The Delicious Monster

Delicious comment on everyday events


Leave a comment

Putting the “D” in GAD

The regulars on the blog will know that I absolutely love blogging when I should be working. It’s an amazing past time to take up when one should in fact be engaging in activities that warrant one’s salary. Nevertheless, it had become my favourite thing to do to break the monotony of poo-farming. As I took a very irresponsible break from employment, I of course had no time for blogging! But since I have some time on my hands (new job, YAY!), it was time to pick up the proverbial pen again.

Firstly, for anyone who has ever felt like they need to breathe: holiday is amazing. There are very few places to be at specific times (therefore no pitching up at events 3 hours before it starts to make sure one is on time). The margins for error on activities such as “sleeping in” and “ice cream eating“ are considerably more tolerant than for buying very expensive equipment. Or ensuring the drinking water of a small town is not going to cause more love in the time of cholera.

After a few days of holiday and a lack of obligations, my body calmed down. My habits started to resemble something of their previous glory: I slept like the dead, ate like a piggy, laughed with reckless abandon and restored a lot of my spent energy. That being said, a state of blissful isolation from the world (apart from ice cream shops) is not sustainable. Inevitably, one needs to attend a scheduled event (dinner), in a crowded, noisy environment (a restaurant) and one’s spidey senses kick in. I learned that removing myself from consistent, challenging environments was great for my system and relaxation, but in doing so, I lost my tolerance for adrenaline rushes.

Having your system flushed with anxiety daily is extremely draining, as most of you amazing followers of my blog can relate to. But what it also does, is enable you to stay “fit”. A runner cannot just wake up and run a marathon after not training for a month. In a similar way, by staying in difficult situations, we hone our bodies to be able to deal with massive amounts of adrenaline, anxiety and stressors quite comfortably. And after not training for some time, as an example, and immediately returning to run 56km (or even just 5km), the brain and body takes a little beating. Especially if you find yourself in a new environment, quite suddenly, with many things to be anxious about. Like a job that is not only new, but requires travelling very often. And travelling requires packing, which means things can be forgotten and left behind. It also requires catching flights, rental cars and noisy airports, strangers in your personal bubble, chatty Cathy’s in line and not spilling coffee on yourself at the airport trying to wake up at 5AM to catch your flight to work.

 I travel to remote locations from Monday to Friday every week for my new job. Travelling is amazing. And travelling with panic and anxiety is a terrible privilege. The number of things that can go wrong in just attempting to arrive at the airport in time is astounding, even if you lack an over-active imagination.  This does not even account for your own inabilities and other emotional events that you have to obsess over and create completely unrealistic, yet devastating scenarios for yourself to navigate in the hell hole you also call your brain.

In short, my holiday from life and adrenaline came to an abrupt end when I started just preparing for the new challenge that is my job.  The big D’s were back! General anxiety gradually increased to the point where is became disruptive and therefore a Disorder. Depression that had thankfully stayed at bay for almost 6 weeks made an unexpected visit, and my insane heart rate has justified me downloading an app to measure just how fast my frightened little heart can beat. I mean if this little guy in my chest were a sprinter, Mr Bolt would have some serious competition.

Since my diagnosis, I thought I’d have to take myself out of the rat race to live in a physical state that resembles some form of normalcy. But I very much came to terms recently with the fact that my baseline is just different to that of most people. And although I would always endeavour to be the best I can be, I’d rather work as a professional that is not the best that ever walked the earth than retire from the professional environment completely. As many unqualified philosophers before me have asked: What is normal anyway? After all, if gingers can walk among us, why should a little adrenaline prevent me from doing the same? I can’t hide from the real world if I want to achieve the things I aspire to, and I can’t expect the world to slow down to a pace I can manage at.

Therefore, in the remarkable catchy phrase coined by my friend Maverick: “I feel the need, the need for speed!”


