Daily Archives: December 23, 2015

Put The Executive In Charge

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I won’t say that today has changed my perspective on holidays.

But I will say I enjoyed wrapping gifts and buying last minute ones. Wrapping paper on boxes requires a certain level of logical, structural thinking, kind of like building houses out of legos, and I think that’s what makes me enjoy it so much. It’s something concrete to do with my hands that makes me focus.

Then again, I see patterns in everything.

Here’s a tip: If you’re ever panicking or in the middle of a panic attack or anxiety attack, whip out the old math book and get to doing some problems. Works every time.

If you know a little bit about psychology, it makes sense.

If you don’t, this is how I developed this little trick:

When you’re panicking or you have high anxiety, where are your thoughts focused? What’s hijacked the entirety of your brain and body? Your amygdala, right? That old bean shaped geezer in the middle of your brain that you’ve had since your chimp-like ancestors birthed into existence.

We’re all monkeys. I don’t care if chimps aren’t monkeys or apes aren’t monkeys, they’re chimp-monkeys and ape-monkeys to me. They’re monkeys. Get out of here, anthropologists, I’ll believe what I want! Viva La Free Thought About Monkeys!!!!

My favorite are the Bonobos. Google them and you’ll know why.

Anyway, it takes control of your frontal lobe and therefore your rationality and suddenly your arms are going numb and your having a heart attack and you know you’re going to die so you just wait with your pulse throbbing behind your eyes for death to sneak up behind your back and crack his scythe against the back of your skull.

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Or He’s A Mouse

Did you know death played dirty like that? Everyone assumes he’s a skeleton but he’s really a pudgy middle aged, uni-sex being with soft skin and a nervous giggle. He never actually slices anyone’s soul out with that thing, he just sharpens it to be intimidating. He actually has a lot of social anxiety and hates meeting people face to face, especially when he has to, you know, take their life, so he wears black to blend into the shadows and bangs you on the back of the head. Why do you think people rarely see him coming?

Your frontal lobe is the executive. It’s the man–or woman–in the blueAfrican American Businesswoman Sitting On Office Chair - Isolate suit with his arms folded and a computer chip installed in his eye so he can make calculations near the speed of light or . . . or whatever. I don’t know. The dude–or chick–just makes decisions for you, alright? It’s good at judgement and problem solving and it’s supposedly highly evolved although . . . I don’t think many people use it to its full potential. I mean, if we are than . . . than shit.

I guess if you compare it to monkeys it’s highly evolved.

Although monkeys are some smart little bastards. So are dolphins. I’m pretty sure dolphins are smarter than us.

I was talking about the amygdala.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

21578Anyone ever try that “Cram” brain supplement they sell in natural food stores? It’s supposed to help you focus and “Cram” for finals. I saw them in an aisle once and grew perturbed. I’m pretty sure it’s either a stimulant prescription drug crushed up into little crystals you’re supposed to dissolve in water and definitely not snort, or it’s straight up crack cocaine that you are definitely supposed to snort.

I’ll probably become a victim of it in Medical school. I’m pretty sure all my peers will too. People be selling Ritalin left and right up in those joints.

Let me go to medical school to learn how to save lives while simultaneously putting a substance in my body that probably isn’t very good for me just so I can get an A on this test because that’s the kind of smarts that got me into Harvard Med.

Oops, did I say smarts? I meant thousands upon thousands of dollars for donation and a long history of family attendance.

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THE AMYGDALA.

I apologize. I talk to myself all the time and I’m starting to wonder if the conversations I have are completely incoherent.

The amygdala is your worst friend–so far. So far, according to biased research. So, you know, take it with a grain of salt here. It could be your best friend and we just don’t know it yet. It could kill you maybe, somehow, what the hell do we know?

But from what we know, yes, it has a lot to do with anxiety in an evolutionary standpoint and a current standpoint. So what do you need to do when it takes over?

article-2117722-0cf4a92000000578-69_468x399Think of it as a screaming toddler. You don’t curl on the floor and let the toddler scream at you. You don’t give up and let the toddler run your house. Some days you might be tired and be a little more lenient when the toddler screams but you know you can’t condition yourself to let the toddler do what it wants. It’s YOUR toddler.

You’re not going to stuff pill after pill into your toddler until it’s woozy and sick and puking in the bathroom and expect the magic pills to do all the work, are you?

No, you gain some control over the toddler. You enlist the executive for some help.

How do you enlist the executive? Why, simple math of course! Tasks,normal_angel_doing_math structural things, things that make your hands work. Take apart an electronic and put it back together. Do some algebra or trig or maybe first semester calculus. Something that doesn’t tax your entire brain, but makes you focus a little.

That’s putting the executive back in charge.

So you’re not punishing the toddler. You’re not fighting the toddler. You’re not screaming back at the toddler or physically subduing the toddler. You’re just showing the toddler that you’re not going to feed into it’s tantrum.

