How to live in a head that can't stop talking

First of all, thank you to those of you who have left me feedback (or questions) through the "contact" page!  I don't remember to check it all that often, but it was really cool to get those yesterday.  I can't promise that I can get back to each of you directly, but just wanted to say thanks and your thoughts are much appreciated.  

I've been doing a little more drawing lately (you'll perhaps see why by the end of the post) but these two made me laugh by the time I was done with them.  I've been borrowing an exercise I saw on "Strip Search" where you get two words and have to come up with a comic based off of them.  My rules are a little less stringent (i.e. no time limit; I don't actually care if it's a comic, a picture is fine; doesn't have to be funny; etc.), but these two either made me laugh or I just really liked.  The first set of words was "toad rub" and the second was "vacation tramp."  The vacation tramp happens to me ALL THE TIME in LA.  In fact, the text is 100% borrowed from a real experience. It's not quite word-for-word, but pretty damn close.  Neither idea was fully-formed when I started drawing, I just drew and then when I ended up with a face or gesture that I liked, I tried to find some matching text.  Hope you like 'em!

Toad rub.  Indignant eyes on a toad.  Classic.

Vacation tramp.  They deserve vacation too, I guess...

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been in a bit of a rough patch right now.  Not, like, *really* rough, but just kinda having a hard time seeing the positives in the things around me, and having a hard time getting excited about much of anything.  To cut right to the chase, I've been feeling a lot better over the course of the last week or so.  It hasn't been without its ups and downs and the occasional hard moment, but on the whole I've been feeling pretty good.

Literally, the day after I wrote that last post I was watching @Midnight with my roommate Jack while I ate dinner and the host, Chris Hardwick, mentioned that he had been "sober for 12 years." This caught me off guard becuase I hadn't had any idea that he had had a problem with alcohol.  I took to the internet (as we are wont to do these days) and the first thing I turned up was an article that Hardwick had written for Wired called "Self Help for Nerds: Advice from Comedian Chris Hardwick."  While the article does touch on his troubled drinking, it's largely focused on his thought patterns that led him to drinking, the subsequent analysis of those thought patterns, and how he feels he channeled them into helping him become who he is today.  I highly recommend reading the entire article, but I wanted to focus on a couple of excerpts that really spoke to me.  

When I read them, it was just 100% clear that the stuff Chris Hardwick was going through was as similar of an experience as I have had as two separate, individual humans can share.  Our coping mechanisms and subsequent troubles were different (his were alcohol and video games, and I think I just get moody and depressed...), but the underlying streams of thought that led to that point seem to be very, very much the same.  

The first is this:

Whether it’s games, alcohol, painted figurines, film continuity, or conversations where we’re convinced someone doesn’t like us because of something we said, nerds obsess. We zealously deconstruct. We have that very active internal monologue. I think many of the things we undertake are, in part, attempts to drown out that monologue. We are hyper-self-aware. We have difficulty ‘chilling out.’ We tend to suffer from depression and anxiety. Sometimes it can get really bad. If you’ve never had a panic attack, for example, I’ll describe it thusly: Imagine being fucked in the heart.
— Chris Hardwick, WIRED

I've only ever had one true panic attack, and while I wouldn't quite describe is as "being fucked in the heart," I can tell you that the gravity of that statement is absolutely on par with the physical and emotional events that occur in your body. It is terrifying, and it is completely overwhelming. But the panic attack isn't why I'm bringing this up, it's the "active internal monologue" and the "hyper-self-awareness" (although I would generalize it more to "hyper-awareness" that includes being self-aware).

I've tried to explain my tendencies to hyper-analyze some situations to people before, with little success.  Everyone over-analyzes something at some point in their lives, but hyper-analyzing something is a different animal, and up until I read Chris Hardwick's article I had never really heard someone else verbalize it in a way that sounded so familiar.  Hyper-analysis is incapacitating: I am constantly sweaty; I've had to leave classes because I got too stressed out and overwhelmed by thought patterns I was having;  I've even ended relationships because of it.

For me, I hyper-analyze social events and situations.  I do it to some extent in every social setting (and I do mean *every*), which is odd, because if you've met me I'm far from inept around other people.  If I were a D&D character, my charisma score would likely fall between 16 and 18 (although this reference probably just knocked me down a couple of points...).  But despite how I may seem to others, inside it's just a roiling mess of tortuous thought-patterns, questions, and stuff no one needs to really think about.  

I've joked with friends and girlfriends that I really think that I may not be cut out for long-term partnered relationships because of these tendencies.  At some point in every relationship I've found myself incapable of relaxing and enjoying the company of the other person because I'm trying to read into a million different things that are, for the most part, not actual things.  I end up just finding the relationship too taxing on me, and likely the other person, to move forward.  It is the "zealous deconstruction" that Chris Hardwick references that eventually leads me to break things off because I simply want to have some time and energy for other pursuits in my life.  

In science terms: for me, being alone is an escape from trying to find a more precise answer than I have data to actually statistically get; after a certain point, I'm just burning myself out processing noise because I guess I'm afraid that other people don't actually care about what I have to contribute to their lives.  It's harsh but true.  Being alone is the only time that I really feel like I can actually channel all of that furious thought into things that are actually productive, but without a direction to send it though, things can get pretty rough.  This brings us to our second Chris Hardwick quote and up to speed for last few week:

When nerds run out of things in the external world to deconstruct and analyze, guess where they go? Inward. We become the object of our own deconstruction protocols; an auto-cannibalism of sorts.
— Chris Hardwick, WIRED

Lately I haven't had projects other than work into which to put any time and effort, and given that I've been pretty burned out on all of my work, I've been doing just this.  I find myself focusing a lot on the fact that I don't feel like I have many ideas related to the science that I'm doing, and that science is how I see myself having any sort of impact on the world around me.  Of course these thought patterns benefit no one,  especially me, since I just end up spending more time thinking and ruminating on my lack of ideas instead of scientific concepts, or reading and learning new things that could lead me to a new idea.  

Even now look how much I've already written "deconstructing" why I think the way I do, even in a positive way!  Case in point! haha.

A big combination of things led to last week (and the last few months really) of grumpiness.  This isn't something new in my life at all, and yet I continue to struggle with putting it in perspective.  I think for the last four years of my life though, I've been looking for a way to cure it or even escape from it or otherwise just have it out of my life, but what Chris Hardwick's article made me realize (something I think I've know for a while but didn't want to acknowledge) is that this is a part of me no matter what.  And despite it being a serious difficulty in many ways, it is ultimately one of the things that has gotten me where I am now and made me who I am today.  It's not going anywhere and the best that I can hope for is enough structure and energy to allow me to use it in a productive way, and some understanding from others when things aren't going so well.  

Actually, can I just hope for people in my life right now, whether they understand this or not?  I get approximately zero opportunities to meet new people between my two jobs and the general state of who I know in LA and it's getting kinda. fucking. old.  Cats can only hold a conversation for so long.

<3,
John