marsden_online: (write)
Complusion com·pul·sion (kəm-pŭl'shən) n.
- An uncontrollable impulse to perform an act, often repetitively, as an unconscious mechanism to avoid unacceptable ideas and desires which, by themselves, arouse anxiety.
- an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions, even against your will

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is something I have never given much thought to, beyond the common or pop-culture awareness and a vague undefined annoyance when perfectionist friends claim to "be a little OCD". But the post "OCD is not your quirky fun friend from Sarah Wilson at WriteHanded detailing some of the behaviours associated with her OCD prompted me to take a closer, if still superficial look at the definitions and diagnostic criteria, and from there to compulsion in general.
OCD is not just perfectionism, and for many people, it won’t present that way at all. It’s not “being a neat freak.”
...
Telling myself I am experiencing OCD is of little to no help. I feel itchy at best, suicidal at worst, until I allow myself to complete the behaviour that will stop the anxiety. Sometimes, that behaviour isn’t anything that will look unusual from the outside. It might be getting some work done. It might be taking a shower. It might be going to the supermarket with a very specific list. But what people don’t know or see is that work isn’t even due for another four weeks, but I couldn’t let it sit undone. That I’ve already had two showers today, but I feel like i’m unclean and I need to wash again. That I’ve already been to the supermarket, but an intrusive thought keeps telling me I’ve missed things out or got the wrong ones, so I need to go again.

I am quite confident in saying that I would not personally be diagnosed with OCD. I do have a variety of anxiety-linked behavioral compulsions, what I consider a susceptibility to addictive behaviours, and something of a fixation on doing things the "right" way; none of which take anywhere the amount of time out of my life an OCD diagnosis would require.

Following my curiosity I googled for /other/ compulsive disorders but did not turn up any helpful results with the time and energy I had available. I'm sure they are out there; just drowned in the sea of OCD-related results which resulted even trying (failing) to filter out results containing "obsessive". Probably I am stuck in the catch-22 of having to know what the disorders are called before I can find out what they are ....

of/for myself )
marsden_online: (Sisters)
When I first started intending to write this post it was as good news. That was a couple of weeks ago when I had leveraged cat-sitting for a friend into sufficient motivation to get out of bed at a good time in the morning several days in a row. I had also taken the week off gaming at SAGA to be home with cats which actually freed up 8-10 hours of time; some of which I spent working from home (light stuff) but much of which was just pressure-free. It is notable how much lighter I felt just not feeling that I "needed" / was expected to be at gaming those nights.

it's all downhill from here )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Giving is a major part of my life. Probably the greater part of it is invisible; charities I regularly support, flybys on givealittle and so forth but to be honest I find these less satisfying than what I can do directly for those around me. Making someone's life immediately better even if only for a short time kicks off one of the few emotional highs remaining to me. You can argue about whether than makes it altruistic giving or not elsewhere, I don't care. What is important to me is that there is less stress in a persons' life at frankly, little substantial cost to me.
- pad your groceries? People who have full stomachs are happier, healthier and think better.
- top up your bus card? Represents pocket change to me, to you might represent the freedom to leave the house and get to where you want/need to be when you want/need to be.
- covered an unexpected shortfall? Luck comes in good and bad, I have plenty of the former so please let me share it with you.

Life does not treat everyone equally, but it is within our power as people to redress the balance. Especially those of us to whom it has been more than fair; and I think compassion demands that we do so. Some people prefer to argue from a position of self interest - make sure other have (just) enough and they won't be motivated to try and take what you have to redress the balance. That's better than building fortresses ("gated communities") and hiring guards to keep the mob from the door I suppose.

I can understand how a person who has had to struggle, work and fight their whole life to get above the line and stay there might not be able to let go of that mindset, no matter how much success they achieve it may be that in their own mind they will always be poor and one unexpected bill away from disaster. But I also know that there are many who do not fall into that trap and having made their way to a comfortable position do a great deal to try and help others do the same. That makes much more sense to me - having been there how would not want to get other people out of the situation once you have means?

