Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More reflecting

As a full attestment to how neurotic I am, I almost began this post with an apology to how un-interesting and self-reflective this entry was also going to be.

Um, it's my blog. I'm allowed to pollute it with narcissistic musings all I want.

(Though I promise I will try to return to my regular form of repartee soon.)

As you may have guessed from my last entry, I feel the pressure to be really overcontrolled a lot of the time.
Not only does my schedule not allow for any gaps in productivity or creativity (as any grad student in clinical psyc can attest to... when was the last time any of us were able to take a deserved sick day?), but I am insanely invested in putting across the impression that I have it all together (whatever "it" is).

Prime example... when going through some interpersonal turmoil this year, I was so upset that I actually went and vomited during lunch with some girl friends (don't worry... I am very much not bulimic, hence why this stands out for me)- then came out of the bathroom like nothing was the matter, and continued the conversation with no one the wiser.

I could go on about my theories of why I have this need. Part of it is merely the weird professional pressure you get, as a psychologist, to epitomize the myth of mental health. Part of it is also due to the fact that I wish to distance myself from my exceedingly moody and miserable teenage years. Part of it is probably some sick martyr need-- I am the go to person for support and advice for many of my friends and family, yet I want to appear all stoic and self-reliant.

I've also went through a lot of shit over the past year, be it the death of my (beloved) cat, the death of a friend's brother, the break-up, being broke and living on couches, finishing up my Masters, etc, etc, etc.
The weird thing about each of these is that they are not epic crises... rather, just enough to, as I said in my last entry, keep me up at night, crying and ruminating, but not enough to warrant a sanctioned collapse.

So, being me, I push on, and try to let the fewest people let on as possible. I love it when I hear that people hadn't an idea what I had been going through, or that I have been holding up better than expected.

But it is starting to weigh me down. With each minor crisis, I find it leaking into my life in ways I don't like and can't predict. Just tonight, I watched myself twist an interpersonal interaction with someone I really care about into something ridiculous.

I guess that maybe something's gotta' give, but I can't figure out what it possibly be.

I also realize how ridiculous it is that I actually think that I am a bad person for having a bad interpersonal interaction the day after I find out about Z.
I don't judge anyone else for needing my support, but I can't bear to place my troubles on anyone else.


Ant said...

I do that too - something about "show no fear/weakness". Being the strong one and all that...

To be honest, I think it's good. If the need for a public face stops the outward grieving then to a certain extent it helps inwardly too. But, of course, the bottling thing is never good if it goes on too long - you can get into all kinds of serious mental shit that way.

Acknowledge how you feel, let the valve go now and then and feel absolutely no shame in doing so - you've been through some hard stuff.

Confide in your nearest and dearest. And sometimes, throw down all your tools and just head for some peaceful countryside for a few days...

LMizzle said...

Life is pretty rough sometimes! I got fired on my birthday and almost got expelled, got into an ENORMOUS fight with my mother, and had the hood of my car fly over the winshield while driving...all in about three months. Sometimes life just gets to you.
It's hard not to let life seep into other areas.
You shouldn't feel shame for being upset, or angry, or sad. That's what we do as humans. We're at least afforded the opportunity to converse with others about the bad times. I think talking about it at least brings it out into the atmosphere instead of letting it well up inside you. Life really sucks sometimes, and sometimes it sucks for a long period of time! I can attest to that! The good part is that eventually things go back to being good.
It's hard to see the light when things are the poops.
As one of my favorite canadian poets says, "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
The good will come, and will eventually outweigh the bad.

tonya said...

i agree with the op. I think you almost expect that because of your profession you are no supposed to have problems of your own. But you are human and you have to deal with things the same as everyone else. I'll take advice people always keep telling, "don't be so hard on yourself." love ya! T

Beth said...

Perhaps your desire (need?) for self-reliance and self-control has become overwhelming. And perhaps you’re living without a safety-net – we all need one to get us over the cracks and crevices of life. Let other people help you through the rough times. It’s not a sign of weakness to let others know you’re hurting. (And then they can offer comfort, feel needed…)

Being the nurturing, strong one takes its toll. The stress is going to get you – somewhere, sometime…

(I know whereof I speak.)

iFreud said...

