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Out among the walking wounded... - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Out among the walking wounded...
I feel detached from my body.


I walked along the corridor at work and felt as if somebody else was walking with my legs. My brain knows that they're my legs, and that I'm walking, but the walkingness -- the consciousness-of-walking-as-associated-with-act-of-walking -- seems very far away from the consciousness that I perceive as myself. The only way I can describe it is to reiterate that it feels as though somebody else is acting my actions.

As I was making coffee earlier, I accidentally splashed hot water on the back of my hand. Instead of the instinctive avoid-pain reaction, all I got was a vague consciousness that I could feel something very hot, immediately followed by a thought along the lines of "That's interesting, I wonder what happens if I let that water stay on that hand?" (Nothing much. Hand stayed a bit red for a while.)

I sleep badly. I start waking up and for several seconds I'm conscious that I'm lying there asleep-but-waking-up; I can't see myself sleeping, but I can watch my dreams from the point of view of a waking person until finally awakeness overcomes me. My recurring anxiety dream about being late for work is, more and more, filled with references to itself. Last night I dreamt that I was supposed to be going back to work (having been off sick yesterday and Friday) and it got to 10:20am and I still hadn't got there, and in the dream I said to sion_a "this is just like those anxiety dreams that I keep having about being late for work". I wake up so many times in the middle of the night that I start to wonder if I really am waking up all those times, or just dreaming it; because surely if I was waking up every time I'd be even more shattered than I already am.

When I'm awake I wonder if I'm actually dreaming. This kind of worry is very much like the kind of worry that I have in dreams. I want a t-shirt that says "This is just like a dream I had." Tonight I will probably dream about wearing such a thing.

This bodily dissociation seems to have been accompanied by confirmed sightings of my libido (thought missing), and even actual contact with it. The first time I typed that last sentence I started it with "Bizarrely," but then realised that it wasn't really all that bizarre at all. A lot of my most intense sexual experiences have made me feel as though I'm somehow outside my bodily self, and a lot of my fantasies involve at least some degree of objectification, the separation of my whole-person self from my actions (either those that I do or those that are done to me) -- if you see what I mean. So perhaps some low-level bit of my brain associates that feeling of dissociation with arousal.

To go off on a bit of a tangent, I found myself accidentally (ahem) reading the stories at http://www.femgeeks.net/infamy/stories.htm at work this morning. Must not read slash at work, even if it is computer-related ("Pirates of Silicon Valley" slash, so we're talking Bill Gates & Steve Jobs... hmmm.) Surprisingly, ah, interesting. I don't know why, but gay (male) pr0n -- provided it's well-written, which these ones definitely are -- seems to more consistently work for me than other orientations. Given that most slash seems to be written by women, though, I doubt if I'm all that unusual in this.


Anyway, enough wibbling. I want to leave the office before 6pm today, I really do. <sigh> Hopefully will be able to relax a bit at the pub tonight, at least.
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Comments
From: kaet Date: January 21st, 2003 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
It's funny, but I was feeling kind of blank like that when a battery caught fire and semi-exploded. I thought to myself, oh look, that battery's on fire, I must put it out into the garden. So I picked it up by the other end and thought, 'oh that's hot, I wonder if it will scar' and carried it through the kitchen thinking 'hmm, looks like it might explode any minute'. It's a very odd state of mind.
simonb From: simonb Date: January 21st, 2003 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
*hugs*

I've had moments when it seemed like I was sitting inside a little control room inside my head, looking out at what my body was seeing via monitors and controlling my body by keyboard or similar... with the lag which naturally comes from that.

Very strange feeling when it comes down to it. I've had moments like that at times of crisis as well - its almost like part of my brain shuts down and lets the rest of it get on with doing what needs to be done. I can remember putting out a chip pan fire out in the right way (i.e. turn off gas and put damp towel over top of pan) and having that type of feeling when I was 6 or so.

