Where my mind at?

Time to talk about sleep again.

Something like three weeks ago, I did the pill refill thing with my therapist. This time, we added a drug called trazadone to help me sleep. Quetiapine had not been doing the trick for me lately so I thought I would call in extra help, as it were.

Quetiapine has never had a really strong effect on me anyhow, except for when I was first taking it. Most of the time I have been taking it, it has been only the gentlest of nudges towards sleep. An elusive and evanescent state which, if I catch it when it happens, smooths my ride into slumber and helps me get all my busy, active thoughts to go the heck to bed already and let me sleep in peace.

But that’s only if I am lucky. My busy, active thoughts can shrug off the effects of Big Q quite easily, and so I have to be aware enough to get them pretty quited down before the drug kicks in and be in just the right frame of mind for it when it does.

And frankly, that is a tricky thing to me. The whole reason I need help getting to sleep is that I have this hyperactive mind that constantly has a hundred things on the go and that makes for a very loud and volatile mind space. While I am awake, this is not that much of a problem. I mean, it probably is a huge part of why I have trouble dealing with reality (I am too busy dealing with my inner unruly mob) but it only becomes a big problem when I am trying to get to sleep.

Then, it becomes like a parent trying to get their kids to calm down and go to bed. And I have so many goddamned kids. I’m like the little old lady who lived in a shoe over here. I spend all day seeking mental stimulation, and when it comes time to sleep, my mind is so stimulated in the opposite direction as sleep that it’s no wonder I have trouble getting to sleep.

It would be different if I could mentally exhaust myself. If I had a more normal, healthy mental setup, I would be able to stimulate myself until I was totally mentally worn out and then sleep would come naturally.

But that doesn’t work for me, at least, not consciously. I can stimulate myself all day and still have lots of mental energy left . It’s the one area of my mind in which stimulation leads to more energy and not less.

Part of that is that it is hard to find something that absorbs even a majority of my mental energy. Sure, video games are fun and absorbing, and chatting online is stimulating and sort of social, but it is a rare time indeed when those keep even a majority of my mental energies.

It’s just like during my school years, when I would look like I wasn’t paying attention to the teacher at all, but really I was hearing and absorbing it all, it just didn’t take up a lot of my mental energy, so I was also daydreaming.

(I’m not proud of that, by the way. How frigging rude of me. Would it have killed me to pretend to be paying attention? But when you are a kid, you don’t think of teachers as people. )

If I could find activities that truly absorbed all my mental energy the same way college exams used to, then I could probably exhaust myself. I suppose the closest thing I have come to there is writing a book. That usually soaks up most of my mental energy, to the point where I can’t even have music on because it takes away too much of my mental energy.

So maybe I should just write books all day. I don’t know.

Anyhow, back to trazadone. The idea was that I would not take the trazadone unless I felt like big Q wasn’t cutting it any more, and that didn’t happen until Thursday night.

I just could not get to sleep. I felt like my mind was frozen. I have been in that state before. It is not unpleasant in and of itself. I’m alert, I’m sharp, I’m coherent. It would be a great state to be in when I had a lot to get done.

But I never have a lot to get done.

And of course, it’s a nightmare for trying to actually get to sleep. I try and try but my mind just will not relax. It’s like trying to stuff an inflated hot air balloon into a briefcase. It is just plain never going to happen.

So I took a trazadone. And it worked quite well. The ice keeping me awake melted and I slid soundly into sleep. Got up in time for therapy, felt fairly well rested. I did feel very slightly sedated. It was like a slight warm tingling.

Last night, same story. Big Q was not cutting it at all. So I took my trazadone. And it helped me get to sleep.

And kept me there all freaking day today.

At least, I think it was the trazadone. I have sleepy days with or without chemical assistance, so it might just be that. One incident is one datum, and one datum does not a trend make.

So I will take it again tonight to see what happens. If it consistently makes me sleep really heavily, I can live with that. Might even be healthier for it.

But if it gets too hard to shake off when I want to in the morning, I might have to rethink it. My therapist says it is okay to try just half a pill, and I might do that if things get too hard to deal with.

It really irritates me to not be able to be awake when I want to be awake.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

That alien moment

Doing the blog thing early today because some stuff came up in therapy that I want to thump into print while it’s still wet. This goes to the very heart of my social anxiety issues (atypical as they are), so it’d pretty deep stuff.

There is this moment I dread and fear more than anything else when it comes to social interaction. It’s when, despite my fervent desire to connect with people and get along with them and see things from the inside for a change, I say something so strange, so awkward, and/or so mentally indigestible that the people with whom I am trying to connect look at me like I am an alien being who just attempted to communicate via flatulence.

In that instant, a vast chasm opens up between me and other people, ripping away whatever closeness and understanding was starting to build, and making me feel like I am a horrible piece of shit weirdo who can only make people feel uncomfortable or creeped out, and I should just crawl off and die, or at least never bother anyone with my presence again.

This is what lies at the heart of my crippling social anxiety. Like I have said before, social anxiety is basically a phobia of awkward moments, and attached to that feeling of awkwardness is the feeling that it is all your fault because you are awful.

I realize that my reaction to those situations is not the only one possible. I could just shrug them off or even take the road of arrogance and say “It’s their fault for not being able to handle my awesome and clearly superior uniqueness!”.

I’ve never been comfortable with that line of thinking. It is against my basic nature to put a lot of walls between me and other people. Walls preclude the sort of connection I want, or so I have always thought. Inmy own futile way, I have been keeping true to that ideal of openness for most of my life. I never really wanted to close those doors.

