Avoidance and Angry Dogs

I have angry dogs in my head.

That’s how my internal voice manifested in therapy. (This recent post details where these angry dogs came from and what they sound like, without using the dog imagery.)

It’s interesting, because the angry dogs in my head have little to nothing to do with how I react to real dogs in real life, but I’ll get to that later.

All day, every day

Having angry dogs in my head means my goal in life on a day-to-day basis is to escape or avoid those headdogs.

The easiest way to avoid the headdogs is to hyperfocus on something else. Anyone who knows me well (not many people) knows I’ve always been good at obsession. If I can find something external to obsess about, or just get into in a really intense way, I’m capable of wholly ignoring the headdogs’ rage. It’s not that I don’t hear them, or that they’re not there anymore; it’s just that I can face away and pretend they don’t exist for a while.

The easiest ways to avoid the headdogs are activites that lend themselves to the exclusion of any minor thoughts, e.g. video games, books, television and movies, even writing sometimes. When you’re into a really good story, the kind that suspends disbelief, your real world fades into the background. I seek that fading action constantly.

Continue reading Avoidance and Angry Dogs

Ungrateful?

Another question from LYL:

What do people thank you for?

Well, that’s easy.

Nothing.

Don’t mistake this statement for a lack of gratitude on my part. It’s based on the simple fact that in order to be thanked for something, you need to do something. And I do so little that even if someone wanted to thank me for something, they’d be hard pressed to find anything.

The only thing I’ve been thanked for in recent memory is my presence. Given that that’s about all I can offer in my usual state of mind, that’s not a surprise.

But something about being thanked for my presence causes a sting of pain rather than the warmth of appreciation. Like I’m capable of more, so being thanked for doing nothing feels like a frequently repeated reminder of my lack of value, my failure to use my own abilities.

In truth, I’m thanked almost daily. In my video games. Yes, by other real people. For my presence, as usual. But also for skill. For effort. For contribution.

My skill, effort, and contribution just don’t leave my keyboard, which makes it difficult for people outside of it to thank me even if they wanted to.

Trying to be more positive and get to the point of the question, I think the idea here is to discover what you’re good at through external expressions of gratitude. I have been told what I’m good at.

I have amazing copyediting skills. Truly. As others put it for me, editing is my “superpower.” I know what the English rules and intricacies are. I know how to use and abuse them for both function and style. I have edited professional writers’ works and when there were no true errors to be found, I offered endless marginal notes about why they might consider different phrasings for possible emphases. I could be tested, licensed, maybe study further, see where it leads, but I’m not sure I want to. While I enjoy such work, the expectations that go along with it tend to be more than I can handle, sending me fleeing as soon as things begin to go well.

I can draw. With a pencil and paper. I’m not that good at it, but I know exactly why: a lack of practice. I’ve done well enough that I’ve amazed myself in the few attempts I’ve made. I know that if I were to put in nothing more than time, I could find great joy and nurture a very real talent. I was once told by an instructor I respected that I should make sure that whatever I do, I don’t stop drawing. I did, though. I stopped. I don’t put in the time. My lack of practice comes from a lack of passion, but the lack of passion comes from a disorder of the mind.

I don’t do any of the things that make me feel better. Drawing is simply one of many.

Those are things I’ve been thanked for in years long past, things that echo through to the present and ripple off the shield of my absent enthusiasm. The repercussions of this are decades of lost time, and a dark fear of a colourless future for myself and those chained to me.

Here I am again.

Well, that didn’t work.

I was very hyped up for a while, but in waiting for the next e-mail to come, two, then three days passed, and I lost all momentum. Then after several days, all the e-mails showed up at once, but by then it was too late.

I’m going to try something a bit different. When I was a teenager, I used to write something like this. I’m not sure why I stopped, but I think I can pull it off again. Once I’ve got that momentum, I’ll see if I can keep it going.

First, let’s talk about the elephant in my room. Or rather, in my brain.

I recently made a book purchase, then added Jenny Lawson‘s Furiously Happy to get the free shipping. I’d acquired her previous book in audio form and looked like a lunatic going for walks in my quiet suburban neighbourhood while cackling at nothing.

I haven’t read more than the first few pages, but something clicked as I read her escapades with her non-functioning sleep schedule. While I recognized that it’s highly unlikely I have any of the diagnoses she received, I also recognized that I am not alone.

I am not the only mother with depression.

Jenny is far higher functioning than I am. Obviously. She’s published very successful books and writes regularly and frequently for several massive audiences. But she does mention not getting out of bed for weeks. And she mentions her daughter learning about her situation. (I might have a more enlightened discussion on this once I finish the book, and I’m looking forward to it.)

My son is too young for me to explain to him why there are so many days when I just don’t see him. I fall asleep as he wakes up and wake up after he has fallen asleep.

This is not because I’m third shift or even because I’m a night owl. If anything, I’m a morning person. I hate being awake at night. The days I manage to wake up in the morning are my best days, the days I enjoy the most. They just seem so few and far between.

So why not just wake up in the morning? What is it they say on Tumblr? Oh, my sweet, summer child. If only I could.

Continue reading Here I am again.