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coping

My mind works too fast for me to think straight long enough to get my thoughts down. I used to be better at it before, but I'm out of practice with writing so much that it's become a lot more difficult. I should write more often to get back into the swing of it, writing here helps me cope more than just keeping it all to myself.

The minds of individuals work differently from person to person. In terms of coping, it's probably most typical that people distract themselves from unpleasant thoughts or memories with enjoyable activities or other outside stimuli to take their mind off of it. Some people turn inward and use their imagination in an attempt to stimulate the mind differently for an alternate emotional reaction, though sometimes that is more difficult for some people who are addicted to the cycle of negative thinking. In searching for low self-esteem treatment, I've found that the outside distraction method is typically encouraged. It's a good method, provided it doesn't lead to substance abuse; everyone needs a healthy amount of fun time to balance out the stress in their lives.

Personally, I've found I dwell on negative memories more than I like. I can't help it, they're things I can't let go of no matter how much I want to. I've always been a bit of a crybaby, and it doesn't take much time of brooding over certain things for me to get all upset and weepy. In the past 5 years or so, I've become much more emotional from PMS than I'd noticed before. Amy mentioned a medical condition that described extreme negative emotion during PMS, which I cannot remember, but it made me wonder about my general wellbeing in terms of my emotions. I try to vent them regularly, in private. I don't like keeping them bottled up for too long, so I go for a while and have a good cry every now and then. That's been happening more and more often since I started dating. I always thought it was because people were insensitive and I just felt hurtful because of it, but then I imagine that I'm just being too serious all the time. I've ALWAYS been this way, though.

I used to always cope with memories by turning inward first and trying to distract myself using imagination. It usually worked. It helps a lot when I'm on a good roll playing video games, too. Recently, though, I've come to face the negative thoughts & memories head first, and it's tremendously exhausting. I guess I've just grown tired of avoiding them, I've always thought I shouldn't have to avoid them, and that I shouldn't have them in the first place. I always feel like I have more emotionally negative memories than positive ones, and that makes me so damn mad. I've been focusing on them more, analyzing them as much as I can, in an attempt to figure out the best method to cope with them and move past it all. So far, all I've managed to do is create more grief than it's worth, but I haven't given up. It frustrates me because I hate being so emotional when I know it effects other people around me, and I don't want to do that. So I keep at it, hoping I can figure it out, so I can stop hurting inside, so I can stop hurting others.

Sometimes, when I'm having a good cry and remembering those particularly painful things, I end up having a one-sided verbal conversation because I reflexively feel like talking about it, even if it's to myself. If I'm particularly out of control, which doesn't happen too often, thank god, I have a 2 sided verbal conversation. I wondered in the past if it was a serious problem, but considering how rarely it occurs, I don't think it is. I'd rather do that than physically hurt myself, so I just consider it as another coping method. Today's the first day of pain and bleeding this month, and I'm lacking a bit of sleep as I got to bed late and woke up early this morning to let the dogs outside and feed them breakfast since my folks are away on a trip. Sleep deprivation, PMS & brooding over memories guided me into my regular bout of crying. I got to talking to myself about some people that I remembered who hurt me from elementary school, and the conversation jumped around as I remembered different classmates and teachers, and the different memories I had of them.

I always came back to the same person and the same instance when they tricked me. I hadn't realized the deception at the time it happened, and it took several years before I looked back and realized the scope of their plot against me and how daft I was when I unwittingly took the bait. That's how it always happened, and it hurts when I think back on those instances knowing that I was so fucking stupid because I was so honestly trusting- because I just wanted to be friends. But being as daft as I was, I was the prime target of stupid pranks, so it was decided that I wasn't going to have many friends. Of course the people I did consider friends would sometimes take advantage of my stupidity sometimes, since they couldn't help themselves. I once read that school children are the cruelest people you'll ever meet, and I know this to be a universal truth.

My mind briefly wandered away from the unpleasant school memories and I instead remembered a couple nights ago when I was itching to draw but I recognized that it's been a long time since I've felt a real inspiration to make art. I remember when I started losing the inspiration, when I was going to school in LA and when I lost faith in my religion. The religion itself had no direct correlation with my artistic inspiration, but losing faith made me generally depressed, and I usually don't feel like doing much when I'm depressed. I had mostly done fanart up till then, and I guess I just got bored with fanart during the time I was studying animation. I lost motivation and self-confidence, and I struggled with just showing up to class regularly. Grades dropped, graduation was delayed, and I found increasingly less reasons to feel good about myself. At that point, I had no more good feelings associated with drawing.

I remember whenever I did draw in the past, it was always with optimism and the express intent of improving on a specific element, whether it was overall body posture, hands or facial expression. I focused on the latter more than anything else, as I typically drew what I subconsciously considered ideal: most of my drawings had characters with some sort of positive expression. When I was very young, I drew the typical & classic smiling stick figure family on a flat horizon, a little square house with a little square window and a triangle roof, poorly drawn smiling flowers, smiling fluffy clouds, and a smiling sun radiating lines of sunshine. If it could have character, if I could draw a smiling face on it, I did. Because that's what I thought was ideal, and it's what I wanted and what I expected in life. Years later, I find it as more reason to feel bitter. I was so honestly trusting of life, the world, fate... of course I'll someday be married and live in a house with a loving, happy family. Who wouldn't end up that way?

