I spent the last days of the old year and the first days of the new overthinking and watching films. The films I saw were these:

Excellent

The Bounty

Howard’s End

Very good

Master and Commander

Good

Treasure Island (1990)

Berkley Square (1933)

No, still not liking it

Lawrence of Arabia

One of the worst films I’ve ever seen

Mysterious Island (1961)

******

I cannot summarise my thoughts so neatly. Generally speaking, I was thinking of my relation to the world and the people in it but obviously also the usual programme of my everyday dilemmas. I felt much more socially insecure, my identity was adrift and I didn’t really know what to take hold of. Sometimes I was unhappy.

How does a person deal with stigma? And what is one to do if the truth about yourself would inevitably lead to stigmatisation, ostracism, and in the best of cases, pity and charity friendships?

I’m by nature a confiding and open person, sometimes even inclined to overshare, so I do suffer a great deal under having to hide a lot of myself away. Sometimes so much that I want to give up people entirely. This mood passes but sometimes with consequences of having actually effected it.

Now that my social anxiety has improved and I feel prepared to slowly re-integrate myself into society, this topic has come to weigh on me somewhat. How do I tell people some of the more unusual facts of my life and myself? Nothing positive is going to come to me for it, only the earlier-mentioned stigmatisation or pity.

The first days of my great think I felt that it was inevitable that I cannot afford myself the luxury of sharing these things until I’m quite close to the person. I was quite shattered by how hard it’s going to be though. It’s a very disintegrating experience when you cannot be fully open and true to yourself.  There’s simply too much I need to keep stumm about too, and it wants to desperately get out.

Unfortunately, I cannot imagine any argument that might convince me it is for the better. People don’t work this way. Society doesn’t. What I wrote will follow is going to follow and will bring much unhappiness to me. I considered seeing a specialist regarding this topic because they might know better how to re-integrate people with unusual and socially unacceptable life stories into society. I wanted very much for there to exist a way.

So much that at one point it stopped mattering. And then and there I decided I will put myself through that. I simply can’t handle the masquarade, not even to protect myself.

I do need advice on how to cope with what is going to follow though. All that eye rolling, rejection, incomprehension, confusion, hurtful remarks caused by any of the mentioned. The detached and scientific side of myself considers it an intriguing social experiment to be able to live through. Sadly, there is little to no hope that my hypersensitivity won’t make it a misery.

But I don’t know. At this stage I still feel optimistic that I can handle it, my Romanticism probably also helps: do your worst but it’ll reflect worse on you than me and I will be the noble outcast. That sort of stupid thinking. I cannot stress enough that my tendency to Romantic excess is really helpful in getting through bad spots :).

New years resolutions

  • Less important: be a little less of an Enneagram Type Four as far as writerly persona/voice goes: I admire people who have a quiet and gentle everyday style of writing, while mine is flourish-this-flourish-that and excesses of eccentricity and whackiness. Be less of a contrarian, too. How could I forget this.
  • Moderately important: be more gentle with self and not pour bucketloads of stress upon myself by thinking I’m well and capable and can handle it.
  • Most important: be more assertive where I’ve previously disastrously (truly!) lacked.

I read somewhere that writing down your plans is bad for people with problems of discipline and procrastination because it gives them a feeling of having already done something towards it. It’s a kind of pressure release that shouldn’t happen too early. The result is that it becomes even less likely that they will actually do it. Since I’m such a person, I won’t write down my other hopes and plans, unless they are such that I could put them off too, like the driving school business.

  • But this seems safe and not so related to discipline and procrastination: I’d really like to experience sea again and go on a longer cruise.

 

Brazen

I was a very good follower of my flawed heroes and figured drink is the suitable remedy for anxiety tonight. I don’t know why I did it, because it was very minor anxiety, my mood was good and I knew it’d pass by morning. I felt violently fed up with it. What business has anxiety to be here? I’m well! Get lost, get away. Such a pest and nuisance. Like a mosquito at night, will so crush you and stamp you out!

I felt quite strong though, even when driving it out with a weak person’s means, I felt strong. And now I feel very pleased with myself. It was quite empowering to destroy it.

On the other hand, the depressant effect later on does not seem so desireable. I already caught myself thinking that I’m too confident and optimistic. What really lies between the better future I envision and being back to square zero? Very little. My own self and good fortune. And I cannot rely on either. Everything’s so fragile.

