Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Impetus of Thought

It seems like it's been a bit too long since I ruminated here on the original purpose of this blog. I've been so busy indulging in my happy places that I've been letting the road that got me to those places drift away into the background. Which, I must admit, is good for me. But recently I was talking to a dear old friend who I have not heard from in an estimated 4 billion years (yes, that's an exaggeration, it's only been a million years but 4 billion sounds funnier). In the conversation, as we were catching up, it was natural that the topics of my ups and downs (if I may be so blasé) should come up. And these discussions have set me to thinking. Oh no, Joy's been thinking again everyone: DUCK!

He has been through his own ups and downs, as everyone has, and he mentioned that he actually embraced all his emotions: the good and the bad. (Yes, I'm talking about YOU, deflate-deflate!) I think this is a wonderful thing. To be able to accept yourself, accept and embrace, the things that make you unique. When I look back on my various episodes of blackness I do know that they all had a part in making me who I am now, so they are not to be dismissed. But I don't know that I actually embrace them. I don't know that it is safe for me to do so.

A verrrrrry long time ago I was speaking to someone who also endured some hellish depressions and I put forth my feeling that, despite the pain these episodes brought us, there is also something bordering on pleasure inherent in them. That's not something I've spoken of since, as that theory was rebuffed entirely - but I'm going to say it again, because I still believe it to be true. Despite the pain, there is something familiar and comforting in returning to that darkness that makes it addicting, and yes, that is pleasurable. But also destructive and terrifying. My understanding is that heroin addiction also has quite a pleasurable draw - doesn't mean it's something I want to be a part of.

To discuss my darker times, (and despite enjoying my manic episodes - for the most part - I do include them when I say darker times) in anything but an intellectual or humorous manner, runs me the risk of actually recalling the feelings of those times - and by 'recall' I mean 'feel'. To feel that darkness again I fear, runs the risk of it taking hold. I hate to admit my cowardice about this, but my fear of going back to those dark places ever again is so intense, and being in those places so dangerous to my life, that I don't know if this is a fear I will ever overcome. Or in fact one that I ever want to overcome.

I've heard people espousing the theory that there is no such thing as mental illness. That it is hype. That it doesn't exist. I have two words in response to that.


While I agree that there are many roads to healing from mental illness - some pharmaceutical (which is the only thing that worked for me), some more holistic, some situational, some physical or dietary this does NOT mean that mental illness does not exist. The sciences that explore brain chemistry and mental illnesses may be young, may not have all the answers, but that does not mean the illnesses they investigate are not real. The brain is part of the body - our bodies endure illnesses; to say there is no such thing as mental illness is supremely illogical. Just because someone may have spontaneously healed (i.e. their brain chemistry adjusted by natural means) does not negate that they were ill to begin with.

Sorry. That was a mini-rant.

Back on track now.

So while I feel the idea of embracing all your emotions is an excellent one, complete acceptance, very Zen and something to aspire to, I think that for me, for now, I must accept and embrace my better emotions and accept and give a hearty handshake from a safe distance to my less healthy ones. We'll see how that works. Maybe one day I'll feel secure enough to see if I can touch those darker places without getting sucked in. There may be things there that I need to remember and feel again (briefly), but that time is not now. And that is okay.

Now how's that for acceptance?


Tony said...

Well - this is my first posted comment on your blog. Had you mentioned me earlier, perhaps it would not be... (J/K)

As the aforementioned 'million-year-old friend' ("Ooooooooooy..." said he, with apologies to Brooks & Reiner) let me clarify for Joy's sake that I am fortunate to not suffer from any of the adversities that cause my emotions to originate as anything other than responses to stimuli. In that sense, embrace of my emotions is not a particularly bold or brave action on my part. It is an easy thing to own one's anger or sadness (those 'negative-context' emotions) when the consensus of objective opinion would be that you have a right to be angry or sad. ..

I can hardly fathom what that 'darkness' was like for you, Joy, but I don't know that ever embracing it should be viewed as some sort of benchmark, because... well, I'm reminded of a line from a song:

"And when you walk into her eyes, you won't believe the way she's always paying for a debt she never owes..."

You don't owe that debt, sweetheart. You don't owe it...

Joy said...

Isn't that a line from Wildfire? ;) Thank you for the post idea.

Junk Thief said...

I've been through the patches where I can only focus on the higher or at least more pleasant emotions. I honestly think that in my most confident moments, I don't see that much value in purging those darker aspects. The most I can do is acknowledge that they exist. To me, some support groups and programs put too much emphasis on purging and "exploring the shadow". People I know that go through such efforts emerge the same or even more messed up.