Dana / On Being Alone


My psychic told me a few months ago how important it is for all human beings to spend a few hours a day, every single day, by themselves. Being alone is never something I enjoyed, and for a long time I was under the impression that it stemmed from a lack of maturity. I was afraid of being in my apartment alone, I needed attention, I wanted stimulation. And I think it's not unusual that during the times when I am alone I am the most susceptible to depression. In my mind it always felt very important to be proactive about the state of my mental health. It's hard to know whether that stems from the history of mental health issues in my family; the vocabulary of psychiatry was always commonplace in my household. And on top of that there's no question that the trope of the "hysterical female" still holds a lot of weight in the way that women are taught to think about their behavior. Don't be the crazy girlfriend that bugs out on her lover, don't be the psycho bitch who screams at someone for talking to her the wrong way, don't be the overemotional baby who cries in public. These are definitely all things I have said to myself. I'm sure I'm not the only one, and in many cases checking yourself is a good thing. I just wonder sometimes how deeply my drive to be sane and level-headed has permeated my being and stifled things I should have just let out. If I have learned anything in my young adult life, it is that repression is not a sustainable coping mechanism. Sanity and loneliness have an intimate relationship with one another. Much in the same way that sex and power do. The two work to devour one another and then reconstruct themselves again in a different balance. Sometimes sanity wins, sometimes loneliness wins, and sometimes it is very hard to tell which force comes out with the dominant position. That ambiguous state is hard to pinpoint. A couple weeks ago J went to Mexico City for an art fair, and I was alone more than I generally am. I had a bit of an existential crisis one of the nights she was gone and wrote a rampant journal entry about the necessity of sustaining a position of enabled estrangement in my thought process--which is essentially the ability to see products of the culture industry with a foreign eye, not using the standard measures of beauty or quality to assess them. It's an idea that stems from the fear of enlightenment modernity as a tool to produce a mass, unthinking subject. The loss of a person's ability to think differently than the people surrounding him is, in and of itself, a mode of INsanity that has everything to do with loneliness. Or perhaps, more accurately, becoming a drone in the army of an unthinking mass of people has everything to do with the inability to be alone. I spent my night of crisis scrawling notes into my journal about the importance of resisting the mass modes of thought that a person working to produce and sell culture products--fashion, music, art, for a profit MUST be trained to think within. It has been a long time (a few good months at least) since I felt as bat shit crazy as I felt that night. I unleashed my rapidly moving thoughts onto the page in a monologue that might be called an esoteric and confused account of critical theory I hadn't read in months. Scholars would write it off as an ill-informed ramble. I was grasping for something that felt so out of reach, a comfort in the words of dead German men that served as a confidence-building foundation when I was in school. That theory is so far out of my reach now, reading it makes me feel lost and incapable. Writing about it makes me feel desperate. But I showed it to J when she got back home because she is the closest thing to a psychoanalyst I have access to and she usually understands me when everyone else gives me blank stares. She read through the pages with an amused look on her face, closed my book, and said to me: "I think this is the best thing you've done in months." I'm not sure if she said that genuinely, or because she thought my words had some ironic value to them. But it felt good to have my crazy validated by a person who is smarter and more articulate than the majority of people on this planet. My greatest fear has always been to lose my grasp on reality. I shake at the prospect of someone looking into my eyes and saying, "Dana, you're not seeing the world for what it is. You're not making sense. You've become detached. You need to be medicated. You need to be institutionalized." It's a thing that really happens. I watched a woman in the midst of a complete breakdown on Avenue A last week. She was screaming at the top of her lungs, "I AM A WOODEN DOOR. I AM A BIG, WHITE, WOODEN DOOR." She'd lost it. She was alone and no one could understand what she was trying to tell them. Her sanity had escaped her and it might have been her loneliness that caused it. I was alone tonight. I was running by the river thinking about the disconnect I was experiencing from all the people within a 5 block radius. And when my iPod ran out of battery I found myself muttering under my breath. "I am a big, white, wooden door." And I laughed to myself, because I realized that I understood that woman just a little bit. And I was alone. And I didn't feel depressed, because I realized that grasping for sanity is the only thing that will ever truly drive me crazy. Being lonely only forces me to think on my own terms, without the guidance of the masses. So for all of you who are in the midst of a moment of crisis--being a psycho girlfriend, or a crazy bitch who gets over emotional, I invite you to try my new coping mechanism. Just stop, and say to yourself, "I am a big, white, wooden door." And smile because you have achieved a position of enabled estrangement. And you are not alone.

COMMENTS


14 Responses to “On Being Alone”

  1. Mish

    i love you.


  2. Mish

    This is a post everyone needs to read. EVERYONE.


  3. I love you too


  4. This is one of the best blog posts i’ve read in a long time. you have a great voice.


  5. Mel Zee

    thanks for writing this, dana. i hope i can embrace my inner lunatic before she takes over entirely…xo


  6. [...] good friend Dana Droppo wrote a recent article about this kind of constant self-regulation. She describes her attempt to cultivate what she calls [...]