4 Comments

Prison Break

A few years ago I went on a 10day express trip through Argentina and Brazil. Upon arriving in Rio de Janeiro, I saw three men on separate occasions on my first day living by the literal meaning of “sun’s out, guns out”. And by the end of day two, after the fifth offer of Brazilian cocaine, I actually asked the very nice Portuguese drug dealer in my very unknown native language (Afrikaans) what about me said: “I do cocaine.” I also may have pointed at my very large, very tattooed Aussie mate with his very grimy beard and asked, still in Afrikaans, why they didn’t offer him the hard drugs. I mean, I look like housewife Barbie even on my most hard core days. The nice drug dealer gentleman assumed my raging meant yes, though. So I used the universal language that is English in combination with sign language and asked him kindly to leave (fuck off). He responded in some rapid Portuguese which I’m very glad I didn’t understand, but ‘till today I’m pretty sure he said I was a kind and thoughtful lady.

After all the tempers were calmed, my friend asked why I reacted so badly to the guns and the drugs since I am from South Africa, which is notorious for high crime rates. To which I replied that I had never seen hard drugs or weapons in the streets at night or broad daylight like I did in Brazil (whether this is due to ignorance or luck or general safety precautions I am not sure). Neither have I ever been called a “Gringo” (I’m not even American) or a “Puta” for delicately declining something that could get me thrown in South American prison (I’ve seen Prison Break, mi amigos, and it did not seem like my kind of holiday).

But I digress.

I was out of my comfort zone and out of money, since the nice Brazilian people robbed me at an ATM. This weekend I tried surfing for the first time, as was my promise to myself and my handful of avid readers (mostly my parents) I would do during my period of funemployment. I’m still employed, but I am nothing if not prompt! I wiped out very hard very quickly, got hit by my board in the face in the process and immediately went into full panic as I was caught in a sea of human bodies in an ocean of confusion. I had no idea where I was, where my friends were and what I was doing and I had my first full blown panic attack in months and wanted to get out of the water immediately.  Much like my Portuguese “friends”, stupid anxiety had snuck into my head like a thief in the night and was attempting to steal me away from a new experience.

The comfort zone is nice and safe. Very few things go wrong here and when they do, you know exactly how to respond, because you know every nook and cranny of your box. Anxiety steals the bit of bravery you need to climb out of your box. If you let it, you will be left with half-assed attempts at learning something new, many regrets and some boring memories of sitting on your couch at home because you felt safe. And I’m not saying you should throw caution to the wind and end up in a South American prison, but neither should your fear be your cage.

I was wildly panicked, shaky, and teary with all the things my mind couldn’t comprehend at once, but I got back on the horse (a surf board is actually a wild bronco) and wiped out continuously throughout the day. It would’ve been nice to end this blog on the high note of me standing up and riding a sweet wave all the way to the beach, but the truth is unfortunately as follows: I swallowed buckets of salt water (infused with pee by all the kids swimming in the knee-deep water I was trying to master), bailed more times than I even attempted to stand, got hit in the face three times by my own board, and accidentally injured a very nice, but very slow moving lady with my incompetence. I also kept at it, even though my body was shaking so much from panic that I could barely push myself onto my board.

I didn’t need to cover my body in tattoos and run from the law, but I did partake in a prison break and escaped from the confinement of my brain.

P.S. Brazil is amazing and I am definitely going back! Scary gunmen and drug dealers aside, it is a wonderful country and I recommend it to anyone with a love of nature, fruit juice, butts, rum and beer! Also, if you want to experience a culture that personifies “no fucks given”, this is the place to try. Just be wary and travel in a group if you can – preferably a group of large, burly men.

Surf’s Up

2 Comments

I recently acquired a pet dinosaur. The source was an engineering equipment manufacturing company that started marketing their products with a 3D augmented reality app. It’s amazing. Grown men in their 40’s were looking at an empty space in a room through their phones and losing their minds with excitement. They were basically pushing each other out the way to have a turn to look at this virtual piece of very basic equipment. What no one noticed in the corner of the brochure was the little download for a T-Rex. But I saw it, quietly adopted it, and loved and cared for the friendly dinosaur while the heartless humans kept trying to have a go at the lifeless piece of equipment. It was worse than the stampedes of ’16.

