Friday, February 26, 2016

Why Anonymity? (so no one knows you suck, duh)

I am constantly on this mental back and forth. One one hand, I've go some psychological/neurological barriers to the way I think/process/act and I have to remain aware of them to work past them and have successes. On the other hand, these are just plain shortcomings I have that are hard wired and I can't work past them.

The second half of that presents me with this frightening version of myself that's fairly dumb and ill-equipped to function in the world who's just pretending to be smart and capable.

I'm honestly not sure of the answer! If I struggle to remember some details at work am I just a person who doesn't have the memory capacity or organization to do the job I was given? If it's hard for me to process a lot of details at once am I just someone who's not smart enough for the work.

If I falter coming up with new creative material, or even working on something creative I've started...am I just not really that creative?

It's almost crippling sometimes and letting those thoughts expand in my mind leads to some of the most negative, destructive, self loathing times in my life.

Are those real limits on my worth? Or are they just challenges I haven't mounted yet? I am constantly worried that someone is going to find out and say something like "Well why did we hire this incompetent person into that role?". Or in future prospects for either jobs or further education or whatever it is, someone will find out that I'm really this dullard and my chances will be shot.

That's why I write anonymously. And honestly, even if the nicer version of the narrative (I have some challenges I haven't gotten through yet), I fear someone would judge me negatively on that basis anyway. "Oh, this guy hasn't gotten his shit together, he's not worth our time".

I don't know where on the spectrum I really lie in terms of real worthlessness and unrealized success...but I don't want anyone to know this deepest darkest shit.

Not Spiritual...But Not Religious

"Spiritual but Not Religious" is one of the most recent additions to the taxonomy of religious tradition around the world. It's a status claimed by much of the "millennial" generation who aren't full on militant atheist, likely "believe" in some truth or existence beyond the observable universe, and have little interest or use for organized religion in it's traditional forms.

I come from a strong Western Protestant tradition, and no matter how my own faith journey changes, that will culturally always be a part of me. It will also be the mode I drop into when worshipping with my family.

The hitch, and I don't consider it a negative...just kind of an acknowledgement of where I'm at...is that I don't feel spiritual, and don't have spiritual experiences. And that ever-present wall of consistency in life bars me from being "religious". I'll unpack those two statements here in the tradition of this blog's purpose...to spit out words about whatever is happening in my life and mind as a way to get it out of myself.

Not Spiritual:

Through my life and the different ways I've interacted with faith, I've had several emotional moments. Being a music lover, worship music has often been a part of those experiences. A youth leader once told me that the wave of emotion I felt during a song was the holy spirit. That made sense I suppose, I didn't dwell on it. I went on practicing Christianity, caring about it and having the occasional emotional moment. Expanding my knowledge about psychology and cultural cognition, as well as hearing perspectives from others who examine this kind of stuff, I'm of the opinion that those emotional moments can be explained by psychosocial phenomena.

Practicing a familiar thing in a community and having been coded to understand these traditions as personal, supernatural and overwhelmingly positive...could produce really good feelings of being in a powerful moment experiencing something "good". That feeling could be connected to a neural construct of a being called "God" that exists in my mind. And all that could happen regardless of the truth or untruth of an independently existing deity. All that is to say...while I've been emotional in the presence of religion, I'm not confident saying those were definitely "spiritual experiences". Blogger Mike McHargue, whose work I follow, tells the story of his faith falling apart, and then returning after a mystical experience. I think it's really cool how his sharp analysis of how faith operates was coupled with that mystical experience to make a brand new faith. I, however, have never had a mystical experience. I have had emotional times practicing Christianity, but never felt that something outside myself or my control came from a supernatural realm into my consciousness. So for the moment...I am not spiritual.

Not Religious:

I'm going to take a slight detour into Buddhism here. One way that Buddhism is said to operate is instead of its practices creating good in a person, they are meant to supply the conditions for change...to cultivate good existence in the world. This is one of the points of Buddhism I've always found really inspiring, it's also an approach that's supported in Psychological techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness therapy.