 

This troublesome thing

I want to write a hate post on my hypersensitivity. Here goes: I’ve been quite happy in December. I’ve recovered very well and fully from my depression of three months. The stress I’ve had is quite vanished too. Not having any stress to deal with or any active unpleasantness, I have felt very confident and capable, a slightly changed person. Sometimes I don’t sleep so well, because I’m too glowing or unwilling to let an hour of the present good state go. I am a little stupid too. I’ve felt full of spring and ready to take on new difficulties. Example: I wanted to start a new school, with the first one not fully finished yet and fresh memories of how I hate school intact: driving school. The thought of being able to drive around in summer and discover beautiful natural spots was quite powerfully alluring. I planned to do it in as little time as I possibly could too, to minimize the misery months. I felt quite restless but I forced myself not to do it just yet and rest until March/April. So far all was excellent and future looked bright ahead.

But today I get an anxiety attack. In a mental health state like this, it felt like a right slap in the face. There is me feeling so capable and confident as I haven’t felt in forever, and then my nervous system acts up! Whatever I do, however good things get, my biology will always betray me. And there’s not a thing I could do about it. How can I live like this?

To live, just to live at all and have some kind of an enjoyable life, I need to have an iron will to pull myself through it, to transcend biology. People have pointed out to me lately that most of my role models are males and my taste in films is “male”. Fiddle dee dee to that of course, but it’s quite simple really. Male heroes are my crutches. Jean Valjean, sea captains, gladiators and Wild West fortune hunters. They help me keep up the will and the fight. And they are suitably imperfect. With fictional females, I always feel that they are far to good for me, I could never be this good, or that they are far too degenerate and low in idealism to admire. But mostly I’ve turned towards what I needed more. I needed to balance my hyperfemininity and to become an even better fighter.

But alas, today. It was a trivial anxiety episode that’s mostly faded. I got it because I was trying to buy a concert ticket to Finland. I’ve never been there and I haven’t been to a big concert in a decade, so there’s some fair enough justifications. On the other hand, I’ve been through these emotions months ago. It was a formality and I was feeling so capable. But then my biology ruins the blissful hope that I could actually recover and live an easier, happier life. No, it’s forever going to be a gigantic battle to have any kind of positive life experience. If I failed now, now in this state of equilibrium, what hope is there in less blissful states?

Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.

The hope is that my speedy recovery is illusory. While I may feel very calm and good, months of depression and a preceding month of high stress would have left their mark. While I may feel all good, nervous system underneath it isn’t yet and overreacts. I tend to not be cautious enough either. And it’s not just this phase, there’s years of it. My last little hope really is: what would happen if I got a full year of calm and joyfulness?

Otherwise though, I’m stuck with my hypersensitivity and the various vulnerabilities that come with it. I’m not even convinced daring and bravery makes one stronger. I feel I just get weaker by forcing myself  through things I’m terrified of, but I don’t really see an alternative either if I want to live and do things I want to do. It’s always going to be a feat of will.

Passing time

 

  • Identify a moment in your life that made you feel like you had superpowers. What did you do exceptionally well? How did circumstances change as a result of your actions?

Um. I don’t know. I was totally calm and laughing when locked into a ship museum for the night and took it as a fun adventure. I’m pretty unexpectedly good in many crises when others panic and am always stunned by this.

  • When you’re feeling powerful, what song best motivates you?

I don’t usually feel powerful.

  • What is your spirit animal?

Claudia.

  • How has water impacted your life?

I love water very much and have spent many happy hours in it.

  • What would you like to go back and tell a teacher from your past?

Thank you for thinking I was more capable than I was. It made a difference.

  • Name three things you’d do if you weren’t so afraid.

Go travel to a warm country right now. Go tell absolutely every relevant person I know what I truly think and feel regarding them. Sell my flat and move elsewhere.

  • If time flies, what does dreaming do?

Embrace you.

  • What colors are your thoughts?

Flaming red right now.

  • Outside of your family, who is someone that has made a difference in your life?

Everyone’s that mattered anything to me has had an impact.

  • If people knew the real you, what would they think?

What a poor lost girl, or depending on their empathy levels, what a git.

  • What fantastical creature would you like to have come alive?

Dreams.

  • Are there any political issues that interest you?

Trees and not cutting them down. Animal and plant protection and welfare. Is that political?

  • What is special about the town or towns you grew up in?

Quite a lot of nature and possibilities for solitude.

  • What sounds irritate you?

Chalk on the board, of course. I’m not keen on traffic noise or leaf blowers either.

