Archive for work

Work and mood issues

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , on September 26, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Maybe I should keep a diary of my inner tensions and my self-perception. I cannot really tell what has happened to me between my last post and now, but I feel like it happens to me very often. I do know what happened today. I was stuck in angry inner dialogues again. They were extremely vicious. Even visions of people which are normally on my side were attacking me and I started to judge myself very harshly. Now, though, I´m comparatively relaxed (or I would be if I wasn´t down with a stomach bug). It´s like some kind of positive aftereffect. I didn´t do anything to alleviate the tensions, aside from, maybe, getting dressed and putting on make-up. Maybe that´s all there is to it, really. Get dressed. Or take a shower. Or wash the dishes, just anything. Maybe, though, the tensions simply follow a pattern of their own which I cannot decipher. At least not without major observation.

My hypothesis, right now, is that the pattern goes:

Hero

Hero

Hero

Just me

Zero———————

Being in this “hero” state of mind is incredibly exhausting. It´s like I´m a magnet for ideas and projects and ambitions and ideals, and they all add up along with the dirty dishes and at some point I realize I haven´t done anything at all for days and I don´t have the slightest clue how to, either. I´m bursting with ideas but I can´t put pen to paper. I know what to say in my nobel prize speech, but I compared to what I believe I am capable of I have achieved fuck all.

In “zero” state I get hit by all the shame of how out of proportion my ambitions are, and much more than that. It is extremely exhausting, too. Just like I´m stuck in megalomanical fantasies in “hero” state, now I´m stuck in angry dialogues. When they get as bad as they do today, absolutely every thought I identify as mine (I cannot perceive “the voices” as my own thoughts then) is met with such a scathing reply that I either freeze or punch myself.

Weirdly enough, though, now that I´m in “just me” land, I wonder if this breakdown is necessary for me to come down from the manic high which leaves me completely unproductive. I feel like I´m only ever productive over any length of time with a boot firmly on my neck holding me down. I was at my most productive during my recent work when I had an entire hierarchy on top of me making sure I didn´t get ahead of myself. I think, though, as much shame as those bouts of mania cause me, they go beyond a simply character flaw. Even when I realize what is happening I can´t stop it. And I do realize it. It happens mostly when I think about stories I want to write. I know it will give me writer´s block, but I can´t stop my head from spinning into more and more dizzying heights.

I want to stay the way I am right now. Just me. Alone in my head. My thoughts just about quiet enough to allow me to be as productive as writing this blog entry. I sometimes simply don´t want any more ideas. I don´t think I ever suffered from a lack of ideas, really. I often feel like my life is fully planned already and I can´t pursue any wildly different path. Maybe my lack of spontaneity has some roots in this. I always feel like my day is already packed, even when I don´t have to leave the house or make any calls. I cannot take the time to fall in love with an idea and work on it. I cannot put any time and effort into a novel. I should have written it yesterday. If I can´t write it in one night, it will never get done. Maybe that´s why I tended to put off writing my essays until there was just one or two nights left.

You can´t imagine how content I was when I was still being ordered around all day and people wanted me to be in three places at once. I could finally work according to my preferred speed. Working against the clock is the only real remedy against my perfectionism. It gets my focus and creativity up ten notches. Expecting guests is the only thing that can make me clean up my apartment, but then I can do it in three hours. Working against the clock makes use of my mania, and if you have to complete an essay within a day without knowing what you´re talking about, you will need all the megalomania you can get in order not to give up and cry.

But if you´re trying to write a novel? For me, they´d have to invent the national novel writing week. Fifteen days is the longest my discipline has ever lasted, but at least I wrote five pages a day. I doubt, however, it will ever work again.

It´s beside the point, though. I´m bragging. I´m psyching myself up into a state of mania again. And I´m no longer alone in my head. But who says it´s bad? Stop policing me, you traitor!

And so on. It´s okay, I´m not a traitor. As long as I´m alone in my head self-criticism is not self-betrayal. But who am I trying to tell this, really? It gets so bizarre when I start talking to voices in my head. I can´t believe I´m really doing this. I mean – I know there´s no one there, but I feel so different. The “just me” thing is gone and I feel like I could have stopped it from happening, like I could still stop it if only I erased the paragraph above – but my urge to show how crazy I am is stronger and I despair wondering why. Why is that so important to me? Important enough for me to ruin a potentially constructive line of thought?

I´m at a complete loss to describe what is happening to me. Okay. What is different to where I just was? There is something. A feeling. A tendency to become enraged which wasn´t there a moment ago. Thoughts which I could simply have a moment ago are now some kind of personal judgment that enrages me. I feel inferior. I shouldn´t need to, because I´d be feeling inferior because of traits which I objectively have, they just subjectively seem to belong to someone else. I know that objectively I am well capable of self-criticism, but right now I am angry and ashamed because I do not feel like I´m capable of it while – well, who?? – is.

