Archive for the 'imnotyou' Category

18
May
15

how throwing a plastic disc through the air is changing my life

Featured imageSince the utter failure of my attempt at seeking help for mental health issues over the past two decades, I had resigned myself to a life of despair, and didn’t care much whether I lived or not. Due to a latent childhood trauma I have been unsuccessfully dealing with a diagnosis of “Bipolar 1, Severe with psychotic features and social phobia”, a mouthful, I know. Having healthy relationships and feeling accepted have both felt out of my reach for as long as I can remember, but that has been changing recently. I have now been free of suicidal impulses for over a month, where it used to be a day-long struggle, every day, and I am starting to gain a positive sense of self that I never believed possible before.

Some people will not be shocked to find out what is helping, as I have come to learn that what is working for me has worked for others with similar stories, but we don’t talk about it because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues such as addiction, escapism, social anxiety and the many others that can plague someone for life. I have been in and out of urgent care, psych wards, and dealt with county crisis workers, have seen many psychiatrists and psychologists but no treatment plan developed seemed to do anything for me. I tried counseling, meditation, and prescriptions… I self medicated with alcohol… but always I came back to a bleak feeling of hopelessness. However, what was a glint of hope a few months ago is slowly turning into a viable path forward, one that is actually starting to get at the root of my problems and guide me forward, and that path, oddly enough, is throwing a plastic disc through the air.

Last fall, at the bequest of some friends who I thought were too arty/intellectual for sports, I started playing a sport called disc golf(it’s golf but you throw a disc instead of clubbing a ball), and three major aspects of the game have somehow started to re-orient my psyche.

Firstly, the frequent communing with nature. This is something my life was missing. Before I would go on walks or bike rides, and during the walk or ride I would feel better, but instantly upon returning home my general anxiety would return. I exercise, always have, so I know that exercise itself is not a treatment. With disc golf it’s different. Rather than passing through or over nature on a walk, disc golf causes me to interact with it. Over the course of a season you see the changes in foliage, the swelling and receding of ponds, and the natural processes of life and death present in the woods. You breathe the dense forest air and in the fields bask in sun(or rain or snow!). Being that connected with nature has been something I have missed since living in the mountains and deserts of Mexico.

Second, social interactions are naturally focused and the community surrounding the sport are a more accepting group than I am used to. This is a major aid for someone with my level of social anxiety(and believe me it’s high!) because it takes the focus off of me so that instead of feeling as though I am standing helpless in front of some terrifying monster waiting to judge everything I do and say, I feel I am standing alongside friends all enjoying the simple yet profound pleasures life can bring. I still get highly self-conscious, and my performance suffers because of it, but the overall effect is that the course and the game give me a buffer zone that in and of itself provides reason for interaction and conversation, two things I will avoid like the plague if given the chance.

The third, and likely most important aspect is the… what I will call “zen” of the sport. Performing well requires being in touch with the whole of your body and also your surrounding environment, which is a state that modern Americans very rarely achieve anymore given the 21st century ability to sit on one’s ass all day and still feel as though something was accomplished. In order to deliver that disc in your hand out into the woods or over the field you must surrender not only to nature but to yourself as well, and it’s a very internal, primal part of the self that is being engaged in this moment. If you start doubting your body’s natural conviction you will know it right away. You can see it in the face of every thrower the second they release the disc, you can tell as you let go, without even looking at the disc, if you achieved the line and flight you envisioned, because your mind is thoughtless when you get it right, but riddles with dissonance when you have it wrong. And it has taught me not only how to be present inside and around myself, it has also taught me to let go, because you cannot control every gust of wind or downhill roll, these things happen and you must deal with them gracefully.

The practice at shutting off self-doubt is, I feel, the key factor in what I hope to be my slow yet final healing process within myself. I have even noticed my personal relationships improve from these experiences, and have found that a new voice has begun to emanate from me, that a new love of being and inner peace–acceptance of life and self–have started to crowd out the negativity and fear.