But it occurs to me now that those walls don’t only keep people out. They keep you in and provide much needed structure and boundaries to keep my self, and my self-worth, from spreading out in a thin puddle of nothing that never amounts to anything.

Instead of that, inner walls can protect you from outside trauma and help you keep yourself together when the outside world tries to bring you down. Arrogance has a bad rep but I am starting to think it is vastly preferable to suicidal self-loathing.

There has to be some sort of force to push your self esteem up against gravity. Certainly a weak self that lets everything fall apart because it only knows how to retreat within itself, and to hell with the consequences, doesn’t work.

And what could push that self-esteem back up but some form of arrogance? At the very least, you need to be arrogant enough to say “Fuck you, world, I am fine as I am!”. The sheer weight of the feelings of worthlessness require more than that, though.

I look back on my days of torment in elementary school, and I wonder if I would have been better off embracing elitism after all. If I had just said “Fuck all these people, I’m awesome, and if these people can’t see it, they are WRONG. ”

That’s exactly the sort of thing that society says you are not to encourage in people at all. And society has a point. It is definitely not a pro-social, community oriented, cooperative attitude. Instead, it’s a highly individualistic attitude that puts one’s own needs before everything else.

And that is definitely not pro-social. But for some people at least, it might just be psychologically healthier. My therapist agrees with me that if I had embraced arrogance when I was young, my life would have been far different and likely a lot better.

I would have had something to use to fight back against my oppressors and the damage they wanted to do it me. Even if I still got bullied, I would have been able to say “Stupid troglodytes. They only do it because they are jealous. I am headed for the top the minute I get out of this crummy little town. So fuck them. This too shall pass. ”

Again, totally not the sort of attitude society says people should have. And I am not entirely comfortable with it myself. It smacks strongly of the kind of Objectivist asshole-ism that I loathe.

But maybe I understand how people get there. They are fighting back against a society that, at least at one point, told them they were a worthless piece of shit who should just crawl into a hole and die. So they embrace arrogance and elitism, and flip the script to say, basically, “Fuck you, I’m great, and it’s society that has a problem!”

The shortest route is always to turn a negative into its positive opposite. Gay oppression turned into gay pride, not gay “we are okay too.” Discrimination against blacks turned into black power, not black okayness. The pendulum swings to the opposite extreme and back again many times before it can settle in the moderate middle.

But I don’t know. I want people to like me. People might not like the arrogant me nearly as much. Wanting people to like me could be seen as part of the problem, or at least, needing them to like me.

All of modern society teaches that the route to happiness is to stop worrying about what others think of you and just be yourself. I have never really thought that was the wrong idea, I just assumed it worked for other people but not me.

But I have to admit, I have a large vein of people-pleasing in my personality. Comes with the empathy, I suppose. You want to make others happy because when they are sad, you are sad.

Who knows/ Maybe if I believed in myself more, I would actually be more likable because I wouldn’t be giving off “leave me alone” vibes out of fear any more, and I would have full access to my charisma and force of personality.

And being arrogant doesn’t necessarily have to mean becoming a prick. You can have a very high self-worth and have being awesome to others be part of it. I have too much pride to be a prick!

I dunno. It’s all very confusing. But I feel like I am the edge of something wonderful.

And working up the nerve to dive in.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

You are not a libertarian

There’s a lot of people walking around free these days under the patently obvious delusion that they are small government libertarians who believe in a highly restrained, pared down government in order to maximize freedom.

Tonight, I thought I would provide some enlightenment to said legal citizens, and provide them with a handy list of signs that they are not libertarians and therefore are free to seek a more accurate political label for themselves.

This document will also function as a sort of field guide for the casual observer of libertarians and their colorful ways.

Without further ado, YOU ARE NOT A LIBERTARIAN IF :

You are against gay marriage. Even the most simplistic imagining of libertarianism would state that individuals should be able to enter whatever sort of legal relationship they choose with one another. And it is certainly not the job of the State to decide which marriages are legitimate and which are not. There is absolutely no libertarian justification for opposing some marriages based on gender combination. If you are against gay marriage, you are not a libertarian.

You support large military expenditures and/or military interventions. Not only is war the most expensive thing a government can do (and therefore the thing which puts the most strain on the tax dollars they extract from you), having a very powerful military makes government beholden to defense contractors instead of to the people they supposedly represent. That makes government more likely to want more taxes to feed their war machine, and even make them more likely to want to curtail your freedoms in the name of their Statist fear agenda. You cannot claim to be for smaller government if you turn a blind eye to the biggest use of your tax dollars and let private corporations who are not beholden to you or any other citizen continue to blatantly rape the public purse with impunity. They openly mock the very idea of accountability by selling your government good they know are defective. They are parasites on the body public, and should be the sworn enemy of anyone who values small government and lower taxes. If you love a big shiny military, you are not a libertarian.

You support harsher prison sentences served in harsher prisons. Of all the powers granted the government, the power to lock someone in a cage should be the true libertarian’s least favorite. There can be no greater loss of freedom to an individual than imprisonment. All true libertarians wish to limit this government power the most, and would favour, if anything, lower sentences in gentler prisons. The very concept of minimum government dictates no less. Government infringement on personal liberty has to be kept to an absolute minimum, and there is certainly no room in true libertarian thought for the bizarre notion that one somehow loses all their rights simply because the State has assigned them the label “criminal”. The State cannot confer or remove rights. They are inborn. If you support increased prison sentences in harsher prisons, you are not a libertarian.