Good. Rage. There is rage, and with rage come the voices or vice versa. I was trying to stay away from certain forums in order to reduce rage and voices. Remember the reality checklist. Nothing changes by winning arguments with the voices. You don´t prevent any real life evil from happening. The problem is, at this point I don´t care about reason. There is just pure vitriolic rage. But why would I care? Why would I listen to you? You are the traitor (and stop appropriating my voice for getting your hypotheses confirmed)! It´s true. I really had the thought that for the voice, my reality checklist was written from the traitor´s point of view, so I kind of put that sentence into her mouth. It was true to her beliefs, but immediately she called me out on this. Just – where in all this does my own agency begin? Where in all this could I put a stop to it but don´t?

I´m getting distracted damn easily here. What I was on about is: I appear to be in two minds and they have very different ideas of a desired outcome of the situation. The lists that I write, like the reality checklist, are written from the point of view of sanity. They make very much sense to anyone other than madness. Madness doesn´t really deny it´s mad, it just says that being mad is good because the world is a bad place. It´s the only way to be rebellious, the only way to not be sucked in. The only way to really be me, the only way to have anything worthwhile to say. And it has a point. The world really is a not such a terrifically good place. There are things to lose your mind about, plenty of them. And maybe it feels like the most integer thing to do, but unfortunately it doesn´t tend to be very effective in terms of changing anything.

But that´s not all there is to it. The reason why my sane half wants to be more effective is not noble, altruistic motives. It wants fame and recognition. And that´s where her treason lies. She´s not merely the mask of sanity on the face of a scheeming rebel. She wants to be successful in an allegedly bad world and she´s just using the rebel´s ideas for that. How embarrassing! What a disgrace!

She can´t be relied on. When she actually gets recognition and power, she suddenly isn´t so adamant about righting the wrongs anymore. She can suddenly see the point of view of the enemy. Feels mature doing so. Realizes it has been sour grapes all along. Feels mature admitting so. How bloody corrupt do you get.

Where in all this am I? Nowhere. I am either one or the other. I either perceive myself as a sane person trying to battle her near-psychotic anger and paranoia, or I perceive myself as a desperate underdog trying to maintain her pride and integrity while threatening to be betrayed by weakness and desires. Betrayed to my therapists, society, family, ex-friends, anyone.

What is true, no matter which version is correct? Here we go:

  • All thoughts in my head are mine. I don´t have all those thoughts intentionally, but there´s no other, real, physical person who can read my thoughts or access my head.
  • There are people out there who act just like my voices. Plenty of them. Their ideas are worth refuting and their style of arguing should be criticized.
  • The people in front of whom I´d feel most humiliated if they could see me can´t see me because to 95% they are no longer part of my life. If they could see me, they might feel it confirms their view of me, but that doesn´t make it right.
  • I actually am achieving something by winning arguments against those voices, but I shouldn´t have to do this in the first place. I should be left alone in my own head.
  • I may not be a victim in the sense I sometimes feel I am when the voices plague me (like in: I´ve been bullied and abused all my life), but I didn´t choose to go mad, either, so dear sane part of me, please cut me some slack if I don´t always confirm to your standards of how a sane person should behave and/or think about herself and the world. Please don´t demand that I act sane 24/7 just to…battle the voices who say you need therapy. You´re just as crazy as I am.
  • This blog is the last place in which I need to appear sane. It´s a safe place to throw away everything I have achieved in terms of stability and apparent control of my life.

Good. So much for my sanity, “just me” and my potential productivity. I don´t feel productive when I ramble like this. I don´t feel productive when I don´t stay in the same mood while writing a blog entry. I don´t feel productive when I drift into meta-writing.

I feel like I get flooded with an ocean of detailed observations, especially about myself and everything I do, and that kills me. I can´t pin it all down. I can´t think straight anymore. I sit there feeling unproductive. It´s what I get when I write and suddenly have a million ideas. It´s what I get when I build up an argument and get filibustered by mysterious voices in my head. There´s a common thread in all this. Maybe I´m not entirely crazy after all. Maybe I should worry more about the structure than about the content of my thoughts. A very comforting idea.

How to know when I go wrong is simple. I recognize a flood of ideas, thoughts and observations when it happens. I just don´t know how to stop it. It goes with a great deal of impatience and a sense of urgency. I don´t know if I can make myself stop working on what I want to do because it seems terribly important. And the vicious voices? I might even have a better shot at getting rid of these. I can try to write a calm and structured argument, or I can just give in and say: “Yes, I´m just what you say I am. You are right. I´ve actually been ashamed of myself all the time, I just didn´t want to admit it.”

Or maybe I just need some mood stabilizers or ritalin and everything will be okay. Just because it feels unthinkable doesn´t mean it can´t be true.

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Hierarchies

Posted in morbid, personal with tags , , , , on July 27, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

It´s weird starting to write again after such a long time. Still, I´m glad people are still stopping by this site and some care to comment. The reason for this hiatus is that I´m working full-time. Add to that my work starts at half past six, so I get up every morning at 4:30. Guess how well a night person like me fares at that. In the last few weeks it´s been a rare occasion that I´ve been awake at this time of the day (that is: midnight).

