Short and sour

Remember how I was saying that I couldn’t pass an eye test? Well now I’ve done 4 and they are all different. So much so that this new optician has referred me to an ophthalmologist. Not only that but they stipulated some degree of urgency that I can only assume is code for “suspected maggot infestation of visual cortex”. 

The maggots may have ventured further still because last night after a bathroom trip in the dark, I mistakedly walked into the spare room and wondered where the hell that cd rack came from and where the fuck my bed was!

I’ve had to look at some childhood photos for a family project and it has made me realise once again that I am a very weird looking human. I think this has triggered that relentless recurring dream to descend; the one where I’m single and no-one is interested in me because I’m so hideous and awful. Today I’ve put on my frumpiest jumper to prove a point. 

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Learning to cope.((I don’t have the drugs to sort it out)).¬†

For the whole of my adult life my mood has been controlled by psychiatric drugs. Since puberty emotions became something intolerably intense for me that needed to be dampened because I felt I wasn’t strong or capable enough to deal with them. 

Any mood swings or problems were considered pharmaceutical in nature; an issue with my medication or dosages, and not just normal human fluctuations.

For over 17 years feelings have been tempered, flattened, smoothed over by daily waves of serotonin with a pinch of norepinephrine and dopamine and one bland day I’d just had enough.

It has taken me two years to complete my borderline homeopathic taper off prozac but as of a couple of months ago I have been drug free. It will be undetectable in my blood soon if not already.

The world has changed. Everything is more vivid and vital, sharper, urgently demanding my attention. Things are loud and overwhelmingly contradictory, and tears flow freely for the sake of a broken pen, or missing words. 

I would like to clarify that although I have never learnt to cope with strong emotions, that does not mean that I am weak or incapable. I need to remind myself this on a daily basis.

And so I wade through the great spectacular symphony that describes the breadth and depth of human emotional capacity. I never realised that the orchestra was so big, that there were so many different instruments that all used to feel just like a blanket of disappointment or anger but now have individual notes of their own.

I don’t know how to deal with the stitching on a favourite dress coming undone, or how to stop myself from shaking while I’m telling you my point of view, but I know this is where I am now meant to be amomg tears, smiles and torn up letters.

Indecisive miscellany 

At the traffic lights a middle aged woman siddled up to me and positively beamed about the Rolls Royce that had just driven by. Wasn’t it glorious! Her brother had owned one back in the day because he was quite well off, don’t you know, but not she. Oh no, she was a humble lady, proud to have built up her organisation by talking to 750 people in 32 different countries, and not a smart phone in sight! Not like those immoral noxious drivers who won’t change their selfish habits until they kill someone. 

And then the lights changed and I bid her farewell.

I really need to stop making eye contact with strangers while my bike is static.

Pickledsparklymooseprincess et al. Is out at a reputable journal near you now. It comes with metrics too, some kind of mesmerising social experiment on manuscript popularity and self-indulgence….so exactly how many people have tweeted about my findings, how many news sites are relaying our message? More importantly, why do i care? The work speaks for itself, the scientific community will either accept, digest, cite and build, or disagree, overlook, or seek to prove us wrong. And yet I keep on checking of anyone has ‘liked’ that tweet by #healthypartidgesnutterideology*

I’m favouring the Oxford comma these days. For no real reason except a dry need to jazz up my punctuation parties.

(I’m wearing the parenthesis costume so don’t even think about it.)

This ongoing dietary adventure is somewhat of a sideshow. All “gluten-free” this and “dairy-free” that and all I want to do is lay in bed eating apple pie with icecream chased by an Irish coffee. When hunger strikes it’s not a lesson in exploration but in stock-taking and problem-solving. An academic exercise in keeping myself preoccupied with anything else but fixation on this shameless digestive oppression. 

A word of unsolicited advice if I may though: when at a wedding and rolling your eyes at everyone throwing themselves around to the likes of ‘five’ or ‘sclub7’ don’t be pulled into telling anyone what kind of music you like because to a wedding dj, rock/metal/electronica is a metaphor for Bryan Adams and bloody Bon Jovi. And having effectively ‘requested’ this shit, someone’s dad is gonna make damned sure you dance to it even though you’re dying inside. 

*fictional, or at least presumed fictional. 

Ps. It is probably clear that I  don’t know how twitter works…please don’t mock me, at least I didn’t draft a 400 character tweet (I’m looking at you boss lady) 

How do you turn off your inner superego-centric pessimist?

