More and more people are coming to this blog, looking for ideas on chaos and rigidity and mental health. I suspect it’s due to the “Mindsight” work of Dan Siegel, whose work I’ve read. I’ve also seen him speak at an event, and he seemed genuine and sincere, and I could relate to what he was talking about.
For me, chaos and rigidity are both symptoms of some sort of neuro imbalance. In particular, of the autonomic nervous system. When I’m in a regular state of fight-flight-freeze, it makes it really difficult for me to be flexible. I’m on guard all the time against what else might be coming to get me. Even if my fight-flight is about regular everyday stress at work that I encounter all the time, it amps up my responses to things that happen to me in the course of each day — especially when I am tired. And I become really rigid about what I can and cannot tolerate. I’m on edge in the extreme, and I’m really hard to live with at home.
On the other hand, when I swing to the opposite extreme and “take a break” for several days and don’t do what I’m supposed to be doing, spend time just roaming around on back roads, or surfing around on the web, watching dumb YouTube videos and such, I’m about as far from fight-flight as I can get. But my rest-digest has sent me into the opposite end of the spectrum. And you can bet your hard-earned money that, come Monday, my life is pretty much chaos. Things that needed to get done, just didn’t get done. I’m behind on my stuff, I’m behind on my life. And so I swing to the opposite extreme with my moods and my nervous system — I go from extreme rest-digest to extreme fight-flight. And God help anyone in my path…
All of which makes it really hard to have a whole and wholesome view of my life. When you’re constantly ON, there are parts of you that forget that they’re off… and you can forget how to turn them back on. Things like digestion, prolonged concentration, relaxation, and restful sleep, can become distant memories that you may become convinced you don’t need, anyway. And you can’t imagine why they ever interested you, once upon a time.
In this process, I become a little mentally ill, feeling like there’s something wrong with me that needs to be eradicated or fixed or ignored, or whatever. I feel like there are holes in my soul, and I have lost a significant part of myself. I am so caught up in feeding the part of my system that shuts other parts down, that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to more and more trouble, more and more trauma. And all the while, the part of me that’s ON, thinks everything is fine.
Which is pretty mentally ill. Oh, well. At least I’m aware of it. And I’m aware that it’s not the best thing for me, so I’m not delusional. Not this way, anyway 😉
But speaking of the part of me that’s ON, it’s time for me to take it offline. I’ve had a long day, a busy day, an active day, and I need some serious downtime. So, off I go…