I took some wrong turns and now I’m driving deeper and deeper into the dense forest on a dirtroad. Nowhere to turn around. No idea where I was going. Not since I lost the map. Getting dark. The battery is discharging. Can’t see myself in the rear view mirror, so not sure what face I wear.
I put my book away, turned off the light and tried to sleep. Now, in the darkness, I’m instead getting more awake. I notice that the pillow is bumpy in the wrong way. I think that the subscription for the skills I need at work must have expired. I remember my ex being worried that I had no plan even for my nearest future. My legs are dry and itching and I should put some lotion on them. But if I do I can’t hold my book without messing up the cover. And if I can’t fall asleep soon I have to turn on the lights and read again.
Our selves don’t exist. We don’t have an I when we are born. I am not something unique or predestined we are born with. It is something we continuously create in the now our entire lives.
We build concepts that we call I from all we experience, or learn, about our bodies, our environment and our social reality. It is not constant, it changes with new knowledge, experience and ideas.
Our selves are inseparable from our bodies. The self is our body. The self change when the body change. Influenced by the self, or other persons selves, the body can in turn also change.
We have one self, but that self has many instances. Created by many networks in the brain it becomes an overlapping palette of personalities that are granted dominance in different situations.
All these concepts we create are what makes up our concept of reality. What we think is real is just a model of reality. The concepts change which causes our perception of reality to change
Working actively with trying to change the self, an by extension changing other peoples selves, by transforming concepts is what I in many previous posts on this website have referred to as magic.
It is however important to remember that magic doesn’t exist, even if it’s real. Because magic is also a concept that we create. Much like our selves. So we use one concept to change another concept. We are all conceptions.
Not only do I have mood swings, I also have ability swings. And by that I mean my ability to do things fluctuate wildly. Some days I’m rather good at what I do – other days I struggle to manage even what I normally consider easy tasks. This is unfortunately mostly noticeable at work.
Maybe it’s like this: I am good at what I do, but I just can’t do it on order. I got good at media production because I did it for myself, when I felt like doing it. Now that I work with it I have to do what others tell me. And that won’t bring me the hyper focus I get from exploring my own ideas.
Knowing I can do something but having to spend twice, and often even more, time than usual is incredibly frustrating. But impossible to force. I once read someone comparing this feeling to having sex. If you’re not turned on it doesn’t matter how much you try to obey the orders and just come.
In some ways, having that incredibly boring, unqualified job I had for a while many years ago, was easier. On good days I just escaped into my brain while my body was working. On bad days I was a robot, sometimes half asleep while still working. I did the same quota of work every day either way.
I had nothing to live up to. I wasn’t an award-winning feature film director that suddenly didn’t know how to make a simple three minute film about how municipality clerks are supposed to archive their documents. No reputation of being capable and competent to uphold.
So on bad days I think I should quit my current job and not having to manage all the anxiety it can bring. But that would force me out of a job with great co-workers, good salary and that is actually pretty good on my good days. Only my stubbornness keeps me from escaping into the wild.
After being like this for my whole life I have finally come to understand that both mood swings and ability swings are consequences of chemical imbalances in my brain. Lifelong strategies and recent cognitive behavior therapy has helped, but is not enough.
Now I’m embarking on a journey into psychiatric care to see if I get to do a medical investigation for ADHD. If I get a diagnosis maybe medication will help. If it’s not ADHD my problems are caused by something else and I’m back to square one. Maybe there is nothing to do but endure.
Of course I do not wish to have a diagnose. But by getting it I would know why I feel the way I feel, why I work the way I work, and get access to tools to handle myself better. It feels kinda unreal. Maybe there is a reason to why I am like this. And maybe I could feel happy some day.
Hope often hurts, but it keeps us alive.
I have absolutely no control over what I write. I’ve written almost nothing for weeks now. And then, out of the blue, I had to pause the episode I was watching and go to my computer to write the following. Only later I found out that it by coincidence is World Mental Health Day today. So let’s consider this my unexpected contribution.
I love drawing, but very seldom do it. I get stuck when trying to decide which one of all my ideas to choose. Despite this will to draw I end up doing nothing. The ideas tumble in my head, while the paper remains white.
This may not sound like much of a problem. But it applies to many things in my life and is kind of crippling. I often feel paralyzed and unable to perform even simple tasks. Things I’m usually good at can take twice the time. Or more.
It’s a strong inertia that I have to fight every day. Inspired by a picture I saw somewhere I use to describe it like this: While other people are running on the beach, playing and having fun, I am deadly tired from trying to run along, but neck deep out in the waves of the sea.
The metaphorical drawing pad and pen is in my bag up on the beach and though I long to draw I’m stuck in the water. It’s too tiresome to struggle to the shore and dry up to draw only for a few minutes before I have to go back into the water.
So despite my potential I stay in the water to conserve energy. I see the achievements of others. I see opportunities drift by. Life slipping away while meaninglessness slips in. I get anxious and depressed. I feel kind of imprisoned in myself.
Constantly I think of escape. From the water, from the beach. I could retreat to an island where there is nothing I have to do. Where I could just be. Maybe then I could muster the energy to choose something to draw once in a while.