If you also struggle with social anxiety and depression I couldn’t recommend playing disc golf highly enough. It even sounds weird as I say it in my head because the activity itself seemed almost antithetical to my normal mode of being at first(that of a sad lonely depressed artist whom the world stands against), which to the chagrin of magic pill makers is maybe the very rub itself.

06
Jan
11

Why You Should Take Mushrooms (especially if you are morally against them)

Wait a goddamned minute, you skittering scoundrel, before you get all excited and loose the lemmings that are your ignorant beliefs.  I want to be clear as Al Franken’s conscience when I say FIRST and FOREMOST that ANY drug you are not familiar with should be treated as a possible toxin.  However, I’ve only done mushrooms once, and I did not have visuals.  So it’s not like I’m some drug expert.  Quite the contrary, I’m terrified to the point of contentment in capping the whole affair at mushrooms and saying good-day to the more chaotic side of my consciousness.  I’m not a visual artist, and while a “trip” may be really neat, for me the benefit of Mushrooms is the high before the trip, and if you’re moderate about how much you take, you can simply have the best high of your life without any visuals at all.  That is exactly what I experienced, and I can truly say that, in the sense of feeling unified and at peace with where I fit in with this crazy ‘world’ we’re all trying to have identities and voices in… it was the best night of my entire mind’s life.

I will exclude org, food and nasal gasms from the contender’s list.

I do not need to know who you are, where you’re from, what you did in order to recommend a mushroom high.  Maybe you hate escapism?  My mushroom experience did not feel like an escape.  It felt like a road map that hugged me when I understood it.  It felt like constant positive reinforcement for learning.  It felt like I couldn’t have enough close friends or possibly stop doing good in my environment for anything.  It made good the only option, and there was nothing linguistic or ambiguous about it.  It was Nirvana.

So there you have it: I want everyone to experience Nirvana, and I don’t even have to start a cult about it.  Just try a small amount of mushrooms and report back to me.  I can’t wait to hear the wonderful experiences you had.

31
Dec
10

Cohabitation and personal change

I was talking with a co-worker this afternoon, and she mentioned how after so much time with her S.O. she was beginning to feel that “everything you do irritates me” feeling.  I know this feeling.  Fortunately, and thanks in no small part to my wife, I also know what it’s like when that feeling is conquered and begins to fade.  While my coworker and I talked, I suggested two sort-of rudimentary ways to approach the issue.  Now that I am home and have stepped away from the conversation I thought I would toss it out into the blogoshpere and see what comes back(even though I rarely get non-suspect comments from real readers on this blog, and that’s probably my own fault for being half insane).  The two approaches I suggested were fairly polar, and I realize that can be problematic, but a lot of relationship issues do tend to lack a wealth of approaches.  I will comment on that more later, for now I’ll recap:

In my opinion, she could A) Listen to her gut (meditate, force-conclusion, ego-mirror, etc) and decide whether or not the relationship she is in is one where the pressure to become a better person is not only there, but mutual.  Or, B) Pick something she does which irritates her S.O., catch a moment when she chooses NOT to engage that irritating behavior, and remark out loud about it.

In the first scenario, I am basically suggesting she decide whether or not the relationship is even worth the personal dissection.  If it is, then my second approach ought to be a good starting marker for how to recognize change in your partner.  This is really difficult without a plan of action because when you spend day in and day out with one person, you don’t see the ways they are changing.  You may notice if you go to a party where a large number of people are your S.O.’s friends, many people that your S.O. hasn’t seen in six months or a year may remark on how much your S.O. has matured, while you sit by scratching your head daring the old friend to go ahead and try dating your impossible S.O. for his or her self and see how they like.  This thought should be a red flag, because it indicates that you believe you are best suited to meet your damaged partner’s needs.  Maybe you are… but the no-no is finding yourself in a place of moral or behavioral superiority in a relationship that should be built on mutual respect and appreciation.

