Four Day Creep

29 Nov

Session four! Four. Four of five. Four is supposedly a perfect number. After session four of the Vestibular problems group, I am decidedly of a different opinion….

First, true to form, I’ll go over the skills introduced in this, the fourth of meetings, and then I’ll get to the part where I am… well, less than thrilled with what went down.

Number one on the menu was reducing vulnerability to dizziness. You’d think would be like a day one thing, but honestly this stuff is pretty self-evident. Or at least it should be had you been paying attention in any health class you may have encountered in the 4th-10th grades. All of these skills are behaviors aimed at staying out of emotion mind which can feed into a vicious cycle of self-deprecation and delusional storytelling which throw the SNS into overdrive, further complicating a vertiginous tailspin. So, without further ado, we’ve got yet another acronym (and I use that in the loosest sense of the term–once you start pulling letters from the middle of words to make your scheme work, it’s a slippery slope to acrostic poem anarchy, my friends,) some pseudo-new age (as in age of Aquarius-esque) psychodynamics, and a technique to decrease emotional sensitivity, heretofore referred to as “act opposite.”

“Acrostic” skill: ABC PLEASE

Which stands for (relevant letters emboldened and capitalized to better feel important):

Accumulate positive emotions
Build mastery
Cope ahead
treat PhysicaL illness
balance Eating
avoid mood-Altering drigs
balance Sleep
get Exercise

1) That has got to be the most cockamamey attempt at a pnemonic device–why even have it for godssake? 2) Did anybody reading this fell the overwhelming urge to screm “Well, DUH.”

So, the thing about ABC PLEASE is that it’s obviously not a revolutionary concept. And to be fair it wasn’t meant to be. Really, it’s just an elaborate reminder to take care of yourself, dammit. The ABC part of this essentially says (respectively):  live mindfully in the present, create a life of value by setting attainable goals, and visualize how you will deal with impending catastrophe like a kid in a disaster preparedness drill (“duck and cover, kids!”) so that you aren’t without a game plan in the event that your worst nightmare should indeed come to fruition.

Ok, that last one was incredibly sarcastic, but really–it’s good to be prepared. A la boy scouts (minus the rampant homophobia and child molestation.)

As for the PLEASE portion… If I really have to explain that to you, you need to be reading a different blog because I can’t help you. 

Good? Capiche? Excellent–moving on.

Psychodynamic skill to accumulate positive emotions: Build a positive planet

Not in that “let’s be green” or “remove all anions” way, but in that “hold hands and sing kumbaya to earth mother” sense. Of course, it wasn’t presented to me that way, but come on, folks. There are illustrations of planets surrounded by what looks like free floating electron density telling me that my world has been colored by negativity and I need to push away the bad thoughts as if it were some sort of coronal mass ejection (solar flare) if I want to embrace the sunshine. Well, it’s not that  explicit, but trust me–it’s just weird and excessively sugar-coated for my taste.

(There’s this fantastic interchange in the film Away We Go and I can’t find the exact spot , but it’s right around this moment. Basically Maggie Gyllenhall’s hippy character says “I reject  your negativity” to which John Krasinski’s character retorts “And reject your outRAGEous BULLshit!!!” [my own emphasis added.] )

Essentially, it’s excruciatingly reductionist interpretive talk talk that means to say something like, “Look. You’ve been hurt, which royally sucks and it’s understandable to feel sad, depressed, etc. And it’s caused you to see things pessimistically. Thing is? If you look for something hard enough, you’ll see it everywhere and that creates a rather dreary outlook in a person. Instead  why don’t we maybe try to recognize the good in things–see the silver lining every once in a while, you know? Don’t stress about things beyond your control and stop focusing on all the bad, because you’re so hellbent on amplifying the negative that you can’t see the positive in comparison. That’s like the worst signal transform ever if you want to live happy life.”

It’s all very “be the change you wish to see in that world,” but it does make sense once you wick away the cosmic planetary metaphor in which it’s been drenched. Bottom line, if you’re thoughts are getting you down and you’re unhappy as a result, what you’re doin’ ain’t working. Try an attitude adjustment.

