When Stress is Your Baseline

Unfortunately I’m not talking about phat funky basslines today.

No, it’s the other type of baseline, meaning your ‘natural’ state’, or your physiological default as a person. Because if you’re like me, your baseline has more adrenalin than most.

When I spoke to a psychologist about it, he told me it was the product of growing up in a high-stress environment. This was news to me because I always assumed that my childhood was idyllic. But when I thought back, my parents did argue all the time, and I did have a lot of problems with my relationship with my Dad.

So yeah, perhaps it was stressful. And perhaps that was what led to my body thinking that stress was normal, and always returning to that level of alert.

Whatever made me the way I am (which is, if we listen to the most recent studies and arguments by certain psychologists, both sociological, cognitive and genetic in origin) it fucking sucks sometimes.

I wake up and everything is sweet. Then slowly, I feel my CPU start-up and adrenalin starts edging its way up again. It’s like one part of me is adding chemicals, and the other part of my brain is ‘hang on why are we getting hyped?’.

Then my brain starts to look for reasons.

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I’ve been watching a lot of anime.

Is something wrong at work? Did I say something wrong to someone last night? Am I going to die soon? What did I forget about that might turn up soon to bite me on the arse?

I have to do my homework. I have to think my way out, or not think at all.

It’s shit. Anxiety is shit. But that’s what we live with.

I’m not posting as much, but I’ve decided that what I post from now on will just be raw stuff. It’s better that way. It’s selfish really, spewing out stuff. But that’s what I would want to read.

There is no conclusion to this post.

Just that if you feel my vibe, fight the good fight. And I salute you.

Alexa, Open Warp Core

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Okay so I’m a bit of a sci fi nerd, so this impressed me on more than one level.

And also I realise that not everyone approves of, or wants to listen to, anything about Alexa.

But regardless, there’s a new feature where you simply say “Alex, Open Warp Core” and it will play ambient warp core sounds.

For me, this is fantastic as I’m constantly looking for ambient sounds to either meditate to or work to. It’s truly just white sound. The kind that would put babies to sleep. Which makes me a giant man baby who can’t chill unless I hear white noise. But I don’t care. It’s so chill!

There’s also a YouTube version if you don’t want to get an Amazon-sponsored listening device in your room.

Go here or here for the 24 hour version.

Dreams can be arseholes.

Getting sleep is very important for your mental wellbeing for several reasons.

Obviously it’s a time for your body to mend, recuperate and that feeds into your wellbeing.

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Zzzzzz

But there are other aspects. Not least, dreaming is the time where your brain processes stuff that has happened to you during the day. It’s a time for sorting through all the conscious and unconscious thoughts you’ve had, and making sense of them all. Sometimes it connects those thoughts in weird ways, which is why you end up not wearing pants on the bus in your dream, or trying to fly away from a monster.

But here’s the thing, as your mind sifts through all that day’s shit, it means that any anxieties you also experienced, come to the fore.

Like last night – I dreamt that several people who I used to compete with at work were loads more successful than me. Which is in part true, lol. But the dream took it to the next level with a grand award ceremony that saw me winning fuck all, and them winning everything.
It didn’t help that my dream had invited all my loved ones to see how shit I had done, either.

Then I woke up during the night and had a semi panic attack. Which was fun.

What is my point? That sometimes your mind works stuff out, but sometimes it’s also an arsehole, dredging up insecurities or old negative core thoughts.

The important thing is to have coping mechanisms so if you do wake up, you can distract yourself enough to think of something else. My coping mechanism is to go on Reddit and watch gifs of people getting knocked over by dogs (reddit.com/r/Dogberg) but that’s just me.

Sweet #dreams!

Looking for trouble

One of the habits someone with anxiety can have is to look for things to get worried about.

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Chaos reigns!

I know this, because I do it. Or at least one part of my brain does. It seems like it is ‘always on’, and always on the look out for things that are not quite right. And if it doesn’t find anything, it enlists part of my imagination to imagine shit things. It’s like that one person in your group that loves trouble.

And if it doesn’t find trouble, it goes looking for it.

That’s why I, or any anxiety sufferer, needs to ‘check in’ with our own mind some times. Practise slowing down and reviewing our thoughts. Because it’s easy to get sidetracked by these silly worries that our mind makes seem like the truth. But if you face them, and recognise those worries as unlikely to come true, then it’s like calling out that part of your brain that goes looking for trouble – and asking it to quiet down. For a bit, anyway.

As far as I’m concerned – my restless imagination helps me in my job as a creative. But I have to keep it occupied, or it does go off on one.

Of course when you are stressed, and going a million miles an hour, it’s difficult to recognise these thoughts. It’s difficult to ‘unpick’ which worries you have are valid and which ones are bullshit.

Which is why you need to slow down sometimes. Have a cup of tea, and review!!!!

