Posts tagged with "psychology"

Level 8

Shawn and I go deep once a week, usually with a decent amount of psychoanalysis mixed in with our Magic matches. I realized I still need therapy, but in a different form from what my therapist could offer1. I need to work with someone who isn’t restricted by time limits when I’m in the middle of extremely time-sensitive events, and it’s vital that I work at my own pace, since it’s easy to rush things (that should be dealt with very carefully) when it costs $180/hour. He also stretches me out in all the right ways, and I’m learning that physical comfort is often just as important as emotional validation.

Shawn admits it’s all pop-psychology since he has no formal education, but he’s specialized in people and relationships for so long that it’s no less effective. Sometimes, it’s scary to work with someone who functions at such a higher level of understanding of the world. I recently heard Jon Kabat-Zinn say, “Buddha was not a Buddhist”, which I started repeating to Shawn when trying to relate mindfulness with modern religion. He finished my thought by saying, “and Jesus was not a Christian”, an idea I’d only come to after a lot more research and reflection. He was able to reach the same conclusion by examining patterns in his existing knowledge; an extremely profound and impactful concept to me, which I was still trying to fully grasp, was applied common sense to him.

That means I’m occasionally confronted with how narrow-minded I can be in comparison. It’s messing with things I take for granted, like my ideas of right or wrong, parts of my world-view I’ve held for so long and without question. Sometimes, I realize the person I was until that very moment would have done things I’d now consider embarrassing (being judgmental/intolerant/hateful), based on ignorance, parochialism, or naïveté. Thankfully, I’m also getting better at accepting my past self(ves) by understanding all the influences that have led me to think a certain way. It also helps knowing that the truly important thing is that I have the power to change now, and that it’ll affect me positively for the rest of my life.

Shawn used to say I was a wizard stuck on level 7, always on the cusp of levelling up. I had enough wisdom and intelligence and other attributes to be a much more powerful character, but was still a mage who couldn’t start his main quest, due to a very low stat in his relationship score. This was holding me back because relationships are a huge part of my needs; ironic that I’m also so bad at them.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months though, through a new awareness of deeper parts of myself, and a view of the world that’s getting more objective. I’m applying these things by pursuing healthy interests, which currently means building my relationships and practicing unilateral virtue. While the latter has been both empowering and humbling, it’s also drastically shaken my understanding of my relationships, my needs, and my past. I can tell I’m only beginning to figure out the dynamics of people and how they function, but Shawn says just coming to that understanding means I’ve finally reached level 8, and with that foundation, I can begin the next part of my journey.

Then he gave me a high-five. My therapist never did that.

  1. Not that he was bad in any way. It’s just that the nature of openness tends to get more complicated when money is involved. You know someone truly cares when they listen without having to get paid, and it’s easier to be comfortable with that. []

Swine Flu Movie Reviews

Being sick is one of the most difficult things for me. It’s a psychological mind game. Not only am I unable to be productive1, which is something that normally keeps me sane, it’s the only situation in which I feel like I can’t take care of myself. All I’m left with is this misery, this suffering that mentally wears me down. On a long enough time line (though I’m talking months to years), I lose the will to live.

I started getting some symptoms since Tuesday afternoon, when I was feeling faint at work. When I woke up the next day, the symptoms had gotten worse. I spat into the sink, and cheered the fact that my phlegm wasn’t dark green, which is the case when I have strep throat (something that seems to happen annually to me). I should say that I only suspect swine flu, since I didn’t have a blood test confirming it, but the person who gave it to me told me she had it, so I’m going on her word, and my symptoms match up with how swine flu is different from seasonal flu.

For me, it’s been:

  • runny nose with extremely watery mucous
  • stuffed nose
  • loss of appetite
  • mildly sore throat
  • dry cough
  • headaches
  • very slight fever
  • hot flashes and sweating

This flu, though drawn out, has actually been easier than strep, which is so painful for me that I get fairly severe headaches. I went through two entire boxes of tissues, and I’m sure I would have gone through more, I had not spent almost the entire time like this:

Nose tissues

On the upside, it was an excuse to drink Neo Citran every night, which I also call Yummy Sleep.

In the five days since I realized that I have the flu, I didn’t leave my house, aside from going across the street to buy groceries. Not a single one of my friends called me (although some of them probably didn’t know I was sick), which was a little disheartening, but I didn’t let it get to me. Jen offered to pick up groceries for me, but I didn’t take her up on it because the offer was enough of a morale boost.

This time, I survived, I did it by myself, and I’m stronger for it.

