Taken to Account

15 06 2011

Please accept my apologies in advance for the lengthiness of this post. I should have probably split it into several ones, but I wasn’t sure I’d have the mental acuity to come back to it. I chose to catch it in any form before my moments of clarity escaped me.

I went on an errand yesterday that I simply and purely loathed. I wanted to cancel, but somehow, I did it. Afterwards, on my way back home, I realized that I had benefitted a great deal from having left the house. During this errand, I heard a Hadith by Prophet Mohamed that started a long chain of thoughts. The Hadith was: “Take account of yourselves before you are taken to account, weigh your deeds before they are weighed.”

As it is not up to me when my life ends, I want to be able to say that I have been of some use, that I have made some difference, any difference. I cannot say I have brought good children/people into this world. I cannot say I have done good work. Thus far, all I can say is that I have been a non-contributing person incapacitated by her illness, more so with time. Worst case, if I cannot be of significant use, I would to at least be able to say that I have tried with my all, until my last breath. These two happenings were the precursors to my thoughts. This post is my sad confession that so far, I have not tried to my utmost.

The facts:

 

  1. I will do anything to avoid problems/hardships/conflicts. This drives me away from people and into seclusion.
  2. I looooove to think. I am an obsessive thinker. I’ll take one thought and think the life out of it. I do it unconsciously and automatically. I question and I look for answers. My quest is for absolute answers, universals, truths beyond doubts or uncertainties. As a result, I live, again, in seclusion, mostly in my head. Also as a result, I feel very little, if ever. I think my feelings instead of feeling them. Another sad result: I don’t know the meaning of the word “peace,” “calm” or “ambiguous.” My mind has no equivalents for these. Also, my mind does not rest, ever.
  3. My view of things (facts) is eschewed, highly so. I am a master at cognitive distortions and logical fallacies. My weapon of choice: negative mental filtering.
  4. Even though I may not understand the connections between my problems, behaviors, circumstances and history, I do understand very well my current problems now.
  5. My problem is my blessing: my mind/my ability to delve deeper than the average layman, too deep that is, which leads me into dark stuffy caves out of which I cannot find my way. I suffocate, I cannot breathe . So I sit down in the darkness of the cave and I start to cry. Usually, someone or something has to come and take me out. I am like a child being led by another child (my mind) holding a bar of chocolate, saying, “Follow me and I promise you chocolate (answers).” Lured by the sight of the sumptuous chocolate bar, I follow, not taking note of how it’s gradually or suddenly darker around me. Suddenly, the child and the chocolate disappear and I am alone in the dark. (I haven’t reached any answers.) I don’t know how I got there (I wasn’t paying attention on my way in) and I have no clue as to how to get out of there (never really walked out of a cave by myself before, consciously that is.)
  6. Sadly, I have not made much measurable progress with regard to my mental situation. I have been told over and over that I have come a long way, and I agree. I do feel I have come a long way, in understanding and seeing, but not so much in doing and in managing my situation. I haven’t come any way in being well or staying well. Although, recently, my pitfalls have been triggered by factors of a completely different nature, my patterns, sadly, are the same: I helplessly fall in the pit without a ladder or a rope. I don’t have an arsenal of techniques to call on.
  7. This is the really hurtful one to me: most of the things I like to do are actually bad for me. A couple of years back, I was put in bed by the realization that the way I think is faulty. (OCPD) I still forget that sometimes. To add insult to injury, now I realize that my habits and most of my behaviors (free time, looking for answers, doing nothing, staying home, being alone)are detrimental to my well-being.
  8. Yes, I battle with a lot: depression, anxiety, strong OCPD, cyclothymia (a mild form of manic depression) overpowering guilt, chronic fatigue, anhedonia and non-existent self-confidence that have more or less taken over my life. Yes, I have very few times (for moments or days) when these mountainous monsters seem to vanish and I actually, believe, naively, that everything is going to be okay. At these times my horizon is cleared and I have a fleeting taste of serenity and hope, but for the most part, these big names have been running my show. It is a sad fact, but I have to admit it. I must also admit that I have to this point been very dependent on other people. I go to other people for advice, help, support, solutions, answers, affirmations, praise (if you can name it, I go to others to obtain it) because, of course, other people — my mind tells me — know better, understand better, and are infinitely wiser than I am. These other people, to whom I am eternally thankful, have offered all they could and have been there for me through very hard times. (I’ll probably need another post to properly thank them.) But, because the answers they give me, are from without, they are very short-lasting, situational at best. They basically get me through situations after which I find myself at the same square one, which I loathe so much.
  9. So I am ashamed to say that I have not come a long way, and the progress that I have made, has mostly not been thanks to me. It’s been mainly others. I’d like to be able to say, “I have learned how to manage my . . . .I am not cured of it, but it is no longer in control.” (Please note, I only have this clarity of mind now because I am on meds; otherwise, I would neither have the will, energy or stability to see and write this.) I would like to be able to one day say, “I have done this on my own.” That would give me the success I need to build on.
  10. I feel like I have all the information I need. It’s scattered in bits and pieces, needs some form of big-picture-connecting-the-dots where I see causes and results (cognitive therapy?). But that’s of secondary importance. What I need now is to begin to consider DOING and look at that terrifying idea of going against what my mind tells me to do.

Example 1:

I am upset.

My mind: “Lie down. Get some sleep. Write. Relax. Rest. Spend some time alone. Think your way through and out of this. Look for the answer, the absolute truth behind this. Look for the lesson learned.  Leave the dishes (and dusting and laundry and eating) for later.”