By the way, I’m actually asking the question,  not answering it.

I have a very stubborn inner pessimist. Negative thinking has taken me to very many places in my life and it’s been largely a cold and dark experience. Sometimes dark and dank are just what you need though, so what exactly am I missing out on?

I’m told by the media,  by my mother, by my therapist, by that labrador down the road that positive thinking is a good thing that you can learn, and that you don’t have to just (figuratively) shit all over everything including yourself. Though this is far more frowned upon as literal behaviour.

As it happens I am in the process of nominating someone for an award and so am having to overcome the cringe-inducing wince-fest that comes with open and borderline superfluous flattery. I recognise all these awesome qualities in people around me but I never tell them, and I’m unable to recognise them in myself. 

Fortune peeked over my shoulder and decided that my therapist should get me to focus on the good things as about myself cos I figure I’m pretty sucky in most capacities compared to everyone else. The single admirable property that I will openly admit to possessing is honesty. The rest of that box remains bare. Sorry doc that’s it, the thesaurus has been scoured and there are no more appropriate adjectives. But low and behold a far worse challenge lay ahead. Due to my utter failure to get with the positivity program, I was tasked with asking a few close people to tell me what they like about me. Apparently this is not just attention-seeking…

Have you ever asked someone what they like about you? It’s fucking weird. I mean in Britain, you don’t go gushing about why you love your friends or family, you just stick by them and they should know that if you hang around long enough then you probably like them some. It goes unsaid, like some mystery current underlying your relationships. You’re never quite sure if your pal secretly thinks you are a wanker but they bought you a pint at the weekend so you’re probably ok in their eyes. So why are we so repressed and inhibited that it feels plain creepy to go listing the things you like about someone? In theory it’s a perfectly pleasant thing to do.

 I’ve only got as far as asking two people, one of whom could only come up with one thing that they like about me and that is my nose, which makes me paranoid because I have kind of a big nose and is by far my least attractive facial feature. Sigh. I’m not going to list the things my therapist and other generous surveyee said because that would take this horrifying experiment to another level of unnecessary squirming to this most uncomfortable topic. 

I can’t quite explain the emotional reaction I have to being given compliments, it’s something deeply awkward and dismissive, because I suspect there is some species-wide delusion  psychosis or pity going on behind those positive words and I don’t want to be the one to burst the bubble. If you’ve seen the series braindead where people are being controlled by brain munching bugs? I imagine it’s something like that. On some level of course I really appreciate the comments even if I don’t believe them because it shows people care enough to try and boost my self-esteem. I assume others feel the same so I avoid dishing out compliments but maybe I’m the only weirdo who finds all this pretty nauseating because sarcasm has to be replaced with earnestness (real word) and that’s a damned big leap. I’m tempted to try reciprocity on this subject with my therapist as an experiment to see if she feels uncomfortable, partly because I want to give something back and partly to look for signs of squirming. Humans are bizarre.

I understand from old Freud’s theory that this kind of self-denial phenomena is due to a strong superego and weak ego.  Superego being the morals that parents bestow in the early years and ego being the logical decision-making mediator between your mind’s chaotic self-gratifying impulses (Id) and reality.This seems fair because a weak ego is also considered the cause of anxiety. So this deflated balloon of a personal aspect needs a bit of air, even if I think it’s just hot air!

Ironically without a highly functioning logical sector, this challenge seems utterly abstract and unattainable. Maybe I’ll start reading Jung again, he seemed to have it all sorted. 

Facing the dragon and staring at it for a few seconds before running away

As you know. A few weeks back I proferred some uninvited information for my therapist…it was three major incidents that have affected my health anxiety, a list of health problems that I am terrified that I have or will get, and a list of things that anxiety stops me from doing. The final list was pretty depressing, spanning from driving to dining out to exercising to travelling and maintaining relationships. We are talking some pretty major areas of one’s life there.
Have I told you I didn’t used to be this boring? When I didn’t think I was dying the whole time I could even be a bit fun every now and then. Imagine that!

