Tag Archives: physical pain

Obsessions…

Does anyone else struggle with obsession?

Mine is rooted in “getting it right” so I don’t get in trouble, but… It often does more harm than good. Even things I enjoy become a chore because the obsession has me doing it well past burnout.

A friend tried to motivate me to to get into doing something from home as a means of income. She suggested that energy and success will come from putting effort into whatever it is I want to grow [as a business]. She is convinced that if I just change my mindset around not having energy or motivation, I’ll succeed at whatever it is I choose to do. I couldn’t explain to her that 1) I don’t have the energy to front to that right now 2) I might get energized in the moment doing some things (like my art, or going hiking, or to the beach to look for seaglass), but then I end up crashing & recovering for days afterwards, and 3) my obsession will inevitably kick in, forcing me to stay up late & wake up early to work on whatever it is I’m doing. I’ll do it to the exclusion of everything else because I need to get it right or I’ve failed miserably at everything including life. Despite seeing the intensity and flaws of that thinking, I’m not able to interrupt the obsession on my own yet…

Speaking of doing things obsessively, I love to go to the beach to look for seaglass and other interesting things. Once the idea is sparked, the only thing that stops me from going is being physically unable to go (no transportation, being in so much pain I can’t do anything at all…), or conflicting appointments that cannot be changed. The friend who got me into it text me last night about going today. I said yes… Only problem is, every fiber in my body hurts from exertion this past week. I should probably stay home and chill, but I can’t bring myself to say no. I must go, or something bad will happen. When I get there, I know I will methodically search the beach looking for what interests me. It takes me hours, and I end up in more pain. I know this will happen, but I still can’t bring myself to refuse. Just the thought of declining the invite brings on a whole host of anxiety and self-deprication; everything from my friend being mad at me for declining (she wouldn’t be, but my brain insists she will) to being mad at myself for not pushing through crap & for wimping out on an adventure that might get me out of my head for a while.

It’s so beyond just enjoying whatever it is I’m trying to do… I know I’m doing it to my detriment at times, but I still can’t refuse…

I have therapy before heading out seaglassing. Maybe this can be something we address (though I know there was something else I had really wanted to talk to her about, but I can’t remember what that was at the moment.

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midnight ramblings

My stomach hurts (from an infection due to an antibiotic), my head hurts… and my heart hurts.  And I can’t seem to alleviate any of it.  The medicine doesn’t take away the stomach or head pain, and I don’t think there’s a medicine for the heartache (at least none that would be “healthy”).  So I’m trying to drown it all out.  I’m sitting here bingeing on Grey’s Anatomy hoping that their story will make me forget my own for a bit… It only works half-way.

Friday De asked me to help her help me figure stuff out.  She said that she was willing to work on stuff, but I had to point her in the right direction.  She wanted me to tell her what I need… Great, if only I knew.  This all has eluded me for 2 decades, how the hell am I supposed to come up with insight now? I tried to express what I mean when I say I “get stupid” about things, but I don’t think I did a good job.  What I mean when I say it is that I cannot apply any of my learning to myself, nor can I figure out a helpful strategy for any hypothetical client that may be going through any of what I am. I get lost and I don’t know how to help anyone else or myself.  I’m at that stage now.  I have no clue what else needs to happen to allow me to move on from things.  The only thing I do know is that the flashbacks, unwanted memories, body memories, and nightmares don’t go away… I don’t know how to alleviate them or make them less of a problem.  I just don’t know what to do next.  She had said she could just ask me questions, but that it would not be helpful, more along the lines of torture.  I can handle torture.  I know what to do with that.  I don’t know how to deal with all this though.  I know how to run or numb or cut, but I don’t know how to simply move on.  Apparently, neither does she.  I tried to tell her that the time she sprung talking about Duckboy on me was good, but she doesn’t want to over-do that.  I have no answers for her.  I have no insight or ideas.  I just don’t know what to do (if I did, I probably wouldn’t need as much of her help).