*HUGS*
j4 From: j4 Date: January 22nd, 2003 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Your (and kaet's) crisis reaction sounds like a sensible sort of detachment, though -- detaching the emotional bits so that you can deal with the emergency calmly. I mean, I can see that there's sense in having that kind of reaction. But I can't for the life of me see why my brain/body should think it's a useful survival tactic to dissociate itself in a totally non-critical situation like being at work.
simonb From: simonb Date: January 22nd, 2003 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
From your comments about work, it probably is a survival/coping tactic for work.

I know that if I wasn't careful I'd end up in a similar state during the last few months at WorldCom when we didn't have any work to do at all.

*HUGS*
j4 From: j4 Date: January 22nd, 2003 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)
But feeling all spaced-out stops me being able to do even the little bits of work that I do get! As coping strategies go, it strikes me as a bit of a silly one. I'd rather have a coping strategy that made me really lively and active so that I could make something of the job even when there's nothing to do.

Mind you, I should be able to do that anyway -- I did try to, when I first started here -- but there's only so long I can swim against the tide of apathy before getting weary. These days when they give me work to do I find I can't remember how to work at all.
simonb From: simonb Date: January 22nd, 2003 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)
but there's only so long I can swim against the tide of apathy before getting weary

This was the problem with WorldCom; after all I've got plenty of projects to do right now of my own... however when you're surrounded by lots of people who really don't want to be there, or don't care, or are stressed about the impending job cuts, etc a bad atmosphere is created where its quite hard to do anything without feeling really lethargic, depressed or disconnected from relatity.

I'm impressed that I even managed to get LJ::Simple written at all, along with some playing with the perl Gtk module and some XML stuff, in those last few months given the state of mind I was in at WorldCom.

*hugs*
j4 From: j4 Date: January 22nd, 2003 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
a bad atmosphere is created where its quite hard to do anything without feeling really lethargic, depressed or disconnected from relatity.

I'm impressed that I even managed to get LJ::Simple written at all, along with some playing with the perl Gtk module and some XML stuff

Good grief. If that's the amount of stuff you get done when you're feeling lethargic and depressed, then when you're feeling 100% you must be absolutely superhuman!

I count it as a productive day if I manage to catch up with a couple of emails or a newsgroup. Basically anything where I don't spend more than a couple of hours staring blankly at the screen or just eating packetfuls of biscuits to fend off boredom is a "good" day, comparatively. Sometimes I even manage to read an article or something on the web, and then I feel like I might actually be turning back into a functional human being again. It doesn't usually last for long, though.

This afternoon I'd estimate that I've spent at least an hour just flicking between different windows on my desktop. There isn't a column for that on my timesheet. Sometimes I get up and go to the loo when I don't really need to, just because it's something to do.

I suspect I wouldn't feel half so useless if I "wasted" all those spare moments writing software that I could actually release to other people. Or maybe I'd be up there with all the rest of the geeks, going "Oh, I'm such a failure, I've only written one new mail client this week, and I've barely even written 2/3 of the new programming language I've invented."
simonb From: simonb Date: January 22nd, 2003 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good grief. If that's the amount of stuff you get done when you're feeling lethargic and depressed, then when you're feeling 100% you must be absolutely superhuman!

Perhaps; don't forget that I had around 4 months of time to play with to do that stuff. thinks thats around 120 days of 10am until 6pm every day of time to write my own code. In a way I'm a little depressed that I didn't get more done as I've got bugger all time at the moment for my own code sigh. At least the current gig is interesting and I feel like I'm achieving something at the end of the day.

When I was at WorldCom I'd waste vast amounts of time in a loop which went something like: work email -> personal email -> news -> slashdot -> the register -> LJ friends -> LJ friends of friends. That sort of loop can chew up hours.

Anyway, didn't you say that its hard for you to develop stuff at work given the environment you're in ?

*hugs*
j4 From: j4 Date: January 23rd, 2003 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
don't forget that I had around 4 months of time to play with to do that stuff.

So far I've had about a year (maybe more -- I lose count, the days are all the same) of having very, very little work to do. In that time I've managed to do absolutely nothing.

