Just a Feeling

Alright, sooo in my first ever post last week I mentioned that I found ‘antidotes to core feelings’.  I’d like to share just some of these feelings and see where it takes us.

I first recognised a ‘core’ ten years ago before diagnosis when at the same time could barely tell what day it was. I would call anxiety things like ‘the core of my mind’. So, I had a glimpse of awareness. Right now, ten years on rather than hanging off my diagnosis of OCD and depression saying well that’s that, I am looking at things from a fresh perspective, with non-judgemental awareness, to see if I can get closer to where I need to be before preparing for my course of study.

Upon review, I’m feeling a bit lost this morning, a few months on since I started writing. Why do I procrastinate today though – the compulsive urge that is mostly always there? Is it linked to laziness though? Could it be linked to ADHD symptoms? No, I don’t think so, not for me. All I want to do is dance in the rain. But let us rewind before we move forward, some core feelings I recognized ten years ago, and to acknowledge today are:

–    Delusional/depression

This feeling sparks an idea that ‘everything should be nothing’. Whether or not it was a delusion, (when I was controlled by it, I thought it was and one psychiatrist thought it was) it doesn’t matter anymore, I can treat it as if it were existential OCD. This can be tricky because even in the real world there’s no answers, so the need for certainty feels even worse. The feeling is that of a disturbing conflict and detachment making reality foggy. So, I relieve myself from its’ grasp by realising that reality can be the ‘axiom’: which is the whole truth.

Despite the difficulty I had with this particular feeling, different to anxiety I got with other obsessions like harm, I can treat it as an obsession now, paying attention and acknowledging, and not responding. Once upon a time I couldn’t let it go, depression from it was just one of my struggles, but now through training, I can. With existential OCD, I would read scientific articles that are in anyway related to the idea, I suppose things that trigger it, but choose not to respond whilst getting a better knowledge of the mental argument or finding of ‘answers’ being compulsions. Phew… deep breath. I remember what it was like, and my brain has changed. Let’s move onto less intense but troublesome feelings to dance in the rain with:

–    Conflict of letting go (and remembering).

This proves quite exciting to work out. The more I pay attention with trust, the more I can let go of whatever it is I am paying attention to, but subsequently the more I let go the more I ultimately remember. Confused? I hope not too much. This, it seems is about my mental blocks, which may be autism as I am not a stranger to, or simply where my mental illness always was.

Alternatively it could be down to being so used to mental argument and review. For instance, once reading, it takes time to sit through the confusion this kind of thing creates. The fog and the replay. Perhaps many have the sort of barrier I speak of, and it is just a little different and exacerbated for me.

I have to let go of conflict more fully now than I have done in the past, to be able to read, study, have fun, fight healthily, eat well and dance. I note many feelings as ‘conflict’ now, it’s a fresh perspective and one way of observing.

–    Overwhelmed when searching for information, or shopping

I recall this since I was very young. Severe indecision and yes, even anxiety when shopping. What a memory, could symptomatic indecision be linked to my mental blocks? Yes, but potentially all of these feelings are. Visiting an art gallery the other day was ripe for this kind of feeling, it sparked this kind of anxiety due to the vast amounts of information on display. Learning to let go in this kind of place is important. Book shops and art galleries could be my past-times for a while in order to provoke these kind of feelings, learning to let go of conflict and navigate through the storm.

–    The compulsive urge

Now then, this little number pops up especially when responding to the urgency one next. However, I have realised that it is present a lot more than I thought, probably because my OCD used to be almost constant. I will understand this more in time. To recap -A compulsion, as well as overtly physical, is covertly: an anxiety response to the doubt stream; fighting with the thoughts, some becoming obsessions, notably trying to answer them. Mental blocks: this is a feeling of conflict which provokes it, and the compulsive urge is often in response to unreasonable feelings of responsibility. Let’s take a breather;

Healthy guilt: learning opportunity

Unhealthy guilt: unreasonable responsibility

There is an inflated sense of responsibility with this sh*t. The compulsive urge also loved my addiction which happened to be gambling. It was just ideal for it because there was no stopping, no break. This feeling of compulsion; it is not the same as addiction, whether or not professors want to disagree with me or not. I believe this from my experiences, because with addiction, some sort of desire is being fulfilled whereas compulsive responses are totally involuntary, a desperate attempt at fleeing obsessions. It would try to get me to answer obsessions, find answers and engage in mental argument, in many ways all day.

Phew… deep breath. I remember how it was. Therefore this compulsive urge did not cause my addiction, and addiction is a separate issue, however the compulsive urge alongside the compulsive aspect of my addiction made me more vulnerable to its’ extremities.

