- Mental Health
Misreading Emotional Flare-Ups
Setting Myself Up for some Fussing
Some time ago a bunch of us old friends went for a full day picnic in a park-forest. As usual, we had a great time, which in our case meant our picnic table covered with stuff like roasts, breaded meats, cold cuts, cheeses, salads, and did I forget to mention cakes.
All in all it pretty much looked like we were going to feed an army of hungry teenagers. By the way, the youngest among us was in his sixties, and the oldest eighty-one. So maybe that table contents could have served as a photo in the bible where it speaks about the sin of gluttony - but it definitely didn't serve our aging bodies.
That I found out the next day, feeling heavy and still full from the food consumed in that haze of summer. When my wife asked what we were going to have for dinner, I rushed to blurt out "Hunter's dinner" - which is our joking term for "whatever you can catch in the fridge". Well, the way I felt, I thought that I would "go hunting" for the rest of that week, and it was only Monday.
Unfavorable Body-Mind Connection
Other than heaviness, there was another peculiar side effect of that indulgence, which was expressing itself as a "pair of dark glasses" that was giving everything a sort of a gloomy tone. Something that was definitely out of my emotional climate, so it took me by a surprise.
Things that I normally ignored, like that small dent on the door of my car, somehow gained in their irritating significance. One thing followed another for the rest of the day, none of them looking good.
There was that idiot who cut in front of me on the road and made me brake. And as my wife started calling him names which were better than those I had for him, I didn't contribute to the name calling. Instead, I started thinking about what was going on.
Then it hit me how back in my younger years I accidently found out from the books - not by doctors' diagnosis - that my body was not metabolizing sugar in larger quantities too well. Since it was not something of a regular problem, the book was nice enough to call it only sub-clinical hypoglycemia.
Now, thinking back about all that dessert eaten the day before, I understood why my sugar dropped so much, and why my trained ability to produce happy feelings at will was failing me.
Severe at Times and with Some People
As I don't have a habit of over-eating or indulging in wrong foods, except for some really rare and silly whims like that at the picnic, I mostly recognize that at others. I mean that shift in mood that takes a complete control over their ability to distinguish between some innocent details of life from something that deserves a concern.
I'm not kidding you, I have seen folks, and read about many more, who had so bad emotional reaction to foods that it looked like a borderline psychotic episode with a pronounced paranoia. It's truly amazing what tricks our body chemistry can play on our minds.
There are many unfortunate and totally unsuspecting folks who may spend their life tormented by "psycho-allergies", or strong sensitivities to certain foods that keep ruining their happiness, their relationships, and capacity for work.
I don't know if that branch of medicine exists these days, but back in seventies it was called "orthomolecular psychiatry" - that studied about relation of food and lousy emotionality. Personally, I am not particularly inclined to go to those extremes of being a "health nut", but I think every person should identify those foods that don't agree with their biological individuality. I know my body is not too happy with sugar and dairy - other than that I don't fuss too much over foods.
Survival Mechanism Telling Eyes what to See
Sometimes I surprise myself with ideas that pop up in my head reminding me of those so called "medical intuitives" - so let me share one of them referring to this theme. Of course, I am not asking you to take me seriously, but let's say I want to entertain you a bit with my intuitive ideas.
You see, I have spent quite some time so far brainstorming about all possible features how our survival instinct is expressing itself. At one point it hit me how every instinct, especially if pronounced in some folks is "seeking its expression" regardless whether there is a trigger present or not.
Like take those overly sexed folks. They don't have to be near a partner, they could actually be even on a farm with stinking pigs, and still get aroused. So I was reasoning that some folks whose survival "fight-flight" mechanism is trigger-happy could equally interpret just about anything innocent as a "threat" - not consciously of course, but on the "gut level".
You know what I mean? We are perfectly capable of feeling crappy for no other reason than having a wrong reaction to life situations from our survival mechanism that could have been lately made oversensitive by too much work, not enough sleep, or seeing mother-in-law too often.
Too Close for Comfort
Let me prolong my speculations for a bit. Namely, I heard of this experiment done with rats, in which too many were placed in within one small closed area. They soon started displaying strong signs of distress, including aggressive behavior.
Thinking of all those overpopulated megacities I am seeing a parallel situation with those rats, so I would say that on our animalistic level of emoting we are quite pissed off thanks to our sense of territoriality.
It doesn't help much that we can lock ourselves in our burrows and have some privacy guaranteed by the Constitution. Are you reading any of those alarmist conspiracy theories? Not that the theories must necessary be true, but they show you how their authors feel trapped and paranoid, seeing our TV as spying on us, and maybe even our toilet seats..., oh, never mind.
The suspicion remains that - either there are too many of us on this planet, or we just like getting on each other's nerves, and it doesn't matter one bit whether we live like hermits or in a skyscraper condo.
So Easy Not to Fuss - but so much Easier to Do It
On a typical late evening my wife and I sit on the couch, my arm around her shoulder and we watch a movie, or we do a crossword puzzle. At other times, I may write an article - like I am doing now, and she may read a fashion magazine - like she is doing now.
Then every so often we express satisfaction and give ourselves some credit for this little home that we have so wisely turned into our shrine of peace and harmony. While saying those words, we may mention how easy it would be to start an argument, if that's what we would want for ourselves.
Jokingly, we even invent some hypothetical reasons for arguing, realizing how "realistic", and "justified" they could look, since we are only humans, and there is always something available to pick on - again, if that's what we would want for ourselves.
Creating Problems out of Thin Air
In those idyllic moments of which there are so many in my life of a retiree it's not rare that I get one of those silly notions that "maybe I am not of this planet" - because for the life in me I can't understand why humans create so many problems for themselves.
International affairs give me the strongest of such impressions . First some problems get created - and honest to goodness it seems like they are created just for the hell of it, out of thin air.
Then some measures are undertaken that already carry a seed of another problem in that self-perpetuating merry-go-round. By its very nature, politics seems to be constantly "pregnant" with problems, and always "in heat" to conceive some new ones.
To Do or Not to Do
There is still another angle of looking at all those "aggravations" that need not to be there, and it's more of a logical nature, rather than physiological, or survival-generated, or political.
Let me put it this way : in a strictly logical sense, there are no problems to fuss about, but only things that we don't feel like doing. So, we may say : "I am having a weight problem". Hmmm, terrible isn't it? The simple fact of the matter is that we have to watch what, when, and how much we are eating, and then there wouldn't be anything like a problem.
Also, no matter what you do, don't ever join a bunch of old-timers at a picnic who compete among themselves who will bring better food, and then compete who will eat more of it.
Which brings me to one of my own favorite sayings that I would like to share at the end of this article : More problems in this world are caused by lack of knowing what NOT to do - than by lack of knowing what to do. - Be well everyone.