The Fecal Matter Construct of Reality

looking-outside-known-universe

I’ve been pondering for a little while now why there is no argument that can convince another from letting go of their firmly held belief. Sure, I am stubborn and judgmental, but there have been situations where someone pointed out the error of my ways (facts work super well for me), stopped me in my tracks and actually changed my mind. Sometimes, changing my mind required an overhaul of a fundamental belief I held. But the more you learn, the less you can feign ignorance.

So why is it that seemingly intelligent and decent people buy into complete douche baggery and falsehoods – not only about the world they live in but also about who they are? Think of people who argue that the earth is flat! What happens in one’s brain that allows a person to completely dismiss evidence, bypass logic and reason and move on to “WOW!”? I think, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve found the answer and I’m calling it “the fecal matter construct of reality!” I invite you to follow me down the rabbit hole. BTW, this is my theory and I may be completely off my rocker!

Let’s say a person had some rough times, and experienced trauma or other hardships in their life (especially at childhood. The earlier the better!) and finally realizes that what happened wasn’t their fault. Most people want to make sense of what happened; sometimes they blame themselves or believe they could have changed things. Guilt is a powerful emotion, so much so that it causes cancer. Yes, guilt and regret are the top emotions who cause physical illness – there are studies on this topic! However, I digress. So, now we have a person who had something bad happen, may feel guilty, but can’t let go and keeps trying to make sense of the incident(s). Sometimes, the outlook on life and situations has been permanently altered and the brain is the most powerful reality creator that exists. Now we have trauma, combined with the need to make sense and a potentially permanently altered outlook.

When bad things happen, we need comfort. We get comfort in all kinds of ways – drugs, alcohol, prayer/religion, sex, sports, TV, or whatever else that helps numbing or easing our pain. We also have a tendency to attract like-minded individuals. Namely people who support our beliefs, agree with our outlooks and confirm that we are “right.” The older we get, the more the network of potentially false beliefs grows. We learned that some actions cause less pain than others and that there are people who are in alignment with that believe, hence supporting whatever we say. By the time we reach a certain age/have repeated this pattern for years, we are no longer able to distinguish between our reality and the reality of, let’s say, the rest of the world. Each time someone challenges the hive (our neuro network), we fight, lash out and stomp out the intruder. If we have kids, we pass our “proven” knowledge on to them. In time and with sufficient breeding power, you may have an entire army of people, all convinced that they are absolutely right and supported by many others who feel the same. The entire system is literally built on a pile of shit and there is no one out there who can challenge it, because this truly is their reality.

The paradox for myself is that I am judgmental and opinionated. And yet, I have always wanted to find people who challenge my reality. I went through great lengths and read a LOT of books and articles, spanning from psychology, religion, unexplained phenomena and philosophy, over spirituality, drugs/chemicals and psychiatry. I started the quest of “why people do the things they do and are the way they are” when I was in 3rd grade! Living with a highly unstable mother, after leaving a violent and sadistic father, convinced me that there must be a reason they did what they did.

I’ve got news to report! I still don’t know the answer, but I am a lot closer to understanding what drives behavior. I also learned to consistently challenge my reality and myself. I was strategic in this quest. I looked for people who were the opposite of who I was and observed and learned. When choosing role models, I chose exceptionally smart and successful people – they often came in form of bosses or teachers, but sometimes in form of friends I’ve made. After studying what they do different, I would simply mimic their behavior. This very ability helped me to succeed more times than I can count. And while I still have firm beliefs of right and wrong, I am much more flexible in the definition of who constitutes a bad person and who does not.

Lastly I learned a truth that is still at times hard to execute on: Just  because I am right, does not mean I get to hurt/belittle/correct/fight or hate the other!!! I think that’s where it all fails for humanity. Knowing that we are right doesn’t give us the reason to be cruel or “destroy” the other. Watching actions of people who may or may not have been right, still turned me off to listening to them because of how they went about it. Douche baggery never convinced anyone; just like war never changes anything and hardly puts the wrong things right. But watching actions of a person like Mother Theresa, Gandhi or the Dalai Lama has inspired me in the past to be more mindful and sometimes has changed my mind. Sometimes the actions would come in form of an actor/actress I really admire, but the outcome was the same: I instinctively realized that they had a light that I aspired to have and that made it good enough for me to try out their ways.

At the end of the day, being right does not change the world. I think all one can do is striving to be open, kind, compassionate and caring equally! It’s easy to be these things to those who agree with you and treat you amazingly well. But helping and trying to understand people who are less fortunate or on the exact opposite end of the spectrum could make changes. After all, imagine if we all lived in a world where everyone helped everyone and religion, color, status and sexual preference did not matter at all, but who we are as people did!? I can’t bitch about others being asshats, while also engaging in douche baggery. So I will keep trying to stop my own negativity and crap, before I move on to want to change others. I don’t want to be a hater!

