If someone sees you talking to yourself, some smart arse will inevitably come up to you and say something along the lines of “that’s the first sign of madness.” The usual sarcastic reply of “it’s the only intelligent conversation I get!” usually shuts them up.
Of course, I talk to myself often in whispers, especially when under stress or pressure, but I’ve taken it one step further.
I’ve turned to writing to myself, out comes the notepad and start writing, or to be more accurate, scribbling. Sometimes it’s just me rationalising things in my head, sometimes it’s a verbatim conversation with my mind as I try to articulate properly a dilemma or issue that’s troubling me.
After I’ve finished, I rip out the pages and shred them. A colleague has asked what the hell I’m doing and when I tell them and show what I’ve written, the look at me blankly then leave me alone.
Inspired by this incident and in my current mood of sharing my coping mechanisms in life, this is what the furious scribbling looks like:
During my first bout of therapy many years ago, my therapist saw I was an angry person who was a classic example of being the target of bullying at school
She suggested these ideas for getting my anger out of me to stop it eating me up inside.
When you feel stressed and angry, sit back in your chair, breathe deeply and channel those angry feelings down your arms and stretch your fingers and much as possible and visualise those feelings exiting the body.
Use the anger and channel it into something positive, like work or exercising. Obviously I skipped this one.
Get a pen and paper and write down what you’re feeling.
Number 1 works really well when it’s something petty. Number 2 presupposes I’m not a lazy bastard. Number three though, I can do that. I love writing anyway and in the seven years since I was told this might be a good method for dealing with my anger issues, I’ve refined it down to a method of any stresses in life.
When my mind wanders from what I should be doing, out comes the pen and pad and I write furious scribbles. The more angry, the more unreadable it becomes.
At first I used to write properly so I could read it back over and over again, this would get the thoughts out of my head eventually, but I’ve found that it sometimes reminds me once more of what I was trying to get out of my system, and so those thoughts would return.
Instead, I think slowly and write fast what is going through my head. It doesn’t matter that it looks like a scribble and unintelligible to others (and myself for that matter), it’s not the important point of the exercise. It’s about getting the thoughts out of your head and onto paper so it doesn’t clog up your mind.
Shredding the writings further destroys any trace of it in my mind.
It’s similar to another trick the therapist told me about. She once asked me why I would get so anxious about going into Exeter city centre and picture what the feeling. So I closed my eyes and I explained to her that it was like a forest, it’s pitch black and trees are bent over coming towards me. She told me to stop, and hold that thought and to mentally take a photograph of that image in my mind, and to then picture dropping it into a bin or a fire.
Both methods have been a great trick to strengthen my hold on reality and, according the wife, more bearable to be around. High praise indeed.