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: (skull)
Reading back over the past few years entries I notice a clear pattern of going in already exhausted and not getting nearly as much gaming done as I would like. This year was no exception; various issues at work have triggered emotional breakpoints and seen me push myself harder than is safe. To boot a head cold which has been threatening for the past fortnight arrived with a vengeance, leading to me wearing a flu mask Sunday and Monday; arguably I should also have done so Saturday or even not attended at all. However I had a friend down from Wellington staying with me and commensurate responsibilities to make sure she was able to be there.

Despite my efforts to keep the Hall calendar clear it had two entries; the Saturday morning one was a no-show and the Monday afternoon one arrived an hour late and then was un-prepared and spent half-an-hour doing make-up. I was able to leave them shooting with someone else on site but both instances meant time spent waiting around in cold wet weather when I could have been gaming. An alarm call out just after midnight on Saturday morning did not help matters.

My brain is blanking on some of the games I played and when
- Saturday had at least four games, starting with Betrayal at the House on the Hill which I had to abandon to get to the Hall, but apparently the Haunt won two rounds later (although we'd seemed to be in a good position), late afternoon was Kingsburgh, later in the evening a quick 2-player learning game of Fairy(Faery?)Tale and then ? . I was also able to purchase enough card sleeves of appropriate size from the Comics Compulsion table to kill time sleeving my copy of DC Heroes.
- Sunday I had two long, 3-player games of DC Heroes Crisis with different people where we lost at the very end, the first time to the final crisis and the second time by the stack running out when we had only to defeat the final super-villain two more times. I must have played Roll for the Galaxy because we discovered one of the cups missing. Jamaica because I noticed one of our often-indecisive players was quite quick at it.
- Monday had Castles of the Mad King Ludwig (which someone kindly stepped out of to let me play when I arrived as it was being set up) followed by Egizia. After getting back from the Hall I managed a game of DC Heroes before helping a little with pack up.

Today I called into work sick and have spent it napping / doing chores around the house / a delivery/groceries run / coughing a lung out. I would have liked to go along to Saga tonight for a couple more games but by about 4pm I had to admit to myself that wasn't going to happen.

~~~
Three times during the past few days I have teetered on the brink of emotional collapse. One was Saturday morning trying to get out of the house on time after oversleeping, and that was pure exhaustion.

The second was when I wandered upstairs on Sunday night to try and take some discrete photos of the LARPs in progress (trying to keep myself occupied and stable between running out of gaming options myself and my guest finishing up) to be shooed off. The shooing off wasn't entirely unexpected but the way it made me feel was. The third was being called out on possibly having taken photos including someone without permission - I haven't actually looked at the photos yet but yeah likely. I was sick, tired and probably sloppy with my judgement/recall/asking.

I'm still trying to figure out the reason the last two hit me so hard; I can't tell right now whether I'm feeling hurt by the criticism, upset with myself for not being more careful / not holding myself to high enough standards, or because I caused upset to someone I care about. In any case all there is to be done is apologise and attempt to not repeat the mistake.

Probably also time to book another psych appointment.
marsden_online: (write)
Toward the end of last week the EQC payout for the drain replacement arrived in my mailbox. Because it was a holiday weekend (Easter) banking it was less immediate than I would have liked, but after an uncomfortable couple of days sitting on a substantially large cheque I got it deposited. Now my internet banking shows two balances, one slightly unreal total and one much smaller "available".

Once the cheque clears I will be zipping most of that money off into a less "touchable" location while I work on plans for the next round of overdue household maintenance. Meanwhile my half-asleep brain suggested to me last night that this is actually quite an apt analogy for how I often find myself feeling about life. That is I am told that I have built up all this credit of various sorts (social), but I can't actually seem to access it in the ways I want it to have immediate value to me.

Objectively I realise this is because at some level I still have internalised the idea that if you do enough of the "right things" for people, you will get back the "right things" (you want) in return.