  • What is your favorite activity to do in the snow?

I’d like to have one of those old-fashioned push sleighs(?) and have some fun with that.

  • When is your most productive time of day?

Morning or late evening.

  • Have you ever been addicted to something?

Food (sweets and crisps)

  • Is life fair?

I doubt that but it might be to some.

  • What goals and aspirations do you hope to fulfill in the next year?

Write something good. Smell flowers in May and experience calm again. Make someone a little happier by my existence.

  • In a natural disaster, what three things would you grab first?

Depends where I was. This question isn’t very good.

  • What role does religion play in your life?

I pray when there’s nothing else one can do, like when someone’s seriously ill. Otherwise I’m not religious.

  • If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? What would you want to do or discuss with this character?

I’d like to meet Anne Shirley and Dora and be best friends with both of them at the same time. Anne would be the leader, I’d be the middle one and Dora to balance us both out and charm me to bits with her sweetness.

I’d also like to meet Pierre Bezukhov and Andrey Bolkonsky together and discuss life with them, being once again the middle one in outlook between the two. My natural tendency is with the Pierres, but I have a mind like Andrey, so this seems like great fun to be part of their debate.

  • As a child, who is/was your favorite relative?

My grandmother.

  • Describe your first dance.

It must have happened in the kindergarten when we had some event there. I think I was embarrassed and awkward and hated it.

  • When is the first time you felt truly independent or older than your age?

Never?

  • Is it more important to be right or to be honest?

Neither. The two seem incomparable.

  • What old, worn out thing can you simply not part with?

There’s a ton of them. I got a special pencil, for example, that my primary school love used to borrow from me. It was enormously precious to me. He had touched it and this was very meaningful in those days. And then my grandmother took it for herself one day, thinking it’s an old unnecessary shabby thing she could easily borrow and no one would miss. At the time I didn’t know she had taken it. I assumed it had got lost. I only found out later after my grandmother had died, then I saw it in her sewing box.  It’s blue, with yellow flowers on it and it always reminds me of these two people now.

  • What messages do you keep repeating to yourself?

God give me strength.

  • What ethical dilemmas have you faced?

Too complicated for this hour and this survey.

  • Are you proud of your accomplishments?

If put like this, yes.

  • If a photographer were to capture you in your most emotional moment, what would they see?

Depends on the kind of emotional moment. Red nose and tears, or gleeful twirling.

  • How do male and female roles differ in your family?

I don’t understand the question.

  • Have you ever felt like the minority in a group setting?

When haven’t I? The rare times I don’t are experiences to remember with a warm feeling.

  • Have you experienced racism, sexism, or other kinds of discrimination?

Yes, of course, but not as much as there seems to be about.

  • What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever worn?

Difficult choice. I have worn some outrageous things. Baby blue stockings. White stockings with a mini skirt. All white skirt and top with Victorian style boots. Wearing shorts to school seems like an embarrassing choice too in hindsight but at least it looked alright compared to the other tastelessness. I miss that really.

 

Bad times and the hard times

My evening depression’s back! So hello, pet, how’s it been? Haven’t seen you around lately. Take a seat, let’s talk of life and love. Have you got your instruments of torture with you? I see that you do, good. I missed you, you know. Your morning sibling paid me many calls last weeks. Why did you stop? She’s so much worse than you. Let me have you, if I must have one.

*

That’s when I first began to suspect I had depression. It came in the mornings and I didn’t want to wake up. It felt like being under an iron press. Generalized ache in the gut and the chest. Skin stripped away. Staring blankly at the pillow’s corner for an hour. Letting songs play on repeat but not hearing them. People being kind and bringing presents, but not being able to feel. Everything a chore, except breathing:

  • do your work
  • do your home work
  • make a hairdresser appointment
  • buy that Elton ticket already
  • clean the floor
  • clean the kitchen table
  • go and make a sandwich
  • set up your birthday table
  • act normal
  • wash your hair
  • write a response to a person who asked if I felt more hopeless

I didn’t feel more hopeless. To feel hopeless, you need a conception of hope, a source and subject. I was under the press. It was generalized pain. Hope didn’t enter into it.

One night I experienced the first sign of the press lifting. I could peek into the cause a little but it was too painful. I drew back to prefer the generalized ache. Then I got ill. Physically. Some minor viral infection, which turned out to be my unexpected medicine for depression. I had an excuse to lie in bed all day and ask myself off work too.

