Harry Potter and the Smoking Chalice of Guilt

by Purple Wyrm on January 22, 2006

OK, no real updates for months and months. This is entirely my fault as I will attempt to explain below. If you don’t feel like an in depth explanation of what the hell is wrong with me, please feel free to skip down to where I start carrying on about Harry Potter in my usual flippant and idiosyncratic style.

Anyway, why I haven’t managed a proper update in ages. The problem is, frankly, one that affects every aspect of my life and at times I’m sure makes me an extremely frustrating person to deal with. It’s one of motivation – a serious issue with the things that motivate me to actually do things instead of just sleep all day.

Normal people out there seem to be motivated by a variety of things. Money, praise, prestige, concern for their fellow man, a sense of personal achievement, power, doughnuts and the promise of more doughnuts, etc. I on the other hand am not moved by such thing. The only things that get me up and going, and making an effort are Guilt and Terror.

Guilt over not doing things that I think I have an obligation to do, and Terror at what would happen if I didn’t do the things I have to do.

Work for instance. I get up in the morning and go into work not because I love what I do (actually I do love what I do – mess around with computers – but I’d like to do it on my own terms for my own goals rather than for eight hours a day, five days a week for idiot clients), but because the company (by which I mean my boss and my fellow workers) gave me a job and put up with me on a daily basis. Hence I feel obligated to go in every day whether I really want to or not – and would be consumed by guilt if I didn’t.

From the terror angle there’s the terror that if I didn’t go in I’d lose my job, have no way to pay my mortgage and end up out on the street. So this combines with the guilt to drag me out of bed, into the shower and out the door every morning – even though most days I feel like phoning in and asking Bevan to tell my clients where they can shove their updates.

So I spend my days riddled with guilt about the past, and terror about the future. Cheery eh? Well it gets worse.

If for some reason I don’t quickly deal with something that’s making me guilty, the guilt continues to build until it reaches a threshold beyond which the sheer gut-churning horror of it is just completely unbearable. So rather than deal with the horror face on I find myself avoiding it, generally by pushing it out of my mind entirely, and things tend not to get done.

And worse than that it’s contagious. If there’s something I’m avoiding thinking about because of the monstrous guilt associated with it, I can’t think about anything related to it either, because that’ll remind me of it. So I end up with these great trees of related projects and ideas that I can’t think about or complete because even thinking about them for a second feels like a hard sharp kick in the gut.

Real word example – Abandoned in Perth. While I was in the UK (not long after setting up the site) I got an email from a girl back in Perth who was doing an arts degree based around urban exploration and abandoned sites. Once I got back we exchanged quite a few emails on the subject and she even ended up including a few bits of my emails in a performance piece she put on at the Verge. Then (not long after I explored the South Fremantle power station on her recommendation) she sent me an email which I was too busy to reply to for about a week. Then something else happened that meant I didn’t have the time to reply for another week and a half – by which point my guilt over ignoring her had hit the threshold and I couldn’t deal with it. The reply never got written and she (understandably) didn’t write again.

But – because the site and urban exploration in general now bring all of that guilt rushing back – I haven’t even been able to think about doing any updates. And so the site is essentially dead. Well done me.

(By the way, if you happen to be reading this Alexis, I’m sorry.)

Now, no doubt all this is some kind of well defined anxiety disorder that I should probably seek treatment for. The problem however (apart from the fact that without guilt and terror to motivate me I would happily stay in bed all day and lose my job) is that there’s only two types of treatment for this kind of thing. SSRIs and CBT.

SSRIs are Selective Seretonin Re-uptake Inhibitors, or (to put it in English) Prozac. I have been on Prozac in the past – for about four months back in 1999 – and while it did make me feel a lot more relaxed and happy about life it had some very deleterious side effects. For a start my IQ seemed to plummet by about 50 points*As a side note my IQ is up around 150 normally so if my estimate of the impact is correct, then me on Prozac equals the average person on the street. If this is the case then I can see why the world is in such a damn mess most of the time.. I just couldn’t seem to think properly. And on top of that I had absolutely no motivation to do anything. My days consisted of getting up, having breakfast, pottering around the house achieving nothing, having lunch, pottering, watching some TV, eating dinner, watching some more TV and going to bed (I was unemployed at the time, God knows what would have happened if I’d been working).

