Ob-Noxious Behavior, Pt. II

“He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.” – Samuel Johnson

 

So here we were, holding hands, walking along the middle of the proverbial train tracks, when the drama train was gunning for us full speed ahead, remember?

 

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There were three crucial questions I asked before heading for certain doom:

1) How do we avoid a disastrous collision?

2) If the imminent disaster occurs, how do we manage damage control?

3) How do we minimize collateral damage?

 

To answer those questions, we have to view the situation from two distinct vantage points; one, the always-right-kung-fu-master, and two, the punching bag.*

*Otherwise known as the communicator and the receiver, according to Berlo’s conceptual model of human communication, but let’s stick to the more whimsical, appropriate imagery, shall we?

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Yeah, they’re communicating. Really.

 

Here’s where things get a tad complicated.

You see, I was going to waltz into a diatribe on human behavior as it stems from nature vs nurture, the current standard of living as it pertains to social interaction in this current stage of human evolution, facts, charts, diagrams, puppet shows, YouTube clips, social media memes, etc.

And then I realized how simple it truly is to explain, instead of sounding like a pedantic wannabe.

The truth is, speaking from personal experience, toxicity stems from irrational thoughts and fears when it comes to the mentally ill. A mentally ill individual normally does not want to be toxic; quite the contrary – we wish to be at peace, to co-exist in a harmonious existence of perpetual bliss. That, of course, is a fantasy that we project* unto those around us.

*According to most textbook definitions I have found while doing research, psychological projection is defined as a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

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Not to be confused with astral projection; that’s a whole other can of worms.

So you see, when our expectations do not conform to the vision we have of what something should be, we immediately see it as a threat and act accordingly. We expect other parties to fully understand that THEY are at fault of situations that arise, not us; WE did nothing wrong, WE acted according to our perfect little vision of how things should be, so WE prepare for battle – battle flags are hoisted, fortifications are secured, and onward to battle we go.

The aforementioned party then gets blindsided in a stupendous WHAT-THE-FUCK moment that becomes a struggle to survive an unnecessary onslaught of emotions. Many of these moments cannot be avoided; they are just immediate triggers, and it is up to the individual who suffers from a mental disorder to apply techniques learned through experience, treatment, and introspection. After all is said and done, if steps were taken and a crisis still occurs, then all parties involved must be understanding, patient, and most of all EMPATHIC towards each others’ plight.

 

Simply said, it takes two to tango.

 

So that brings me to the extremist meme that I posted last time as an example:

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Nobody, I mean NOBODY is indebted to ANYONE; let me make that abundantly clear.

 

If a friend, loved one, or family member decides to stand by your side out of love and commitment through your disease, then that is a blessing that should be cherished and nurtured.

On the flip side, if a friend, loved one, or family member decides they have had enough….

 

IT IS FUCKING OK.

 

They are human beings, with limits just like any other person; they are allowed to feel frustration, anger, all the emotions that are associated with someone struggling with a painful situation that, in their own heart and mind, they cannot handle or are not prepared for.

 

IT IS OK FOR SOMEONE TO WALK AWAY; THAT IS NOT ABANDONMENT – IT IS SELF-LOVE, DIGNITY, AND SELF-RESPECT.

 

Just because you work in a hospital does not mean that you won’t get sick and need a few days off; does that make you a shitty caretaker?

Of course not.

In order to take care of others, you need to first take care of yourself, to be healthy and to be prepared.

So that brings me to the previous three questions that were asked. The solution is quite simple – really – when you think about:

 

Don’t be a prick.

 

Seems kinda anti-climactic, minimizing, simple and childish, right?

 

Just look at the facts:

  1. If you are a prick, prepare to be treated like one. Deal with it. It sounds harsh, and there is more to it than that because like I’ve said before, life is never simple. That being said, you get what you give; it’s simply the law of reciprocity.
  2. If you deal with being a prick and show you don’t want to be a prick, then allow others to help you not be a prick.
  3. If you decide to continue being a prick regardless, don’t be surprised when people tell you to go fuck off.

What it all boils down to is the fact that you cannot treat people like shit and expect them to just stand there and take it on the chin just because they love you; that, ladies and gentlemen, is called ABUSE.*

*I will be addressing the issue of abuse another day, because it is an extremely important component that affects all aspects of mental illness, both from a victim’s standpoint and the abuser’s standpoint. It is an important, fascinating subject that needs to be discussed with the utmost attention to detail and delicateness.

 

Nobody likes to be abused.