It’s a coping mechanism. One that doesn’t involve substances or physical pain or mental pain (unless you really, really hate math in which case, uh, stick to building legos or something, drawing patterns, taking things apart) or a meltdown. Once your executive is in charge you stop crying and your heart rate slows and you realize . . . what the fuck is going on?

And then you have clearer vision.  And then maybe you identify what caused the anxiety. Maybe you see nothing caused it. Maybe you see something large caused it. But you rationalize your reaction wasn’t right. Does it cure your anxiety? No. But it’s better than being up all night rocking yourself to sleep in a pool of your own tears or stumbling into the emergency room just so they can shoot some Ativan into your veins and send you home.

Don’t be a victim–there’s no need to be.

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Rely more so on yourself to control your life than something outside of yourself. Use all your resources. Use medication, use therapy, use coping mechanisms, use family and friends, use supportive programs, use blogging, use books, use art, use them all and use them well.

DO NOT use only one of them and expect your life to change. Do not use one of them and sit on your bed and cry about how horrible your life is. That’s being a victim. If you don’t put your all into your recovery what makes you think you’re going to recover? Magic? This weird, infectious idea that there are quick fixes for everything? What world do you live in? Obviously not planet earth.

That’s like giving you a computer monitor with no desktop and saying here, Photoshop my photos please.

That’s like expecting life on earth to proliferate with only an atmosphere of oxygen. No spinning rock, no O-Zone, no nothing, just . . . just oxygen.

You think your brain only uses one neurotransmitter to do all the amazing things it does for you?

Do you see how effected people are when they have a stroke and their left size is incapacitated?

By choosing one method for recovery and moping over it’s ineffectiveness, you’re incapacitating yourself in the same way.

I could just go to therapy once every two weeks and never step outside of my house or practice controlling my anxiety or combating depression or changing the way I think or socializing or speaking up. I could think that’s going to do something and I could lay on my bed and think, and think, and think about it and you know what? I’d probably kill myself.

That’s how you get stuck in a rut. You think more than you actually do.

So when you feel the urge to give up or you think a little pill or a couple sessions of therapy will solve your problems, remind yourself how much you appreciate your left side.

You can choose to be your biggest advocate or you can choose to be your biggest opposition. Doctors aren’t choosing it for you. Your friends aren’t, your family isn’t, your medication isn’t, your psychologist isn’t, your cat isn’t, your dog isn’t–you are. Those are catalysts for you, not cures.

That doesn’t mean don’t not struggle–that means embrace the struggle and understand it. Because you’re going to struggle. I do every day, you’ve heard me whine about it all the time.

But I’m still here, aren’t I?

Remember:

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DO WORK.

 

 

#GiveMeSomeWorkDamnit

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My nickname should be Serial Killer because I murdered the shit out of those applications!

No one?

Alright. It’s all good. Go laugh at someone else, someone funnier and richer and willing to stand on a stage at the risk of humiliation, it’s not like I’m going to hack your I.P address and GPS track your computer and find your house and light it on fire and laugh at it or anything.

I won’t, I promise; empty sarcastic threats are my specialty.

Even if I did find your address, I’d probably just steal your dog.

I’d leave a note too, saying “sorry I stole your dog; I left an Iguana in it’s place. His name is Dave. He hates people. Have fun!”

I did murder those applications though.

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What applications? What are you talking about? What’s going on!??!?! WHAT IS LIFE?!?!?!?

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Let Me Put Some Kush Up in It

Job applications ya’ll. They annoying.

But I be murdering ’em left and right trying to get me some income so I can stop being the broke ass I’ve always been. I’m clicking on “apply” to every single position that isn’t Cashier or sales floor representative or sales associate or anything that has me dealing with people’s problems all day long.

I know I can handle a few people, maybe team members who I have to see and interact with every day, people like that. But if you expect me to handle bitchy customers for six to eight hours a day and still go home sane, than you’ve got the wrong person.

I’m not even considering restaurants. Could you imagine me as a server? One of two things will happen:

  1. The people will be so intimidating I’ll have the same breakdown I had at my last retail job and just quit coming–the anxiety would keep me up all night and once this next semester starts up again I can’t have these kinds of distractions. I refuse to let my mental health hold me back from what I want to do with my life any longer. That includes working.
  2. I’m going to get so pissed off my face is going to go beet red even though it’s brown and a bitches head is going to get cut off.

I mean, it is what it is.

I have a mouth and I have anger issues. If you tickle that little spot–err, okay, that gigantic spot–my anxiety will literally poof out of existence. I might not even remember what I say, or even do. I’ll have a rage attack. Don’t underestimate girls man, we can go 0-100 real quick.

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At least, I can.

So I’m looking for jobs that either having me driving or in the backroom or stocking the floor or cleaning–anything with a limited amount of exposure to the public.

It’s interesting the situations where my anxiety seems to extinguish itself. In an argument the anger will prevail. The throbbing in my throat and chest is no longer fueled by fear but by pure adrenaline, angry adrenaline, and it honestly feels pretty good. I probably don’t get enough of my other emotions, that’s my theory. It’s nice to let it all out every once in a while. But how and where–that’s what I need to work on.