You are against all forms of government interference in the world of business. True libertarians seek to maximize individual liberty by whatever means necessary. That extends far beyond the realm of government. Just as the police protect your freedom against your neighbor’s decision to take your possessions, so does government regulation protect your freedom from the other main threat to your liberty, economic force. Both government and money can take your rights away and crush all autonomy and individuality out of public life. If you favour either one of these forces, you support leaving the other unchecked. The two forces must be made to hold one another in check for any hope of freedom for the individual to survive. If you are against government intervention in the free market, you are not a libertarian.

You support the “war on drugs”. There is no room in true libertarianism for the government to have any opinion whatsoever about what chemicals an individual ingests. It certainly leaves no room for a bizarrely selective and arbitrary set of rules that allows some very harmful chemicals (nicotine, alcohol) and forbids other non-addictive and safer ones (cannibis, kava kava). And even more, there can be no justification for the kind of massive expansion of government and increase in government powers required to fight people’s right to do what they want to their own bodies. The entirety of what is known as “vice” in law enforcement (like the government has any business policing people’s vices) stands in direct opposition to libertarian values of individual liberty and minimum government. If you support the war on drugs (or prostitution, or pornography, or gambling), then you are not a libertarian.

And finally, the biggest one of all :

You think corporations are people. There can be nothing more offensive to the sensibilities of a true libertarian than a collective being given the rights of the individual. The entire crux of libertarianism rests on the notion that rights attach to individuals only, and that collectives do not and cannot have rights except those that stem from an aggregate of individual rights. The idea that a collective can be granted any of those rights for the expressed purpose of avoiding full liability for their actions should shock and enrage any true libertarian. The fact that they get to pick and choose which or the rights they feel like having at any given moment (with none of the responsibilities or accountability associated with them) should only further enrage.

As you can see, with just this handful of disqualifiers, I have eliminated most of the people calling themselves libertarians today. Most of them are merely social conservatives hiding under a cloak of false patriotism and ideological purity in order to avoid the realization that they have become the exact sort of person they used to hate when they were young and ethically intact.

The rare exceptions are people like Ron and Rand Paul, who are bugshit crazy, but at least they are consistent.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

My brand of crazy

I have talked before about how my social anxiety manifests itself in ways that are atypical of the usual pathology.

Well today, Cracked.com published this article that seems designed to prove my point.

You see, the article is all about situations that drive the socially anxious (or, to use Cracked’s excellent term, “awkward”) crazy and make our lives scary and Hades like.

And I don’t identify with a single one of them. As is typical of me, I am atypical, and let me tell you, it can be really frustrating to realize that you are not even like the other crazy people.

It is a particular vexation of mind because time and time again, it has meant that the medical establishment has thrown its hands in the air over me and said “We have no idea. So, piss off, would you?”

Gee, sorry my illness doesn’t fit your fucking flowchart, but I am still here, still sick, and it is still your job to bloody well fix me. But they would rather I just left their office and came back only when I had something diagnosable.

Too weird for medical science. That’s me. Isn’t it great to be so darned unique all the time?

Anyhow, I thought I would go through the article and, as it were, put myself in the situations, and see how I react.

#5. Public Transportation

According to the article, other awkward people find mass transit travel extremely stressful because it forces them into proximity with a lot of people of highly variant hygiene levels and having to be close to those people makes them very anxious.

This does not strike me as a social anxiety issue, more like a neurotic fear of contamination issue. Granted, being near someone who smells like they sweat fish oil is no fun and nobody likes people who smell like a toilet, but to me, social anxiety is entirely focused on the reactions of others, or at least, what I imagine them to be. When my social anxiety levels are high, I am way too worried about the judgments others (I imagine) are making of me to even imagine judging them.

Perhaps that has something to do with my extremely low self-esteem. I feel like I am always the worst thing around.

So no, public transportation does not bother me. As long as I am seated, I am happy. I actually find being in a moving vehicle somewhat soothing. This is especially true of the Skytrain, where there can be lovely long periods of going more or less in a straight line without stopping, and you can watch the GVRD slide past out the window.

The bus is not as pleasant, as it stops a lot and its turns around corners can be a tad jarring. But still, as long as I have a seat, I am content to wait for my stop.

The exception, of course, is when it is jam packed in there and I feel like I can’t move. Then my anxiety goes through the roof, but it’s not social anxiety, it’s claustrophobia.

The other exception is when a stranger tries to strike up a conversation with me. Then my cloak of anonymity is shattered, and I feel very socially exposed.

#4. The Unexpectedly Angry Boss

I can totally see how having your boss suddenly drop in on you and start dishing out the verbal pain could be very shattering for some people, especially the especially timid or shy. A lot of people just cannot deal with anger expressed toward them, especially if it’s very aggressive, and so I assume they just kind of shut down and are traumatized.

But I grew up dealing with my Dad, and anger does not frighten me. I am perfectly capable of locking horns with an angry person and matching their aggression level without escalating the situation. Their wrecking ball hits my brick wall, and my brick wall is made of my intellect and my stubbornness, and it’s damned near indestructible.

The one variable is that I might lose my cool and it might turn into a no holds barred screaming match. If I was sufficiently caught off guard, I might not remember to stay in control and counter their heat with my cold. It might turn into a flamethrower duel, and nobody comes out of those looking pretty.