While before, I would trustingly listen, I now know I have to remember that my mind is NOT my best friend. I’ll have to find a way, a voice, that tells me to resist, that reminds me that this is not best for me. If I follow my mind’s advice, I switch to in-my-head-and-out-of-reality mode and fall deeper and deeper in. Actually, it is best for me to get up and get busy, to DO, to engage, even if in mundane things (to stay at that figurative “crust” level.) Maybe it’s an item I’ll wear on my wrist to remind me. Maybe it’s a word I have to say to myself. Maybe it’s a mantra. But it has to be between me and myself. (Of course I still have to test and see what works and what doesn’t.)

Example 2:

Work.

My mind: “Work is not good for you. You stress out. You get sick. You become very ill. It will kill you. Just stay away from work. You’re really no good for it. You’re not built for it. You can’t be around people for such long stretches of time. You can’t carry such heavy loads. You’re too weak and fragile. Your nerves . . . . ”

Okay, maybe some of that is true, but time has proven some of it to be to the contrary. Work is good for me. And my clever mind, instead of helping me find ways of coping with the side effects that come with work, has me throw out the baby with the bath water.

Example 3:

I will do anything to avoid a conflict/fight/argument.

My mind’s voice: “You can’t handle it. You’re not good at expressing your point of view. Wait, you don’t have one. Your opponent is much more articulate. They will beat you with words. Also, you will lose the person. If you talk/fight back, you will fall out of favor with the person and they will no longer want to be your friend.”

Only my clever mind failed to notice that that is a fallacy called jumping to conclusions. 1) Maybe I can handle it. Have I tried? Who said the other person is more articulate? Even if they are, so what? Why is my opinion/feeling less valid than the other person’s? Maybe I have a voice, only it’s not strong because it hasn’t really been used. Why do I necessarily have be worth less than the other person? So what if they beat me? At least I know I have made my point, even it’s not taken. 2) Not all arguments or fights result in terminated relationships. And if the other person decides to drop me because I voice me, then was that relationship worth having? Also, pray tell, clever mind, which is a bigger loss: losing a person who doesn’t respect me or losing myself?

So, again, I’ll have to find a way to force myself to get up and DO whatever it is that I need to do or apply for that job when my mind is convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is bad for me. A sad truth it is to have to admit, finally, without any equivocacy, without justifications, that the part of me I like the most, that I feel most comfortable with, that I often take the most pride in, that is my most engaging companion, is the one most malfunctioning and most in need of repair or, more realistically speaking, ignoring.

A horrifying truth to admit is the fact that I will have to be uncomfortable most times. I will have to ignore most of what feels natural, comfortable, right and familiar and opt for all that feels unnatural, uncomfortable, unright, and unfamiliar.

Saddened, but with a calm resolve, I start a different journey now. I hope I will make it, at least part of the way. I hope I will succeed, at least partially. My support system is much smaller now, but that’s okay. This time around, my role in the play is much larger. I really hope I will make it. This time around, my goals are very small, nothing grand: put one foot in front of the other, day in, day out. That’s all. And when I do fall, I want to have my cane with me so I can prop myself up. For I cannot look to another to lift my foot for me. If I can’t, if I can’t put one foot in front of the other, if I fall and I know not how to get back up and or I don’t have my figurative cane, how on earth will I get back up and continue on my lonely rather bumpy road, when everyone else is busy putting their own one foot in front of the other? (I just wish I didn’t feel too old to “start” trying again.)

As I was walking down the street earlier today, in my new and strange medication-induced calm, I felt an added sense of comfort. Maybe it came from the dream I had where I clearly and assertively voiced to my former mother-in-law how she had wronged me, demanded my rights to be respected and clearly fearlessly stated my thoughts to my ex? Maybe. But I think it rather came from a sudden realization, an internalized one, that never will the time come when I am sure beyond doubt, that I, like any other person, am not meant to be sure beyond doubt, not in this life, with the exception of very few things. This is how it’s supposed to be. I am supposed to use my mental faculties to the best of my abilities, make a decision, act on it, (with the doubts and fears). But the circular reasoning and doubting is superfluous, fruitless and harmful. I might as well just throw it away. We all have fears and doubts. Everyone else moves along (puts one foot in front of the other) in the presence of their fears and doubts. But I have been waiting until the fears and doubts go away to start living and doing. So, I realized earlier today. No, I am to walk forth with the fears and doubts. “Bring them along. You won’t know for sure, like everybody else. All that thinking is really of no good to you. It’s just holding you fast in place. Start walking.”

Finally, a note to my clever mind:

I will not follow you sometimes and sometimes I’ll have to shut you out completely or let you ramble on while I don’t listen. I am sorry, clever mind, but I have followed you long enough and I have allowed you to monopolize me for long enough. You have grown too loud and too dominating, narrowing my view and not letting me see that there are other ways. I really don’t mind you running the show, only it’s time for me to admit that you have been wrong too often. I need to put you aside, much like a malfunctioning part of an engine. There are other places to stand. Yours is not the only way. Now, now I know that you are not all of me. I am more than you. There are other voices in me I need to water and help grow and eventually heed. These voices are my instinct, my feelings and my faith.

 

For my first steps on this new journey, these are my small goals. For a week, I will commit myself to these and I will report back on the results insha’Allah.

Please bear witness. Please hold me accountable.

  1. Get out of the house at least 5 times a week.
  2. Wash the dishes every day.
  3. Repeat the sentence: This is not all bad. There is some good in it. I just have to change my standpoint and look at it from another angle.

The road stretches far ahead and I fear  my strength will not carry me through.

M.

15/6/2011

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