Happy 2021 and F**K Trump

I haven’t been able to write much in the last couple of weeks as I’ve been so busy starting a new job. But what a year it has already been. Out of all that has happened, the Trumptards have given me the most anxiety. I mean how brainwashed can you be? Or maybe just plain old racist.

I realise going into this year that I’m one of the lucky ones. A new job and financial security. Not everyone has that right now. I can’t imagine what it must be like if you’ve been out of work for 10+months.

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We just donated our 1 year old PC to a family in need as they can’t afford a computer for their kids’ homeschooling. It wasn’t much, but it made me feel good to do it.

Altruism has been proven to improve a person’s emotional wellbeing and peace of mind. I have my own theories why: we still are heavily programmed to be social beings. We need to be part of a community. So by looking after others, we’re actually just obeying our social programming – because good things in the end come back to you.

Just like being a seditious, racist, fat prick of a president who spreads hate will come back on him. I hope.

If I Have to Hear Another

If I have to hear another “This year hasn’t been easy for any of us” in a radio ad.

LIKE, DURH?!?

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We’ve been here, in our houses as our jobs disappeared. We’ve seen relatives get sick. We’ve cared for neighbours. We’ve watched politicians politicise everything. We’ve watched them give money we need to their mates. We’ve seen NHS heroes exhausted, shell shocked and STILL under supported.

We know it’s been a bloody hard year!

But it’s also been a year that has taught us about being close to our families. And to be grateful for what we have.

Because life gets dark sometimes, but there is always light if you look for it.

But for christmas-bloody-sake, stop harping on about “This year hasn’t been easy” you carbon copywriting twats!

I’m going to London on Monday

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oh what tier are we in here

Maybe after months and months and bloody months of being indoors and only going out to go to the local shop or to my kids school and pretty much nowhere else, I’ve been institutionalised, so much so that the thought of going to London is weird as fuck.

I’m actually going tomorrow, to a private venue where I will meet my new workmates and also have Christmas drinks with them, and as there are only a few it’s not a big deal.

But it still causes me a lot of anxiety. Because London is almost in Tier 3 lockdown, and I’m not sure why we are doing this while Covid is on the increase again.

But I agreed to it a week or so ago and I’m going to follow through.

And the only way to deal with it is to get all my clothes ready, work out the trains and tell my brain to calm down and shut the fuck up.

Because it’ll be fine, it’ll all be fine (unless someone has Covid), and it’s just my monkey brain again getting bored because of staying in a lot and making things up.

Wish me luck.

Reruns Suck

Here’s something I recently thought about (recently as in 20 minutes ago at 4am in the morning, whilst removing myself from the bedroom so as not to keep my poor wife awake, so she can be a functioning teaching assistant and adult tomorrow at her school).

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Reruns suck

It’s about a classic (I think) symptom of anxiety. Something that many sufferers will recognise in themselves.

I find myself replaying things I have said or talked about with others in my head. Mostly at 3 to 4am at night, when I become my own kangaroo court, going over the evidence why I’m a weirdo or bullshitter or mentally deficient because I’d waffled in a job interview and gone off on a tangent or said something dumb to a friend or uttered some micro conversational infringement that many ‘normal’ people would shrug off as just a quirk of their character but an anxiety sufferer will hold over their own head, perhaps repeatedly.

If there was a manifesto for anxious insomniacs I imagine it would start something like:

“We, the anxious people of the small hours who keep our partners from getting a full night’s sleep and who haunt our own lounges in the dim light of the moment that joins not-morning with not-night o’clock. We, the hidden wrestlers of our own perceived shortcomings. We, the tireless thinkers who are held hostage by the product of our own musings.”

There is no stone left unturned in the dodgy Cinemax replay of the last 24 hours projected inside my head, where I am forced to watch, an unwilling audience member until the show ends or the judge and jury stop their deliberations and I can stop sweating what I said or what I could of said or what I didn’t say but should of said.

But you can break the pattern.

You can have more control of your anxiety, even at 3am. There are ways to flip the switch, tell the projector to fuck off, stop the endless cross examination and go and join the sleeping again.

Here’s some methods I’ve used:
• Force yourself to count to 10 as you breathe deeply on each count. If you find yourself thinking of something else, return back to 1. Repeat until you fall asleep.
• Imagine something really boring like broccoli, or a potato. Now concentrate on that and that alone. It gets so boring you fall asleep.
• Visualise your anxiety as a twitching, amorphous thing. Say to it “I SEE YOU”(I refer to my earlier post “I see you Mara“) and just focus on it. In the end even your anxiety will get bored of being watched and fall asleep.
• Get up. Go downstairs and lie on sofa. Write or read. Then fall asleep.

Regardless of whether you try the above techniques and find they help, if you see yourself in these words above, I’m with you.

Let’s try and be a little easier on ourselves because we’re only people, fallible and complicated and all beautiful in some way. Let’s give ourselves a break sometimes.

Just know that you’re not alone.