On Agency, Mob Behaviour, and being Messed Up

Strap in, this be a wild ride.

It starts with a few personal anecdotes.

Anecdote #1: I am out of control

In my late teens and early 20s, I was a hot goddamned mess. I didn’t know I had ADHD, I didn’t know about emotional dysregulation, I didn’t understand trauma. I knew I was depressed. I’d never heard the phrase rejection sensitive dysphoria.

All I knew was that sometimes I would get upset. It would start with this deep pang inside, this sinking feeling, as if the world was twisting and pulling at me. Everything hurt. My skin crawled. I felt myself falling into a deep pit full of jagged edges, and I started to panic. Often it would be set off by the smallest thing, the most innocuous statement or declaration.

I would, in a nutshell, lose my fucking shit.

Continue Reading

On Origin Stories 

I love origin stories. It’s not going to seem that way in a few paragraphs, but I do.

An origin story takes an existing persona and gives them shape and depth. I say persona deliberately, because it’s not just any character who gets an origin story; it’s a larger-than-life character, a superhero, a mythic entity. It’s a protagonist whose impact is so big it doesn’t fit in a single shot, so bright you can’t always look at them head on.

Sometimes, the heroes in our stories seem a little far away, a little archetypal, and you find yourself trying to fill in the gaps.

So the origin story comes along, and it fills in the gaps – what gaps there are to be filled, anyway – and one of the things I always love about them is that, while they deepen the character, they also make them smaller. Closer. Touchable. The hero takes on some of our ordinariness, and for a little while we get to borrow some of their extraordinariness. After that exchange, anything is possible. Stories have a tendency to wake up our sense of wonder – origin stories remind us that it’s always there, awake or not.

Origin stories ask: how is the hero, and why is the hero, and what happened to the hero before they were a hero?

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This Keto Life: On taking breaks, and the urge to explain

(note: if you follow me on Twitter/FB, you may have seen me complain about a blog post I’ve been trying to write for three weeks that is doing my head in. Heads-up: this is not that post! This is something a bit cruisier, although it does touch on some mental health issues)

I think I’ve probably spent a lot of time and energy justifying keto, and a lot of that feels necessary because of the vast swamp of wild misinformation surrounding this particularly controversial approach to feeding oneself. Even self-proclaimed experts who start out with good, scientifically-backed approaches can end up departing from the well-groomed path of evidence and wading out into the quicksand pits of “Wishful Thinking”, “Over-generalisation”, and “It sounds cool and my friend said it was true.”

Thanks to the internet keto-meisters peddling righteous rage and over-hyped woo, there’s some real pushback on keto/low carb from the skeptic community. Thanks to the deafening, overwhelming focus on the (potential) weight loss associated with keto/low carb, there’s severe pushback from the body positivity and health-at-every-size communities. And thanks to people just flat-out doing it wrong, there’s pushback from some dietitians who have had patients with various deficiencies and problems.

This basically means that I feel a near-irresistible compulsion to justify my diet, which causes some anxiety.

Here’s the low-down, by the way, as simply as I can make it. Continue Reading

ADHD and other letters: on forgiveness

I think one of the hardest things about having ADHD – especially prior to diagnosis – is that you lose faith in yourself. This applies to any condition that includes “executive dysfunction” as a symptom, but throw in the ADHD brain’s inability to perceive or estimate time, and it’s a real doozy.

Because you know what you need to do to change.

You just don’t do it. Continue Reading

ADHD and other letters: “Hyperactive” or “Inattentive” or “Combined” or “oh god just stop”

When it comes to medical situations, we like labels. Clear labels can shortcut explanations, save time, validate challenges that we face, allow us to access the help that we need, provide information to professionals, comfort us, describe parts of us, and ultimately provide all the blessings of naming the beast. There are downsides to labels, for sure, particularly when they are misused, poorly understood, incorrectly applied, or stigmatised; but when you’re searching for answers, sometimes you get hungry for labels.

Sometimes you want more labels, because more detail is better, right? Except sometimes labels are erected for shitty reasons and in half-arsed ways, and they can lead you down the garden path.

The disclaimer on this post is that:

  • I am not a doctor
  • I am definitely not a psychiatrist
  • And whoa, howdy, I am not a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD.

My one appeal to authority is that I did run these ideas past my specialist, because I wanted to know if I was on the right track, or just doing that thing that I do, i.e. “Yes, Kate, you did read a lot but you know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, right?” and I figured a professional and a specialist was the right person to bounce these ideas off.

She agreed with enthusiasm (frustrated enthusiasm, for reasons that will become clear).

Let’s tell a story about labels. It starts with gender. Continue Reading

Small Good Things

I’m not a huge fan of Raymond Carver, in the sense that I would never read his work for fun or enjoyment. I feel it would be a little bit like stabbing myself in the kidneys for fun or enjoyment. I’m not good with horror, tragedy, or the grotesque. All the same, I have an enormous admiration for what he can achieve with a minimum of words.

Sometimes, when there are less words, the reader has to do more work, interpreting and figuring things out – and there’s value to that sort of writing as well, but it’s not what Carver did. Carver used just enough language to poke at something deep down in a shared cultural awareness. Just enough visual, enough imagery, enough dialogue to arouse suspicion, to stir up the dark things lurking in the depths, rising up into a slow realisation of the horror or tragedy taking place, often without stating it outright – or, if he did state it outright, it was in the most blunt and stark fashion.

I read Short Cuts, an anthology of short stories, in year 12, which was ohdeargod 20 years ago now, and there are images and feelings that will always stay with me, after only a single reading that I have never repeated. Continue Reading