4 Feelings That Rock

A few weeks ago I was having a really bad week, and I wrote a list entitled “4 Feels that Suck”. It was mostly a vent disguised as a post, and it was very therapeutic. But the universe craves balance, and I realized that I’d have to do a ‘good feelings’ post as soon as I was in a better mindset.

So here I am. I’m feeling a lot better mentally, thanks mostly to some necessary psych med adjustments, and while I’m still having trouble with things like anxiety and self confidence, I think I’m in a good enough place to talk about happy feelings.

I know that feelings that rock, like feelings that suck, aren’t universal, but these are some things that never fail to make me feel good!

1. Finishing a project: I feel like I have been deprived of this feeling lately, but I’m relieved to notice that I’m slowly starting to finish things again. For me, this applies to a lot of activities: Knitting, Reading, Crafts, etc. I even get it from blogging sometimes. It’s not usually a long-lasting feeling for me, which is okay, because it’s easy to achieve. I don’t have to knit an adult sized sweater to get the satisfaction of finishing. A chunky knit hat gives me the same feeling. And while getting to the end of a 1200 page novel (I’m looking at you, The Count of Monte Cristo) is really satisfying, so is reading a short illustrated young adult book (A Monster Calls) is just as good. I think that the act of completion is so satisfying is closure. While I’m in the middle of something it’s open and active in my brain, which is its own kind of satisfying, but once it’s done, I can wrap the whole experience up in a nice box and keep it with me forever. And once it’s wrapped, I now have space for a new project! And believe me, there’s always a new project.

2. Finding a new favorite: With all of the media out there these days, you’d think you’d be finding new show, books, movies, or games every other day. This has not been my experience. I suppose Sturgeon’s Law applies here: 90% of everything is crap. Especially the way Netflix, Amazon, and other services are chugging out media with what seems sometimes like little regard for quality. This is why finding something new feels so good for me. I can usually tell within one episode/chapter/play-through if something is going to hook me, and when it does? I get goosebumps. And not in a special interest way. I’m not obsessed, I don’t need to know everything about everything the author/actor/publisher has ever done. I don’t hunt don’t obscure trivia. I’m not thinking about it all the time. I’m just thoroughly enjoying something great. Right now, I’m loving a book called A Tale for the Time Being, a show on Netflix called Love Your Garden, and a two player card game called The Fox in the Forest. I know these things won’t stay new forever, but I’m enjoying them while they are, and I’m confident there will be more great new things to come.

3. Connecting: Now, stick with me here, because I know what you’re probably thinking. “But Meesh, don’t Autistic People notoriously have issues with connection?” Actually, maybe you’re not thinking that. I’ll leave it in just in case. But connection. Sometimes I think struggling to connect makes it so much better when it happens. That’s one of the things I love about the online communities that I’m part of- for whatever reason, I feel connected to not only to experiences I have with people, but to the entire community itself. And I think that’s pretty cool! I want to point out that when I talk about connection, I don’t only mean to other people. Personally I connect with animals, characters from TV shows and books, and a certain street sign that I’ve named Oliver. He’s lovely. Although Jess has asked my not to name inanimate objects any more. I get attached. I guess my point is, that no matter what makes you feel less alone, and like a part of something, it counts as connecting in my book. And unlike some things on this list that give short term happies, connecting to something can sustain your need to not be alone for weeks or months or years. It might not be in the front of your brain all the time, but you can pull it up whenever you want. Essentially, it’s hibernating. Like a badger. Also, did I use the word connect too much? It doesn’t even look like a word anymore. Sorry for that!

4. Knowing Who You Are: Ok guys, I’ve gotta tell you. Up until I was about 25, I really had no idea who I was. I didn’t really know what I liked, or how I felt, or what I wanted. I’m honestly surprised I survived that way as long as I did. Enter Autism. Now, I can’t credit my diagnosis for everything. I’d slowly been getting to know myself, and I think having a name to put to what was going on in my head was just the tipping point. I did so much research. I stopped living in my head and started having experiences. Because honestly, how do I know what my favorite flavor of ice cream is unless I’ve tried all 31 flavors? It’s mint chocolate chip, by the way. However, I’m not here to talk to you about ice cream. After much trial and error, much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I can say with 93.2% confidence that I know myself. And that is such a good feeling. I get warm fuzzies when I can defend something that I know that I love, and when I can explain to my therapist what’s going on in my head. I’ve learned to break down problems that I’m having so I can find solutions. I feel like the Sherlock Holmes of myself. Or maybe the Hercule Poirot. That man knows how to rock a mustache. I know that I’m not a detective, but that’s how I feel sometimes. I am Meesh: Self Detective!