But socially anxious? Hell no.

#3. The Presentation

I can certainly see how a lot of awkward people would find having to give a presentation a total nightmare. People who want to blend into the wallpaper would find being singled out for attention like that simply horrible.

But I am not like that. I am that peculiar person who is shy off stage and perfectly confident on stage. I have given lots of presentations in school and they always come off quite well. I am very good (sometimes too good) at sounding like I know what I am talking about, I have shall we say stage presence, and honestly, I would be happy to do a presentation in a business environment. It’s something I would enjoy.

#2. The Bank

I know banks rattle a lot of people. Everyone in them seems so smooth and efficient and competent and in control. For some people, that makes the bank an intimidating place and that puts them on edge, to say the least.

But again, not me. Banks don’t bother me much, and that is knowing that they are not happy at all to see me because I don’t come across as “prosperous” so much as “homeless”. If I am in a bank, it is because I have a transaction to complete, and I have no problem dealing with people on that level. I am not afraid of numbers, I understand money, and I know that I am just as clever and competent in this field as the people behind the glass.

And finally, we have :

#1. The Love

I can’t speak to this because I have never been in love. I imagine that it would unlock all kinds of emotional reactions in me, from the warm and fuzzy to the dark and crazy, but if I am in love with someone, it means I have already decided they are “safe” and so I can’t imagine social anxiety entering the picture.

And I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

The problem with baby steps

There is a well known path for getting out of depression.

The idea is simple : break everything you want to do into steps, and do one step at a time. This short-circuits the problem of seeing everything as a giant mountain looming over you that would be impossible to overcome. Instead, that mountain becomes a staircase leading upwards and all you have to do is keep climbing.

And if you get tired, stop on a step and rest. The staircase will still be there. You’re not losing anything.

And when I say this path is well known, I mean it is particularly well known to me. When I went through something called the Core Program at Richmond Hospital Psychiatric Outpatients, the core of Core was the setting of simple, achievable goals every day then achieving them in order to build up your self confidence (and what I would call your will) by giving you a history of achievement to counter the negative voices inside.

And wow, that sounds great. Never worked for me, though. When I was asked every day in therapy for my goal and if I had achieved it, I just lied. Lying was easier, so I lied. The idea of actually doing what I was supposed to do seemed ridiculous to me.

Why? Partly because of the power of my depression. It was worse back then, but even now, it has a powerful magnetism that sucks all the energy, focus, and ambition out of you, and makes even tiny goals seem huge.

I mean, I would have had to first decide on a goal. That’s a whole nightmare right there. Option paralysis is my bete noire so I have no idea how I would be able to pick a goal amongst the millions of possibilities I can easily envision. Sure, it is technically true that if you can’t decide, you can just pick anything at all in order to move forward.

If all roads seem equally good, then it doesn’t matter which one you choose, does it? Worst case scenario is that you find out it is the wrong road and have to backtrack.

But I hate backtracking. Dunno why, I just do. I don’t want to ever go backwards, even when I know I should. Probably is connected with the intense deja vu I get sometimes.

And even if I could pick a goal, who says I will be able to find the motivation to pursue it? From my depression’s foul point of view, setting a goal just creates an opportunity for failure. So why bother?

Sad to say, but my response to that kind of pressure is usually to be paralyzed by indecision or lack of motivation until such time as it is too late to do anything about it and thus, via failure, the pressure is relieved.

It’s the perfect solution, provided you have absolutely no self-respect, pride, or shame.

But the big problem is those tiny steps the whole business is built upon. The idea is to keep breaking things down into smaller and smaller steps until you reach a size that no longer intimidates you, but the problem with that is that when the steps get insultingly small and basic, they become more depressing than helpful.

This is my life, you end up thinking. My big goal today is to brush my teeth. Whoopee.

And yeah, I know that is wrong, and goes against the whole idea of the “building up” road to mental health. But it doesn’t seem to be something over which I have control. That sarcastic voice in my head is always there. And it’s mean.

So I gave up on that model of recovery a long time ago. I am sure it works extremely well for a lot of people. I would not be surprised if it works well for more people than any other method.

But I am not like other people. I am not even like a lot of other depressives. My supercharged brain makes for all kinds of complications that others do not face. I can out-think myself at every turn. My inner prosecutor has access to the same intellect that the rest of the mind runs on, and it’s very good at its job.

And the thing is, I know I can’t just throw this stuff at my therapist. Frankly, there is no way he could handle it. I realized as a teenager that this mind of mine can utterly annihilate people. If I let the depression sit in opposition to the therapy and the therapist, it will win. It cannot be out-argued, out-thought, or out-maneuvered. In order to lose a match, it would have to go up against someone smarter and more powerful than it, and to be frank, I am not sure such a person even exists.

So even in therapy, I am restraining myself. I don’t let it become my depression, speaking through me versus my therapist. There is no way he would ever be able to win that fight. It has to be me and him versus my depression, and the depression has to be tied and gagged and never allowed to let loose.

I honestly believe that if I set it loose, it would alienate, demoralize, and verbally destroy my therapist. And then I wouldn’t have a therapist any more. There would be no way he could deal with me after that. Maybe wounded pride would force him to carry on for a little while, but I swear I am not being hyperbolic when I say that I can do a lot of damage to a person simply by overwhelming them with my intellect, my verbal skills, and my darkness.

