Monday, July 10, 2006

Getting personal

I am dealing with some personal "issues" in my life right now (I guess that goes without saying), and so I find it a little hard to keep the subjects too light all of the time. I guess with what I titled this Blog, I am allowed to ramble on anything. I make the rules, right?

Anyway, I am starting to notice how thin my skin is (not literally). I have had to face very little adversity in my life and so I react pretty strongly when things don't go just right. This makes being married especially hard. I tend to always want to be understood, and when I am misunderstood it takes everything I have to not say things right away. It seems as if my biggest fear is to be pinned with motives that are not really mine. Hmmm...sounds pretty wimpy.

I am faced with people in much worse situations on a daily basis. I diagnose people with cancer, discuss depression, deal with parents finding out their children have birth defects, etc. I sit and counsel them as best as I can - usually reassuring them that they are not crazy, just traumatized. Yet when I face a small amount of adversity (compared to what my patients face) I go crazy. It just goes to show, there is only a limited amount you can learn from others' experiences. You just need to go through it yourself.

I have a good working definition of anxiety in clinical practice: trying to control something you cannot control. This is what I find myself doing constantly - trying to control the opinions of other people (so I am not misunderstood), or acting in ways to comfort myself with food, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits. I actually think this is why addictions are so common - they are our response to being out of control, as we have one thing we can control but for a second. The problem is, my actions of this sort often further complicate the relationships in my life. Everyone has destructive addictive behaviors; some are just more acceptable and less destructive than others. When I feel particularly out of control, I watch TV, spend money, eat, drink, whatever - to make myself feel better rather than just face my problem. Now there is probably some sense in that (and I don't beat myself up about it), but I think the insatiable desire to avoid pain drives us to irrational behaviors.

So why in the world would I want to blog this stuff so all the world could see? I think there is an innate need for us to connect to other people. The problem is that our culture has largely separated us from others (the TV is probably one of the biggest causes of this in recent years). Blogging would be no fun if we did not develop a group of people we commonly interacted with and shared life with. We can read about what is happening in their life and they can read about it in ours. This is not just therapy, it is being a human. We want to be heard, we want to be understood.

I often tell my patients that one of the best things about being a doctor is that you get to see that everyone else is just as screwed up as you are. It really helps to know that even the most outwardly put-together people have huge insecurities. That makes it much easier for me to share about my own life. I can't share much with my patients (I am there for them, not me), so here I blog. You all are my therapists.