Alternative Therapies

reading and writing
I did a lot of reading over the years, and unfortunately what happens when you don't take notes or if you burn those you take is that you forget a lot of the specifics. I did a lot of writing over the years, and would go through phases when I would write all day long for weeks or months at a time. It is through this process that I began to get a clearer idea of what I had repressed in order to be a good person, to take responsibility for my actions, etc. I would often feel an extreme guilt when writing, as if my thoughts and feelings were so ugly that it was unthinkable that they were part of me. It has only been through many such writing phases, combined with reading phases, that I have been able to write with less guilt, and even now it is not like I am guilt-free - and my creation of an imaginary judge might say something about how unresponsive or intractable guilt can be in the face of what you might think of as your conscious reason.

When I was a sprog I took ballet for a few years. I was never able to get to the point where I could express the pent-up feelings that I thought I had the potential to express. But later on, most noticeably at age 21, I did feel that I was able to express those feelings through dance. It was the most miraculous discovery of my life. I have felt more alive when dancing alone than at any other time in my life.

For this to occur, I needed to have the house to myself. I would quickly move all the furniture out of the way, close all the blinds, and turn up the music very loud. I would dance until the point of exhaustion, or until people returned home. Later, I danced in my own apartment. Dancing in public was not quite the same thing - on one hand there were more considerations regarding space and people's reactions, and on the other there was a kind of competition that resulted in adapting to their rules to some extent.

At different times I have engaged in different types of exercise. I don't like to think of dancing as 'exercise', but for some years it was my main form of exercise, in addition to walking. Walking for long distances has a calming effect, and definitely helps with anxiety. Exercise which raises my heartrate for an extended period helps to give me a high - things like running, dancing, and doing aerobics. I find that the benefits of yoga are more noticeable to me if I do strenuous exercise first. Weight work and specific toning exercises are things I find necessary to add into the mix when consciously making an effort to become fit, and pilates fits this category as well.

Exercise affects my anxiety level - reduces it - but also increases self-confidence and a kind of endurance for coping with stress. When my body feels strong, when it moves easily, when I feel that it can do what I ask of it, I feel more comfortable in my own skin. Also, there is a sense of accomplishment which comes in perceiving the effects of exercise over time.

dream analysis
I spent many years keeping track of my dreams and making efforts to analyze them. I found it interesting to years later read Sigmund Freud's approach to dream analysis, and to see in my own many similarities - when it comes to tracing chains of association. My dreams had their own language, their own symbolism, which was particular to me as an individual, considering my own individual experiences.

drawing, painting
I would sometimes have the urge to draw or paint something, and would try to be open to what that urge was trying to tell me, besides the fact that I had no skill. I also redecorated apartments many times, and once painted murals throughout an apartment, and created my own deck of tarot cards. This was a way of accessing the unconscious, and perhaps helping to tune myself in to coincidences that would lead to a new path in life. I was very isolated, with few contacts in the outside world. I kept accessing I suppose whatever might have been stored and translated to fit my present circumstances. Also, my tarot cards linked positive associations for me, as well as words and phrase that I found positive - using the cards was a way for me to get 'feedback' when I was isolated from the world.

It could very well be that some of the ways in which I attempted to access the unconscious helped me to find relationships or directions in life - alternative directions, interesting in themselves. When you work with the unconscious, part of what occurs is that you may become more attuned to coincidences. This does not have to be an airy-fairy thing, but a way of accessing unusual information that you might have forgotten.

makeup/identity therapy (including face dancing)
I tried a lot of different hair colours and styles, and makeup styles. I also tried going without makeup or any hairstyle. I also once shaved my head. I tried goth looks. What I found through trying all of these different looks was that people do treat you differently according to your appearance. Perhaps it has something to do with how comfortable you are with a certain appearance as well, and if as a result you exhibit more confidence which in turn results in people treating you differently, but I think appearance has more of an effect on our lives than most of us realize.

I admit that I have often made myself look 'normal' in order to help myself with anxiety. Is that worse than taking meds to make your behaviour more 'normal'? But I have never been 'cool' or 'in fashion' and it is strange to me when people think I am aiming at those things. I feel like I am copping out when I settle for looking normal in public. If I look like a no-nonsense type of woman, it gives a false impression about me. I think it is better 'advertising' if I put in the effort to look like a 'freak', or to look 'inappropriate' in some way.

