Mixed Day/Brief Update

I’ve been realizing more and more how much boredom plays into the rest of my issues, back pain included. It’s still difficult to find things to occupy my time that are engaging without taking too much thinking or too much movement or too little movement.

Today was difficult, a reasonably bothersome pain day. I’ve been sitting more lately, which may be why. I had a conversation with a friend just recently which I got halfway through before realizing that up to that point I don’t think I’d been thinking about pain at all, which was pretty awesome. So all in all, some very high and very low points today.

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Scumbag Brain

It’s easy to get annoyed at people who say things like, “Just think positive”, and such with respect to depression. If it were that easy, no one would be depressed. The implication of saying that it’s that simple is that anyone who is depressed has a choice, and is choosing to be depressed, which is both insensitive and insulting to those who struggle with it. Not that learning to think more positively can’t help–it can–but it often takes a lot of work, and it’s often either not enough by itself or not possible without eliminating other contributing factors. Depression is a complicated game.

I’ve been thinking today, though. I think that, for me at least, there is a certain truth to the idea that I want to be depressed. I don’t actually consciously want to be, but I’ve been noticing in my attempts to challenge certain mental habits that there’s a part of my brain that seems absolutely determined to see things negatively–that seems to *want* to see things negatively.

I’ve been trying SuperBetter, and it’s been very interesting so far. One of the opening quests is to recruit “allies”, that is to say, to add people to your account who are willing to help out. Specifically, the quest goal is to add your first ally to the game. When I spotted this quest, I had already added a few allies ,so I went ahead to click “I did this!” and the following rough conversation went through my brain:

Scumbag Brain*: “But you didn’t know this was a quest when you recruited them, so it really shouldn’t count.”

Good Guy Brain: “It literally says ‘Add your first ally’. I have clearly already done that.”

SB: “Well, I don’t think it should count. You should add one more.”

GGB: “I’ve already added the people I want to try this to start out with. Fuck you.”

SB: “SHOULDN’T COUNT!!”

I find myself wondering why the hell part of me is so determined to be a dick about things, and find any way to look at them negatively. It’s bewildering and frustrating.

*Yes, I am a Redditor. What of it?

Food for Thought

Getting things right in life is, inevitably, a Monte Carlo sort of problem. It’s good to keep track of just how much processing power you’re using up on certain things, so that you have some left over for the rest. It’s also good to keep in mind that not always having the right answer is inevitable.

Progress

I’ve started strength training, and so far it seems to be going okay. This is pretty unprecedented, so here’s hoping t stays this way. I’ve been using the Big Five routine outlined in Body by Science, so roughly once a week, 60-90 seconds time under load for five different exercises. I tried doing this a couple of times a number of months back without success, but did not, at the time, have the benefit of fully comprehending the neural aspect of increases in pain, which I think has made the difference between my being able to keep up with it and not. I’ve only done two weeks so far, but fingers crossed, no horrible pain side-effects yet.

I’m looking forward to the release of the SuperBetter beta tomorrow. If it looks like it will be helpful, I’ll probably take a serious stab at using it. We’ll see.

I do need to figure out something to do with respect to mobilizations. I’ve added a couple of other things to do every day since completing that first week, and it’s all physically fine, but it’s a long list of things to try and keep a streak going of, and I think it might be helpful for me to find a routine where I don’t have to remember to do so many different things each day. It can get overwhelming.

Roughly, these days, I’m going for at least one set of each of three mobilizations exercises, 15-30 minutes walking, 3 abdominal lifts, and at least 5 minutes of bioenergetic breathing every day.

Suicide and The Hot Stove

“I don’t understand why people commit suicide. It doesn’t make any sense, I mean, it’s just so stupid.”

I was party to a conversation today where this was said. I wish I had spoken up at the person, but I didn’t. The conversation moved on quickly and I’m not yet all that good at confronting people about bullshit like that in person. But I do want to talk about it, so here goes.

“I don’t understand why people commit suicide” is a fine statement. Lots of people don’t. I’d venture a guess and say unless you’ve dealt with pretty serious depression, you can’t possibly have a frame of reference that gives you anything close to a proper understanding of why someone would commit suicide. Acknowledging that is a fine thing to do.

Calling it stupid is not. Not in this context anyway. It’s a dismissive and overly simplistic way to address a very complex and serious issue. And when someone you know is suicidal, dismissiveness and oversimplification could very well mean the difference between them surviving and not.

I actually really like the analogy I used when I started this blog: if you don’t understand what it’s like to want to commit suicide, then here’s what you need to do:

1) Find a stove.

2) Turn it on.

3) Wait until it’s hot.

4) Put your hand on it.

Taking your hand off is suicide.

That’s the principle people need to understand when thinking about suicide. You consider suicide when you life has been painful enough for long enough that you can’t take it anymore. It’s not rational, it’s not reasonable, and it may not, in the grander scheme of things, be smart. When you’re in pain, though, you just want it to end. You just want to take your hand off the stove.

When that’s understood, then we can have a reasonable discussion about the rest of the nitty-gritty details. Not before.

Fuck(ing)

Life is funny sometimes. By funny, what I actually mean is life can suck my dick sometimes.

I’ll spare you the details of my entire long history with women and try to put it succinctly. For a long time, I was a shy, shy nerd with low self-esteem. The idea that people could be attracted to me was foreign. Some time over the past few years, this changed dramatically. Both my experience and level of comfort with women skyrocketed. I started to realize that a lot of the things about me I thought were pretty normal are not. I’m smart, conscientious, I care a great deal about consent and communication, and I’m significantly better at communicating in relationships than most people are. The past few years in discovering my good traits in terms of relationships have been kind of like the few years before them were in discovering my good traits as a worker.

