Am I Geeky Enough?

I am a gamer.

Hardly a controversial statement, but it’s not always entirely uncomplicated for me to make it. See, I suffer from a very particular sort of impostor syndrome: I’m never quite sure if I’m geeky enough.

I question my own geekiness because I was brought up as a girl. | alexfelicia.net

Gamer Geek Cred

Whenever I meet someone new who is into gaming, there is that vaguely uncomfortable conversation where we gague whether we are the same sort of gamer. No matter how nice the person is and no matter how well we’re getting along, I always feel like I’m judged against a sort of Gamer Geek Cred Score. It looks something like this:

  • Plays first-person shooters +10
  • Plays real-time strategy (esp. StarCraft) +10
  • Plays competitively (pvp or against highschore etc) +20
  • Plays World of Warcraft +5
    • …on a PvP server +5
    • …in a proper raid guild +10
    • …on a RP server, as an actual roleplayer -5
    • …casually (no matter how many hours/week) -10
    • …as alliance -5
  • Mostly plays casual games -5
  • Plays old cult titles +5
  • Prefers playing on higher than default difficulty +5
  • Prefers playing on lower than default difficulty -5

According to this scale (which I just pulled out of my ass, for the record), I’m usually somewhere around -15. I can’t play FPS because I am easily frightened and get very stressed by fast-paced action((There are many games in the genre I really, really want to play because of their awesome story (e.g. Half-Life) or because they just look so goddamn fun (e.g. Overwatch). I did give Half-Life 2 a very honest try, once. I had watched partners play through it a couple of times and really wanted to experience it for myself. I gave up when I got to Ravenholm.)). I find it difficult to play competitively  because of performance anxiety and because I take it personally when people try to kill me. I’ve never seen an RTS that struck me as remotely fun to play. And when playing games such as Dragon Age or Mass Effect, which at least don’t score negative points, I always keep the difficulty setting low enough that I rarely risk dying. After all, I play for immersion and story, and the hero dying every now and then is extremely immersion-breaking.

All of this makes me secretly judge myself to be a Fake Geek Girl. Doesn’t matter how many times I have played through the Myst series or how many hours days weeks(? who’s counting…) I have spent leveling alts in World of Warcraft. Unless I like blowing people up, I’m probably not a Real Gamer.

I'm old enough to remember this | alexfelicia.net
I’m old enough to remember the End of the World (of Warcraft Beta).

The Fake Geek Ghost

Of course, no one has actually told me any of these things. No one has said I’m not a Real Gamer or True Geek. Apart from a few veiled barbs from an ex, all my “fake geek girl”-shaming comes from within. I have been so programmed by society that I hold myself to bizarre ideals that I would never, ever hold anyone else to. I’m haunted by the ghost of a Fake Geek Girl that never even existed.

And it makes me so fucking angry.

The idea of the Fake Geek Girl is rooted in pure misogyny. It’s a bizarre form of gatekeeping into a community that proclaims to desperately want girls to notice its existence. But how are girls to feel welcome when who they are, what they do and what they like is constantly downvalued?

What girls like and how their channel their interest is always seen as Less Than. Consider, for instance, fanworks of different kinds. Women are overrepresented among people who create fanart and write fanfiction. And these things are at best considered a light-weight form of geekiness, usually contained with the term “fandom”.

However, people who build mods for their favourite games are mostly male. I have never seen this called “fandom” – but it’s definitely something that gives you geek cred.

I’m a Fangirl Baby, So Why Don’t You Kill Me Go F*ck Yourself

I am not remotely ashamed to admit that I have spent a lot of time of writing fanfiction, primarily based on Dragon Age. And by a lot of time, I mean a lot. The longest story is some 80,000 words – that’s two novels’ worth of writing – that I wrote over the span of perhaps three or four months.

The process involved a lot of research: Playing out scenes in the game over and over to explore different nuances of character interplay, delving into lore to make sure I wouldn’t accidentally create an AU, reading the works of other fans for inspiration… And yet, when comparing myself to the (predominantly male) fans who instead spend that time crunching numbers to make sure they’re using the most effective armor for their build when playing on Nightmare difficulty with one hand tied behind their back and no health potions, I feel like my kind of fandom just doesn’t quite cut it.

And I hate this. It’s ridiculous. I am beyond passionate about the titles I love; when I get into my true fandom periods, I live and breathe games. There is absolutely nothing fake about it.