My work is physically exhausting, but it is also emotionally draining. The main reason for that are the many colleagues (that is: superiors) I have to cope with. It would still be exhausting, though, if there was just one person. Eight hours a day I´m at the bottom of a hierarchy. I have to do what others say, ask others what to do, ask them if I can go for lunch. Sitting down at the wrong time can get me into trouble, yet simultanously when they offer me to take a seat I´m not really free to turn down that offer. I have to pay respect to a strict hierarchy and yet at the same time pretend this hierarchy doesn´t exist. I have to pretend that I pay respect to it spontaneously, without being aware of its existence. And this, complicated as it is, is not even my main job. My main job involves learning a lot of procedures and rules at once and applying them while people watch.

Do I wear this hardship as a badge of honour? It would be pointless to deny it. In a fucked-up way it makes me happy, but I´ll also be glad when it´s over. Pretty damn glad. Sometimes I don´t even know how I make it through the day. If I sound different to how I used to sound – I cannot judge that – then it´s because this work experience demands all my focus and mental energy. Everything else seems insignificant compared to the importance of not fucking up. This intense state of focus makes me feel alive, but I don´t know how much longer I can keep it up. I cannot imagine the last day will really come. When I look back at this later I will barely recognize myself, hardly remember the time. And there might well be emptiness and crying fits, just like when it started. I cannot protect myself from that because I´ve lost any ability to find calm in introspection. I can write about what I think is my situation, what I think will happen, but I do so with the same sense of urgency, the same panicked focus I exhibit at work. I always knew I was a kind of stress addict, this confirms it.

This job – without wishing to reveal to much about it just now – speaks both to my masochism and my sadism. I get ordered around by seven people at once, I have to do gross and disturbing things, it´s hard physical work and I overstretch my bodily limits on a daily basis (in order to avoid false impressions; no, I´ve not joined the army, I´m just very weak and out of shape physically). Regarding my sadism…ugh, no, that would be revealing to much. I assure you that I´m working in an honourable job, though.

Let´s stick with the masochism. What really helps me thrive in this environment is my tendency towards servitude. Forsee other peoples´needs, do as you´re told or what you´re expected to do, don´t complain, don´t contradict, always stay polite. It would seem I´m actually liked for these traits at work. It embarrasses me because that means someone has noted them. They are something I´m deeply ashamed of. I thought that these servile behaviors would be just about enough to keep me out of trouble (me, the disgraceful individual I believe myself to be), turns out now I´m suddenly a model for others. Which is terrible because it feels like I´m deceiving everyone. I´m nowhere near as angelic as this. It´s a role I play because it was the only one that would work for me in this environment.

What all this teaches me, amonst a million more significant things, though, is what I need to feel secure. I need power structures to be open and transparent. If I have to ask someone if I may sit down, I want this question to be acceptable. It isn´t at work. It embarrasses people when you ask them such things. It embarrasses them when you assign so much power to them. They don´t want to be the kind of person you need to ask if you may sit down because that kind of tyranny is frowned upon mostly. The result is that I don´t get to sit down at all, other than during my breaks. I cannot just sit down, I cannot ask if I may sit down, so I must pretend that I don´t need to sit down. The result being that my superiors tell others that I´m so busy they literally have to force me to sit down. They tell others such things about me while I´m present, as if I couldn´t hear them (though they still leave me wondering if I should, indeed, pretend I´m deaf or if I need to smile), which probably tells you everything about the level of authoritarianism at my workplace you need to know. What wouldn´t I give for fixed, transparent rules regarding sitting and standing right on the first day at work! And for everything else, too. Even facial expressions, should they matter.

What this helps me understand is what is so soothing about BDSM play. First, you can have whatever lunatically strict and detailed rules you want, and second, they´re all explicit and you don´t have to pretend you´re not obeying while you are. You don´t even have to pretend it´s not difficult because what fun would it be if there wasn´t an element of struggle? Struggle to comply, of course, not so much a power struggle. Also, of course, you don´t have to hide your feelings. You can, for example, be openly embarrassed when you get praised as a good girl (and this is just what is happening to me at work, in front of people who, to me, are random strangers). And you don´t have to hide that your back and legs are hurting from not sitting down, as this game is perfectly intended for you to be in pain. There is no danger your “superior” could be embarrassed about the fact that you don´t dare or know how to voice your discomfort. While many people wouldn´t change a thing to better suit your needs, they´ll still want you to feel comfortable in their presence and environment and they don´t take kindly to you not being alright.

This must sound like a scathing critique in disguise. I don´t know what it is, to be honest. I do not yet dare have an opinion of my work and my superiors. There´ll be plenty of time for that when it´s all over. Maybe this need not to judge is what makes me feel like I´m not actually thinking anymore even though my mind is working at a remarkable speed. The uncomfortable thing about this stance of servitude is that I cannot shed it at home. I never feel free. What is happening now is exactly what I always feared would happen if I ever had to work. I think I need some supervisor, a different authority who forces me to come down again. That being, of course, an open authority figure.

Since I just fell asleep writing this I guess I´d best go to sleep.