The mental illness cute/real contrast/compare post got me thinking about the other side of that. In general, media has two modes when depicting mental illness: cute and fucking tragic (and Monk, which is kind of both). There's a real lack of 'mundane reality' aka 'living with mental illness is actually pretty fucking boring'. Yeah, there's the drama, but most of it is basically you and your best buddy, 'coping mechanisms'.



So I rarely bring this up, but when I was diagnosed with ADHD, the psychologist who examined me gave me several tests. I love standardized tests, but psychological tests always make me feel vaguely guilty; like personality tests, they're ridiculously easy to manipulate to get the result you want, due to being so subjective, but that also makes them incredibly hard to answer honestly. For me, anyway.

When I do them for fun--I do that--I can get psychopath or really freakishly empathetic person deliberately (again, the questions aren't subtle) or by trying to work out the math on how I feel in this situation as given and what 'usually' means. It's literally a question of mood; get me in the wrong one, the only thing I feel sad about is a dead puppy in the street. (If they'd add that question, it might help, btw.) So any given test for me is a goddamn minefield if I'm not just fucking around; then it's all best guess because I do not want to have anyone look serious and take out the goddamn PCL-R and start thinking on my qualifications for a Cluster B.

(Note: I really am not a psychopath. Or anything Cluster B, with or without the preface "malignant". I'm just saying...tests are dumb. Which is what someone with "malignant" as a prefix would say, so we're moving on.)

This is why when my diagnosis was major depression, ADHD, and OCD, all I could think was I should have manipulated those questions after all, because I didn't have OCD. I had no desire to flip lights or touch random objects x number of times or ritual behavior or pretty much anything I knew about OCD. Intrusive thoughts and those weird circular thoughts that kept me up at night for months and were responsible for a surprising amount of research around the actual subject were, as far as I knew, normal things everyone dealt with.

I might have gotten around to rethinking that but methylphenidate as it turned out was the magic pill. It took me no time at all to work out exactly when to take it and to redirect whenever this shit started, problem solved. Sure, my cool-downs and right before bed could be iffy, but whatever, it wasn't hard to stay awake until I was so tired I fell asleep before my brain had a chance to realize I wasn't distracted and could give it my full attention. Which is why it's been ten years, and it's only in the last year it occurred to me that for something I didn't have, I did have something not unlike a ritual for dealing with my specific thought patterns and I spent a lot of time doing it.

I also can't talk about it. I can write around it, there are giant elongated spirals of words that have curled around it and through it, but I keep a careful remove. Here's why I don't talk about it: I don't know exactly how, but there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if I talk about it, this thing--this thing that keeps me up at night and can terrify me to the point of screaming or panicking if I'm not careful--will happen to me. If I am ever not scared of it, it will happen. If I ever stop--even for a minute--worrying about it (ignoring it or drugging it away doesn't count, I don't know why), it will happen.

(Note: see above, an example of self-directed negative classical conditioning. Works gangbusters, in case you were curious.)

Logic, as you might be aware, didn't help, and sometimes made it worse, because there were too many possibilities and logic stated if I considered all of them as one unit and did odds, the possibility did indeed rise. So fuck logic; I switched tactics. I started to mentally prepare solutions to each possibility it gave me.

In preparation, I have thought out dozens of ways to get out each possibility (all variations on a theme), and when I get them solved, I relax and go to sleep. The ones I'm most worried now about are incredibly esoteric and actually sometimes almost impossible (I'm not sure enough about the 'almost' to discard them) which I've come to assume that since I was solving all the concrete ones my brain could throw at me, my brain leveled the fuck up.

I checked and the diagnostic criteria for OCD dozens of times, and as yet, I can't work out how I don't qualify. I keep thinking about that psychologist, who talked to me before and after those tests, and I can't remember what I told him. I remember telling him about how I'd buy bottles of ephedrine--when it was still legal--and go through two to six at a sitting (not to mention the coffee and 5 Hours) because the first time I used (abused?) stimulants, I'd learned it made everything so quiet and clear and I could redirect my mind where it was supposed to go and suddenly everything wasn't so fucking hard. I told him vaguely--I thought--about the thoughts and dealing with them, but they were kind of an aside. I know he asked me more about it, but I don't remember; at the time, I didn't want to talk about it, and if there's one thing I'm very good at it, it's making sure people only pay attention to what I want them to. Let's stop pretending here; I'm manipulative, I do it a lot, and it doesn't bother me at all. Super useful for a writer, not so much to be a good person, but that part, I don't think about.

