Loss (the instability of consciousness)

Imagine sitting in a chair that is hard and uncomfortable. No matter how you wriggle, you always end up with an ache somewhere. The top of the chair digs in to your back, so you hunch further down into it, but that only makes things worse in the long run. So you go back to how you were at first, having forgotten the feeling of a wooden bar against the top of your spine. You turn sideways, but now your neck is cranked at an awkward angle and in futility you begin to massage your shoulders. So you hunch down.

This is what my consciousness feels like inside my head. Disjointed, disorientated, confused. Uncomfortable with itself, it struggles between uncomfortable places.

I believe this is for two reasons, both metaphysical and intellectual: the first is that I have not accepted that there is no centre, that consciousness is intrinsically afloat on a stormy sea, and the second is that change and loss is the nature of all things.

I will focus on the second. Everything comes from something and dissolves back into that something. Change is a blessing when you are in pain, for it won’t be forever. But it is not a nice though to think that what is familiar to you, people and places, will someday cease to exist. This is especially true when we have a strong sense of memory and the places that made us happy.

Good days are the ones we want to hold on to, but inevitably they come and go. And when we really think about it, we were never truly in control of the millions of factors which fed into those good days. Indeed, that is what made them good!

So longing to recreate them is futile. What has been has been. Things are gained and lost. People in our lives also; found and lost.

Trying to predict every factor that feeds into this impossibly complex ‘equation’ that is life / lyfe – such a thing cannot be done. And is not desirable – imagine how terribly contrived it would be if everything fit your dreams to perfection and was entirely of your creation; there would be no other autonomous people, just you directing everything.

Yet insecurity and instability are frightening, so it is understandable that we want a foundation of control. We could talk about balance here, but I feel that will be naive. What balance? What sense of control?

None of us will ever be given one for long. Consciousness, echoing the nature of all-things as transient and permeable and centre-less, cannot sustain itself forever. It evolves by virtue of what it is.

Even this article has no coherent central theme, just fragmented paragraphs loosely linked together. That is more profound then you may think, if you can work your head around it.

Holding on is anxiety, letting go is anxiety!

Perhaps this universe was made as some kind of joke, one that we human beings, limited in power and perception, can never truly see the funny side of. The joke is really cruel because we have the infinite abilities of thought and imagination, without the inner-strength to truly make sense of this great something (which doesn’t have much of a meaning anyway), we are beholden to. Sometimes it is funny, at least when people take it a bit too seriously and fight to hold on to their illusion. But largely it is tragic, and it is only in being together that we can survive in such a universe for long.

God has been taken away from us and there is nothing to take His place. Well, except for the microorganisms which feed on the bloated corpses of the fallen perhaps.

Ha ha.

 

Pain and self-growth

At first I was afraid of the pain. It makes sense. Caution is wise when something new is upon you. And patience too. To be unsure, to wait it out, to dip a toe in the black pool and have a safe space to recoil. All of these are wise decisions.

Yet the day will come when the passage of time has done all of the healing it can. Time alone does not heal all wounds, and anyone who tells you it does is a fool. Once you have something of a stable foundation again, the days and days waiting for inner-pain to go away become wasted opportunities to get back onto your feet. You cannot know when you are ready to go back out (though your body will give you indicators, or guesses). So you will just have to try it for yourself, to trust your defences and trust that you can take what comes and have the self-love and inner-strength to make it. Do not go it if you are not ready, but do not stagnate it you are.

Wait and you will wait forever.

The world is full of suffering. There is no denying it, and anyone sensitive to it will feel it. Pain is unavoidable and inevitable. Thus, one way or another, the time will come when you will fall into a spiral of pain which dominates your consciousness. It is not a ‘mental’ thing – it will permeate all aspects of your body and mind. It will come when it comes, and you will not be able to just will it away.

I would rather face those days of reckoning as one who is trained to face my fears, then one who hides behind shields of repression, or naive hope in the passing of days. And so I did.

