Two Heads

I know it’s wrong but what can I do?

There are two versions of me: rational and emotional. Mostly they intertwine so that my decisions and thoughts are made by a back and forth between them. As my mental health has deteriorated these different parts of me have split apart. They are definitely apart now; two distinct personalities in one body.

And they argue. All.The.Time. I’m so fed up of them. Even writing this they’re squabbling. Which voice will be loudest? 

Usually Rational wins. She’s patient and considerate and understands consequences. Her arguments are always better than Emotional. Emotional is just that: a bundle of feelings. Uncontrollable feelings: excitement, gratitude, anger, self-loathing and the rest. Emotional approaches feelings in the same way as a child left unguarded in a sweetshop. Emotional picks up lots of feelings, latching on to them and then quickly discarding them in favour of another. Some feelings are favourites. When those feelings get  picked up they are held for longer, savoured. Emotional wants to gorge. Rational stops her but not without a fight. Like a tired parent I observe this exchange as if I’m a third party, whilst still attempting to convincingly participate in real life. 

Then the realisation hits: I am Rational and Emotional. That’s me. A new height of distress is achieved and Emotional and Rational begin squabbling more intensely and I just want them to stop. Please stop. Please. Please?
Sometimes I try and explain to an outsider – any other human will do but they never quite get it. I suppose they just see me as one whole and address me as such. The outsider converses with Rational. Inside I translate to Emotional telling her to be calm, shhhh! No one really listens to Emotional. Everything is about silencing her but eventually she can take it no more and she bursts out. Look! I am here! 

Right now Emotional is bursting out. Show them. Rational rolls her eyes and sighs – no, we’ve been through this a million times. It cannot be done. Yes, says Emotional, it can. And I wonder if we just let Emotional have her way for a bit – it might mean a bit of peace. Rational isn’t so sure. And me? I’m totally fucked in the head. I have no idea.

2 thoughts on “Two Heads

  1. Standard Deviation says:

    When I look back at certain times, I can strongly identify with this analogy. I felt Emotional was rather like a toddler – Rational’s presence was needed to keep safe, observe social rules, give some structure and guidance to events. But like an overwhelmed parent, Rational was struggling to keep up and so very tired she couldn’t supervise closely enough – Emotional kept giving her the slip and willfully drumming up chaos. Emotional is important and valued, but from lack of nurturing support, had swung into an almighty tantrum that crackled and flared for months.

    Rational was completely ineffective when Emotional had got into full tantrum swing, so instead had to learn to manage carefully – feed Emotional and give her some rest at the right time, nurture her responsively and allow her to let off steam in safe places, read the signs and catch her early before her tantrums escalated, use distraction ad lib, take her for some time out before she lost the plot, and pick the moments to talk.
    Over time, Rational did become more skilled at managing Emotional and was better able to head off tantrums by making sure she was well cared for, reducing the tantrum stimulus through managing what they were doing each day, deferring the tantrums by distraction and relaxation – and Emotional seemed to respond and become more cooperative, as though she realised that Rational was listening and validating her, and eventually they started to work as a functioning team and re-integrate.

    Emotional still has flare ups, especially when she’s over-tired or Rational hasn’t been able to prevent random events triggering her, but Rational continues to exercise some judgment over Emotional’s activities that she lacks, so that rather than letting her constantly try to climb up the big slide and get frustrated when she can’t make it up the steps or terrified when she finally makes it to the top, or over-excited by the slide down it, she encourages Emotional to play on the small slide until she’s a bit bigger, which helps her to feel confident she can manage the steps, undaunted by the height she’s climbing to, joyous with the exciting ride, and pleased with her success. Later, when Emotional has grown a bit and practiced on the small slide, Rational helps her to climb the steps of the big slide, helps her get down if it’s still too high, comforts her if she can’t quite manage it yet, and eventually celebrates with her when she’s made it. Then, together they have a look at the extra-tall, tunnel slide for the really big children…


    • kateofwoz says:

      I think a big part of the problem I have with the current management of me; it’s all about Rational and that just makes Emotional worse. They don’t want to see her at present. I understand that DBT will be about teaching Emotional to ‘calm the f*** down!’ so she won’t be ignored forever but she doesn’t do waiting…unfortunately.


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