The tumblr post, it was true, but it didn't cover one important part: how fucking boring mental illness is. We've all experienced the drama parts, but that's a small part; the rest is living with it. I get why no one really brings it up; the things we do are sometimes so breathtakingly stupid and worse, we're very much aware of it.

Sometimes, just to get up in the morning, I have to make a mental stepped list of what I have to accomplish with end point: "going out the door". I get to that, I'm fine, but getting there is a fucking trip. Sometimes, I spend startling amounts of time creating elaborately nonsensical escape plans for it, the thing that will happen if I talk about it, before I can sleep. In my teens, I was a cutter; if I had any confidence it'd still work, I'd be happily sterilizing a boxcutter regularly but major depression isn't that consistent so no. I have CBT-approved breathing exercises for when anxiety tries to level up and dozens of redirects. Sometimes, I recite to myself the litany of what my brain is doing, sometimes I work on some positive classical conditioning, but results are iffy if motivators don't include fear and there aren't a lot of positives as powerful as that one.

On the other hand--on the other hand, all of that, and I still do it. For I have climbed mountains and forded rivers, crossed barren plains, and when I couldn't do those, I found a shovel and dug a tunnel beneath it all. For this is my will: this is my life and I will not be denied passage wherever it may go. I'll do it for love, for curiosity, for hope, for meaning, but when all else is empty, I'll do it for sheer spite, for that well just may be infinite.

2018 is dead; 2019 has begun. So far so good.



I forgot: this is the result of my second resolution, along with pork pie: I will actually talk about mental illness. I will also remember to laugh more about it.
cesare: x-ray of skull and spine (x-ray)

2019-01-01 01:58 pm (UTC)
I know the Tumblr post you mean, and it bugs me. The "cute" examples of some of those illnesses don't necessarily come off like people ignorantly appropriating the terms... they could just be mild manifestations of the illness. I don't like the "you must be this sick to ride the acronym train" implication.

Like you, I have OCD that doesn't manifest in those stereotypical rituals. Instead, I have a couple of persistent delusions that I know are untrue but still get unnerved about sometimes in everyday life, and occasionally I'll alter what I'm doing because of those delusions. That's all it takes to be a clinically significant intrusive thought: it upsets me and it affects my life negatively. Where's that cartoon?

Anyway, I relate and I wanted to chime in with an OCD fistbump, and with congratulations for upholding your resolution.
kore: (Default)

2019-01-01 07:41 pm (UTC)
Instead, I have a couple of persistent delusions that I know are untrue but still get unnerved about sometimes in everyday life, and occasionally I'll alter what I'm doing because of those delusions. That's all it takes to be a clinically significant intrusive thought: it upsets me and it affects my life negatively. Where's that cartoon?

//FISTBUMP FROM FELLOW INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS OCD-ER Also, a lot of us don't want to talk about THAT because it's super fucking shameful! "I worry constantly about defenestrating my kid unless I practice this therapy/take these pills," not something you see TV shows about.
cesare: Text saying: It just rings, you know. RING RING (ring ring)

2019-01-02 12:17 am (UTC)
//toast of solidarity!

Yeah, the only time I can remember seeing that kind of OCD discussed that way is in Maria Bamford's comedy.
kore: (Default)

2019-01-02 12:53 am (UTC)
OMG, I love her so much ("the Bammer").
kore: (Default)

2019-01-01 07:48 pm (UTC)
Intrusive thoughts and those weird circular thoughts that kept me up at night for months and were responsible for a surprising amount of research around the actual subject were, as far as I knew, normal things everyone dealt with.

....I did have something not unlike a ritual for dealing with my specific thought patterns and I spent a lot of time doing it.

I also can't talk about it. I can write around it, there are giant elongated spirals of words that have curled around it and through it, but I keep a careful remove. Here's why I don't talk about it: I don't know exactly how, but there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if I talk about it, this thing--this thing that keeps me up at night and can terrify me to the point of screaming or panicking if I'm not careful--will happen to me. If I am ever not scared of it, it will happen. If I ever stop--even for a minute--worrying about it (ignoring it or drugging it away doesn't count, I don't know why), it will happen.


