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So a while ago innerbrat talked about how her brain works from the inside. I found it incredibly interesting. I'm going to try to do the same thing, except in my case it'll be a lot less organized and the metaphors won't be so all-encompassing; I tend to come up with nonce metaphors which-- well, you'll find out if you read the post, won't you?

A lot of this is explaining my depression, and is therefore somewhat depressing in itself.

I. I have two simultaneous conflicting opinions about nearly everything.

I believe that I'm an awesome wonderful person and I believe that I'm a worthless pile of crap; I believe that things I write tend to kind of kick ass and I believe that they're really just lame and have no real value; I believe that I have decent taste in whatever subjective medium-- books, movies, art, clothes-- and I believe that I am crap who likes crap and all my opinions are crap.

On good days, the first halves of those statements tend to hold sway.

On bad days, it's all the seconds.

I try to make sure it's the opinion closest to reality that wins out in any particular case; usually I rely on sanity-checks with friends whose judgments I trust. This is why you don't often see me ragging on my grasp of English grammar or praising my musical talents, for example. Some battles are already won. But for the most part, I simultaneously hold a good and a bad opinion of myself on any issue you can name, and it's down to mood which one of them I listen to at any given moment.

II. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how I think.

I really do. It is completely normal for my trains of thought to be regularly interrupted by self-examination and introspection. And I don't just think about how I think; I think about how to think about how I think. I analyze. I compare. I relate the things I figure out about myself to things I've learned in introductory courses to psychology or cognitive science. I develop complex structures of meta-thought and tools with which to analyze myself.

For example, I've come up with an entire system of symptom-checking to tell whether I'm having a good or a bad day with my depression. Subjective feeling-states like whether or not I think highly of myself are difficult to pin down unless they get really obvious, but there are actual measurable clues that tell me how I'm doing. If I brush my hair, that's a good sign. If I skip more than one meal in a day, that's a bad sign. If I have a shower, that's good; if I don't, it's bad. If I don't "do something" (write fic, make icons, whatever) for an entire day, that's usually a sign the depression is dragging me down, but it's also possible I got distracted and never got around to finishing whatever I was planning on for that day.

III. I am ridiculously easy to discourage.

Seriously. Multiple times while writing this post I have considered scrapping everything I've written so far and going to do something else instead, because I don't believe it will be interesting enough to be worth finishing-- despite the fact that people have come right out and told me "Write a post about how your brain works! I'd love to read it!"

This also goes for just about every other project I've ever taken up. And it ties in to point (I): I tend to scrap projects because I don't feel that I can produce anything worth the time it takes to read it, but I also tend to finish what I start because I have a drive not to leave things incomplete. The two forces balance out so that I mostly end up abandoning only the things I am doing purely for myself, and anything with a modicum of external interest will tend to get done (if slowly). Sometimes, however, the system fails. (Hi, webcomic I still have to colour. Hi, meta post about Fight Club I never wrote. Hi, Heroes fic I will never finish because hearing about season three secondhand has destroyed my interest in that fandom.)

Tying in to point (II), I've developed various strategies for weaseling around this. Usually if I can manage to drum up external interest in something, that helps (though not always). And a favourite trick of mine, probably of all procrastinators, is to use Project A to avoid Project B and vice versa. By the way, this is also why I am basically never on AIM anymore; I can fic/icon much, much faster if I don't have IM conversations distracting me. When I'm really in a crunch I sign off Google Talk and exit Firefox, too, so I don't have new email notifications coming in.

An example that hits all three points: eating meals. As in (I), I know that I should eat food regularly but also believe that I shouldn't eat anything ever again. In metacognition, as (II), I am aware that the former point of view is the correct one, but I tend to give very little weight to my own judgments when I'm having a bad sanity day. So, as (III), I sometimes don't eat food unless prompted. My strategy for dealing with this so far has been to find someone and get them to remind me to eat; since the prompting is now external, the part of my second half-- my depressed half-- that weights the opinions of others far above my own opinions will acquiesce.

Incidentally, just about the worst thing in the world is when the first-half directive "I am right about everything and know myself better than anyone else ever could" colludes with the second-half directive "I am worth nothing and am generally a waste of space and oxygen". Usually I can break out of that second-half thought loop by getting outside confirmation that I really don't suck all that much, but combine the two and I will have an unalterably shitty day until one of them loosens up enough for me to break the cycle.

Which leads me to:

IV. I often define "good day" and "bad day" or "good mood" and "bad mood" in very nonstandard ways.

A good day is a day when I eat three full meals without prompting.

A good day is a day when I can get out of bed in the morning.

A good day is a day when I feel some happiness.

A good day is a day when I spend some time in a mentally active state, thinking quickly and efficiently, writing well, or otherwise being productive.

A bad day is a day when I intentionally starve myself.

A bad day is a day when I wait out the full hour of my radio alarm and then some before poking my head out from under the covers, and then spend the rest of the day periodically crawling back into bed and curling up and being silently miserable.

A bad day is a day when I consider suicide as a potential solution to things like being very tired or feeling nauseated, upset, unproductive, or generally worthless; a really bad day is a day when I feel that I have to physically keep my distance from my apartment's balcony in case I take that solution.

A bad day is a day when from the time I wake up until the time I go back to sleep I don't get five straight minutes of full cognitive function.

These are the definitions from when I'm in a pretty bad state overall. Currently I've been having a run of good days such that I'm starting to revise my definitions upwards, like so:

A good day is a day when I leave the house.

A good day is a day when I use my mentally active time to get things done instead of wasting it all doing nothing much.

A bad day is a day when my mentally inactive time outweighs my mentally active time.

A bad day is a day when I have to lean against a wall once or twice and have a silent misery moment because I feel like too much shit to do anything else right then.

