn’t realise it at the time as I was taking no end of pills to get me back on track – but I know this was the start of a relationship I wished we’d always had. The fact that we didn’t have this relationship before was the fault of neither of us. Dad didn’t know I was unwell and neither did I. This lack of knowledge I somehow suspect would not have happened today given the openness with which people are willing to talk about mental health; beit bipolar or otherwise.

To him, there was no podium place between us. I had at this point in my life not been able to maintain a long term relationship and I had had my share of mental health issues, but to my father I was a son he was proud of. I have achieved many things in life despite my less than orthodox brain and uncommon trains of thought doing their utmost to get in the way.

chat, discussion, meeting-23713.jpg

From this point forward we talked together man-to-man and as equals. I pivoted from being intimidated by the things that my father had achieved, to being very, very proud of him.

I know now that I am not a complete failure in life, in fact I’ve been quite successful at school, college, work and sport. I also have an amazing if somewhat dysfunctional family that I love more than anything else in the world. I started late on that front – getting married the day after my forty-second birthday and becoming an instant parent to three amazing but very different step-children (although I prefer not to use the ‘step’ prefix these days). A few years later our son Jimmy Jax came along and I felt more complete, less inferior – to an extent I felt whole.

My father passed away at the end of last year having led an incredible life. In the strangest of ways I will forever be grateful for the complete meltdown I had that brought me to the clinic – if it were not for this event in my life we would not have bonded as father and son should.

What’s more, having overcome that hurdle has allowed me to feel slightly more comfortable around other people. Although I overcame the inferiority I felt towards my father, I still feel this in many social or business environments – I am however very good at masking it.

Since this time I also felt more comfortable talking with my mother and my sister. I met my wife after this event so have never had an issue feeling comfortable around her or the kids. I could be bitter that I was not like this all my life, but I’m not. I am joyful that I found this way of thinking and being at all. That is not to say I’m always joyful – bipolar doesn’t really allow you that grace. That part of my life can still be shit.

On that front, the fact that I am bipolar did not cause this complex I had towards my father – although it probably didn’t help. Knowingly or unknowingly, bipolar has impacted relationships I have had, it has stopped me from progressing at work, it has made me do things I am not proud of, it has made me think things about myself that are not true, it has caused financial hardship and it has on many occasions made me a difficult person to live with.

The fact that my mental health eventually made me become much closer to my father is something that I will forever be grateful for. You have to look for the light amongst the darkness with bipolar.

Scully

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2 Comments

  1. Love this Paul. Although my meltdown came from chronic anxiety and Covid – but have since had a much better relationship with my parents, as I stopped trying to be the daughter I thought they wanted – and just ‘was’. Poor mental health really brings you to a level where just existing is hard work. Getting better, at times seemed impossible. But sitting in a room painting pictures, whilst my mum was knitting is not something that would have ever happened – if my wheels hadn’t come off, entirely. Precious memories.

  2. I have just read your post’s.One thing I always remember your Dad did come every day and we would have to stop our game of Snooker.x

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