unhealthy nostalgia

I spend way too much time looking back at my past. I dwell on things I’ve done, both good and bad. I mentally escape to places I’ve visited. I think too much about people I’ve loved (or hated). I ruminate about the events that shaped my life.

Usually my brain is occupied with the tasks at hand, whether working, dealing with Nicole’s illness, or taking care of the house we live in. The trouble comes in those quiet moments when I’m by myself and my brain is caught in between processes. That’s when I revert to the rumination and dwelling on the past.

There have been times when I was unstable that I actually felt like my “current life” was not real, and I needed to run away from it to someone or something that was real. I felt like I had lost my true self with every decision I had made since events in 1989 and 1990. I felt like I could reverse time and fix those choices many years later, with no regard for the collateral damage it would cause to other people. Fortunately I escaped this distorted thinking and never followed through with any half-hearted plans I may have had.

I think my emotional depression promotes that dualistic, fork-in-the-road type of thinking where I ponder what might have been if I had made the other choice, or if fate had made the other choice for me. My bipolar depressive mood swings exacerbate this way of thinking. I have read the term “double depression”, and I believe this describes my state when I am at my worst. During these episodes it is difficult to concentrate on real life and stay engaged, but that is exactly what I need to avoid slipping back into those thought patterns.

It’s not good for me to be alone for long periods of time, because I think myself into a spiral of sorrow and regret for the life I have lived and the choices I have made. It was very bad when I was driving the big rig for days in a row, because my mind wandered during the long stretches of open road. While I was very creative during that time, I was also self-destructive in my introspection, and it shows in my writing from that period.

This behavior is unhealthy. I need to spend more time thinking about what is, and the choices I will make now and in the future, rather than dwelling in the past. It’s difficult for me to let go, like a story where you have grown so connected with the characters that you don’t want to let them go … but sometimes things need to fade into the distance.