Bonus TMI: Taking a really good shit: Oh my god, I can’t even describe how satisfying this is. I’m one of those people who deals with serious constipation, and it majorly affects my life. Let me go on a quick tangent to tell you this story:

When I was about 23, I started having serious pain in my neck and (left) shoulder. I put up with it for a few weeks, figuring that I’d probably pulled something, but eventually I had to make a doctor’s appointment, because I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. After talking through my symptoms with me, my doctor decided to x-ray my abdomen, and when she came into the room afterwards, she could barely keep a straight face. She announced, almost gleefully, that I was “full of shit”. Literally. Full. Of. Shit. My entire intestinal tract was full up, and was cause referred pain to my shoulder.

It’s only gone downhill since then. I’ve been on medication, which helps, but I’d forgotten how good a great bowel movement could be until I started having Fluid Therapy treatments recently. Turns out that with 2 liters of saline, even my awful gut can keep things moving. Within about an hour after my treatment, I having the best poop ever. I look forward to it every week. Please don’t judge…

So those are my top happy feelings (at least for this week), I hope you all experience your own happy feelings this week, and I’d like to leave you with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut.

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point: if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

4 Feelings That Suck

Sometimes you just feel like crap. Such is the human experience. I think that the goal of life should be making sure that good things are the majority, and the crappy things are the minority. But even if your life is mostly good, even if your feelings are largely positive- some of them still suck.

This post isn’t about changing these feeling. That’s a totally different post. This is just acknowledging that feeling like this are real, they exist, and that they are universal.

Plus, I find screaming into the void to be very therapeutic sometimes.

1. Getting lost: Realizing that you’re lost immediately turns you back into a 5 year old. All of a sudden, everything around you is 10 times taller and you’ve shrunk like Alice after she drank that potion. I get lost a lot. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Between having a terrible internal compass and stopping every 5 feet to touch something shiny, I’m a pain to shop with- just ask my wife. She always finds me eventually, but not before the panic that I’ll never see her, my home, or anything familiar, ever again sets in.

Honorable Mention for being lost in a more existential way as well. That also sucks.

2. Losing a special interest- I don’t know about you, but I’ve had special interests for as long as I can remember. And with the exception of Star Wars, none of them have lasted. And sometimes that’s ok. When a special interest gently fades to the back of your brain, it’s like it’s lived a good life, and now it’s time for it to go. Especially if it’s making way for something new. But there are other times. Times when you realize that something you love is being pulled away from you, and while you desperately try to hold on, all you can do is watch as it slips away. For me, I spend so much time with my special interest, that losing them is like losing a constant companion.

Honorable Mention for accidently gaining a special interest that you didn’t want. That also sucks.

3. Everyone understanding something but you: Smile and nod, just smile and nod. Because in situations where for whatever reason everyone knows what to do except you, you’ve got to fake it. How do the public collectively know what to do in these situations anyway? I find being in social situations like this comparable to everyone in the room doing a dance that you don’t know- usually I compare it to the Macarena- and they’re all having too much fun dancing to explain to you what’s going on. So instead you mentally beating yourself up for being too dumb to do something that everyone else can easily do, you tell yourself over and over that you don’t belong, and you’ll never to try again, because this feeling isn’t worth it.

Honorable Mention for spelling something wrong for years. That also sucks.

4. Being Misunderstood: Communication is hard for everyone, but I know that since I sometimes communicate in a somewhat non-standard way, I seem to run into misunderstandings more often than most. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through an interaction, and then realizing that you’re having two different conversations, or realizing that you’re not being understood at all. Besides being really frustrating, it’s often guilt inducing, knowing that you’re bringing your best communication game, and it’s still not working. It’s like you’re grabbing at a possibility to connect, and you’re just missing it.

Honorable Mention for having your tone of voice be misinterpreted. That also sucks.

So this one was a bit of a…downer. Sorry.

I hope you know that I’m not trying to imply that these feeling are always present, or that wallowing or over-analyzing is the way to go.

I know that I’ve found it therapeutically useful to recognize when I feel like this, and acknowledge it, so it can pass. I also know that when I can share them with people who might have similar experiences, it can turn feels that suck into feelings of connection.

So go! Watch your favorite show, hang out with your favorite people, pet a puppy! Hell, pet 10 puppies.

Take good care of yourselves.

More Than Entertainment

What happens when something meant to entertain becomes something more?

I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night, which I’ve been avoiding for awhile now. Partially because I couldn’t bear to see Carrie Fisher in her last role, and partially because I was standing in line to see Rogue One when I heard of her death, and I’m a little superstitious (and not ready to lose Mark Hamill yet.)

I cried at the first scene.

Star Wars was a Special Interest that spanned my entire childhood, and I loved Princess Leia for being everything I had been told a princess wasn’t supposed to be.

As an adult, I still love Princess Leia, but I love Carrie Fisher even more. She dealt with a lot of shit in her life, and she wasn’t afraid to talk about any of it.

When I got my Bipolar diagnosis I wasn’t afraid, because if Carrie could live with it, so  could I.

Her death hit me hard, and I don’t know how long it will be before I can read her name or see her face without tearing up.

She was so important to the mental health community, and to me.

May the Force be with her, always.