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8:26 PM - FRI 07.29.16
It Wasn't Good Will Hunting's Fault...And It's Not Mine Either.

It wasn't Good Will Hunting's Fault...And It's Not Mine Either

I sometimes regret that I'm never going to be able to say, Master-to-Student, "I taught you everything you know...but I didn't teach you everything I know" (Usually at that point, there's a big fight and the "student" wins...but I'd be okay with that).

It saddens me that, if I were ever confronted by someone - or a couple someones - and was being threatened, I would never be able to seriously say, as a reluctant-but-deadly warrior, "You don't want to do this..." (I'd have to add "...because you'll get my blood all over your clothes, and it's really hard to get that shit out...and speaking of 'shit', I'm about to crap my pants, and that's not gonna be fun for anybody").

I don't know why - I guess "too many comic books and action-movies" - but I have always had fantasies of bad-assery.

Heroic bad-assery, by-and-large.

But I've been thinking along those lines more lately...and it just struck me that, whatever fantasies I have about being Batman, or Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse or what-have-you, I think when I fantasize about being "tough", it's not that I want to live in a comic book or an action movie, but that I just want to feel strong.

I don't want to be afraid. Or at least not afraid to the point of inaction or paralysis.

I want to feel like I can make things go the way I want them to.

Another thing that's been in my head lately is the scene in the first Avengers movie, where, during the climactic battle at the end, Bruce Banner is called upon to turn into The Hulk, to take on the big alien-monster-thing that's bearing down on them.

Banner starts running towards it, and a character - I forget who (Captain America maybe?) - yells "Don't you have to get angry?", and Banner replies "That's my secret - I'm always angry".

I don't think comic-book purists liked that, because it runs counter to how he's been portrayed in the comics (He can't control turning into the Hulk), but it "spoke to me" in terms of my own anger, which for most of my life, has felt like it's always just there, and I'm perpetually "putting a lid on it" so I don't "Hulk-out".

(Though to a certain degree, I'm less "impressed" with the awesome power of my anger than I used to be - I joke sometimes that, with age and fatigue, I've gone from my anger threatening to turn me into the Hulk, to being more like Mr Burns on The Simpsons, someone so old and weak that when he flies into a rage at someone, he bats at them weakly, having to explain, as they ask "What are you doing?", that "I'm beating you to within an inch of your life...!")

But the relative power of my anger aside, throughout my life I've mostly - not always, mind you, but mostly - turned it inwards.

I would like to stop doing that.

Cause it hurts.

And it makes me feel crazy.

To this end - helping me deal with my anger/self-abuse issues - this past week my therapist asked if I'd be interested in engaging in a more "intensive" form of therapy, which would involve sessions twice as long as what we've been doing, that would be videotaped, and would involve my therapist consulting with a "supervisor" in the technique, in addition to quarterly meetings with other therapists who are practitioners of said technique (While I was pretty up for my therapist and a "supervisor" on the case, the idea of bringing in a dozen or so other guys gave me pause, for whatever reason).

In one sense it's for me, cause after all, I'm the one with the problem. But it's also - maybe even primarily - for my therapist, in order to help him be better at the therapy thing.

And if it helps him, and it helps him help me, I guess I'm up for that (As things stand, I'm up for him conferring with the one guy, and am leaning toward going for the whole shebang, where the group of them watch my tapes and give my guy notes. Why not, really? After all, I now seem to be telling you pretty much everything that's going on, privacy/embarrassment be damned, so why not a group of mental-health professionals?).

This was actually the second time this past week I was asked to be a guinea pig...

The week previous, I got a voicemail from the Doctor I go to for my sleep apnea, saying he had something he wanted to ask me.

We played a round or two of "phone-tag", but finally connected on Monday.

He asked if I'd be interested in participating in a drug study, for people with sleep apnea who've not had success with CPAP, and struggle with daytime fatigue as a result.

He gave me the basic outline, and I said I was interested enough to hear more about it, from the nurse who's coordinating the study.

The drug's already gone through its safety studies, so this one is about efficacy, which sweetened the deal a bit (As did the mention of "compensation for time and travel", for the various sleep studies and doctor visits).

No one's called me back since, but if/when they do, if my couple remaining questions get answered to my satisfaction, I'll probably do it.

Why not, if I'm not going to die or grow an extra head or anything, and it pays a little?

Besides, it would be pretty cool if I was in the group that got the pill, and it worked, and I actually felt better - I honestly don't know who I'd be if I didn't feel like shit all the time, but I'm dying to find out.

(That's one of my remaining questions - What happens to me after the study, particularly if the medication works? I can't imagine I get a lifetime supply as a lovely parting gift - it's a medical study, not Let's Make A Deal - but it would be nice to know that, if the drug works, I'll be able to avail myself of it when it becomes available. I wouldn't want to do this, then find out the drug won't be covered by my insurance, or will cost $500 a tablet, or something like that.)

But speaking of drugs...

Was back at the psychiatrist on Wednesday, to let him know if I'd experienced any side effect from the Wellbutrin, which I've been taking now for two weeks.