This segues into feelings about a post which has been shared through my Facebook feed a few times in the past week. The post itself is a screen capture of a tumblr post, I've tracked down the original but the author's Tumblr is very NSFW and comes with a blanket trigger warning so I'm going to quote the whole post here as well. (Not least to have a permacopy, but also because screen-caps are not non-sighted-user friendly.)
What I mean when I say “toxic monogamy culture”
- the normalization of jealousy as an indicator of love
- the idea that a sufficiently intense love is enough to overcome any practical incompatibilities
- the idea that you should meet your partner’s every need, and if you don’t, you’re either inadequate or they’re too needy
- the idea that a sufficiently intense love should cause you to cease to be attracted to anyone else
- the idea that commitment is synonymous with exclusivity
- the idea that marriage and children are the only valid teleological justifications for being committed to a relationship
- the idea that your insecurities are always your partner’s responsibility to tip-toe around and never your responsibility to work on
- the idea that your value to a partner is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy they spend on you, and it is in zero-sum competition with everything else they value in life
- the idea that being of value to a partner should always make up a large chunk of how you value yourself

Now we know that I emotionally even when not philosophically bought into some of these quite strongly during my younger years. It's probable that some of them still lurk below the surface waiting to strike when (if) the opportunity arises, as I have come to a better rational understanding secondhand through observation and "book learning" rather than through actual personal experience.

Actually reading through the list properly for the first time though it was the last one that struck me hard. Being of value to others does make up an overwhelmingly large part of how I value and define myself. I mean once you get past survival, once you get past living comfortably, what else is there?

[tangent]
For lack of a specific partner I have channeled my energy and devotion into an array of causes and people / non-romantic interactions/relationships over the years, but all the time craving that singular connection in return.

Not I should probably say as a singular recipient of all my attention, I care for others far too easily for that, but more as an anchor or a touchstone or a companion to share the journey with such that when it feels I am lost and storm-tossed on the seas of life, throwing cargo overboard for nowt but the space filling up with water I can reach to one side and be certain that someone is close there to me, and the world will well again.

That might seem like a terrible load to ask, it might seem as if I am expecting someone to "meet [my] every need", but in truth it's a fairly narrow subset of my needs, just potentially intense. I am lucky, oh I know how lucky I am, to have many committed friends now whom provide support in various ways, some who have gone out of their way to provide more than I ever asked and more importantly work on opening me up so I could accept and lean on that support for a while.

But even the most determined of my friends has not made a connection that feels like we are actually sharing each others lives to any great degree. It is more that our lives touch from time to time, like the courses of ships travelling the same way for a little while but not bound for the same port. That their course may change without notice or that they could pass beyond reach at any moment due to a swell or a storm.
[/tangent]

What else is there? Some people do fixate on a measure or measures representing material worth, striving to make the numbers ever greater. I don't know that they are actually valuing themselves. Some people spend their lives chasing the thrill of new experiences, I don't know how they value themselves. Some people seem to feel that just existing is value enough, they are welcome to that but at a fundamental level I don't understand how knowing that adding value is how the society they enjoy living in came to exist, they feel no responsibility to maintain it or drive to add more.

How does one have value to oneself? One is. Value only comes into existence when one interacts.

Perhaps I am off on the wrong track. Perhaps first I should be looking closer at another word I used without really thinking above. Perhaps value follows from how we define ourselves, but how even do we do that?

It's a post for another day now, but I do very strongly define the person I want to be because there is another person I know I am capable of being or even am by default, and that I have made the decision is not the person I value myself as.

[tangent]
Far too many people are perhaps still too busy just trying to survive to really think about valuing themselves. It take less energy to believe what others say about your value, to let others decide your value :( Another link I have already shared today: Addicts or not, workers don’t deserve public shaming.
[/tangent]
marsden_online: (elf)
If I am honest I have been procrastinating starting this post. But I have also been rolling bits of it around and around in my head.

To start go and read the comic No 'I' in Sex from Toby Morris's PencilSword, if you haven't seen it already. The rest of this post will wait :)
continued )
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Background: Yesterday there was an alarm event at the Hall in which the two intruders did a runner, leading to us wrangling with one of them over possession of a bicycle in the driveway. Eventually he gave up and left without the bike.

