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Survival Instinct

I've been thinking a lot about the themes of my previous post, but I haven't had time to write a new blog entry - mostly because there have been friends visiting and I've been attending social events =) And, as usual, in my mind little details of daily life get connected to philosophical ponderings, and soon my head is full of lengthy essays. Today, when I was driving to work, I felt like a story being crystallized, so let's see if I can write it out:

Nearly two weeks ago I went to see a small, strange and funny alternative music festival. This year it has a zombie-theme, and I decided to wear a costume, too. I put some old clothes on the ground and tossed hot embers on top of them. I put cold ashes in a small container, and packed these in the car. When I arrived at the festival site, I wore the half burned clothes. I poured some water into the box of ashes and got myself a primitive body-paint, which I smeared all over my face, hair, arms and legs, to make "a burned zombie" look. There was some time before the first band started playing, so I wandered around the festival area. In one corner there were a lot of old wrecked cars, I got inspired by them and took a Mad Max : Fury Road -style selfie =)

As the bands started playing, I soon found myself dancing on the field - eyes half closed I didn't think how my dancing looks like, I just went with the way it feels inside my body. I remember two years ago when I visited this festival for the first time, dancing alone was a bit more of a challenge for me, I had to struggle with a feeling of social pressure: "I'm here alone, and those people are watching me - most likely they think that I want to hold their attention, that I want to boast my dancing skills, that I think I'm something special - and all I want to do is to forget that social pressure, just to dance like no-one is watching." This year it was far more easier to slip into this "no-one is watching" -mood, which also made my body feel more free, all the moves flowing in more enjoyable way.

After one band has finished playing, there was a break, as the next band needed time to set up their instruments on the stage. During a break I was chatting with some local people. A couple at their sixties were dressed up as steam-punk zombies - the gentleman offered me a sip of "Absint Noir", all black liquid in a skull-shaped bottle. And he said he thinks that people should be more freely themselves - to show and to express their inner self without a fear of social pressure. Yeah, I think that is one of the core elements in tribal carneval traditions; dressing up in costumes, drinking and dancing around with the others - it kind of a resets the social network of the tribe, and for a moment everybody is allowed to be free of their social roles. And I'd guess that carneval experience also radiates into the ordinary daily life, helping people to feel less restricted and more supported by the tribal community. Well, all in all, this festival has worked as a tribal ritual for me.

One of the bands was Remu & Hurriganes. Hurriganes is an iconic band, they had a huge impact on Finnish music scene. They started their career before I was born, two of the original band members are already dead, and I always thought that the whole band is past and gone. Remu is still alive, he is the drummer and vocalist, kind of a primus motor of the original Hurriganes. And he seems to be back with a new band, once again playing on a small festival deep in the Finnish countryside. The new band has two sets of drums, Remu himself playing the others set while singing. Sure, old age was there to be seen - when walking Remu leaned heavily on a walking stick. But once he started playing, there was a boyish smile on his face, and all the intense energy was still there. To me it was impossible to hear that there are two drummers - it was as if the whole band merged into one single instrument, delivering an integrated musical experience. That sent the crowd dancing; Get On Baby, Get On!

Oh well. After I returned back home, there have been friends visiting my place. All that pretty normal life; picking berries - cooking and eating together, talking and laughing - I enjoyed every minute of it. Yes I need my solitude, and staying away from busy social life has been a key element in my recovery from chronic depression; but at this stage of recovery it seems that I'm more and more learning to relax even when there are other people present. Also, these friends who have been visiting, they have known me for a long time, they've seen some of my worse times, and yet they like me and want to spend time with me. That's great!

Yesterday night I was somewhat tired after my work, I was thinking about writing, but couldn't find words. So instead I went reading the movie blog by Nick and Astrid. First, I read their thoughts and feelings about Amy documentary, and browsed to the previous entry where they've watched "Mad Max : Fury Road". I found myself wiping a tear of two from my eyes, as I was deeply touched and moved by the text. It is this survival instinct. Max and Furiosa fight their way onwards even when the situation is about desperate. Amy was highly talented, an extraordinary singer, but lacked the real support she needed and got lost into the abyss of addictions. Astrid has fought a cancer and survived, and now she is writing music for her next album. Well, Max and Furiosa are fictional characters, but Amy, Nick and Astrid are very real persons - reading their stories once again made me feel deeply connected with the other people.

