So in my last post, I briefly touched upon the idea of trying to live up to this image of being a “hot mess”. I know it seems like an odd trait to pursue as your identity, but in a strange way doing so made me feel safe. As long I self-identified as being a mess other people’s perception of me (in theory) would carry less weight. To help perpetuate this idea I had a nickname, The Sween Machine.
This nickname actually started pretty innocently enough. I had just moved to New Jersey for grad school, during the height of The Jersey Shore’s popularity and it was just sort of my “Jersey” name. Soon, however, the name morphed into an outlet for me to become this completely different person. When you have anxiety, the thought of being a different person is comforting. The Sween Machine was carefree, wild and did things without thinking. She could act in all the ways my anxiety inhibited me from doing. Besides the obvious, one of the HUGE problems that came with this was that in order to become my alter-ego I had to drink… A LOT.
I had some fun times being the Machine, but overall it was super detrimental to my well being and completely not worth it. For those fleeting hours of drunken escape, I made my anxiety much worse. Now not only did I feel anxious, but I had to navigate through dealing with my drunken actions, many of which I did not even remember. I also could not handle being in social situations without drinking and when I did drink I would always binge. I started becoming a liability not only to myself but other people. No matter how bad it got, however, I couldn’t seem to let go of the Machine. It took a lot of time for me to even begin thinking of shedding this image. I now try to work on it everyday. I am attempting to completely cut out alcohol from my life and try different natural supplements instead of medications to deal with my anxiety. I am slowly learning that being in control of your life is much better for your mood than allowing it to be a huge mess (go figure!). I am finally allowing myself to be myself. No more Machine Wreck.