You remember when you were little and you saw people with jobs as these Mature Adult Responsiblepants People? People who clearly have All Their Shit Together because they have Fucking Jobs, dammit. Then one day you start having jobs and you realize that most of the people you thought were Jobly McProfessionalpants types actually have no idea what the fuck they’re doing? You realize that having basic care and common sense are actually rare and marketable skills? That’s how it was for me, anyway. Just recently, I was told that a cover letter I wrote was a significant part of the reason I was hired for something, which was awesome, but also strange. I’d thought that cover letter was just okay. I’d had no idea that coherent, readable sentences were so scarce that what I thought of as a decently-written cover letter was a prime selling point. In some ways that’s how I’ve felt when discovering my good qualities in relationships. As much as it’s been a process of learning to give myself credit for the ways I’m a good partner, it’s also been a process of realizing that a lot of people set the bar pretty low.

In any event, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress over the last few years in terms of being comfortable talking to people I’m attracted to, and expressing my attraction. This has had the mostly awesome benefit of discovering that actually quite a lot of the people I’m attracted to are attracted to me, too. Thinking just over the last few months, I’ve had a lot of really awesome conversations where a mutual attraction was discovered. Life being complex, most of them haven’t turned into relationships or sexypants adventures, but even just sharing a revelation of mutual attraction can be pretty awesome in and of itself. That said, there is a deeply frustrating side of this revelation as well.

Given the choice, I probably wouldn’t opt for fun sexytimes with everybody I happen to have a mutual attraction with even if I had the option to (I am Yenis the Penis King, marvelous me, I get to fuck everything that I see!). Life is complex, feelings are complex, people are complex. Too much complex is bad. In spite of that, given the issues I’m dealing with where my back is concerned, it is deeply frustrating that I’m more or less physically incapable of opting for fun sexytimes with anyone at all. I spent half my life digging myself out of the low self-esteem and various other issues that so often prevent the young and inexperienced from having awesome, satisfying sex lives. Now that I’ve, in many ways, arrived on the other side of that I Can’t. Fucking. Fuck.

…FUCK.

This is also a chance to pervert that “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, line, in case you were wondering.

In spite of all of the above, the revelation of my own attractiveness remains awesome as well as frustrating. In addition, I can’t deny that doing the CBT exercises is helping me recognize that I might be a decent enough human being that I actually merit the respect people seem to have for me. It’s not impossible I’ll come out of this one of those, “I had to hit rock bottom to really turn my life around”, people. Here’s hoping, right?

PT and Brain Pain

My PT appointment last week was interesting. I was feeling kind of defeated by the last appointments’ events, so I decided to go in and talk about my concerns.

The appointment previous, I had been given some core training exercises that I thought were primarily for core strengthening. This was discouraging to me, because I’ve read about the research pertaining to core strengthening, and my impression has been that it really isn’t clinically important in any sense that is distinguishable from regular exercise. So being given an assignment I had very little faith in was difficult emotionally.

This week, I talked all of that over with my PT and learned a number of important things. First, the exercises were more for muscle coordination than strength-building, which is a principle I can more or less get behind. I’m hypermobile, which means I’m more flexible than most people in a way that is disadvantageous, because it means my muscles have to do more work to keep everything in place and moving normally. Little known fact: a certain amount of stiffness in joints/muscles/what-have-you is good–it means your muscles don’t have to do as much work to keep everything aligned and in place. Too much is, of course, bad. Point being the exercises were to coordinate my core muscles so that they engaged properly in order to counteract my hypermobililty.

The second thing he went over with me was the idea that I’m probably not injured. At least, not anywhere in the parts of me that are in pain. If you’ve got some time, this video goes over the principles of this idea:

He also gave me some papers to read. Going over this with him was incredibly helpful, in particular, because it’s the first time I really got the principle down: just because I’m having a negative pain reaction to an exercise doesn’t necessarily mean I’m having any sort of actual negative physical reaction outside the brain. In fact, if I’m pretty sure I haven’t done anything that could cause a physical injury of any sort, sometimes the best thing for me to do is to tell my brain that. Whether or not your brain thinks something should hurt or should be injurious has an impact on how much it hurts, or even if it hurts at all.

So shut up, brain, you are dumb.

I’m almost a week into my current exercise routine, probably as a result of this. It’s not a particularly impressive routine, but it’s a routine, which is more than I’ve been able to accomplish before.

Blogging for Who?

Blogging exhaustion is a tricky thing for me. some days I feel like writing things, but too often, I get into a rhythm, and then I break it, and then I start thinking “I should probably write something today”, and then blogging goes from a thing I can do to a thing I have to do, and then I stop wanting to do it. It’s a tricky game, keeping it from being a chore.

I suppose the trick is to not worry about if anyone’s reading it really. I like the idea that people are reading what I write, but I have to be careful to write what I want to write, rather than what I think people want to read. Writing what I need to get out is what keeps me from succumbing to blog exhaustion sometimes, I think. But all the stuff I need to get out tends to be worried and frustrated and personal and shit, and I feel nervous that after a while people will just get tired of that stuff. Of course, getting out that type of shit is why I started this blog, so in a way I could tell myself I shouldn’t worry about whether or not people are interested in it, since the point is to get it out. Telling yourself that is surprisingly difficult, though.

Oh worries. You are silly.