I am the kind of person who is capable of being labeled by several mental health diagnoses. In fact, I have been. You could determine that I have a mood disorder such as cyclothymia or mild bi-polar disorder, or perhaps something a bit more organic like attention deficit disorder; or you could focus on environmental influences and say I have PTSD. Any way you slice it you’d probably be correct according to diagnostic criteria.
I have difficulty focusing, I have even more difficulty following through on projects. My memory tends to be rather selective. I over-think situations by considering any and every possible outcome so I can draft a plan for each contingency. I dislike rules and have problems with authority. I am a bit of a thrill seeker and despite my penchant for over analyzing potential situation, I tend to act impulsively.
There are times that my house looks like it home to a lonely beer swilling bachelor, littered with piles of laundry, books, dishes and enough dust to write a short story on any flat surface. At other times I become agitated if a throw rug is slightly askew or the canned goods aren't arranged by food group.
Of course the critical factor in pathologizing these quirks is the degree to which they affect ones life, that is, do they “interfere with normal daily functioning”. But what, I ask you, is ‘normal daily functioning’? For me a normal day usually includes at least several minutes looking for essential items like keys, glasses or the bill I was supposed to mail 3 days ago....a normal day for me may begin at 7 am or at 2 pm depending on the weather and my mood. In a normal day I start several projects and end up working on or possibly finishing entirely different projects I began earlier in the week, month or year. I have craft projects, short stories, artwork and blog posts all in various stages of process. Oh, books too. Ones that I am attempting to read, not write. I have several boxes of pictures and 4 empty photo albums. The pictures have been organized and re organized several times. About 3 or 4 have made it into the album.
I’m not employed at the moment, but when I was I was frequently 10 or 15 minutes late (looking for car keys), I would forget to sign in or out and my desk was a landscape of coffee cups, food wrappers, notes, an occasional toy and clusters of files in a particular order than only I could process. Despite these quirks I was a good employee. Well, I was a good service provider. Remember that dislike of rules, and that problem with authority thing. Sometimes that became a issue. I never lost my temper or became aggressive with a supervisor, but I did commit the workplace venial sin of speaking my mind. You’re not supposed to do that I guess, especially if you don’t have a union to cover your ass when you do.
As I consider returning to the workplace in a world that is increasingly becoming more controlled, more corporate, and is increasing workloads on employees to avoid having to pay additional staff I can’t help but feel a certain amount of fear. Toss in the fact that being over the age of 50 considerably reduces one’s employ-ability and fear turns to terror which quickly retires to resignation. Frankly I’m not certain where this path will lead me but fortunately I’m always up for an adventure as long as it doesn’t mean selling out...and that may mean I have to become an even more clever Survivor. At least I’ll have time to finish that photo album.
I'm going to grace you all with a special treat. I'm going to therapize myself! Aren't you excited?
Ok fine, bear with me anyway okay?
Writing the last post on anger, along with my recent binge of crabbiness which prompted the post, has prodded me to reflect on the roots of this binge. If I listen to my own words I hear anger can be a catalyst for change, or a sign that we need to address some aspect of our lives. Right now my life is in a pretty good place so I had to dig a little deeper to weed out the roots of this agitation.
The quick check questions to ask are:
what do you feel in your body (get out of your head)
have there been another times when you felt a similar feeling
what event or stimulus triggered your feelings? what was happening in your life at the time?
I'm not going to go into great detail about my personal life, but after thinking about these statements three issues became clear - uncertainty, potential change/possibly relocating and feeling pulled in different directions/ having to make decisions.
Uncertainty is unnerving to me. Change, I can manage but best with a decent amount of certainty attached. Decisions, well let's just say it's a work in progress and one that requires at least some guidelines and factual information that I can refer to during the internal dialog that takes place between the different dimensions of Me.
Right now, today anyway, I am in limbo. There are some questions that will be answered in the next week or so that will allow me to move on and leave the majority of the uncertainty factor behind. In the meantime I will shift the blame to the 90+ temperatures and the swampy like humidity that permeates all potentially climate controlled areas, knowing with some assurance that my own "climate control" is being carefully monitored.
Anyone who follows me on Facebook or has regular daily interaction with me probably knows I have been one cranky bitch for a few days (to those of you who see me everyday, I know, it feels like longer). Anger in and of itself is not a problem, in fact it can be an extremely helpful friend who prompts us to examine areas of our life that may need tweaking. This includes our internal life, our attitudes and beliefs that may have become a little too unbalanced in one way or another.
Anger can also be really empowering, especially for women who grew up in an era where despite the emergence of second wave feminism, little girls were generally not supposed to be angry or aggressive. But again it's how one chooses to empower themselves is what determines the kind of harvest our assertiveness will yield. You want sour grapes or happy apples?
During the difficult years while I was over drinking, over drugging and lugging around a chip on my shoulder the size of a Volkswagen I really "got in touch with my anger" Or so I thought. Actually, rather than getting in touch with it I gave it an all out invitation to break out from the cage it had been hiding in for decades and to run amok in an unfocused mad frenzy. It was like some sort of bizarre John Waters character ready to hurl a plate of spaghetti or a stiletto at anyone who crossed it's path. But it least it got out. Until it landed us in jail, treatment and years of therapy.
Hmmmm, so then what becomes of the crazed Madwoman? See, despite the problems my angry persona had introduced into my life, I kinda liked her. She was tough and tacky and really didn't give a shit what anyone thought of her. So how do we teach this chick some manners, clean her up a little and make her socially acceptable.
The same way you do it with a real person; you make them feel good about themselves, good enough to really care how they conduct themselves. You help them find the confidence to know they are safe and capable and intelligent enough to handle any conflict that may come their way. You befriend them.You find their strong points and emphasize them. You provide positive feedback and suggestions to help them apply their strengths in such a way that can address their "areas for improvement".
Now of course we will all have our moment when we relapse into our old patterns of behavior - just yesterday I got a parking ticket and a snotty, acerbic lecture from a city parking checker for being parked in a loading zone while helping my daughter move. My response was to tear the parking ticket in half and instruct the parking checker the parking checker to "shove it". Yes, I was specific as to where he should shove it. But later a cooler head prevailed and I decided his condescending attitude was better addressed by making a date to fight the ticket in court. I also made a complaint with his supervisor. I'm pretty certain based on my experience with city politics, the ticket will be dropped. As far as Mr Parking Checker, who knows? all I know is I'm a hell of a lot happier than he is.
Living well is indeed the best revenge as long as you keep your shadow close at hand and on a leash.