Redwood forest on the Minecraft server I run. | alexfelicia.net
A redwood forest on the Minecraft server I manage, running the amazing modpack Life in the Woods: Renaissance.

A Different Class of Games

It’s not just about how we express our love for games, but what kind of games different players tend to gravitate to. There is a huge industry around creating casual games that attract people of all sorts of ages, genders and lifestyles these days, but it’s not like avid Farmville or Candy Crush fans ever call themselves “gamers”.

Girls and women are far more likely to play casual games and games focused on stories and immersion, rather than the violent and competitive AAA-titles that have become almost synonymous with Gaming these days. And no wonder – these games often seem to be designed to actively repel the female audience, by being rife with sexism. Sometimes the almost-subtle kind where female characters are included in the story only as victims to give the male protagonist a cause, sometimes overt objectification (even being offered as a reward), always with the constant subconscious awareness that whatever game you play, you are likely to meet far fewer female NPCs than male ones.

The audience is given the very clear message that these games are not for women, they are for heterosexual men, and the gamers know it: Women who dare to enroach upon that territory despite all the warning signs are frequently heaped with equal parts sexual harrassment and downright abuse.

So – we have a class of games that are considered cool, and those are the games that men play. And then there’s the other stuff, for kids, women and whatever else is out there. It’s become a toxic, self-reinforcing class system.

But I do see signs of improvement. Most notably, Blizzard seems to be doing really well at making Overwatch a multiplayer fps that appeals to a wide audience. It really isn’t that difficult. Just make a point of providing a bit of diversity, and the divergent will come to you. We’re starving, after all.

So Many Games, Gotta Make ’em All

These days, I can (somewhat) confidently call myself a programmer and game developer. Fact is, although there are plenty of games I really would love to be playing right now, I simply don’t have time – I’m too busy developing. It seems that to my subconscious, this lends me a certain amount of geek cred that outweighs my deficits.

Yet I still worry that people I meet in the industry will assume that I like games I’ve never played, or that I know more than I do about certain topics. I worry that they will be disappointed when I don’t match these expectations, and that they won’t trust me as a developer because of my missing geek cred.

No matter what I do to distance myself from the gender binary and shake loose the remnant threads of narrative clinging to my mind, I still find myself mired in these internalized expectations. Well, I’m done now.

I’m a gamer, and that’s the end of it.

My Road to the Code

Every day for the past week I have come to a point where I’ve had to accept that I would not be able to do any more programming that day. Either because it was getting late or because my brain was fried. Every day I have, with great regret, closed down Visual Studio and Unity3D and tried my best to put my current task out of my head. Every day it has been nearly impossible. I have never been so in love with a job – and I’m not even getting paid for this one.

My Road to the Code | alexfelicia.net

This shouldn’t be a surprise to me. This should have happened years ago. If there is one aspie tendency in me I have never questioned, it’s a penchant for logical, systematic reasoning. As much as I am driven by emotion, and as much as I geek out on relationships, I even approach my feelings systematically. No wonder I’ve taken to programming. Continue reading My Road to the Code

On Relationships and the False Security of Labels

A rose is a rose is a rose. And a partner is a partner, a [gender]friend, a paramour, a fiancé/e, a spouse, a lover – but what do these terms even entail? If you repeat a word enough times it starts to lose its meaning. Then you’ll have to find other words to describe it.

Shakespeare got one thing right about relationships | alexfelicia.net
Shakespeare got one thing right about relationships

When I first got into relationship anarchy, I had nothing against labels. As I have mentioned previously, relationship anarchy is for me more of a philosophical framework than a practical way to structure my relationships. Hence I don’t really see a contradiction in being a relationship anarchist and monogamous, for instance. The realisation that relationships are fluid and difficult to define, and that there is no fundamental difference between different kinds of relationships – that the labels we use only imply that certain components are present or missing in a specific relationship – doesn’t stop you from preferring to focus emotional and sexual interest on one person. And it certainly doesn’t stop you from attaching labels to your relationships.

Though this is still very much my view on things, I have become more and more wary of using labels myself. Continue reading On Relationships and the False Security of Labels

On Girls and Perfection

Madeline Ashby, a strategic foresight consultant and novelist, suggests that “one of the reasons women are socialized to choose ‘sustainable’ jobs (like teaching, nursing, even programming … computing, or project management, etc.) is because we don’t teach girls risk.” Because women are taught from birth to be risk-averse, they approach work with a different mindset — one which values exactness, tight deadlines, and perfection of finish over experimentation and rough prototyping. Ashby says, “We punish girls for failure in a different way than we do boys; boys are meant to ‘fail faster’ so that they can learn, whereas girls are expected to do things perfectly the first time around.”

