The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Self-Medication - The Results

One of the things I love about people is the sheer variety and diversity of opinions, outlook and coping mechanisms, and yet at the same time I am guilty of falling into an age old trap of assuming underneath it all everyone else is just like me. It was Dr Maroon who first pointed out to me this particular character trait of mine, although to be fair we were deep in conversation about his own solipsism at the time.

So, when I created the poll for the last post, What’s Your Medication? I knew full well that there would be a variety of responses. However, what I was also reminded of was not everyone has mental health or personality problems that lead them to self-medicate.

Of course everyone has off days, everyone has problems they wish they didn’t have to deal with and everyone gets down every now and then. But not everyone gets constant bouts of such extreme emotional pain that they regularly have to look for ways to try and dull that pain in order to just be able to reach the end of the day no matter how damaging it is in the long term.

I have to confess I’ve always slightly suspected that everyone is completely screwed up, but the world is split into a) those have psychological problems and b) those who are in denial.

However, judging by the number of people who said that reading a good book, going for a brisk walk, or just having a sharp word with themselves actually works, I think this could just be me projecting my own neuroses onto the rest of the population. For me, those solutions are rather like offering a sticky plaster (band aid) to someone who has just had a limb severed.

Clearly then, not everyone who frequents this blog is as screwed up as I am, even if I do think that one or two of you just haven’t accepted that your dedication to fitness is as pathological as my wife’s dedication to home baking.

So, on to the results – taken at 2.30pm on Tuesday 9th October

With 75 votes and 35 separate commenters, it looks like there are more lurkers than I realised, unless everyone has voted at least twice. A poll of this size isn’t big enough to draw global conclusions on the state of the human condition, but it does give us all a bit of an insight to the strange assortment of people who actually find these Ramblings interesting enough to periodically come back and see what else has been written here.

The most used form of self-medication by far, accounting for nearly a third of all votes was Food. Whether this is because of my own food problems I attract visitors who are like-minded, or whether it’s just that food is such a complex issue when it comes to how we deal with our emotions, I can’t say. However, it does show that I’m not completely alone.

Alcohol comes in 2nd place, but with only 12% of the vote I suspect there are one or two people here who refuse to accept they actually have a problem.

Other was 3rd although this was a hodgepodge of things I forgot to put on the list and included reading, listening to music and having a nice hot bath, rather than, say, self-mutilation with a piece of broken glass.

In 4th place, tied at 7% of the vote each, were A Brisk Walk, Talking to Friends, and Stop Being So Weak and Pathetic and Pull Yourself Together, which along with those in the Other category fall into my personal sticky plaster to an amputee analogy. The fact that I still find it easier to believe you’re all in denial rather than actually believe any of these really work (other than, perhaps, Talking with Friends), I guess only goes to show that I’m farther gone than I thought I was.

Video Games and Puzzles came next, keeping the mind occupied so other thoughts can’t get in, at least for the duration.

Interesting that more people are prepared to use Illegal drugs than ones prescribed by the doctor, though maybe not surprising.

Sexual Activity, Shopping, Exercise and Meditation only garnered 2 votes each, which is quite surprising considering that sex and shopping are widely recognised as the two biggest things the Internet is used for.

Another eyebrow raiser for me, was that only 1 person confessed to Blogging as their number one self-medicating distraction of choice. Food will always be my main struggle, but when I do keep away from gorging to fill the void within, blogging is probably my next biggest indulgence.

Finally, no one owned up to Gambling, Prayer or Violence as their preferred option for keeping the demons at bay, although Birdwatcher’s obsession with Rugby could easily have fallen into the Violence category in my book.

Unfortunately the sample was too small and too basic to be able to break down the results by age, nationality, religious affiliation or weight, but at least you can now compare yourself to the other visitors to these Ramblings in terms of neuroses.

I thank you all for your participation and hope you found it as interesting as I did.


Tom said...

Guess I should have marked prayer along with food.

"Dear God, thank you for this cheesecake and bag of caramel corn that I am about to devour. Work a miracle and have the sugar convert to proteins and vitamins instead of giving me Type II diabetes. Amen."

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

One is intrigued to know what other people considered other to mean.

Colonel Aureliano Buendía said...

See, it's not so bad.

Layla said...

I dont get depressed,I just get really angry at those who treat me different from 'normal' people just because I'v had a stroke.Or my old stuck-up friends who totally ignore me when they see me.Oh yeah and all the other problems in the world!So I take out my aggression on my excercise machine.I know it's not good to think like that, but it does make me feel alot better.Six months ago,I would've said alcohol,so at least it's progress!

michael greenwell said...

dude, i voted alcohol but i am not convinced i have a problem at all.

i drink maybe 2 nights a week but when i do i tend to drink to excess. i am never violent with that, i just go home and listen to music at ear splitting volume in my headphones.

i was working in dundee for 6 weeks in the summer. i spent the first three weeks entirely sober. i spent the next 3 weeks drunk - 18 nights out of 21.

take it or leave it.

if i have a problem with it it is simply that i find it difficult to go out just for one or two, tho i am getting better at that these days too.

its just that if we look at supposedly primitive hunter gatherer societies then they seem to have spent a fair amount of time out their head in one way or another

the funny thing is that hunter-gatherer societies also really had a lot more leisure time in the average week than we do in our supposedly advanced age

Charlie said...

I have to confess I’ve always slightly suspected that everyone is completely screwed up, but the world is split into a) those have psychological problems and b) those who are in denial.

I believe you're onto something here, Holmes. My guess is that two-thirds of the human population is in denial.

The Hangar Queen said...

For me talking with friends encompassed blogging.At least that's my interpretation of it.