To keep myself sane, I watched a record number of movies. Usually, it’s hard for me to watch movies, because I feel guilty for not being productive, but this time I embraced my sickness. I may watch one every two weeks when I’m healthy, but this time it was nine in five days (ten if I hadn’t passed out in the middle of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice). Here are some quick reviews. Warning: SPOILERS.

Continue reading “Swine Flu Movie Reviews”…

  1. I have the motivation, but it isn’t enough when my head feels like it’s exploding from the inside. []

The Case For Nature (vs Nurture)

When I was young, my dad had a fight with his brother over opening a convenience store next to a pharmacy (my uncle is a pharmacist) in a plaza that my grandmother owned. Both types of stores have lots of competing products, so the argument was about who would be the one to open their store. I guess my dad won, because he bought the convenience store and ran it for quite a few years.

After that, I didn’t see my uncle or his family at all. For so long that I completely forgot that I had a cousin, Crystal.

When my grandmother came from Hong Kong to visit one year, she reunited the families again, and I saw them for the first time in a long while1.

At that time, the popular thing to do was play cards. I had the reputation as being the fastest, most dexterous dealer out of all the kids. But when I went over to my uncle’s house one day and we were playing Asshole, I noticed Crystal dealing exactly the same way I did, except faster, without even paying attention.

It was at that point that I realized, “This person is my family”.

The only other time I had such a stark realization was during my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. At an international buffet, we grabbed some dessert from the cart and ordered some tea. My uncle, aunt (both siblings of my dad), and I were sitting at the table, with delicious pastries in front of us, but none of us were touching them. When someone asked my uncle why he wasn’t eating his dessert yet, he said that he has to have tea with his sweets. And it turns out that was the exact same reason me and my aunt were waiting too. One of these little quirks that one never expects someone else to have, and sometimes we’re even ridiculed for it, and yet here we were, three people doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason.

I generally believe that humans are more likely a product of their experiences, with a touch of inherited qualities too. After all, I’m almost nothing like either of my parents. It was only these two experiences that made me admit that there’s a little more of us that’s inherited, that we’re a product of our genes, than I would have believed.

  1. I even discovered that I had a new cousin, Darren, who was Crystal’s brother. []

Issues In Others

After going through therapy, I’ve started to recognize complexes and issues in other people.

Some put their hope in someone, then hurt them. Some only fall in love with people they can’t have, and as soon as interest is reciprocated, they lose the attraction. Strong signs of emotional deprivation, stemming from traumatic relationships. (Unfortunately, I’ve been the cause on more than one occasion, and it was my own issues that lead to this destructive behaviour where I didn’t treat a heart as delicately as I should have.)

Most people aren’t aware of their issues, but I’m always baffled by the ones who are aware and still don’t do anything about it. They repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again.

I’ve always believed that self-improvement is the highest form of living, and I’ve been able to work through my own baggage, so I refuse to accept those who don’t work through their own.

This Is Not A Cry For Help

I have suicidal thoughts every now and then.

They don’t necessarily come out during bad times. It’s rather random. And it’s not like these thoughts involve planing how I’m going to do it, I just think of how much simpler things would be if I weren’t living. A line from Being John Malkovich comes to mind:

[Consciousness] is a terrible curse. I think. I feel. I suffer.

I think the root of my “suffering” is the anxiety I harbour. Anxiety about social situations, the state of the world, and other trivial details that make life seem complicated. I don’t want to have these thoughts, but I do. Then life gets even more complicated, and I get more anxiety. It’s a vicious circle, until it becomes not about the anxiety itself, but anxiety about having anxiety. I didn’t really identify it until I was in the car with Julie, feeling sick and sicker until I almost asked her to pull over on the highway.

All I want to do is stop thinking. Suicide would be such an easy solution, and as much as I disagree with the reasons for suicide in the first place, I honestly believe this is true.

It makes me scared that one day I’m going to make a stupid mistake with a permanent consequence.

I know I have a good life, I know how illogical these thoughts are, but that doesn’t stop them from reoccurring on a monthly basis. I remember having these thoughts as early as high school, although they were much more common back then.

More frequently, I have thoughts of mutilation, about once a week. Not self-mutilation, because there’s never anyone specifically doing it to me. It’s just me in blackness, then a floating knife flying into my windpipe, or an axe splitting my head down the middle, or an ice-pick in the back of the neck, or…well, you get the idea.

I’ve never told anyone about this. Not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want anyone to worry. Not even my closest friends know.

But harbouring this fear and anxiety, I’m slowly realizing, is difficult. It’s preventing me from enjoying life. I’ve decided to get some help; my first appointment is in three days.

I’m tired of living with this.