My wife and I use the method I mention above.  Even though we had some epic fights and misunderstandings at the get-go, we always have and always will talk about the things we are or are not satisfied with in the relationship in non-blaming(as possible) language, and then try to vocally express when we have acted alternatively to the problem behavior so that the other person knows, at the very least, that you are still thinking about it and still care.  For example, my wife really hated it when I used to “help” in the kitchen, because what usually occurred, and I admit it now, was my domination of the whole project.  She loves to cook as much as I do, and I was condescending her by jumping in too enthusiastically with my own ideas rather than getting a bearing on where she was headed first.  This has changed, but it took time and the effort to point out small milestones for the change to be recognized.  Now I ask her if she wants help, and if she does, I ask her specifically what she’d like me to do.  Sometimes she will have me just chop some shit up, other times she will actually want my own input.

Over simplified?  Sure.  But nonetheless applicably sound.

Or, for a different scenario, let’s say that one person in a committed relationship has a drinking “problem”, and I put that in quotes because not everyone said to have one does.  That can be somewhat subjective.  So let’s, for the sake of ease, say that one person drinks more than other.  The one who drinks less would like the other to do the same or at least work towards a middle ground (ok, fine, this is based on personal experience), so the one whose drinking is problematic in the context of the relationship should make it known EACH time they are intentionally curbing a desire for a given quantity or frequency of alcohol; mind you, not in a whining or punitive way.  And since I already admitted that I am just talking about my own life, I should also say that this approach has worked for my wife and I.  She has a much healthier relationship with day-to-day drinking than I do, and through communicating each effort to reduce my own drinking down to a level that was more acceptable, she began to see that, indeed, even though I still require some wine or what-have-you to get ready for bed, the amount has decreased more than significantly.  Of course, her insistence and my acceptance of the issue were key too, but there’s just no reason I can think of to avoid such changes unless the change in question is a “deal breaker”.

So as I savor my glass of wine over some blog writing tonight, I would encourage others in a similar spot to at least attempt this method, for even if it fails, you will have gained important knowledge either way: Possibly the knowledge that your connection wasn’t that strong after all, possibly the knowledge that it can only get stronger.

Take care.

09
Dec
10

i hate yourself

if you do not join me in revolutionary efforts to steer America straight you can go fuck yourself.  I am the other.

21
Nov
10

if i had the courage

I don’t think I’m not a chicken shit.  I won’t disrespect myself, either, by not admitting that through the years I have grown for the better in some measurable ways.  What or how it is measured will have to remain abstract I’m afraid, but I will whittle for this purpose and suggest that utilitarian ethics is most efficient and generically applicable: if I have “grown” within my own environment for the beautification of it rather than its degradation, I am a healthy growth.  I will note, though, that I have had to engage in some unhealthy events in order to correct my trajectory lest I block another’s sunlight.

To be fair, however, I am an exotic growth too.  There are two things when acting within my native environments that I love most, those two that drive my curiosity and passion for life.  They are holding up a proverbial mirror to show everyone what they look like from “here”, and purposely demonstrating anti-normal behavior to gauge reactions and examine the rationales behind them.  I’m highly limited in performing either function well, but it’s largely due to fear.  Some of that fear comes from instances where I caused another pain, however intentionally, and hated it.  Some of it comes from instances where another person incorrectly interpreted an action or statement (or simply lashed out unfairly from causes not mine), and spun the whole thing poisonous.

Pardon this dead horse’s carcass and my beating upon it, but it is frightening to assert your private self, but part of why it is so frightening is because our private self is so chaotic, and nobody talks about it, perpetuating the taboo.  Our innermost thoughts are likely referred to as such in reference to that very sense of a dark, chaotic mystery running behind all of our perceptible world’s events.  Sometimes our thoughts seem to come from nowhere, or are loud and provocative.  Sometimes, when spinning in idle, our minds seem to get bored and throw out something so bizarre it makes us look around to see if anyone else could tell what we were thinking.

