What It’s All About. Maybe.

My mind technician thinks that the true source of the excruciating pain from my breakup is because of having lived without true emotional intimacy for so very long and then putting all my eggs of emotional connection need into one basket. I do not think that is what the pain is really all about. Sure, that is a part of it but what really hurts beyond hurt is the loss of hope. I would not have admitted it to anyone including myslef but deep down I knew my life was broken and needed to be fixed. So when She came along and made me feel so safe that She could quiet my worried mind with Her mere presence rather than me taking Ritalin, I fell so desperately in love. It felt that with Her in my life everything would be fixed. And the sad, sad trouth is that if She had stuck around long enough to help me open my eyes to the true nature of my issues so that I could get help, my life would have been fixed. The other part of that sad, sad truth is that had I paid more attention to what She was saying, had paid more attention to Her, she would likely still be a part of my life. There is a great deal of blame on me for the breakup.

Having left, She not only took Herself out of my life, She took my hope and my dreams with Her. It feels so empty and so cold now.

And I still love Her.

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Forget those of you who are stumbling upon this humble blog for the first time, please allow me to recap the previous posts: depressed for about two decades, got dumped by the love of my life, went into a total meltdown, blogging anonymously as a way of getting my thoughts in order and using this as outlet, getting (A LOT OF) therapy.

Here’s a thing about being depressed for so long without anyone realising the extent of it: this requires not letting anyone in close enough to see what is going on inside me. That in turn means that there is no support, no cheering section wanting me to keep going. I have been trying to be more open with people in my life. Some of them know the extent of my issues but it will take a lot of good will to bring things to where acquaintances can grow into adult and caring friendships. Last night I had the following texting exchange with one of my improv friends:

Friend: Hi, (me).
F: How have you been since we last talked?
Me: Same. Teetering on the edge type of thing.
F: OkAy.

I had no idea what to say. How do normal adults communicate? What do they say? Where do they learn the right things to say? How do they then parlay that knowledge into forming productive adult relationships?

There are a lot of questions to answer in order for me to grow. My therapist has been advising me to take risks and go to places where people congregate so that I might perchance meet some of them. Except the therapist does not a cheer squad make. There are people who wish me to get better but they are either very busy or do not wish to get involved. I do not blame them. Or perhaps I just do not see them? Yours truly is truly a mess. What I am thankful for is the support of the wonderful WordPress community. You guys and gals have been my cheering section through the most difficult and painful period of my life.

And now I will return my attention to a funky band on stage doing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”

Day 54. Still Spinning Out Of Control.

I am OK.

I breathe easy.

What’s done is done and it is in the past.

This is a temporary feeling and it is passing.

 

On the advice of my mind technician, I am supposed to repeat this mantra every time I have an anxiety attack. So far they (the mantra repetitions) work on the physiological level. My heartbeat slows down and gets back to normal but the emotional darkness remains. Though the attack has passed, the thoughts that triggered it are still weighing heavily upon my soul. My soul yearns for You, my darling. It wants to tear out of my chest and fly to You! I have been away from You for over two months and the pain of our separation is just as unbearable now as it was then. Everyone is telling me to move on and to find someone new but as much I try to look at other women, none compare to You. How can I move on if that means letting go of Your memory?

I am not ready. And I still love You.

Day 51. Trying To Relax.

On the advice of my mind technician I have tried some mindful relaxation during lunch break. Thank fully the weather is nice and I went to sit in my car and listen to the sounds of wind while trying to repeat a mantra that is supposed to quiet my worried mind.

This is harder than I remember it being when I was younger. Granted my mind has been far more perturbed lately and in my younger days (prior to being diagnosed with ADHD and discovering Methylphenidate) I spent a lot of time shutting and locking down my emotions. Still though, this is ging to be far harder than I initially assumed.