I remember it like yesterday: kids ranging between the ages of 5 and 35, running rampant. The smell of excitement and nerds recently escaped from their basement was prevalent. A race all across the globe ensued with one goal, and one goal only: to catch them all! Pokèmon Go took the world by storm, and burned out in my country even before it was officially released. People were so hell-bent on playing a game that wasn’t even yet released locally, that they found ways to beat the system.

One wouldn’t think that it was possible for adults with responsibilities to chase after imaginary creatures with as much gusto as they did. In the effort from the public to catch them all, the developers made $600 million in revenue to date.

7176553002596525830-account_id=1

I do kind of understand it now. The marketing gimmick that came with the equipment simulation is now a personal little piece of history and happiness I use to annoy everyone from family to co-workers. I’ve had a T-Rex in my garden, on my lap, in my shower, on the desks of colleagues and on my boyfriend’s mom’s kitchen table. It is literally too amazing to be true.

That’s how I feel about life right now: amazing experiences and opportunities and humans have popped up out of nothing, just like my amazing, carnivorous friend with the even more amazing arms. I am currently riding the crest and I’m hoping it is as infinite as the 800km long wave, Pororoca, that forms on the Amazon River. It doesn’t mean I’m without the normal fatigue, high heart rate, shaky hands and all the other fun stuff. It just means I am too distracted with my excitement about life at the moment to be distracted by the pesky symptoms.

Is this remission? I’m curious. I’ve heard about the elusive condition that involves little to no symptoms of chronic disease. Like a proper stereotypical anxiety sufferer, I am apprehensive about when it all ends, though. Even the Pororoca eventually dies down to nothing more than a ripple on the surface. I guess until then; surf’s up.


Leave a comment

Revolutions

Control is truly only an illusion. Unless you are Keanu Reeves rocking some sick combat boots and an even sicker black leather coat. In the Matrix, Neo becomes the saviour of human kind (also referred to as “the One” by fanboy Morpheus) after a freaky kiss from his girlfriend in the real world. Our hacker-turned-saviour can now manipulate and control the artificial world around him and provides us with three movies with fantastic entertainment value.

I hate relinquishing control, as does probably any human with anxiety, or any human who is experiencing a normal bout of anxiety. Being in control makes you feel calm and collected. And the tranquility quiets those pesky little voices in your head that make you doubt every single detail of your day. The truth is that in the real world (that is totally ruled by machines) we actually have very little control over just about anything.

If your train is late, your train is late. And no matter how hard you try, the train will not leave the station at its designated time. You will be late and unless you can miraculously develop the supernatural ability to fly, there is not all that much you can do about it. But this is hard to accept, especially if an environment that you can control makes you feel calm. If there are no surprises, and no loose-ends, nothing can go wrong and your anxiety truly has no basis.

In order to calm my anxiety, I have started checking things over and over.  The result is unfortunately that I have started to manifest a little bit of very, very mild OCD. Apparently it is called “doubt checking” and it makes you feel oh-so-good so it’s almost like an addiction. You are anxious, so your mind grasps at anything logical close by to feel anxious about: Did I lock my car? So you press the button once more and feel better as your anxiety settles for a minute – which is amazing! But pretty soon you have to push the button 15 times or your mind tells you the car is not truly locked and then we have a problem.

For so long I held onto everything so tightly, because when it’s in my control, I am calm. I plan my days to the T and I annoy my friends and plan their days too so we are all perfectly in sync. It’s really no way to live. Firstly, you annoy your friends. Secondly, it makes you deal with things outside of your control very badly. But what if I told you, you can’t control what happens around you in any way or form?

I realized this a while ago when I was furiously staring at a spoon with no result. I was applying for any job, even those that I had absolutely no interest in, just to have a job. I made myself crazy. I applied to jobs with terrible compensation and even more terrible descriptions just to be in control of which job I would eventually land, neglecting my previous role just to be offered a contract. Eventually I stopped and I let go. I even let go of my current job with no plan and no back-up; talk about over-compensating.