I am not one of of these; the metaphorical spoon in my mouth may not have been silver but it is less through my own efforts that I am where I am today than the gifts afforded from from my parents' hard labours. And so I can understand how, up to a certain age, a person can be raised simply not cognizant of the harsh realities of life for many. In the modern world my sympathy for that mindset runs out a year or two after they have reached university and should have had the opportunity to start taking a critical look at the world around them.

As always grateful that again, life has been more than fair to me and my sympathy for the struggles of others is born of intellect and a sense of fairness than hard personal experience.

So we come back to the position where I have- more than enough and so I endeavour to share my good fortune. I give this less than I would like; for two reasons
- Rationally I do need to keep putting some aside for my own future. How much is arguable, but I am not at the position where I can absolutely soak a large expense (such as the one about to be incurred for drain replacement) just yet, and I have no certainty that NZ's welfare state will be in a condition to look after me in my old age.
- it occupies not just the physical resources but also time and energy.

On this latter we have as a society theoretically harnessed the specialisation of labour to handle this. We pay takes to a central organisation (government) and one of the things they are supposed to do with them is make sure that if life treats us poorly we are looked after to a not-uncomfortable standard. In the meantime our money is (supposed to be) used to look after those who life is currently treating poorly. This should free us from the greater part of a need to worry about the circumstances of our families, friends, acquaintances / strangers.

Our current government is rejecting that part of it's duties (granted it is not the first to do so). Instead of going directly - in cash or in kind - to people who need food and shelter significant amounts of "our" money are shown to be being spent propping up companies that by National's own market ethos should probably be allowed to fail / take their business elsewhere, or paid in bribes to already wealthy individuals in countries where corruption is blatant, or siphoned off as indirect subsidies to private accommodation providers and old-boys-network businesspeople who are already "above the line".

One result of this is that I - multiplied by who-knows-how-many-others - have to spend more of my time and energy personally directing resource to the people I can see in need, and relying on the voids which are charities to be doing the right thing just to help regular people when they should be able to focus on those who positions are truly dire. And in some ways that /waste/ pisses me off just as much as seeing people around me living in poverty and the mis-appropriation of public money.

I am one person of good but still moderate means. I cannot do enough to even scrape the surface. I can feed a few people but I cannot house them. Organisations which have been set up explicitly to address the issues and channel the contributions of people like myself are barely scraping the surface. Central government is actively and deliberately following policies guaranteed to make the situation worse while benefiting those who already have more than enough.

My local council is one of the largest providers of social housing in the country (an operation which is currently being strong-armed to privatisation by central government). I occasionally encounter people who state vehemently how they are against their rates being used for such a purpose. I have no time for this attitude. Homelessness and poverty have both local and regional aspects and I absolutely expect our elected representatives at all levels to work together at the task of redirecting a sufficient portion of our taxes to those in need (rates being pretty much the closest we have in NZ to a formal tax on land even if they are not particularly responsive to capital gains).

Taking care of those who do not have the means to take care of themselves I consider the first duty of a supposedly democratic government. All else follows from or supports that. In doing so, for those of a more right-wing bent, people are freed to be more productive and contribute their best to society and the future rather than burning our all - and in the case of those who turn to crime, others all as well - just to survive.

[deep calming breaths]

The point I was getting around to is actually about the visibility of giving. This morning I posted quickly in my FB and Tumblr

When we talk about “give and take” why is the implication always that the giving and the taking are between the same two entities?

If I am in a position to give freely what someone needs why is it expected that I am expecting something in return? If you are in want of something why should it have to come from someone that already owes you or that you are then expected to owe?

Much better that we all give what we can when we see a need, and try to make out own desires visible without guilt or suspicion for others seeking to fulfil them - or be it necessarily with the the acceptance that there may not be anyone who feels they are in a position to do so.

