Friday, November 11, 2011

Hurricane Biscuit's new theory on feelings

It should be known that I'm pretty sure I gave myself carpel-tunnel creating this image
I have a new theory on feelings. And more specifically, the way I (we?) release panicky, sad, and negative feelings - those we learn to hide from most people, lest we be sad drama queens or Negative Nancys.

I should back up and admit that I have always been a very emotional person, so I spend a lot of time self diagnosing and analyzing. As a child, before I grew my tough exoskeleton of reality checks and raging cynicism, I was known to cry upon sight of a homeless person, or fall into deep, dark funks for no reason at all. As a kid you don’t know how to deal with all the feelings tumbling around inside of you, like rabid ferrets in a skin and bones bag. I am not sure if I have always had more rabid ferrets, or if I have always been worse at dealing with them than others.

In college my best friend lovingly bestowed upon me the nickname “Hurricane Biscuit.” In some way, Fluff must enjoy being a source of strength for me, because she has stuck through some of my craziest shit storms and been a huge rock in my life. I’ve been on anti-depressants and anti-PMDD medications (mood altering birth control) at various periods my life. They helped, but like any flawed experiment, I took them at a time when other variables were not held constant. I was growing up, learning to deal with my feelings, and generally becoming a grown-ass-woman.

Over the past couple of years, shit has gotten REAL. I guess that comes with growing up. I worked in job I loathed with my very being for far too long. BF and I managed to clean out a 2-unit house with 10 years of family crap amassed, sell it in the worst possible economy, and orchestrate and execute a move to a new city, all while I started a new job. We are, for the time being, a 1.5 income family in one of the most expensive places on earth. I think they say that moving and starting a new job are akin to the death of a family member in terms of stress levels? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I can say that the past two years have absolutely been the most difficult of my life. Not bad, but difficult.

Up until about 2 months ago, I was quite impressed with myself for how well I was keeping my shit together. Despite financial stress I haven’t experienced since grad school, and basically never seeing my BF because of opposite work schedules, I was taking things in stride. Sure, I was crying at iPhone commercials every time some one (anyone) won a sporting event, but socially, I was good.

Then: BOOM. One night we got into a silly argument about a towel on the bed, or socks on the floor, and suddenly I was in full Category 5 mode, hiccup crying and inconsolable. I cried about money. About gaining weight. About still not having a job I cared about. About where my life was headed. I cried until 4 am and had to call in to work the next day because I had a stress and tear induced migraine, and looked like I’d been in a hockey fight, my eyes were so swollen.

So, that wasn’t super fun. What was fun? I think I figured out how my emotions work. Let’s look at how I used to deal with emotions. We’ll graph the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Categories over time, since, you know, I’m a hurricane or whatever:

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The storms used to be more frequent. But they were smaller storms, like Category 2’s or so. It was like letting the air out of a shaken bottle of soda gradually. The perception was that in general, I was not a very happy/stable person, but it was only a Boehner/Dawson/Tara Conner level.

Now let’s look at the way my emotions manifest in my more “mature” years:

Click to Enlarge
Happy…happy…happy…dealing…Boom goes the dynamite! Generally happy, and then full Britney-style meltdown, followed by a brief period of cathartic relief. My theory is that the area under that curve is constant. Class, what is represented by the area under the curve? FEELINGS! Sorry, I used to be an econ TA.

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to change the way my brain processes life in these years spent becoming a grown-ass-woman. Sometimes I can literally feel my irrational, emotional side pulling in one direction, while my brain is like a hostage negotiator trying to talk down a crazy person. In times of stress and sadness, I will, on average be a happier person, but at some point that crazy person is going to punch me, the hostage, in the face. RIGHT IN THE FACE.

I don’t really have anything enlightening or philosophical to say about this, other than I really enjoyed turning my emotional outbursts into graphs, and I feel really lucky to have a family, friends, and a BF with great hair that accept me and love me for the way I am. Because, at the end of the day, I don’t think there’s any way that I can change my brain, short of a lobotomy or head injury, and those aren’t really viable options for me at this point in time. At least my new theory on feelings will give me good material for live-commentating my Britney meltdowns to whoever happens to be in the vicinity at landfall.

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