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I think I just have to accept the cyclicality of my moods and energy levels. Previously I’ve hoped I’d find something to stabilize myself a little, but this hasn’t worked out. While that hope was alive, I wasn’t making the best of any state as far as pursuing my dreams went. In total I experience four states:

1) low energy  + normal mood (most common)

2) low energy + depressive slump (happens)

3) high energy + bad mood (rarest; also known as my masculine energy phase)

4) high energy + high spirits (happens)

 

The problem was (is) that when I’m having low energy + depressive slump I don’t do anything for obvious reasons. I also don’t do anything useful when in a regular low energy phase. The inspiration is not there and everything feels like a chore. I’ve just exited that phase, so my memory of it is fresh. This time there were days I tried to write in spite of having no inspiration. Sometimes I managed to add one or two lines to an unfinished poem. Some of those weren’t half bad, and one line is better than none, but I felt like I had brain fog. It was really hard to be bright.

Typically when these moods go away, and I have high energy (and high spirits) again, I’m so stunned by the contrast that I don’t do anything useful either but spend most of such times being frivolous and rejoicing in feeling like a normal human being.

And that is why: I cannot change the cyclicality of these things, but I can can change how I approach them.

It’s easier with the high energy phases. I manage to work during those periods now because I acknowledge it’s the best time for it and that times like this will come again, so I don’t have to cling to it like someone that found an oasis in a desert. It’d be good for me if I could tune it down a little bit though and not verge on hypomania. But it’s not really a problem. I control it.

What to do with the low energy phases I really don’t know. I’ve been thinking that perhaps it is enough if I use the high energy phases for working on my creative projects and that’d be that. So, essentially stopping to try and beat myself to it during the low energy periods. Typically, I just end up feeling bad about how useless I am and how I’ll never amount to anything. And that can leave a mark on high energy periods too.

So my current strategy is to focus on the high energy periods and use them well. I’ve only very recently learnt to do it and I don’t trust very fresh improvements. So I won’t be adding new changes on top of it yet. Regardless, I do see potential to use the low energy phases better too. Just, go about it slow.

Today is an excellent day, by the way. I feel like I’m coming close to the fun I had in June again, but I doubt it’d last for three weeks ever again. Still, I take what is given. Starlit walks ahead this weekend. And trips and things and my new poem about falling downstairs that I came up with last night and feel optimistic about.

*

Other: I’ve been reading Martin Eden and it’s so exactly everything I expected it to be that I don’t even know how to feel about it. I suppose I’d have felt disappointed if it hadn’t been what I expected, but I also feel it’d be nicer, better, if it could exceed these expectations. Or I don’t know. When a classic Western is exactly what I expect it to be, like Stagecoach, I don’t complain. I start complaining when characters are miscast, too cruel, plot is implausible, internal logic is violated, but I never complain when I get the tropes and storyline I wanted to get in a well-executed way.

 

Just something

  • I will henceforth begin to use the word deprivation in a broader context than that of material poverty. The parallels struck me this afternoon, and it seems, once again, obvious in hindsight that different forms of deprivation would have much in common, including and importantly, in the methods the afflicted use to escape their particular deprivation. It was a paradigm shift for me.
  • I also felt a little put off by how I continue to write with great confidence, later to feel embarrassed about my stupidity. It’s the kind of expressive style I have. I’m much more hesitant and doubtful in reality but when expressing something, it tends to require a focus and there one goes. I cannot quite help my passion and emotionality either.
  • I had a discussion with self about the people that have put me down in life or talked to me down or interacted with me as their inferior. And I don’t mean the randoms, them doing it is normal and happens to us all, but people that actually left a mark and knew me. First, I became aware of it. Then I got angry. Then I told myself that look here, it’s not like you haven’t done the same thing to others. It’s insecurity that motivated those particular people just as it does you. Pft, I said, and maintained my right to be angry. They have the same right to be angry in turn.
  • I have copious amounts of free time on my hands right now. It’s great for a change and reminds me of the old days of idleness.
  • Having small, manageable goals instead of big ones agrees with me much more. I wish I had realised it a little sooner.

