Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Hello Darkness My Old Friend... And Good Riddance for Now.

Guys... Just ahead of time, my words are going to be a bit sparing today. The explanation will be forthcoming in a second.

But yeah.

I know that this is somewhere that people don't want to go all that often, but I felt this is the best place to put this because today is time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and this is basically the mother of all of my insecurities, and I feel we have to go there. Even if it probably won't be that well-written.


Even as I'm writing this, I'm feeling a certain level of self-censoring, because man, people do not like to talk about this... thing. This shadow of darkness that, whether we like to admit it or not, follows us all.

The world puts such a premium on everything being awesome that they don't even like to hear when something isn't. Unless, of course, it feeds their biases.

Think I'm lying? Next time in a social situation, if someone asks you how you're doing, tell them you're not doing well. I kid you not. Recently, I had a situation like this in church. Which... if you go, you know this is not the way things are supposed to go.

Other person: "How are things going? Did you get good news yet?"
Me: "Nope."
Other person: "Oh, that's awesome. Do you want earl gray or rooibos tea?"

But I digress.

We're not all awesome all of the time, and sometimes, that darkness waiting in all of us wakes up to say hi. For some of us, it's addiction, for others, rage issues or depression, for others (me included), it's anxiety. Everyone has something. But no one really likes to talk about it because good God we can't let others realize we're not infallible!

The truth is, though, that we are not infallible. We're all vulnerable to the dark corners of our mind. Most of the time, we just don't let that side of us win. The thing is that sometimes, we're just not on favorable grounds to win a battle against the darkness.

Take me. 90% of the time, I manage my anxiety and I do so without medication for a variety of private reasons. Which isn't to say that I'm saying everyone should manage their issues without pills. (That would be irresponsible.) I'm just blessed in that I can.

But then my dark side shows up like an unwelcome guest and it feels like my world gets turned upside down. For me, it's like trying to write/work/do anything with a 100-pound toddler throwing a tantrum right next to me all day long. I can (and do) still get stuff done, but I feel dulled down and less effective than I want to be and it drives me mad. And I know that if I pay too much attention to it, I'll be useless.

At the same time, I have to process all that input and remember to put things into context. Like remembering that it's almost certainly a neurochemical response to my environment. And remembering that it's as much a case of my drive feeding my anxieties as it is my anxieties feeding my drive.

What do I mean by this? Part of why I'm good at the things I do is because I have anxiety (albeit in lesser concentrations) around achieving something to a certain standard. I hate failing and I hate being out of control. So my anxiety around both makes me take measures to ensure my success at the thing I'm doing as far as possible. So really, anxiety in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The issue is that I'm not perfect, and some things are not and will not ever be in my control. And its those imperfections and situations that make my dark side throw tantrums. And when that happens, my self-censoring and/or self-criticism is at its most destructive.

I was there from Sunday until last night. And honestly, it was the worst case that I ever experienced. But as bad as it was, I still feel proud because I feel like I won something. Because I fought back. Did I do so perfectly? No.

But did I let it make me miss an important deadline? No. Did it make me back out of any of my commitments? No. It was harder for me than usual, much much harder, but I made allowances the same way I make allowances for deviations from my normal expectations when I have house guests. And then I took steps to get back to normal.

Am I completely normal? Nope. I'm a bit tired. But I'm here, and I know that if I keep doing all the things that are in my control, things will keep improving and my dark side will remain in its own little corner, waiting for me to maybe do something positive with it like write.

How do you deal with your dark side?

28 comments:

  1. You are wise and strong enough to make it work in your favor and power through the worst - good for you! No, we aren't always awesome all the time. Life has rain along with the sunshine.
    If I remember correctly, it was Abraham Lincoln who conducted this experiment. In a receiving line, when people came through to shake his hand and ask how he was, he told them his grandmother had just died. Not one person reacted! Funny and sad.

