The Quintessential Downward Spiral and the Crushing Grip it Commands

Yes, that title was unnecessarily wordy and perhaps even- dare I say- pretentious. Here you are reading it, however, so maybe there’s something alluring about the word quintessential – a word I don’t think I’ve ever spoken aloud, even through the host of presentations given in a previous life which aimed to impress my audience, but often fell short of that mark. Maybe if I’d used words like quintessential more often during my visually pleasing, yet admittedly dry PowerPoint presentations, I would have progressed further in my career and not became the miserable “Smeagol-esque” creature whose words are temporarily occupying your attention.

That brings me to the topic I ponder for the evening; though, truthfully it’s been dragging me down more and more lately. The “downward spiral”- and I’m not referring to the NIN album which ironically catapulted Trent Reznor’s musical career to a whole new level of success. I’m talking about my own personal downward spiral, and how it is so very difficult to escape. It’s a phenomenon which is one of the cruelest tragedies fate has to offer. Painful as it is to experience, it can be equally as hurtful to sit by and watch helplessly as your loved one is caught in this vortex. Your words, the strongest of your efforts, your tears, and love which would otherwise move mountains is often not enough to save the ones unfortunate enough to be caught in the grip of this nightmare.

Now some of you may be thinking to yourselves Dude, do you think you could be any more overdramatic? Shit happens, bro! Activate your testicles, and drive on- emo was so 2000’s! To them I say, Dude, do you think you could be any more simplistically judgemental? Shit- as the bumper sticker has indeed plainly stated- clearly happens to all of us humans; but sometimes some particularly difficult shit hits us at a time when we are vulnerable, which leaves us exposed and prone to even more shit, which before you know it has snowballed into a pile of shit which has become hopelessly unmanageable! Now if you don’t find yourself aligned with the former reader’s line of thought, then I would imagine that even if you haven’t personally gone through a downward spiral yourself, you can identify with my words because you have been unfortunate enough to watch a friend or loved one struggle through such an ordeal. I think there is nothing so painful as being unable to steer the one you care so deeply for away from their demise, as they knowingly plummet to the bottom. Sadly, the only person who ultimately holds the reigns in that situation is… well, the person in the spiral!

Great so I’ve exposed a phenomenon which did not need exposing, since it’s some fucking unstoppable force or whatever. Perhaps…. but why does this happen though? I can only accurately speak for myself in this matter.

I will freely admit that I’m like hella chronically depressed. I have some theories on what the root cause of that depression is, but maybe I’ll explore that another time. For the time being, that is a factor which comprises my being- for better or worse. That, in and of itself, may be the short and simplified reason as to why I’m caught in a spiral. My brain doesn’t currently produce the right combination of dopamine/serotonin or whatever to be resilient enough to bounce back from failures and adversity; as such, each setback in life prevents me from moving forward.

I wasn’t always like this though. So my own state of “not-giving-a-fuckness” was brought on by circumstantial factors. By the way, feel free to throw the term circumstantial factors out there in your day-to-day conversation just to see what kind of reaction you receive. It’s bound to raise an eyebrow or two during your routine dialog with peers and such.


*** Two days later… ***


So what was I rambling about? My downward spiral? Yeah, it simply represents a lack of resilience in one’s character. I believe I am being objective in saying that it is also a byproduct of low self esteem or confidence. There’s no one size fits all formula for this problem- at least Google hasn’t gone public with it yet- but generally it is those factors (depression, lack of resilience, low self-esteem) married with a series of unfortunate events which result in the person losing any and all hope in life. I used to care about my appearance, how much money I made, what kind of car I drove, you know, all that materialistic bullshit that is indoctrinated into American children’s lives from the moment they can be plopped in a stationary bouncer in front of a glowing screen, on through until they die of cardiovascular problems brought on by McDonalds and insurmountable credit card debt and student loans.

But hey, if anyone’s actually reading this, please share your thoughts! Have you been caught in this downward spiral phenomenon, but live to tell the tale? If so, how did you escape? Have you been unfortunate enough to see a loved one go through this ordeal? Please comment below, so your misery can be distributed amongst us.

Advertisements

The Foundation

So at the risk of sounding like a complete buffoon- I’m already resigned to being a partial buffoon- I will ponder what can be scavenged from Erik Erikson’s theories on developmental Psychology, and compare them to my own childhood experiences. Hopefully, though with some degree of skepticism, I can analyze the events of my life and come to some sort of understanding of how I came into my current predicament, so maybe I can attempt to pick up the pieces of this fucking disaster that my life has become. I mean, for Christ’s sake, a year ago I probably would’ve been quick to succumb to the folly of moral judgement upon the person I am today. What am I today? I’ll get around to that, but if I were to throw a label on me, I think most people understand what a junkie is right? You remember that commercial, nobody ever says I wanna be a junkie when I grow up? I still haven’t met anyone who contradicts that paradigm, so kudos to you, 80’s anti drug campaign, you hit the nail on the head. Too bad the actual policy has been a dismal failure- I don’t mention that often enough in this blog, do I?

So I guess that Erikson thought the first stage of development for infants revolved around two outcomes based on his conflict model which he used throughout his whole developmental roadmap, so to speak. The first challenge encountered is trust vs. mistrust, which, in my opinion, is irrelevant in my case. I don’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I was nurtured enough by my mom. I won’t go into to much detail, since well, I was a fuckin baby- nothing exciting going on there. You all have heard those stories about fucking neglected babies growing up with serious issues integrating into society. Shit, maybe some of you are living through that kind of existence right now- in which case, you can discuss that with your therapist, or continue your successful career as a high-functioning, corporate executive psychopath in upper management. You may never experience love, but you have the ability to completely destroy other people’s lives, without those pesky emotions like guilt or empathy to weigh you down.

I don’t know how much truth rings in Erikson’s developmental psychology model, but he believed that if at any of the stages of development, there is an outcome which results in, well, I’ll use the word failure to overcome that stage’s challenge, there is a corresponding virtue which is not developed. In the first stage, for example, the virtue of hope is carried on throughout life if you were coddled enough as baby.

To that I say…. mehhh. Maybe, maybe not. There is definitely some situations where this has proven to be true, and it seems to fit with most people’s lives. I welcome any opinions on Erickson’s model of development. Please comment and share your thoughts and experiences. No judgements here on my end, just curiosity. Thanks for reading, I’ll probably explore this topic further in coming posts.