Now it comes in the evenings again. Fewer things are chores and I manage to do more than stare at pillow corners. I do feel beaten up from the preceding weeks but healing.

I’m not certain if I will make a full recovery or if this is just a brief pause, but I feel optimistic. I was afraid I couldn’t get out of this with my own resources any more. But I did and this is a success.

I’m afraid to disturb this equilibrium though. I try to think little and dream little. Today I came up with some ideas for what work I’d like to do in the future in addition to/instead of what I do now or have already decided to do, but I shut it down a bit. I don’t feel well enough to plan and dream yet.

I’ve done all my homeworks reasonably well though and slept well and ate tolerably. And that’s as much as I’m going to expect of myself until I stop feeling beaten up. Really, a huge pat pat for me for doing all my homeworks so well and tomorrow’s ones today. I’m normally not doing anything a day before the deadline.

When not inspired..

I do this:

I don’t quite remember where I picked this technique up from, but I’ve definitely been doing it since my very early twenties. It’s for times when I want to write or think I ought to write, but have no inspiration whatsoever. I’ve also used it as a game to play with friends. Exchanging our word lists and writing poems together. It helps to pass the time on long bus rides and can be quite fun otherwise too.

On the first column you write nouns, trying to empty your head and write down whatever comes up. You must also strive to forget what you just wrote down. That’s key. Then you cover this column with your hand and write verbs in the next one and complements in the third. The less you remember what went in the preceding column, the better it is.

Sometimes it gives me a good line to work with. Sometimes a whole set of lines. Sometimes I have a specific mood/theme I want to do and then I try to keep my words vaguely to that theme, while still emptying my head as much as I can.

Today’s word list didn’t turn out good at all. It felt like there isn’t a workable line in there and certainly no concept I could tie together. The things circled are circled for other reasons (Freudian analysis of repetetiveness for the why not of it).

But then that “Morning closes in a whisper” line didn’t seem so bad, and voila, it gave me what I had wanted and I set to work. I also ended up using it as a word bank. Otherwise “dammit”, “last bus” and “trees” might not have ended up in the poem.

I like this poem so far too. I’m not sure I will like it tomorrow, or next week, but I like the premise and promise of it this moment. And the new kind of tenderness I write with. That I didn’t have before.

I dare to write beautiful things now without flights of whimsy. Pat pat for me.

 

Head aches

This morning I woke up very depressed. It also happened yesterday and normally never happens.

My depressive slumps are always worst in the evenings and my mornings are usually the brightest times of the day. Often I wake up feeling good but gradually remember things and think myself into a state of depression by afternoon or evening. Last two days I’ve been very cheerful during the day. Almost hypomanic and carefree. I suppose the misery has to go somewhere and the hypomania is a desperate attempt to drown it out. It isn’t a truly sincere cheerfulness, even if it feels so at the time.

It did feel so at the time. Last night there was a beautiful crescent moon over the sea and I felt like twirling around at the seaside to my favourite Elton songs. But sadly, even the darkest areas of the seaside don’t feel private enough for dancing. My social anxiety was as low as it can possibly be. I was vibrant, friendly and talkative. None of the difficulties seemed to matter. I’m still not sure that they matter.

Later I watched three episodes of War and Peace with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre Bezukhov. I love him. His Pierre has always been my favourite but I’m enjoying it with even greater relish on a second viewing. Sometimes I don’t even listen to what he is saying but study the way he does a socially awkward person.

My favourite Pierre moment is when he says a brazen thing he doesn’t mean and asks himself immediately after: what did I say that for? I’ve rarely seen that done in a socially anxious person portrayal and it’s quite relatable. Sometimes I also feel it is my words that speak and not myself. Some of the things that come out of my mouth when I’m socially anxious are really not things I mean or think at all. I also like how he is unintentionally rude because he is too oblivious or awkward. I’m rude too sometimes, less for obliviousness (though that happens) but more for plain overpowering anxiety. I still recall woefully how I accompanied a girl to the train station once and it didn’t occur to me to offer to help with her luggage, even though she said that it was heavy and was obviously struggling. I was feeling so anxious I couldn’t operate on the level of situational cues and missed it completely. I can start conversations/topics too abrubtly instead of sliding slowly into them too. That’s a deliberate disregard of small talk though, so probably not relevant. Other than these things there is also much that is different in mannerism and I’m not really like Pierre, but he is definitely part of my tribe.

