I thought I was Anxious, but actually I’m Angry!!!

I cried myself to sleep last night; the mood swings were really getting to me, and I just felt really depressed about how stuck I feel being ill much of the time. Lee’s advice yesterday to put my dreams on hold and avoid pushing on with the help of medication, while valid and helpful, sounded depressing. Who wants to have dreams on hold? I went to bed feeling like crap. I hadn’t cried in ages, so it felt good to have a bit of emotional release.

I had weird dreams all night, and woke up feeling really anxious. I have a morning class on Wednesdays, and I’ve never been a morning person. Even less so now. I headed off to class, feeling anxious and resentful. When it came time to do my activity in class, the teacher paired me up with another guy. We’re doing scripts in class this week, and the script is written for a guy and a girl; not two guys. I was in a filthy mood, and when the activity started, the guy I was working with was holding back, half-hearted, sly and manipulative. So I called him on all those things… and got angry… really angry. So much so that he was rather blown away by how forceful I was; didn’t know where it was all coming from.

At  the end of the activity, the teacher said my work was brilliant! He asked me where I had got that from, and I said “I woke up this morning feeling really anxious!”.

“Well, do that before every class then! Your work was really good. You had a breakthrough today.” my teacher replied.

I felt so so so relieved afterwards; I was beaming. It wasn’t just the positive feedback, it was also the getting-it-off-my-chest thing. I think there’s something to the idea that when a man represses his anger, it comes out somewhere else, particularly as anxiety or depression. It made me wonder whether I could run a workshop for men on anxiety, teaching the acting technique we use. It’s very simple at heart, but incredibly liberating, especially for guys like me who have a life-time’s practise at withholding anger. After class, one of the other beginners who seems quite like me asked if we could do an activity together, because I was on fire!

I came home feeling really good; and I think that’s how I’ll spend the rest of the day, thanks… taking it easy. Feeling about 7/10. And no, I haven’t had any medication today! (Just the usual vitamin regime).

What a weekend!

In the beginning…

The story of last weekend really begins on Friday evening. A bit before then in fact, when two girls from my acting class Vanessa and Monique, both expressed interest in coming with me to a psychodrama introductory evening on Friday night. I thought “Great, be good to have their company”, and I particularly like Monique.

I rang Vanessa Friday to confirm the details, and she said “You’re gonna hate me, but I’m having a girly spa party instead because my parents are away. Wanna come?”. I was already committed to the psychodrama evening, so I said no; but I could come later. A girly spa party did sound a bit like one of my wildest fantasies, especially if costumes were, or became, optional. I checked with Monique, and she was still in for psychodrama.


I rock up at psychodrama, and Monique is running late. So late, that she never makes it. “Looks like it wasn’t meant to be” (she’s very spiritual). I can’t help but be a bit disappointed, and I work on letting that go… albeit ineffectually.

In the first psychodrama exercise, one of the women in the group role plays going out to dinner with her family and her husband, who don’t get along. The facilitator has the rest of us play various roles including tables, and food on a buffet. I was a creme brulee. It gave the woman involved the opportunity to see what it was like for her husband and family in the situation, and role-play reconciling them. Afterwards we had a sharing session where I revealed my envy at her ability to show great excitement at being able to eat lobster from buffet. Which made me the target for exercise two…

In my exercise, the facilitator had me use other members of the group to portray the fear that I feel about being embarrassed; the shame that holds me back from being myself and being free to express emotions like excitement freely. The fear was a screaming mass of people, standing on chairs and yelling wildly. They were overpowering. Then this was contrasted against the part of me which is able to express myself freely, played by one of the other men I chose from the group; it was small and crouched on the ground. I asked it to get up, and play a bigger role in my life. The facilitator had me swap roles with the small-me, and give me the opportunity to express it’s fear at the possibility of getting hurt. In the end it stood up, we gave it some backing from other people nicked from the overwhelming fear, and the two of us hugged for a while. I felt kind of sad and mildly relieved, as the fear of what other people think and the resulting inhibitions it gives me is like a massive weight on my back.

We did a few more exercises in the group, and each time I found myself moved by what was going on for the other participants, even when the drama wasn’t about my story directly. I left thinking “I could use more of this”, wondering when to fit it in to my schedule without overwhelming me.