 

Mood

To write.  To create strings of words never created before. Like this.

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy with my studies and though I’ve sometimes thought of putting down a few general impressions about the whole experience, I haven’t got around to doing it. I might get to it some day. There are things that I’d like to record.

I have been feeling uncommonly content – and dare I say – happy the last two weeks. It’s not something I experienced often. Happy moments, yes, occasionally, but such moods rarely last longer than 3 days. This now lasts, and lasts.  I’m grateful for that space to breathe and for the opportunity to taste what it is like to live as a happy person. The world, and especially people, are a little different through such glasses.

It started like my happy moods often do – with very high spirits, something I tongue-in-cheekly call a hypomania episode. I listen to music a lot in such moods, usually pop, often not very good things, objectively speaking, but their catchy simplicity pleases me. I laugh a lot. Sometimes I daydream wildly, go out at unsuitable hours, smile to myself when walking on the street, and become much more sociable. I try my best not to overwhelm anyone and be tactless. I was also slightly infatuated with David Walliams due to watching excessive amounts of things with him, but this has now passed.

Speaking of passing, the normal procedure is that my cheerfulness fairly soon drops down to the meh mood. And then the depressive slump is just around the corner too. This time around, however, the very high spirits just mellowed into calm contentedness.

And this is already something I’m not used to and almost never have experienced. Not this long. Every day surprises me. The confidence, the calm and the things I can do in this mood. I sleep normally. There was a time I thought I’d never be able to sleep long again. Yesterday I ate a full bowl of oatmeal porridge. Today I feel very prosocial. I like many people and feel a kind of humility I haven’t for a long time. Nothing much seems to disturb my serenity. The world’s madness just makes me shrug. I feel simultaneously I’m turning more towards the world and away from it. Timeless things draw me. People and their ways. Trees and nature.

The only downside is the head aches I’ve been having for two days now.

Melancholia

Maybe the reason I’ve been making progress with my social anxiety is partly due to the fact that I simply have nothing to lose any more. And when you don’t care, it makes you stronger. It’s one possible cause. I don’t think it’s the only one.

But while realising how I’ve progressed was an uplifting event, tonight is melancholy, the counting of losses and unhappinesses night.

The thing I want most right now, more than any other thing in the world, would be a fun, imaginative, positive and playful friend.

I am so terribly bored with the unimaginativeness of adults and so alone with my sense of play. Even my particular brand of loving nature sets me apart.

If I ever saw another person wondering in the woods like I do, a girl, with her eyes up towards the treetops to catch sight of an elusive bird and her step slow, if I saw a girl like that, god, I think I’d stepped into a world of fiction where life-changing encounters happen right in the middle of the forest.

Okay, let’s not exaggerate, but it’d be very special.

Anyway, it’s not so important.

Imagination and spirit is what I want most. Another wild soul who’d go on a picnic with me on a starry and snowy winter night. And no, I don’t mean the people who’d find the thought charming and would gladly humour me. I mean those whose soul would be in it, too. It doesn’t have to be this idyllic or eccentric, of course.

Interpretation errors

A few weeks ago, I was summing up (in my mind) the progress I’ve made within the three years I’ve consciously tried to tackle my social anxiety.

The report looked bleak. I felt bleak.

Consistent improvement:

1. being able to step into a store, look towards the sales person and say hello in 90% of cases.

Starting situation: stepping into the store, trying hard to be unnoticed, looking down and never making eye contact, thus usually avoiding the hellos too.

If that’s the only thing one has achieved after 3 years of efforts, it’s a failure, isn’t it? It’s not worth it and one might as well conclude the entire thing a hopeless and deluded quest.