Fate, [though], is not without a sense of irony”. About 3 minutes after I posted about resigning, I got the call from Tank and was pulled out of the Matrix. Kidding, I received an offer with a company I had been wooing since 2015 to no avail. In fact, I gave up on any sort of offer from them in January, after rekindling our romance in October. I accepted them, so I am to start after a short hiatus. My Great Escape is therefore unfortunately very short lived. But I did learn a very important lesson.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to wear some awesome black leather, be able to fly and learn anything in the world within a matter of seconds. But the Matrix is just a story, and control is just a lie we tell ourselves to feel better. And sometimes, when we hold on too tightly, we stifle fate and leave no room for the right things to happen at the right time. Because we cannot bend the spoon, we can only bend ourselves.

Or I am a machine and this is blog is just an elaborate ruse to prevent you from taking the red pill.

You decide.


4 Comments

The Great Escape

Much like a rebellious POW, I have begun my great escape. I drafted a plan, I gathered some spoons for digging, and I have stashed a guard’s uniform just outside the fence. I have even set a date for my escape, and I am counting the days – nay; the hours! – until freedom. The more modern terms for escape and freedom are “resignation” and “unemployment”, but these expressions are by far too mundane for such a colourful event in one’s life!

Much like a POW, I unfortunately also now have to cross many miles behind enemy lines and trudge through no-man’s land, except my no-man’s land includes reading, learning to surf, a little too much yoga and training for field hockey. In theory, it sounds more like paradise than a war zone, but in practice, it is a little more daunting.

I am resigning from a very respectable company that has offices in a very respectable town and is managed by some very respectable humans. I am also choosing to be unemployed until my savings start to dwindle too seriously, and the uncertainty and apprehension of this is truly terrifying.. Most of my peers would say that my cabin fever has made me go crazy and I am irresponsible. My peers would be very correct. In fact, this is probably the first truly irresponsible act I have ever committed in my life. This is apart from that one time I swam in a river at night that serves as a border between two countries in a diamond mining area.

 In my underwear.

With a stranger.

(Sorry, Mom!)

But I digress.

 I am resigning from a very respectable company to get my head back in the game and come back stronger. But I am resigning in a time where very little people with my qualifications actually are fortunate enough to use their qualification to earn a salary. But this specific role does not suit me very well. I feel stifled and unstimulated and like my growth is not just stinted, but completely negative. So I have decided to very wildly resign, without lining up something else, to regain my intellectual freedom and self-esteem and remember what makes my heart beat faster other than a serious bout of anxiety. And of course I feel super guilty about this.

Then I realized that my career is not a 5 year plan, but a 40 year plan. I also realized that people do this all the time, in various ways or forms, and some (I’m looking at you Elizabeth Gilbert) even capitalize on it. And as scary as it is, there is no tangible reason to add to my mental strain and render myself one step above useless. I cannot imagine that any soldier would choose to stay in the trenches if he had the option to climb out safely.

If we let it, our consumer driven lifestyle will take our lives and our freedom. If we don’t take time to heal what is surely broken, the same wound will keep splitting open and eventually result in an injury so severe, we may be crippled.

So I will continue to fight for my brain and my sanity. After all, it is “our wits that make us men”.


8 Comments

Fight and Flight Club

I know I’m breaking one of society’s most important rules here, but I am going to talk (write) about Fight Club (the movie, not the book). It is undoubtedly highly entertaining due to the very shirtless nature of Brad Pitt, a really good story line and some more scenes that include a shirtless Brad Pitt. There are also some good moments with Edward Norton, who is fortunately wearing his shirt.

I recently re-watched the movie and the opening scene is obviously a very real depiction of someone in a major depressive episode – something I completely missed when I watched it the first time. This is mostly because ignorance is the key to a happy life and feeling good after a movie where guys beat each other up for fun. Insomnia, a foggy and disconnected state of mind, a loss of enthusiasm for life and work in our main character is really apparent. And he is tired. The character is tired to his bones. I fortunately don’t identify that well with Edward Norton throwing himself down a staircase, though unfortunately there are some people who probably do. I do, very much, identify with his absolute tired state of mind.

