Bad Decision Maker

I’m notorious for this. When I act impulsively, I make terrible decisions. Whether it be in an argument or while driving a car, I have 0% success with mindless choice making. I say mindless because little or no thought goes into these decisions; they happen as a result of impulse. I can’t tell you how many times I have been guilty of this. It is paramount to my regret as it stands now.

Part of my rebuilding period was to have a close look at this issue. I have worked with therapy groups and individual counsellors to better understand why I choose to act without thinking. I suppose it’s fundamentally no different that the fight-or-flight reflex, but extended into a more mental role. Part of what Margaret has helped me understand in our work together is mindfulness: the goal of which is to slow everything down and consider each incremental step along the path to choosing. I tend to hurry through this process, leaving no time to consider anything. The thought of leaving space for though is scary, because I used to fear that if I didn’t react or decide that whatever was going on would rapidly get worse. But time is not the enemy; it’s an ambassador to resolution. The situation may seem stressful, but there is no acute need to respond if that response is not relevant. Impulsive reactions are not valuable. They’re like blind guesses, based on little or no information. I can see that making rapid decisions is easier than considering alternatives, and that’s the reason why it has to change.

So mindfulness takes those panicked moments and slows them down for alternative considerations. It’s a process that is hard to initialize, because one has to be aware of when to stop. If introspection doesn’t alert you to the moment when impulse dictates action, then it is not working. I’ve had to learn from zero how to achieve this. My best example is when I drive anywhere: I can be super alert of my surroundings, checking my blind spots and being aware of all things going on around my vehicle. I can be treated poorly by aggressive drivers and not flip out. I can sit in traffic and not get frustrated. Everything slows down, and I render my understanding of the priorities of my emotional responses. Do I really feel like getting upset that some guy cut me off will accomplish anything? If I get angry that the traffic is bad, who suffers? Certainly no one outside of my car gives a damn what emotions I’m going through. It’s on me. I can have these completely unnecessary reactions, or, I can understand that the situation my be frustrating but not dive in to emotional chaos because of it. I don’t have a reason to surrender control of my actions and feelings. I may be in a spot that causes an emotional reaction, so I see that, recognize it, and diffuse it before things get out of hand.

This may be somewhat redundant. But mindfulness has been a huge resource in my mental health journey, and is therefore important. I don’t know if I could have made the progress I have without this new skill. It takes the teeth away from poor decision making, and leaves me some room for discussion instead. I hope that this practice finds a place in your life, as it has in mine. And with excellent results.

The Discourse Of Resentment

There wasn’t much to say, he thought. The day had been long and exhausting, to the point that he felt the tendrils of fatigue creeping into his mind. When he opened the door she was waiting for him.
“Hi honey,” she began softly. “How was your day?” Her tone indicated this was a stock question with no implication of interest.
“Tiring.” He said flatly, yet with honesty. His eyes moved up and down her body. She held herself taught like a nylon rope and had her hands folded across her chest. He turned his back to her and saw the sink full of unwashed dishes. There were papers and things strewn about the countertops. He sighed. She had been in the house all day, and things still looked disheveled.
“Why didn’t the dishes get done?” He wished then that he could pull the words right back out of the air and erase them from existence.
“I will do them.” She said, returning to her distractions. They were two people shouting at each other from distant islands. He rolled up his sleeves and started cleaning. She stopped.
“I said, I would do them.”
“When?” He said tersely.
She scoffed. The tension in the air was thickening.
“You know it really bothers me to leave dishes in the sink all day. I just wanted to come home and not have there be more work to do.” He said between scrubs.
“Well I’m sorry.” She said, resuming her activity. She hadn’t bothered to look up. He felt his heart sinking, as he contemplated the very low amount of respect she had for him. His desires were no secret, yet they were utterly ignored. He hadn’t put an anvil on the floor and asked her to move it. He just wanted a clean house.
“You know,” she began with a new excitement in her voice. “I’m going out tomorrow night. We are going to go have a few drinks and dance at the club.” An activity that she knew he would want no part of. Nor had he been invited to.
“We don’t really have the money to be spending it on alcohol.” He said coldly. Now he was being preposterous. They had enough money for a night out. It was the idea he hated, and he let that poison his words into nonsense.
“Maybe you don’t,” she sneered. “But I do.” Now the line between them was brought into focus. They had entirely opposite priorities.
“Who’s going with you?” As though he really wanted to know.
“Some friends from work.” She kept their names out of her mouth. It was better that he didn’t know that one of them was the guy she had become infatuated with.