I know a lot of people above and below the line, and plenty of those have moved from one side to the other and sometimes multiple times over the years. I am fairly public about much of the personal giving I do, not because I desire the plaudits (although they are nice) but in an endeavour to set an example to others above the line who may meander across my trail. To make giving freely visible and accepted, because I alone cannot make a lasting difference.

~~~
Related reading: that came through my Facebook feed while I was typing this up: How we got Here
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Jotted in my Fb this morning:
Feels stuck in a holding pattern destination unknown.
This is not doing any for the areas of my life which require me to be self-motivating. Which is having flow-on effects for others ...

The area in particular is work where I am managing closer to minimum hours than maximum; which means that projects I am working on are not being delivered as quickly as they might (should) be; which must flow on to the client's perception of the company.
I am managing good periods of focus - the hours I am at work are being well spent and the work I am doing at present is challenging and a learning experience. But I might describe it like a favoured food - it's still not something you want to eat every day. This is in comparison to a staple food, which you can have for e.g. breakfast every day. As my source of income I really need to be able to chew through work every day.

Planning to do other things before work isn't helping; do things (housework, writing) before work and I am afraid I will be out of spoons before I get there. The result is I cannot be bothered getting out of bed until not only is it to late to do whatever I had planned but too late to get to work at the time I would like to (not that I am achieving that with any regularity anyway).
Scheduling things after work is a little better; but the usual pattern is I am a little less late than usual and work harder down to the wire where I have to leave.

Before work also usually means someone at the Hall (because for it to be something I have to keep to there have to be other people involved). And for all that many people are enjoying their association with that place and I still feel it is where I can make the most difference right now - as a project it's not returning/achieving what I'm looking for and I feel hamstrung by others lack of commitment and follow through.

And for all it feels like a holding pattern objectively most areas of my life are progressing nicely.
- Gaming continues to be excellent, with the recent, possibly temporary; addition of non-junk-food/meals to my mid-week game making it feel less like a group of over-aged teens and more like a group of actual grown-up friends socialising (this is a new experience).
- A deposit is down for solar panels to be added to the house, measurements taken and it is currently at the design stage; I don't mind if it's stalled there as I wasn't originally budgeting to initiate the project until next spring/summer.
- by my maths I will finish paying off my student loan this month and be properly debt-free - plus an effective pay rise of some tens of dollars a week.
- even the recent plumbing issues may have a silver lining in that I may discover that the next major project *needs* to be the kitchen; which would simplify certain decision trees.
- I have built a small reserve of money and investments - a long way away from closing off the mortgage aka emergency fund or living off the interest, but it feels those might one day be possible.
... if I can keep myself working and earning. Back to the start.

There's a little ... verse I found running around in my head in the car on Monday -
"Want to make a difference;
need the resources to make a difference;
back to working in an attempt accumulate the resources;
will I ever have enough to to make that difference?"
marsden_online: (elf)
x-posted from my Tumblr

Tagged by [tumblr.com profile] ellipsisobsessed. Not tagging anyone because that's not how I roll.

I'm not actually sure whether this meme is about things which are likely to make you happy based on past correlation or times you have been happy in the past. Finding 15 of either could be a struggle.

Possible TMI behind the cut.

Read more... )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life
via FB: an in depth look at the life of an 11 year old girl and her family in New York - how they got there, what the future might bring. Very long, 5 parts of mostly heartache and the occasional faint glimmer of hope.
Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.

Nearly a quarter of Dasani’s childhood has unfolded at Auburn, where she shares a 520-square-foot room with her parents and seven siblings. As they begin to stir on this frigid January day, Dasani sets about her chores.

~~~~
One could be grateful that this is on the far side of the world, clearly someone else's problem. Could say that America does not have even the (increasingly holey) social security net that New Zealand boasts. Share it on Facebook as if to say "how bad the world is, how well we have it" and move along.

