Thursday, June 13, 2013
Head Vs Heart
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the gremlin that lives inside my head, and how I deal with that. If that sentence confused you or freaked you out or made you in any way curious, you can read about that here. I thought I'd do a follow up post, because it's a topic that seems to be reoccurring in my life, as well as others I've talked to who deal with mental health conditions (and to be honest, probably a good number of people who do not have diagnosed conditions).
With cyclothymia, I deal with the constant battle of opposing self-talk between my head and my heart. In the general population, the brain is traditionally seen as the logical side, whereas the heart is viewed as the emotional, often less reasonable side. What if, though, everything were reversed? What if your brain liked to play tricks on you... like telling you that you're no good at something when you are in fact talented? Or telling you that people don't like you when you have a big circle of friends and loved ones? This is a struggle that I face, and I would venture to guess this is quite true of a lot of people with mood cycling, as well as anxiety, panic, and depressive disorders. It's also probably rather accurate for those who are not diagnosed, yet battle low confidence and low self-esteem.
In this case, how do you sort fact from fiction? For me, the answer is quite simple. My heart almost always wins the battle with the brain. My brain requires medication in order to function "normally". And I mean that in the purest form. My brain doesn't work the way that others' do. My brain is more porous, figuratively speaking. It often listens only to the negative. It soaks up others' thoughts that counteract my own opinions and beliefs of myself. It generally sees only black and white. It's not happy with logical reasoning because quite frankly, that logical reasoning isn't always all that logical in my world. It's cautious. It would be content to live this life carefully, hedging every bet just so that "I don't mess up". My brain is tends to think that its own shadow is that of a predator. Furthermore, depending on what type of cycle I'm in, it sometimes seems to want me to fail. Quite frankly, I don't trust my brain at times. I feel it often lies to me, or at best, withholds some truth.
My heart, on the other hand, does not. I know that my heart is genuine, and accurate, and not playing tricks on me. My heart is brave and courageous. It will not let me lie on my deathbed and look back and say "I wish I had..." or "I regret that I didn't...". My heart knows when I'm really good at something, and encourages me instead of trying to scare me off. It recognizes the good people in my life instead of making me feel lonely. I trust my heart. Which I know is counterintuitive for most people. For many, their heart is a place of emotion, which can mean joy or hurt or fear or confusion, instead of good old reliable logic. For me though, that is all logic. The stuff my brain tells me can sometimes be a whole lot of BS. The stuff my heart tells me, that's real and to me, "logical" in the sense that it's trustworthy, and it makes sense. My brain can be a saboteur who tries to prevent me from taking risks and following dreams. My heart knows me better, and knows I'd be sorry down the road if I let my brain win.
Of course I'm sure you can think of examples in which the brain is more accurate. Common place thoughts of the brain like "the milk is curdling, I probably shouldn't drink it" are probably pretty reliable, because in that instance you're using the brain for exactly what it's for - factual information. But major life decisions, ones that generally contribute to my happiness or lack thereof, those I assign the heart. It's different for everyone I'm sure. For me, I'm slowly and surely learning to give less control to the gremlin in my brain, and more to that part of me that I know I can trust. I can say that in doing so, I'm much happier.
This post has been written as part of the I AM WOMAN 30 Day Blog and LinkedIn Challenge.