Via Why We Shouldn’t Teach Girls To Code

On Uniqueness of Expression

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

From the biography of coreographer Martha Graham, as quoted here

Jealousy Management: Dealing With Feelings

There are a few rare souls who are never plagued by jealous feelings. The rest of us have to find ways to eliminate, mitigate or simply live with them.

Well, you either learn to deal or you risk being miserable, and by extension making your partner(s) miserable too. So it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of jealousy management!

This post is my attempt at summarising the most useful thoughts I have gleaned from my forays into poly country. Some of them are expressly stated in lots of places, some of them are things I personally feel are relevant.

As I discussed in my previous post on the subject, jealousy management isn’t just for polyamorous people or relationship anarchists. Regardless of what sorts of relationships you prefer (and whether you like to label them or not), I hope you find something in here that is useful!

[Because I’m lazy super tired and out of photoshop mojo, this post’s illustrations are brought to you by giphy.]

Jealousy Management, according to Alex | alexfelicia.net

A Few Caveats

While these ideas can be applied to any relationship, regardless of nature or the number of people involved, my writing is geared towards intimate, romantic relationships. Though they outline some of what I find to be the most essential concepts that help me deal with my own jealousy, they are only the beginning of what can be a very long and complicated process. This post is about how to handle your own emotions, not how to work as a team with your partner(s) to create a sustainable relationship dynamic.

I am also aware that individuals have different needs and may benefit from different models and analyses; I absolutely do not think this is the be-all, end-all of jealousy management. It’s simply my way of looking at things, and I have written it down in the hope that it might be of some service to others.

Important!

All of what is written below assumes that there has been no breach of trust or of some explicitly stated contract/agreement, and that your partner is treating you well.

There are obviously perfectly good reasons to feel awful, such as your partner lying to you, ignoring your well-being, gaslighting you when you raise concerns, etc. Believe me, I know. But that is not what is being discussed here.

A Working Definition of Jealousy

It’s hard to effectively deal with something if you don’t know what it is. After spending quite a while thinking about it, I decided on the following working definition of jealousy:

A complex of negative emotions associated with a particular relationship, when it feels as though that relationship may be threatened by an external factor.

This definition may seem vaguely worded, which is because I have tried to cover all eventualities. Jealousy can occur within any kind of relationship, not just a romantic one (parents and their children, between friends, etc), and it may be directed against/triggered by anything, not just people (the person’s hobbies, their work, sex toys, etc). In fact it can even be triggered by things that don’t actually exist; hence the careful wording in the last clause.

Assumptions Are Treacherous

To start out, get rid of all assumptions about your relationship. A lot of people assume that words like “partner” or “boy-/girlfriend” have obvious, set meanings. They don’t.

If you are in a relationship with someone and you haven’t discussed what your relationship actually is, then chances are pretty high you don’t have the same view of it. Similarly, if you haven’t discussed what kind of behaviour might trigger jealousy in yourself or your partner, you can’t assume you’re on the same ground there, either.

You might be super relaxed about physical contact with others, while your partner isn’t. Or you might be completely new to jealousy management, while your partner has been thinking about these things for years. Your frames of reference will not be the same, and this will have to be remedied before you can have a successful communication. And without successful communication, there is no way to help each other to manage jealousy.

It’s Okay to Get Jealous

Jealousy is an emotion, or several emotions (see the next point). Emotions are never wrong. How you decide to deal with it can be wrong or right depending on what your goals are and how it affects your partner, but the emotions themselves are just… emotions. They’re there. Accept them and let yourself feel them so that you know what you are dealing with.

There is no point in shaming yourself. It doesn’t matter if you think your feelings are silly and that whatever it was that triggered them shouldn’t have done so: You reacted the way you did, and now you have to deal with your reaction.

Jealousy Is Not One Emotion

Jealousy is not just one emotion. Well, it can be, but then it is one out of several possible emotions that all go under the same umbrella term.

If you examine your jealousy closely, you will likely find that it’s not some uniform thing with a clearly defined label, but rather a cover-up for a deeper feeling that may have its roots in any of a myriad different worries. Just to name some examples:

  • You are afraid of being replaced.
  • You are worried about your abilities in bed, and think that someone else might satisfy your partner better.
  • You feel as though the worth of the experiences and feelings you share with your partner is lessened if they have similar experiences with others.
  • You’re worried about being betrayed, as you have been betrayed before.
  • You have an intense desire to control your relationship and your partner, and feel jealous when you’re reminded that you can’t.