And so that side of me stays locked up forever. I can’t imagine ever letting it loose on anybody. Someone else might be able to get away with being angry at the world and willing to take it out on anyone who dares to try to help you. But those people do not have the kind of weaponry I have.

So my tiger stays in his cage until the day I die.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

What we deserve

Various things have put the idea of deserving into my mind, and I thought I’d explore it a little tonight.

The main one was this webcomic :

i don't deserve

(I recommend Depression Comix for everyone who is a depressive or knows one. Trigger warning, though. Obviously. It looks unflinchingly and honestly at what it is like to be a depressive. It can be harsh. )

The comic really struck a chord in me, or rather, the absence of one, because I don’t really think in those terms at all. I have no idea what I “deserve” and it’s honestly never been a major component of my depression. And yet, I know a lot of people think like the poor woman in the comic, and that makes me feel very bad for them, but it also makes me wonder why I don’t.

The obvious answer would be religion. I was raised without it. The entire concept of God’s favour (or rage) is bizarre to me. And I think that goes deeper than just whether or not you go to church or pray before you go to bed. I think a lack of religion gives you a fundamentally different relationship with life than people raised with belief. It’s hard to measure what you deserve or do not deserve when there is no celestial arbiter somewhere to carry out the verdict.

And so for me, the question “What do I deserve?” has always drawn a blank response. I have no idea what I do or do not deserve, and it has never seemed like a particularly interesting or relevant question to me.

Who knows, maybe I deserve the world, maybe I deserve absolutely nothing, not even life. Either way, there’s nobody to set things right and make sure everyone gets what they deserve, so what difference does it make?

That’s not to say I have no problems with self-loathing or low self esteem. My problems with both have been historically quite catastrophic. It’s just that I don’t really see it in those justice oriented terms, like, at all.

(As an aside, I think there’s two kinds of people in the world : those who react to the statement “Today you will get what you deserve” by saying “Finally!”, and the ones who say “Oh God, no!”)

But that might not be the boon it sounds. Granted, I am not tormented by thoughts of being a filthy sinner headed straight to Hell or feelings that I don’t deserve what I have, but that might come from the fact that I don’t think I deserve anything at all and don’t even think I can move to a place where I do.

I’m not saying that is the case. Like I said, for the most part, the whole question is alien to me. But it is possible that because I have had so little opportunity to earn things in my life that it may be that I don’t feel like I deserve anything in an absolute sense. Because really, what have I done to earn it?

My life has been very passive. In general, when good things happen, it’s as though they just fall from the sky. I am always happy and grateful for the good fortune, but that is all it is to me : good luck. Even when people go out of their way to do something nice for me, it still feels like good luck to me, not something I earned.

I am trying to imagine how I would feel if I was the sudden recipient of great fortune. Would I feel like I deserved it? Would I feel humbled by it? Would I be suffused with gratitude (to who?) or would I feel self-conscious and undeserving?

I think the answer to all those questions is “yes”. It would all be in there somewhere.

How about great misfortune? That I can answer. I would feel bitter. Really fucking bitter. Because it’s not like life has been wonderful to me so far. It would seem grossly unfair to me for life to become a whole lot worse. If that happened, I would become very bitter and morose and maybe even misanthropic.

So I guess there must be a sense of what I deserve somewhere inside me, because I certainly don’t think that I deserve to have life get shittier for me. I am barely hanging on as it is.

On my better days, I do feel like I deserve an opportunity to earn mad cash with my mad skills. I could make the right people a hell of a lot of money and I think I have a lot to offer the world with all my talents and smarts and so forth.

On my worse days… that is just too painful a thought. It is easier, for a person like me, to shelve the entire concept of deserving than it is to live with the feeling that life has been horribly unfair to me and that I deserve more.

Thinking I deserve better is a healthy thought, I admit. And I wish I could hold on to it better. But such positive, wholesome, healthy thoughts are like girls entering an all male environment to me : they feel really out of place, they are liable to leave almost as soon as they have arrived, and they can only really survive if there is enough of them together.

The thing is, I know I have a lot to offer the world. The problem is that I have no faith in my capacity to actually connect all my potential to a way to express it in the wider world. That deep down passivity keeps me that way. I try to imagine a way out of this cramped little box I live in, but option paralysis and feelings of incompetence always rise up to stifle me.

Maybe I should spend all my time looking for an agent. I dunno.

All I know is that I think I probably deserve better, but I doubt I will ever get it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Going the other way

Well, this should be interesting. I really don’t feel like writing right now. My current mental state does not want to be pegged down and made the speak. I am experiencing a pleasant, almost whimsical state of mind, and the zephyrs and chinooks of my inner realm tug playfully at my clothes, and point my heart at the sky.

But I gotta blog. So, here we go!

I know, I will share some media with you, at least until I think of something more to say.

I love this lady SO DAMNED MUCH.

She is most definitely my kind of nut. Finding a cool piece of clothing at a thrift shop is something anyone can do. A lot of people these days would also make a video talking about it.

But not very many people would turn the whole thing into a hilarious bit of weird crazy music and record themselves dancing and prancing around like a lunatic. That takes the kind of wacky mania that I really cherish in people, and the whole thing reminds me of something my sister Catherine would do in one of her moments of zaniness.

When I look back on it, I really do come from a family of funny, nutty, strange people. Even my father had his moments, rare but always amazing. I remember walking through Halifax on a very unpleasant rainy, blustery day with him when he looked at me and said, “This is the kind of day where I want to lash myself to the mast of a ship and yell ‘Thor!”.

