The world turned upside down

Too many posts written in draft in my head and not made it onto the blog.

The one about waking up with a feeling of dread in my stomach and a feeling of going round in circles and yet more proof that the things you are dreading often turn out to be quiet innocuous when you face up to them (I’m getting bored of that one).

The one about things I feel guilty about, which I really shouldn’t have been contemplating on sleep deprivation, that left me feeling really nasty and with some not good images flashing into my head.

The one about how rubbish I’m feeling and how I realise I’m worried about going away – which is quite shocking, as I’ve always been quite good at that kind of thing.

The one about the boy repeatedly disturbing our sleep in the night. And the tantrums. And the advice on the things we should do about it that we have already tried. And the shock on my friends face when I told her I had already tried her helpful suggestion that very morning and it resulted in a boy shouting in my face (and in general, it’s one of my more useful strategies).

I’m not sure where to start really. I’ve been posting lots to my sewing blog. I’m never sure if this is a good sign as it means life isn’t affecting me as badly, or if it’s a bad sign that I’m avoiding things rather than facing up to them.

Anyway, I do remember an insight that I had last week. Bare with me, it’s got a little maths in, but nothing too much I hope.

Do you know what a bell curve is? A curvy symmetrical graph that statisticians are fond of, they pop up everywhere. For instance, measuring a bunch of peoples heights. At either side, the graph is very low down, which shows that there aren’t many really tall people or really short people. In the middle, the graph is at its highest point, showing that most people are average height. Ok, so, that’s not really a “proper” maths definition, but hopefully you get the gist, if you’re interested, it’s technically called “Normal distribution”.

Well, I realised, not for the first time, that I spend a lot of my life feeling like I’m stuck in the middle. For instance I don’t feel mentally well – like “everybody else” in the population at large (ok, so I know that’s a myth, but it doesn’t feel like it in day to day life) and yet when I read mental health blogs I don’t feel I’m properly ill either (I’m not on medication, never been hospitalised things like that – ok, so I know they’re not desirable things and in general I’m pleased, but it can make me feel like a fraud when I try and find support online). In sewing, I feel much larger than most of the bloggers out there and struggle to imagine what the clothes they made would look like if I wore them, but when I find blogs aimed at “curvy sewers” and read of them sizing patterns up to size 28, I feel small in comparison. In day to day life, I feel I’m a way out green hippy person compared to a lot of people I meet (e.g. we don’t have a car) but I feel like I lead a decadent unsustainable lifestyle compared to others that I know.

So, I feel stuck in the middle all the time. But it’s not the middle of a bell curve. I don’t feel like I’m in the majority. I feel like I’m most definitely in a minority, usually a minority of 1, that I’m stuck out in no man’s land. And yet, I know that things like health, body size and sustainable habits almost certainly are the kind of things that if a sample were plotted would fall in a bell curve. So why is my perception the opposite? Why, when I compare myself to the world, does my bell curve seem upside down, with me, in the middle, with the graph at rock bottom, only room for yours truly and to either side it stretches upwards, with two different lots of Them’s in large throngs some distance away from me.

Logically I know this cannot be true, but it feels so true. I don’t think I’m utterly self centred and convinced of my own uniqueness. It feels more like my perception filter has gone awry, that instead of showing me my place in the world around me it is flipping everything upside down so that I’m looking in some sort of amusement arcade mirror. And then Bitchface uses this distorted data to berate me.

So, how to fix my upside down view on the world? Stand on my head, find glasses with the right lenses, borrow the Dr’s sonic scewdriver?…..

2 thoughts on “The world turned upside down

  1. Good image, conveys vividly. Difficult feelings though, I hear that. I think it’s yet another ‘modern’ strain on wellbeing. If we all lived in hunter-gather villages not far from where we grew up, which is what our brains are set up for in terms of environment of evolutionary adaptation, we wouldn’t have the challenge of living in-between so many competing value systems and having to make so many cultural choices for ourselves. There would be one value system which was probably if we were fortunate also broadly in harmony with the ecological setting we lived in, not devastating to it. As it is I think we face the social strain of a fragmented culture every day, as well as being immersed in an ecologically destructive culture-at-large.

    Also, sorry to hear about boy and tantrums and unhelpful advice. Hope you find peaceful ways forward soon.

    Glad you are sewing. Even if it is an escape it’s a production and constructive one. I think it’s ok to use work (even unpaid ‘hobby’ work, I’m a big fan of the productive domestic economy) as an escape from the grind, in moderation i.e. as long as sleeping, eating, and other responsibilities not entirely ignored 😉 Lovely things on the sewing blog! I’m aiming to get unstuck with my own sewing again at some point.

    • Thanks Alice, I was unsure that the description in my post would make sense to anyone but me, I couldn’t seem to articulate it clearly, so I’m pleased it made sense to someone. I have actually successfully used this idea to reason with myself when I was feeling wound up “come on, this is surely a normal distribution thing, so being in the middle, that is the average place to be, stop flipping the graph upside down” only once, but it’s a start!

      My sewing has stalled this week. But partly that’s because I’m not prioritising it over other stuff. Starting to get itchy to get back to it now though. I have something cut out and waiting to go (so the jobs I don’t like are over, just the fun stuff to do) sitting on the shelf….

      Your comments about our brains having to cope with competing value systems make a lot of sense to me.

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