You may be feeling afraid, anxious, worried, insecure, depressed or angry, or a cocktail of different emotional responses. Whatever the case, allowing yourself to feel your emotions and examining them for their root causes is vital to the process of dealing with them.

You Own Your Emotions

Jealousy is not something that is done to you. It is your reaction – and it may be a response to real, external stimuli, but it is still your emotion and you have to own it. There are a number of ways your partner could and should help you deal with your emotions, but the ultimate responsibility is still yours.

As bleak as this may sound, this actually implies freedom and power. If you discover that you feel jealous, and are aware enough to realise that it is not through anyone’s malice or stupidity but simply an emotional reaction to something that happened (or that you imagined), this awareness allows you to take charge of it and dealing with it in a way that does not hurt your relationship. Blaming your partner or whatever it was that triggered the feeling is not a constructive response.

Avoidance Is Not Dealing

If you’ve decided that you want to be self-aware and that you want to work actively with trying to free your relationship of the burdens of jealousy, the most important thing to learn about dealing with it is this: You can’t do it by removing everything that triggers jealousy from the relationship.

Borrowing a metaphor from More Than Two, imagine you own a refrigerator and it breaks down. Now, one way to handle this is obviously to stop buying food that needs to be refrigerated. You could even put a big blanket over the fridge and pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does exist, and it’s still broken, and you’re missing out on a lot of good food. A better way of dealing is to fix the refrigerator.

Similarly, if some action on the part of your partner triggers feelings of jealousy in you, the obvious solution should not be to tell your partner not to do that anymore, but rather to look inside, figure out why it feels bad, and find a way to eliminate or mitigate this feeling. In terms of relationship contracts, avoidance would be to add a new clause to your contract every time you encounter something uncomfortable, rather than accepting the terms as they are.

Accept Your Limits … But Not Right Away

Everyone has limits. If you can’t function in an open relationship, if the thought of your partner being with someone else makes you break apart every time, then maybe that’s a kind of jealousy you are not capable of dealing with. That’s okay. But if you feel like that about your partner watching porn, or smiling at someone other than you, perhaps you need to examine the feeling more closely.

Feelings aren’t rational and don’t have to be justified, but some are more likely to destroy or put a damper on relationships than others. While it’s relatively easy to find partners who will agree not to have sex with others, finding someone who’ll agree not to have friends is rather more difficult, and also very unhealthy (for them).

However, even if you decide to accept your own limits, you have to recognise that your partner might not. If you truly think that your partner hanging out with someone they may be attracted to is the highest form of betrayal, it is entirely possible that you will find yourself without partner soon enough. And if your partner would be miserable in a monogamous relationship while you are miserable if they see other people, it’s time to renegotiate.

Trust Your Partner’s Feelings

Trust that your partner is with you because they want to be. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. The point is that your jealousy does not protect your relationship.

If you ask your partner not to, say, hang out with a particular person because you’re jealous of them, and your partner agrees, you have not protected your relationship from an external threat. All you have done is restrict your partner and potentially made them unhappy. If they are actually attracted enough to that other person for this to be a threat to you, then it will be a threat no matter what restrictions you place, as your partner will either be miserable or go against the restrictions. And if they’re not that attracted to that other person, them hanging out shouldn’t hurt you anyway.

The bottom line is this: If your partner wants to have a relationship with you, they will. If they want to prioritise that relationship above others, they will. If they don’t want to be with you, or want to be with someone else more (and you can’t negotiate a polyamorous relationship), then your relationship will end, either by a clean break or by the situation becoming unbearable for one or both of you as a result of their actions and your jealousy.

In a way, this is the flip-side of owning your emotions – your emotions are yours to deal with, and that goes the same for your partner. You cannot control how they feel about you or anyone else. All you can do is try to make your relationship the best relationship it could be.

Footnote

In no way do I claim to be original in this text, as I am sure that there are plenty of people who have trodden this path before me. But an idea doesn’t have to be original to be good.

If you know of any good resources for these topics, or have tips I forgot to mention here, please leave a comment!

Relationship Anarchy, Jealousy and Me

You know what time it is? That’s right, it’s business time. And by that, I mean the business of talking about relationships.