Which is quite the image, really. And there’s days when I have felt like that too. Where even a milquetoast like me, when forced to deal with nasty weather, wants to scream at the sky. “Is that all you can do? Well fuck you! I’m a survivor!”

Hey, I never said I was sane.

Then there is this marvelous experiment :

Like I said on Facebook, it’s nice to know that our food is as weird to them as theirs is to us. That there is not some imbalance in the relative weirdness levels that means their food is truly weirder than ours.

It’s all about what you grow up with.

I love their reaction to goldfish crackers a la Pepperidge Farm. Because there is no way to explain that. Why are they shaped like goldfish? Because they are. Because someone made them that way, and it caught on. Because it’s cute. Because if you put them in your soup, you can pretend you are EATING THE OCEAN.

I was surprised at their reaction to Pop Tarts. They kept going on about how artificial they taste. And sure, that’s true. But they have cheap pastries in Korea, don’t they? And toasters?

One girl says it “tastes like a toy”. I assume it’s been a while since she’s eaten a toy.

The chocolate covered Rice Crispy treat went over really well. Like one of the girls says, who could hate this? Personally, I find the store-bought Rice Crispy treats to taste artificial, stale, bland, and like air. But I have a basis for comparison and I am very particular about some foods.

It’s not like they are awful, or anything.

Salt and Vinegar chips? Okay, that’s just not fair. I am pretty sure in Asia, vinegar is something used to preserve food, not a flavouring. That just seems like a crazy ass thing to throw at them.

Then again, when we do these kinds of experiments on ourselves, it’s stuff like natto and fertilized chicken eggs, so I guess fair is fair.

“Like someone is punching my tongue. ” I can’t argue with that, and I actually like those kind of chips.

Their reaction to Twizzlers completely surprised me. That did not strike me as a challenging food, certainly not compared to the other stuff. But they hated them! The texture really threw them off. Like eating rubber, they said. I guess Korean cuisine does not have anything with that particular consistency.

Now I feel sort of weird about all the Twizzlers I have eaten. Imagine if they had been given the black licorice ones! Black licorice tastes awful to like, a third to a half of the popular here. I can’t imagine what it would taste like to them.

Ah, my beloved Cheezits. A go-to source for satisfying my craving for ridiculously over the top cheese flavour. They are the sort of thing you have to be a certain sort of person to really get into. I am kind of surprised any of them liked it. I thought it would be just too weird for them.

I mean, do Koreans eat a lot of cheese?

And then finally, Warheads, the extremely sour edition, something deliberately made to be crazy sour even by the standards of people familiar with the concept of sour candy. That, I think, was just plain cruel.

What else…. oh yeah, there’s this image!

Where does he keep his ATM card? And how does he type his PIN?

Where does he keep his ATM card? And how does he type his PIN?

Is that the cutest thing ever, or what? It’s like he’s people! And I love that he has a sort of earnest look on his face, like he’s hoping the people in front of him don’t have to do anything complicated because he has a bunch more errands to run.

Speaking of which, I waited a long time in line at Money Mart last night because the lady in front of me was like a perfect storm of the kinds of people you don’t want to be behind. She was :

1. Old. At least seventy.
2. Easily confused. Comes with the territory.
3. Doing something very complicated. Some kind of timed wire transfer of funds. And finally,
4. English was clearly not her first language.

And so every step of the transaction had to be explained and re-explained over and over again till she understood it, and that made the whole process excruciating.

But hey, better to be behind her in line than behind the glass dealing with her myself.

Well, that’s it for me today. I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

On The Road : Cha Ching Edition

You can probably deduce what has transpired. I have cashed La Cheque, and I am sitting in my local White Spot, eating and very slowly virtual keyboard typing to you nice folks. My food arrived like right away so I am more into eating than typing right now, but I feel like writing something while I am here is a tradition now, so I thought I would like to say hi to you nice folks while I am here.

Hi nice people!

I got out of my usual gravity well of depressive ennui via the booster rocket known as Joe. I was feeling deeply conflicted, caught between going out and staying in, when, in a moment of desperate inspiration, I remembered that Joe and Julian go to Joe’s parents’ place Saturday nights, so I asked Joe to drop me off at Money Msrt when they went

And the rest is history, or rather, mystory.

I ordered more fries, and now I am bored with fries, and I have many fries left. Fries.

Been feeling sorta crappy. I think I am somewhat dehydrated. Food tastes weird and dry, and my craving for salty stuff makes it all taste bland, too. And my appetite is Kaput. Hopefully, this episode in the Great Outside will help.

More times than not, it does.

Haven’t baked yet. Did two choco-mint cakes last night. To be honest, I feel like I am running low on inspiration on that score. Need new recipes!

Luckily, even when artistic inspiration lags, the desire for dessert does not.

And I don’t want baking to be another hobby where I go at it full steam for a while then run out of gas. I have a lot of those and it bothers me.

Well, time to pay the bill and skedaddle. See you when I get home!

Home now. I don’t know why looking around my life as seeing abandoned hobbies bothers me. I guess it makes me feel like I can’t stick with anything. And I miss the fun and excitement I got from the hobbies when they were fresh and new to me, and part of me thinks I should be able to just pick the hobby back up and have just as much fun again.

But for some reason, it doesn’t work that way with me. When I am done, I am done, and that’s it. All attempts to go back to the way things were before I got sick of it are futile. The best thing I can hope for is that I will come up with a fresh angle on he old hobby and get back to it that way.