I mean, there is this thing called ACE-score, which stand for Adverse Childhood Experiences. Based on empirical research, it says "As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent." On that test I score 5, and I think I can kind of a see the abyss which swallowed Amy. For me, one of the major haunting ghosts of the chronic depression has been this eerie feeling that I'm totally disconnected from the rest of the world. What keeps me disconnected is not only the other people who don't understand the way I feel or think, but it is also my own fear and panic attacks, all the pieces of armour I've learned to wear - sure it goes against the survival instinct to unwear any of that armour. But that is just a fear talking - deep down there is another voice of yet more fundamental survival instinct - the one which has kept me walking through the heavy years of depression, the one which tells me to drop the armour piece by piece, dance by dance, day by day, blog by blog, step by step. And it has paid off - heck I'm so lucky to feel more free to dance, and more fearless to share with my friends.

Astrid will be playing a solo gig at Tampere, this Friday. I'm going to go there, with two of my friends - and any and all of my friends at Tampere, if you happen to read this, feel free to join us =)

Driving down the Fury Road
Driving down the Fury Road
tags: 
diary
depression
music
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Comments

I'm not an expert but I remember you handling some very stressful and frustrating situations in the 1990s like a perfectly sane person. Anger and sadness are not diseases. Everyone I know still likes you but they say you've become moody and unpredictable.

From all I've read (which I admit isn't enough for a diagnosis, especially for someone as totally incompetent as I am) you don't appear as someone who has childhood traumas. On the other hand your symptoms sound exactly like someone who has had an abusive relationship with a woman with a personality disorder. Probably borderline or histrionic (google them if you like.)

A friend of mine studying to become a psychotherapist told 90% of men having a relationship with a borderline woman develop depressive symptoms. The long descend (often taking years because of growing mutual dependence) of a relationship causes self-hate, inability to trust others etc.

I really don't know if this is the case but has something like this happened during the late nineties or early noughties? And if it is, the fact that you never mention it while you write at length about your past and feelings would fit this perfectly.

Well, the reason I never write about my ex-relationships is pretty simple; it is my decision to protect the privacy of other persons. I can myself decide how much I'm willing to share about my private life - but I can't decide on behalf of others.

Partly because of the same reason I haven't been going into the exact details of my childhood. But I remember a lot of it, and trust me - it really was a traumatizing one.

From my point of view there is an inner logic in this: Not only was my childhood pretty traumatic, it also learnt me something about handling stressful and frustrating situations.

EDIT: Ps. As I have been writing, I also learned to hide my inner emotions, trying to keep calm and to behave in a somewhat rational manner even when I feel terrible pain inside me. If we are talking about the University years, that's one of the reasons why I didn't appear as a person having severe childhood traumas. But as the inner pain grew larger, my behavior became more unpredictalbe as every now and then I failed to control myself. But from my own point of view all the pain was always there, and it has just been a question of how much of it becomes visible to the people around me =)

Hm! That diagnosis sounds exactly like me, except for the unpredictable part, heh. I've been single for, hmmm, about 12 years now I guess (jeez, that seems like a long time), and I have zero desire to get drowned in that shit ever again! D:

I seem to attract the insane women for some reason, so.... Yanno. Not worth it.

Mr.Polecat: It has to be your beard! :D

Hey man, chicks dig the beard.

I can hide presents in it and pull them out and give to them.

They are so surprised and happy that they Squeeee and run away!

It's wonderful. :D

Yup yup =) I often think that living alone is far better than living in an unhappy or unstable relationship. And, anyway, people are different and have different needs. Just like the local man said in the music festival: we'd better each live according to our personal inner feelings, instead of trying to fit into ready-made social categories.

Yes, I don't want you to disclose anything you don't want to. Use my comment as an advice, correct or incorrect.