The thoughts that plagued me the most were the self-aggrandising daydreaming kind and the ones about Her. I guess no matter how much I am trying to gain some emotional peace, the memories of Her haunt my every thought for I do still love Her.

Day 29. The Bar.

The Bar. It actually has a name but for this post it shall simply be known as The Bar. And the Bar has the most disparate clientele.

The Bar doesn’t have much in terms of decor. There are a couple of worn out pool tables, a couple of well used foosball tables, and lots of cheap bear and salty popcorn. The Bar is a dive bar. It is, however, located in a trendy and artsy neighbourhood. There are independent galleries and rooms where young artists show of their craft and young actors and comedians can do their shows and dream of making it big. This being a student town, the student population is everywhere. This is precisely the type of area where a homeless junkie will try to sell you a locally procured $1,000 fixie (the fixed gear bicycles being the current hipster affectation) for $10-$20. The area is awash in equal parts cheap beer, expensive wines, low-cost food and fancy restaurants, sluts, douchebags, idealistic pursuits, and broken dreams.

The bar has a certain ambiance though. The froshers and those new to the city won’t be found here. The clientele is usually devided between the students and the older regulars; the one trait that unites these folks is that they all have already learned to be dissapointed. Here, the doggedness of artistic, scholastic, and professional pursuits has been considerably dulled by the above-mentioned fare of cheap alcohol and salt from the popcorn.

As I sit at a corner table, the din of music and overlapping conversations drowning out my own anxieties, with the view of the passerby’s on their way to a fancy night out on the street and a mixed crowd of the young and the old, it is impossible not to wonder what brought them all to this place? This is not the only bar around and it is definitely not the nicest. There’s a football game on television but no one is paying attention. The old-timers are usually sitting solo and drinking quietly; the younger generation is always in groups. Tellingly, there are no couples on a date. All the folks here are either locals or those who got this city totally wired. They are not here for the gimmicky decor or sexy waitresses (although they definitely have the sexy “suicide girl” thing going). They are here for each other’s company. Even those sitting alone are here for the established status quo of the Bar. This is “Cheers” without the sycophancy.

In the end, we all want the same thing. We need to feel like we belong. The Bar is the type of place where everyone – regardless of their station in life – feels accepted. Even yours truly, who has been feeling so incredibly dejected and down this past month, can feel safe here.

Cheers. Sláinte. L’Chayim. Wàn shòu we jiãng. Nazdorov’ie. Santé.

May your life be plentiful and your enemies disappointed.
May your cup be full and your worries few.
And may you live the kind of life that will bring you peace of mind.

‘Til soon.

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Day 23. A Sneak Peek or I’m On A Horse.

Everything we do as bloggers, tends to reveal a part of ourselves. For some, it shows merely through the way they express their thoughts. For others, like myself, over-sharing is the name of the game. Sometimes, when you go through some bad times, you just need to talk to someone who will not necessarily respond with tired old platitudes but will jut listen. We do not even need to have an actual human listener. That is one of the reasons dogs have been so beneficial for soldiers suffering from PTSD.

I have no time nor strength to care for a pet. I can barely take care of myself. Flatmates (at least the good one) are a lot like pets: they are there when you feel sad and when you’re happy. Except that they (usually) clean up after themselves and pay their share of the rent. However, sometimes, you need something a lot less encumbered with humanity: a pet or a computer. This blog is me screaming into the void. Sure there are others who read this blog and give feedback through likes and pingbacks but there is that element of actual human interaction that is removed. It gives us freedom to be far more open then we would be otherwise.

This blog is my way of being completely open. There is no need to peek sneakily: take a gander. Here I am in all my anonymous glory. This is me.

Day 15. Doing The Work.