Once the dishes were done, he got out of his work clothes and got into his jammies. He came back into the living room where she was still absorbed in distractions. “I’m going to bed.” He said. It had been ages since they had gone to bed at the same time.
“Ok goodnight.” She said not bothering to look at him. There would be no bonding over a shared bedtime. No reassuring noises made from a sleepy woman. No gentile touch to guide his mind into slumber. She could care less what he did, or when he went to bed. She had already moved on. In her heart, the fire of their love was nearly out. She had no desire to sleep with him, because she wasn’t interested in him anymore. Something new had come along and his guilty sighs over having to do the dishes were silently infuriating her. He always had to have it his way. He was just so pig headed. She couldn’t wait to go get drunk with her friends and forget all about how much she resented him.
“Goodnight.” He said. After a brutal day, he found no solace in his home. The place was devoid of closeness. He had, tucked somewhere in his subconscious, the fear that she was through with him. Maybe he just wasn’t willing to admit it yet. Either way, he went to bed quietly, and alone.

Most

Today is Monday, and I don’t feel weighed down by that. I feel somewhat excited to go in there and get after it. This is the week that I will have a 5 am Saturday shift, where I open the whole place and log in as the only call agent in the whole DTOC for more than an hour. Then some other people come in and help me out, but the show is mine to lead things off. I’m looking forward to that. As strange as that may sound. I really do like my job, and have no reason to begrudge an extra shift. It’s a short week with Thanksgiving on Thursday.

This weekend’s isolation test was a huge success. I did great, and feel much better than I had in previous solitary outings. I did not get sad, or even bored really. There was something to do pretty much the whole way through, and never once did I step back and become sad or otherwise depressed. My med change must really be working, because I’m enjoying a really extraordinary level of stability. Maybe part of that is my cognitive processes, and my diligence about not letting them deteriorate into badness. I had plenty of chances or excuses to feel bad, but I didn’t take any of them. I went about my business unperturbed, and found relaxation and rest as my rewards. I feel fully recharged, and ready to tackle another week.

I am dealing with the remnants of my cold, which has left me with some minor nasal congestion and a bit of a cough, which should fade as I carpet-bomb my immune system with vitamin c. I only had about 12 of these 1000 mg pills in the bottle, and since Wednesday night I’ve taken all but 4 of them.

This week my parents are coming back to town. They are bringing my little sister with them in the RV. There will be a big family gathering at my Uncle’s house for the feast, and I’m really looking forward to it. My dad’s family is just so rad. We had, in the past, held thanksgiving with my mom’s family, but it was never any fun, and has recently become a playground of destruction. That side of the family actually disdains each other, visibly, and they don’t know how to have fun together. It’s usually a total fucking nightmare. But none of that for this year.

I look forward to my friend Will returning home, after living in Northern California and Oregon over the last 2 years. He will be back in town for Thanksgiving, and it will be good to see him again and catch up on all the things we’ve been doing over the last few years. He was there for part of Jax and mine’s more argumentative past. Not a great way to treat a guest, methinks.