I accept 'face dancing' as a valid activity that is somewhat fun for me. It could be a replacement for social activity, or about a wish to receive certain types of feedback from others. But if I have a wish to appear more dramatic, controversial, interesting or attractive than I do in real life, it seems to me that it makes sense to allow myself to participate in an activity that allows that fantasy to come true. It hardly seems 'healthy' to just accept your place in life meekly if there are other options open to you.

See also: The Healing Power of Makeup

keeping food/exercise/mood diaries - analyzing them
For years I kept track of all food, exercise that I did, as well as descriptions about my feelings at the time. I figured out how many hours of exercise were necessary to make me look fit, but I also realized that even when in my 20s, I had some issues with skin elasticity that would make it impossible for me to look perfect. I could see that my emotional eating was pretty insidious and linked to every aspect of my life, but my efforts to use my will to control this or understand it were not enough, and eventually I began to question if there was some other issue - and I think now that perhaps there are genetic influences that it is very difficult to modify beyond a certain amount.

email therapy
With this I will also include how email started out: by writing to a newsgroup. I gave up on all possibility of eventual respectability, a writing career, and began to come out of the closet. It took some time, and in my first email relationship it still took me a very long time to admit I had no job, that I had genital herpes and a few other things. Now I can do those things easily.

The people I sought out seemed to turn out to represent parts of my own personality that were underdeveloped or parts of my history that I didn't understand and needed to understand in order to have a better idea about my situation as a whole.

Most often I seemed to seek out highly intelligent people who I perhaps unconsciously hoped would help me to unravel the extent to which my deathwish was based on rational and irrational factors. My email partners were very much unpaid psychologists.

The combining of two minds and two different styles of communication could often produce something very unique that helped me to reach insights I could not gain on my own.

public website therapy
This was an extension of email therapy and face dancing. It is about me taking a stand. I get the impression that most people don't understand how important my website is to me, or that they don't see it as much of anything. However, for me it is about coming out as myself. I see it as my work. I can't say that I think it will help others or add anything beneficial to the world. It's about helping me, and that is as far as I can go toward helping any part of this world. Feedback, questions, the challenging of my ideas or facts are all things I have wished to face, but I cannot force others to offer their opinions.

I have been extremely lucky in this regard. GK first made it possible for me to travel to Australia, and then we travelled together to various destinations within Australia, as well as to New Zealand and to Fiji. After that, I began to attempt to travel on my own, and eventually travelled around the world by myself.

When I agreed to travel to Australia, I wondered if I was harming my chances to ever be accepted for disability again, but it seemed to me that it was more important to take that risk and have the new experience than to live down to what was appropriate considering my position and what I had a right to expect in life.

possum therapy
The possums found me. I wasn't expecting them, I wasn't looking for them, but they became a part of my life that seems natural. Through this experience, I can sort of project how other people find the relationships, jobs, opportunities of their lives natural. I just go out and visit when the possums arrive. I do not think about anything else at the time, I just do it. I find them cute every day. I have a lot of good memories associated with possums. As for the sad things, like the death of possums or disappearances, those things are sad, and I become emotional about those things, but I am still glad to have had the other experiences. Possum lives are unpredictable, and so it is necessary to appreciate them in the moment as much as possible.

When they need my help, I try my hardest to figure out how to best give it - this in turn probably helps me.

I think that movies are also a valid form of therapy, whether they are used as escapism, a base for fantasy/imagination, or a base for thinking, questioning. I think that certain types of movies, as well as some TV shows, and music as well, produce beneficial chemical effects on the body, but in addition help to access certain emotions that remain hidden in everyday life, to help keep in touch with themes and emotions that others share, and thus to maintain something of a link to life itself.

I find getting drunk to be a beneficial activity. It eases the burden of consciousness for a time, and even makes me feel more hopeful. Having such breaks from 'reality' makes reality easier to endure. It took many years for me to turn to this as a regular 'therapy'. I tried all of the others listed here first, and probably many more as well. I realize that it is an option of last resort, but it is at times something of a consolation. If I give it up for brief periods, it is for the purpose of being able to better enjoy it when I take it up again.















comments main pagexesce.netcomments