I’m a relationship geek. It’s taken me a good long while to realise this, because “relationships” aren’t really seen as a legitimate interest to geek out on (which may well be one of the reasons autism is underdiagnosed in women!). But I love thinking about relationships every bit as much as carrying them out in practise – sometimes probably more.

Despite this, I was stuck in what I like to call The Narrative for most of my life. Abandoning culturally ingrained ideas of what kind of relationships there are and how to pursue them took meeting the right people in the right context, plus a lot of reading and thinking. These days, relationships is one area of my life that I feel requires almost no improvement. And a huge part of this has been adopting the idea of relationship anarchy and learning to handle jealousy.

Relationship Anarchy, Jealousy & Me | alexfelicia.net

The Obligatory Scars

It wasn’t always this way, of course. I used to joke that my first encounter with non-monogamy was “non-consensual polyamory”. It’s really not that funny – my then partner broke my heart over and over again, and gave me scars that would come to haunt me in every intimate relationship I’ve been in since.

However, even then, I recognised one interesting fact: I really didn’t think him being with others was much of a problem in itself. The problem was that he lied about it, and that he wasn’t treating me well outside of that aspect of our relationship either. In short, dealing with jealousy wasn’t much of an issue for me – what ruined our relationship was breach of contract, ruined trust, neglect and psychological abuse. (The last part, I didn’t quite see for what it was until after our relationship ended.)

The mental scars this person left me with had me convinced that polyamory wasn’t for me. I liked the idea in theory, but I thought that there was no way I could ever find the level of trust and safety I would need for it to work.

Then I fell for a person who identified as a relationship anarchist.

Abandoning the Narrative

Relationship anarchy is an ironically self-contradictory label, given that for many, eschewing labels is one of the central ideas of RA. For me, RA supplied a new philosophical framework for how I thought about relationships.

In retrospect, the conclusions reached seem obvious: Relationships are fluid. Each one is unique, because the people in it are unique. Labels and definitions may be useful for communication, but are treacherous when they lead to lack thereof, replacing communication with assumption.

Though some see RA as belonging under the umbrealla of polyamory, I see RA purely as a philosophical standpoint. In my mind, it is entirely possible to be RA and still prefer monogamous intimacy. In fact, it seems that I’m pretty mono myself when I’m in love. Though I’m open to sexual encounters with others than my romantic partner, the prospect doesn’t really interest me much and it’s not something I pursue actively. (I am however quite happy for my partner to be involved with others, and have found a wonderful friend in my metamour.)

The point of RA, rather, is to abandon the notions our cultural narrative indoctrinates us with, when it comes to relationships – all relationships, not just romantically and/or sexually intimate ones. RA makes you ask questions such as what it is, exactly, that differentiates “friendship”-type relationships from “partners”, and if it’s really necessary to follow the standard relationship escalation programme of dating-[insert gender]friend-house-babies (or whatever is appropriate in your culture), or if perhaps you would prefer to let your life take another path.

Once you start thinking along those lines, you’ll discover what a ridiculous number of ideas and assumptions go completely unexamined. Both huge life decisions such as whether you want kids or not (of course you do! especially if you’re AFAB, this is obligatory!), but also small, everyday things. For me, one of the big eye-openers was challenging the notion that you always want to share a bed with your lover!

A Normalized Evil

And, of course, jealousy as a natural part of life is one of those notions that can be challenged. Jealousy is so deeply entrenched in the narrative that I think most people don’t ever consider the idea that it’s something that can be managed. But it can be, and I will be writing more about how I do it.

Jealousy is a complicated topic because it’s not one easily definable and identifiable feeling, but rather one or several emotions that arise because of one or several different reasons. It’s also complicated because to a large extent it is socially sanctioned. The mono- and heteronormative society we live in teaches us that jealousy is a sign, sometimes even the sign of deep affection.

Thus, instead of being encouraged to work on it and try to lessen its prevalence and ill effects, couples are actually often encouraged to feel and express jealousy, even to the extent where they start imposing limits on each other’s behaviour. Conversely it’s not uncommon for people to actively try to elicit feelings of jealousy in their partner, either as a tit-for-tat revenge strategy or simply because they feel that expressions of jealousy prove that their partner really cares for them.

Jealousy is romanticised in pop culture. | alexfelicia.net
Hey remember in that movie where that dude tries to stab that other dude with his eyes because the other dude was friendly with his victim love interest?

Jealousy in Monogamous Relationships

Skipping the part where I argue why jealousy is a problem at all (because I hope it’s self-evident why negative emotions are bad), jealousy is as much a problem for monogamous couples as for less traditional relationships. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that it’s actually a bigger problem, at least if you’re looking at sheer numbers.