Ohhh dude, as far as I know that's total fucking OCD and I have the same thing and it fucking sucks. I got prescribed sertraline for the PTSD and more 'physical' manifestations of OCD -- checking, turning around halfway on the road to work to do more checking, worrying at work about checking, blah blah -- and imagine my surprise when it quieted the horrible thoughts I had had since childhood about horrible things that were so horrific I didn't even want to tell therapists about them! And yeah, IF YOU STOP THINKING ABOUT IT AND BEING ON GUARD, IT WILL HAPPEN, that, too. -- My feeling is the shrinks et al don't know that much about obsessive thoughts, partly because a lot of the people who have obsessive thoughts also have difficulty speaking them out loud or even writing them down or admitting them period, sometimes due to shame, sometimes due to Brains being Interesting, whatever. But I remember one of the first times I read one of those pop-psych "Can't stop washing!" type books, and one of the poor fuckers was a guy who was absolutely convinced he had run over someone, and I was like oh thank God someone else in human history has had that too. And no, logic does not work at all. (Why would it? "OBVIOUSLY, you have not run over someone in your car." "It may be OBVIOUS to you....")
olanthanide: (Default)

2019-01-01 08:15 pm (UTC)
"when all else is empty, I'll do it for sheer spite, for that well just may be infinite."

That is my #mood. And also why I don't think much of the English saying "sugar and spice and everything nice". Girls can, and should be allowed to be angry, bitter, spiteful, stubborn, and vindictive. Rage is a weapon if you know how to use it, and some of my greatest accomplishments as a queer WOC I've only achieved out of spite and a stubborn refusal to give up, because I refuse to give Them the satisfaction.
olanthanide: (Default)

2019-01-02 11:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Considering that you're one of my favorite writers (obviously, since I'm stalking you on social media) this is DEEPLY flattering.
batdina: (Default)

2019-01-01 08:23 pm (UTC)
that boring bit of mental illness (whatever that is, for whoever, etc) is the one thing that keeps me from posting with any regularity. I mean who honestly cares if I'm having trouble getting in the shower in the morning, you know? but yes, it's a thing we probably need to talk about more.

glad to see you around these parts again. HNY.
ariadne83: danny is ridic (Default)

2019-01-02 02:22 am (UTC)
Same here! The boring, day to day survival feels like something other people won't care about.
batdina: (Default)

2019-01-07 05:04 am (UTC)
I've never understood about the shower thing either. All I know is that if I don't do it immediately on waking, it doesn't happen all day. (If I don't have to go out of the house that is.)

But yeah. Once in it feels just fine.
batdina: (Default)

2019-01-07 04:54 am (UTC)
All I can say about the rabbi thing is it was probably me? I definitely wrote about it in my journals, and I know I responded to some email from a few folks on Rabbinic training, etc. and if memory serves at *least* one of those emails was from you.

OTOH, if you're talking about regular journal posts, I don't think I was ever very methodical about it (writing about it; obv I was ordained, so I was methodical about some things). (This would have been about the time I bailed on pre-reading your massive SPN novels, when I was finishing my final paper. I should go read those now. huh.)

If you followed anyone else on this topics, it might have been either kass or lomedet on DW? or perhaps the velveteen rabbi?
harpers_child: melaka fray reading from "Tales of the Slayers". (Default)

2019-01-02 12:16 am (UTC)
I read this. I don't have brain to engage right now, but I read this and something in it rang true. I thought you should know that.
ariadne83: danny is ridic (Default)

2019-01-02 02:19 am (UTC)
OMG yes. This is something I'm trying to talk about more - how damn boring it is being stuck with the thoughts in my head. It's a big part of what makes me spiral/isolate because I assume that if I'm bored of listening to myself then everyone else must be twice as bored.
randomling: A wombat. (Default)

2019-01-02 06:45 pm (UTC)
...yeah, the boring bits of mental illness seem to make up most of my life. So: I feel you from that perspective.

(Also: hello, I'm mostly a stranger, but I have been reading you for a while and I'm trying to comment more!)
sazerac: (Default)

2019-01-02 08:37 pm (UTC)
I remember a lot of discussion about "Pure O" OCD a few years ago, which seems to resonate with a lot of "non hand washers" as it were.

Also that both AD(H)D and OCD, if not presenting in the dominant stereotypical manner, make those fucking testa ever more of a manipulation minefield.

Anyway. Thanks for writing. It's a good resolution.
ranalore: (ginji bring it)

2019-01-02 08:52 pm (UTC)
This resonates with me so hard it's actually terrifying, because I have never been diagnosed with OCD and actually did think that kind of thinking was normal. Or at least "just" my anxiety, which we're trying to figure out how to treat without upsetting the balance of my whole med regimen, because I'm on a fuckload of medication. I really need to find a new therapist, I haven't seen anybody since my old one retired at the beginning of 2017.

I'll do it for love, for curiosity, for hope, for meaning, but when all else is empty, I'll do it for sheer spite, for that well just may be infinite.

This part was not terrifying, however. My deepest motivation has always been contrariness rooted in rage, and I am too old now to care who knows it.
toujours_nigel: BFT (Default)

2019-01-03 07:27 am (UTC)
I avoided this post the last couple days, and it's rung right through me now I've read it.

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