When I was at WorldCom I'd waste vast amounts of time in a loop which went something like: work email -> personal email -> news -> slashdot -> the register -> LJ friends -> LJ friends of friends. That sort of loop can chew up hours.

Yeah, so far I've managed to get it to chew up, ooh, about a year. Easily more than a year, actually, because even when I had some work to do I was wasting some time on that kind of thing.

Anyway, didn't you say that its hard for you to develop stuff at work given the environment you're in ?

Well, um, it's hard for me to "develop stuff" given the fact that I'm not a bloody programmer. The environment doesn't really make any difference. I have text editors and a unix account here -- should be enough, shouldn't it? Most of the people I know would have written a new operating system or two by now.

I don't really want to talk about this any more. It's just making me more and more depressed.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 22nd, 2003 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope you manage to relax --- maybe you can teach me that trick if you manage it...

I usually achieve it by drinking too many pints of b33r. It's not a very good way of relaxing. Or rather, it's an excellent way of relaxing at the time, but having to crawl out of bed and cycle for 25 minutes with the mother of all hangovers is Not Fun.

My head still hurts.
reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: January 22nd, 2003 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
A pint of water before collapsing in bed, another pint when you wake up at 4am to pee. If that doesn't work, make it two pints before bed.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 23rd, 2003 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Tried it, but it doesn't seem to help me very much TBH. Takes the edge off the hangover, but a pint of water + sugar in the morning will do that as well. The only thing that really works for me is going back to bed and trying to sleep it off... so I should know better than to drink too much on a school-night. Ho hum.
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 21st, 2003 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The closest I ever get to the sort of sensations, as far as I can tell, is a strange sort of feeling of rotation - imagine an axis running between my hips; roughly my brain wants to rotate forward outside my forehead and down and the backs of my legs want to rotate back and up. It's intense but thankfully rare. Apparently one of my mother's elder relatives used to be able to get out-of-body eperiences in dreams; from time to time, Mum used to counsel me very strongly against trying to investigate such matters further.

I understand that a taste for slash is very respectable these days, though unfortunately what I've seen of it doesn't do much for me. Never mind.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 22nd, 2003 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
... a strange sort of feeling of rotation ...

How bizarre! Sounds very unpleasant too.

Apparently one of my mother's elder relatives used to be able to get out-of-body eperiences in dreams; from time to time, Mum used to counsel me very strongly against trying to investigate such matters further.

Did you take her advice, JOOI? I've always been fascinated by out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams, stuff like that, but never really actively tried to achieve them. (Mostly because I'm always so tired and spaced-out anyway that screwing around with my sleep and/or consciousness seems like a bit of a bad idea...)
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 22nd, 2003 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
How bizarre! Sounds very unpleasant too.

Scary the first time, triggered by an unpleasant argument with Mum at the age of 11-ish. It has only tended to come during illnesses since.

Did you take her advice, JOOI? I've always been fascinated by out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams, stuff like that, but never really actively tried to achieve them.

Too skeptical to believe there might be truth therein, I fear, or to make the serious efforts involved. I'm not even sure about hypnotism or neuro-linguistic programming and I think there's some fairly convincing scientific evidence behind their principles.

Certainly a very interesting topic, though.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 23rd, 2003 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Too skeptical to believe there might be truth therein, I fear, or to make the serious efforts involved. I'm not even sure about hypnotism or neuro-linguistic programming and I think there's some fairly convincing scientific evidence behind their principles.

Ah, I kind of default to passive belief in everything.

Passive belief -- I think I need to explain this a bit better. I'm happy to believe that the weirdest things might be true. From the almost-credible stuff like hypnotism and reflexology to stuff like ghosts, and the healing power of crystals, and ley-lines, and all that jazz. But I don't act on that belief. On a day-to-day basis it makes no difference to me whether I believe it or not. To be honest, it makes very little practical difference to me whether it's true or not, let alone whether I believe it. Hence "passive belief", as opposed to "active belief", beliefs which change the way you live. (E.g. every day I act on the belief that there's some kind of point to life, even if it's a self-made point, because otherwise I'd just stay in bed, or curl up and wait to die.)