Less tangentially, no matter how refined in behavior and social graces we become, we can expect to always experience nervousness or fear when acting in an uncontrolled environment, and this is because deep down we are all afraid of seeming wrong, unhealthy, or  weed-like.  Calling someone a leech is a delicately forceful insult because it gets to this same concern.  In order to sustain life and flourish, we must respect a natural balance between exploration and infrastructure, between strong communities and free radicals, between production, consumption and innovation.  A lot of us manage to accomplish this in maturity, and I suppose that is why reasonable adults tend to get a little quieter and more focused with age.

However, a lot of us do not manage this, and this creates a lot of room for misunderstanding.  This room for misunderstanding comes from fear of disproportionate reactions to ones actions.  Some of us are wired to leap out from the boxes we’re placed in, and in the coding of life this is to our benefit, because even when these leaps come in the form of deranged serial killers, these experiences help us to solidify certain moral principles across an array of life perspectives.

So, what is keeping me inside of my box right now is a fear of being labeled a heretic and being wildly misunderstood as an irreverent narcissist who does good now for the sake of a fan club later.  The box I’m wishing I could leap out of?  It’s the politically inactive introvert who gives public speeches in his head all day box.  I want desperately to come out yet holding the lid down myself.

04
Nov
10

get a job loser!

If your current take on the economic downturn and people who are having a hard time finding a job is that those people are simply not trying hard enough or being too picky… you are half right.

The half where you’re wrong, however, is a potentially devastating and supremely ugly half.  Mine goes like this:

For starters, I don’t like life.  It’s not that I think the cosmic miracle of it all is unimpressive, but that I have already done mental gymnastics around the entire affair and have come up with very little.  There are few things that make participation in a world gone so wrong tolerable.  For me, they are my wife, my future child(ren), and fighting for some semblance of goodness.  What makes these things more difficult to enjoy are all things that I had no say in.  It wasn’t my fucking idea to impose monetary value and structures of commerce on goods and services.  History has proved that this is unnecessary and I LOATHE that in order to maintain a relatively happy life with a family, one must either succumb to the whims of the Circus, or have the resources to start your own, or live in one of the few insane asylums referred to as communes.

Before I reached the age of 30, suicide was kept on hold, sometimes more successfully than others, as a viable opt-out.  Now I am married and have been repressing that option and trying to skew it into the ‘prohibited’ category of actions.  Things that typically led me to desire the assumed final peace of ending my life were hard to quantify at the time, but now I can see that they were seemingly insurmountable frustrations with the notion that I could not exist on the merits of my existence without money, a plan for more money, and a plan for a stash of money so that when I need 30 drugs to stay mobile at the age of 70 I can still go play a game of bingo or what have you.  What a fucking life, right?  The frustrations aren’t as simple as mere facts of love and money.  Frustrations in love can almost always be overcome with the right philosophical toolbox, but frustrations in money and practicality can only be overcome by money, and in my mind that is unacceptable.

Many of my friends have shown great aptitude for swallowing this particular pill.  I haven’t.  Each time in the past when faced with the options of either getting a job or killing myself, the latter seemed MUCH more appealing (turn off your sympathy generators please… I don’t think of suicide as a terrible travesty, even if it is sad for those who stay behind, those who may have loved you, I see it as a choice).  I know there are some of you who can relate, and to those of you who cannot, I am sorry, but there is likely no way of my conveying to you the truth of this matter with words.  If you haven’t lived in the crevices of humankind’s paradoxical enlightenment… you don’t understand how dire this feels.

I am writing this out right now because I am not sure of anything, including my own thoughts and feelings, and want to try and find some sort of workable middle road for myself whereby I can exist in this world and my own at the same time.  Maybe I am a fool for thinking this, but I have already made it further than others before me, and don’t plan on shirking what responsibility I now feel for staying alive and continuing the bonded relationships I have forged over the years.

An unexpected act of charity was just (minutes ago) bestowed on one of my house mates that completely flattened this post for now.

So I will summarize.  These things (jobs, money, capitalism, politics) are easy for most people.  Not me.  You may not care.  Goodnight.

08
Sep
10

a philosophy for us

When mucking through the shitpile means learning how to pole vault, you sharpen the end of your pole and stab the rich.  Stab them right in the taxes.