The Party

Then I headed over to Vanessa’s party, which was in full swing by the time I got there. There was a bong on the table, and a bunch of people guys and girls lounging about in the spa. Vanessa had given me the distinct impression that it would be girls-only aside from her boyfriend Justin, who she suggested I could bond with. She’s a very loud and insecure girl, and has broadcasted the fact that he cheated on her, widely. Justin and I talked for a while, and he seemed like a friendly enough guy. He’d obviously done a lot of drugs. Not just that evening either, I don’t think.

Eventually there was room in the spa for me to jump in. I’m always really reserved about jumping in at pool or spa parties. I seem to have a really wide personal space exclusion zone, and end up just feeling overwhelmed; while pretending I’m not. One of the girls drank too much, vomited and passed out. Meanwhile another girl who I really liked from class was being toyed with by one of the guys in the spa, and she was totally falling for it. By the end of the evening they were kissing, and in fact all the guys had paired up with a girl… except for me. I kept telling myself not to feel bad about this,… but I really did. It totally triggered my “Why aren’t any of the girls interested in me?” insecurity, which turns out to run extremely deep. Yeah, I know it’s because I’m withdrawn and inexpressive. “Robotic”, to use a term I hear a lot in acting class referring to me. I hate that. And that’s why I hate myself… but fuck it’s hard to change. Being the only guy in the spa not kissing a girl felt just weird, so I jumped out, got changed, and went home. I didn’t even say goodbye to the host Vanessa, as she and Justin were upstairs in the bedroom by this stage. No thanks, I wasn’t keen on walking in on that.

So I went home feeling like shit. Upset. Unhappy. Beating myself up. I tried using the Sedona Method techniques to let go of the emotion behind it, but to no avail. I just hate being trapped in this inhibited personality. Nothing I try to break out of it seems to work as quickly as I’d like. It’s like chipping away slooooowly. Yet other guys just act like pricks, and they get the girls. Yeah, I know that’s how it works, but it pisses me off. When I got home I played guitar for an hour or so; it’s the only thing that seems to sooth my hurt feelings. Went to bed about 3am and couldn’t get to sleep.


Saturday was a complete wipe-out. I was exhausted and felt dreadful. Got up every few hours to eat something, and then went back to bed. By evening I was still feeling wretched. I was supposed to go to a farewell for two friends I met at dancing, who are headed overseas. Really didn’t feel in the mood for another party, and I figured it would be kinda painful since dancing was one of the greatest joys in my life which I had to give up when I got CFS. So I was in two minds. I didn’t really feel like another party; at least there wouldn’t be a spa scene at this one though. But the point was moot because I was just too frigging exhausted anyway. So I went back to bed and fell asleep. Got up about midnight and played guitar until 3am, then went back to bed. I just can’t sleep for 24 hours straight regardless of how exhausted I feel. I need to get up and do stuff in order to fall back to sleep again later.

Sunday’s Date

Sunday I woke up feeling reasonable. My emotions had settled down a bit by then, and I logged on to some internet dating sites. Turns out Sunday is the day to meet women online; all the girls who’ve spent yet-another-lonely-Saturday-night decide to take matters into their own hands and hit the Internet on Sunday morning. I ended up chatting to two girls, one named Alyshia was keen to meet up for lunch. She says she’s very sensitive, and was quite brave to ask me out to lunch. I would have asked her, but I had a reunion that afternoon for a personal development course so initially I thought we wouldn’t have time, but when she asked me I decided to just go for it anyway. We had lunch at a cafe, and she obviously enjoyed meeting me; said I had a great sense of humour, and we laughed and joked like old friends. Alyshia is quite artistic and interesting. We seemed to click, and I went off to my reunion feeling quite good.

The Reunion

The reunion was a good opportunity to catch up with some really great, loving people I had met before, including the friend that recommended the acting course to me. He’s still struggling with chronic fatigue symptoms too, and all the bullshit that goes along with it. He seems pretty happy though; he sees it as part of his journey of self-discovery. I remarked at the reunion that when I’m in a good mood, I can be optimistic about it, but when I’m in a bad mood, I wonder whether life is worth living and fantasise about ways of killing myself… none of which are even remotely feasible because I don’t want to hurt the people I care about. Plus there are so many things I want to do still; just wish I felt well enough to do them!

Girls… again!