But then – yes, it’s coming – I had the following conversation with a friend about courage and bravery. I don’t remember the exact topic, but I called my friend brave for something that I didn’t dare to do myself. He rejected it, saying he doesn’t feel brave, that bravery is when you are scared of something but do it anyway. Like Frodo going to Mordor.

I felt “But that’s the story of my life!” I must be one of the bravest people then, because most of my life I do things I’m terrified of. It felt empowering somehow to realise you are not the hopelessly cowardly person you think you are, but have a lot of bravery too. These don’t seem so strongly linked, but I’m certain this was the turning point and led me to re-evaluate my progress in social anxiety reduction.

It is true, there was no consistent improvement, but in no other year than the years since I started on my SAD reduction, have I experienced so many social successes, so many unexpected, out of the blue socially normative and brave behaviours. And when I looked at it like that, the overall level must have improved because what else could explain so many successful outcomes. I write down some:

1. I walked into the post office and said hello in a loud voice. I was stunned by this. I hadn’t planned it. It just happened that I said hello in a loud voice. Normal situation: talking very quietly.

2. I was at a party with lots of people I had never met before and acted comfortable and socially acceptable. Normal situation: sit quietly and not say a word throughout unless specificially asked or just talk to the one person you know and feel safe with.

3. I felt like dancing and hopping around in front of the stage during several concerts. If I had the right people with me, I’d have just gone and done it, but these people kept me back. Normal situation: not feel this, being much too self-concious.

4. I managed what was probably the best presentation of my life at school. I talked well, did not get mixed up, stumble on words or lose track. I even managed spontaneity well. It was the first time I felt a glimpse of a possible other world, a world in which I could perform in front of people. Normal situation: stumble on words, lose track, speak very quietly, get stuck on anything spontaneous, IQ drop of one standard deviation, great distress.

5. I was rude to a sales person on the phone. Rudeness in my case being defined as telling them directly “I’m not interested. Bye” instead of trying to phrase it as softly as I could. Yes, it matters.

6. I posted on the school forum several times. Normal situation: say something, even if online, voluntarily in front of a large group of people? No way. Only when I absolutely have to.

7. I wrote to teachers asking questions. Normal situation: not do this.

8. I do not interpret my social failures as negatively as I used to and don’t dwell on them, feeling embarrassment and wishing the ground could open up and undo it. I often just think “Well, whatever, I’m sure they’ve encountered greater eccentrics than me” or “This person said a lot of stupid things in class today too, it’s not just me”. During the presentation, for example, I did have problems with not knowing where to put my hands, but it feels trivial and you can’t have everything at once.

9. I have come to notice a lot more how other people also have social anxiety. It makes me feel less alone, less abnormal. A few of our lecturers show signs of awkwardness in front of the class as well: one doesn’t know where to put his hands and gesticulates strangely, the other talks very fast and gets mixed up at times. I’ve always felt I was the worst. There was no one as bad as me. Maybe it is true, given the life I’ve had because of it, but other people also have social anxiety. I’m not alone.

10. In connection to point 9, I finally feel able to talk about it without feeling the stigma. I’ve always felt I had to hide it away and try to be as socially normal as I could, pretend it wasn’t there, pretend I had a normal social life. Truly, writing about it here in the extent I’ve done, delineating how deep its roots and the things I find hard to do, it is not something I’d have done two years ago. Writing about it in my native language or admitting it to course mates is not something I’d have done a year ago.

After such a list, it may seem confusing how I interpreted all this as “no improvement”, but it’s all about consistency. Most of my successes have been random and sporadic. They don’t suggest daily improvement in SA levels. They’ve just unexplainably happened. I did experience similar things prior to my SAD management as well. The odd day or event when I wasn’t acting painfully awkward by my standards, so the fact that such things happen, is not novel in itself. It’s the amount and type of them that is new. And this I missed because there was no consistent improvement. I still find calling hairdressers or ordering a taxi as hard as I did three years ago, but something good seems to be going on to account for the number and type of successes I’ve had.

