13 July 2012

What makes me who I am?

What makes you who you are? Is it your thought patterns? Is it a cumulation of your experiences? Maybe it is the environment you were raised in? Or is it a composite of all the things you believe about yourself and the world around you? Is it a combination of the chemistry and electricity in your brain? Or a combination of the genetics from your parents? All of it? And how much can be reasonably expected to be under your control?

The Empowerplus I take has changed some of my thinking in (what I think is) a subtle but powerful way. I was raised to be very judgmental of everything and everyone. To go with the judgment is a large dose of paranoia and anxiety. 

As an example of judgment I would get very upset with people for not doing things right (wearing a grad cap incorrectly, stacking wet dishes in a messy way, not disciplining her child as I saw fit, exposing too much skin, dressing in an unflattering way, etc.). I would have this horrible need to correct people's behaviour and control them, to show them how to do things right. That need is gone. I'm still judgmental, that hasn't gone away completely, but I am surprised at how much I just 'let be' now. I didn't realize how much it had changed in me until my sister commented on the grad's caps at the ceremony for T. It hit me then that I am simply not bothered by people's behaviour nearly as much any more. 

And that got me thinking...I am also not as paranoid any more. I've never been the kind of paranoid that requires a tin foil helmet but instead the kind that puts negative events together and draws conclusions based only on those facts...and whatever 'facts' my brain supplies. Like if my labels aren't done at work a week ahead of time by my boss then she must be sabotaging my success by not letting me plan ahead. Or S has a password on his phone because he's locking me out. Or if I don't get a mass reply from my sisters in (what I thought was) a reasonable time frame then they must be talking about me behind my back. 

Now I don't feel quite so much like people are out to get me. Maybe my boss hasn't done her side of the work because she has too much work to do. S's phone was password protected because the guys he works with have been known to grab someone's phone and download porn as wallpaper...and S is the kind of guy to show me the password and hand me the phone for inspection if I ask. And if my sisters don't answer me, maybe it's because they actually have their own busy lives and it is taking a while to find the energy for replies.

The paranoia isn't gone exactly but it's easier to stop the thought process in my head by asking "is that really true? Do I have all the facts? Why don't I just ask the person what's going on." And that somehow shuts up the suspicious voice in my head...but it didn't work before Empowerplus. The voice was louder than reason.

And anxiety! Oh my goodness my whole life was spent in fear of everything. Literally! I was terrified of dressing wrong, behaving inappropriately, being out of control, raising my boys poorly, being a lazy employee, confronting anyone or anything, not being supportive, being too paranoid (infinity loop: I was frightened of being too paranoid so I'd be paranoid that I'm afraid too much which would make me scared of the paranoia that would cause me to start feeling paranoid that my fear had no basis...), not being pretty enough, being too pretty and causing the wrong reaction in people, my spouse/kids behaving 'wrong', liking the wrong tv show, etc. And that's not even getting into any really personal areas like sex...nope, not going there :)

Since the Empowerplus I find that anxiety ball has calmed down significantly. I no longer care if people don't like my clothes or that I have some beer/alcohol on the weekends. If someone doesn't like my behaviour or the amount of support or whatever, it's just not my problem. There are still things I have a hard time with (like going back to school or confronting my boss) but overall things are just easier when I don't worry about them so much.

So having said all that...what makes me who I am? The medicine has changed my brain chemistry and thereby changed my attitudes and thinking. Am I a different person now? No. Oddly. I'm still me just...without so much...static? And how much about myself and my thinking do I have the ability to change or control? I read about thinking positive and changing my beliefs to succeed but no matter what I say I can't seem to convince my brain to change. It's like talking to someone in a different language - no matter what you say or how loud you say it, they may never understand what you are saying. And yet the Empowerplus was able to alter my thinking patterns and beliefs in some pretty fundamental ways.

Now I wonder if my mom had taken the same medicine, would she have killed herself? Would she have been released from the hold paranoia and anxiety had over her? Would she have been less crippled by perceived judgment? Who was my mom without these things? I will never know.

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