The NZ media does occasionally deign to pick up on these same issues in New Zealand - it was the topic du jour for a little while in 2010-11 but it seems unlikely little has changed.
- Entire families living in a relative's garage or multiple families crammed together in one home while they wait for state housing to become available. (2010)
- People's needs for accommodation deliberately not even recorded by Housing New Zealand leaving them with no option but to camp in the worst of private accommodation with no tenants rights (Both 2011 - I think WINZ has taking over determining accommodation eligibility but I have little confidence that anything has changed in practice).
- Garage life for two years (2013)

And I don't need a link for anyone reading this to know what the accommodation situation in Christchurch has been like for the past few years. "Temporary" must be starting to look like "childhood" for many.

The numbers may be debatable - perhaps things have improved in NZ since the first of these articles was written. But in the modern, caring, wealthy society which we supposedly aspire to be one person - especially one child - without even the option of a basic, clean, place to live in should be one too many.

And I am certain that the scope of the problem is still actually far wider than I can glimpse from my comfortable middle-class life. I sense a fear in me, that if I actually go looking I will be overwhelmed at the scale and feel unable to make any real difference - thus I "bide my time" and passively watch for opportunities to help within my means and not detrimental to my own (middle class) goals. Would I open my home to strangers? I've seriously considered it post-quake but decided against for mental health's sake (mine and my flatmate's (even if he agreed to the idea)).

Still we are losing bright children (truth be most if not all children are bright); now more than ever we as a society are throwing away their futures through our own inaction when we have the capacity to do better. A week ago I shared on FB an article about Variety looking for sponsors to help families pay back-to-school costs.
A charity is crying out for donors as poverty-stricken parents seek sponsorship for the back-to-school costs of their children.

More than 170 applications have been made for Kiwi Kid sponsorship so far this year, including 21 from Christchurch, and Variety - The Children's Charity needs more sponsors.

