When I was studying Karate my instructor said to punch someone in the solar plexus (which incidentally I've just learned is actually known as the celiac plexus) would test their will to fight. As a trained fighter you may be confronted by someone who has chosen to attack you due to many superficial factors, and a good solid shot to the solar plexus may help them see the full context of the situation and choose a different course before any irreversible physical damage takes place. I will now ramble a bit about the past year of my life, and will probably tie it all together at the end.
I recently went crazy, and then recovered. Not to belittle the other crazies out there because I wasn't too crazy but I was very stressed out and unhealthy both physically and mentally but able to function fully although not enjoyably due to working through real emotional pain. Which is to say I was in continual internal conflict due to bad premises. The conflict had been building since the end of last summer, and reached unbearable levels sometime in April. At which point, I'm proud to say, I not only took steps to recover but at some level I knew that my crazy was just a problem like any other that had to be understood and corrected.
For now I'll spare the details, although I have been itching to write a bit about them either publicly or privately just so I could have a more thorough reference manual to recovery if I ever make similar mistakes in the future and go crazy again. But it really came down to:
1. Trying to identify the emotional distress. 2. Trying to identify the thoughts leading to the emotional distress. 3. Reality checking those thoughts.
And really it was a set of contradictions that caused my pain. I was giving myself orders that I knew to be impossible and holding myself accountable for not somehow doing it. Coming to face this and to deal with it has made me think long and hard about this line from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, "All the secret evil you dread to face within you and all the pain you have ever endured, came from your own attempt to evade the fact that A is A."
The good news was I found that I had let some errors creep in and corrected myself, and in many cases when I consciously corrected those errors I experienced immediate relief. And as I continued to be on the lookout for evidence supporting and integrating my new ideas I started to notice that things that bothered me before no longer did.
My primary mistakes had to do with personal expectations of what I should be doing and should be able to do. So I cut myself a break, and decided to conform my expectations to what is actually possible in reality.
The final step was fully committing myself to working on my physical health. I'm currently (since September 7) eating a Paleo diet as outlined in Robb Wolf's excellent book, The Paleo Solution, focusing on getting sleep and usually working out 2 - 3 days or so a week. And this is going very well. I feel good and have lost 17 pounds.
And just have to thank one person: really the best support I had through my crazy was from my wife Michelle. She kept me sane while I was going crazy. And has also been doing a great job cooking me good food even though I make everything harder because I think wheat is poison.
So what the hell does all that have to do with the initial paragraph and title? Well all of these changes and revelations happened while I was still busy living a life. This is the idea that is characterized well, albeit malevolently, by a character on The Wire, Lester Freamon, "A life, Jimmy, you know what that is? It's the shit that happens while you're waiting for moments that never come." So fixing the subconscious is like changing the tires on a moving car, or performing brain surgery on yourself. It's hard to know exactly when everything is working right again without drawing some lines and putting it to the test.
So ultimately over the past 3 - 5 weeks I've been confronted by some of the same stressors that in April I would have chosen to freak out or go binge on McDonald's and Cokes and cookies. Some of them were pretty significant stresses.
And looking at them now, the idea that I would freak out about them is laughable. It is as if Professor Lupin had shown me these things are simply Boggarts and I must simply properly perform the "Riddikulus" charm to defeat them.
Thinking to how I would have reacted before is almost like watching a TV show, it's hard to even understand what I thought the problem was.
Sure some are things I'll choose to do or fix, I'll just put them on my list to do or fix and decide when I want to do them. The other things you ask? What other things?
So I'm glad to say I've withstood the test to my resolve, and find it funny that I'd ever taken those other ideas seriously. To actually compare them to a punch to the solar plexus is actually wrong, a better comparison would be a wild haymaker thrown by a drunk that never had hope of hitting the mark. So to quote Atlas Shrugged again to close my post, "Of course I am all right, Professor. I had to be. A is A."