I chatted online to Alyshia in the evening. She asked me why I was so into the whole exploration of emotions thing, and I admitted to having a family which doesn’t express emotions well, and CFS. She seemed understanding. I think we’ll catch up again. She even inadvertantly gave me an idea for my class activity to use today.

The way I feel about my life always seems to reflect what’s going on between me and the women in my life at the time. I hate the way my moods are so at the mercy of other people. It’s no wonder I feel anxious when people are in my comfort zone. I’m slowly learning to be more reactive through acting class. It’s a struggle to avoid pushing myself into overwhelm by taking on too much; pretty much everything I do is aimed at dealing with my illness and whatever underlying emotional stuff might be driving it.

Anyway, I’m glad that weekend is over. I feel OK today; not too exhausted, nor particularly upset. I’ll be seeing Vanessa & co in class today, so that’s going to be interesting. I’m not really in the mood. We’ll see how I feel when I get there. Think I’ll go play a bit of guitar, have breakfast and then head off to class. Thanks for listening.

PS: Do you like the new theme on the website?

Rollercoaster… Of Life

I can’t believe how quickly I can go from one extreme to the other. No sooner do I write an optimistic post about how I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere, than something triggers me and I feel all pessimistic and frustrated again.

Saturday’s “date” went fine; she was lovely and I was engaging, and we had fun together. No, not that sort of fun. We just had an enjoyable time. Started off with coffee/lunch, and then headed to see the Archibald Prize exhibition. I wanted to see it partly because the winner is a portrait of my favourite comedian, Tim Minchin. The fact that I have a favourite comedian, and an interest in art, went down pretty well with my date as she loved comedy and art. She had something on in the evening, so I headed home thinking that since I had a Saturday night free, it would be a good opportunity to head out to some of the nightclubs in the city to check them out.

By the time I got home, I was really starting to feel the late-afternoon malaise hit. When evening rolled around, I found myself heading towards bed feeling totally rotten. Goddam it! And I thought I was getting better. Talk about mega-frustrating! Damn damn damn! “Fuck this Gupta programme bullshit, it doesn’t seem to be working!!!”, I’m thinking. Stop-stop-stop, meditation, sleep-sleep-sleep. I just felt like crap.

Woke up Easter Sunday morning in an only-marginally-better mood. Hardly much of a resurrection, but I got up anyway. Spent most of the day reading The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, which a friend from my guitar class recommended. It’s one of the most reasonable Christian books I’ve read, but it’s predicated on the absurd notion that the bible in infallible and that therefore the gospel accounts are reliable eyewitness testimonies as though they’d been written by 21st century reporters. I still just don’t buy it, and the chapter on Suffering didn’t even touch on the obvious possibility that our suffering has no meaning, but we’re compelled to give it one anyway because that’s they way humans work. Anyway, I’m only half-way through. Perhaps a bolt of blinding light will hit me in part two. We’ll see.

Sunday night I dragged myself off to “rep”, which was pretty quiet given it was the Easter weekend. Still, a couple of guys from my class were there, and we had a really fun 3-way rep. After that, I checked out the nightclubs I didn’t get to on Saturday night. It felt really lonely wandering around the city from club to club just visiting, and wishing I had the balls and the skills to approach people and say hi. I’ve never been a nightclub kinda guy, as I spent my formative adolescence in the clutches of christendom, believing that alcohol was evil and that church was a better place to spend my time. As a result, I feel totally out-of-place and self-conscious in a nightclub; which makes it decidedly un-fun.

I spent most of Easter Monday resting, playing guitar, and contacting women on a couple of Internet dating sites. I ended up chatting to quite a few interesting women, which is unusual. Normally I spend most of the time sending contact requests which don’t go anywhere. I think I’m getting better at writing profiles and sending engaging contact emails. I’d almost given up on internet dating, given that the women my age tend to remind me of my mother… and I sure as heck don’t want to date anyone like her! They’ve either got kids, or look like they’re in their 40’s. Crikey!

I definitely feel happier when I’m not worrying about symptoms, feeling pissed off about being ill, or worrying that NLP thought-breaking techniques are bullshit and won’t work for me. I’m a smart guy, and there are a lot of things I want to do in life. It feels like that’s all on hold until I recover physically, and I didn’t appreciate Saturday night’s reminder that I still get exhausted all too easily. Today I’m taking it easy, before heading out for more rep tonight. And I don’t feel too bad today, so I’m thankful for that.