But here I sit, alone in the water and can’t get up.
A friend heard my voice over the phone. She asked if I was alright, said I sounded so fragile. I hadn’t noticed myself, but when I started to listen to myself I realized I was in some kind of light anxiety attack.
I wanted to talk and explain, but though I was grasping for words, I was constantly losing my breath just from talking. Not quite coherent, close to overwhelm, frustrated over not being able to talk properly.
But her listening and answering, her concern and questions, grounded me, pulled me back from my anxiety. Took me out of my spinning thoughts, back to reality. Eventually I managed to calm down.
We humans are extraordinarily equipped to deal with problems together. Social groups – friends – is the greatest strength we have. Together we can face any hardship. All will be well.
I lost my phaze, I’m disturbodied, I walk like amother, the needless in my language appoints to red, I dream of talking dog-gods, I survive on amino acid supplamentings, I ridle the lightning-wave of the missilent mygrains, I subduel the statictrical chaos awry moonment.
It’s interesting what we can hide from ourselves. It was not until a while ago when I realized that the Swedish word ångest translates in English, not only as anguish, but also as agony and anxiety, that I accepted that I actually do suffer from ångest, but in the less severe form anxiety.
I’ve realized that my anxiety is not just ordinary worry, but something much more energy draining. The constant ruminations about present and possible future problems is not just thinking ahead, it’s overthinking ahead. Almost subconscious and always uncontrollable.
One reason for my constant stress, why I want to hurry so with publishing my novels, and why I want to finish all my creative projects asap, is because of a very troublesome thought that I can’t get rid of. I always have this relentless feeling that I will die soon.
Of course there’s no substantial reason for this apprehensive urgency to put my affairs in order. It’s a hypochondriac over-interpreting of minor issues that gets fed into the anxiety-loop and amplifies until I get this nightmarish dread of impending doom.
Sometimes I handle this by thinking nihilistic thoughts. If I’m about to die then nothing matters anyway. I’ll just do something fun and eat lots of chocolate until it happens. Sometimes I obsess and work myself into exhaustion to make the most of the time while I can.
Though I often claim to be very liminal this is an area where I’m always at the extreme ends of the scale. The massive amounts of energy needed to reach those ends are extracted through anxiousness and leave few resources to other endeavors, like daily life.
I don’t think my worries are any different from what most people wrestle with. Death, health, body, mind, parents, relationships, friends, work, money, existence and all. Like relentless carriages in a train. We’re all welcome aboard The Anxiousness Express.
Well, the first step is to realize that my anxiety isn’t my normal state. The second is getting an overview of the subconscious strategies I’ve put in place to hide this from myself. Third is to find ways to divert the energy pouring down this black hole into something more constructive.
Stay tuned to this journal to find out what happens next!
I’ve animated a video for a song I wrote. The lyrics are based on my life motto. So this is essentially 66 seconds of life wisdom. Enjoy!
A human is not one individual being. Inside us all there are many separate systems that negotiates with each other all the time. If you take a Jungian stance the mind consists of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious, all with separate values and goals, that together make up what we think of as our selves.
But the mind does not exist ex nihilo. It all arises from physical processes in our bodies. Our brains contain a multitude of overlapping networks that create many different instances of prediction, conceptualization and decision that compete for dominance.
Add to that the influence of both neurons and bacteria in the gut system, the reflex arcs of the spinal chord and many other autonomic regulatory processes. Then we start to see the complexity of the conglomerate that is a human being. We think with our whole bodies.
And it it does not stop within our bodies. There are numerous external connections that are impossible to omit when considering who we are and how we act. Cultural conventions, social interaction, political discourse, access to resources, different environments, and even the daily change in weather – it all greatly affects us, our behavior and our self-image.
Our minds are inextricably intertwined with the whole body. Our bodies are likewise inextricably interconnected with the whole outside world. We are not isolated individuals. We are highly connected networks. From our innermost thoughts to the utmost edges of the universe.
Our selves never end.
Small dark fishes are chewing on my heart. I see parts of me float with the bubbles. Ascending to the surface. To the waiting birds. I can not stop the decay. I am the weight that keeps me down. The fish keep chewing on my heart.
There is a lot of hidden thinking going on in my head. I feel thoughts and things happening in my brain, but they are not conscious, I can’t perceive them. It’s as if I’m shut out from some of my thinking. It’s grinding in the background and then suddenly I have an idea or feeling I don’t know where it came from. But it must be from these hidden thoughts.
I walk a lot in my apartment. Back and forth between rooms. I know I am thinking all the while, I feel something going on deep in my mind. It often happens when I know there is information to process, decisions to make. But there are no clear, conscious thoughts. Just me walking – as if waiting for a letter with instructions to pop in through the letterbox.
So I don’t think in words or images all the time. Sometimes it’s just a feeling of activity, maybe machine code being computed, and I can only access the result. Sometimes not even that. We all have lots of sub-conscious processes, but this feels more like I have a whole other consciousness parallel to the one that is “me”. Like a neighbor I occasionally hear through the wall.
Well, I have no conclusion to reach about this, no insight at the end of this journal post. At least not yet. But I wonder: Do anyone of you think non-understandable thoughts?