At the time my entire focus was on a) delaying him for the police to arrive or b) keeping something they might be able to identify him from. If I am honest with myself there were probably aspects of wanting to enforce /some/ sort of consequences on him for his actions against "our turf" and other less salubrious emotions as well behind those goals. Inwardly and outwardly I was using the justification that the bike was probably stolen as well.

With time for my brain to chew it over though another likely scenario for his determination to keep the bike than the chance it might identify him has presented itself, and it makes me feel like a bit of a heel. Regardless of the facts of the intrusion and that the two were definitely searching the hall looking for stuff that might be worth nicking (we can tell by the way they went through allll the cupboards in the areas they reached); the guy was clearly someone who doesn't have a lot of good things in his life and putting the /unfoundedly assumed/ provenance aside it is a fairly nice bike. We had no right to rip that away from him. It's a mark of my own middle-class privilege that I thought it so justifiable.

Heck it may even have been a legitimately borrowed bike, in which case the consequences of our (my) actions are falling on someone completely undeserving. But I am not going too far down that hypothetical (and metaphorical) rabbit hole, it actually serves no purpose.

Anyway now I feel I want the opportunity to apologise to him and return the bike (which has been recorded by police and we have no further use for any way). It is very unlikely that I will get that opportunity so it will have to join the small hill of other regrets and skeletons in my mental closet.

What I can do is /better/ in the future. I was absolutely expecting my privilege and his lack of to protect me from any legal consequences to what were arguably illegal actions on my part, although were those consequences to come I am prepared to face them. But I was also letting it help blind me into treating another person as an other, an enemy, not due rights or feelings.

This would not be the first time I have let this happen, but it is the time I have become cognizant of it. It ... is not ever a comfortable feeling confronting the flaws in ones character. But if I am really trying to be the sort of person I claim to be trying to be I need to own it and work on fixing it.
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Monday was a good day. Normally Monday is the day I "allow" myself to sleep in but I had arranged to take two friends to a morning showing of Ghostbusters so I had immutable reason to actually get up. (It still took some effort, but only half an hour after the alarm went off.) After the movie (very good) I was still able to get to work no later than I often have been recently and work solidly through the rest of the afternoon, getting home just in time for gaming. I did not feel unduly exhausted at the end of the day.

Monday was one of those days which prove that I do still have the ability to do a whole day with minimal side effects. I went to bed positive about my ability to springboard off this success to have a productive day Tuesday ...

... and indeed I was up at 7am to go to the toilet and thisclose to staying up. But as so often happens I fell for the same lie from my brain that traps me time and time again; it would be fine to hop back into bed long enough to catch up on the nights happenings using my phone. That would be one thing ticked off the list of things to do for the day, then I would be ready to shower, breakfast etc ...

... and then the usual thing happened and it was after 11am and yet another unpleasant dream by the time I actually managed to drag my frustrated self back out of bed, through the "morning" routine and off to work.

4 hours productivity lost. There are so many of the things I want to get done that just one of could easily have fitted in that time.

Today (Wednesday) wasn't much better for starting, except that I didn't even get out of bed at 7 to go to the bathroom. This mornings dream had a bunch of new unpleasantness for me to boot.

- it was in parts an out-of-control-vehicle dream but where in these dreams I am usually driving my own car this time I had stolen or "borrowed" it. (I was re-parking it somewhere in the vicinity of where I got it from).
- some of the dream I was talking to a counsellor, then running late to get to my usual monthly psych session because of it (via phone half-an-hour after I was supposed to be there we postponed). I do not recall my counselling ever appearing in a dream before.
- some of it I was running down the road / sitting in the pavement crying because I knew the car-stealing thing was so out of character for me and screaming "what is wrong with me?". This is also completely new to my recall.