 

Toxic behavior can be modified, and in many wonderful cases, can be eradicated, but it takes a lot of hard work, discipline, mindfulness, and empathy.

In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan melted down, creating a nuclear disaster of unforeseeable magnitude. After 7 years of effort and cleanup, Fukushima has slowly been rebuilt, opened back to the public, repopulated, and is being proverbially healed. The Japanese government estimates the cleanup effort will take around three to four more decades and billions of dollars to complete. They could’ve gone the Chernobyl route and just dump cement over the problem and call it a day; but they want their nation to thrive and grow beyond the wreckage of misfortune.

 

It will take time.

 

It will take insurmountable effort.

 

But they have the commitment and the drive to make it happen.

 

Be a Fukushima, not a Chernobyl.

 

 

Ob-Noxious Behavior, Pt. I

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” – Confucius

Today while I was browsing social media as I normally do when I look for inspiration (also known as extreme procrastination), I happened upon this little nugget of self-empowerment:

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That’s a pretty bold statement; strong, confident, motivational.

 

And dangerously one-sided, incomplete.

 

I take no issue with the act of proverbially, socially, mentally, and emotionally cleaning house, but judging others’ intent and merit on the sole basis of tolerating bad behavior is an extremely slippery slope to navigate.

 

Allow me to elaborate.

 

As I tend to preach, and sometimes prattle on, we all make mistakes. We are not perfect examples of virtue. We, as human beings, are innately flawed, fragile, and fallible, with the incredible ability to adapt, improvise, and improve. The drive to excel, to better ourselves, makes for great stories of drama, heroism, MCU movies, Netflix Originals, telenovelas, etc. We all love a good underdog story, and we all love to hate villains. Such is the way of the world.

It is during this journey that we encounter the supporting cast of our own personal theater of the mind; family, friends, antagonists, foils, the love interest and the occasional one-night stand. These are the markers that impact our lives, that mold our views of the world, set the tone for our present condition, that set up that wonderful character arc we call a lifetime of experience, our own personal hero’s journey. What we choose to do with that experience is what will determine the course of future endeavors, and so each event compounds the next, and the cycle goes on and on, creating routine and behavior.

 

The key word here is behavior.

 

Behavioral psychology – a school of psychology that explains all mental and physical activity in terms of response by glands and muscles to external factors (stimuli) – maintains that behavior is both conditioned and determined by its own outcomes or consequences (rewards and punishments) . *

*According to my initial research, mind you. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

 

This ties back to that dangerous notion of binary thinking that haunts most folk who suffer from bipolar disorder: if you do good things, good things will happen, and if you do bad things, bad things will happen.

 

In a perfect world, bad behavior is condemned and good behavior is rewarded.

 

Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world.

 

With that being said, there are many questions to be asked, most without definitive answers. Life and all of its intricacies are impossible to distill into such simple concepts when it comes to how we act upon our desires vs our environment; there are way too many factors, scientifically speaking, countless variables and influences to take into account, so in that maelstrom of cosmic and karmic turmoil we find ourselves right smack in the middle of that ageless argument:

 

What is right? What is wrong?

 

And so that brings me back to that well-intentioned, yet tragically misguided meme.

 

In the world of mental illness, the population can be basically boiled down to two groups: the afflicted and the non-afflicted.*
*I am currently wrestling with the thought of minimizing and dichotimizing such a concept, but bear with me for now.

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*Yep, I went there. Cue rimshot. 

Those afflicted by mental illness tend to see the world in a constant state of confusion because our behavior, as erratic as it may be, usually does not stem from malice; it originates from not being able to comprehend the world in an orderly fashion, so we grab on to dear life to whatever person or behavior justifies not feeling like an utter empty waste of space, a cross-like burden that taints that Rockwellian image we have of what the world should be. That image is distorted, blurry, and quite alluring, like a nice little acid trip; it also leads to toxic behavior, just like any other drug.
However, if you do not conform to how we see the world, you are exiled from our kingdom of joy, you are no longer welcome into our sanctuary of blissful misbehavior, and you are banished, labeled a threat to our feelings of validation and acceptance.

 

That’s where the toxicity kicks in, and why the lines and conditions of what is acceptable and tolerable behavior need to be established to preserve and protect everyone’s mental and emotional health and safety.

 

Who wants to be a buzzkill, right? Nobody wants to be a party-pooper.

 

Except that party that you’re having so much fun with?
It’s a one man wrecking crew, slamming into others with impunity and blind disregard.

