minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. XIII

    It's #ChristmasEve .

    So, in other words, I figured now was as good a time as any to talk about one of the aspects of my play that I haven't talked about as much, but has influenced much of my worldview:

    Why I'm an #Atheist .

    While there are other reasons, such as my family background and my general inclination toward trusting modern science over blind faith in a book written two thousand years ago, a big part of it was also the fact that I was born with the #MentalHealth problems I've often discussed before in my writing.

    After all, why would a good and caring God like the one often described give me #SocialAnxiety , a #MoodDisorder that fuels ongoing #Depression , and #AspergersSyndrome , while allowing me to go through so many miserable events in my teen years, and to leave me feeling down and alone in life even at a time where I should be feeling like I'm in the time of my life.

    To put it simply, if God is good and he does exist, why did he spend the past decade trying SO hard to make me kill myself?

    I tend to think of myself as pretty respectful of those with other points of view on #Religion , even if I think they are wrong. Many of my friends are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and even Wiccan, in addition to atheists and agnostics.

    However, too much of my own life experience has showed me there's little reason to believe in any higher power that's controlling my own life, and even if he (or she?) did exist, I'd see little reason to worship any form of authority responsible for making my life feel the way it has...even if it did mean burning in the pits of Hell, as the Christians would tell you.

    Having said all that, I'll be totally honest and say I still have every intention of celebrating with my relatives tonight, because I could use a good excuse for some time off with family before advancing my show any further. (Christmas is really a Pagan holiday, anyway.)

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. XII

    "Do people like me?"

    I'll admit, I get a bit pre-occupied - perhaps way more than I should - with that question, from time to time.

    It's a big reason why I often get #anxious in social situations, to the point where I'm always overthinking what I should say, am second guessing how I said something, or am often too nervous to initiate conversation with someone new, in the first place.

    But within the past two years, I've started reconsidering that question a bit more.

    As a writer, respect for me and my work is always something I value, of course. But as far as being liked is concerned, you learn quickly that you're not going to be everyone's cup of tea...and that's okay!

    If you're someone who wants to be honest and open with yourself and others about who you are - as both a writer and person - than you will have to realize that some people will never like you, no matter what you do, and the ones who like you for who you really are will be the only ones who are ultimately worth your time, in the end. That's more or less what being a writer has helped teach me, as far as it relates to anxiety, as far as I'm concerned.

    Of course, I still want to overcome my #SocialAnxiety so I can have an easier time in social settings and making new friends, and in recent years, I do feel like I've made some progress on that.

    But the second you let go of the aforementioned question, the easier that gets, I'm starting to realize more and more as an adult.

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. XI

    It's #Thanksgiving next week.

    My favorite holiday of the year, and not just because of food and family. It's also because it allows me time to stop and think about what I should be #thankful for, which I don't often allow myself to do.

    It's easy for me to focus on the #depressing things that go on in my life, even when I know deep down that I have a lot going for me in my life.

    Why am I not doing even BETTER in terms of my professional writing career, even if I'm doing fairly good?

    How come I'm not still in touch with the few friends I had left back home in CT, and what could I have done to have fixed that?

    Why is it soo fucking hard to make new friends, and what do people say and think about me while I'm not in the room?

    And yeah, while it's not high on my list of priorities in life right now, it's a LITTLE bit depressing to think that there are more and more people my age and younger who are getting MARRIED, while I'm still single.

    I'm definitely my own worst critic, when it comes to my personal life.

    But for whatever reason, it always helps me tone down that normal #Anxiety I have about my own life, and look at the glass half full rather than half empty, so to speak, when I stop and reflect about all the positive in my life - which I won't repeat here, since I do enough of that on my personal blog and social media - and think about how thankful I really am for that, and how despite how I might feel about it from time to time, my life isn't that bad, after all.

    For that reason, if nothing else but that and getting to enjoy a nice meal (that isn't pizza, for once! Ahh, city life) with family, I'm quite looking forward to another Thanksgiving.

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. X

    It’s been over three years since she died.

    Three years later, and just now, am I really starting to reflect on her death, and the impact she had on me in life.

    At the time of her #Death , I have to be honest, and say that I didn’t do a good job at processing the news, or at opening up in an honest way about how I still felt about her, even after all the ups and downs of our on-again/off-again relationship. Hell, I didn’t even write a quick post on Facebook.

    But the play I’ve written, the production process of which is now in full-swing, has triggered memories of her in a way that I haven’t thought about since before her #Loss . I simply wrote about what happened in life as I wrote the play, but truthfully, it’s as I’m producing it that I’ve really begun to finally absorb and assess it all.

    She was the only person I knew who I was in #Love with who truly seemed to feel the same way. She was one of the rare few who could see me as something other than the weird, oddball artsy friend in the group. Most importantly, after my years of severe #Depression and #Anxiety fueled by the trauma of my high school years, she was among those who helped me realize that it was possible for me to make friends and to trust people again, which still inspires me today.

