Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On tricking my brain and lessons learned the hard way

Today I had a day where, for absolutely no rational reason, I felt convinced I was pretty much rubbish. A fraud. An Imposter, you might even say. I started to feel negative as all get out about everything. I became convinced that:

a) my poetry was all garbage and the poetry book planned for next year was An Epically Bad Idea;
b) my freelance work was all garbage and all my clients were soon going to discover this;
c) I am a terrible parent;
c) my ability to do anything at all except cook and perhaps do laundry was simply illusory.

What triggered it? HowthehelldoIknow. Feedback on documents, maybe? (Although it was very professional and cogent, and not at all difficult, and in fact they are giving input that will definitely shape the documents positively). A slightly cool email from a former client in response to a request for work that I had to turn down because I'm just too busy? An email from the travel agent with a few curveballs for our trip that I wasn't expecting? The heat? A sore gut? Christmas approaching while I am in a state of unreadiness? The clash of my older and younger kids' end of year events which is forcing me to miss one or the other? The position of the moon respective to the rise of Venus?

It could've been any of those things or none of those things or a few of them together. (The last is most likely). But whatever the reason, this is a mood state that I recognise. I've been down this road a time or ten, and it never feels good, and it always drags me down.

But here's the good part of the story.

When I saw a psychologist for 6 months back in 2014, when my brain was actively trying to kill me, one of the things she helped me work on was recognising when my brain was lying to me - either by telling me things that were, verifiably, untrue, or by catastrophising perfectly normal incidents or roadblocks as being major indictments on me as a person. I practised - and it was hard to learn, really hard - identifying unhelpful thoughts and pushing back on them. I practised logic in the face of illogic.

All that work I did in 2014, I see the benefits on days like today. Because although my mood remains recalcitrantly low, I have had some success in combating the irrational negative *thoughts*, and arguing myself into recognising that actually there are objective measures of my at-least-adequacy in most areas of my life. Strangling off those operatic I B CRAP thoughts is still not easy, but I have to say, when I am able to do it, it is satisfying - and it puts me in a better place to get up and get on with life tomorrow.

(This is post #29 in NaBloPoMo. Just one to go now!)

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