Today started with a short quote I thought to myself about pain and positivity:
Just as depression can cause pain, happiness can relieve it.
And it’s such a fascinating thing to think about because it just shows how insanely powerful our invisible thoughts are. It’s weird. It doesn’t make sense how a thought can be that powerful. How talk therapy can heal. Hearing something in just the right way with just the right combo of words can affect you differently than hearing the exact same info in a different way. Like life-altering power. WHAAAA???!!!
Happiness is a natural pain relief, and so is distraction. I think about how I feel every muscle in my back tighten and ache with every minute in an airplane, but I could sit down to my computer to write a song and everything – even my desire to drink water or go to the bathroom – would fade away and before I know it 12 hours had gone by. More powerful than any medication I’ve ever had. Happiness and distraction are such powerful allies for the chronically ill, but it’s the “happiness” part that is also powerfully elusive, especially when you’re sick, and especially when you’re sick for way too long. Sometimes it feels like our bodies just want to kill us. We crave foods that slowly kill us. We love to binge. We are still lizard brains in modern societies. Our minds naturally drift to the insecure, the supposed-to, the i-need-to-but-i’m-not-so-i-suck-and-my-life-is-being-wasted, the just-kill-yourself… depression can be manifested with a bad night’s sleep or a single thought you can’t shake that unplugs the drain and gets you spiraling down it. It can creep in with every bad habit, every slip of control – Depression by a Thousand Cuts. And it doesn’t help when your world is small – like mine these days being mostly homebound, disabled, in this purgatory of being sick and waiting to get back to my healthy life – because the spotlight is hyper-focused on whatever you shine it on. And it seems like the negative things just LOVE the spotlight, whereas the positive things are like little fireflies with this little flicker of light that you can’t ever hold focus onto for long.
I love watching things – I love TV, movies, I love studying people, I love watching creativity, I love admiring in people’s abilities and jobs and career choices and successes. It also means I am constantly comparing myself to, and surrounding myself with, the most beautiful, famous, consistent, successful, wealthy and able people. People who not only can work, but work harder than seems possible, and for long enough that their successes have put them on the screen that I am staring at.
I used to have an awesome gas tank. I used to exercise every morning, commute, work hard, learn, train, find creative projects, perform, audition for shows, get cast, learn, rehearse, memorize, put on multiple shows, go to cast parties… now even one of those things seems like an impossibility I can’t believe I so recently was able to do. It was what I wrapped my self-pride and self-worth in. I’ve waded through a lot of life lessons and thinking around that which is for a different post – but the point is that now being unable makes me see famous actors as super-athletes. The ultimate super-marathoners. Especially the lifers who never seemed to stop for even a year, even as the fame rose. I mean, think about the work that goes into just memorizing a paragraph for a short audition. Then going through that process enough times that you land something. Then you’re looking at having to not only keep that pace but multiply it as you have to learn more lines, all the time and effort that goes into each individual scene. That’s not even taking into account all the extra padding – all the exercising, the personal training, if they had to learn an accent, if they had to learn another language, if they had to learn a new skill like martial arts where they have to look believable, keeping their skin clear, dealing with all of regular life stuff, then all the marketing. All the plugging. All the interviews. All the travel. Think of how exhausting it is to go on just one business or don’t-really-feel-like-it trip. How you need hours of your life just for that one thing – for planning what you’ll need, what you’ll need to take care of before you go, what to pack, what needs to be taken care of while you’re gone, then getting in the car, going to the airport, the whole check-in, security and waiting process, boarding, then sitting for hours, then getting off, going to another car, usually takes awhile if it’s a rental car, then getting to an unfamiliar hotel, in an unfamiliar city or state or country. Then trying to sleep in an unfamiliar bed, with noisy guests, in the room next to the elevator. Every morning is a butt-ass-crack-of-dawn day, with shitty travel food, and yet every interaction you have with anyone, from a fan on the street to all the people who are a part of your job, to the interviews with literally all eyes on you and companies pumping all their money and hopes on you to 1. not fuck it all up for them, and 2. make more fans, 3. go viral, 4. box office sells… just crushing pressure.
Think of all the self-control that it takes to be famous! And yet actors are self-proclaimed emotional nutcases, alcoholics, addicts, failed marriages, sex-scandals… it’s like their emotions are heightened and yet it somehow doesn’t get in the way of their most unyielding career choices. I don’t get it and I’m in awe of it. And it gives me hope that if they can do it with all of their shit, with all their human messiness, of course it’s possible.
I also think that we naturally fall into where our proclivities lie, and I think a lot of that is from whatever magic combo of varying mental illnesses we are made up of. I LOVE obsessing over details, which is why my career led me to user experience design, and why it all made sense when I was diagnosed with adult ADD. I wonder if we fall into the careers we have that matching mental-illness-map to. It also makes me wonder if there are more little nuances at play that we aren’t aware of yet. Like how suddenly everyone is ADD, or ADHD. I do think things move in fads, and medical laziness can add fuel to the diagnostic-fire, but I don’t think it negates what that fad has brought to light, and I do believe I have it or some form of it, and I do believe that many more do than they thought which is why it’s coming up more and more. And it makes me wonder what else I have, and what else we all have. Like autism, for example. I don’t know much about autism, but my rudimentary learned-it-from-Rainman knowledge tells me it’s something that can cause intense discomfort for the person if they are not able to have everything just so, that they can be locked up by anything that’s overwhelming, and that their daily habits are almost addictive necessities like gutter bumpers on a bowling lane to keep bouncing within the lines just to function. I also know the term “highly functioning autistic” is applied to autistic people who are able to manage it enough to have independent lives. It just makes me wonder how high that level goes of someone who has some form of autism but are not controlled by it. Like how many of us are actually dealing with forms of autism but they are so low grade or considered so “highly functioning” versions that they’re not even talked about or diagnosed or concerned with, because they don’t get in the way. There’s so much about the way I work and think that I don’t understand. And with all the talk my doctors give me of encephalopathy, depression, lyme brain, neural-lyme, cognitive dysfunction… there’s so much that goes into what makes me “me”. Even the bugs in my brain make me “me” – or at least the version I am right now. It makes sense. How cool would it be to REALLY know what makes us the people we are. What makes us good or bad at the things we’re good and bad at. Like all the little teeny tiny things in black and white bullet points, like a ticker tape dispenser you can read when you open up anyone’s head. This is why you’re you. I’d rather know than not know. It helps take some of the torture away of the incessant negative thinking and could also help you appreciate what you are able to do DESPITE some of the shit in there.
I think that most things are not paid attention to until we have no choice. So what else is at play that we aren’t aware of because we don’t need to be? ❤︎
2 thoughts on “The invisible map that makes us “us”.”
Thank you so much for this post, Lisa! I love the analogy of an “invisible map.” There IS a map. There IS a reality, and it is hidden from us or we’re misdirected from it so often. Searching and searching is all we have- and that can be as exhausting and miserable as it is freeing and rewarding. Very thought-provoking ❤
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Love you. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading Em!