    Not that things were always good between us. We had our arguments and differences, and I’ll admit that maybe I’m placing her a BIT of a pedestal. After all, while much of it was because of my own immature behavior some time after our last breakup, we didn’t exactly end on the best note.

    Still, I wish we did end things on a good note, even if it were just as friends. The fact that we didn't will always haunt me.

    Now she’s gone, and I never got to fully express to her what she still meant to me. I never got to say thank you for making me happy, and for making me feel like I didn’t have to try too hard to feel like a person of worth. I never realized just how lonely I’d be, without her in this world. Even writing this down is still hard for me.

    Part of me ever wonders if I’ll ever find someone else like her again. I don’t know if I will…

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. IX

    I think about #Death a lot.

    Or at least, I think about it more than is probably healthy for a 25 year old man who, at least on the surface, would think is doing rather well in life.

    Then again, it probably wasn’t that healthy for me when I was a teenager or college student, when I thought about the topic even more frequently than I do as a graduate out in the so-called “real world”.

    To be clear, this doesn’t mean that I’m #suicidal .

    What it DOES mean, however, is that I think about what impact I had on others in life, and what reaction – if any – my death would inspire in others. Whether we like it or not, that seems to be when lots of people really only take the time to think about what someone did or didn’t mean to them, when they were alive: After they’re gone.

    Who would respond with even a degree of sadness…or anything else besides indifference?

    Who would miss me, besides the obvious answers of my parents and a couple other family members?

    How many people would even bother going to my funeral?

    Or even just to write a Facebook post acknowledging my existence?

    These are the things that are constantly in the back of my mind, and they constantly are a big part of what motivates me to do better in life, so by the time it’s all said and done, I’ll have made some difference in this world. I know maybe that all sounds like a bit of a self-absorbed concern to have, but hey, that’s a big part of what motivates me to keep going. Dare I say it, it’s part of why I haven’t ended it all yet, 10 years after the darkest depths of my teenage #Depression .

    Whether we acknowledge it in our day to day lives or not, NOBODY wants to feel like their life is meaningless, certainly not by the time they reach the end.

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. VIII

    So earlier this week, we had auditions for my upcoming show. We had many talented actors come and go throughout our two audition dates, to the point where my show’s director and I were left discussing some hard decisions over who would make the cut.

    Along the way, it reminded me of how I got involved in the arts, and the days when I was on the other side of that table, being judged and critiqued in the hopes of being accepted, and of finding an artistic home and community during my darkest days of #Depression and #SuicidalThoughts .

    During my teen years, when I first got involved in acting, it was a means of helping me cope with – if not escape from – the reality I dealt with of my own life, and the bullying, anxiety, and isolation that came with it. At the time, while I admittedly wasn’t as good of a writer then, writing poetry and short stories were also a similarly helpful means of getting through difficult times, during that same period in my life.

    Both theatre and writing are still things that help me today, as a playwright in 2018. Whenever I have a shitty day, or even if I have a good day and don’t know why I’m feeling down, my work as a playwright – not even the successes I’ve had careerwise, but just the creative process behind it – has been incredibly therapeutic for me, and has also helped give me purpose in my life, as I seek to find both a sense of community and an outlet for coping with the messes of my life.

    My point of saying everything here is this: #Art and #Theatre is something that has helped me greatly, and I firmly believe in its ability to help others, as well, including those who are still active as actors today. It’s something I try and keep in mind all the time, throughout my current journey as a playwright, and as I continue on this journey – hopefully raising further awareness for #MentalHealth issues along the way – we’ll see where it takes me...

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. VII

    From high school to college, if I had to describe what was affecting me most throughout my life, it would be the mental illness trio of #Anxiety disorder, a #MoodDisorder causing frequent #Depression , and #Aspergers syndrome.

    But if there’s any one thing that’s persisted most into my adulthood, it’s my social anxiety, and the crippling affect it’s had on my ability to not only make new #friendships and #Relationships , but to sustain old ones.

    As I’ve stated before, new #Friends are hard to make because it always feels awkward for me to go up and start a conversation with someone new, worrying what that person might think of me, and even when someone else initiates the conversation, I worry about saying the wrong thing in my head, which leads me to pause and think too long about what I have to say, which only makes me more visibly anxious.

    However, as my new play might explain, it hasn’t always been easy for me to sustain old friendships, too. Whether it be a result of me being afraid to reach out again as time passes, or a result of a misunderstanding that was exacerbated by my anxiety and Asperger’s, I’ve gone through one chapter of my life after another where this has been the case, and it’s left me feeling a lingering sense of loneliness and sadness that is still with me today.

    I’m always trying to do better at that, and to make new friends. But it’s not as easy for me, as it is for others, for multiple reasons. I do want to get better at this, though. That’s what I have ended realizing toward this stage of my life. We can talk all we want about how we don’t care what others think of us, and how we all want to do our own thing, and have that be true, while also realizing that we – as corny and cheesy as it might sound – that we all want to be loved and wanted in life, and to know that we have people in our lives who would care, should the worst happen to us…or if we’re simply on the verge of that happening.

