Confusion is often times one of my states of mind. Not psychotically or dangerously confused, just frustratingly attention deficit like confused and often accompanied by physical reactions if I stop to notice them. But not always. Sometimes I am just really confused about the right way to take something, how tolerant to be, whether to respond or not, and what my next actions should be. Often times I am unsure of what to do because so much of my life is new, I get impaired by allergens, and I don’t have a solid foundation for priorities. I am confused right now.
Yesterday after church this is what I wrote in my journal as I wrestled with confusion.
Maturity is not not being confused. Maturity is accepting that at times you will be confused and not acting out or shutting down out of fear of that confusion. For me, it is an issue of safety. I cannot afford to be confused. Or at least when I was young, I could not afford to be confused. I had to be a very definite little kid or risk harm, real and imagined. To be confused, is for me, to be vulnerable. Now, anyone who has grown up in neglectful/abusive/dysfunctional homes knows vulnerability is NOT an option.
For me this shows up frequently in thinking that is black/white, on/off, here/gone, good/bad, forgivable/resentable, a catalyst or death. To this day, confusion makes me nuts almost as fast as a lie told by another. I bring up another telling a lie, because I think that little lies are born of confusion. I have noticed that when someone else is confused (this does not apply to my work) I can get confused too. I will do almost anything to squish confusion.
This is the thing I am learning though- God, the Cosmos, the Goddess, Karma, natural consequences, and/or my own hard work cannot flow if I hit one of my many panic buttons to eliminate the appearance of confusion and it’s associated vulnerability. I squish recovery when I squish confusion.
I do not like this one tiny bit. For most of my life I was the “mature” one. I was the pain in the ass kid that rolled my eyes at classmates’ antics, “tuned out” until something important started, and yes, was a teacher favorite. On the positive side, I could be counted on to be the most level headed, safe, and honest of my peers, but as I look at the reasons behind my solid behavior as a kid, it isn’t great and is a huge factor in my immaturity as an adult now. Ouch.
I am not what I thought I was.
Okay, after I wrote that, I instantly fell asleep for two hours.
I think some of my narcolepsy is an automatic emergency shut-off switch in the face of uninterpretable or unacceptable information. That I am not mature as an adult is excruciatingly painful. And embarrassing. And shameful. And amazingly frightening. One word often used to describe me is “survivor”. This is accurate. However, I think in my efforts to survive the many things I have had to survive, or thought I had to, there wasn’t the energy, time, resources, attention, or the expectation for me to also mature. I am not convinced that Erik Erikson’s developmental stages can be properly navigated and accomplished if one is focused on sheer survival. I suspect addictions are born of seeking comfort and escape because real comfort and real direction is absent, insufficient, or inconsistent. I ended up in the twelve step program of Adult Children of Alcoholics and Other Dysfunctions because although I am chronologically an adult with all that entails, including an adult child of my own; I am far from functioning as a full fledged grown-up. Confusion reeks havoc on my Self Confidence.
Sitting with confusion means establishing my own safety and trust. Sitting with confusion means believing in my own worth, dignity, and journey. Sitting with confusion may mean being seen as confused, lazy, or obstinate. I don’t like feeling judged, devalued, and pitied. I don’t like opportunities passing me by, time slipping through the hour-glass, aging and all that goes with it bearing down on me; but here I sit. These days I sit confused quite often. Despite the pain, discomfort, insecurity, embarrassment, and risk of being wrong; I know to my bones I have missed out on developing skill sets, tool boxes, and communication techniques to tolerate and even grow from states of confusion.
Two quick topics of honorable mention today. One is that I have also discovered that being allergic to the entire world is a very large part of my problems with respect to confusion. While I think advice giving can be not so great to do, bad form, and a turn-off; I highly recommend, as professionals do, that when struggling with mental health issues, get checked for organic/medical problems as well. My most coocoo bird days are allergen driven, specifically volitable organic compounds (chemicals) off-gassing in my environment. I am crazy sensitive to paint, finishes, cleaning supplies, and most petroleum based or coated products. It does not take much for my neck glands to swell, my nose, throat, sinuses, mouth, tongue, and bronchial passages to burn, a terminal headache to take over, fatigue with muscle weakness to attack, nausea to appear and bring loss of appetite, and mental status changes in the form of forgetfulness, confusion, irritability, sensory misperceptions, and ineffective sleep pattern. When I feel under attack, I am under attack. I am beginning to question whether some suicidal behavior is driven by an inability to function and cope in one’s environment and in our human arrogance we are not seeing natural selection at play. Radical, I know. I base this mostly on my own experiences and anecdotal stories I find when researching my own problems. I do not believe myself to be unique in my suffering, or in the real causes, only in my willingness to put it out there!
Two, I am supremely good at Care Plans. I believe a great care plan can be a map out of suffering or managing anything that ails you from cancer to a PTSD attack to fear of communion. What I really mean is, things that can be done to help yourself written down in a user friendly format, that is dynamic, comprehensive, measurable, reproducible, and most importantly, individually created and driven.
A fellow twelve stepper recently attended an intensive outpatient program for intractable depression, likely akin to or in fact part of, seasonal affective disorder. Any hoo, they left the program explaining to me it’s lack of effectiveness with a patient like them. I know this person well and suspect they were more than the clinicians could handle. This deeply disappoints and saddens me. When I asked about their care plan, they didn’t know what it was. I explained. They said they weren’t aware if they had one or not. They also hadn’t had a one on one session with a LCSW to discuss where they were and and where they wanted to go regarding treatment.
I have included my love for care plans and my friends story with a post on confusion because inappropriate mental health care can cause as much damage in the form of confusion, loss, and hopelessness as a toxin in ones’ environment. Both are extremely disorientating, tear at one’s own abilities, accelerate exhaustion, and exacerbate any other problems one has.
Bottom Line: I Pay attention to, care about, protect, and have care planned out for my brain and mind- my life literally depends on it.