And lastly, the strange thing is, not just concerning this facet of life but others too (like finances), when you got nothing, nothing is given to you by the world, but when you already have a little something, more of it gets given. As pleasant as it is to have fought my way up to this position when I already have a tiny something, the way it works before is disheartening.

This. This.

The psychological reason why some people are so hard on themselves isn’t necessarily a matter of low self-esteem. It’s more likely a product of the need for affect, which is the intensity at which people want to feel anything. Positive disintegration is often correlated with a higher degree of over-excitability, which is another way to say that people who develop themselves thoroughly often feel they are in a state of crisis, whereas other people would not perceive those circumstances to be as dire, or in need of a similar response.

(could relate to this)

I was pleased to discover

…that there is a term for my affliction:

Analysis paralysis is when the fear of potential error outweighs the realistic expectation or potential value of success, and this imbalance results in suppressed decision-making in an unconscious effort to preserve existing options.

Continuing on truth

I’m struggling to find things to write about on the blog now that I’ve banned introspection and incompetent statements expressed with unfitting confidence.

I’d just end up producing lies or texts that embarrass me upon a second reading.

Introspection defines the self. The moment I do that and realise that I’m X rather than Y, I cancel out the Y. Even though the Y might also exist in me. A while back, I wrote about how I assumed I was an introvert for most of my life and my lifestyle adapted to this. Currently, it’s taking a lot of effort from me to adjust my life to my extroversion. Making new friends at my age is not the easiest thing etc.

I think all these introspective thoughtlings that I have – and continue to have because I am simply like that and cannot help it – they should stay amorphous like my dreams. I will think and analyse as before, but I shouldn’t drag them out into the open. Just as with dreams, when expressed outside the mind, they become one’s prison bars, limiting a person to a homogeneous identity, which mine is not.

Some time ago, I was rehearsing a difficult conversation in my head. I didn’t seem to get anywhere with figuring out the best way of saying what I wanted to say. In the middle of yet another clumsy monologue, I stopped: “Just tell the goddamn truth!”. But what is the truth? All the four or five monologues I had been having were true, but they emphasised completely different aspects and would create a completely different emotion and reaction in the recipient. That was my struggle. They were all true, but I couldn’t easily tell them all because they seemed inconsistent with each other. How can you invoke – or desire to invoke – anger and pity and hurt and disappointment and amiability at once? I would have to choose my preferred narrative, my preferred emotion and tell that. But that would be a lie because the others are as essential.

To my surprise, I do continue on this course of truth-seeking. The mood seems to be more lasting than I initially dared predict. In the end, I resolved the above situation by deciding to offer no explanation whatsoever and simply say the gist in one sentence. At least I wouldn’t be lying and avoiding that seemed topmost.

I hope in the future I can focus more on simply being and not trying to force the inconsistent manifestations of character into something like a personality. I think it is the right thing to do  – for me, at this point – and not for anyone else, because this is my journey, my shedding of skin I have grown too big for.

It seems old-fashioned to be valuing and striving for truthfulness at our time, but it feels fresh to me, like spring water.

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Beautiful hearts

I have some sort of interesting thing going on with beautiful souls.

Whenever I come upon one, either in real life or through TV or internet, it makes me want to cry. I’ve wondered about this sort of peculiar reaction a lot. I’m obviously touched that a person like this exists. But it doesn’t quite seem like a sufficient explanation. I rarely do actually cry, but I feel like their beauty pierces my heart somehow. That my own heart leaps up and wants to run to theirs. Or press their hand in sympathy and understanding. To express it somehow how much it means to me that people like this exist.

In addition to that mixture of joy and pain, I also experience an overwhelming desire to protect the said person from the world. Even if they are a grown man twice my age in no need of protection. But there is that feeling. Of a treasure. And a distrust of the world. That destroys its beauty.

But a grown man twice my age surely knows that….

An absurd feeling overall.