Anyway enough about that. I want to talk about how cbt is shaping up. Having given this information, my therapist made a formulation… That is a flow diagram showing the vicious cycles that involve being triggered until automatic negative thoughts, having inappropriate cognative and behavioral responses as well as extreme emotional responses, that all feed back into the negative thoughts. You don’t need to know what weird shit I do when I get panicky, but what you should know is that the idea is to gradually stop relying on those unhelpful or inappropriate coping mechanisms by considering an alternative to the doom and gloom, end of the universe, deadly premonition that happens with every sniffle. For me, the downside are that you have to replace the negative responses with something else and therefore I have to be less harsh with myself, which feels unnatural and frankly trite after years of constantly telling myself that I’m a worthless piece of crap and that everything is my fault. I’ve got to the point where I’m so damned negative that I complain about everything and find it quite uncomfortable to even compliment someone else, let alone myself! That’s fucked up because people can be awesome and they deserve to know it.

Anyway, now I have to try and stop doing so much weird shit when I get worried, and focus on something else, cos I spend about 99% of my time thinking about me me me and as I’m not even that interesting, I think you’ll agree that’s a tragic waste of my time. I could be thinking about something more productive like banjo-playing unicorns.

In addition, I’ve been told I need to start exposing myself to things that make me anxious, like to start with, cleaning chemicals, and more strenuous exercise. That’s this week’s task. So far I cycled to and from work a bit faster than usual and I have to say I do feel like I achieved something. My heartrate increased, I sweated a bit and I got a bit of a sore throat, I got that weird pulsing in my eyes (does anyone else get that or is it just my bizarro physiology?) but I didn’t pass out when I stopped and I didn’t wake up the next day having dropped a stone of weight. Triumph. Unfortunately another source of anxiety popped up from under the rocks when my boss told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to make mistakes in the future (regarding a minor typo in an email). Because I am a robot without fat fingers, yes? Ugh. No pressure then!

I’m beginning to warm to this therapist after our rocky start. Possibly because she chose to work with what I voulenteered as I thought it was the most important stuff. She’s offered to give some information for my partner to read about my erm condition, so he knows how best to support me (I.e. constantly telling me I’m lazy and to just get on with things like a normal person may not be the best tact)…lets see how that goes down. I’m already worrying about the approaching therapist abandonment.

Home improvements

I don’t know how long it took me to re-grout the shower. All I know is that it took almost to the second, the length of the extended edition of High Violet, with which I presume you are familiar.

The spare living room paint has shrivelled into a husk of extinction (may or may not have involved some shoddy lid closing) and I am somehow supposed to determine which alternative colour is a suitable replacement. Everything is either too pink, too pale too bright or too blue. I’m not sure which is the lesser evil. Why can’t homebase perpetually sell a shade called truffle that in no way resembles an actual truffle?

It’s largely academic because today encompassed the challenge of bedroom repainting, and that colour choice was stressful enough. What actually was the current shade? Did we want that or one shade lighter? Silk/sheen/matt? Well. I suspect we went with shade 3 because it’s just a better number than 4, and soft sheen because that was a halfway house between silk and matt, and chosing one extreme of the shiny vs matt spectrum was just a bit too dangerous for a Tuesday.

When you choose a finish for your interior paints, you consider how dark the room is, how you want it to feel and how shiny you’d like it to look. What you probably don’t think about (and you really should) are how good your plaster or plasterboard are, and how skillfully you can paint.

I can tell you for free that if you have dodgy plaster or minimal painting and rollering (phone wanted to write toileting there…) skills then for the love of god’s large and small, don’t buy silk. Or soft sheen. Matt is your friend (well he’s SO’s friend actually but I guess by proxy he is mine also) and the paint variety (rather than the wedding planning variety) will cover a multitude of sins, the latter will cover only one night of wine, but I guess that could entail several sins if you really go for it.

I digress. The sheen on the wall shows each paint stroke, magnificently reflecting every speck and weird kink in the plasterboard. I think it’s an improvement on the silk I did last time but I’m not sure that the ends justified the amount of muscle ache that it cost. I should have gambled on the possible oppressive claustrophobia of the matt finish, but we live and learn. At least I can fill out a box for tomorrow’s therapy session saying how I finally achieved something that wasn’t just sitting on my royal arse feeling sorry for myself. But now of course I’m kicking myself for the paint choice and lack of skill. Apparently I’m not supposed to do that, but really, feeling a bit crap about it now aught to remind me the next time that paint buying comes around that I cannot be trusted to gauge the situation. I’m not even sure why I ended up painting the bedroom when the hallway and bathrooms have the greater need.

image

Sigh.

I have definitely earned an episode of Lucifer after all that. If that means nothing to you, It’s an Amazon series about a character concocted by Neil Gaiman.

Annnyway I will take my painting-induced angina (heartburn? Probably heartburn…right?), and grief and bid you adeiu.