Some years ago, I remember I was thinking about how I always drew characters with positive expressions, and wondered about drawing the opposite. An illustration of a character feeling the worst extreme of negative emotions, something with a face contorted with strain, screaming from sorrow, pain, rage or madness. It's a striking visual idea to me, something I never considered drawing before, but the impact of the shock value drew me in. I then imagined trying to draw something similar, but instead of a general expression of screaming that could be interpreted as any one of the four, I focused on one of undeniable emotional pain, the worst expression of uncontrollable sobbing, complete with reddened skin, puffy eyes and disgusting wetness. The most woeful expression goes hand in hand with the most disgusting mess. From the first time I thought of it, I've wanted to draw it. And then I've wanted to draw a whole series of it, several illustrations of the same thing in varying intensities and compositions. It's something I hadn't really seen before, so it held my interest, but I never attempted it because I lacked confidence in my artistic abilities at that point.

Thinking back to that one instance in school years ago when that one classmate who took advantage of my honesty, I wondered how I might interpret the negative emotions I associated with the memory in a drawing; what would the composition be, the different visual elements involved, etc. I thought about the different important aspects of the trick that was played on me, how I could use them to make an interesting visual. As I thought about trying to create an art piece from the memory, I realized that I didn't hurt from thinking about it. I considered other painful memories, how I might make an illustration based on them, and I still felt no negative emotional response. I was surprised at this, and I remembered my interest in drawing emotionally distraught characters, and then I came to a thought. I no longer find interest in drawing what I used to draw so regularly, but strangely, I do find artistic inspiration from emotional pain, and in doing so, I found a way to move past painful memories that I was previously unable to cope with.

I finally ended my one-sided conversation. "I figured it out," I said. "Oh my god. I figured it out." Then I cried some more. It was a good cry.

To anyone who has read this far, and to those who are willing to spill their soul out to me, I ask this question: What is the worst emotional pain you've experienced, and from what circumstance did it occur? The most personal pains can hold the most important lessons, and I've decided I'd rather learn from them rather than avoid them by way of distraction. Besides, if it can help inspire me to draw again, then it must be something good.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
marzarelo
May. 26th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Coping is different for everyone. That's one reason why it's so difficult to try to give someone advice or comfort when they're dealing with stress or emotional turmoil. I'm pretty sure my primary methods are the distraction method or to just rant myself stupid to any poor soul who happens to stand still long enough to hear it. So my first thought when trying to help someone else is to either do or say something to take their mind off of the issue, or to just shut up and let them rant and scream to their heart's content. But I understand enough to know that just because that works for me doesn't mean it will work for someone else. Artistic output is as good a coping method as any. Actually, I think it's better than most other methods, because you can take all the negative and hurtful thoughts and experiences and use them to create something that other people can respond and relate to.

It's hard for me to really identify the worst emotional pain I've ever experience. There are many things that I've experienced that just thinking about them, even though they may have happened years ago, would cause me to cry. Some of them seem completely stupid when I try to view them from an outside perspective, and even I will admit that in the grand scheme of things they are incredibly insignificant events, but they are extremely poignant memories to me personally and have helped shape and define my personality.

Some of the most painful memories I have are those in which I have inadvertently hurt someone or something. Where, in my ignorance, I did or said something wrong, and it ended up having a costly and painful effect on someone or something else. For example, I was always very interested is insects and other small animals and wildlife, and there were a couple of instances where I ended up injuring or killing something in my ignorance of their fragility and how to properly care for them. It seems completely stupid to think that I still tear up when I think about a butterfly I caught when I was very young that broke it's own wings off in it's frantic attempt to escape from the jar I had put it in, but I do. It hurts to think that I've ruined something beautiful or deeply hurt someone with my own ineptitude or just because I wasn't thinking about my actions at the time, and that there is no way I can really make amends for it. An even more painful example would be an instance when I was in first grade. There were certain toys we got to play with during recess, but there weren't enough for everyone to have their pick, so our names were organized in a list so that we would each get a chance to play with each of the toys in turn. One recess it was my turn to get the rubber kickball, but there was another boy who wanted to play with it. He asked me nicely, but I said no. I figured it was my turn, and he would have his turn later. He followed me all recess, pleading with me to let him have the ball, but I continued to say no. Eventually it erupted into a game where I and several other children tossed the ball back and forth over his head in a game of "keep-away," laughing and teasing him as he cried and pleaded for us to just let him play with the ball. Recess ended, and I didn't think any more about it until just a few days later when that boy didn't come back to school and the teacher informed us that his parents had sent him to another school because the students at our school were so mean to him and he didn't have any friends. I immediately felt guilty about the kickball incident. I could have given him the ball. I didn't want it that badly, I just wanted it because it was my turn. I felt awful, and I still feel awful thinking that I teased that boy and made him feel so outcast and unwelcome when I could have just given him the stupid ball and maybe even been his friend.

