Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this excess of mental energy of mine and the role it plays in my mental illness and general fucked up lack of a life.
It should come as no surprise that I have the kind of mind that produces more energy than I know how to use. After all, I started out with a top notch brain (for certain areas of application) and then spent nearly every waking hour exercising it in some way due to my insatiable hunger for mental stimulation.
In fact, that’s probably the pathology of the problem : I need a lot of mental exercise to deal with the high energy output that comes from all that mental exercise.
That’s why I am so addicted to video games. They can keep my mind relatively busy. Only the really, really good ones engross me enough for it to be the kind of mental drain that puts me in “the zone”, but as long as I am enjoying the game, it helps a lot.
And the great thing about video games, from a certain unhealthy point of view, is that they can help me use up that mental energy without also stimulating my fear and anxiety (much) because they ultimately don’t matter.
Nothing is truly at stake when I play a video game. It’s just me and my computer versus the game. I might get very frustrated or even angry, but at the end of the day, it’s as safe and solitary as reading, watching TV, or masturbation.
This makes my time playing video games, especially the really good ones, the closest I get to really being happy. The game absorbs enough of my mental overflow to produce a sense of calm within me, the game itself is fun (of course), and with some good music from my mp3 collection on, I can actually gain a certain amount of mental peace and a feeling of flow that makes me feel good about life for a while.
This suggests that my mind is, in a crude sense, its own worst enemy. Or at least, my inability to find the motivation to pursue more productive means of diversion is. Productive things by their very nature have stakes and therefore pressure and fear attached. TO my diseased mind, that makes them too scary and it is so much easier jto play my nice safe non-scary video games instead.
And meanwhile, my days go by and the next thing I know, I am 43 before I even get around to acquiring marketable skills.
My point is that if my mind is left unoccupied, it attacks itself. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it uses maladaptive means to dissipate that leftover mental energy, like for instance turning it into an energy for my crude and overweaning superego to use in its never ending destructive self-analysis and harsh judgment of the contents of my soul.
It’s like I am constantly prosecuting myself in a court without mercy but with plenty of malign intent to go around.
So it behooves me to keep my mind busy. And that would be a lot easier if I was a self-starting go-getter who loves generating their own projects and then seeing them through to the end and enjoying the sense of accomplishment that brings.
But I am just plain not that kind of guy. Not yet, anyhow. The only times I have been able to overcome my terrified paralysis have been when I have set out to do a certain thing every day. And that certain thing has to be something very simple that I can do entirely by myself and then push out into the world before my inner demons can catch up to me and tear down my confidence and make me give up in horror and shame.
That’s why I have to do things like this blog, where I don’t edit or proofread or anything. I just make wordcount and then hit Publish. It’s not that I don’t give a shit how good my work is. I care a lot and I really wish I was capable of writing and rewriting and polishing and perfecting a thing before sending it out into the world.
But I’m not. At least, not yet. While I am working on the initial edition of a thing, the work itself can keep me going. It absorbs enough of my mental energies that it keeps the demons at bay and my compulsion to complete what I start carries me through, at least if the journey is relatively short.
Once I finish the first version, though, all bets are off. The spell is broken and the demons arrive in full force. If I didn’t immediately push my creation out into the world, I would never get anything done at all. The demons would tear it apart, destroy my confidence, fill me with shame at having ever dared to do something so clearly awful, and I probably would not create anything for a really long time after that.
So instead, I do a lot of half-assed work. If I could overcome these personal demons of mine, I could produce work of a much higher quality.
But nope. I just squirt is out and shove it through the door.
And the thing is, I can get away with it. In a way, I am still coasting on natural talent. Even at VFS, I do my halfassed work and submit it, and get good marks anyway, just like always. It’s almost too easy.
I am the only one who knows for certain that I am capable of so much more. That is my shame. I hope to eventually be in a position where I have to try much harder in order to make the grade.
Because when the work does not challenge you, it’s hard to value it at all. I have been looking for that sort of challenge for my entire life.
Maybe so day, I will be able to provide it for myself.
I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.