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    1. Hahahaha I love that he'd do something like that, though. XD

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  2. I hear you. Most people don't really want to know how you're really feeling. I've also learned in this past year, that nothing stays the same, that all things change and that I really have little or no control over anything. In letting go of needing to be in control, there's a huge release of anxiety and stress.

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    1. Yeah, it's sometimes hard to tell if I try to control things because of my anxiety, or whether my controlling (or failing to control) things causes my anxiety. Maybe it's a bit of both.

      But realizing that I've been trying to control something I can't, and then letting go of that thing... it does help.

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  3. People hate dealing with emotions- their own and others. Personally, I think it's best to meet our dark sides head on and battle them. There should be no shame in it. We all have our dark times.
    Prayers for you and kudos that you keep plugging along. Some days, the baby steps are bigger wins than marathons.

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    1. Yeah, the longer we put off dealing with the darkness, the bigger it becomes and the harder it is to deal with later.

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  4. Remembering what we can control and what we cannot is half the battle. And most people don't really want to know how a person is actually doing. That's why I always answer "fine," "well," "okay," or "good" when asked the question on how I'm doing--not matter what the real answer is. Of course, I'd say about 90% of the time I don't really want to go in with how I'm actually feeling to about 95% of people. Heh.

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    1. Yeah that's true. The sad thing is that this person I mentioned is actually someone I'm involved with in certain activities... so there's supposed to be a bond of trust. And I just... don't anymore because I cannot deal with opening myself up emotionally only to be ignored or to have my fears and worries made small.

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  5. Good for you for posting this. I'm opening up more and more about my depression on my blog, Facebook page, and in my newsletter, and I hear back from so many who experience depression to but never realized it. Talking about it is good. That's actually what my blog post is about today.

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    1. Yeah it's sad to think how many people don't realize how bad something is until they have someone else admit how much they're struggling with the same thing. I did post this in the hope that other people struggling with this can be reminded that 1) no matter what people say, this is normal, or at least more common than people would like you to believe and 2) we can keep going despite these challenges.

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  6. Good for you! I talk about my depression, anxiety and PTSD a LOT! You do get those vapid responses once in awhile when people don't want to truly hear about how you are doing, but oh well. You feel tired because you did just fight a battle! You're a warrior and courageous! So glad I read your blog today.

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    1. Yeah it was a fight, and the biggest one in a while. In many ways, it was the most intense experience with anxiety I've had.

      So it was a STRUGGLE to keep working instead of giving up and curling up in my bed to cry for a week. Which... makes me feel proud too. Because while it was a struggle, I did keep going every day. Maybe not as well as I'm used to, but I did get start and finish some important things while dealing with this.

      Thanks for stopping by. :-)

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  7. I've never fought serious depression although my melancholy side knows how to get into a funk.

    People don't really want to know. I'm a pretty optimistic person so when someone asks, I say great or fantastic. They don't know what to say to that either.

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    1. Yeah I think all people have something, but to various degrees.

      And I know exactly what you mean. Any answer that isn't "Okay", "Good", or "Not to bad" doesn't compute these days. It's sad, really.

      And the truth is that I'm sure I make the same mistake of just not hearing anything else. I'm part of the same society, after all.

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  8. I don't like to talk about my depression too much because I think I like to pretend it's not there. I think just because it's not as bad as it was when I was younger that I can sort of brush it off as nothing. But it's still there.
    Good for you being able to talk about your anxiety.

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    1. I'm the same. I tend to ignore it until it gets to the point where it tries to hijack my life. Which... is probably not the best way to do it. If I paid closer attention, I could probably have saved myself a lot of stress over the past few days. :-/

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  9. I write my dark side - and avoid posting anything online, lol.

    Kudos to you for getting through it all. I don't do perfect, or normal. But I do get depressed when things are not "normal for me." Keep trying, keep succeeding, uct yourself some slack for perseverance.

