Compartmentalization for Dummies (Like Me)


I’m finding that the more I get out in the world and explore it and talk to the denizens contained therein, the more about which I have to write. Funny, that.

I have a crippling anxiety issue known as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It was achieved through a couple of traumatic incidents in my life that I’m sure I’ll touch on at some point as long as it’s organic to what I’m writing about at the time. It’s not a huge secret or anything but for the sake of brevity, let’s just leave it at I’m “rated” for it with the VA. This PTSD makes it hard for me to socialize with people, relate to them, or even participate in events that would otherwise bring “normal” people joy. A crowd, to me, is a daunting prospect and I have to mentally psyche myself up to go into Walmart (although, I have a suspicion most people have to do this regardless of having a disorder). I’ll touch on, here and there, how I maintain that and have come to grips with it later on but for right now, I’d like to take this in a different direction.

I had another appointment at the VA today with my shrink, Dr. Mull, whom I’ve mentioned before. He knows me well enough to know when I’m bullshitting him and I’m self-aware enough to not bullshit him so we have a pretty good rapport.

The visit wasn’t anything extraordinary or groundbreaking and, even if it was, it would be more content for a personal journal in my home, written by hand (which I know to a lot of millennials seems like a dreaded concept).

Yes, back in the dark ages, we had these mystical things called “pen and paper” rather than an iPhone screen in which we would jot down our thoughts and feelings. I still have my old leather journal from high school where I put every damn angsty thought therein. A lot of it was a “visual journal” or “smash journal” where I posted pictures I liked, boys I was crushing on, and other inane teenage shit. Some of it, I can say in a somewhat narcissistic way, was pretty damn funny. I wasn’t a complete emo back then – just your average piss-and-vinegar cynical shithead teenager rife with hormones. I wasn’t exactly a joy to be around but I wasn’t a complete piece of shit, either.

Then deadjournal and livejournal came about and oh my God this was the worst thing to open up to me at that time. I was a talker anyway and I had a lot of angst. I unloaded every single thought in my pea-sized brain into that damn online blog until, finally, my parents came upon it and made me tone it down. It was just as foreign a concept to them as it was to me that I could write whatever I wanted and publish it on the internet for public consumption. Add in the fact that my momma was a politician and it was a breeding ground for chaos. You live, you learn, but at the time, everyone in the Kannensohn household was ill-equipped to deal with this madness. We, by the grace of God, made it through with minimal therapy bills. Okay, I lied – the therapy bills were pretty substantial.

I think time and maturity has lead to the realization that not everything that happens to me must be written about. It’s also lead me to the conclusion that sometimes omitting stuff makes a piece stronger, not weaker. I’ve become far more comfortable deleting things and not feeling like I won’t be understood (which is one of my anxiety-fueled worries, being misunderstood).

I’ve further realized that holding personal stuff back doesn’t mean I’m being dishonest but rather just keeping my personal and professional life separate. If you want to be a writer, it’s an integral skill to learn. I talk about my issues with PTSD with context, not as a way to vent my feelings or emotionally dump on other people. Education over emoting should rule the day. Nowadays I try to compartmentalize into the following groups:

  1. Personal stuff – the nitty gritty of my psyche and subconscious that I need to spill out onto a page or it’ll eat me alive. One of the worst parts about being someone with anxiety and depression is that we constantly worry and if we don’t have an outlet for those fears, we can pretty much drive ourselves even more insane than we currently are. No one short of Dr. Mull needs to read that shit.
  2. This blog – reserved for things pertaining to being a veteran, being a mom, being a mom as a veteran and a veteran as a mom, and general geekiness/opinions/whatever strikes my fancy or is mildly topical.
  3. Facebook – personal friends/family that I have talked to or know from personal friends/family get the joy of seeing me shit-posting all sorts of random stuff from selfies to news articles to fun stuff I’ve seen. This is also an amazing tool since I’m prior military so a lot of my friends from my time in service are scattered to the four winds and the fact that I now live in Alaska, which, geographically, is SO much further away than I’m normally used to. It’s wonderful because I can share pictures of my kid with family and keep them up to date with her life as well as how we’re doing generally in The Last Frontier.
  4. Twitter/Instagram – They kind of seem like the same program but they aren’t. Twitter is like an old school ticker-type machine that feeds me up-to-the-minute news based on who I follow. Instagram is more for the photog-lover in me that likes visual stuff. I’ve posted personal stuff before but it’s not really a great idea. Mainly, these days, I use it for news and entertainment or a mix of the two. I have also met some really great fellow geeks through it and have formed some lovely friendships and merged those friendships with my Facebook.
  5. Emails – if I need to talk to one specific person, I’ll email that specific person. If it’s a personal matter, I’ll shoot them a Gmail line. If it’s really super personal, it’ll be a phone call, text, or a cup of coffee somewhere.

I’ve said before I don’t do the reddit thing. I think in a fit of wild abandon, I made a Reddit account but damned if I can remember my username or password and I definitely don’t have the wherewithal to go track it down. Ditto for Tumblr.

There you have it – my personal writing method to keeping my writing/communication into handy-dandy compartmentalized groups to effectively manage my sanity and organize my thoughts where they need to go. I wish I had learned this 20 years ago but hindsight is 20/20.

Just so no one feels visually gipped, here’s a random picture:

This is an amazing workout and it’s #WolverineWednesday so not only a random picture but also healthy and topical. You’re welcome.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s