My brain, henceforth referred to as “Asshole,” is an asshole. It enjoys cutting me down, making me question the way others perceive and care for me, and generally screwing up my life.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful for Asshole- it does a decent job of processing binary sensory data. It can determine light from dark, hot from cold and it has a great sense of color and flavor variations. Pumpkin spice vs butternut cream? On it like a comet.
However, Asshole has a real problem understanding and processing non-binary sensory data, like emotions and human interactions. It has a very hard time sorting through all the variables and coming to the correct interpretation of many interactions.
For example: My partner is having a low energy moment when he comes home from work and doesn’t greet me with his usual enthusiasm.
Asshole’s conclusion: He’s going to leave you, because his daughters haven’t naturally taken to you, you aren’t good with the dog, there’s someone younger, prettier and smarter, and you still haven’t lost all the weight you said you were going to this year.
Reality: He’s tired and needs to pee.
Asshole’s response:… I knew that. You shouldn’t talk to him about your insecurities or fears ever, because he will find you tiresome and leave you.
Sigh. That’s a fairly representative moment with my brain, and it doesn’t just stop with my personal life. It loves to fuck with me professionally.
For example: I’ve written a wonderful proposal regarding a 4 article series about David Bowie’s 100 Books, of which I run a book club based on, with 200 plus members.
Asshole: Why do you think anyone will give a shit? You’re not anyone. Nobody cares.
Reality: I’m very accomplished, thank you kindly, and this is timely and a great idea.
Asshole: Why do you think you’re so special? You are nothing.
*Reality and Asshole are silent as I hover over the send key.*
*I click send.*
Asshole: No one will ever respond.
It’s fucking exhausting living with this Asshole. I understand that deep down, this is a protective mechanism. If I don’t take risks or prepare for the worst, Asshole believes it will protect me.
Why does this Asshole need to protect me so much?
A perfectly crafted blend of chemical imbalance and trauma called depression. The smarties at Harvard have a great explanation about all the factors involved, but the general gist is that bad things have happened to me and I don’t have all the chemicals I need to process it.
What bad things? Death, abuse… those are a few things from the executive summary, but if I tell you now, what will I write about later?
Here’s the miracle though- knowing that there is a scientific explanation for my Asshole brain has made dealing with it so much easier. I know that my brain doesn’t always process things the way it should. Depending on stress levels, hormones, sleep, blood sugar, people around me, the results may be skewed.
Knowing that I might not be getting good analysis from my brain, because of depression, helps me. I know that, no matter how overwhelming the feelings are in this moment, they will pass. I will not always be so desolate. I will not always be so joyous. I remind myself that the conclusion that my brain has come to may not be the correct one and that I need an outside opinion or time before I act on it.
I guess my brain is not a total Asshole, but why do I call it that? I mean, it’s not it’s fault I was born lacking certain brain chemicals. *stares at parents*
I call my brain an Asshole because, in that moment, when I’m contemplating leaving my partner because he obviously will leave me for someone who is everything I’m not and will magically heal his household or just ending breathing because everything seems so hopeless and no one will ever hire me again… my brain is an Asshole.
Naming the problem helps you understand and gain control over the situation. Control, when you feel like you are drowning, is a lifesaver. It gives you something to hold onto while the waves of pain are trying to drag you under.
You don’t have to name your brain Asshole. I mean, it works for me. But you are you. You could name the little chemical and trauma-induced voice inside your head Tim. Or Becky. Whatever. Or you could not name it anything. Whatever.
The important thing is to acknowledge that there is something going on inside you, that is not your fault, and it could be influencing you to interpret things in a way that is not true.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NO SUE. I’m not a professionally trained mental health expert and what works for me might not work for you. If you want to talk to someone, this website has some great places to start.
Originally published at medium.com