Except of Rush Limbaugh! I still think he is a douche canoe and I still hope his ass gets torn apart by diarrhea 😀


Depression – My Own Skeletons

depression

 

I really wanted to write about depression, because the death of Robin Williams affected me so much. It makes me so incredibly sad to see such an amazing person succumb to this disease. I’ve been there and it kills me to know that he felt there was no other way of getting rid of the pain.

Depression runs in my family and I can remember back to feeling the effects of it in 2nd grade already. Like everyone I know who suffers from depression, the pain can be overwhelming – physically, emotionally and mentally. The feeling of hopelessness and exhaustion from fighting can bring even the strongest to their knees. Not all of us win the fight.

Almost eight years ago it got the better of me, too. I crashed so severely that my doctor hospitalized me. Many factors lead to this boiling point. In addition, I just had shoulder surgery in my left shoulder. Having a weak physical body gave it the rest. It was one of the worst times I can remember, and yet, it felt strangely liberating to simply not give a shit anymore. I was taught that being weak was punishable when I was a kid – by a mother who would hit me when I started crying and tell me to stop my over-sensitive crap. I didn’t show weakness after that. I still have a hard time with it. This was unlike anything I had ever done.

So I sat in my garage, chain smoking, not eating, on Percocet, unable to move the left side of my body and crying. I woke up in the morning crying, I’d cry throughout the day and I would go to bed crying. I couldn’t stop. I felt so hopeless and I was so tired and exhausted. The physical and emotional pain was unbearable. I also had horrible panic attacks. I had locked myself away in my house and talked to no one. I finally went to my doctor; initially to ask for Xanax, so I could stop the panic attacks. I walked into the office, barely keeping up my composure and by the time I was in his office, I was sobbing again. He had been my doctor for years and it was his decision to admit me to the psych ward at the Huntington Memorial hospital in Pasadena. I had literally lost my will to live.

I was in the hospital for 2 weeks. Only a handful of people knew. My family didn’t know and neither did most other people. I was ashamed; I didn’t want to be labeled “crazy.” But, looking back at this time, I can honestly say that these were the “best” two weeks of my life. While I do not suffer from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, I made friends with two bipolar women. I was on Paxil, Ativan and Ambien. For the first time in many years I slept and I was comfortably numb. No one could get to me. I was shielded from the world. My doctors would come to look after me, and my appointed psychiatrist would meet with me for therapy sessions. There were group sessions, which I often didn’t want to attend. I stayed in my room and read books. I slept a lot. I officially checked out of the world and for once didn’t give a damn what others needed from me. By the time I was released it was quiet in my head; for the first time ever. And, also for the first time, I didn’t have a whole lot to say to anyone. I felt that the people in the psych ward were more “normal” than the ones outside of it. I didn’t want to leave and finally understood why people get addicted to drugs. I saw to it that things never got that bad for me again, which is why I manage my fibromyalgia and life events very different now. I seek help when it gets bad.

Sadly, over the years I have been around many people who suffer from severe depression and do not have the ability to ask for help. I think it’s due to the stigma surrounding depression; especially for men. To watch someone you care about suffer so much is difficult. It is also very difficult to not take their moods, anger and outbursts personal. As they descent further into depression and keep shutting you out more and more, it becomes harder and harder to not trigger your own depression and/or feeling completely helpless. You want to help and be supportive, but there is nothing you can do or say that accomplishes that. Trapped in a world of darkness, they cannot see their way out or seek help from a professional. Their self-loathing often spills over to other parts of their life. The “healthy” people start leaving and the toxic ones keep fueling the fire. This is when most of them start self-medicating, which perpetuates their cycle of despair.

The funniest and most artistic people I have known almost always suffered from depression. An overwhelmingly high number of them never sought therapy or rehab. They bought into the bullshit myth that it was brought on by some life event/chapter of their life, and that they can snap out of it whenever they choose. No matter how many relationships, jobs and friends they’ve lost, they had learned to cope, which meant clinging to the “if only” belief. You know the “if I only had a better job/friends/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc., everything would change” belief? I know from my own experience that you can’t run from depression. I managed to continue my cycles on a new continent for quite some time. Geography was just that – geography.

I think the best way to describe depression is like cancer, because it literally is cancer of the mind. Leave it untreated and it will slowly but surely kill you. Depression causes a whole slew of diseases – cancer being one of them! I feel lucky that I was desperate enough to seek help after my mother died when she was 48 years old. While she officially died from pancreatitis, I know that it was depression that literally ate her up on the inside. I had watched her self-destruct all my life and saw what it did to her health. I was too afraid that I would end up like her. Hence, I didn’t’ have kids. The fear of passing my issues on to a child was too big. I often wonder how many illnesses we could cure, if we could figure out how to repair the mind. Alas, we live in a country where public healthcare is being fought and no one wants to pay or invest into mental illness. I hope this changes one day.