Category Archives: Psychobabble

You Are Not Your Introversion

I’ll admit, the whole “introvert vs. extrovert” thing is something that I once found useful. Habitually shunning human contact in favor of books or video games tends to lead to all sorts of unpleasant labels like “loner,” “shy,” or “recluse.” People never used “misanthrope,” but they should have, because it’s a badass word.

I found it freeing when there was this zeitgeist online to redefine my behavior: I’m not a hermit, I’m an introvert! You’ve probably read it before, but here’s what the meme ended up being:

  • While extroverts gain energy from social interaction, introverts gain energy from alone time.
  • Introverts enjoy other people, but they lose energy when they interact.
  • You should feel grateful when an introvert spends her/his energy on you.
  • Challenging an introvert’s need for alone time is worse than the Chernobyl disaster.

Behold My Shiny New Label!

While the concept of introversion isn’t new, this idea of introvert-as-superhero is. It’s a reframing of something that was once negative, turning it into a badge of honor for those who choose to sacrifice their limited “energy” resources for the sake of their friends and loved ones. Suddenly, it was hip to be square. ... continue reading.

WTF Is a Panic Attack?

Yeah, I know you can hit up WebMD for the definition and clinical symptoms, but that’s not what this is for. First, I want to explain to non-sufferers why these are such a big deal. No, your loved one isn’t just being melodramatic. Second, I want to explain to those with panic disorder why, exactly, your brain is being such an asshole. As always, it means well.

A panic attack is, for a short time, the worst thing in the fucking world. It’s a near-death experience, just as truly as if you had been pinned under a semi and weren’t quite sure whether you still had legs. Your brain and body, joined together as if in some sort of conspiracy, are both reporting imminent doom.

The Positive Feedback Loop

A quick point about something called “positive feedback.” This is a mechanism that your body uses to get results, feeding escalating responses back and forth between two or more internal structures, even if it has to completely ignore your discomfort to do so. My favorite example is, of course, pooping. ... continue reading.

Mentally Ill In The First World

I’d like to write a little rant about being sick in the head, and my experience of it so far. It’s not fun, and it’s not all that funny.

I’m writing this for the anxious, who find themselves paralyzed in ways that no one understands; for the depressed, who shrink further and further into themselves, until sometimes they disappear; for those with disordered relationships with reality, who live in the same physical world, but with vastly different perceptions. I’m writing for the soul-hurt, marginalized, stigmatized sufferers, forced to travel alongside everyone else, but burdened with invisible illness.

I’m Ian Harvey, and I have anxiety.

Whee

More anxiety than is normal. Much more. I know that it doesn’t look like it, but what exactly should it look like? I know I don’t act like it (usually), but I’m excellent at hiding abnormal behaviors. Hell, we all are. We hide and we hide, we tell white lies to ourselves and others, all for the sake of passing as normal. When you see us act out or break down, that’s because we couldn’t pass any more. ... continue reading.

Loving Your Inner Critic

It’s a new year, which means… well, whatever we want it to mean. For some of us, it means new beginnings, for others it’s continuing on a particular trajectory or slightly changing course. For others still, it’s just another day, but with an infuriating new digit to mess up on checks and forms.

Let’s pretend, however, that you’re not completely happy with something, and you’d like to make some changes. Maybe you make it a formal resolution, or maybe you just hope that you’ll conduct yourself a bit differently this year. I was taking a mental inventory just now, and I was hoping to eat better, exercise more, and… then I stopped.

Those are both worthy goals, to be sure, but I noticed a parallel line of thought: “I’ve got to stop putting so much garbage in my body. How am I going to reach my goal weight if I keep having 1000 calories of popcorn after dinner?” and “I’ve got to get back to the gym, I need some muscle.” ... continue reading.