It was also in parts a
- not having the strength to pull myself up dream,
- a back-at-university and not able to find my timetable / where I was supposed to be dream

There were a few positive bits but they don't seem to have fit into the overall narrative, like side-tracks my mind followed briefly.

Once I got to work today I put in a 7+ hour stint without too much trouble. I've been doing this one or two evenings a week for a while now, on nights I don't have a fixed commitment, staying on until 6:30 / 7 / 8 after getting in after midday. It's the only way I've been keeping my hours up where I want them to be, it's also more proof that I am /able/ to do this much work. I would /rather/ be starting earlier in the day but if my system won't let me it'll just have to happen in the evening.

It's not even that I don't want to be at work. I /do/. There are a /lot/ of projects particularly in-house ones I /want/ to get stuck into. The morning problem seems to be something to do with the whole idea of having to /go/ to work. Like "I'm going to get out of bed and them I'm going to go through this routine and then I'm going to be at work for the rest of the day and that means I'm not going to get anything else done anyway so I'm just going to lie here and get even less done".

(I know trying to work from home won't cut it at this point. That would be a bullet to my work productivity.)

I felt I was making some progress earlier in the year by making morning time me-time for getting things done around the house / off my project list but that fell by the wayside. I'm hopeful I may be able to pick it up again as the days get longer ans my get-up time in the past has been closely linked with the sun reaching a certain point.

I had a morning go-for-a-walk buddy for a while but they are currently a night-owl and much happier that way :)

I've tried setting up mental associations / triggers to stop myself gong back to bed in the mornings if I get up at about the right time; but my brain always seems to find a way around them.

The current drugs presumably are helping with my mood but are not doing anything about my sleep - they may even be making that worse. The previous ones were helping with my sleep but messing with other things to the point that they triggered a physical, emotional and mental rejection. Next month I'll probably ask to try something new (don't want to mess with prescriptions right now; need my headspace to be a known quantity for upcoming commitments).

I do not physically /need/ to be spending 10-12 hours a day in bed. My stamina levels for physical activity have dropped (probably as a a result of, not a cause of), but not that far. I do not /want/ to be spending 10-12 hours a day in bed. It is stopping me doing things I /do/ want to do. It is denying me the chance to enjoy the sunshine for more than the 30 minutes trip to work around midday.

Every night I go to bed hoping, planning, determined to do better the next day. I know I /can/ ... I just don't know /how/.
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Lying in bed this morning I managed to identify the thing mostly keeping me in bed was a mental rejection of tackling anything that resembled "work". Going to work, or picking any of the things on my to do list to spend some time on or even ultimately going to gaming tonight. So I decided to call in sick and spend most of the day napping or in front of the fire.

Ironically once that decision was made my brain then immediately switched mode to firing all available cylinders on a quote-request for a major project which has been sitting in my mailbox since Friday. So I just spent two hours working from home on that, and am currently taking a break before finalising the email.

I suspect this will be followed by a variety of other productive activities around the house, possibly interspersed with naps followed by cheerfully going to gaming.

So it seems that a big part of not getting going in the morning is something to do with being /expected/ to get up and do things. As soon as I am no longer "expected" to do anything it's full steam ahead :/

Need to figure out how to leverage this.
marsden_online: (write)
I thought I had already written a post on Ask vs Guess culture including an anecdote from my youth, but I am unable to find it. I'm not going to repeat the particular anecdote here because this post is to record and draw out a train of thought which occurred as I drifted into a "nap" this afternoon.

Background: I was a bit miffed at not having managed to acquire a second lotto ticket for the draw this evening (40 million must-be-won Powerball jackpot combined with a 700,00 Strike jackpot. I'll check in the morning). The reason it would be a) the second ticket and b) I didn't already have one was that I purchased the first online[1] then decided I could afford another; only to be informed I had exceeded my spending limit for the week[2].