Realistically, there is nothing wrong with going through a bunch of hobbies till you find the one that never grows old. Or for that matter, there’s nothing wrong with just trying new things periodically for the rest of your life. All that matters is that you are happy. So do what it takes to stay happy.

I guess I just can’t stand the feeling of something good and valuable slipping through my fingers for what seems like no reason. I have gone through such periods of hopeless drifting and joyless subsistence that when I find something that actually inspires me and draws me in, I want that to last forever. I find the idea that something can be fun and cool and life-affirming one day, and boring and pointless and uninspiring the next, inherently offensive. What happened? It was fine yesterday! What changed?

What changed, obviously, was me. I ran out of inspiration, and when you are talking about a solo hobby with no extrinsic reward or motivation, when the intrinsic motivation fails, that’s the end of the show. Curtains down, house lights up.

Clearly, the wise thing to do would be to just accept that this is life in my world and the world is full of awesome stuff to try and do and have fun with for a while so it’s not like I am going to run out. I don’t have to treat each hobby like a precious resource I have to hoard and ration or I will run out too soon.

Which is how I treat pretty much everything, really, which is a whole bag of snakes all by itself.

I am also afraid of seemingly flighty. I strongly dislike flighty, frivolous, irresponsible people who bounce heedlessly through life with no regard for the damage they leave behind, and so I definitely don’t want people to think I am one of those, let alone actually be one of those.

But once again, I am making things out to be more binary than they are. There’s a lot of room between “total flake” and “driven to master anything they start”. If I just decided I was done with baking for now, it would not be some sort of war crime.

Although I would miss the desserts. I need sweet things in my life. You know, that whole pleasure means reward means you are a good person and should be happy thing. I lost track of that recently when I had my financial worries and got all weird about money again, but I am hopefully out of the woods now and can go back to slowly and gently learning the fine are of making myself happy for a change.

It’s very hard to learn to search for joy when you have been trapped in the inward spiral for as long as I have been. Just falling and falling ever deeper into yourself in your mad and thoughtless flight from the real world.

The emotional isolation comes first. The social isolation comes second. The physical isolation comes third.

there is a whole big bright beautiful world filled with joy and pleasure and bliss out there, waiting for me to go find it. And I am not going to get it just letting the days go by in my lonesome grotto.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Feet on the ground

Eventually. I will have my feet on solid ground eventually. I am still lost in the sea of my own emotions.

Tried to gear myself up to go cash my check today. I would have done it Wednesday, when I was out and about for therapy and whatnot, but it hadn’t arrived by the time we left. So it’s kind of up to me now.

I mean, the next time I am out in the car with Joe will be Sunday night, and my local Money Mart (you know, the place where everyone goes to buy money) closes at 5 pm on Sunday, and the next time after that where I will be out and about will be next Friday, a week from today, and I am almost certainly going to need money before then.

So it’s up to me to go out and get it done. I don’t have artificial external motivation assistance like I normally do. It’s the sort of thing I have to do myself, beginning to end.

That makes it a very good test case for my newly hatched project to be more of a grownup.

And I almost made it. But then that sneaky evil advisor in my brain said “But it’s cold and rainy out, and you have that chest thing that keeps threatening to turn into a chest cold plus that raw scratchy feeling in your throat… do you really want to go out there and risk turning that into like, double pneumonia?”

(That’s pneumonia in both lungs. Very nasty. )

And that was just enough of a valid point to keep me in. I had even been planning on treating myself to a meal at White Spot on the way back home in order to reward myself for going out there and doing the grown up thing.

But no. Didn’t make it. And now I am left dancing on the edge of a knife trying to figure out how to work this information so that it leads to positive action and not self-loathing, depression, and the downward spiral.

Sure, it’s my own personal hell down there, but I’m used to it.

My first thought was “I hate myself for not going!”. But that’s wrong. That’s exactly the kind of thinking I am trying to correct in myself. A better version : “I hate that I didn’t go.” Still too harsh, but… better.

It’s hard to know what emotional interpretation is safe. My overactive superego has had the run of my mind for a long time, and it has grown strong and powerful and very devious when it comes to subverting everything to its agenda.

On the one hand, I need to kill that fucking machine of mine. Scratch that, I want to kill the machine. Desire is stronger than need. I want to smash every last bit of it with a sledgehammer made of rage and pain. And that means stopping it from damaging me with all its usual tricks.

But on the other hand, you can’t improve yourself without some idea of what it is you are trying to fix. You can’t totally turn off your self-consciousness and capacity for self-reflection. And most importantly, you can’t entirely deactivate the part of you that judges your actions and assigns positive or negative value to them.

So the trick is to correct the excesses of the machine without utterly destroying it. As always, the solution is complicated, nuanced, and middling, and not something that satisfies the id with its purity and simplicity.

The id hates all this complicated crap and just wants to kick some ass. And I am letting it for now, because I need the id’s strength and power of identity to smash all the evil parts of the machine.

Good Kirk needs Evil Kirk around, at least for now.

I can feel the id stirring within me, wanting to be set loose. I know the direction it wants me to go. The direction of arrogance, elitism, dismissiveness, self-indulgence, and callous sarcasm. It wants me to tell the whole goddamned world to go fuck itself, destroy everything that is holding me back, and ride a flaming rocket into the sky.

I’m a goddamned genius and I deserve to be treated like one, it says. Who are all these primitives and savages to stand in my way? Why must I walk on eggshells through a world full of Lilliputian intellects? They should be the ones worrying. I could stride through this world like a king.

