I’m not comfortable with labels. I know they’re a convenient shortcut in lieu of a longer explanation. But they tend to be so god damn sticky. Even when you peel off the paper there often remain an unpleasant patch of glue that you’ll never get rid of. Both metaphorically and actually.
I don’t claim to be a great writer, but I write stories I would like to read myself, explore topics and themes that interest and inspire me, write in a style that suits my sensibilities and I always perceive the adroit subtleties woven into the text. I am my own biggest fan.
Again, I’m not bragging. I always think my writing could be better and I constantly strive to improve. My point here is to acknowledge that I’m happy with my writing. A hard but important act for me and any other writer struggling with anxiety and rejection sensitivity.
Instead of writing any of the novels, short-stories or essays I have planned I spend my entire forenoon sipping on coffee and staring unfocused at the screen while just thinking. I think that thinking is my favorite activity. Maybe I should just stop publishing my writing and just sit and think about my stories. Would avoid a lot of hassle.
The contents of my bookshelf is so good that if it somehow came alive as a person I would totally let it fuck me senseless.
The long-awaited summer holiday – but then you mostly lie staring at the ceiling, hoping to fall asleep to avoid the tears of hopelessness. You turn down social gatherings out of weariness, consume unhealthy foods and swell up like a sugar donuts in a deep fryer.
Nothing is quite real, the body hangs loose as you drag yourself off to shop for food, while the self clings to a tunnel opening that leads into fiction’s seemingly comfortable embrace. There you float in relative safety, forgotten by yourself, for a while, then it begins to fade.
Then you long to taste someone happy, so that you can be happy yourself. But you wish in vain. Actually you just lie there sweating on the damp sheets, actually you just lie there all sticky and staring at the ceiling before you finally sink back into half-sleep.
The vipers wrap themselves ever tighter around the heart.
If the thoughts of most people are like dolphins jumping up, one by one, from the blue water of the pool, eating a fish handed to them by their handler, then my mind is a dark and turbulent sea filled with lots of circling shark fins and bites you never see coming.
I am two persons. One is thinking, one is talking. None control the other. So you should know that what I say out loud is only an approximate interpretation of what I’m thinking – not what I’m actually thinking.
My thinking is me; my talking is me. But my writing? Well, my writing is not me – it’s some kind of demonic possession.
Nothing is certain to me at the moment. Who I am, what I do, what I am writing, where I am living, where I am going. I want to do something completely different. I want to move somewhere else. I want to delete every social media because no one on them knows me anymore and I got my actual friends in other channels. I wanna do wage-slavery as little as possible, live a simple and inexpensive life and spend my time on more important things. I’m not sure how I will manage this yet. I need a vision. I need to see beyond the web of illusion that has caught the modern world, that has trapped me here, tired and disillusioned, without knowing what I really want. But change is coming. A seed is planted. Nothing is certain. Everything is permitted.
I circle and return to things I once left.
I repeat a cycle through interests and thoughts.
But the circles gets wider and wider to contain
all the new knowledge and understanding
that I gather every lap around.
My life moves in spirals.
If you look at modern history and politics the last 70 years it becomes more and more plausible that it’s all a consequence of multiple and increasingly complicated time-travel events. They probably started as misguided attempts to correct an initial mistake in altering the original timeline, but then the error cascade escalated beyond control and the time-travelers panicked when their plot got too messy to understand. Either that or we have a world in disarray because of incompetence and chance.
Having explored my psyche extensively for the past few years I’m now turning to the outside. My carefully constructed model of reality needs to acknowledge that reality is indeed real.
2020 in review
I got my short-story The DreamCube Thread published in the British anthology Vast. I wrote, recorded and animated Ellinor’s Theme Song. I also published some things under another name, but I’ll ramble about that elsewhere.
On the downside I descended deeper into fatigue and anxiety again (unrelated to Covid-19). All personal development and my work with magic kind of stopped as I lost all energy. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. It felt like I took several steps back. From everything.
2021 in preview
I wanna get a grip of myself again. To feel like a person again. To understand what my goals are. What I want to do. Who I will be. To move forward again. So this year the focus will be on my mental and physical health. This time maybe with the help of professional health care. We’ll see how this turns out.
But while that massive work in progress develops I will probably do more of what I hoped to do last year: write some shorter stories, make some music and hopefully get back into doing more visual art. Whatever emerges will be posted here or maybe my Twitter.
Be seeing you.
Almost every day I’m reading something factually wrong posted on social media. But I don’t comment or question. Because if I did I would get drawn into a heated argument by an upset OP and with my zero defense against upset people I easily get very distraught and feel bad for the rest of the day. So instead I get irritated at myself, over this exaggerated sensitivity that forces me to leave false information that leads people to false conclusions unquestioned.
At work I sometime get hints about doing things too good. I put a professional touch to what I do and colleagues allude to that being the reason I struggle with fatigue. That’s not the case, there are other reasons. But if anything it’s when I have to do a mediocre or hurried job I get stressed and drained of energy.
Of course I don’t spend too much time on one thing either. I know when enough is enough. But I got a professional pride and do the job I’m hired to do at a certain level. To release something that looks like it’s made by someone with less skill feels very disheartening and I lose all interest and motivation.
We live in a society that generally discourages people from doing their best. Anything above sufficient is systematically punished. High quality is apparently worthless. There’s no profit in anything beyond good enough. The problem is that good enough is the same as almost bad.
I know this is how profit is made. But I can’t stand it. Do not accept crappy things! Demand better things!
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.
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.
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!
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?