[1] the one with maximum lines of Strike because doubling my chances in Strike seemed better odds than more lotto/powerball lines)
[2] Which was only like $30 because I set it (as a security precaution should someone get into my account) at a time when there was only one significant draw a week. And takes until the next Sunday for change requests to take effect (sensible). And would still have been fine if I was buying my usual[3] $9.60 tickets (minimum ticket because more than stuff all chance is a chance but still stuff all)
[3] only when the jackpot gets up a ways

While drifting off it occurred to me that I was /really/ miffed about being told "no" by the system. My increased determination to acquire an extra ticket was in reaction / rejection / rebellion against that. Which got me thinking (again) about my issues around asking / responding to being asked. Half-asleep brain made a new connection.

In terms of the previously linked article I would have said I grew up in a Guess culture and my asking habits reflect that. If I don't judge that there is a good probability someone will say yes (typically upwards of say 80%) I won't
- (rationalising) put them at risk of having to choose between an unwilling yes and an uncomfortable no
- (more realistically) put myself at risk of being made uncomfortable by having made them uncomfortable; or receiving a strongly negative reaction
... so I simply won't ask.

I don't usually /consciously/ have problems with a "no" answer
- although I have been known to interpret it as a "try again later in a different way"; a behaviour I hope I have broken myself of.
- the reason this one impacted me was simply that it was so unexpected; coming from a context where I didn't even realise I was asking for something (but of course I was)
- but see my final conclusion

On this afternoons half-asleep consideration though asking wasn't really a thing when I was growing up. The way our life was structured there wasn't really any "would you like to do x?" or would you like to do y?"; "can/may I do x?" or "can/may I do y?". "Questions" were usually just polite instructions: "Can you please pass the peas?", "Have you done [chore]?", "Will you please [task]?" As such a yes (or just getting on with it) was expected; any other response was likely to lead to unhappiness.

It may be one of the reasons I'm so good at politely taking charge; but it simply didn't give me soft skills around ... negotiation for lack of a better term. Or standing up for myself verbally (which may be related to other issues that developed later on). Or saying no because my fight-or-flight[5] response to being asked to do something is to "obey"/comply or rebel (the latter aggressively, probably even when I am not consciously aware that is what I am projecting. So no wonder people may feel nervious about asking for things they think /I/ may say no to.)

[5] The 3rd option, freeze ("play dead") is to vaguely accede and then passively aggressively ignore the request.

By the same token despite my best intentions it is likely I subconsciously expect people to "do what I ask" and get subtly (or not so subtly, just oblivious to my own reactions/projection) upset when "I do not get my own way". The first bit isn't really a problem for anyone but me; the second though would negatively affect other people and that, to my mind, /would/ be a problem.

If I'm being brutally honest the rejection (or possibility of rejection) probably influences my decision making and risk assessment around asking far more than I am willing to admit, even to myself. [It's half-past-midnight as I type this; a fine time for staring into the darness.]

~~~
[aside]
One of the comments on the link I chose for this post talks about experience a "Yes" culture; which from the description I would actually consider
- at best the culture shock of an Asker (the poster self-identifies as) who has found themselves in a Guess environment;
- a toxic outgrowth (or ingrowth) of a Guess culture or two merged Guess cultures
- an outcome of a Guess culture being colonised by unscrupulous Askers.
In my own personal experience, I think there is a third type of culture - Yes Culture. That is, social circles that have the expectation that it is OK to ask for anything at all with the expectation that you will receive a yes. Or, when asked of anything at all, you must say yes regardless of what the request is.
...
But I have witnessed first-hand what I'm calling Yes Culture. Having been submersed in it directly, I have experienced much frustration because my expectations and those of the Yes Culture differ greatly. Likewise, I have witnessed those of the Yes Culture's frustrations in dealing with me. No matter how I explain myself or my expectations, our expectations differ so greatly that I am almost always perceived as rude, selfish, unsupportive or uncaring for saying no (and believing it is OK). And no matter how much they explain themselves, I can't quite grasp how it's possible to expect that any request will/should be granted regardless of timing, workload, responsibilities, etc."

