Thursday, August 16, 2012


All you need to keep grounded is a .txt file somewhere you can access it. Janice told me about some 'choice' theory that is A) highly theoretical and B) merely being floated now that says a lot of 'mental illness' is in part a choice made.

As in the theory posits that you develop depression/ocd/anxiety even schizophrenia as choice rather than dealing with whatever stimulus drives that choice. I mean the potential for such a theory to be highly offensive I will openly acknowledge, because I in part find it offensive. I really like Livingstone's definition of mental illness as 'mental health requires freedom of choice'.

And I don't know much about this 'choice' theory, but I imagine it doesn't naively claim that people are merely 'pretending' to be depressed, anxious, schizophrenic etc. but I suspect it refers to the possibility that our own minds are capable of building up a resilience to falling into these mental states. Certainly I imagine there is documented evidence of how to avoid many forms of depression. There is even a book urging people to move away from dealing with depression via anti-depressants.

Anyway, my psychologist tells me I have a clean bill of mental health, and exhibit no signs of any kind of mental disorder. And she is more qualified to make this call than I am.

So apparantly I'm not at risk of falling into depression, anxiety etc. Indeed in my new years thankyou I remarked at how impossible it is beginning to seem for me to stay in a bad way for any period of time. My lifestyle, and subsequent life seems to pull me upwards whether I like it or not.

At the same time there are situations that make me anxious, a couple of months ago, I had a situation that induced almost instantaneous panic attacks, and that situation I feel safe to say, resolved poorly, but it's not that bad, as I knew at the time either way it would be fine, and it is. But back then, just the transition from possibles to certainties induced perhaps the most sever panic attacks I can recall.

I like most people am prone to superstitions. My brains hardwired predisposal for looking for patterns, my human failings that lead me to rationalise, and the denial that is an almost universal coping mechanism for life's dissappointments lead me ever onwards into superstitious behaviours.

Good superstitions (lucky underpants) that build confidence in turn helping one to succeed are counterbalanced by bad superstitions (bad omens) and in time these can come to dominate. This is as close as I get to unravelling mentally - 'choosing' not to cope.

And the easiest way to cope I find is to just record the superstitions, the feelings of foreboding in a document whenever they arise. Think of it as a very brief, very succinct diary. Every time I get one I can put it in, and naturally I will turn to reading back over past incidents I have felt foreboding and conclude ultimately, that my sense of foreboding is one of the least effective predictors of whether something bad will happen.

The upshot to overcoming garden variety superstitious behaviour is the positive bias of doing so. What I mean is that you realise all your successes weren't generated by some magical rule of the universe (if it rains I am going to have a good day) but were attributable to you. You gain the benefit of the lucky underpants without having to wear them. But also you dismiss any notion that fate is hampering you, you become more confident in spite of the patterns you percieved lead to your downfall.

It is hard for us to admit how much of our life is determined by opaque randomness, but very rewarding.

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