I’m off to have breakfast, and watch Session 6.

Anxiety and Overwhelm

I felt anxious in acting class today, and somewhat overwhelmed. Felt a bit pissed off with life and the whole emotional struggle thing. I still have a backlog of email to read & answer from my meditation retreat, and an overdue book report to write. Plus I haven’t seen my family in eons. My tendency is always to take on too much; it’s like an addiction!

Things got pretty heated during my exercise in class, and I got to have a bit of a yell, which was quite cathartic. Afterwards when the teacher critiqued me, he said I wasn’t taking things personally enough; I wasn’t being effected by what was said to me. Makes sense really, what with all the bottling up of emotion and everything. One of the girls in class came up to me afterwards and asked if I was OK, saying I looked upset after my exercise. Felt upset too. That was kind; one of the things about hanging out with a bunch of creative types who are working on their emotional awareness is that you get to meet some really caring people.

I’m back to watching the Gupta DVD’s again. I watched the first one again yesterday, and I could relate really strongly to it; perhaps even more so than last time. I think he’s hit the nail on the head. I’m pretty sure I don’t feel as exhausted as I used to.

I’m playing guitar this afternoon with a friend from my old guitar class. Then it’s off to Toastmasters tonight. Three things in one day… what, am I crazy? I’m taking tomorrow to catch up on my email. And that book report. And some rest. And remind me to listen to the meditation CD again. And…

Highs and Lows

I feel ok today. Woke up and did soften-and-flow and the positive visualisation. I feel stuffed in the head and tired as usual, but pretty up-beat. Hey, it’s a weekend and the sun is shining. You gotta love that.

I’ve had a heap of highs and lows this week. Been feeling quite tense, though nowhere near as bad as mid last year. My acting course is going brilliantly; I’m really enjoying it. It’s awesome to have finally found something I really love doing again. I don’t know if the novelty will wear off, but at the moment I’m really having great fun doing repetition practice with the other students. It’s a fantastic opportunity to play around with a cool bunch of dudes. I especially love rep’ing with the girls; I just feed off their energy and invariably have them in stitches laughing and flirting with me by the end. I kept teasing this girl like crazy last night and she kept swinging between offended-but-amused and laughing uncontrollably. Told me I should be a stand-up comic. I’ll consider that.

I never seem to get angry during the repetition practice even when people are having a go at me. Whenever I start heading towards being angry or sad, I laugh. I know it’s a defence mechanism and I’ve been looking at that as something to try and “fix”, but now I’m thinking maybe I’ll just accept it. I dunno how much I go along with the idea that repressed anger causes illnesses like chronic fatigue anyway. Maybe I’m just not an angry guy. If people insult me and I just laugh it off, that sounds like a pretty good coping mechanism. Much better than getting hurt and upset about it like I used to. So what if I never really get angry? And a stand-up comic who laughs off hecklers and puts them in their place would go down rather well. Perhaps it is my second calling.

The downside is that when I feel low, I really feel low. And it comes on quickly. Lately it’s always triggered by my book not selling. It’s like the world is rejecting me because it doesn’t like what I have to offer, which pushes my buttons big time. I gave up engineering because I got burned out and bored, and doing something more creative in the arts still appeals to me; but the reality is that it’s a shitload easier to get a high-paying engineering job than it is to make a fortune selling e-books on the internet! My conservatism and unwillingness to fork out money on a project that’s not earning anything doesn’t help; I’m massively risk-averse. My savings are my security, especially when I don’t feel up to working. I don’t want to go blowing it on some crazy money-making scheme that may not pan out. And the more time I put into promoting the e-book when it’s not selling, the more I go through these goddam mood swings. Besides, it’s meant to be fun. It’s not fun when I’m worrying about whether people like it or not. That’s just old needy Graham popping up again in a new context.

I’m considering taking next week off altogether; but I know I’m addicted to validation and people purchasing my wares is just another form of that, so I can pretty much guarantee I’ll keep at it. I’m not really following Ashok’s advice to stop working though. My meditation retreat is coming up in a few weeks time, so that will definitely give me some time out.

I’ve also joined a men’s group, and we have our first meeting this afternoon. I’m looking forward to that; I’ve never had really close friendships with many men before, and I think it’s something I’m lacking a bit. It should be a good support mechanism too.