Regardless of how one feels about polyamory personally, one thing polyamorous people often do incedibly well is handling jealousy. Or, if not well, they are at least trying, because their lifestyle often forces them to. Thus, it strikes me as profoundly strange that monogamous people often ask non-monogamous people, “But how do you deal with jealousy?!” It seems to me that it is far more common for those who follow the narrative to do everything to avoid dealing with jealousy in any meaningful fashion.

So How Do I Deal, Anyway?

Basically, proclaiming that “we are in a monogamous relationship” does not mean you have dealt with any jealousy that may and probably will occur. In this light, I think it would do individuals as well as society at large a favour to spread the word of jealousy management beyond poly circles.

It would be nice to say I don’t have to deal with jealousy anymore, but I find ideology shifted rather more easily than emotions. I still get jealous, and I doubt I will ever be entirely free of those feelings. But as I was to discover when I set out to date a relationship anarchist, the poly community has produced lots of fantastic resources. These resources and a lot of introspection as well as discussions with my friends produced a mental framework I use for handling my emotions. And that will be my next post on the subject!

As for the person who introduced me to RA, we lived together for a while but ended up renegotiating our relationship. They are still one of the people closest to my heart, even if we have both moved on to new adventures, romance-wise.

A Thing About Anxiety

After my psych appointment on monday morning, I was feeling pretty good. My doctor and I had a good long talk about my social anxiety and how I feel it’s grown untenably as of late. I was told (not in so many words, but in spirit) to go easier on myself. Just because I don’t feel like hanging out with people all the time doesn’t mean I’m suffering from a phobia.

And then, as I did a few errands on my way to the office, I felt my shoulders and arms tightening, skin tingling and crawling.

I found it hard to look up, found the presence of other pedestrians and shoppers threatening. I couldn’t bring myself to enter a grocery store to buy lunch, because I had already been in several shops and I simply couldn’t handle more impressions, and above all, choices.

It has continued like this for two days. Anxiety washes over me in waves. Sometimes it retreats and leaves me feeling almost normal, giving me hope that it’s over for now. Sometimes it drowns me, making me want to curl up in a fetal position and sleep until … some undefined point where everything is magically better.

I've had a rough few days, battling anxiety. But I'm doing okay. | alexfelicia.net

And no matter what tricks I’ve employed, I haven’t been able to get to the root of it. I don’t know what it is that is worrying me right now; it’s just a general feeling of dread. Which means I can’t do anything about the cause, only mitigate the symtoms.

That’s the thing about anxiety – well, one of the many Things about anxiety – often it’s impossible to find the cause of it. Especially while you’re anxious.

On the plus side, last night when I was feeling completely overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything at all, I spontaneously came up with a new productivity technique. Maybe I’ll write a post about it someday.

For now, I’m trying to simply forgive myself. It’s okay not to be particularly productive sometimes. I’m mentally ill, for fuck’s sake. Just because life has been good lately doesn’t mean everything in my brain is right as rain – I will have setbacks sometimes.

I suppose part of what is difficult is that I have no idea how long this will last. Will I be alright tomorrow or am I going to have to deal with this for weeks? Months? Today, so far, it hasn’t been too bad; no panic symtoms, only a great tiredness. Which is tricky enough to deal with.

It’s funny how quickly you forget. I’ve felt so good the last few months, I had forgotten what it was like to be constantly sleepy, unable to just power through it. I used to think it was because I slept poorly (which I still do, most nights) and because I don’t work out – a perfectly reasonable explanation. When I was younger and grown-ups around me told me to just buck up, I didn’t understand how that was supposed to work. When I get like this, unless I’m actually moving about, my eyes will often literally refuse to focus on what’s in front of me and eventually start closing on their own.

These days it’s so obvious how my brain is trying to run away by shutting down. Sleep as a mental flight reflex.

Still. Under the circumstances, I’m doing well. I’ve kept to my routines, only lapsing in one or two less important areas. I get things done, though it might not always be what I wish I were doing or what I feel I should be doing. I’ve even managed to socialize a bit. A year ago, I would have been stuck at home, staring vacantly.

This is a pretty awful experience, but it is a valuable data point. It tells me something of how I’m doing, what I need to do to improve my life, how well my coping mechanisms are working, etcetera. As silver linings go, that may not sound particularly fun, but it works for me.