Instead of going to bed last night, my husband and I got into a conversation about the iPad. For the life of me I don’t remember how. Of course, as most conversations do in our household, this eventually degraded into a series of progressively worse puns on the topic.
“Maybe their next microphone will be called the iScream.”
“Maybe next they’ll start diversifying, and launch some sporting goods. They could have the iBall!”
“And then they could add running shoes, and call them iRan!”
“And breast implants! ….iRack.”
“And then when they have enough money, they can create their own empire and have an iLand.”
It’s no wonder I have nightmares sometimes.
Things are generally going well at the moment. Tentatively well, but well none the less. Of course, as mentioned previously my definition of “well” is a little bit skewed at the moment, but I’ll take what I can get.
No therapy for the past couple of weeks. I get a little impatient waiting a week in between, so this is enough that I’ve almost forgotten it existed sometimes. Apparently that rush, rush, rush, strive, strive, strive perfectionism is actually a common symptom of the depression and/or of people who become depressed. I know because I’m reading yet another book now. Because I’m a perfectionist.
The last therapy session was interesting. She had me sitting down across from my critical voice (or an empty chair where it supposedly was sitting), and talk directly to it. And yes, this probably sounds a little odd, but I’m pretty willing to make a complete and utter fool of myself if it will kick this thing. I would strap on some chickens and a goth wig every day if I thought it would help. A little empty-chair-conversation is nothing.
Anyway, I had to recall a recent situation in which it was vocal. To be honest, I am terrible at this now. Always have been, really, if I’m being entirely honest. It’s part of the reason I either kick ass or suck ass at job interviews depending on what they ask me. Unless I’ve pre-selected things in advance, I have a terrible time trying to come up with examples of situations on the spot. My mind is totally blank on those things. This is why I have also deliberately committed to memory an “embarrassing moment,” “most frightening experience,” and a bad joke or two. In case somebody asks. Because they tend to from time to time. Sometimes I feel like I was absent the day that they covered my life experiences.
(which isn’t actually surprising, since depression literally EATS YOUR BRAIN where it’s responsible for creating long term memories. …But I digress.)
So I sort of gave a very vague explanation of the sort of situation that tends to come up often for me. There is a lot of “you look stressed and/or disappointed and/or irritated and/or bitter, therefore I am unlovable” in my life. Which yes, makes no sense, but as mentioned I am depressed. So these things happen sometimes. Then I had to switch chairs to look at myself from the critical point of view, and let myself have it. I will admit that there were a couple of awkward moments after the first wave where I ran out of things to say for a while, but overall it wasn’t as hard as I might have thought.
Switch back to being “myself” and tell the voice how I’m feeling. At which point I described the appropriate emotions and the reasons for them, and then began to go to town on my critical voice. Because it pisses me off, damn it, and I’ve been stuck with the darn thing long enough to know it. I also have this habit of getting belatedly angry when I realize that I have been in an extended unfair situation and I haven’t spoken up for myself or demanded better. Like, really angry. All the built up anger that was warranted that whole time kind of angry. Belatedly angry is really the only kind of angry I can do at all yet, but I’m damn good at it. Anyway, nothing’s been more unfair than the crazy belittling voice in my head, so I gave it what for.
Switch back to the voice, at which point I sat there kind of abashed for a while, and then started to mentally criticize my ability to successfully criticize myself (yes folks, my internal critical voice has its very own critical voice. I am the never ending Russian nesting dolls of admonishment).
I had a pretty good idea going into this what criticisms I was likely to heap on myself in the beginning. I knew clearly the emotions that resulted from them too. What threw me a little was that in that moment, while my critical voice was sitting there chastised, I had the overwhelming awareness that it felt bad because it was only trying to help.
I guess this makes sense in a twisted way. It’s a defense mechanism. I’ve been burned now and then, and by keeping right on top of me, or pushing me incessantly, or pointing out what’s going wrong, or making sure I’m aware of potential flaws so that I don’t get myself into challenging situations, I can avoid getting into situations where I might get hurt again. In fact, I can avoid getting into pretty much any situation. I had never thought of it that way, though. I always assumed that voice in my head was somebody else’s, and definitely up to no good.
Now I know that it’s well-intentioned. It’s just also horribly incompetent.
Which makes it more annoying, but less powerful, I guess.