So what do you do?  How do you move on? What makes things like this better?


behavioral observations

I have a knack for working with animals… and people.  I have found that my success comes from careful (and often unconscious) observation.  When I worked in animal control in college, I was the worker with the reputation for being able to handle and calm aggressive and anxious dogs and cats.  I would take the time to watch them and pay attention to their reactions to things.  Most of the aggression came from fear, so I would volunteer my time and sit with the animals for hours on end, alternately talking to them and just going about my business nearby.  I instinctively made my posture non-aggressive (see, leaning to tip-toe around abusive and explosive adults can help with something).  I brought animals out of their shells, and worked with them to mold the aggression into acceptable and wanted behaviors.

I have found that most aggression comes from fear.  The fear may be deeply rooted and hidden, but it’s almost always there.  I have found this true with my reptiles as well as my mammals.  I have a snake that will strike wildly whenever I go into her enclosure for any reason.  I am working on hook training her and getting her used to handling.  When she does not feel cornered or uncomfortable, she is a cuddle bug (yes, snakes do cuddle, they like the warmth after all).  By using less intimidating body language and actions, I can communicate to her that I will not try to eat her or harm her in any way.

I think the same is true for people.  I think we are either so wounded or so terrified of being wounded that we often lash out in anger.  I think the anger is a defense mechanism.  People don’t have time to get under your armor if you are busy throwing out spikes.  They can’t get close enough to hurt if you run around bearing your teeth and pushing everyone away.

I think this relates to self-harm in some ways.  Self-harm is a form of aggression, only against yourself.  It is the result of anger and fear turned on the body.  It can be preventative – no one can hurt me as much as I can hurt myself; I’m going to get hurt anyway, might as well get a jump on things.  It can also be reactive – I screwed that up, so I deserve to be punished for it.  Both inadvertently work to keep people at bay.  The concept of self-harm is a scary one.  Most people will cringe at the thought, and bolt at the sight of it. They will over- or under-react to the news, but rarely be helpful in their reactions at first.  Those of our family and friends that have dealt with it in the past react a little better (we have given them reading materials, access to our treaters, insights into our pain), but they still give distance, or at least that is what we hope – that is what I hope.  I don’t want questions about my scars.  I don’t want to launch into my story with everyone that notices.  Why write a blog you may ask?  Well, I still want to tell my story, but I like the measure of anonymity the internet provides.  I can give you glimpses of my inner crazy, and you won’t change your opinion of me if you see me on the street.  If you don’t look closely at my arms, you won’t guess that I struggle (ok, if I’m crying my eyes out, you may have a clue, but that’s rare, especially in public).  If you don’t see me on the psych unit, you wouldn’t know I can barely make it through a day without craving peace at least once.

Even those that know me rarely ask about the scars (we are trained to mind our own business, and I doubt they really want an honest answer).  They look past it.  It’s scary and dangerous to be let into a world that allows someone to do so much physical harm to themselves on purpose.  It keeps people from asking with any real honesty what my life is like.  They anticipate a drama, so they avoid the inquiry.

The long and short of it is that aggression is a defense mechanism, as is self-harm.  It keeps people away from the real you so they can’t reject you and confirm all that you fear about yourself (but in their distance, they confirm that you are not worth it, so it kind of just back-fires).

This train of thought was brought to you by the article I saw online this morning that named 3 small breed dogs as the most aggressive… It got me thinking about the roots of aggression, which lead me to the thoughts on self-harm… lots of branches, but really all the same tree

(I want to add also, that self-harm is not only engaged in for the reasons mentioned above, but they are some big ones.  It can also be relief, a grounding method.  It can be a visual and outward symbol of inward pain and turmoil.  For me, it is mainly a release and grounding method.  It also has the added benefit of being somewhat preventative in that I feel no one can ever hurt me more than I can physically hurt myself… it’s really figurative, because it doesn’t really hurt, and mostly it’s trying to prevent further emotional pain, but it has still been a reason in the past).