New Places

Blog,

I often go on an upward spiral when I remember you. Of late, my handwriting has become so bad my notes are like hieroglyphics! Nonetheless, plentiful wisdoms await, yearning for their chance to the see light.

Writing in this notepad is like finding seeds in a meadow, and expressing them the digging, tilling and planting. Looking back, what I have written is often good advice on the right track; glimmers of what is to come all but presaged. But to embody truth takes something else I cannot quite put my finger on. The words say what would be best for me to do, but this awareness alone has to become practiced and truly embedded someplace deep within. That ‘someplace’ is a mystery beyond us all. As unknowable as the forces behind the cosmos.

And even if we know the right path, day to day bad habits pulls us away. Into tunnel-vision, into bad routines, into negative thinking patterns. I am prone to a lot of this, and the isolation and sadness and frustration that follows.

Of course, even that last paragraph is quite unnecessarily gloomy! Things are not bad now, just wobbly and (occasionally) boring. I have made great steps toward recovery, and crossed a threshold of understanding today.

It is about giving the body the time it needs to process things and heal. I will trust myself and those around me. I will trust the flux of all-things we are contained within.

Life has humbled me; my being turned out to be more than just a mind and its expectations. I must learn to live at a new rhythm, away from impossible expectations and unhealthy obsessions.

Reading has helped enormously. Although anxious and vulnerable, the power of words has a much bigger impact on me. Music too. I experience it now with the vivacity of a child. The world is scary and wonderful again at the same time.

But writing, like a mirror, reflects and expresses. I have created a narrative and history here, through Nyteshade, and I am happy that you are travelling along with me.

At one time, this was the only solace in a harsh and demeaning Winter time. Now the spore has landed and grown into a mushroom, I promise to be more active and restore this good habit!

I want to feel good. I want to be well.

That is self-love, writing is self-love. Please express yourself too. Say how you are, say how you will meet Nyteshade in the dark, colourful glade. Say something whimsical and silly, or just be.

Just bring a quill and parchment!

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…

What I am (to you)

An old vinyl full of sublime sound, never put on

An oil painting from the renaissance, gathering dust in the cellar

A cerulean, sun-soaked sky behind heavy, drawn curtains

A beautiful wandering cat, seeking love from strangers

The words of power that unmake spells of hate, never uttered

A drawer full of field beans, never planted in the garden

A book of depth and colour, you refuse to read

 

You do not need to say the sun is gold and resplendent

For the sun to be gold and resplendent

And if you say the sun is bleak, squat, grey and ugly

That does not make the sun bleak, squat, grey and ugly

 

This is why your words have no power; they speak untruth.

The magick of words is their ability to say what is

For magick is power, and magick is just truth, thus truth is power

 

A proud otter swimming through a running river, whose strength you cannot comprehend

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?

Narcissism

Narcissism is to make a complex labyrinth of yourself and cardboard cut outs of everybody else.

My pain, my desires, my needs, my justifications, my fears, my words.

This disease of the mind, in the politician means mass-terror, in the parent means domestic tyranny, in the artist means indulgent meaninglessness.

How insane our race must have become to manifest so many narcissists. How far down the rabbit hole our language and metaphysics has dragged us to spawn an entire culture of self-obsessives.

And it is a hopeless obsession. For the self, as much as anything else, cannot ever be wholly grasped. Turn within and you will find nothing there. That is why narcissism is a doomed quest to no-where, it has no object and no end point.

The void is the void is the void is the void is the void…

What I fear as psychosis, the snapping of emotional stability and the incapacity of thought, reveals what is a terror to my narcissistic, security-seeking ego.

Emptiness for all eternity.

The deeper you try to go into yourself the deeper yet you have to go, and deeper yet, until you find you roam in a long, futile circle (small insects navigating a large round table never realize the futility of  their energy-expenditure. Short-sighted human beings are no different). What is ‘depth’ truly, when all is wash on the surface of the storm in the cosmos that is generated life?

Futile or no, the obsession with the self is imprinted into us. Who would truly choose to evolve into something so decadent and selfish, when there is a world of constant flux to reach into and become into? I do not think people choose to become narcissists, only to maintain their sorry fate.

And it is hard to undo.

To self-destroy this lie of the ego is a painful process, a gap we must try to leap and deliberately fail, plummeting to face the cold truth of death and fleetingness, our only solace that this is the ultimate annihilator of human hubris, the equalizer that gives every tyrant, narcissist and abuser their due. Hard is it to believe that we can fully overcome the wretchedness of our inheritance. Human beings need something beyond themselves to be free, but this is not god.

The opposite of narcissism is annihilation…

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.

 

 

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.

Enchantment

Without enchantment, we are lost in the world. Without myth, guideless. Without spirit, we are dead inside. Without art, we are silent.

The world-as-it-is: not suitable for our primed imaginations. Stillness is just a reprieve, sleep a chance to dream. The vigour of endless Western minds; ceaseless, like the snout of an anteater. The world is layered with our mark.

Then let us do the best that we can do with our candor and sheer energy. Let us enchant nature and live there, among the wood sprites and the sacred trees. Let us catch that mana, let us fly these concrete prisons.

Profit is a road leading nowhere. But the deep wood and the bramble grove is an infinite, winding adventure…