[/aside]

Walls

Jul. 5th, 2016 10:52 am
marsden_online: (skull)
I was so very close to getting out of bed at a reasonable time this morning in order to accomplish more of the things I aim(ed) (and anticipated) to do today. Often the barrier feels like being stuck on the brain side of a wall of impregnable refusium; today body and conscious brain were both will and it felt like being on both sides of a mounded earthen wall.

Buried below the earth though was still whatever issue it is that is subconsciously making me "not want to" and I didn't make it. Still earth is much softer and amenable to digging; so perhaps I'm getting closer to figuring it out.

Now having dumped this out of my head perhaps I can get on and actually accomplish /something/ with what is left of my day.
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
It has been two months since I did a "state of me" post. Looking back I see I was definitely in a worse place at that time. Things have picked up but I feel back in a bit of a dip at the moment.

Some major loops have been closed - the drain-laying and landscaping have been done; replaced with the less intimidating "cleaning up the mess left behind" and "paying off the mortgage again" loops. Having to be out of bed by 8am for workers did wonders for my productivity over those couple of weeks and I had hoped it would "stick" as an adjustment to my body clock but I have slipped back to not being able to force myself out of bed until quite late in the morning.

I have also switched off the medication which may have been helping with that (Sertroline); I developed a strong physical aversion to taking it so switched back to a low dose of the leftover Citalopram then changed my prescription back as well. There was an almost immediate improvement in my mood, alertness and creativity (measured by my urge to write); at the same time I have experienced a resurgence in vivid and sleep disrupting dreams and also a near-constant hunger/snacking.

The only weekday commitments I have at the moment are work; so that isn't suffering relative to my established "norm" but we are still behind and I would like to do more; as well as of course keep on top of other things before the list grows long enough to again feel overwhelming.
Hall commitments have receded; hopefully for the next couple of months until it starts warming up again.

~~~
running through my head )
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
This is probably going to be one of those posts which comes across as being terribly self-pitying, but this is my blog and I want to unpack some stuff. It is sparked by another online thread containing a decent signal of peoples lived experiences and wisdom which I intend to pull some other bits out of in another post.

Summary: Actively pursuing someone would be unacceptably coercive; the shotgun approach to dating would require more emotional energy than I am prepared to invest; I want to feel that someone is interested in /me/ so I am looking for someone to at least make an approach / respond clearly to the approach I make and if they don't then we're back to the first point.
snip )
marsden_online: (Sisters)
I don't handle cocking things up well. This usually evidences itself in relation to work (because in other areas of my life typically no-one else is particularly relying on the things I do).

I'll have all the satisfaction of a job well done and then the email will come in that something isn't working and I'll have made what seems to be a massive oversight (usually in (not) testing something) which needs to be fixed now. All the good feelings and then some drop away in seconds as my mood plunges and I go into hyper-focused hyper-tense must-fix-this mode.

In this mode I will often fix one thing only to break another or fix the specific issue while overlooking related issues, leading to a cascading series of ego hits as I disappoint, inconvenience and make more work for not only myself (that happens all the time) but everyone else along the chain (one of the greatest sins in my worldview).

This month I have had an unpleasant reminder how much this takes out of me. )
~~~
Completely unrelated except inasmuch as they both deal with what goes on inside my head.
It's stupid and frustrating how much of my (un)happiness comes from not getting laid. )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
is being in a position to see and act on opportunities* to make other people a little happier. I feel very lucky to be able to do this so often.

~~~
* Tangential thoughts
- if you are not in a position to act on it is it really an opportunity?
- at what point does the "opportunity cost" become so high that you really cannot call something an opportunity?
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Several months ago this thread on Unpaid Emotional Labour came to my attention via Facebook. It is a very long and emotionally fraught conversation in which many people shared their own personal stories and which at that time took me about 5 hours to work my way through, before I left it open in a permatab to re-read and post about at a later date.

If 5 hours sounds a bit much, just recently a condensed version (pdf)

This thread was especially useful to me in adding language and concepts around emotional labour to my toolkit, and shining a light on
- how much of it I actually do in my life and whewre; which is sadly apparently more than is generally expected of men in our society and yet still much less than is expected of women.
