Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts without a thinker’

Thoughts without a Thinker by EpsteinWe do not want to admit our lack of substance to ourselves and, instead, strive to project an image of completeness, or self-sufficiency.  The paradox is that, to the extent that we succumb to this urge, we are estranged from ourselves and are not real.  Our narcissism requires that we keep the truth about ourselves at bay.” Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective.”  By Mark Epstein, M.D.

I haven’t been able to focus on any one thing for a while.  Everything is a shade of gray.

But I did have these thoughts the other day while trying to get back into an exercise routine.  Feast or famine.  All or nothing.  That’s how it is with me and my disorders.  I go to the gym every day for three months and then stop going all together for the next six.  So there I was, back in my tee shirt and shorts, trying to jump-start my fitness routine once again.

I did my weight routine.  Easy enough to cut short.  This is something you want to ease back into.  Then on to the treadmill.  I punch in “random,” “forty minutes,” “weight,” (wouldn’t you like to know?) “level 15,” “speed 3.2.”

Ten minutes in: I am bored but determined to stick it out.

Twelve minutes in: I am bored and tired.

Fifteen minutes in: The rationalizations start.  I’m bored, tired and depressed.  It’s okay to stop.  No one will know.

Nineteen minutes in: That’s enough, isn’t it?  I’ll do twice as much tomorrow.  An hour and twenty minutes.  I’ll be in a better mood and get more out of it.

Twenty-one minutes in: How much benefit am I going to get from another nineteen minutes anyway?

Twenty-five minutes in: Okay, thirty minutes.  I’ll stop at thirty, that’s enough for one day.

Thirty minutes in: Ten more minutes.  That’s all you have to do.

Thirty-two minutes in: I really should take my protein drink now.

Thirty-four minutes in: Okay, just six more minutes, you can do that.

Thirty-five minutes in: Okay, really, what’s five more minutes worth?  I’ll burn what, twelve calories?

In actuality, the rationalizations were closer together, constant.  It seemed like the whole time I was on the machine I was looking for an excuse to get off.  Blame it on the iPod not working, the annoying guy next to me hacking every thirty seconds, the irritating rock Musak.  Now, this isn’t always the case.  Often, but not always.  Sometimes I get on and just do it.  But that’s rare.  There are days when I give in and stop and there are days when I stay with it for the time allocated.

The days I stay with it are the days when I am able to constantly remind myself of my commitment.  I committed to forty minutes (or whatever) and I need to keep that commitment.  EST (Erhard Seminars Training) taught me that.  Our lives don’t work when we don’t keep our commitments.  Even to ourselves.  Especially to ourselves.

But here’s the thing: because I suffer from a mental disorder, there is no way of knowing when I’m in the throes of an episode or when I’m just being “normal.”  You see, with a mental disorder, whether it’s bipolar, depression, ADD, OCD etc., there is no separation between episodes and non-episodes.  For example, if you suffer from migraines, you know when you have one and when you don’t.  Now, there may be triggers, but you either have a migraine or you don’t.  That’s my suspicion anyway.  So, if you call in sick to work, it’s because you actually are sick.  But if you have a mental disorder, you can never tell if you’re just being lazy, or if you’re having an episode (being sick).

Really, who wants to spend forty minutes on a treadmill?  But I imagine most people either do it or they don’t do it.  I don’t suspect they spend the entire forty minutes negotiating with themselves about whether to stay on it or not.

Sometimes there is no question.  I AM depressed.  But most often it’s a gray area.  How do I determine if I’m depressed or just lazy?  How do I know if I’m just aggravated or having a bipolar “irritable” episode?  This is further complicated by the fact that, even if it’s not an “episode,” by continuing to put forth the effort when I’m on the fence, I might actually trigger an episode, and I never want to do that.

I wouldn’t blame someone for spending the day in bed if they had a migraine.  And I don’t blame myself for staying in bed on those days when I’m severely depressed.  But the disorder is such that there’s no way to tell if I’m depressed or if I’m fearful, lazy, frustrated, etc.  When should I try to work through it and when is that futile?

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Have I been depressed?  Or have I been avoiding writing anything because I’m lazy?  Or fearful I have nothing of value to say?  Afraid of being rejected or of offending?

Where does the disorder end and I begin?

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