I’ve switched tribe in recent years. Maybe it’s not good for my mental health that my tribe includes people like Elton John, Hart Crane and Dylan Thomas and I should strive to be a balanced citizen and look up to people that hold it together better, don’t make spectacularly wrong life choices or resort to alcoholism and debauchery to drown out the world. I do look up to them, but they are not my tribe. My tribe is people that make mistakes, emotional, sensitive, self-harming-in-the-process, struggling people. When I was younger, I couldn’t see it quite as broadly as I do now. I don’t drink almost at all, for example, and including an alcoholic in my tribe would have seemed quite alien. But it’s not about drink or drugs or whatever a person’s chosen way of drowing it out is. It’s about the emotionality and sensitivity underneath and having that struggle. Resorting to drink and drugs is just sad. That entire downward spiral is. I hope I’ll never have to know.

I think all weakness is the same weakness, really. It doesn’t matter what anyone has: eating disorder, alcoholism, butt implants, casual sex, drug addiction, obsessive working out, gambling, gaming addiction. It’s all the same root and what ends up being your thing is sometimes just a matter of upbringing and the kind of influence you have around and what your priorities or interests are. I’ve been fortunate to have so much good influences around me to protect me from many things like that – except for spectacularly wrong life choices – but I do have that weakness in me. And when you see things as connected, it’s easier to be sympathetic to weaknesses you don’t share, provided the person underneath is alright.

I think my way of drowing it out is to be totally passive and watch comedy or detective shows. But it could have been partying or food, so.

 

Slowly

I’ve been reading this for the past hour:

Sweet irony and absolute fit in one.

It’s one of the earliest books I bought myself, but never read fully through, which I’m sure its author, as an advocate of slow-pace anything, would approve of. It so happens I wrote an essay about idleness for university and did this at my grandparents’ on the last few good and hopeful summer days my grandmother had. I had fibbed a little to stay with them, saying I couldn’t write this at home because of the racket. But in truth, I’m used to the average rackets, and really wanted to hold on to what I felt was getting inevitably lost.

It’s ironic to be reading it because I ought to be really busy right now. It’s an absolute fit because I couldn’t be further. I’ve lived this book and worse.

It started on Monday when I still had an excuse. I was seduced by the sweetness of daydreaming when I ought to have started to research for my thesis. After the hectic weekend and the perfectionist’s panic episode that got quite bad at one point, a few hours of daydreaming seemed well-earned. It wouldn’t stop though. A few hours became a day, two days and five. I had no resistance to the peace of it. It felt like nature had given me an antidote to stress and my body was producing its own anaesthetic.

I quite stopped caring about the thesis and failing it the second time. It wasn’t going to be my failure or fault. It simply wasn’t fair play that others get three months and I got three weeks. I thought so much, so very much, wrote a lot of texts in my head too, and daydreamed a little for intermissions, but I never thought of the thesis. It was like being in a lazy cocoon. At the back of my mind, I knew it was stolen, and every day I was making things more difficult for myself.

Today I wondered if this is what burnout is like? Do you just walk out out of the blue? You totally lose touch and stop caring?

I’ve casually followed some course-related discussions on the forum and felt quite inferior and out of place. These people are interested in this topic! They read extra materials! They have all these clever opinions. And then there’s me recommending others that you don’t need to read through the thick English-language textbook, but can pass the course with just reading the slides. Like Delboy at the theatre asking if anybody fancies a crisp.

The entire time I’ve been studying psychology, I have struggled with this attitude problem. I know too well what my interests are and what I’m never going to need, parts of the brain, for example. And my mind filters out the latter and does not want to waste time on courses like this. But this attitude feels immature. Specialization is good but I’m not at that stage. So I feel like a schoolkid among all those people with more mature attitudes who manage to take an interest in a wider variety of topics.

I just like to think really. To think and understand. I don’t care about where the parietal lobe is.

This semester I like my psychometry course very much. Whatever I do with the rest (two), this I want to do. Its a very rewarding experience in its immediacy too. I recently learnt what a Z-score is and how to calculate it and felt like I understand a new piece of what seemed like elite code. And it’s always a “wow, I see, I see” kind of experience for me, no matter how small the new piece acquired. There’s something so calming in working with numbers too. I think I’d enjoy doing that for a hobby in old age. When others go to a knitting circle meeting, I’d go to a statistics and trignometry group, with lovely nerdy bespectacled Miss Marples. If such things existed, of course. Amateur mathematics.

I suppose I will try to do something next week. It will soon be over at least regardless of the result. This cheers me up a little. Come October, I’m freeeee.