If I see someone getting assaulted or, when I was school bullied, I’ll be the first to step in or call the police or put myself in a situation a lot of other people tell me not to.

One night my boyfriend and I were walking out of CVS drug store and a man was shouting at the top of his lungs at some woman in a white car. There’s always security around this story because it’s open 24/7 but this time they were no where in sight. The four homeless men stood by the wall watching and customers were just strutting past hoping they wouldn’t be noticed.

An argument is personal but I didn’t get a good feeling from it. So I stood and watched. The man tried to yank open her car door and when he couldn’t he tried reaching through the window to grab her or punch her; it all happened so fast I couldn’t tell. She screamed for him to get away and I already had my phone out and backed towards the end of her car ready to read the license plate number to the police. My boyfriend kept telling me to come on but I know what it’s like to be attacked–how am I supposed to walk away from that? 

The man ran around the other side of her car and hopped in. Yes, they knew each other, this wasn’t some random robbery or something. They were screaming at each other louder now, loud enough for people to glance over but figure it was unnecessary to put themselves at jeopardy.

I hate the bystander effect. Never been a big fan.

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I’m not going to get myself in their business. I was, however, waiting for true physical confrontation–a reason to call the authorities. He tried yanking something from her, it might have been the car wheel, and I called to my boyfriend that I was about to call the police if he hit her. I Basically shouted it. Both people glanced up and the woman stared at me first. The man stared at me second and I glared and I dared him to say some shit because I’m not scared of cowards.

Sounds like I was putting myself in danger, but I wasn’t. There was enough space between us and enough people around to where neither of them would try anything stupid. She started up the car and sped off. Sure, maybe they went and argued some place else. Maybe she tossed him out her car on the freeway. Maybe he shot her. I couldn’t ever know, but I know at that moment I wasn’t going to stand there and watch someone get assaulted.

They were probably drug addicts, there’s a lot of them in that area, but a person is a person.

I wished I could have had reason to call the authorities. I really wish I did; I would have felt much better. My boyfriend told me I shouldn’t get involved but I grew up around that kind of violence. I’m obviously not going to sit around while it happens right in front of my face, not if I have a small window to intervene.

7388786858851959_cpqabkvz_cThose are the moments I’m not really anxious, but the skills I’ve learned through anxiety come in handy. The ability to assess the danger level of a situation, the ability to skim through a million bad options that could happen in a matter of seconds and assess whether it’s worth it or not.

I’m not saying I’m super man here, but shit, if you’re with me in a tough situation you’ll swear up and down I’m the calmest person you’ve met. By the time you realize what’s going on, I’ll have thought of every possibility that could go wrong and every type of solution for those possibilities. I’m always primed and ready for disaster.

I think that would make me a valuable asset to a workforce. If something horrid happens I’m not going to be the one at the desk breathing heavy, distressed, ripping my hair out or the one kicking walls and getting blinded by panic. I’ll be the one zipping through a million solutions I already on reserve, and I’ll keep zipping through them until one of them works.

Those of us with mental health issues are valuable members of society, society just doesn’t know that yet. And I have to admit, many of us who struggle like that don’t even know it yet. But we are. We see the world in an entirely different light. We can come up with ideas and solutions and options unique from the average person.

We’re applied artists and good workers and intelligence people; we’re college students and Ph.D’s and writers and comedians and actors and band geeks. We make up a substantial part of the population and we have an insight on the world no one else does. Be proud of that. 

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But also be proud of the fact that you’re not that different from everyone else. We all struggle with something, whether it’s mental health, physical health, emotional health, money, housing, whatever; we all struggle. We’re not very different from each other and I think the more we divide ourselves up into categories, the more stigma is perpetuated–not just for mental health but for all sorts of other issues.

We focus on our differences rather than our similarities. How does that make sense?

That’s why, a while back, I bashed the #StopTheStigma twitter sensations with their cardboard signs and medications. We’re different, but we’re not that different. Not so different that we should separate ourselves from the rest of the population. We all struggle. I think that’s what people fail to notice, that mental health issues cause a struggle.

We’re all so used to feeling our own struggle that we invalidate other’s struggles. I’ve done it before. We’ve all done it.

That’s the real problem here. Fuck not understanding the disorders, fuck not understanding the brain or classical conditioning, fuck Political Correctness like the difference between having a disorder or being a disorder, fuck having a disorder vs a disease vs an illness. This runs deeper than that. 

You don’t have to identify with my anxiety or have lived with anxiety to understand how hard it is to simply struggle. You should intrinsically know that tight knot in your stomach and negative thoughts and how hard it is to get out of bed some days. Because we all do it over different things. Because we’re all humans.

I think. Except maybe Ben Carson. I think he’s an alien Ya’ll.

The point is, I’d be a good worker so fucking call me back already. Shit.

If titling this post #GiveMeSomeWorkDamnit actually gets me work, I will take back all the bullshit I talk about # campaigns.