I have to be careful about it, though. If I let myself get too used to having those good days, and start to regard that as my normal state, then when I slip back-- and I always slip back-- it'll be that much worse because I'll be thinking of myself as not living up to my good-day standards in addition to all the other shit that's already going wrong.

Okay, I think that's enough for now. I'll post this and then maybe see about part two, which deals more with the mechanics of my thinking than the overarching trends.

By the way, yes, I joked in the introductory paragraph that I'd talk about my tendency towards nonce metaphors and then never did. That's because that discussion belongs in the second post more than in the first. I'll get there. Or I won't; see (III).


( 26 comments — Comment )
Oct. 28th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
*snuggles you senseless* It's good to know how things are going with you, and I'm really glad you decided to share. I think it's really good that you're aware of how you think and use "external reality checks" when your own is wonky. That's like, half the battle. (Or skirmish. Decisive wrestle?.)

Yay for redefining good days! Progress is good and yep, not completely linear, but more like a tango (forwards, back, back, leap forwards, go left instead of right but at least you're moving to the rhythm...) The important thing is that you're aware of what's going on in your head and you're trying to fix it. Keep them fightin' gloves on! *resumes snuggling* ♥!

And if I may be momentarily superficial? Hi, Heroes fic I will never finish [NoooOOOOoooo!] because hearing about season three secondhand has destroyed my interest in that fandom. [NoooOOOOooo!]
Oct. 28th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Well, okay, I could probably make some more progress on Better Than Others and After Our Likeness if I completed a fairly daunting list of tasks including moving all my fic onto Google Docs and rewatching season one and most of season two.

I just. Daunting!


In other news, *snugglecuddles* ♥.
Oct. 28th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
But, but...Sylar in a pimptastic giant coat with bling bling! It'll never see the world without you!

Muffin*, the wonderful thing of having such a vast amount of diverse projects is that you can shove the one's that ain't** doing it for you under the bed and go for the one's that do when your brain's in the mood. You know you've always got my pompoms on your side :)

*lets you hide under the blankets then hugs that blanket* ♥

* Term of endearment, remember? Not a bizarre offering of baked goods.
** This is why I should not watch television set in southern USA.
Oct. 28th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)


I love your brain and its footnotes. :D

Edit: And I liked that blanket-hugging thing so much I had to make it an icon. Twice.

Edited at 2008-10-29 02:56 am (UTC)
Oct. 29th, 2008 08:01 am (UTC)
XD Awesome icons! ♥!
Oct. 29th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
Oct. 29th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
*hugs very, very tightly*

My brain works in a different kind of screwy way, for the most part. Stupidly nonsensical anxiety-ridden cycles of doom, that have no basis in reality whatsoever -- but yet, deep down, I still sort of believe them. You know, the whole "Oh no, she didn't talk to me today!" -> "She hates me!" -> "I'm a terrible person!" -> "I should fix this...but if I talk to her about it, I'll annoy her!" -> "Annoying people is bad, which is clearly why I'm a terrible person!" -> etc., etc. Rinse and repeat. Less comedically in my head, but deadpan seems to be the only way I can talk about this sort of stuff online.

Your definition of good days is a good one, I'd say. Everyone's good is their own in the end -- before Prozac (and I still worship at that particular altar, yes), a good day was a day that I got my work done and didn't uselessly sit in a semi-comatose kind of panic over how much stuff I had to do and how much I hated my life, and a bad day was all that and at least one point either contemplating the sharp scissors my mother has or my father's numerous bottles of rather sensitive pills. And then a really bad day was a day that I couldn't get out of bed period, or did so and wound up a crying, hysterical mess that lashed out physically at anyone that came near.

Life is complicated, I guess. *hughuginternet!hug*

It may sound totally inappropriate here, but we should totally RP. RP solves many problems. At least, it did when I was depressed. Although that would put more on your plate, which is something that is not needed when the simple things in life are being focused on.

*hugs some more* I'm never really online anymore these days, but seriously, I are here for youses.
Oct. 29th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, man, RP. No, I have a stack of obligations as long as my arm that I really need to get to.

But thanks for all the hugs. *snuggle*
Oct. 29th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, which is why I figured it's a totally inappropriate time to suggest. Especially since I have my own personal stack of obligations that I need to get to, that I haven't for completely different reasons.

And hugs are always freely given! Especially to wonderful Pyths in need. *squishes*
Oct. 29th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
This was really interesting to read. It really got me thinking...

It's interesting to compare innerbrat's format of writing this, to yours, too. It makes you realize how many ways of taking in the world there really are.
Oct. 29th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! :)
Oct. 29th, 2008 05:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. No pithy comments. Just, thanks.
Oct. 29th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
Y'welcome. *snugs*
Oct. 29th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)

Off meds me is a little like you, only you're much worse off than I am.

Also sup not-working-enough-on-webcomic buddy. :(
Oct. 29th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)

Oct. 30th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Dude, were we separated at birth? o_O
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Proooooooooooobably not.

Sup metathinking buddy?
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)

Our brains should like, hang out at the mall or something.
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Hell yes.
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
I wanna stop at the booth that always has the jewelry and random toys. I'm going to stick my hand in the fountian, just because, and then I will be drawn into the electronic store like a moth to a flame.
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
I'll buy you a plusie for putting up with me, because I know I spent way too much time trying on clothes.
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
If the mall has a bookstore, you can repay me by waiting around while I spend several hours trawling the selection.
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Bookstore! I'll have to occupy myself with another novelty store b/c if I see books I will never leave the mall. >_>
Oct. 30th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Oct. 31st, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, solidarity.

On the other, ouch.
( 26 comments — Comment )


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