I haven't, far as I can tell, so the plan now is to go through the current prescription, then fill the new one he gave me - After that, I'll go back in early September, and I guess either say "Everything's great! Wellbutrin is a hell of a drug!", and the current dosage will be my dosage, or "I still feel like shit", and he'll up the dosage (Or prescribe something else? That didn't really come up as an option, but who knows?).

When I went in, there was someone I know from Weight Watchers - a member who goes to one of my meetings - in the waiting room ahead of me.

I was, initially, mildly embarrassed, but since I seem to be moving towards an "I have no sense of privacy or shame" lifestyle, I got over it pretty quickly.

And I have to say, the member in question made what I thought was a pretty funny joke - "So this is why you're so happy all the time...!" (suggesting my happy demeanor at Weight-Watchers is drug-enhanced).

After the fact, I was complimented by her little joke - If I come off like I'm just naturally a happy guy at Weight Watchers, I'm doing my job (Or at least part of it, which is to project a fun, friendly vibe).

I wasn't any happier about being there than I'd been the first time, but I got through the couple minutes with the Doctor okay.

But afterward - and I mean as soon as I walked out of the office - I felt this wave of misery just wash over me. It took all the self-control I had to not burst into tears in the hallway.

I know there are specific things I feel bad about these days, things that make me afraid and anxious and depressed, and really angry at myself (Cause it always comes back to me, after all), but what happened Wednesday - and what's been happening for awhile now - has made it clear "there's something else going on" as well.

For most of my life, I've thought my mental/emotional problems stemmed from "bad thinking" (like taking "coping strategies" from my challenging childhood into adult life, to increasingly dysfunctional effect).

And I still think that's an issue - I'm "hard on myself", for example, because as a child, I thought I was "rejected" because I was somehow unlovable. And, logic be damned, I've never let go of that.

(It probably doesn't sound like it, but having a tough childhood and thinking you're at fault somehow is a "coping strategy", or at least can be - It makes your chaotic world make at least some kind of sense. And if you're "at fault", that suggests you can do something to "fix things" somehow, and aren't just a "victim". If you're "unlovable", maybe you can be different somehow, and become "lovable"...say, just for one random example, by becoming a performer of some sort.)

But those "bad thoughts", those dysfunctional "coping strategies", have been with me a long time - for all my life really - so they don't really explain what's happening when I have bouts of anxiety or depression that make me feel seriously out-of-whack, that seem to have, at best, a tangential relationship to anything that's going on in my life (When I'm feeling anxious or depressed, I sometimes ask myself, "What's going on now that's any different than when you weren't feeling anxious or depressed - yesterday, or last week, or a couple hours ago?". And the answer, often as not, is "nothing").

One thing I've started wondering about in recent years is "Do I feel bad because I'm thinking unhealthy thoughts, or am I thinking unhealthy thoughts because I feel bad, and am reaching for a reason to feel bad?".

I guess this is a long-winded, semi-coherent way to say I'm realizing it's not either/or - My issues aren't just cognitive, and aren't just bio-chemical, but are, in reality, "A little from Column A, and a little from Column B".

It's taken me a very long time to come to that conclusion, in part because I started formulating my theories on why I was unhappy decades ago, when mental-health issues were about character, not chemistry.

But I think another issue is that I just didn't want it to be true - I've struggled with feeling "defective" all my life, so the idea that something really might be "off" about me was an extremely unappealing, perhaps downright threatening idea.

I've always wanted my problems to be something I could fix myself, probably because, on some pretty profound level, I think I'm all I've got (Cause, at some pretty pivotal moments in my life, I kind of was).

I've often actually fought for the idea that my depression and anxiety and anger were cognitive in nature and not chemical - I'd say to myself (Or to a therapist, or to a friend), "It's not like I have a great life, and I just feel bad for no reason - I have real shit I'm depressed and anxious about!".

Recently, I've been thinking about how I had a binary, either/or view of my possibilities for success here in LA. I was either going to struggle and struggle, and totally fail, or struggle and struggle, and stick it out till I succeeded (I never really allowed for what's actually happened, which is "something in between").

And now I'm realizing my view about mental health issues has had a similar either/or slant - Either my issues were because of "the lasting effects of a difficult childhood" (And the strategies I employed to "deal" with it), which is what I've thought the majority of my life, or else they're just an issue of "bad chemicals", and don't have anything to do with my "tough childhood" (Or what's happening in the present, for that matter).

Clearly, the reality is that it's both - I have some maladaptive thoughts and behaviors that aren't doing me any favors, and at the same time, there are some bad chemicals wreaking periodic - and now chronic - havoc with my emotions.

And, contrary to some of my thinking, neither has a "moral component" - My cognitive issues come, I think, largely from doing the best I could to get through my childhood (And I've worked pretty hard to do better, to "get over it" or "move past it", throughout my life, if not always successfully).

And while I don't know all the reasons things go awry in terms of brain wiring/chemistry, I'm pretty positive I never did anything to bring that about either (That may be more about an alcoholic mother who didn't take very good care of me for the first year of my life - to throw just one "theory" out there).

It's tough for me to take care of myself. Always has been.

Because I don't love myself - On the contrary, I'm extremely angry at myself, and always have been.

But I don't really believe that, that I "don't love myself", at least not completely - I do think there's some latent self-love within...there's just a couple metric-tons of rage on top of it.

But I'm working on it.


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