On a tangential note: I finally got some decent sleep last night. It seems like the nights that I dream a lot, I don’t really rest well. I woke up at 1 am to get some water and have a pee, but then I was right back to sleep for at least four more hours. Quiet, unperturbed torpor. And I’m thankful for that. It really sucks to dream about negative things. I’ve had a few vivid dreams that have had me thinking about all sorts of strange things. I don’t know if that’s a universal truth. I do nevertheless prefer dreamless sleep.

I’m here in the few moments I have left before work. I feel pretty good, for a sick guy. This week is a short one, and also quite full of activity and family. It will be refreshing to be around all those familiar faces again. There’s something solidifying about big family gatherings. Like we somehow know we’re all in this life together, however we can be. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I like it.

**UPDATE 1:00 pm**

My nose is a terrible place to be right now. I’m longing for a day without congestion and snot. My sandwich tasted like cardboard. I’m doing fine though. Plodding along as best I can. I just used about half the roll of TP I keep in the car clearing out my sinuses. And that was a limited success. I have a lot of things on my mind. I’ve been thinking of writing them all out, but I don’t really have the clarity of thought to manage such a thing. At least not right now. I’m lost in a sea of stuffiness and boogers. I’ll see you all later.

Stuffy

Well I’m mostly better. Maybe like 20% sick still. But I’m getting through it. My weekend has been lonesome, as you are aware. I’ve had plenty of chances to feel down, but I haven’t committed to sadness, or chosen a road that would lead to it. I find myself in a contemplative state, reflecting on my thoughts and amusing myself with distractions. I’ve been in my snugly jammies all day, and have no intention of getting out of them until bedtime. I do wish I was not sick so that I might have been able to do some activities, but I had been booked solid every weekend for the last month. It’s about time I had a break.

The time alone has been refreshing. I was able to watch football uninterrupted for hours with no one to entertain or have demands made of me. No obligations, no rules. Not that I have a desire to go do anything crazy: a wild time for me looks more like cereal for lunch. I have enjoyed being here and the silence of solitude. I especially enjoy that my idle thoughts are not deliberately destructive, as they have been in similar situations. Today was another example of how things are improving for me mentally. I put myself to the test, and I passed.

I know I’m going to be fine for work tomorrow. No question. I look forward to yet another eventful week, in which I will be successful. Nothing but my stuffy nose is holding me back. And that is a temporary situation. I think I will be up for a while watching tv and trying to normalize my sleep schedule again. If only coffee would have some sway on my level of alertness. It has long since lost its potency in this regard. Oh well. I baked some more chicken and will probably eat that for dinner. How boring. But this is my life. It’s not a carnival. Keep me in a set routine and I’ll be content. I yearn for patterns.

I hope you have a nice night blog. Take care.

The Experiment Of Loneliness

When I get to being alone for a good long while, I used to think very negative thoughts. Boredom would lead to listlessness which would make way for worse things. After having been relatively isolated all day, I am glad to find I have not perished to this downward progression. In fact, I seem to be doing just fine. I’ve had my moments of feeling bored, but nothing is nagging at me attempting to perturb my mental state. I have adequately occupied myself today, and even harbor a sense of accomplishment as the responsibilities I set out to achieve were done. For a sick person, I did quite a bit.

As I write this, a venture a look back on a couple of weeks ago, and the struggles I was having with my downtime. It was acceptable to rely on the crutches of social interaction and family, as these helped keep me out of a depressed place. What I am really hoping for is the ability to stand on my own without crutches at all, if need be. This weekend is a huge step forward in that department. I am gaining the necessary confidence that I can just be with myself, and not go crazy with depression. I haven’t avoided it with distractions, as there were vast stretches of the day where I just sat and did nothing. It was a test. I am attempting to ascertain if my baseline mental state is depressed, or something else. The test will continue tomorrow as I will not be going out and doing anything for the entire day. I just want to see if I can hold up, with only myself to hold accountable. It will be an interesting experiment, one that has begun to indicate a result after today’s progress.

