Creative Numbing

Maybe it is aging, but I don't think so. By evening I'm so wiped out physically and emotionally (and it isn't from work, although working can be emotional sometimes) that all I want to do is numb.

You know what that means, right?

For some people it is Spider Solitaire (played for months, nonstop, before realizing I'm addicted! Quit cold turkey).  There are other games, of course.  Think Angry Birds

Another way to numb, a personal fave, is exercise, which is recommended by doctors, so it can't be bad. But when you aren't listening to educational tapes, when you pair exercise with television, it could be filed under numbing.

For some, eating is numbing.  Drink and drugs, surely.  Numbing.

I complained to FD about it this morning, told him that it is mortifying to me that my entire evenings have been spent munching black olives and numbing.

"What's that?  What's numbing?" he asks.

Hearing the explanation, behavior that diverts negative affect but wastes time and isn't socially proactive,* he smiles. "Oh! I do that all the time!" He does work a lot of crossword puzzles.

I think of numbing as coping, really. It is a good thing, and it doesn't have to be a waste of time. FD reinforces this thought.  "Be more creative at night.  Creative numbing! I could compose songs, you could help with the  lyrics, write books!  Why don't you write a book, Creative Numbing?  Ask people who read the blog for help!"

It is what we talk about in therapy, creativity as a venue for mental health, an intervention.  Entire schools of therapy, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, exist because creativity is positive energy, life sustaining in its way.  But it is so hard when you're depressed. Creativity sparks the serotonin, gets the wheels going-- it is what some of us call really getting high. How to spark that creativity to spark that serotonin to get those wheels to turn is the million dollar question.

So we are taking suggestions. We'll put it together, write a book, call it Creative Numbing. Everyone gets an acknowledgment, and maybe even gets to write a personal explanation, take full credit for the idea.  I'll say it  right now, if it's about sex, write your own book.

We are still going to need a really good list of numbing behaviors that aren't necessarily creative, too, for comparison.
How hard could that be?


*You heard that definition here first.  It's copyright for the book, of course.


Interruption said…
dancing and listening to can zone out and get exercise at the same time...
Jenny said…
I'm on a coloring kick lately. There are loads of mandalas and other coloring pages available online and I just take a break and color with a friend. It's amazingly restorative - you need to engage your brain just enough that you can't think about the negative stuff, but not enough that it gets tiring.

And I can tell you - even at 53, I still stick my tongue out when concentrating on staying within the lines!
Anonymous said…
I have been using the challenge of learning jazz guitar, discovering my ancestry and options trading. I try to use all the extra CPU cycles that would otherwise just spin waiting for external stimuli.
one brave duck said…
i've had my share of unhealthy numbing tricks over the years (food, self-harm, porn) but am gently replacing them with healthier choices. i love to research my family history online, teasing out far flung ancestors around the world. i can do it for hours. also, on the creative side, collage. i rip out images from magazines, and excerpts of text, and rearrange them in new ways. those are my two fave things to do at the moment.
SoberMomRocks said…
I crochet. I started when I was trying to quit smoking (to occupy my hands) and it was great. Then I put it down for about 10 years and picked it up again when I quit drinking. Worked again. Plus, I can see the fruits of my efforts in every one of my family and friends' houses...I had to do something with all those afghans!
therapydoc said…
Oh, these are great. Thanks so much!
atomic momma said…
Jenny thanks for the mandala mention! I just printed my first one!

Sober blogs rock.
Beth said…
We haven't had a tv for years but recently got a monitor and find ourselves watching BBC docs and TV shows; I was horrified but delighted to find myself addicted to Downton Abbey! I do creative stuff all day long, and it's a relief sometimes to just do nothing in the evening instead of continuing to push. However: knitting is a favorite creative numbing activity of mine!
Anonymous said…
I have a stressful job that requires a lot of computer time. At home, I like to be creative and/or do creative problem-solving. Two favorites: 1) Making snowflakes [] and 2) Tetris! I read in the WSJ that Tetris appeals to those who are "tidy". That's me!
Anonymous said…
Humor - silliness - unlocks creativity and seems to fulfill or diminish the need to numb.
Anonymous said…
Cross stitching - easy to do in front of the TV - and creative and PRETTY. Very cheering.

It's funny, though - I still have to FORCE myself to do it. I do, and it works, but.... I don't know - maybe it's the depression talking but it's still an effort to pick it up again.

But I do, so I'm ok. (I think!)

I didn't realize it was "numbing" though. It's a good word for it.
Carolyn R.
Gillian in Wales said…

Particularly cupcakes and biscuits.

And then icing them and decorating them with sprinkles etc. Very therapeutic *and* you can put them in little cellophane bags with pretty ribbons as presents, to share the prettiness.

Also card making. Simple cards, such as decoupage, require attention but not too much.

Bizarrely, ironing works for some people, too.