Hello again everyone.
It’s been a while.
I do apologize for my long absence.
2019 has proven a difficult year for me.
Work promoted me, which is good, but also meant more hours and more work.
Someone I know shifted from “sortof dating” and talking/hanging out multiple times a week to interacting about once every two months.
And two of my primary social groups began to dissolve due to internal drama among members.
Combined with some internal issues, these diverse challenges tested me, and gradually I slipped into a bit of a depression.
Fortunately, through a combination of therapy, self research, new mental exercises, I feel I am starting to mend, and hope to once again begin posting regularly on writing, and the various topics that relate to it (at least for me).
Hopefully 2020 will prove a brighter year.
For those that are interested, here’s a list of things I found helpful.
1. A Good Therapist
I’ve really come to believe that there is merit in having a therapist in general, the same way that one has a primary medical doctor, dentist, etc.
As part of good health, we routinely visit a medical doctor for a physical examination and blood tests. Why not adopt the same view about mental/emotional health?
For me, what’s really helped is having a therapist who favors posing questions, and typically only offers statements as “suggestions to try” or a second perspective on something I’ve said. She will sometimes offer “an answer,” but only after posing the question to me and giving me time to think. She heavily favors “guiding one to a realization” rather than blatantly stating it, which I find very helpful.
I also think it’s a good idea to “look for someone” when you are in a good place mentally/emotionally, so that you can objectively consider whether “this person” is a good match for you.
There’s something a little humorous to me about how much of it is essentially “paying someone to patiently listen and help you resolve emotional tormoil and confusion.” In many ways one might imagine that friends and family might be the ones to help with such needs, and in some cases they do, but the need may be greater than they can fulfill, and as someone personally involved in your life, it can be more challenging for them.
But yeah, there is a deep need, often underestimated, to be heard and validated.
2. Studying Myself
I’ve always felt that I was a bit atypical, and I’ve always considered myself a student of humanity, but recently I decided to re-delve into “who/what I am.” I started with personality articles, looking for anything that might resonate with my experiences.
Eventually I hit upon 3 books:
- Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Elain N. Aron
- Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge
Mating in Captivity was something I stumbled upon while wandering YouTube and listening to a TedTalk by the author. The focus was on relationships and sexuality, particularly the dichotomy between desire and safety.
This idea of “why do we want” and “what causes us to desire,” as well as “why does the desire wane” were very important questions. Among other things I was noticing a pattern of “buy/make something new” as a coping mechanism, and my recent loss of a romantic partner left me looking for insight into what happened.
The Highly Sensitive Person stemmed from my feeling that the world is “louder” for me than it is for others. But learning about the formal concept of “high sensitivity” and how that is often lumped together with anxiety and introversion, when it’s actually a different cause that shares some of the same symptoms. More than anything else, receiving validation about my sensitivity, and confirmation of the strengths that are linked with it was very helpful, along with some advice on how to better handle it.
Personality Hacker came last, as an extension of the articles. At first I delved into my personality type, focusing heavily on the “car model,” but as I continued, I decided to look into personalities that had my weaknesses as their primary strengths, and from there I was struck by how, even though I have no doubts about my personality type, I also felt there was real value and insight into how the other types exercises their strengths, wrestled with weaknesses, and most importantly, how each persoenality type burns out.
I feel like the many forms of burnout, and the correct salve for each, is an invaluable tool. After compiling a list, I started noticing situations (particularly at work) that simultaneously caused half a dozen burnout types, and how in some cases the salve for one type was also the “incorrect coping mechanism” for another, which explained a bit.
All of these are things I continue to study, but having explored 25-50% of each text, I feel that I have enough understanding to begin consolidating them into something more unified within my own perspective and understanding.
3. Actively Recognizing Situations Where I am Strong
As an extension of my studies, I started internally reflecting on various situations I encountered (before and/or after). In some cases I would consider the idea that even though the situation feels easy and effortless for me, for others it might seem almost magical that I do what I do. And, by the same token, remind myself that some situations are specifically difficult for someone with my skillset, and therefore any results I achieve should be evaluated in light of that.
4. Exploring New Hobbies/Interests with a “Casual Attitude”
The last thing I did was try to diversify my interests. As social opportunities dwindled, and writing grew more challenging, I decided to consider picking up something else; an interest or hobby that I could just as easily put down without any regrets, one where I wouldn’t care if the results of my efforts were impressive or not, and something that I felt I could engage even if my mind was completely and utterly fragged.
I chose sewing, and I chose to do it with a minimum of precision.
I would head to Joann Fabrics with a loose idea of what I wanted to make (so far it’s mostly been cloaks) and I chose fabrics that looked nice but cost very little, and bought large quantities (and sometimes a pattern).
I head home and cut out several instances of the pattern in the fabric, enough to make 3-4 of the item I wanted to make. And then I would set up my sewing machine, use bins to organize the different types of pieces, and whenever I felt like sewing, I’d hop over and bang out some pieces, working with a cavalier lack of caution that often meant 20-40% of what I created was rubbish, but for me, that lack of precision helped. It felt good to create something without concentration, to let the mistakes show me why certain techniques and conventions arose, and trust that in due time “one of the many would be good enough.”
This is also an attitude I frequently hear exalted by professional writers, but I struggle with “caring too much” about each story I write, and my writing process is a bit slow, whereas sewing, I could crank out several pieces in an hour or two, and because sewing is nothing more than a casual hobby for me, I am able to do that.
So yeah, those are 4 things that seem to have helped me.
Here’s hoping that 2020 is a brighter year than the one so recently left behind.