Anyone who says academia isn't cutthroat has no idea what it is really like. Clearly the death of Z is like the straw that broke the camel's back. It is probably very likely that you do have excellent coping strategies, and that is what has gotten you through these tough times that would cripple others. It is perfectly okay to say, Ok, I've had enough now. I have had a lot of challenges too - and I always seem to overcome them somehow. I take some time to pout, and freak out, and then somehow, I find a way to make it through. Its okay to feel sorry for yourself sometimes.

I hope that you have someone in your life who you can talk to and understands your situation and lend you support. If you do not, I am here for you, and would be willing to give up my anonymity without a problem to lend an ear, shoulder, advice or make you laugh.

Thinking about ya! Hang in there.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

"I love it when I hear that people hadn't an idea what I had been going through, or that I have been holding up better than expected"

Why do you love it?

cinemec said...

How hard it must be when you're so studied up on such matters of the human psyche to deal with one's own existence. You can apply the math to your own state of being but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with and move onwards. Still, imagine there are hundreds upon thousands of souls out there going through exactly the same as you every day then imagine they don't have the kind of support from friends, colleagues, family etc as you do. Then stop imagining because it is probably true. Now look at your reticence to burden others with your issues and problems. I'd argue it is your duty to allow those who are willing to help out in whatever small way they can. You'll feel better, they'll feel better from the thought they have helped you out and then you can go on and return the favour to someone not so lucky as ourselves in the support stakes.
But what do I know. I've jut read through this comment and realised it could sound like a bit of a harsh pep talk. It wasn't intended in that way, just to say anything you want to confide in us in this forum i'm sure any of us will be happy to give our $0.02 worth and help out where we can.
Does that make sense? Helloo?! anyone still there? Is this thing on??

Eve said...

I'm the same way, but I've been trying to not feel the need to be so stoic. It's one thing to not be too needy, but releasing some of that emotional whatever really helps. I mean, it really isn't that bad, which is something you often realize only through talking about it. It's one thing to know it, and totally another to lower the wall. It's scary at first, is also validating. When you open up and admit what you perceive to be a weakness, it inevitably form connections with people, which helps you realize that you aren't the only person in the world experiencing something. You are not alone. Just look at all the responses you've gotten!

eric1313 said...

"Part of it is merely the weird professional pressure you get, as a psychologist, to epitomize the myth of mental health."

I think I understand this. I don't know if you are aware of it, I assume you are and just didn't want to perpetuate the following yourself: There have been a lot of studies that say that on average, mental health professionals tend to have higher incidences of psychological disorders and suicide rates. And you don't want to be seen in that light at all. Aside from wanting to always appear as the rock that others can positively count on, every time.

But careful not to become a psych dumping ground! That will catch up with you one day. I'm sure you have that under control.

And I know why you love itwhen people don't realize the pain you go through and troubles that are on your mind: it's how you rate your self on the level of cotrol that you exert over your emotions. I cold see control being a thing in your life. But that's not a bad thing; you don't seem to extend that control to other people in your life, beyond their perception of you. You let them decide their own paths.

Any way, I also have a vomit without a hitch story, too--except it's not as smooth as yours. After my old band cut our second demo in the studio, we had an after party, where I smoked a huge doobie, ate two whoppers (they were on sale for a dollar!), had a few snoot fulls of vodka and stood up in the midst of the party, went to the bath room, wretched like mad, cleaned up, borrowed some mouthwash (we were at my drummer's house), and walked back out like nothing happened.

I noticed everyone looking at me. I ignored it. Finally, the singer was like, "dude, did you just ralf in there?"

"No..." I looked at him then everyone else like I had no idea about what was being said.

A few more inquiries, I deflected them, and all went back to normal--I laid off the vodka, but smoked another joint with the boys and crashed out on the couch watching Beetlejuice as the party wound down.

Everyone knew, but I played it cool, so it was OK. Now, if I had been uncontrollably ill, I would not have heard the end of it. Ever.

man I want a dube now. I haven't smoked down in over a month! That's life.

And by the way--I keep between three and five tabs open at a time. I read a bunch of blogs, comment, but every few ones, I pop over to this one, read another post and jibber jabber on the keys. It's all good! I figured I'd say that, just in case you look at your blog tracker and see that this page was open for hours.

Peace, yo! And good night.

eric1313 said...

Hey there!

I read the comment again, and realized you meant the poem it's self.

That's cool! It did have a kind of voyeur thing going on--like looking in a hotel window for a split second.

Thanks for the visit over there. And I'm glad you met Singleton, my good writer/artist/poet friend--her stuff is really unique. If your parents were hippies, then you kow how strange and cool they can be.