- how ways in which I have gone looking for support in the past may have amounted to causing unwanted emotional labour for my friends, for which I am sorry.

A lot of the stories/bits of quotes resonated in other ways too, and my intention in saving the thread for later is still to go through and pull some of those quotes fully out of that context and into mine, to unravel some of those emotional chords. That is however not this post.

Engaging

Sep. 3rd, 2015 10:14 pm
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Monthly psych appointment today. Although I seemed to spend most of my time talking around in circles around a knot I can't identify one good question was raised;
What is the difference between the way I engage with activities which will benefit other people and those which will benefit me?

This is in relation to the way I can get myself out of bed with just enough time to get through my morning routine and to work with just enough time to make the amount of hours I need to do for the day to contribute to my weekly target-ish (even allowing for other commitments later in the week) or to get to the Hall /just/ before a booking or to make an appointment on time;

but I cannot even force myself out of bed an hour or three hours earlier to make the time I could use to
- exercise;
- or work on any one of a number of languishing but theoretically rewarding projects (a number of which will also benefit other people, but there is no urgency);
or even get the household chores done before they become /necessary/;

even though I feel wide awake in body and mind at that time (and remember I'm stuck spending 10-12 hours a day in bed for no apparent reason, that's a /lot/ of lost time).

The psych described it as sounding something like an internal game of chicken; the part of me that wants to stay in bed / not deal with the world against the part of me that wants to get things done; but that metaphor doesn't usefully ring true to me.

What is true is that getting out of bed does inevitably lead to things which consume more energy than they deliver reward. Work or Hall, often. Hall emails and related matters, on a daily basis. The gradual erosion of my faith in humanity / my faith in myself (not that staying in bed actually helps with that last /at all/).

Still you'd think that having planned "this good thing" to do to start the day would counteract that to some extent. Nope. Better unhappy drifting in and out of pseudo-oblivion than being active with that feeling of impending doom? If it isn't a commitment which somehow involves another person I am stuck. (Using the word involve rather than benefit because appointments eg I had a dentist appointment yesterday to fix up a filling - no problem getting out of bed in plenty of time.)

So I guess you could rephrase the question:
What is the difference between the way I commit to activities which will involve/benefit other people and those which will mainly benefit me?

And actually I have no trouble with committing to things with a clear and immediate ongoing benefit eg aforementioned dentist appointment (I only chipped the tooth over the weekend).

So there is a definite cost/reward dynamic in effect. Wonky though they are I care more for my teeth than, know better than (and yes, can afford better than) to let a gaping hole remain in one of them even if it is not currently discomforting.

Situations where the main benefit to me might be that "I feel better" however are a different thing. I am "terrible" at discounting my own enjoyment of life against even the convenience of others; and I have the whole "good of the many outweighs the good of the one" complex going on. (Oddly enough I never class myself as one of the "many"...)

Discounting the value of future benefits against the value of immediate gains/losses is of course a well studied aspect of human behaviour.

Here's one possible answer:
- The benefits to others are usually clear and concrete. If I do this thing, at this time, this persons life is made easier / happier.
- The benefits to myself are usually uncertain. I'll achieve this thing, but there is "no urgency" (in a life full of other things clamouring for my attention can I just shut one of them up for a while?). It will still be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after ...). I'll (probably) feel good about having done it, but the feeling will be fleeting and will it really be worth the investment from the energy I have available to me right now?

If I had a crappy life perhaps I would weight things which bought pleasure to /me/ higher. But I have a good, comfortable life. The things I can do to look after / entertain / bring pleasure /to myself/ are easily accomplished and frankly provide little reward. And therein perhaps lies another clue - with "limited" energy reserves, why spend them on something which is not materially going to improve my well being? Fundamentally completing the project / doing the thing becomes just. more. work.