I found that when the other options (there were a few I flirted with) failed me I was never,ever without a friend I could talk to.It's what saved me....literally.

You'd never think it from my blog :) but there is another,more private aspect of my transition that I do not share and only mention now for a specific reason.You see quite aside from the topics I cover in HQ I also happen to be a survivor of some massive abuse.

As you can imagine recovery from such trauma isn't an easy thing and years of work have gone into ensuring that this was not the cause of nor a contributing factor in my transgenderism.

You can be sure that there was no one more surprised than I to find that simply talking about it and having people who would listen was by far the most effective treatment I followed.

"Of course he's the Messiah!! I should know...I've followed a few!"

Colonel Aureliano Buendía said...

Now that I think about it I'll have to change my vote. It's true that I meditate on the irrelevance of it all and that makes me feel better, but my first reaction to feeling down is to gorge on the darkest bitterest chocolate I can find. It's also my number one recomendation.

Kanani said...

I have to confess I’ve always slightly suspected that everyone is completely screwed up, but the world is split into a) those have psychological problems and b) those who are in denial.

Well, so what's wrong with that point of view? I think you might be correct. I think we tend to cross over several times!

What I want to know is HOW did you get 75 votes? Who are these lurkers?

Kim Ayres said...

Tom - your devoutness does you proud

Dr McCrumble - my guess is it was just things I didn't list that they use as their number one way of coping with extreme emotions

Colonel - wanna bet?

Layla - it's serious progress. To have an outlet that benefits you rather than destroys you is the ideal solution

Michael - you doth protest too much - it's a dead giveaway. But don't worry, I'm not judging.

Charlie - once considered, it's a very hard concept to dismiss.

Hangar Queen - I think you're probably right about the talking with friends/blogging overlap, especially for those of us who don't have a wide friendship support network on our doorstep.

I'm sorry to hear of your abuse, but thank you for your willingness to share.

I think at the heart of it, the reason talking with the right people helps so much is the lack of judgement. In essence you are allowed to be you and be accepted as such. Many of our biggest demons come from our fears about aspects of ourselves, which if revealed we worry would cause people to shun or revile us.

Colonel - existentialism or chocolate, existentialism or chocolate, existentialism or chocolate...


Kanani - there's no real way for me to know whether there weren't a handful of people voting several times each just to mess up my poll. I must admit I was surprised by the response, but I also have no reason to believe it's not a more or less accurate reflection either.

I must admit like the idea that some of the lurkers were prepared to vote, even if commenting is too much for them.

Stinkypaw said...

Too often we do things without really knowning why, or rather without asking ourselves why. We just do it because.

Sure did find this interesting, and I'm not surprise that food is no. 1

Carole said...

Drat, I was out of town and missed the poll. Great questions and interesting results though. I find I self-medicate in a variety of ways, depending on the depth of the pain. The deeper and longer the pain the more detrimental and harmful the self-medication is--which is kind of sad-funny.

Stella said...

Think you're right Kim, def a) or b), I used to be in denial, now I'm just screwed up!!!!

Kim Ayres said...

Stinkypaw - so many of our coping mechanisms are laid down when we are young and then never revisited. Ways of behaviour that might have worked or even be appropriate for an 11 year old, but not for a 40 year old. And yet because we never question, we are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes.

Carole - I use at least 1/3 of the options on that list regularly, but food is always the one that calls, which is why it's been such a challenge to lose the weight. The more pain I'm in, the harder it is to resist the call.

Much of the emotional pain we feel is turned inwards in self loathing, which results in finding forms of medcation that are also destructive

Stella - mind you, who is more screwed up - the erson who knows they are or the person who refuses to accept they are?

Eryl Shields said...

You are definitely not alone Kim...

I am noticing that food can be a problem for me too, when things get really bad which has only happened twice in my life thank goodness, I pretty much stop eating. My mother did the same. When I'm cheery I'm chubby which makes me miserable but not miserable enough to give up cake. When my life is out of control I'm skinny which makes me happy but not happy enough to eat. But I'm hoping that I've broken the cycle by taking up excercise - running - now I'm skinny and eating but I have to wear childrens clothes because I can't afford Prada.

If it wasn't for you and your posts in this area I would probably still be unaware and thus in a state of 'denial'now at least I do know I'm screwed up and so have been able take steps to do something about it. Thanks.

I'm off to visit my sister for the weekend. She will probably try to feed me pies!

Dr Maroon said...

I Just realised!
That colonel bloke is Barker in Valencia!

It all makes sense now. Well some of it does. Kanani promised me a banner for the site because I won that prize but I'm still waiting.

I self medicate by taking over other peoples blogs.

me me me me me

Dr Maroon said...

Well Beardy will be off out by now to teach his philosophy to the undeserving.
Am I alone in thinking he's been reading too much EM Cioran lately?

I hope I got the spelling right.

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - it's profoundly touching to think anything I've written has had an impact on anyone else. Hope the pies are good.

Dr Maroon - hah! Caught you by the ear lobe. Sneaking round here, thinking I was out. But you weren't thinking ahead - it's the school holidays so Philosophy is taking a break for a couple of weeks.

Now be off with you before I tell Mrs Maroon about the stash of Nigella recipes you keep in that tin box half buried under the apple tree.

Diddums said...

If I had read your post in time to take part in the poll (cheese, cheese) I would have gone for:

food, blogging, shopping, reading and 'other' (web graphics and digital photography).

Sometimes I have one of those days when I know going to bed with a good book would put me right again, but instead sit staring blankly at the computer... I suppose that would be described as 'apathy'.

(Kicks self out of chair).

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