There is a vicious cycle that goes with being fatigued. Being groggy and having no energy affects your mood, as you don’t have energy to do things you enjoy. This in turn causes a flare of depressive symptoms that all exasperate the fatigue. And so the wheel keeps turning. I am sleeping and eating and ticking all the ‘’functioning” boxes, but jeepers I am tired. The fight against the headaches has been long and mildly successful. It is therefore time to take on the next hurdle: fatigue. So, I embarked on a journey to find a solution. And, like any problem-solver in the year 2017: I Googled.

Google did disappoint.

Apparently, one is supposed to avoid day-time naps, caffeine and stimulants before bed, engage in mild exercise often, practice compassionate self-talk and adjust your expectations.  The first few solutions make sense on a logical level, but I fail to see how self-compassion will make me less tired. I also feel like adjusting my expectations is a slippery slope to accepting a quality of life that doesn’t allow me to do all the things I so badly want to. Surely there must be a better solution? I would rather sit with teary, burning eyes from exhaustion in the theatre watching a play than avoiding it all together, because the show starts the same time as my usual bed time.

For now I am hitting a blank. I don’t plan on making nitro-glycerine in a dilapidated house; neither do I plan on engaging in street brawls. I also don’t plan on sleeping excessively and avoiding life. But I plan on finding some middle ground.  If a plan does come together, I will keep you guys posted.

P.S. If anyone has advice on this, please drop me a line.


2 Comments

The Sword in the Darkness

Rene Descartes had a theory a long time ago (now called Cartesian Dualism) that humans are part machine and part soul.  Although the brain is part of the machine, not all of its parts are easily replaced.

In material science, we learn how to manipulate materials chemically and physically to make them suitable for certain applications. By varying the amount of alloying elements and their distribution in ordinary carbon steel, one can control its qualities such as hardness, elasticity, ductility, and tensile strength. Sometimes, a strategic weak spot is even built into the materials of non-critical elements in major equipment pieces. In the case of failure, a small, non-essential part breaks by design to protect the entire piece of equipment.

I work with two gentlemen, let’s call them Jon and Sam (and I will be the Delicious Mother of Dragons for this piece). Both Jon and Sam were involved in a life-threatening experience.

Sam was sleeping soundly in his bed while living in a house with three other colleagues (members of the Watch) to complete a project. Sam woke up to a strange man sitting on him, holding a meat carving knife with a blade of 25cm, or 10 inches (for my one American follower). A struggle ensued and Sam was stabbed 11 times. The struggle woke Jon up, who came to the aid of Sam without his trusty sidekick, Ghost. Sam used his martial arts training and general awesomeness to subdue the knife-guy, let’s call him Ramsey Bolton, and saved Sam’s life. Jon was bruised and battered, but mostly physically unharmed. Ramsey Bolton is now is jail. Sam made it to the hospital just in time and now has a few grisly scars and a chipped vertebra.

 Jon now has PTSD and anxiety.

Jon’s brain did exactly what it was designed to do during intense trauma by millions of years of evolution, or divine design (depending on your beliefs): his survival systems kicked in. In fact, they kicked in so well, after a few years he still has no recollection of the event itself. Ironically, the same piece of brain that was functioning better than that of the other guys in that house now causes Jon to live with some limitations in comparison with his life before the event.

Unlike a little piece of steel that can be made again a thousand times, that little bit of his brain that saved Sam’s life, and possibly the lives of the other gentlemen in the house, cannot be replaced.

I find these stories around me so much easier that before my own little breakdown, because I now understand them so much better. One can’t help but wonder: why Jon? Is it a genetic pre-disposition: was he just built with a flaw? Does Sam not have the same flaw? Perhaps he does, but his flaw is just exploited in a different manner? Physical scars are just so much easier to heal, and in seeing them heal, it’s almost like the mind heals with it.

I think I’d rather be Sam.