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Friday, 12 May 2017

An Unusual Analogy

A couple of years ago, I did a 10K race. I walked it (I never got the hang of running!) but I got off to a bad start. There was a lot of build-up and excitement at the beginning of the event, they got everyone really psyched up and then everyone took off at a run. I didn't want to be alone, walking passed all the people cheering us on, so I ran too. It was a very bad idea.

Since I wasn't prepared for it, and I started off way too fast, in shoes not at all suited to running, my right leg began to hurt early on. From my right knee down to my toes, it hurt. It's easy to look back and know I should have stopped for five minutes, but I cared about my finishing time. Even though I wasn't running, and was barely racing against anyone else, I wanted it to be my best.

After a while, my leg went numb. It didn't feel like a bad thing, although I'm sure there is nothing healthy about it. It was sort of like dragging a moderate weight along with me, but it was better than the pain. When the feeling came back, with about 2 miles to go, it was hell. I longed for the numbness to return. By the time I finished, I was OK.

I tell this story because today I got to thinking about the cycle of depression, numbness, and cutting. I noticed a lot of similarities to what happened at the race. When I'm depressed (sad/tired depressed rather than numb/anhedonia depressed) I don't actually get many urges, in terms of my addiction it's probably the easiest time. The thoughts don't come the way they do at other times, and I feel so bad that I know it wouldn't make a difference anyway, along with the fact that it's hard o find the energy. As terrible as it is to feel that way, it's so much better than being constantly triggered and tortured by urges. It's a relief just as much as it's horrible.

Then that feeling begins to pass, after however long, and usually the first hint that I get that I'm feeling better is that thoughts of cutting begin to return.

Much like the pain in my leg, followed by the blissful numbness that still wasn't quite right, followed by the sharp pain - my body feels the same way. The cycle isn't quite constant. I do get breaks from it all, where I feel OK, I get to be happy, without being triggered, although that's is a rare combination. That just seems like an illusion when the cycle is going on.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Quietness

My whole life I've been described as quiet. Sometimes when I was younger, it was interchangeable with shy but mostly, it was quiet. From my first school parents evening until the last, (with only one exception when I finally had a teacher who understood and while she agreed, she didn't call it a negative as every single other teacher had), I was described as quiet. It reached the point where my Mum would often open with 'We know, she's quiet' and they would laugh or just agree. My parents found it funny because in their words 'At home she never shuts up'. Often during these parents evenings, the teachers would try to give me tips on how to improve. It was without a doubt a failing to most of them. They'd ask me to 'simply' put my hand up just once per class. They'd try and make me laugh about it. They'd try to appeal to me, say that if I didn't talk, how would they know how I was doing? (It didn't take long for me to think 'Not my problem, find a way, accept that every student isn't exactly the same). None of it worked, and by the time I left school, I'd long accepted that I wasn't going to change, mainly because I had no desire to. I'd stressed myself out plenty over the years trying to change because everyone told me I should, because it suited them better. I wish I'd realised earlier that it really wasn't my problem.

Even now I'm described as quiet at work. It's less often said as a negative now, luckily. I've come to realise that a big part of why people say that is basically because I don't talk about myself much. I don't feel the need to blather on about my life to anyone that will listen. Once I realised that, I realised just how many people do do that. It isn't always a bad thing. I mean, sometimes I do listen to people talk, the ones who really do go on and on about their lives, every tiny detail of every 'drama' going on in their lives, and I wonder how they have the confidence to do it. I'm not jealous, because I often find it boring, but I wonder how they can do it. If I talk even a bit to most people, there's a commentary in my head telling me no-one wants to hear it, it's a shock when they do. This isn't just a case of low self-esteem, often it does seem to be the case. Anyone who's fairly quiet, and plenty of people who aren't, can tell you that people who are loud or talk a lot will just happily interrupt and talk over you like they are the only person worth listening to. (They usually aren't.) I've also been called boring to my face, although that was because that person thinks someone who doesn't drink or do drugs is boring, and it made it really easy to remove her from my life.

It's also because I really don't enjoy small talk. I'm incapable of talking about the weather for more than a sentence. The things I am good at talking about, writing, certain TV shows that aren't crappy reality ones, mental health, basically what I write about here, most people don't want to talk about. I'm also just comfortable with silence, I don't have a need for conversation or to fill the silence, I'd rather sit quietly than have the stress of talking.

People make a lot of assumptions when you don't say a lot. A lot of people do assume I must be a boring person who has nothing to say. Like the time when I mentioned to my then-Manager that we'd had Indian take out the night before and I'd had a Korma (first one in ten years). He laughed and said 'Of course you had a Korma, I knew that's what you'd like.' Translation: 'You must only eat mild food because you don't brag all the time about eating spicy stuff like I do'. Or the time when one of my colleagues said that he couldn't get his head around all of my tattoos, they didn't fit with his image of me. Or when someone on a training course with me asked about my writing, and the next day he said he thought he found my stuff, but there was no way it could be me because there were stories about a lesbian biker gang. The room came to a goddamn standstill because no-one could believe it. He was expecting boring literary crap instead.

So, if you're a quiet person, don't take any crap from other people. It's OK to be quiet, no matter what the reason. You should only make changes if you're unhappy, and experiencing distress.
If you're one of the people who gives crap to quiet people, no matter how minor the crap, I hope you'll reconsider that now.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lost Sense of Pride

I've been on a diet for a while now, I know, pretty much one of the most boring topics there is! It's something I really hate talking about, because I just have no interest at all in it. When I have friends or family that are doing weight loss programmes, it feels like they've joined a cult when it's all they can talk about.

I'm not doing anything like that, just your standard eating less and exercising. In theory. The fact is, it's a lot harder than I expected, and I've been putting this off a long time because I thought it would be too hard. For the first few weeks, I did well. I cut my food intake down to a healthy amount, got up early to exercise four days a week, it was going well. It was something I thought about pretty much all the time, which sounds bad but it was sort of a healthy distraction from other stuff.

Then it all fell apart. I watched 13 Reasons Why, got severely triggered, and suddenly all my mind and body were doing all day was telling me all the things they wanted, that I couldn't give them. It didn't take long for me to cave a little, and the diet just kind of evaporated.

And now it's so hard to get back into it. The main problem I have, along with everything else that gets in the way, is that I rarely feel a sense of pride in restricting myself. It seems like most people have that and it helps keep them going. At first I did feel pretty proud, especially once I started to lose weight. Then when I started getting constant urges to cut, it really wore me down, and I started to lose that pride. So far, that hasn't really come back, though I know it will. I'll have to find some other way to stay motivated until then, after all, I have a ten mile walk coming up and it would be a lot easier to do with less weight on me!