Work (the paying kind) is probably worth a tangent here as that is after all what five days out of seven I eventually drag myself out of bed to go and do. Work is a slog and has been for some weeks. I do not have the energy to push myself to finish an ongoing project any quicker than the much-longer-than-it-ought it is taking. I sense if I try I will actually crash and burn again. I need a holiday, but not as much as I "need" (want, am stubbornly determined) to clear my projects list first.

Work has become something I am doing primarily because income. I enjoy the coding, but if I wasn't coding at work I would probably be doing so for my own projects. If I lost the income ... I really don't have a plan B beyond "eat the house" until "something comes along". This is perhaps my greatest anxiety.

Getting back to the point (if there is one)... So anything which strongly resembles work - in subject matter or in process - automatically comes with some feeling of exhaustion attached. And that includes the majority of my outstanding projects and things which would normally be considered recreation such as reading a book or watching media (I deal with text and screens /almost all my waking hours/).

I know picking up an exercise regime would do me the world of good immediately and long term but I lack the willpower to get started. Just to add another hurdle the fact that I "should" be exercising also triggers a small internal rebellion.

Trying not to angst ... and failing ... I crave the distractions of pleasurable company - but that is not something I can /give myself/ and my history with trying to seek it out consists overwhelmingly of failure.

Have I answered the original question in all that? Maybe. Am I any closer to a solution? It does not feel like it.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Putting others first means the joy in their successes acts as counterbalance to failure* in my own desires.

* alt: "unattainablity of"
marsden_online: (skull)
when everything goes just not quite right and you just start failing to cope.
Negativity dump )
marsden_online: (Sisters)
Last night was not well restful. I had (woke from) three very emotively charged dreams (plus lesser-charged segues) and had one of those instances where you hop out of bed to go to the toilet and discover one side of your body has forgotten what balance is.

Dream the first: Anger/Rage
The first of two dreams featuring the Hall; this one followed the now familiar course of people going in uninvited and then giving me the run-around while my phone refused to dial 111 (in one instance it actually dialled only to drip the call in favour of answering one from M about something less than helpful which resulting in me shouting down the phone at him for a bit.

I don't think anything in that dream ever got resolved but the frontage did somehow get pruned, although this involved a tree (conifer, of which there are none there - but neither is the steep hillside it was on) falling onto Riccarton Road and endangering traffic.

Dream the second: Sadness / helplessness
The first dream mostly took place around the motel wing (with several extra floors) and the garden; after an awake period it sort of picked up again with going into the managers residence and finding it had been quietly overrun with homeless people. Packed 20-40 to a room, Chch earthquake insurance/nobuild* refugees mostly. There was filth, there were flies, there hopelessness, helplessness and illness. Somehow I managed to get media attention drawn to the situation (I don't know how, the dream skipped to finishing showing a reporter around and the worse cases were in the process of being moved out to ambulances.
This dream left me with a feeling of deep sadness.

* nobuild - the rebuild which hasn't eventuated

Dream the third: Attachment
My last for the night and coming after a few other, shorter but still emotionally turbulent episodes segued out of an animated fish swimming olympics (where the winner "won" by being almost lapped then swallowed by his larger competitor only to bust back out of his gullet at the finish line to win by a nose) through
a desperate run through a post-apocalyptic trail / unused subway / mine / partly working forge and factory trying to avoid or fighting off the brutal / murderous / cannibalistic survivors and gangs which had claimed various areas. At some point a cyborg was introduced to the dream who later went crazy and full-on war-machine bloody slaughter - the dream shifted to the future where she had calmed down a bit;gained control of the factory and used her knowledge and it's facilities to create impressive war-machine bodies for a number of other serious wounded women (men only got basic cybernetic replacements) .
[No I haven't seen Fury Road yet except for the trailers, I've even managed to avoid spoilers, I'm hoping to go on Thursday]
Anyway she and I had become a thing and I would much rather have stayed in that future wasteland with her; mostly metal body serious psychological issues and all; than have to wake up again here.

I wish I had time to go deeper into why all these things are so important to me, but I have little time and still have to do that for the one from night before last (next post). For those who know me well the connections are probably all clear anyway.

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