  7. [...] is a strange kind of loneliness that arises out of peer pressure, as an interesting reflection in hearty magazine point out: “The loss of a person’s ability to think differently than the people surrounding [...]


  8. [...] 在我们的文化中,网络的应用已经无所不在。网络的影响力之大,以至于美国精神病学学会建议对“网络使用综合征(Internet Use Disorder)”这一病症开展更深入的研究,这一新的疾病名称将出现在即将推出的诊断手册上,即精神疾病诊断与统计手册第五版(DSM-V)。 这一疾病主要指的是网络游戏。然而,在诊断标准中,“剥夺网络后出现戒断症状(withdrawal symptom)”这一条也包括其中,听上去是不是很熟悉? 网络引发的心理健康病症不仅包括成瘾,另一项为抑郁。 《科学美国人》( Scientific American)杂志最近的一篇文章指出:在大量网页之间来回穿梭痴迷于即时交流的网民,最有可能陷入抑郁情绪: “点对点(peer-to-peer)文档共享,大量的邮件信息和网络聊天,以及在大量网站和其他网络资源之间快速切换的倾向,这些都是预测抑郁症状出现的重要标准。”在网站间快速转换,这或许反映出对象的快感缺乏(anhedonia,情绪体验能力的弱化),因为他们极力寻求情绪刺激。同样,过度的信邮和聊天或许意味着面对面人际关系的缺乏,因为人们想要努力维持与遥远的朋友或网络新结识的网友的联系。 于通常的情感,情绪的深度是被视为至为重要的。网络提供的大量信息分散了人们的注意力,就此而言,我们对某单一话题,或是人物投注的注意力就越来越少。 另一现象是孤独。一般情况下,我们总是独自坐在笔记本电脑前。或许,我们身边有其他家人陪伴,但只要电脑开着,我们一般很少会去与他们交流。 甚至我们在网上与朋友聊天时,比如说脸书,一种怪异的孤独感也会萌生于同伴压力(peer pressure),正如杂志《哈帝》(hearty magazine)中一个有趣的观点所指出的那样:“一个人随大流,不能独立思考,就其自身本质,乃是与孤独紧密不分的一种精神失常模式。”这一心理动力给“人群中的孤独”这句话以一全新的意义。 现代人是孤僻的,胆怯的,隔离的以及通常都是心神分散的,这可不是未来我们想看到的景象。 [...]


  9. [...] 在我们的文化中,网络的应用已经无所不在。网络的影响力之大,以至于美国精神病学学会建议对“网络使用综合征(Internet Use Disorder)”这一病症开展更深入的研究,这一新的疾病名称将出现在即将推出的诊断手册上,即精神疾病诊断与统计手册第五版(DSM-V)。 这一疾病主要指的是网络游戏。然而,在诊断标准中,“剥夺网络后出现戒断症状(withdrawal symptom)”这一条也包括其中,听上去是不是很熟悉? 网络引发的心理健康病症不仅包括成瘾,另一项为抑郁。 《科学美国人》( Scientific American)杂志最近的一篇文章指出:在大量网页之间来回穿梭痴迷于即时交流的网民,最有可能陷入抑郁情绪: “点对点(peer-to-peer)文档共享,大量的邮件信息和网络聊天,以及在大量网站和其他网络资源之间快速切换的倾向,这些都是预测抑郁症状出现的重要标准。”在网站间快速转换,这或许反映出对象的快感缺乏(anhedonia,情绪体验能力的弱化),因为他们极力寻求情绪刺激。同样,过度的信邮和聊天或许意味着面对面人际关系的缺乏,因为人们想要努力维持与遥远的朋友或网络新结识的网友的联系。 于通常的情感,情绪的深度是被视为至为重要的。网络提供的大量信息分散了人们的注意力,就此而言,我们对某单一话题,或是人物投注的注意力就越来越少。 另一现象是孤独。一般情况下,我们总是独自坐在笔记本电脑前。或许,我们身边有其他家人陪伴,但只要电脑开着,我们一般很少会去与他们交流。 甚至我们在网上与朋友聊天时,比如说脸书,一种怪异的孤独感也会萌生于同伴压力(peer pressure),正如杂志《哈帝》(hearty magazine)中一个有趣的观点所指出的那样:“一个人随大流,不能独立思考,就其自身本质,乃是与孤独紧密不分的一种精神失常模式。”这一心理动力给“人群中的孤独”这句话以一全新的意义。 现代人是孤僻的,胆怯的,隔离的以及通常都是心神分散的,这可不是未来我们想看到的景象。 [...]


