Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just a Simple Post About Attitudes

One thing I think no one can ever accuse me of is being quiet.  I share a lot of myself on the internet, and I genuinely like doing it.  But every once in a while I'll go silent for a few days or more.  It's nothing against sharing myself: I've got a lot of emotional problems and I'm usually so wrapped up in fixing whatever's on my plate at the moment that I withdraw until I can figure out a solution.  The last time I was with a group of my fellow writers, someone suggested that one of those times would make for a good blog entry, so here we are.  This is sort of my treatise about attitudes, and how they can shape our lives.

I'm a sick man.  I've suffered from bipolar disorder and severe obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of my life, which have been compounded by an eating disorder and a long history of dissociation.  A lot of people in my position would probably be pretty upset by that, and I've had my moments with it.  They might drink their problems away, or complain about them on their blog.  I'm not here to shoulder someone else with my emotional problems.  That's beside the point and doesn't do anything to make me better.  This is a post about attitude, not about problems.  Truth be told, I'm just a more extreme case of something fairly typical.  Life sucks.  We suffer all our lives for seemingly no reason or design, and at the end of it if we're lucky we get sick and we die.  That doesn't sound very fair.  But it seems to happen to us all, even those of us who seem to have everything.  You don't know what you have until you've lost it.

This is quite a dilemma.  Personally, I'm inclined towards the Buddhist approach to the problem, though I readily acknowledge that may not work for everyone.  It's simple: if life is going to suck and we're all going to get old and die, just accept it and move on.  When I say accept, I don't mean resign yourself to it.  That's an ending.  Acceptance should be a beginning, not an ending.  Life doesn't have to be terrible because we suffer.  I deal with huge personal problems on a daily basis, but that doesn't mean my life has to be awful.  It's all about how we approach it.  I accept that my illness is a part of me, and for all the suffering it's created for me, it's also made me who I am now, and who I am now is pretty good.  Funnily enough, it was only after I did that that I made any kind of headway in dealing with my problems.

I've known quite a few people with huge personal problems in my life, and a few that lived fairly healthy lives.  The number one difference maker was how they approached their problems.  If you believe that the situation is hopeless and that you'll never get better, that the only change that can happen to you is negative or worse, then yes, you will find a way to make that happen.  If you believe you're doomed, you'll find a way to die.  But if you can acknowledge your suffering and still believe that life doesn't have to be so bad just because it's there, then even if things don't get better you'll feel better.  And really, fixing things when it comes to challenges like this in life isn't so much the operative word as it is managing them.  You can't hope to fix something if you can't manage it.  Managing something only comes by at least implicitly accepting it.

This is all easier said than done, of course.  Again, I consider myself an extreme case, and extreme cases have exaggerated results.  But it really does all boil down towards attitude.  Can you acknowledge your stress, and your suffering?  If you can, can you accept it and have a good time anyway?  As difficult as it is, it's the only way I've ever found at making myself feel better about the whole thing.  I look around and I don't see a whole lot of other people doing this, but you know, maybe they just haven't been shown how.  That can be changed in time.

This is just my take.  As it happens, I did get better, and I'm back here posting.  Maybe someone will read this and it will help them, maybe it won't.  But this is where I go and this is what I do when I disappear, and that's as much a part of me as talking about politics or science is.  So there it is.  In the end, it's really all I can do.

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