There were already 705 children - 116 from Christchurch - receiving financial support nationwide in its first year, much like that offered to children in Third World countries through World Vision.
.
At the time I said
This presses *many* of my buttons - children, local poverty, education...
I'm fighting a 3-way battle between reflexively signing up; knowing that I'm supposed to be keeping a tighter reign on my spending this year (and so far have been failing miserably); and feeling I could probably find someone in need that I could give the full $35+ per month to directly.
and at the time inertia won. Now I'm making a commitment to reassess my budget for the year, do some research and commit something regular on top of the irregular amounts I give the phone collectors and occasional worthy givealittle/pledgeme/etc call that comes across my radar - whether through Variety or some other avenue (I wonder if Adopt a Christchurch Family is still actually going).

~~~
This topic also conveniently leads into my next post - thoughts on the just-announced Labour party policy of an extra $60/week entitlement for families with newborns possibly following up to the age of 3 years.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Framed in terms of a bad storyline and a troublesome monkey the trouble I have been having getting out of bed (in the morning or post nap) results from
* a "gimmie" for the Instant Gratification monkey in terms of the energy required to get out of a nice cosy bed (none)
* the story I have been telling is that "As my work hours are limited and flexible and usually taken over the afternoon I have no real need to get out of bed."
regardless of the facts that
* I *know* I get a lot more out of the day when I get out of bed promptly and make use of the extra 2-3 hours
* this completely discounts my want-to-dos and even a lot of my have-to-dos (like household chores and game prep) compared to work and obligations to other people (if I need to be somewhere for an early appointment, or eg earlier this week out at the airport to deliver a passport to someone between flights, then getting out of bed is no problem).

My new storyline (for the moment) is "I get out of bed in the morning because I refuse to let the procrastination monkey beat me, unless I choose to allow a sleep in (eg after an o-ghod-o'clock Hall alarm)"

This is explicitly written on my bedroom whiteboard as "Don't let the Monkey keep you in bed".

I have also found that just putting the big tasks which I have already been procrastinating on for months on the bedroom whiteboard provides no real incentive. And I don't want to make (fall into a trap of making) getting out of bed contingent on things which involve obligations to others. So I need to think more about what I want to get out of each day and write that up instead of a simple list of tasks.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Back to my current favourite source of advice on procrastination
The procrastinator is in the bad habit, bordering on addiction, of letting the monkey win. He continues to have the intention to control the monkey, but he puts forth a hapless effort, using the same proven-not-to-work methods he’s used for years, and deep down, he knows the monkey will win. He vows to change, but the patterns just stay the same. So why would an otherwise capable person put forth such a lame and futile effort again and again?
The answer is that he has incredibly low confidence when it comes to this part of his life, allowing himself to become enslaved by a self-defeating, self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s call this self-fulfilling prophecy his Storyline. The procrastinator’s Storyline goes something like this:
For the Have-To-Dos in my life, I’ll end up waiting until the last minute, panicking, and then either doing less than my best work or shutting down and not doing anything at all. For the Want-To-Dos in my life, let’s be honest—I’ll either start one and quit or more likely, I just won’t ever get around to it.
The procrastinator’s problems run deep, and it takes something more than “being more self-disciplined” or “changing his bad habits” for him to change his ways — the root of the problem is embedded in his Storyline, and his Storyline is what must change.
And the takeaway - good advice for anything you want to achieve in life...
3) Aim for slow, steady progress—Storylines are rewritten one page at a time.
In the same way a great achievement happens unglorious brick by unglorious brick, a deeply-engrained habit like procrastination doesn’t change all at once, it changes one modest improvement at a time. ... The author who writes one page a day has written a book after a year. The procrastinator who gets slightly better every week is a totally changed person a year later.
So don’t think about going from A to Z — just start with A to B. Change the Storyline from “I procrastinate on every hard task I do” to “Once a week, I do a hard task without procrastinating.” If you can do that, you’ve started a trend. I’m still a wretched procrastinator, but I’m definitely better than I was last year, so I feel hopeful about the future.

This storyline concept has shown up in a number of other articles I have read and also in my counselling sessions. Here are some of my most pernicious - by externalising them here I intend to given them substance whereby I can challenge them going forward.
marathon post )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
One of the things on my to-do list for this holiday was to step back and assess my life from the new vantage provided by higher mood. To see what looks different from up here and what new options may be visible; to see if there is anything old or new I now feel it is within my power to change for the better.

This post pulls together some of those thoughts.

insecurity )

procrastination )

fear/pain )

This post has felt like forcing myself open from the inside and I've procrastinated more than a little while writing it, but I think I have reached some insights. Still more yet to come, later.
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Remember how I gave in to antidepressants because I wanted the other half of my life back? And it seemed to be working for a while? It's stopped. I am once again sending half my life in bed - or that's what it feels like. (At 10-12 hours not counting naps it's pretty literal). I again have great difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. More accurately I I have great difficulty motivating myself to get out of bed in the morning. I managed it a couple of times last week due to car-related appointments but I am simply failing to be able to manage my self-set target for getting to work - or even for getting a couple of hours of interesting things done at home then getting to work which was a positive pattern which had started to emerge at one point.

(The time I'm actually getting to work allows me to make or better my contracted hours for the week - it just seems that I'm only being allocated enough spoons to do those hours and precious little of -anything- outside them. Is this some sort of internal response to the first-place any extra spoons tend to go is into extra hours at work?)

I enjoy being at work - most of the time - I just don't look forward to going to work except occasionally when I have my coding teeth into a project and it is progressing at a pace which actually feels productive.

I don't look forward to anything much. Except perhaps board gaming at SAGA but there is a whole lot of day to get through first. I was really looking forward to getting back into a weekend/D&D game even if I was part-time DMing (and I had a campaign idea building momentum) but other people's enthusiasm/momentum seems to have failed and I'm not falling back into the trap of being -the- driving force in an otherwise uncommitted group. I do enjoy the Star Wars game I'm playing in on Wednesdays but again I don't look forward to it.

There are many projects I would like to be working on but not one of them contains that spark that will excite me enough to pick it up. Or maybe the spark is entirely missing from me.

~~~
I said the antidepressants -seemed- to be working. I think they are at some level, but I'm also afraid that I fell into the trap of subconsciously thinking "well I'm on the drugs now I don't have to be as careful with my spoons" and promptly went and burnt myself out again. I mean I may not feel -good- but I have certainly felt a lot -worse-. But I am back in -a- pit and I have no idea how to get myself out of it.
marsden_online: (write)
If I don't write this post while I'm in the pit I'll probably never get around to it.