On the logistical side, I’m still sick, and I really shouldn’t be going over to anyone’s house and spreading my germs. All the more reason to huddle up in front of my tv and vegetate. I’m going to be back at near 100% come Monday, and ready for whatever may come. I’m quite happy with what I have learned and gained so far. Hopefully more good news tomorrow.

Live From The Infirmary

I’ve been sick wince Wednesday night, and have not been in a terrible hurry to blog. I’m fairing better than I was a few days ago, and should be fine come Monday. Hopefully.

There’s not much to say really. I’ve restricted my social contact this weekend as I don’t want to give anyone else the cold I have. I may have gone over to my uncle’s house again, but I’m pretty much ruling out that possibility. I don’t mind. Honestly, health and potential energy levels for the coming week are at stake. I can’t go gallivanting about while by body is attempting to recover from illness. I’m confined to the infirmary.

I’ll be watching football and coughing my brains out. Hope your weekend is slightly more eventful than mine. My sleep schedule is totally fucking smashed. I woke up at 10 pm, 1 am and again at 6:30 am. Sleeping is such a problem when you can’t breathe through your nose. Sigh.

To health, and long life!

Looking Ahead

I had a very affirming therapy session with Margaret today. We talked about how my mood has been since the medication change, and what things I have been going through emotionally. Albeit, I didn’t have a whole lot to report; as I’ve been on a tear since I had my meds adjusted. That “roll” I’ve been on, Margaret points out, is a direct result of me being introspective, and noticing when my moods fluctuate and why. Without observation, there is a good chance I could fall back into a negative pattern, or otherwise lose the stability I’ve fought so hard to achieve. These dangers are very real for me, and they have happened before. Sitting down with Margaret and discussing the ins and outs of my week was refreshing. It really put my mind into focus about the things I struggle with. I used this analogy: my sadness is like a lake behind a dam. Before, I would fill the lake, and the dam would break, sending my emotions everywhere, and in places they did not belong. But since, I have built a stronger dam in my logical mind, and now even when the lake is full of sadness, the dam holds. I now have a way to still experience my emotions without having them spill out into everything I do.

It was a gratifying session, with much discussion about what I’m doing now, and how I can still improve. I need to exercise in the mornings right when I get up. And I’m not planning to go all out at first. I want to start out small, and build my way up to something reasonable. If I can get myself to take this step, I will have overcome a huge roadblock that has been limiting how fast I lose weight. I really do want to meet my goal for The Lone Bull Project, but dietary change is not going to get it done by itself. So I have that to ponder.

I’m very thankful for Margaret. She has been real with me, straightforward and rational. Our sessions are usually really rewarding, and can often help me see things I wouldn’t normally take notice of. The tough part for me is that I’m not very good at identifying my problems without a proper mirror. I often get lost in moments, not really achieving perspective until something dramatic jars me from my place. This is an issue I hope to avoid in the future.

I have been keeping a regular conversation with Sasha, from Rambling For Clarity, and my friend Jacqueline. Both primarily via text, and usually in the downtime I have at work. Of which there is lots, especially late in the afternoon. Sasha has had a rough couple of days, which will happen. My sympathy for her situation runs deep, because I see a lot of the same things she goes through paralleled in my own life. She doesn’t take meds, but she may not need them. I know my illness is severe enough to warrant dramatic intervention, as I do not function without neurochemical balance. She can get by without medication, and that may not always be the case, but it is for now. I have nothing but understanding for her, and I’m glad to have made this connection. Jacqueline has seen me at my weak points, when I was really struggling for stability in my life. She has endured a lot of my antics while I scrambled over the last few months to rebuild my identity, confidence and stability. She was willing to still be my friend after all that, so I’m grateful for her. These two connections have been rewarding me with a type of interaction that I can take something positive from. Like I’ve said before: I’m not in the risk-taking business, but I will continue to nurture these connections for as long as they are positive.

I’m headed to bed. Goodnight blog. I hope your day was satisfactory.