I think to a certain extent, or maybe for the majority of individuals who never have a mystical experience, that religious practice cultivates spirituality...makes the conditions present in the mind for a transcendent experience or thought process to take place. That's where ADHD and my general cocktail of nasty habits rears it's ugly head.

Writing this blog post was a completely impulsive action that pulled me away from a few others I was bouncing between. I was deciding between two books to read and reading a few sentences of each without getting anywhere, switching to listening to a podcast, missing part of that because I started reading the news. All of these currently being activities I'm trying to use to fall asleep.

This is a major source of anxiety and doubt for completing any meaningful work in my life, whether that be pursuing science, politics and other interests, creating music, or just keeping up on general life stuff (clean house, food to eat, opening the mail, etc). So often without even starting, engaging in a religious practice seems impossible.

That feels pretty shitty to me, because I suspect that a solid practice of prayer, reading scripture, meditation or whatever would cultivate spirituality in me...but I can't do anything consistently enough to HAVE a religious practice...so that leaves me being someone who cares about religion, who thinks it's an important part of human life...but who can't actually DO anything religious or spiritual.

There's a lot more to this: ideas about submitting to something outside yourself instead of thinking you can make it right on your own, or where a supernatural truth does or does not matter, and the fact that my own perceptions of my strengths and weaknesses are very warped. There's also the fact that I'm likely way to much in my head about some of this stuff.

I'll keep writing on religion because it's of great interest to me. But I'm feeling a little stuck in a loop of not spiritual, not religious.

It's pretty dumb.




Saturday, February 6, 2016

Erratic Emotions Help The Medicine Go Down? (That can't be right...)

Have you heard? Depression is the new black. It's the mental health issue that's overtaken my life and made living with ADHD seem like a walk in th--squirrel!

Ok. that joke was super unnecessary, sorry. Job anxiety, seasonal affective disorder and good ol' out of whack neurotransmitters have thrown me straight into clinical depression, something I haven't really dealt with too much in my life, definitely never this bad.

There is talk of some light at the end of this tunnel, just whispers. I finally made it in to see a doctor who can advise on pharmacological solutions...I would have made it there earlier, but I missed the appointment. Guess the ADHD is still in there somewhere.

I'm not naive enough to think an antidepressant should solve all my problems on day one, but day three was a pretty good day. I felt productive, I felt more comfortable having conversations with others, I think I smiled a few times without it feeling fake or forced.

Today was absolute hell trash. I woke up a little later than intended, but still had time to do stuff in the morning before work. It seemed every single step involved in that process; disorganized, scattered, frustrated. I've gotten better over the past couple years at being calm in the face of frustrations, even when not in a regular meditation routine, something I badly need to start again, I am good at getting perspective on life's little bumps. Not today, no sir. Every little scattered moment made me more mad, putting me in a terrible mood by the time I got to work. Things went downhill from there, negativity, self-doubt, unfocusedness, fatigue all boiled together inside of me and I couldn't stand to be in that place.

I had to come home form work sick today and go straight to bed, simply because of an undefinable, vague sense of feeling like complete and utter shit...with nothing apparently physically wrong with me.

Bed was the place to get some rest and recover some energy (though it doesn't feel recovered), but it was also my hiding place from the shit, and that's probably not the most healthy coping strategy.

With mental health the line between mental/emotional and physiological is pretty blurred, but it's been a long time since I've really had a "bad day" like this, where nothing seems like it's going right and I'm pissed about it. I've felt emotionally and mentally exhausted and unfocused frequently in the recent past, but this was a little different.

This leads me to think that it's part of the rocky process of starting a new mental health medication regimen. Anxiety is a listed side effect when starting the drug. I've got a six week ramp up before the drug should be fully integrated into my system at the right dosage. It's really going to be a pain if random days are going to feel like this...I hope it is a more stable process.

Until then I can merely let the process work itself out and have a clear answer on whether the medication is the best solution or not.

Fingers crossed. Heading back to bed.