    Hopefully, the more open I get – whether it’s through my new play, or even the writing I’m doing here – to easier it will get to do better at that…assuming it’s not already too late, at this stage in my life…

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. VI

    Back toward the end of my #College career, I used to drink about two or three gallons of coffee per day, at a minimum. I don’t drink quite that much today, but it’s still quite a bit.

    Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I just stopped.

    If I no longer had a caffeine #Addiction , perhaps my #Anxiety levels would go down a bit, sure. But at the same time, I also wonder if it would leave me more tired than I usually am, to the point that I’d practically be a zombie (assuming I got out of bed AT ALL) due to the exhaustion that my frequent episodes of #Depression have often left me in.

    I mean, hey, it’s not like I also drink excessive amounts of #Alcohol anymore, like I also did toward the end of college. Nor do I currently have any other addictions to anything you can reasonably call #Drugs . Indeed, I consider excessive #Caffeine a lesser of many evils.

    Still, in the play all about my #MentalHealth and #socialproblems I’ve written, the first scene (not counting the prologue) revolves around my addiction to coffee, and how I’ve come to rely on in to function in my day to day life, most especially with regards to anything resembling a social setting. That is kinda telling about what I really think about it, isn't it?

    Now, am I saying I should totally quite caffeine? Probably not. That wouldn’t be pretty to see from me, and I admittedly rely somewhat on the effects of caffeine to help me keep writing, as well.

    But still, it’d be nice to think that maybe I could do with less, one day, and still be able to not have to worry about being tired and exhausted with life all the time, a side effect that I worry would be amplified without the caffeine that keeps me energized throughout each day.

    Ironically, I’m typing this very post right now, as I sip from my most recent cup of coffee…

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. V

    As those who follow my writing know by now, “A Therapy Session with Myself” – which is inspired by my struggles with #Anxiety , episodes of #Depression , and having #AutismSpectrumDisorder - is set to become my first full-length play to be produced in January, after having started writing the first draft just over three years ago, and spent the time since writing and perfecting it.

    I still remember the first time I showed any of the early drafts to anyone, and just how nervous I was when it happened. It was my mom, whom I showed either the 2nd or 3rd draft to in the summer of ’17, because I wanted her blessing before submitting the play anywhere, and to explain to her why I wrote it.

    So what did I tell her?

    I told her that I wrote it with the intention of fueling a conversation about the illnesses that I’ve had to live with during my day to day life, and maybe gets them to think differently and reassess prior preconceptions they might have had…and it’s true, when I say that the best way I can raise awareness for the issues I care about is by being open about my own personal experiences from high school and college.

    But more than that, though, if I’m being honest: It was simply a pure statement of expression. Lately, I’ve been fond of telling people I’m a better writer than a speaker, and I think it’s true that my writing is far more eloquent than 90% of the sentences that actually come out of my mouth. It’s been just as much a cathartic experience as it was an artistic experience. The creative process behind the play itself was, in a sense, a “therapy session with myself”.

    Yet I’d be lying if I said that each time I presented my work to another person, I wasn’t nervous. After all, this play is as personal as I’ve gotten in my writing, and it doesn’t all make me out to look great. I thought my perspective on life and on mental health and autism was one that could be potentially helpful and thought-provoking, but it’s been an emotional ride, both writing it and preparing for it to be seen and heard by others.

    I can’t control what people think of my writing, just as I can’t control what people think of any aspect of me. But no matter what, I’m proud I’ve written this play, and I’m proud that I’ll have the chance to share my story early next year, and hopefully shine a light on how mental illness has affected my life.

    That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway, because if I’m being honest, I’m still a bit nervous over how people will respond to it.

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself

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    Mini Therapy Sessions with Myself - Vol. IV

    Usually, when people ask me “what’s it like to have #autism”, I give them an answer along the lines of “I don’t know, because I don’t know what it’s like to NOT have autism.”

    So needless to say, writing a play about my life growing up as a young man with #ASD has been an experience, to say the least.

    But what did I learn from it, you might ask?

    I’ve said before to some people, it’s generally helped me be more objective while reflecting on my own past life situation.

    But more than that, I’m just now starting to think that it’s given me an idea of what the answer to the question often posed to me might be:

    At least, one answer, anyway, might be the fact that I have a hard time reading certain social cues that might be more obvious to others, which makes it difficult for me to figure out how to quickly respond to others in certain situations.

    Furthermore, it’s led me to think a big reason my social anxiety has gotten as bad as it is may be because I get nervous that my difficulty in responding to certain situations, even the simplest ones, will lead me to say the wrong thing or come off dumb, if not bad. After all, who wouldn’t be afraid of that, especially if they’re trying to make new friends and present themselves as likable, if not respectable, in their life?

    That’s just a bit of what I’ve taken away from this writing experience, anyway. I hope maybe other people will learn some things about what it might be like to grow up on the autism spectrum, after seeing my play, as well. That’s a big part of why I wrote it, after all…

    #minitherapysessionswithmyself