When the pain came and took over my body I could not turn it away, and why should it leave on my account? Does it not have an equal right to express itself through the human corpus? Is it not also a part of me? When the pain came and took over my body I stopped resisting it and accepted its presence. I went deeper into it, explored it, and this hurried its course toward resolution.

The black pool is there, waiting for you. Ignore it and you will see it in dark dreams. Dive into it and you will come to know it wholly.

It will return again, the pain is recurring. There is no end point of healing and no end point of anything. But when the inevitable returns again, you can become more and more adept at dealing with it. I have no ultimate choice in what I feel and when I feel – I do not think anyone has that much freedom. But when the storm comes I will ride through to its eye, through to the other side.

Face things, do not let them linger. Confront and challenge things; at your own pace, but swiftly enough to not lose your social life, hope and ambition to them. Human beings evolved on the plains to hunt in packs. They did not evolve in arm chairs and in front of laptop screens to wait and rot.

You were born to hunt, to be an element in nature, so go and hunt. Only, this hunt is not for some animal, it is a quest into yourself for truth, for what truly happened, and the path to changing yourself. I have changed so much since the pain came and I learnt to hunt so much for the better.

When something inside screams, listen. The longer you leave it, the worse your demons will grow…

My lived experience of anxiety

To overcome anxiety and panic, come to understand it. Anxiety is there for a reason – to protect us from danger. The aim is not to completely get rid of anxiety, but turn the volume down on it when it gets out of hand. Anxious feelings themselves are not dangerous, and cannot lead to any serious harm.

And do not worry – you will not have panic attacks forever! They are going to go. Mine have gone from bad to bearable in four or five months.

Here is a description of my lived experience of anxiety and agoraphobia.

Sometimes when I go out, it feels like something is pulling the hair right at the back of my skull. I can describe it as a constant tugging. I know it is a false warning, but it is nonetheless powerfully there. Describing it seems to rob it of its power. Imitating this feeling at home, literally tugging the back of my hair, makes me realize that sensations are just that – sensations. What they mean depends on the importance we give them. Nonetheless, they are frightening at first. Gradually, you kind-of just get used to them.

When I fear that I am exerting myself too much or someone walking down the street could be a threat, my heart feels like it is not there! I can only describe it like that. It is like my heart moves up and right across my chest, vanishing into a portal. This is certainly the most bizarre feeling. A tenseness in the diaphragm often comes up when I go out walking alone. The chest area has a strong significance for me. At the moment I am experiencing shortness of breath, especially in closed spaces outside. I know it is not dangerous (perhaps light hyperventilation) and it is kept at a low level. But it is uncomfortable, and makes me more prone to stress.

Another lived experience is like feeling a nebula softly exploding and dissipating in my frontal lobes. It could also be described as someone pressing down again my forehead. I don’t know why this one comes up – it hasn’t for a while.

My least favourite experience at the moment is the lightness in the knees, as if the ground is pulling away from me. My head simultaneously feels a dizziness, like a spiralling. I get thoughts like ‘I’m going to fall’ or ‘Have I gone too far’? Often this experience Is caused by anticipating it, leading to a self-fulfilling spiral. But it never gets too bad. I am on top of the dizziness, because I know that when we are in fight or flight mode, the last thing we are going to do is be clumsy and fall. Also, by imitating this feeling at home by deliberately spinning round (not too much!) I am robbing dizziness of its fear-association.

One thing I do at the moment is to have safety behaviours and items. For instance, I am conscious when I leave the house that I should have my keys, meds or phone in my pockets. When walking along the street alone I tend to hold on to these things in my pockets. When I let go of them and walk more ‘normally’, it decreases my sense of anxiety. In short, I am aware that these safety items and behaviours reinforce anxiety – I only need to remember all the times I used to go out without them! I am experimenting with going out without having my phone, or meds. So far, nothing catastrophic has happened as a result. Gradual exposure to anxiety is the way to gradually reduce it, and for me it is working.

Generally my sense of dread is felt in the knees and chest. It feels like something really bad is going to happen, and that I have strayed too far from home. I only real feel a major fear in my head on a particularly bad day. After a particularly bad mood, or conflict, or any gushing of volatile emotion, I can feel quite a lot of dread and anxiety on my first venture outside.

