Role play, the one thing I failed at in high school. I hated Drama. I was terrible at it. The anxiety I felt at being centre stage was almost crippling. I refused to participate, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have a part in any play.
I’m quite bad at acting in front of people, especially those that know me. I feel like I’m in full view of everyone and that is too much for me to bare. There are many PDA people who will act out a role, often the role of teacher, to their family and/or friends as a way of coping. I can understand this because it puts the control in the hands of the actor. It allows them to shift the focus from themselves onto an imaginary person so they don’t feel too overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s easier to get PDA people to comply when they are pretending to be someone else.
As a child I would pretend to be a dog or a horse or a cat. This was easier for me because I could pretend that all the demands I had to endure were that of what an animal has to endure. In my eyes the life of an animal was so much easier than that of a person. The removal of verbal communication in my mind was a huge plus.
Once I hit the teenage years though I realised it wasn’t as socially ‘okay’ for me to act like that. I didn’t want to do anything that would draw attention to myself so I stopped pretending to be an animal. My role play moved onto something else.
In my head, where no one can see, I can be whatever and whoever I want. ‘All the world’s a stage’, in my head anyway. I can invent a new landscape or use the one I’m currently on. I can be a boy or a girl or an animal or a robot. Anything really. I can pretend for a short while that I’m someone else with as many or as few demands as I like. It’s so much easier to have conversations with people in my head. The characters I create understand what I’m saying, they can reply how I want, I don’t feel threatened by them as I can control what they say and do and I know their intentions. There’s no surprise there and no anxiety. Not unless I create it anyway.
One of my fav ways of coping in the real world is to pretend I’m being filmed for a tv programme or film. I can pretend my cooking is on a show and about to be judged. I’ll win of course 🙂 Doing this helps me to get housework and such done with reduced anxiety.
Before I learnt about PDA I would deal with my problems by imagining I was in a therapist’s office and discussing my problems with an imaginary therapist. This actually helped me a lot. I struggle to discuss things with people in real life and would never have been able to speak to a real therapist even if I could afford one. Even despite the lack of knowledge my imaginary therapist had I still managed to solve problems by effectively bouncing ideas off of myself.
So here’s to my imagination. The thing that kept me sane for years and has helps me cope for many a day. Cheers.