On Feeling Forever

HI IT’S SUNDAY SOMEWHERE (Here, it’s Sunday here.  EDT.)

(Epistemic status:  Pretty sure this is just me and probably me being weird; practical advice somewhat untested.)

There is a concept I have been noticing more in myself lately that is probably one of those self-evident things but that I think bears exploring.  It’s the concept of your emotional state inflecting your projection of the future and what future actions you should take.  This, I feel, is a thing most people experience on some level.  The extension of the concept in my personal case, however, is feeling forever.  Not only are my projections and plans filtered through “I am hyper and happy” or “I am really depressed and tired” or whatever else I might feel but the contemplation of these future actions assumes I will be in the exact state I am currently in.

So, this requires a bit of unpacking.  As I’ve stated things, these two concepts seem mostly the same, that part of the inflection is the idea that your future self will be in the same state; I am not sure one actually implies the other though.  If you’re in a slump, you might plan with and for less energy but probably not under the assumption you will never not be in a slump unless it’s particularly deep.  I think more notably, being in a very excited, joyful state still is unlikely to make you believe you will always be in that state and make plans accordingly.

 Except, for me, it does.  I go into a bit of a cycle a lot of the time, it goes like this:

1. Have a really cool spontaneous social interaction that makes The Seeker happy
2. Want to make more cool extraverted social activity things, especially since I’m incredibly happy
3. Book like 2 weeks worth of things
4. Starting doing all the things, night after night, no rest no time to myself.
5. Start feeling more and more run down and like “wait why did I do this” (this is mostly a function of lack of sleep)
6. Cancel a few plans, start feeling a little better but still out of it.
7. Set a line in the sand where I will not make new plans until my old ones run out
8. Get to a tired enough state where I’m not even getting an extrovert high out of doing things with people
9. Finally reach the end and breathe a sigh of relief and my schedule is mostly clear
10. Spend 2 weeks with every night being go to work, come home, fuck around on the computer, sleep
11. Realize this fucking sucks and I am even more depressed than I was when I was super extroverting
12. Don’t really feel like making plans/finishing commitments/contemplating the future
13. Get worse and worse
14. Spontaneous social interaction happens, gives me energy to throw The Seeker at things again
15. Rinse, repeat.

A lot of these patterns stem from feeling forever.  I feel happy, excited, elated, and assume I will feel that way forever, no matter what and plan accordingly.  I’m a super extrovert with all the powers of social interaction yaaaaaaaay.  Then I start shorting my sleep and feeling terrible and then I assume THAT’S going to be my default state forever and start cancelling plans and mostly thinking there’s no point to anything.  Then I downcycle and my feeling that my slump will be forever becomes stronger and stronger.  Fortunately, I usually get a cycle breaker after not too long and can go back to the start by feeling happy forever…but the emotional and cognitive distortions are still strongly in place.  As I write about this, the pattern honestly matches a little to bipolar disorder, except I don’t really have that.  I’ve been checked for it a lot because I sure present as suspicious for it.  Overall, I feel like I’m experiencing something in that space, though.

I think it will be important for me to correct this cognitive distortion and I think being aware of it is the first step, like always.  What I want to consider from a practical perspective is instituting rules for planning or experiencing my future self that do not give a damn about my mood at the time I am planning.  I still am working out my fault tolerances but I think the basics of doing something enjoyably social at least once a week, no matter what, will help to counteract the slump stage.  I think that making sure my booking is such that I am not out 3 nights in a row will counteract the extrovert high stage, even if some of those plans are not extroversion related.  The reason I focus so much on social planning is because it’s more or less the core of my emotional state these days.  There’s some degree of in the moment to moment emotional management but that falls more under my framing/filter model of perception.

Still, moment to moment emotional state also sometimes slips into the feel forever distortion.  Often, what I describe as a downcycle is an expression of that.  A downcycle is where I experience an Unpleasant Thing, I recognize I experienced an Unpleasant Thing, I have started to fixate on Unpleasant Thing and now it has Unpleasant Thing Friends because usually you can break down things that are unpleasant into multiple parts and then the problem seems worse, and I just start spiraling towards this absolutely hateful state about existence that contaminates my entire worldview, as well as my ability to conceptualize not feeling this way.  Fortunately, this form of feeling forever is largely managed by my medication regimen, so I don’t have to be particularly creative with my interventions here; what I can’t handle with medication I can usually clean up with narrative and perceptual reframing.

I am curious, does anyone else feel forever, or end up in these kind of high-low cycles that inhibit a more gradual, consistent experience?  If you do feel forever, do you think you need to change it?  If you don’t feel forever, what is your mental attitude towards the future and making plans in a bad state?  What about a good state?  Feel free to send asks, replies, or reblog this post to answer these questions.

One thought on “On Feeling Forever

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