Small Update

Feeling kind of blah and depressive today. Yesterday was a difficult day, and today my left side is doing the pain thing. The thing about chronic pain a lot of the time is that once you’ve done all the usual things to try and make it better, you just have to sit there and take it.

I got my iMac setup to do some programming today. I’ll hopefully start doing that tomorrow. For today, I should probably just vent to some people and get course registration for Fall term worked out.

Blah.

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Mental Illness Blogs and Frustration

Over the last month or so, I’ve talked to a couple of people about the possibility of setting up a web site like Freethought Blogs for people who blog about dealing with mental illness. I think it would be wonderful to have a community of bloggers with that common theme. With the common goal of making invisible diseases visible.

Today I realized that I know a friend who might be capable of putting together the back end that would be needed to start something like this. We got together and talked over what setting up a web site like Freethought Blogs for blogging about mental illness would entail. How much it would cost, how much work it would take to maintain, etc, etc.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think it’s not something I should attempt right now. I just don’t have the mental stamina to go all the way through with a project like that, or to administrate it consistently. Not right now. It’s too big, too much to handle, and the risk that it would be enough additional stress that it would impact my own ability to focus on resolving my own issues is too big to ignore.

I hit a really bad, close-to-suicidal spot just before starting this blog, and realized that I needed to jettison some of the things in my life to make room for working on recovery. I’m no longer in the relationship I was in then. I’m no longer the leader of a local social group that I helped start–probably the achievement I’m most proud of over the past few years. It was just too much stress to deal with.

I want, desperately, to be contributing something to the world. There are so many things I’d like to do. I’d like to be a group leader again, I’d like to do this blogging project, because I think it could really be a good thing to have, both for me and for others. I just can’t, though. It kills me. It kills me to know that there are these things that I can do, that I want to do, that I would be able to do if I were just a normal person, but I’m not right now. I can’t do those things. There are a lot of baby steps to be taken between where I am now and where I’ll be able to reliably manage a substantial project of any sort. That point feels impossibly far away right now, and it sucks.

Mental illness gives me a window into the lives of other people who are suffering from it. It gives me knowledge and tools that would help me make a project like a collective of mental illness blogs work. I can’t make it work, though, because of how mental illness is affecting me. It feels like, even in the ways that being this way could help me help other people, I can’t actually help.

You want to believe that there’s some value, some way that dealing with a problem this bad will enrich your life, empower you in some way. But the reality is generally crueler than that. Even in the ways this might enable me to help people, I can’t help, because of the ways it disables me.

Which sucks.

General Update

The last week has been extraordinarily busy. I’ve had a lot of stuff to get done, and very full days. The Reason Rally, American Atheists Convention, and a trip to the National History Museum, mostly.

Last week I made up a plan for things to keep my mind occupied but not overwhelmed during the day (last post). Implemented that for the first time today, I think it went well.

It’s kind of hard to tell how things are going, because there’s no easy way to quantify the results of arguing with your bad thinking habits. I can feel old habits and potential new habits in there, but which is winning and whether anything is consistent is so context-dependent that it feels impossible to say if I’m making progress. Which is frustrating.

I do, in a general sense, feel significantly more out of the woods than I felt when I went into this, which is presumably a good sign.

I just did my fifth or sixth run of Big 5 exercises this week. Slowly upping the weight. I started out at just 20lbs, next week will be 35. The effect it has on my level of pain varies. A couple of times, it made it go up, at least once it made it go down. This week it didn’t seem to have any effect at all. All in all, I think that’s a good sign–unpredictable is better than consistently bad reactions, which is what I’m used to getting with any form of regular exercise.

Where to Write

So I’ve been pretty occupied this week. A friend had a wedding over the weekend that I flew out to see, and there was a lot of busy stuff that happened during the week as well. I’ve been continuing to experiment with SuperBetter, and have been liking it so far. I’ve been trying to decide on what particular goals I want to set–one of the issues that’s come up is that there are so many different types of things I want to be working on that narrowing my focus to a manageable set of goals is a challenge. When I have the concentration to do so, I’m planning on writing out a list of all of the things I would like to be doing in an ideal world every day if I didn’t expect doing so many things to overwhelm me, and then to choose a few specifics from that list to work on.

I’m also trying to decide how to proceed with blogging. Another nice thing about SuperBetter is that is provides a means of communicating with your “Allies” in recovery, which is great, but also means that it is going to compete with this blog as an outlet for my thoughts. I’m not sure exactly how to deal with that–whether I should keep blogging here, switch entirely to SuperBetter, at least for a bit, or do some of both.

Alternately, I suppose I could try to just keep writing here and link to things I write here in SuperBetter, so that people can come read them. I suppose it’s ultimately just a question of which medium serves me better–a public one where I’m writing to the world and my friends, or a more private, personal one.

Time will tell, I guess.

The Big Five Workout

The big five workout is the workout described in Body By Science, a book I discovered thanks to this article. It’s about a 10-12 minute workout once a week. There are five exercises involved, in order to hit all the major muscle groups, and you do each exercise slowly at about 75-80% of your maximum lifting capacity for between 60 and 90 seconds (or to muscle failure, but 60-90 seconds is the ideal target time).

I’ve been surprised so far by how effective a workout it is. I haven’t been doing it long enough to know if it’s working for strengthening–I’ve been upping the weight each week, but this is (I think) more because I hadn’t judged my own capability accurately than any strength gains. But if I’m judging it in terms of how I feel the next day, I tend to feel similarly to how I remember feeling after some of the more intense kung fu training experiences I had way back when. And those were usually at least two, and sometimes four hours a day. In terms of bang-for-your-buck, I’ll take the big five workout any day.

This whole entry is basically a long way of saying I had trouble lifting a milk carton this morning to pour Cheerios. Which sounds wholly meaningless unless you realize that one of my fondest kung fu memories is having the same difficulty after an intense workout at the school the previous day. I used to really enjoy being sore. I still do, though a bit less so now that being lethargic on account of it for a day or so is a riskier proposition. Being sore is a reminder that you’ve accomplished some shit. Which is nice.