Act Opposite Skills

People have feelings. This is a fact. How many times have you come across a chick flick where the line “don’t tell me how to feel!” comes into play? It’s completely natural, absolutely understandable, but not always justified. The difference between understandable and justified lies in objective assessment (which, honestly–isn’t that just antithetical to having the emotion? but I digress.) And understandable feeling is one which has relevance to the person feeling it wether or not everybody else sees why. A justifiable feeling is one that anybody would get, once filled in on the situation. “Of course you feel that way–you have every right to,” vs. “I can see how that might make you angry, but it’s not like ___ intended to…etc.” The power of opposite action comes in when a feeling is no longer justifiable given the evidence. It’s not saying that there wasn’t a use for the feeling–maybe at one time it was justifiable–but right now, it is a reaction to nothing and really serves no purpose except making you miserable. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? Well, if you’re reacting to nothing, the thought is that negative action is going to go ahead and balance itself out on you, making you not feel so great. So, to combat this reactive force, drumroll please….. act opposite to what you feel for a net force of zero. Neutral. Like you don’t even need a free body diagram (physics joke for those who appreciate them.)

This means if you’re afraid and avoiding something, confront it. If you’re Sad or depressed causing you to be isolated, force socialization. If you’re mad and want to lash out, compassionately withdraw (haaa–that’s what she said. I know, I’m a twelve year old boy sometimes.) If you’re jealous because you can’t have what you desire, let it go, man. Just… let it go. And if you’re loving something that’s not good for you (abusive boyfriend/girlfriend, mooching freeloader in your house, that super awesome mexican food that gives you heartburn and a slight case of E.coli every time you meet) then you need to avoid it. Don’t call him/her, don’t feed it, don’t eat it.

Again, this is really a strategy that only works when the feeling/emotion no longer reflects the reality. SO actually, step one is probably become familiar with your reality (aka observe!) 

And that’s it. Session four–done diggity done. No big deal, right? I mean I joke about it, but these all seem like completely beneficial things to be exposed to. So why did I start this post off with a less than rave review? Two words: Inclement weather.

It’s going to get worse tomorrow, to be sure, but today was on and off wind, rain, and travel to different altitudes. It generated some less than positive feedback in my body, to say the least. We’re talking holy-deuterium enriched nuclear reactor core meltdown, batman–I’m not feeling so good. By the time I hobbled into group (there was a pain in my stomach that kept me from walking comfortably which I’ll get back to later) I was so disoriented from the ride that I just sat. And then my ear started to scream. Or maybe that was me. Not out loud, but deep down, I was emitting a banshee-like shrillness that would make your blood curdle  Because that’s when the wind picked up (did I mention that I’m a human barometer?) And then the rain. And then the sun for a few minutes., And then more wind. It went on like this for hours, and I felt it ALL. Acutely. In ways that I can’t describe because words just don’t cut it for the sensations I was feeling. At the 1:15 hour mark, I was in incredible pain. Nobody in the room knew because I’m ultimately an introvert who hates being the center of attention and god forbid anybody should know I’m in pai. I just sat there. Stupidly, stoically, stupidly stoically, until I’m pretty sure I whited out. White out is kind of like losing consciousness, but you still see/hear what’s going on, but you’re not really there. I’ve never been high, but I imagine this is similar to the disconnected state that people claim to enjoy when they become lumps of inactivity from smoking pot. Except mine’s just painful and it’s my body’s way of lessening the blow. So after group was done, I kind of just sat there for a few minutes, and then slowly made my way to the car. Where I slept all the way back in a pained stupor before barely managing to flop onto my bed (how I got there, I know not) and I don’t remember a blessed thing after that.

Intense, and just not fun at all. I mean, you guys are lucky I git this post together, because I don’t really remember much past the blinding pain. But there you have it. My problem, my giant, session four. 

(Oh, and here’s the song for which the post is named.)

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