Friday, December 11, 2015

Putting out the Rubbish

Interesting things happening inside my skull just lately. Over the last four days I’ve had periods when I hit rock bottom. Yes, though I am a rough tough Essex boy SF writer, there was crying involved. But it was all a bit odd because I would go through that then come back out of it quite quickly. I wondered if my depression was being exacerbated by the dull grey weather here and I was heading downhill, but it just wasn’t like that. I then remembered something and checked up on some of the effects of meditation and there it is. This is just one of the many references to it scattered across the internet:
“…initially, meditation can involve a lot of upheaval as those parts of you that are blocking your inner peace and happiness come to the surface to be released.
This means that there will be times when meditation feels very uncomfortable and you may experience a lot of unpleasant emotions.
You may feel very sad for no particular reason, and find yourself crying at the drop of a hat. You may get irritable, anxious, angry, snappy - but you don't know why. You may feel a tremendous sense of grief, or a thousand other types of emotion.
This is all very normal. In fact, it is highly beneficial, for when you experience such emotional release you know you are healing yourself.”
Being me, I would of course prefer a more factual description but reluctantly accept that this covers it. I do, however, pull back when this stuff starts wandering into spiritualism and mysticism. My brain is a computer that has been running for some time. A lot of rubbish has accumulated, some of the programs are a bit wonky and, since there is no ‘reset to factory settings’ other methods have to be found to get it working properly.

Anyway, yesterday I woke up feeling a bit crap again, but soldiered on and went to my 11.00 o’clock appointment with a hypnotherapist. The session was pretty much what I’d been getting from some of the hypnotic/meditation recordings I was already using but, okay, this was supposed to be a clear out of the accumulated junk in my skull. I drove back from this feeling pretty good, but then crashed in the early afternoon. This lasted to about 4.00 when I started to come up again.

At some point I got up and set to work on that chair I’ve been repairing – that one that’s been in pieces on my living room carpet for a week. I cleaned out its joints and glued and clamped it. As afternoon progressed into evening I wrote in my journal, and read (a book on mindfulness) and played on the internet. As bedtime approached I found myself feeling something I had not felt for some time. I didn’t want to go to bed because I wanted to carry on feeling like I had felt all that evening.

So was this the result of the hypnotherapy or did that just top off what I had already been doing with the recordings? Is it my growing mindful awareness working? Who can say? All I know is that I also feel good this morning and really want this to continue. I have further appointments with the hypnotherapist and some reading to do of something called the ‘Thrive’ program.

But, right now, to work. These books don’t write themselves you know.  


corvus said...

I know this is banal, but you're doing well, keep going.

Unknown said...

Hi Neal,

I’ve definitely gotten a lot of personal mileage out of using the “my brain is a computer” analogy when referencing and trying to make some sense out of internal cognitive/behavioral routines. I find it helpful to think of it in terms of “Event A happened in my personal history which caused my mind to write Program A as a reaction to that event, and therefore Program A has been running ever since Event A. Even though Event A has long since passed and new situations are not Event A, my mind still often tries to apply Program A to them”. A lot of the time, what I find brought to the surface by my meditation is the discovery of an old program (or group of programs) that I didn’t even realize were still there (and are no longer relevant or useful) but are now cluttering up my ability to stay conscious of the present moments of my life as they go by without sinking into pointlessly repetitive analysis or attempts to control what is happening. As one of my favorite Zen authors (Charlotte Joko Beck) wrote, “It’s the thought you don’t catch that is running the show”.

The effect you describe (of wanting to stay awake so you could keep feeling the way you’d felt all evening) is also a definite effect of the meditation practice. Having read through several of your recent blog entries (I am a longtime reader of your sci-fi work and own everything you’ve published but have just recently discovered this blog) I am very glad that you’ve discovered something that is making a big positive difference in you being able to enjoy life in the face of the insanely difficult events over the last few years.

Like you I shy away from anything that smacks of spiritualism or mysticism, but I have found incredible use in Charlotte Joko Beck’s writings. She taught a very practical and zero-bullshit method of Zen meditation and philosophy I think you would find very useful (no punk rock or Japanese monster movie references, either). “Nothing Special” is the book of hers I’d highly recommend.

I hope that things keep getting better and better for you!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I don’t know if anyone has said anything similar to the following before, but!

I have been reading your professional output for several years and have enjoyed it tremendously.

As a man in his late forties, I think and feel somewhat similarly to you and have enjoyed your blog for a similar amount of time.

For the last two years I have monitored your blog with the same frequency as before and have been left in a very different state of mind than when I first started reading it.

I first read the blog as a description of the life and thoughts of a human at the peak of their powers. I loved it as it gave me a limited insight into the life of someone I had come to respect and somewhat admire for their ability to transport and entertain me!

Then, Life caught up with that person and their world turned upside down, BUT the reporting of their life continued. The reporting was sporadic and somewhat chaotic but it was there!
It has been difficult to read and sometimes I have had to return to it later, but return to it I have.
The answer to that is simple. The writing is so honest, basic and heart-wrenchingly truthful!
No amount of praise will ever reduce the loss. I hope though that the knowledge that you have helped me understand the human condition a little better, because of your ability to battle through the pain of loss, could go some way to bolster your defences against the darkness you battle with.
I offer no wisdom or revealed truth, merely a heartfelt thank you and a genuine desire that you are able to battle through this period of your life.

A fan.

Jezcentral said...

I'm not an expert, but I've heard first hand that depression isn't "less happy emotions and more sad ones"; it's "less any emotions". Anyone recovering from depression will therefore be more actively emotional, as they "get better". (Substitute anything you like for those last two words. They are very clumsy).

Neal Asher said...

I may well check out this Joko Beck, Raziel. Thanks. And I do hope that the ups I'm starting to get are the result of something I'm doing rather than just happenstance!

Bob Murray, I was once asked what I think is the most important quality a writer should have and I think the answer to that is 'truth'. Even when you're telling the wildest most way out there stories you have to be honest about the way you play it, and that comes across. Write to an agenda and you can fail.

Jez, depressed is depressed. Everything is dark and negative and you do have less happy emotions. One of the reasons some people give up on anti-depressants is because their effect is 'less any emotions'. But yes, getting better is probably a rollercoaster.

Neal Asher said...

Cheers Corvus!

NebulaBooks said...

I'm on triple the antidepressants I was 9 months ago. i'm a 32 year old male and everything you say I relate to. Somedays it's just so damned hard, isn't it? The... the everything; the way people drive selfishly and insolently, the impertinence of people on the street or in shops, the constant assault of written and visual media. I nearly broke my hand a while back punching the door off it's hinges down the hall. Why? Because my kids were being too loud and I couldn't cope. Can't cope. Won't cope.

I feel like a shitty person, a shitty father - but discovering your blog helps me feel like I'm less alone. My family are supportive, but the biggest problem is I don't support myself. I give in to lethargy and demotivation. So thank you - thank you for talking so openly and honestly and helping others heal through your own healing.