However, I've been thinking about it while reading your texts and I really can't remember anything weird with you. Usually so called hidden emotions are far more visible to others than the expressed ones. I seem to stumble with people with mental issues and believe me I've seen lots of it. You had heavy stuff like divorce and I can't remember you over or under-reacting in any way. You weren't perfectly happy, no-one is, but what I'd describe with a term so controversial today - normal.

Of course these things are not distinct. Mental problems show most clearly in the intimate relationships and people behave there very consistently. If you have problems either with your parents, spouses, or (work/school)mates, it is very improbable you don't have similar problems also with other two.

I know I shouldn't be messing with this but when I read about problems, I can't help thinking about what they're really about. This idea of mine about a borderline girlfriend has popped into my mind for months or years every time I read your texts. Now when I got it out, I can shut up.

(I'm leaving for countryside tomorrow, but now I'm thinking if I should stay in the city.. I'll let you know if I stay.)

Hehe, I'd guess if some of my ex-girlfriends are reading this, they'd think "Nope, it was Erkka who was the bordenline case" =) And I pretty much agree, no problem.

One year I saw a professional psychotherapist once a week. As I wanted the therapist to understand the background and causes of my problems, I went on describing both the overall atmosphere and certain events of my childhood - all with a calm voice, everything clearly analyzed. The therapist looked back at me and said "I don't understand why you are not crying when you describe that kind of experiences." Sigh - to me it was like he was saying that he lacks professionalism to understand my situation...

I mean, of course, it is normal and typical that people with traumatic childhood events tend to behave in a certain way, and break into tears when recalling the memories of some of the most painful events. But when it gets severe enough, a person becomes numb and disinterested. Nothing feels like anything anymore; ones own life feels like wathcing a boring b-grade movie; a crappy plot unfolds on the screen, you can describe the events but the story feels alien to you, there is no sense of immersion.

And I was kind of a hoping that the therapist could understand the severity of my depression, and offer me some help in recovery. Well, luckily, he was of some help. And the next year I switched to another therapist, which was far better suited for my needs.

I think that depressive symptoms can be triggered by a wide variety of things. Often they share some common elements, like a prolonged feeling of being neglected by the significant others. But, this blog post was not intended to be about the causes of problems. This was all about the survival instinct, hope and recovery. Be it slow or be it quick - and sometimes out here everything hurts, but the only way to get through is to keep on walking.

I think everyone is crazy in their own way. It's like... endemic to the human condition or something. :P

I like to ignore the negative thoughts and force my mind to positive ones. Maybe that's just denial, but eh, oh well.

I guess it's all about venting our individual sorts of crazy in positive ways instead of negative.

I find some symbolism in renovating a house. There are so many things in need of repair - but luckily enough the house is still barely livable. Then I just have to decide that which things I'm going to fix. The smaller room has been waiting for inner wall panelling for years - I know someday I will do it, and I can live with the current situation just ignoring the slight inconvenience caused by the lack of panelling. Then, I still have a problem with the chimney - I made it through the last winter but I know that I can't just ignore the fracture in the chimney, I'd better fix during this summer.

It is more or less the same with mental / emotional problems. Some problems can safely be ignored and they can be balanced out with some positive craziness. And some problems are bit more risky, and call for renovation =)

Ah, and yes - if I ever get my house mostly renovated, I know it won't be a "typical modern house" - my house is and sure will be a crazy and cosy cabin in the woods =)

[this was a spam comment, but I deleted the content.]

Wow, spambots are really advanced now. They can read from conversation and post there. Wow

From a programmer's point of view it is pretty simple to code a bot, which scans text looking for certain keywords and then chooses spam text according to keywords found. Nothing special about that. But I wonder how did the spambot pass the captcha - the captcha reports all the false replies in a log. So it seems I have no way of knowing which question did the spambot manage to answer correctly.

Maybe it worked around it. The same problem occurs when you enter a terminal based browser for certain embedded blog platforms. I don't know the holes for yours.

Hmm, that might be possible, yes. They seem to be constantly trying any security holes they know - for example the log shows attempts to open url "administrator/SiteEngineManager/components/Editor/assetmanager/assetmanager.asp", but more commonly they are trying to log in as an admin into a wodrpress-site.

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