CBT on the other hand is Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which is a technique of monitoring one’s thoughts – suppressing negative ideation and such – until the monitoring becomes automatic and you don’t have to think about it any more. A nice idea, but I’m far too deeply cynical for it to have the faintest effect. The whole thing reeks of sticking one’s head in the sand and whistling a happy tune while Rome burns (to recklessly mix metaphors). It’s making believe that things are wonderful so hard that you delude yourself into thinking they are wonderful, even when they’re not. And my brain won’t let me do that.

So, fundamentally I’m screwed.

In any case that’s why my weblog and assorted websites (Abandoned in Perth, Tales of the Geek Underclass, the Beginners Guide to Zurvar etc) haven’t been updated in ages. I’m hoping that doing a public mea culpa like this will relieve enough of the guilt for me to get back to them. Or at least make me sleep a bit better at night 🙂

So, onto other subjects.

I finally got around to reading Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince yesterday. I was planning to wait until it comes out in paperback but the temptation got to be too much. That and I’d been inadvertently picking up spoilers from time to time, and decided I’d better read the damn thing before I figured out the entire plot. So I bought a copy while killing time at the Morley Galleria (I’d set off a bunch of cockroach bombs and couldn’t risk going home for two hours without poisoning myself) and ended up staying up until midnight finishing it.

That Snape eh? You can never figure out what he’s up to. I’m still not entirely convinced he’s gone back to the dark side though, even if he did do in Dumbledore. I mean Dumbledore could well have been fatally poisoned anyway and Snape just decided to give him a quick and merciful death while scoring some major points with Voldemort. If he’s actually dead that is. He could be – J.K’s a good enough author to kill people off when necessary without pulling rabbits out of hats to save them – but if Dumbledore did make a reappearance it wouldn’t surprise me.

On top of all that there’s some other stuff I enjoyed. Like Tonks and Lupin. That’s sweet. I have to admit to falling for Tonks a bit*Insomuch as one can fall for an entirely fictional character. back in Order of the Phoenix, so it’s nice to see her get together with someone. Then there’s the opening chapter which very neatly sums up the exact relationship between the Ministry and the Muggle Government. We get a whole lot more information on Tom Riddle – including what the heck was going on with his diary, and Moaning Myrtle (always one of my favourite minor characters) puts in a couple of appearances too. So it’s a pretty enjoyable read all up. Moreso than Phoenix anyway, which (Tonks not withstanding) could have stood to lose a few chapters.

Still on the subject of Harry Potter, Ryan and I went and saw Goblet of Fire the other week. He actually wanted to see the Narnia movie, but I still haven’t got over my sense of betrayal from figuring out what the Narnia books are all about and am refusing to see it by way of protest. There wasn’t much else on so we ended up going with Goblet. I quite enjoyed it, although (even with all the stuff that was cut) it was still a bit long. If anything about it disappointed me it was the Quidditch World Cup – there’s all the build up, the teams fly in… and then you’re back in the Weasley tent with it all over – what the heck was that? I dunno, maybe I’m just a Quidditch tragic (I can’t stand sport – watching or playing – as a general rule. But if Quidditch was real I would so be into it *grin*)

I don’t know what Ryan thought of it, he’s never read the book and if I’d never read the book I would have been confused as hell. A lot of the establishing detail was left out, presumably because they needed to cut as much as possible due to time constraints and anyone going to see could be presumed to have read the book. But still – a movie should really be able to stand on its own I think.

Oh, and Cho Chang has a Scottish accent. How about that then?

After the movie we headed up to Fabian’s place and hung out till midnight not doing a heck of a lot and then dropped into the Fast Eddie’s at Morley for an extremely late dinner around 1:00am. A good night, and probably the latest I’ve stayed out in ages (I’m very sad aren’t I?)

Hmmm, there’s tons of other stuff I should write about, I mean in the last six months two of my best friends have got married (not to each other, I’m talking about two separate weddings – and have probably just mortally insulted their spouses by suggesting they’re not my best friends…) four of my best friends have got married and I haven’t said anything about it – so expect some wedding round ups shortly. I’ve also (thanks to one of said best friends who’s best friend status is currently undergoing review as a consequence *grin*) just got involved in something… well something different anyway which I may or may not write about at some point in the future. It’s all a bit of a pain at the moment to be frank, not because of what they did, but because they managed to screw up what they did in a very clever and intricate way that I now have to sort out, but I’ve done what’s needed and hopefully it should all run smoothly from here. Hopefully. We’ll see.

Anyway that’s probably the most I’ve written in months so I figure I should go and have a lie down now. Staying up until midnight reading Harry Potter can really take it out of you *grin*)

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