So I'm happy to passively believe (or, if you prefer, not actively disbelieve) in pretty much anything for which I have no conclusive proof either way. Whether I can be bothered to investigate it further or not is another matter. In general I don't have time to chase all the will-o'-the-wisps that might look like they're leading somewhere interesting. Sometimes I wish I had the time; mostly it's probably just as well that I don't, or I'd never get anything sensible/useful done! :)
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 23rd, 2003 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
If y'don't mind me asking, how does this tie in with your views on religion and the religious traditions that contradict each other in the world? I have a vague recollection (fx: checks interests list for confirmation) that you were a practicing Christian while you were at Oxford and for all I know you may still be.

I also have a vague feeling that there isn't very much difference between many/most/all of the fundamental beliefs of the monotheistic religions in the world, or at least in the general message of being excellent to one another. It's the honouring-the-deity traditions that vary.

Off for the weekend. Bye!
j4 From: j4 Date: January 24th, 2003 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
If y'don't mind me asking, how does this tie in with your views on religion and the religious traditions that contradict each other in the world?

Don't mind you asking at all. Basically, I'm prepared to believe that some, all, none or fewer of the religions in the world are "true". Religious traditions are a different matter -- I think they're essentially man-made, though it's possible that the men who made them were privy to inside knowledge of the divine.

That's a bit waffly and vague, isn't it. Hm. I'll think about it some more.

I have a vague recollection (fx: checks interests list for confirmation) that you were a practicing Christian while you were at Oxford and for all I know you may still be.

I was. I'm not now.

I'm honestly not sure what I believe any more. It's difficult to separate out my religious beliefs (such as they are) from my feelings about the Christian church, which are still strong enough (and bitter enough) to cloud my judgement a lot more than I'd like. Maybe when the mental scars have healed over a bit more I'll be in a position to think about it more clearly.

Basically the problem is that it's very hard to separate out a religion from its followers. I believe that there may be more there than just cultural, traditional, human phenomena; on the other hand, I suspect that these phenomena may be as strong in themselves as (we'd like to believe that) a deity should be. Maybe we're all merely worshipping ourselves, or aspects of ourselves. Maybe that isn't a bad thing.

I'm sorry this is such a handwavey response. It's a serious issue, and one that I do think about, and one that I need to think about more. (Whatever I do or don't believe at any one time, I always believe that it's important -- "Does God exist?" is a question that I can't answer, but "Does it matter?" is easy.)

Since I can't explain the logic, I'll let someone else describe the feelings better than I could:

"Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us"

(T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday)
violetsrose From: violetsrose Date: January 22nd, 2003 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I get this "its not my body" thing every time just before I get a migraine - usually I'll be doing something and suddenly I look down at my hands and its just like I'm watching someone elses hands working away - then of course the brain turns to mush and I get the huge blind spot and flashing lights rubbish...
j4 From: j4 Date: January 22nd, 2003 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. That sounds nasty. :-(
(Deleted comment)
wintrmute From: wintrmute Date: February 12th, 2003 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Crap. just managed to post two comments to two people in the wrong windows. That'll confuse the both of you ;P

What i meant to say here was..

I've had some real trouble with dreams about waking up.. as in, i dream that i've woken up and am late for work. and have dreamt going thru the motions and going to work and so on.. and have *then* woken up and discovered i'm really fucking late.. and i think just a few times have then woken up from THAT dream.

I don't think it ever recursed any deeper than that though.
j4 From: j4 Date: February 13th, 2003 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Must confess I was a bit confused by the hair-stroking comment... :-)

Dreams about waking up always make me feel a bit like I'm in one of those stories where they say "and then I woke up and it was all a dream ... OR WAS IT?"

The end of "Invaders from Mars" (the book by Ray Garton, not the amusingly dire B-Movie thereof) manages to make this cliché much better by the simple expedient of doing it twice. Just when you thought it was safe, etc.
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