My anxiety is also linked to the weather – dark and cold and dreary makes it worse, sunlight and softness and warmth can almost completely nullify it at times. This is why it is important to warm up before going, and not to push yourself too far at first! I am slowly getting used to colder and harsher weather, although going out at night alone I have not much experimented with. I have had strong anxieties about going out at night for at least a decade. Now is the time to deal with that fear.

These are all uncomfortable experiences. There are also positive and encouraging experiences on my journeys. Sudden bursts of strength, energy and confidence usually follow my realization that ‘I am actually at peak speed and strength! Anxiety is only uncomfortable now because it is not the right time for fight or flight.’ These confidences are sometimes linked to specific areas (crossing at a certain traffic light for instance, or going up a certain part of a hill). I try to remember that even positive associations are based the subconscious. When I really delve into the causes of anxiety, and sometimes get angry inside myself for injustices I have suffered, I feel stronger and less anxious. Expression of something hitherto unexpressed seems to lower my anxiety. But the rules of society and masculinity are still strong even in my ‘rebellious’ mind. They force me into the ‘psyche’ of citizen, and so I have not yet learnt to transcend these expectations and thus greatly lower my anxiety levels.

These are some of my lived experiences of anxiety and how I strive to overcome them. What is your lived experience of anxiety?

Time and Trauma

Does trauma heal with time, or does time just make you feel cheated for longer?

The natural healing systems of the body can clearly get it wrong with anxiety, which is an over-active sense of alarm leading to the degrading of normal function. Waiting for these negative learned behaviours to change themselves is not going to work.

The mind can race ahead of the body, or think itself separate – a folly. But it can also correct its course, for the mind too is of nature, and we are possessed of some wisdom. Altering the mind’s course to reduce anxiety will help trauma heal.

But how long will  this take? I cannot know. And what will healing look like? I do not know. All I can know is whether or not I am on the path to healing and whether I wish to get better, or remain forever broken.

 

 

Refugee

Seven hundred thousand refugee

Sail across the distant sea

I want dem come for company

For my own land, me refugee

No passport many years

No job twenty years

No home a lifetime

Come and join me refugee

In my own country.

Dis your country too

What done to you, by colony

Accept dis apology

Come settle, make me glad with glee

My new friend, no more a refugee.

Procrastination

Start writing it

Ask her out

Cancel your card

Leave the house

Take the risk

Send it in

Procrastination – anxiety in action. The brain’s version of two feet fumbling at the edge of a cliff, refusing to just bungeeeeeeee…

The difference between good and great is that good procrastinates and gets there eventually, whereas great is already one step ahead, having missed the procrastination stage.

The worst that can happen is that you could trap yourself in a spiral of negative thinking and unproductive worry!

This means that you are in control of how you feel today. It means that the insurmountable mountain is actually not that steep.

It means that all of the barriers on your path only seem so high because you are hunkering down.

It means that all of the monsters on your quest are infamous only because other people are so afraid of them.

I think procrastination is a form of enchantment – only, in the negative sense of overestimating threat. I suppose dread and fear is as much a part of the imagination as anything!

But it is not a part of the imagination we want to allow to rule our lives.

To ‘not do’ is not the safe option. To ‘not do’ is how phobias and disorders develop, and once they do, it is not easy to reverse them (believe me, I am in the middle of one).

If only I had done this, if only I had done that – also not useful. Procrastination.  What has been is not necessarily what will be. And who can tell where each path would have led, or what you would be now if you had done what.

What you have before you is what you can mould the most. Your destiny is undeniably a continuous thing which cannot be altered easily, as is your character. But the small steps you can make to begin changing that destiny – they can happen anytime.

And once you start winning and changing, the results are exponential. Find something you can feasibly achieve, and feasibly achieve it.