  10. [...] 在我们的文化中,网络的应用已经无所不在。网络的影响力之大,以至于美国精神病学学会建议对“网络使用综合征(Internet Use Disorder)”这一病症开展更深入的研究,这一新的疾病名称将出现在即将推出的诊断手册上,即精神疾病诊断与统计手册第五版(DSM-V)。这一疾病主要指的是网络游戏。然而,在诊断标准中,“剥夺网络后出现戒断症状(withdrawal symptom)”这一条也包括其中,听上去是不是很熟悉?网络引发的心理健康病症不仅包括成瘾,另一项为抑郁。《科学美国人》( Scientific American)杂志最近的一篇文章指出:在大量网页之间来回穿梭痴迷于即时交流的网民,最有可能陷入抑郁情绪:“点对点(peer-to-peer)文档共享,大量的邮件信息和网络聊天,以及在大量网站和其他网络资源之间快速切换的倾向,这些都是预测抑郁症状出现的重要标准。”在网站间快速转换,这或许反映出对象的快感缺乏(anhedonia,情绪体验能力的弱化),因为他们极力寻求情绪刺激。同样,过度的信邮和聊天或许意味着面对面人际关系的缺乏,因为人们想要努力维持与遥远的朋友或网络新结识的网友的联系。于通常的情感,情绪的深度是被视为至为重要的。网络提供的大量信息分散了人们的注意力,就此而言,我们对某单一话题,或是人物投注的注意力就越来越少。另一现象是孤独。一般情况下,我们总是独自坐在笔记本电脑前。或许,我们身边有其他家人陪伴,但只要电脑开着,我们一般很少会去与他们交流。甚至我们在网上与朋友聊天时,比如说脸书,一种怪异的孤独感也会萌生于同伴压力(peer pressure),正如杂志《哈帝》(hearty magazine)中一个有趣的观点所指出的那样:“一个人随大流,不能独立思考,就其自身本质,乃是与孤独紧密不分的一种精神失常模式。”这一心理动力给“人群中的孤独”这句话以一全新的意义。现代人是孤僻的,胆怯的,隔离的以及通常都是心神分散的,这可不是未来我们想看到的景象。 【本译文仅用于学习和交流目的。非商业转载请注明译者、出处,并保留文章在译言的完整链接】 fullrss.net [...]


  11. [...] 甚至我们在网上与朋友聊天时,比如说脸书,一种怪异的孤独感也会萌生于同伴压力(peer pressure),正如杂志《哈帝》(hearty magazine)中一个有趣的观点所指出的那样:“一个人随大流,不能独立思考,就其自身本质,乃是与孤独紧密不分的一种精神失常模式。”这一心理动力给“人群中的孤独”这句话以一全新的意义。 [...]


  12. [...] 这一疾病主要指的是网络游戏。然而,在诊断标准中,“剥夺网络后出现戒断症状(withdrawal symptom)”这一条也包括其中,听上去是不是很熟悉? 网络引发的心理健康病症不仅包括成瘾,另一项为抑郁。 《科学美国人》( Scientific American)杂志最近的一篇文章指出:在大量网页之间来回穿梭痴迷于即时交流的网民,最有可能陷入抑郁情绪: “点对点(peer-to-peer)文档共享,大量的邮件信息和网络聊天,以及在大量网站和其他网络资源之间快速切换的倾向,这些都是预测抑郁症状出现的重要标准。”在网站间快速转换,这或许反映出对象的快感缺乏(anhedonia,情绪体验能力的弱化),因为他们极力寻求情绪刺激。同样,过度的信邮和聊天或许意味着面对面人际关系的缺乏,因为人们想要努力维持与遥远的朋友或网络新结识的网友的联系。 于通常的情感,情绪的深度是被视为至为重要的。网络提供的大量信息分散了人们的注意力,就此而言,我们对某单一话题,或是人物投注的注意力就越来越少。 另一现象是孤独。一般情况下,我们总是独自坐在笔记本电脑前。或许,我们身边有其他家人陪伴,但只要电脑开着,我们一般很少会去与他们交流。 甚至我们在网上与朋友聊天时,比如说脸书,一种怪异的孤独感也会萌生于同伴压力(peer pressure),正如杂志《哈帝》(hearty magazine)中一个有趣的观点所指出的那样:“一个人随大流,不能独立思考,就其自身本质,乃是与孤独紧密不分的一种精神失常模式。”这一心理动力给“人群中的孤独”这句话以一全新的意义。 现代人是孤僻的,胆怯的,隔离的以及通常都是心神分散的,这可不是未来我们想看到的景象。 【本译文仅用于学习和交流目的。非商业转载请注明译者、出处,并保留文章在译言的完整链接】 fullrss.net [...]


  13. [...] is a strange kind of loneliness that arises out of peer pressure, as an interesting reflection in hearty magazine point out: “The loss of a person’s ability to think differently than the people surrounding him [...]


  14. [...] good friend Dana Droppo wrote a recent article about this kind of constant self-regulation. She describes her attempt to cultivate what she calls [...]


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