 

No one wants to be standing in the middle of the train tracks when the choo-choo is barreling down at full speed….

 

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How do we avoid a disastrous collision? If the imminent disaster occurs, how do we manage damage control? How do we minimize collateral damage?
Tune in to next week’s action-filled episode to find out!

 

 

Depression And Other Fairy Tales

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” – Dr. Seuss

I had so many ideas about what to write about this week. My head was full of ideas; I bought notebooks, downloaded e-books, and wrote down a few ideas. I was motivated, pumped, full of energy and moxie, ready to continue my writer’s journey of self-discovery.

And then depression hit.

Hard.

All it took was a single moment for me to realize, unwittingly, that I was looking at a blank, empty page, a sliver of time that went on for centuries in my head; for a fleeting moment I sat staring at nothingness with that awful sinking feeling in my chest, the absence of feeling, wondering where the world had disappeared to.

I began this blog, this journey, as a way to cope with my disease, to heal, to navigate through the stormy seas of a world that I barely understand most of the time. There are days that fill me with joy, the elation of accomplishment – pride that my work, as minute as it may seem, is the beginning of something special, something more.

And then there are days where I feel that nothing I do is good enough, where I obsess about website traffic statistics and analysis, insights, social media metrics, wondering why nobody is reading, why nobody says anything, why no one will validate me, why cheerleaders with pom-poms and pig tails aren’t ra-ra-ra-ing my efforts, why society doesn’t care about the downtrodden, the unfortunate masses, why people are so uncaring, cruel, ignorant, despicable.

 

Are you seeing a pattern develop?

 

Do you see the jumps and dips, the ups and down, the flips and turns?

 

The fact that I struggle every day with combating the concept of duality and binary thinking is a trademark symptom of bipolar disorder.

 

My first year majoring in Computer Science I discovered the concept of binary systems, how they are the bread and butter of processing data, the life blood of information and electronics theory; all information consisting of 1’s and 0’s, the state of on and off, the duality of existence, of chaos finding order and organization, finally enlightened to how the world should operate.

I was fascinated by that concept because I was obsessed with the dichotomy of everything, the thought that existence, choice, thought, is or is not.

You see, one important symptom that helps identify bipolar disorder is the famous concept of black and white, do or do not, there is no try.

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*insert double entendre meme comment here; wink wink nudge nudge*

 

For someone suffering from bipolar disorder, shades of grey are a fallacy, an impossibility; it is extremely difficult to not deal in absolutes. When confronted with a situation where the dance of nuance, the tango of subtlety, comes into play we become that one drunk guy at karaoke – in his mind, he’s belting tunes out like David Draiman from Disturbed, while in reality he’s just squawking out of cadence like a monkey on horse tranquilizers.

*I just had to do it. Seriously, I had to; my description would never do this perfect moment in time justice. Lords bless the Internet. 

 

I call this common phenomenon the fairy tale effect.

Let’s be honest; we all have delusions of grandeur at some point in our lives (mostly when we’re teenagers who think we’re invincible, indestructible, infallible, in-whatever-word-to-describe-we-are-not-wrong-always-right, yada yada yada). We all have idealistic notions of what we want the world to be, philosophies of life that are set in stone, rigid, inflexible, perfect.

Until we realize the Universe is an ever-flowing ebb-and-flow of chaos; and that is not a bad thing, nor a good thing. It is just the way things are and always shall be.

 

Unfortunately, nobody delivered most mentally ill patients the memo.

 

And no one gave an instruction manual to their loved ones on how to deal with the backlash.

 

So with that being said, whenever things don’t go the way I want, my creative little noggin’ goes into overdrive; it becomes the Shakespeare of logic and reason, weaving tales of tragedy, victimization, and plots against my well-being that would make most JFK conspiracy theorists proud. These are the fairy tales concocted out of irrational thoughts and ideas when our minds cannot reconcile the fact that not everything is as simple as black and white; there are not only shades of grey, but a spectrum of bright colors, a venerable cornucopia of possibilities and solutions.

 

If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is; the same applies the other way around. When in doubt, just take a step back, look at the facts, and throw some introspection into the mix, sprinkle in some reasonable hope, a dash of healthy optimism, and – VOILA – life goes on.

 

Nobody needs to live happily ever after; that, my friends, is a fantasy.

 

Not all fairy tales need to have happy endings and not all fairy tales need to have unhappy endings.
Why?
Because there are an infinite amount of stories waiting to be written; it’s just up to you to write stories that make your world a better place.