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    1. I hear you. I don't aspire to normality either, but I guess it's more of a case of me taking things for granted (like my abilities) and then freaking the hell out when something changes.

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  10. Hi Misha - so many suffer at various levels ... just simply not easy. I try and look at both sides of things now - but that only really came about when my Ma was bedridden and I met many people in similar situations - at the hospital and round about. I thank fully am positive ... but I try and relate to whom I talking to and remember something personal to say to them. Take care - and all the best - Hilary

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    1. Yeah I try to as well, although I have to admit that I often fail spectacularly, especially when my anxiety kicked in.

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  11. Society teaches us how to celebrate all the good things, but not how to deal with the darkness. And that darkness is something we all experience. I write mine out. It gives me something I can control, because, like you, I hate to be out of control.

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    1. I agree with you, and honestly, this not dealing with the darkness isn't a good thing. Because it's not strange to have darkness, but the guilt/fear/worry/uncertainty that comes with feeling it, because society tells us we shouldn't, makes it so much worse.

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  12. Hey Misha...

    You definitely have STRENGTH. You've been through so much the past several years and you are still FIGHTING! Keep it up!

    Darkness, melancholy, depression,...it's all the same thing. WE ALL experience it at different levels. It's how we react to it that shows our true strength. For many, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain and therefor the person should take meds...especially if it's bi-polar or schizophrenia. These demons are way too strong to take on alone. But for the "creative' mind, I believe life and it's many negative aspects affect us strongly and we become depressed, out of sorts, anxious... because we feel out of control. Like so many, I always like to be IN CONTROL... but with many of life's pitfalls, we can't stay in control. It's impossible. The sooner we realize this, we may be able to cope better and keep strong. As you are doing.

    Keep fighting, Misha!

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    1. I agree 100% that some people have to take meds. That's why I took care to mention that in my post. I get so angry when I read someone saying something like "I can deal without medication, so you, person I don't know and don't understand, should be able to as well."

      I was actually thinking about creativity and the demons associated with it. People are prone to rolling their eyes when we discuss artists and their demons/darkness. But the thing is... we do have to open ourselves up to darkness sometimes (by this I mean fear, pain, depression, hatred, rage), or we wouldn't be able to bring it out onto the page.

      So I personally made the decision of not going the medication route for a variety of reasons. One is that I have dealt with some pretty nasty bouts of anxiety before and made it out, so I know I can do it without meds. Which means that I personally SHOULD do it without meds until I really feel I can't anymore. And the other reason is... I actually HATE the idea of being numbed in any way by medication.

      Why? Well... Numbness doesn't solve my problems. Numbness doesn't solve the root causes of my anxieties and fears. I suspect it would only perpetuate those things because I can't sense them multiplying when I'm numb.

      So my anxiety lately literally FORCED me to look at the way I've been thinking/acting/believing/living and search out the dangerous and unhealthy things so I could address them. Once I started doing that, the anxiety went away. If I take meds... I would have no reason to do that.

      And... really... Given the extent to which by my dealings with life, both the light and the dark, informs my writing, I really don't want to experience my life through a medicated filter, unless I absolutely have to.

      But yeah, you're absolutely right. This bout of anxiety was caused by an uncontrollable situation not ending despite my efforts at controlling it... and then just feeling like everything I did was futile. So once I realized that actually, no, I'm doing the right thing by doing what I can, and that there are actually bigger things going on than what I'm experiencing... It all just vanished (with a lot of help from the Big Guy upstairs, I have to add.)

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  13. I have some chronic illnesses, so whenever people ask me how I'm doing, I'm almost always lying by saying fine. Most people really don't want to hear all the hairy details, so it's just best to say fine.

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  14. It's pretty sad that the "polite" answer to "How are you?" is something like "I'm fine."

    One thing that has helped me is reading work by other people who share some of my mental health issues. It's nice to connect with other people who understand the crappy stuff you go through (both the illnesses themselves and people's crappy assumptions about them).

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