Procrastination – the product of too much intellect and not enough feeling. Get out of your mind for a moment, and back into the whole of yourself…

There is a world to explore

There are unjust systems to deconstruct

There is your novel to write

There is love to be found

There is music to be played

There are seeds to be planted

There is climate destruction to be undone

There is a Trump to be dethroned

 

(If you like this post, share it on social media and help your friends stop procrastinating!)

Finitude

You are a limited being. The pain inside you can only accumulate so much.

You must be patient. You must be prepared to go into yourself and let the healing process happen.

Pride is the product of harmful attitudes, which lead to emotions amplifying your pain.

Learn to be humble and reach out your hand for help.

Say you need help, be vulnerable among those you trust.

You will be strong again someday, but that day is not today.

If you need medication to have the courage to go out, you cannot work.

If the slightest stress makes your knees buckle, you cannot stand alone.

You must be humble, you must live with acceptance.

You must know no shame, you must live with acceptance.

Until you accept, you will but delay the inevitable.

No love will you find, for none are your saviour.

No peace will you find, for you will be haunted.

No sanctuary exists, for these feelings are carried with you.

So let it wash over you, let it pass through.

Even the darkest pain, do not resist it.

Be with it, let it work its dark work.

Trust that your natural being can eventually heal you.

Trust that you are made of light.

 

Know your limits as a finite entity

Of a finite race, upon a finite world

 

Never again let yourself come to this.

Love yourself, forgive yourself

Swallow pride, seek help – it is there.

Humanity has a large heart.

And so do you.

Be patient, live step by step and day by day

When you are ready to stand again

You will just know it.

 

Don’t worry

Everything by nature wishes to live

It is encoded into you

Trust the very essence of your being.

Self Worth

It always surprises me how capable I am.

It really should be obvious by now, because I work so well in community-minded teams. Time and time again, I have thrived and inspired others. Effortlessly I can fit in to new groups and gain as much respect as I show. But I still have these barriers of worthlessness to deal with most days.

A lifetime of abuse, neglect and alienation can do that to you. When you have to constantly hear other people’s problems (in the constant whining tone of a frustrated idiot), your self-identity is worn down. You have no space to become your own person. It is hard to shape yourself when it is besieged by other people’s emotions, other people’s expectations, or literally disrupted by unwanted sounds. For vulnerable children, these intrusive elements are especially damaging.

Eventually, your self-esteem hits a nadir, and it is in these moments you become most vulnerable. Wounds that are struck in this time, with no psychic defences, leave the deepest mark. Feeling powerless is the way to depression, feeling weak to anxiety. Over the years it grinds into you, becoming a kind of ‘default setting’.

I have these feelings deep inside. Childhood abuse and humiliation, unacknowledged or underplayed, has left its scars on my self-esteem. The lack of a single proper relationship has meant I had to cope as a lone wolf for so many years. The brutality of school, caught between savagely stupid bullies and horrible teachers has made it hard for me to trust the world. The grinding alienation of the capitalist world, with its ghettos and shopping malls, inspired inaction and depression. It is a lot to bear.

And sometimes the load gets too much. It is not as if the abuse is stuck in the past. Those who commit abuse and do not make real steps to change are prone to repeat their actions. Sometimes the sight of them alone triggers discomfort and anxiety, disgust and anger.

Lack of self-worth is thus passed down like a family legacy. It always made me wonder how a family could destroy its own chances, undermining its own and leaving itself in a worse position. Why would an abuser create mentally crippled children and risk destitution? Why would people who always compete with the Joneses damage their own chances of being more successful? Perhaps it is a form of self-hatred. Perhaps it is overwhelming ignorance.

My wings have certainly been clipped. This article is not an exercise in ‘woe-is-me’. It is an exercise in what I have to push through to be what I truly want to be.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to remind myself: I am worth something! Having a web of friends who always show love and appreciation help me feel special. Self-worth comes from my creations, which were generated precisely because of my lack of any good emotions. And with self-reflection comes self-worth, for if I truly know myself, I can but love what is there. That very act of trying to know myself is to show that I am something separate from what others try to shape me into; an attempt at dignity.

