Just as I think I can understand what makes my brain tick, and days like this come along to remind me that my subconscious is an elusive enemy as well as ally.
I had slept extraordinarily well, and felt really relaxed all morning. After lunch, I put a chair outside in the porch and sat in the warm sun, as happy as a bunny. At 2:30, as planned, I walked to the park to take photographs of my friends playing football (http://www.cardiffphotos.co.uk/RoathFootball.php). I talked with one who was again struggling with the effects of his diabetes. I tried to enquire and help, was clumsy, and he attacked my ignorance, with some, but not complete justification. It got heated as my emotions engaged. They can ignite very fast. He walked off and refused to speak to me.
I spent an hour photographing, engaging myself so that I might forget this negative engagement. But my emotions were still highly inflamed, and remained so until later evening.
As far as my understanding of my brain, and in particular the amygdalae (the emotional centres of the brain) go, and my OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) nature, my emotions can trigger rapidly. But the main problem is that the emotions remain unchecked because the feedback loop to calm them down is weak. So I have to distract myself for hours and hours before the emotions calm.
I call this emotional hijacking, and it is terribly debilitating, as if there were a sulking child in your head, never letting go. For myself, and many others similarly affected, it is also terribly easy to blame yourself. And I do. But I realised today that the perpetuation of the emotions is categorically not caused by repeated thinking or sulking. The emotions can trigger thoughts about the cause of the emotion. But this is in the reverse direction – it is the hijacker seeking perpetuation of emotion, not thoughts that inflame the emotion.
As I spent that hour taking photographs, I focused mentally and physically on the football, yet at the end, the emotion were still red raw. One of my sisters flares up as I do, but resets extremely easily. It is just bad wiring on my part.
Or is it?
In this instance, very much so – I felt quite depressed by early evening (but one “Uncle Buck” film later, I feel relaxed and calm) – but there are occasions when the lingering emotions are truly welcome. That first kiss when I was a schoolboy held my emotions captive for the remainder of the day. I was in a blissful state, and that it faded slowly was wonderful.
But given a choice, I would prefer that the wiring to calm my emotions down when inflamed were more normal in its operation, because, you see, it is not the emotional journey that I have to suffer, but the vulnerability to others in such a prone state. And humans can be very callous when they see someone suffering. Even friends.