(Fuck me, I've exceeded the comment character limit. I'll have to break this up into multiple comments.)
marzarelo
May. 26th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
The most obvious answer, though, would be the emotional pain of losing people who were very important to me. Over the years I've lost several people and been to more funerals than I care to count for extended family members, two young men I admired who had their lives cut tragically short, my stepfather, my younger stepbrother, and my father. Of course there is the pain of uncertainty, not knowing for certain what lies beyond life as we know it and hoping so fiercely that my beliefs are sound and that there is comfort and peace beyond the suffering of this life for those who have passed and that we will be reunited in the end. But my faith is strong, and if all else fails I can at least take comfort in the fact that if I'm wrong, if God doesn't exist and all religion is just a bunch of fabricated bullshit, at least I'll die with hope and I'll never know it was all a lie. Worse, though, is the sorrow over missed opportunity. I wonder if I could have done something to prevent it. Maybe if I'd tried harder, I could have convinced dad to stop smoking before it was too late. Maybe if I would have talked to Sean and let him know that I cared, he wouldn't have killed himself. Maybe if I had just been there for Miles, he'd still be here with us. Rationally I know that stewing about these things won't help anything, and that these people's deaths were the culminations of their own life decisions and I shouldn't feel responsible, but I can't help but feel like I should have intervened! I should have seen where things were going, and I should have cared enough to step in and stop it! But even when I'm not trapped in that guilt, I still just wish that I had loved them more. That I had made a greater effort to be close to them, let them know how much I care, just spend time with them while they were here. The ladder source of pain and worry carries over to people who are still living. I worry often that I am not being a good enough friend or expressing my love and appreciation clearly or often enough to the people who are still in my life because I'm just so awkward that I don't even know how to interact with people sometimes. Those are some of the most emotionally pailful issues in my life. But since I've brought it up, let me take this opportunity to tell you that I LOVE YOU! I may not text or chat with you as often as I really should, but you are on my mind often and I worry about you and pray for you every day because I can't physically be there with you to help you through the tough times and celebrate the good times. I can't wait for next week to come, because I'm so excited to see you and just hang out with you again.

Oh, also, it was PMDD that I mentioned before. I don't know if it really reflects your symptoms or not, you'd have to look into it a bit and see whether or not the description really applies to you. I just suggested it 'cause I noticed that your physical menstrual symptoms seemed more extreme than mine (though I'll admit that my menstrual cycle is fucked up, so I dunno, maybe you're normal) and it seems like negative emotions become more dominant for you around your menstrual cycle. Though again, I don't really know for sure...

Good lord, that's a long fuckin' comment.

Edited at 2011-05-26 06:31 am (UTC)
the_kitsu
May. 26th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
My comment won't be so long, but I *could* go on forever and ever. From bullying in gr 8, to losing my best friend in high school due to catty girl bullshit. There's the constant wondering why I survived the cancer, and what COULD have been/COULD be if I wasn't disabled. Then there's the frustration of people around me who are physically abled but are wasting their lives away. There was the complete abandonment from my mother a few years ago, the complete loneliness once I moved out due to roommates either always being gone or just not caring about me anymore, to feeling completely useless and needy. Of course the worst that I felt was a culmination of those things and finding out my mom had my cats shot...on my birthday. I honestly could not stop throwing up for weeks unless I took pills or laid down. I've always avoided the idea of anti-depressants because I always figured I could deal with my issues, and my biggest issues are due to physical problems and anti-depressants can't fix my physical problems, but when your body is constantly trying to physically throw everything out of you, you sometimes need that extra step. They haven't healed me obviously, but I don't dwell on the past as often or cry over what could have been. I've also found telling the truth about others to them to be very healthy. I told Mom she's the reason I'm on the pills and it felt good. Of course I also wanted to be a better person and cope even MORE with my problems so I sought professional help and she's given me the tools to deal. Of course when all else fails I'm the type that goes to Imagination Land where everything's great. I also find joy in small things which really helps make each day worth living. And as Sherri said, if it doesn't hurt me or anyone else, who cares WHAT I do or WHAT I like. I still get angry, sad, frustrated, but I can handle them better. And I always wonder why I'm not an addict. I just assume I'm too smart to do drugs or drink. I'd rather face my problems than use substances to forget about them. Finally, the most emotion you'll ever get out of me is when I suddenly try to imagine death and I just completely fall apart. I cannot picture it so I freak right the fuck out. Begging myself to just try to forget it and hop into a different frame of mind...sometimes even hitting myself in the head just to snap out of it.

There're just so many different ways to make sure you can deal with things and as long as it doesn't hurt you or anyone else then go for it. Draw, write, rant, talk to yourself, as long as it lets you work things out instead of bottling it all up and driving yourself crazy, then go for it.

And like Amy, you're one of my best friends and I wish I wasn't such a douchetard and would chat online more often, so we can talk instead of just Tweeting. Maybe I'll start writing letters...no promises though. X.x
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