As I have mentioned it last week in Moving Forward, my therapist gave me some homework. It is called a “Depression Wellness Plan” and consists of a printed handout 11 pages long. I have known for a couple of weeks now that I should have sought professional help years ago. However after reading this document has made this so much more real. It keeps talking about what is activating my depression. The answer to that is nothing. It’s just on 24/7and has been on non-stop for the better part of the last two decades. It also tells me to be careful as negative thoughts, if repeated enough, can become automatic. Ditto. My first daily thought for most of the last 10-15 years has been “I don’t want to exist anymore.” That is it has been my first daily thought until about three weeks ago and since then the thing I say to myself the moment I awake “I need Her back in my life!” Interestingly enough, I look forward to getting back to the days when I just wanted to die in the mornings.

Day 13. Improv Rules For A Healthier Life.

Note how the tile talks about a “healthier life” not a happier one. There is a reason for that but more about it later. As previously mentioned, one of my obsessions – that arose from trying to distract myself from the fact that I have been depressed for the past 20 years or so – has been improv, otherwise also known as improvisational theatre. There are a number of resources and articles out there denoting an important relationship and similarity between therapy and improv, as well as between improv and life in general, including The Way of Improvisation by a Canadian improviser Dave Morris.

Discovering improv (purely by accident) has allowed me to better deal with my problems. And although it has delayed my most recent meltdown which finally made me seek professional help, it has also made me more aware of my life, my world, and my problems. In fact, the speed with which I went out searching for therapy can be directly credited to improv for making me more self-aware.

As one can easily deduct not only from my current situation but from life in general, knowing the recipe to better life and being able to live it are two different things. So this is not just for those that will somehow stumble upon my writings but also for myself. Now, as I have mentioned earlier, there are a number of articles and posts written on the same subject. I will concentrate here on things and problems peculiar to my life experience. This enlightenment does not mean that I have learned these lessons and am a happy guy and am now telling you that this will make you happy as well. This is rather a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” I have learned these lessons but putting them into action is a constant struggle that is life. These rules are not magic beans and they won’t grow your life into something you want the moment you read them. The reason I compare improv to therapy is because you have to work on this as much as you would in therapy. And improv and therapy are not mutually exclusive but complement each other. Do not leave or avoid therapy for a chance to play and be popular. That was my mistake and it has cost me dearly. The other important notion is that improv is not just comedy. As in real life, there can and should be plenty of dramatic material in it.

So without further ado, here are the improv rules for a healthier life:

1. Say “Yes, and”, don’t deny or block.
Here’s the thing: when shit happens some of us, especially those with an anxiety problem, tend to go apeshit. I in particular have been very angry at the unfairness of the universe for sticking me with this handicap in form of ADHD-PI. Here’s the other thing: there’s no point in it. You can rail against it, cry about it, hurt yourself in various ways and it won’t change a goddamn thing. The best you can do is take a deep breath and remind yourself to move on. Say yes to this because that is the only way you can move past the issue that you have been unfairly saddled with; saying “no” and throwing a hissy fit in the direction of God, universe, the Force, etc will leave you in the same place you already are. Also, do not say no to your feelings. Trying to deny being angry is just as pointless as being stuck being angry. The “and” part after “yes” is what will allow you to figure out how to live with yourself. So “YES:” I got ADHD-PI with deep depression and horrible anxiety; I have trouble forming relationships and being a normal, social human being; I am pissed and hurt, because things are not the way I want them to be. “AND” I am going to therapy and have started this blog to try to untangle the mess that I’m in.

2. Don’t block.
In improv, blocking is defined as rejecting your scene partner’s offer. This is similar to saying “no” but not quite easy same thing in my humble opinion. “No” will just stop the progression of the scene same as the progression of your life. Blocking just makes things go in a different direction. In my case, I would find new hobbies, start new relationships, and ignore the stuff going on in my head. In life, you are your own scene partner (the other being life itself) so listen to yourself, pay attention to yourself, and support yourself.