Self-worth is hard. My lack of esteem is the cause of always seeing this year’s dream woman as being my emotional saviour, or the other town as a utopia, or a small job opening as the path to fame and wealth. These flights of fancy are not a healthy way to live, and further entrench lack of self-worth. What I need is acceptance of the past without a feeling of rage, but paradoxically, ambition enough to transcend the present condition and its myriad risks.

Do I have self-worth? Yes, I must do. If I didn’t I would not be angry at having been underestimated and ground down; I wouldn’t have an image of what I could be; I wouldn’t be crawling painfully toward something better; I wouldn’t be seeing a psychotherapist and treating my body well. Yes, I have self-worth.

But next door ugly voices are grating, chattering endlessly, intruding on my psychic space, and it is a challenge to stay afloat.

Gylfanon and the Black Drake

On the eve of Lammas, Gylfanon crossed the Gnarred Plains and first reached Mawrend’s cavern, gazing down at the entrance. Smelling the sick scent of sulphur and burning bones, he turned his steed and sheathed Nightcleaver, bringing his cavalry bodyguards with him.

On the eve of Imbolc, Gylfanon again reach Mawrend’s cavern. This time he dismounted, handing the reins to his page, drew his broad black sword and ventured down the first corridor. Something inside his skull urged him to turn, to turn back with haste. He followed that impulse.

Half a year passed and again on the eve of Lammas, Gylfanon reached Mawrend’s cavern. With little fear he dismounted and made his way along the first, natural cavern corridor. Skulls and bones and scorched armours lay all about, at the portal to the deeps of the reptile’s lair. Gylfanon pondered sending in scouts, but decided not to risk it. Mounting his steed, sheathing Nightcleaver, he returned to Castle Gylfax.

On the eve of Imbolc, Gylfanon returned to Mawrend’s cavern. Fearless he strode into its maw and along the first corridor. Tentatively he made his way through the portal, and there slumbered the great drake Mawrend. The beast slept, but the Black Prince thought better than to try his luck, trusting in his twisting gut. Ordering his impetuous knights to stand down, they left grumbling.

On the eve of Beltain, Gylfanon returned to Mawrend’s cavern. Never had his men seen him so confident as he dared the cavernous entrance, bestrode the dark corridors, ducked through the portal entrance and drew Nightcleaver, brandishing the terrible blade and roaring in defiance. Mawrend, woken from a deep dream, instantly bowed his neck in service.

All of the bones lying about the Reptile’s lair, they belonged to the ones who did not listen to their fear. They were the ones who understood not how to battle the unknown. Gylfanon was wiser, the alpha and the omega. He won a powerful reptilian ally and a lifelong friend from his understanding.

This many

This many killed, this many injured

Here at this time

Framed on a page

Of cheap pulp

This many saw it, this many wept

In our nation

Framed on a page

Of cheap pulp

 

And how many died today

Around the world?

How many starved

How many strangled

How many in their own homes

How many exploited

How many ignored

How many dehumanized

To stitch your new shirt

 

This many of my brain cells died today

From the fear you tried to evoke

Insulting my intelligence

Trying my patience

This much of my hope was extinguished

From the pain you tried to peddle

Trivializing the truth

On cheap pulp

 

But I will not despair

For

I learnt how to slay you long ago;

The beast dies when you behold it not.

 


 

I know it is stating blindingly obvious, but the mass media is full of fear. It creates a narrative of fear, exaggerating the dangers of the world, framing it as a place of violent chaos. Like gazing into a train wreck, the smouldering ruins it presents have an instinctual draw.

But turn away! Turn away from the distortion of truth! Life is not some land of rainbows and butterflies, but it is safer than the Hades the papers make it out to be.

Craft your own narrative, inspired by a balanced appraisal of events. Think not that your life is insignificant just because, on a grand scale, you are a drop in the ocean. Just as the distances between ehre and the stars are vast, so the distances between the atoms in your body are vast.

You are all things, as much as they are you. The importance of the mass-media machine diminishes when you start to value those around you, and seek a more balanced diet of news and events.

What is truly signficant? Anything that is not in an irreverent tabloid.