Worrying

I’m a worrier.

For those of you who know me, this is no surprise. I worry about my friends, my family, the people I care about. High on my list right now is Calla, because I know there’s a lot going on with her, and I wish I could help; I know I still have feelings for her, even though I’ve come to terms with the idea that we won’t have a romantic relationship; there’s a gap between the rational side of my mind – the part that know’s we are just friends – and the emotional side, which spent months building up feelings for her, and is extremely slow to let them go. I’m stubborn like that. I worry about my friend who is switching medications, because she seems to be taking it pretty hard, and it’s not like things have been terribly easy on her. I worry about my other friend here, who’s a single guy and an awesome friend who just seems to have a hard time catching a break. I know it’s coming, but I still worry about him.

I know I worry, and I know it can be intense and annoying. It can cause me to try to intrude more than I should, and just be more of an ass than I normally am.I also know that for a lot of people, this would be a cause of a lot of stress. But I worry because I choose to, not because I have to. I want my friends to be happy, and I worry about them when things aren’t going so well. I’ve had one friend come very close to killing herself – not one of the above friends, a separate one, in Canada – and another actually go through with it – my friend Alice, my took her life in June. I know that I can’t change the past, and that ‘what if…’ scenarios will just mess with my head. But I wonder if having someone to reach out to, or who reached out to her, might have made a difference. So I worry about my friends because I never want to see one of them get to that point again, or if they do, to know that I am here for whatever help or support I can give.

In other news, things are proceeding as planned, and I know that two blog entries in two days is pretty unusual for these times – more reminiscent of my early blogging. But I had this on my mind, and I spent the day at work thinking about it – well, the part of my work day when I wasn’t going through the process of reporting a workplace injury, because I slipped on a loose piece of cardboard and twisted my knee. It’s nothing serious, but I’m going to be limping around for a day or so. Thankfully, I’ve got the next two days off, so I’ll be able to keep things easy on my knee. So, whoever is reading this, don’t worry; it isn’t serious, just an annoyance, and I’ll be fine in a day or two.

Relationships

I’ve had a lot of time recently to think about things, and while I’m muddling through a book or two, I don’t think I’ll be writing about those. Relationships have been on my mind recently – both damaged and lost ones, to be exact. As someone with depression, I’ve never been very good at dealing with loss; negative feelings like sadness tend to hit me pretty hard, and relatively easily. So the last few months have been both a trial for me – and an exercise in seeing how far I’ve come since coming to Houston.

I think first, and most permanent, is the loss of Alice in June. We really formed a connection in Menninger, and getting to see her again afterwards when she eventually wound up at the same step-down program as me was nice. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t tend to form friendships easily or quickly; that’s why making so many friends at Menninger was surprising to me. Even though, after the step-down, Alice and I grew apart, I still considered her a good friend, someone who I would do just about anything for. And so, when she died, it hit me pretty hard. I still think about her; I wonder if maybe talking to people who knew her from Menninger might have helped. And she’s one of the reasons I want to go into social work; maybe my first-hand experience with mental illness, combined with training in therapy, might be able to help someone in a situation similar to hers. But she’ll never be back; there will always be an Alice-shaped hole in my life.

More recently, I’ve had some relationship troubles with Calla. She told me that she doesn’t feel like she is ready for a relationship, and might not be for a long while, and I wanted to try to understand why. My misguided attempts to understand what she felt was holding her back may have pushed her too far, though, and now we’re not speaking. She’s an important part of my life, and so every day that I don’t hear from her just makes it clear to me how much her absence can cause me grief. I want to talk to her, to try to explain what I was trying to say, to apologize, to do something, anything, to get her back in my life. But for right now, the only thing I think I can do is wait for her to decide to talk to me again. Hopefully, she’ll do that soon, and we can work on repairing the damage.

It’s weird; the closer I feel to someone, the more frightened I am that I will do something to drive them away. And now, in some way, that fear has been realized with Calla. I guess it’s just a fear of being abandoned or rejected – well, I say ‘just’ when it’s clearly pretty serious for me, but I guess it’s not all that unusual. It means I kind of need to be in contact, and meeting up with, the people I care about in order to live a healthy life. I can’t do that with Alice, but there’s still hope for me to do that with Calla.

Rational vs. Emotional

Sometimes it feels like the rational and emotional parts of my mind are at war with each other.

I say this not because there are actual wars in my head (because that would be messy), but because there are a lot of things on which these two parts of my head don’t seem to agree. For one recent example, how I have been handling my friend Alice’s death. The rational part of my mind says to just hold everything inside, to keep from showing how I feel to others because that is only showing them weakness, and showing weakness is inviting attack. The emotional side of my mind, though, is telling me that I have to show my emotions, because by expressing them, I can process them and thus deal with them; holding them in will just lead to stunted emotional growth and an eventual explosion that will almost certainly do more harm than good.

My emotional mind isn’t always the good guy, though. In my relationship with Calla, my rational mind tens to be more, well, rational. Our communications recently have been somewhat distant; I can feel that there is more that she has to say when we talk to each other, but ti doesn’t get said. My emotional mind says that this is all my fault – that I have done or said something to cause her to pull away, that I am continually screwing up in front of her both in word and deed. It tells me to apologize frantically, and act melodramatically (yes, I can be melodramatic), because these things will clearly express to her the degree to which I am sorry for whatever my actions have wrought. My rational mind, though, tells me that I need to take a step back; that what I am seeing as my fault is probably more complicated – that she likely has reasons for not telling me what she is thinking, and that when she feels ready, she’ll tell me. In fact, it tells me that acting too emotionally will likely push her away rather than get her to talk to me.

Trying to find a balance between these two parts of my mind is something called wise mind in treatment – a balanced, or blended, use of both sides of the mind in order to come to the best decisions. Sometimes one part will be right, sometimes the other, and sometimes both will need to be taken into account to make a decision. Knowing when to pay attention to both is a very important treatment skill; it keeps emotions from becoming too dysregulated, and it also keeps someone (in this case, me) from losing touch with their emotions in a way that can be unhealthy and dangerous. It keeps me from descending back into the near-robotic days of my teenage years, or the horrible depressions of later years.

It can be a lot of work, though; only experience (and some good advice from others) can really keep me from making the same mistakes over and over. What seems like a good idea one minute may be totally idiotic when looked at from a different perspective.  It reminds me a bit of a theory (about relationships, but it’s close enough for government work) brought up in one of my favorite comedy shows, How I Met your Mother, the Dobler/Dahmer Theory:

When viewed from one side, an idea can seem great, but from the other, terrible. Learning to take a step back and try to figure out which one is currently right – if either – has helped to make my life a lot easier (though it is oddly a lot of work).