3. Be in the moment.
You probably have heard a saying: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” It is very inspirational but kind of a bullshit. If you ignore or deny your past, you cannot have any future; and if you ignore the future your present will seem bland and pointless. Know it, remember it, go for it, but live in the here and now. This is just as important in life as in improv. You have to know exactly what happened for the scene and life to make sense. But be in the moment because that’s the only thing that matters right now. You can plan what will happen in the scene later on but this is improv so anything can happen at any moment. If your head is too much in the past or the future, you can miss a wonderful gift that life or your scene partner can come up with at any moment.

4. Change.
If nothing happens in life or in a scene than no one cares, including (most importantly) yourself. Be a part of life and allow it to change you. Every character you meet has the potential to change you. Allow that to happen and you will be better for it.

5. Play the game and have fun.
Shakespeare wrote that life is a stage and we are all actors in it. I would go even further and say that life is a long-form improv play. I hate those “present is a gift” and “play is a play” type of overly sweet platitudes but here we (unintentionally) are. Life is not a mere open scene but rather a succession of them. Remember that life is a game and you don’t always know the rules. So play the cards your are dealt regardless whether you like them. Sooner or later you will get something you can use. There’s a guy in Brazil who spent the last 45 years in bed after contracting polio as a child. He is also an animator who is in the process of creating an animated show based on the book written by his polio-stricken friend who has been in the same hospital with him for all these years. Your experiences are your own and only you can figure out how to make each and every one of them count for something.
There are many formats in improv and they are all good and their choice depends on preferences of players. It is up to you to choose he one that enriches your life the most and even change from one to another. You can live your life as a montage of scenes related to each other, or make it a long-form narrative, or a Harold. The choice of how you live your life is yours. Just remember to have fun because if people see you have fun they will stay with you. Even when the scene or a period in your life is so full of drama and sorrow, as long as you go through it with poise and purpose knowing that this is but a moment and you treat it with no less importance at the fun part, then audiences and people around you will stay and be a part of your unique experience.

So these are some basic things about life and improv. I hope that they will help you the same as they are helping me. It’s important though to not get stuck on them and look beyond them. If you decide to take improv classes in the hopes of improv-ing you life then do so but remember to live your life and pay attention to it and not using the fun of improv to let yourself ignore that which is most important: your own real life. For life may be a stage, but stage is not a substitute for life.

Never Put Off ‘Til Tomorrow What You Can Do Day After Tomorrow (Or A Decade Or Two).

At first I wasn’t going to do a post inspired by the daily prompt but today’s theme did make me think of something. I am a horrible procrastinator. Part of having ADHD-PI is not being able to concentrate on the tasks that aren’t interesting. It is something that I know about myself and I try to do better but truth is that I have never tried all that hard. Plus, I do have that blind spot that helps me blank out and forget tasks that sound particularly distressing.

I should have sought professional help years ago but I told myself that things are not that bad and I do not require it. In effect, this has been a two decades long procrastination stretch. Must be some kind of a record!

So why did I do that? Well, part of it is cultural. As has been mentioned in a previous post, I come from a very straight laced culture where men are men and men do not talk about their feelings and only crazy people need mental health help. The other part of it is that it is hard to ask for help, especially this kind of help. Our inner psyche is our most private part. It is so private that sometimes we do not even let ourselves in, let alone other people. Inviting a complete stranger in has got to be the hardest thing there is. Plus, in most modern societies there is an ominous stigma attached to needing mental health help. (As some might rightly notice this is mostly just rationalisation but I’m not going to get into that all that much since there’s already a Rationalising And Reason today by thetalkingtherapist.)

Well, my misery cup hath runneth over. Yesterday was the day that I crossed that particular Rubicon and had my first session. It wasn’t easy to do this by any means but turning around and going home has never crossed my mind. Perhaps it shall later on when “shit will get real.” One of my goals in this new adventure is to change my thinking and learn to stop procrastinating. That said, however, I hope that I will still be able to enjoy lazy Sundays in bed and not get up just because I should. Now, if only I could finish the major cleanup I had started early this week…