But I can’t go there. If I let that side of me take over, not only would it make me a pretty terrible human being, but I am pretty sure I would end up super crazy. If I let my lomg suppressed ego do the driving, I am pretty sure I would lose touch with reason and reality, at least for a while.

I don’t know if I would become actively delusional. Probably not. But I am pretty sure that white-hot arrogance and raging egotism could land me in jail, or the loony bin, or both.

Or just turn me into a big scary ranting homeless dude. Those kind of ego trips could be very addictive.

Still, I am really tired of being afraid of that side of me. My machine is very good at using that fear to keep me in my place. I am going to have to make peace with that side of me, the reverse image of my depression, in order to put my two Kirks together again into one functional, happy, integrated human being.

Where’s a transporter controlled by Scotty when you you need one?

So once more, I try to figure out how to integrate the truth about my intellect and capabilities into my self-image without turning into a raving loon or an unmitigated prick. There has to be a sane middle ground between thinking you’re the Messiah and thinking you’re shit, and I am going to keep looking till I find it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Fuck you, Peter Pan

Tonight’s entry will not be easy for me. I have a mighty big tooth to pull.

We’ll start with therapy. Yesterday, I had a therapy session with my therapist, Doctor Costin. (Yeah, I know those usually on Friday, but he has a thing. )

And in that session, with his help, I realized something very deep and important about myself. It’s painful, and it’s humiliating, and it’s definitely nothing to be proud of, but having it revealed to me (and now revealing it to you) is a very big step towards recovery for me, so I am very glad for it.

Basically, I never grew up. I am still a child inside. There is no adult side of me. At some point, my emotional and social development simply stopped, and I have been fumbling through life with a child’s soul trapped in an adult body ever since.

Which brings us to Peter Pan. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan. Even when I was very young, I loathed the idea of never growing up. That sounded like a terrible fate to me. Maybe that is part of the adult pressures I felt from being the tacked-on accident kid, always feeling like I had to be more mature and grow up as fast as I could.

But I never liked Peter Pan, Neverland, or the Wild Boys. If it wasn’t for Wendy, I would never have finished the book. As for the Disney movie, it has Tinkerbell, and that helps.

And yet here I am, a child in the body of a 41 year old man. Like a lot of us smarty types, my intellectual advancement masked my lack of development, or at least, it did so well enough to fool all the people in my life, who weren’t really paying attention anyhow. Everyone just assumed everything was fine because that was what was most convenient for them to believe, and I was far too timid (having been burned many times when I tried to get help) to ask for the help I needed myself.

No wonder I can’t stop thinking about my childhood. I’m still there. I never really escaped. Deep inside, I am still the same timid, neurotic, unpopular, abandoned, neglected, emotionally unstable kid that I was back in Parkside Elementary.

A child frozen in time in an orbit around a far too distant star.

No wonder I never really went through the psychosocial elements of puberty. How could I? I wasn’t done being a kid yet. And without friends, I had no social milieu to stimulate me to grow.

Instead, I just stayed locked up inside myself as always. Whatever instincts I had to go explore and grow and get some idea of who I am, like a normal teen, they were nowhere near strong enough to overcome my isolation and depression. Development of any sort other than the physical never stood a chance against that deep in the bone marrow level of cold.

And the thing is, nothing has changed since then. For the two years I went to college, I had at least a chance to develop a set of healthy, positive friends, and that did me a lot of good.

But then my parents pulled the plug on that, and I collapsed back into the depressive hole I had been in when I was in high school, and that is where I lay to this very day.

But enough delineating of the problem. What am I going to do about it? How do I grow up?

Well, the fact that I am writing all this down for the world (okay, like eight people) to see is good. The first step, as they say, is to admit you have a problem. I have brushed up against this truth in this space before, but I always dodged the real truth of it by qualifying it with things like “in some ways” or “it is almost as though” and other such bullshit.

Well it’s time to fess up. I am Peter Pan. I never grew up. My therapist correctly observed that I can’t give myself the love and caring I never got as a kid because that has to come from an adult and I have no inner adult to do it.

I can tell myself “well, it’s too late to get it now, I better pull myself together” all I want, but without healing the child within and somehow catching up on all that development I missed, it ain’t gonna do a goddamned bit of good.

Like I said before, maybe the love, nurturing, protection, attention, understanding, and acceptance I needed as a child and never got is like nutrition, and if you don’t get it when you need it, the damage is irreparable.

There’s some scientific evidence to back that up. Feral children cannot, as far as we know, ever become normal modern humans. Severely abused preschoolers develop things like reactive attachment disorder and have problems throughout their lives taming the savagery inside them.

Nut it can’t be totally hopeless. I’m alive, I’m aware, I can look at myself and try to make changes. I can maybe negotiate some way of gently guiding myself through the process of growing up.

I want to grow up. I really do. Bu even in that, I can tell that it is the desire of a child to embrace the adult world and be part of it. It’s not a mature way of thinking. It’s just a little boy’s dream.

A smart little boy, no doubt, with loads of charm and wit and talent, but deep down in the cellar of the soul where we all really live, underneath all the illusions and delusions and dreams and scenes and masks and tasks, I am just a little kid who never grew up on the inside, and that is a sad and bracing thing to realize about myself.

Hopefully tonight’s little confessional will help change that. Pull one more icicle out of this heart of mine.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.