The first half draft has been sitting in my brain for about a month and a half, since Wil Wheaton's response to another's post about how depression lies floated through my G+ and FB feeds. (Because my friends share the good stuff.)
snip1 )
~~~segue~~~
I have no great desire to become self-sufficient in this. I crave companionship - some level of intimacy - as the one significant thing missing from my comfortable, privileged life.
snip2 )
marsden_online: (write)
The psychological poverty trap

FB was a bit compact for everything I wanted to say from this link.

I don't agree with all of it, especially not how it dismisses financial education. Although I would frame it in broader resource-allocation terms - as this article touches on with the comparison between money and time.

There's a saying "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today" - not that I live up to it any better than the next person but the parallel is that unexpected tasks can pop up analogously to unexpected expenses, and things can (always) take longer to do than expected in the same way that sometimes things cost more than budgeted. Of course we use time all the time and most of us only use money on an intermittent basis.

Aside - relaxing/taking time out is also a something you shouldn't put off to tomorrow - also something I'm particularly bad at.

The two most important points I think the article makes are about
1. the positive feedback loop of having a buffer.
- If you are somehow/somewhat insulated from the effects of a bad decision,
- you are then less stressed by the need to make the decision
- and more likely to make a better decision
- which will of course leave you in a better position to make the next decision

2. people are not to blame for being poor
- it may certainly be because they made a bad decision or series of bad decisions - but that's not a crime.
- it may equally well be due to circumstances outside their control
- either way now that they are poor the deck is stacked against them. If we as a society wish to alleviate their situation we need to stop demonising them and cut them a break

~~~
It also touches on the difficultly of actually making changes in your life, regardless of the time spent planning there is always this psychological hump to be overcome before taking action. I am very familiar with this hump, having failed to overcome it on many occasions :-/ The biggest changes in my life (and employment issues are uppermost in my mind at the moment) have always come from outside - when the hump suddenly becomes the edge of a cliff.

In some cases (looks at the "to do" item marked "health insurance" and the pile of research stacked underneath it) the cliff could mean it's too late.
marsden_online: (Kea)
Trickle - vertical, start some distance from (above) what you are trying to affect and hope it gets there
Ripple - horizontal, start on the same level as what you are trying to affect. Instant results.

Trickle - each level extracts value from the level below it in exchange for assistance (money flows down, but wealth flows up).
Ripple - value is retained in and cascades through the area.

Trickle - you (as the initiator) want to retain value as above.
Ripple - you -throw- something away from you and if the ripples reach back to you that's a bonus. (To extend the metaphor, ripples reaching the shore are wasted.)

Trickle - makes the recipient look up and reach up, but only to to catch it. Distracts.
Ripple - lifts the recipient on a wave, maybe only making life better for a short while but providing the opportunity to glimpse new horizons, and maybe jump up and catch something which was previously out of reach.

~~~
I throw things away a lot. Since I'm a bit short on disposable income it is other stuff I have a surplus of - time, wheels, knowledge, recently pumpkins :D (and now you know how they fit in).

They cause very little ripples, but they make life better for people who are important to me and maybe to people who are important to them. And actually that has value to me.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
http://webworkerdaily.com/2009/09/07/labor-day-challenge-wrestle-your-work-back-into-its-box/
Most of the people I know who are willing to sacrifice downtime for uptime define themselves, to a large degree, by their work. They are their business, or their profession, or their role within their organization. Left without their RSS feeds, emails and task lists, they’re at a loss to identify with the person they actually are. Unless they’re responding to the latest email or tweeting about their new product launch, they feel they don’t exist.


I say often that I don't feel right unless I'm working on something. Reading this it feels right to narrow that down - If I'm not doing something, I feel like I don't exist.
more more more )
~~~
Last time my rut ended at the edge of a cliff & for a short time I flew. Where did that feeling go?

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