–    Urgency and ‘needing to be somewhere else’

Indeed, as general as it may sound, is an example of when, in its most obvious, when I am waiting in a queue or if I am out simply walking or exercising. The urge to ‘be somewhere else’ is incredibly strong. This type of ‘procrastination’ must be common, but this, I suppose, is linked to the blown-up emotions and exacerbated everything.

For instance, another everyday feeling like ‘approval seeking’; a feeling many with emotional problems or even non sufferers get but it is certainly exacerbated with these core feelings floating about. This feeling of urgency is not to be underestimated, it is powerful.

These last two core feelings, the compulsive urge and urgency, are certainly sparked before or after my OCD comes along. On the other hand, maybe coupled they are my OCD, alongside the doubt stream. The doubt stream isn’t a core feeling, the urgency is, but I’ll acknowledge it throughout because it takes up full bandwidth when it is triggered. By this I mean it uses up my full attention. The doubt stream is more of a compulsion, because part of it is the searching for answers and endless doubts. The ‘feeling of compulsion’ is what I call both these feelings nowadays, if I do not wish to examine them.

Journal excerpt:

A few months on and the calm is here more so, there is an improvement. Whether this is down to quitting addictions and focusing on mental health more so… 

A self-help ramble, a conversation with myself…. What the bloody hell is this, a treaty with my mental illness? The core feelings are like a fast-flowing lava eruption surrounded by a ferocious storm, where thoughts are catapulted at it like lightning.

These are not all the feelings and emotions from my mind, but they are some which I have learnt to dance with. Let’s examine some more:

Feelings of severe insecurity, possibly doubt

This occurs sometimes on its own, an overwhelming feeling of insecurity, especially in the morning and why I used to chain smoke. The antidote is something I have recognised from the start, I will get to, but realising it is an antidote is empowering now. I’ll move on to some of these antidotes in a later article. Perhaps this insecure feeling is cheeky and actually triggers the doubt stream.

 –         Depression

More generalised depression, certainly a core feeling, gets me staying in bed for days or a lack of interest in anything. Sometimes caused by all these feelings, and the exhaustion. There’s no denying it. With the core feelings, like thoughts, I can acknowledge them then allow conflict to go. But like I will come to explain, I must apply calm bandwidth, because the doubt stream takes up full bandwidth. Calm bandwidth is how I treat the attention taken away by the doubt stream, in effect I make space for it.

I am learning to pay attention with trust, (the opposite of doubt), calm (even if it isn’t here yet), and genuine curiosity (which helps overcome my depression). ‘Be curious’ as Stephen Hawking would say.

Thoughts and feelings are subjective, and less intimidating in a more healthy brain. I genuinely need to sit with them until they allow themselves to go. Good feelings await? It’s very possible as I have experienced freedom during meditation.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a symptom of every single one of these feelings. And sometimes it’s just there, floating. Sometimes its tension, like restlessness. This anxiety, it is easier somewhat to sit with than the core feelings I have examined, but on the other hand, it can arise more frequently and more diligently when attempting to do things such as write or even talk.

When I literally couldn’t talk as a teen, it was because my anxiety levels were high enough to make me sound incredibly strange so I engaged in selective mutism. This was an issue that played out in many scenarios in my past especially once intoxicated.

Anxiety is a completely natural experience, but some of us have perhaps overclocked motherboards. We have a zest for life but at the same time, crippling anxiety can affect our attempts at a wholesome life. I do want to stay strong and befriend it, seek it out. If I feel anxious, well that’s good. It is an opportunity to sit with and I often did, but wish I explained it was why I couldn’t speak properly when I was young. What I have experienced now from the other side, it is worth the labour to seek anxiety out, alongside seeking out uncertainty to help with doubts and the chasing  (certainty).

As I let go of an addiction fully, I can realise how it is different to my illness. Addiction can be viewed as an illness, but it is still different, it just makes us more vulnerable: if we have an illness we are more vulnerable to things like addictions in my opinion. But never again will I ignore what’s going on in my grey nut. And never will I respond to shame, depression or any other exacerbated emotion in a negative way.

Since I have now worked through a few core feelings by now, I am able to sit with the depression. I have to give it time, no forcing, time to go, breathing with it. My brain throws a number of thoughts at it I gotta’ just dance with.

I’ve stumbled upon acceptance, at least I hope. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) explores ways to go for our goals whilst feeling our feelings. I am sculpting my mind, because I hope to be ready to do my course of study. I could talk more about my history in another article, but what’s important are the things I’ve touched upon here, and finding some peace of mind in the weeks to come. 

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