I am not okay. I don't know where else I can say that so I'm putting it here. I'm thinking more about suicide lately. I'll go for a few hours thinking it's the only way out, and the obvious solution, then I'll switch and think that was crazy, how could I be considering suicide. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are playing tug of war with my head.
Triggering event was visit with pdoc to discuss ADHD meds. This did not go well and I left feeling insulted, berated, and hopeless about getting effective treatment for my condition.
I now believe my ADHD is the cause of my depression and anxiety. This would explain why my depression was "treatment resistant" since we were never getting at the root cause and only dealing with the after effects of the real problem.
I left pdoc's office with some Strattera samples. Great, something that costs me $5/pill and takes six weeks to start working. Six weeks of dealing with side effects just to find out if it's going to help enough to be worth it. Hope I still have my job by then. I'm so frustrated.
Obviously I can try another doc, and that was my therapist's recommendation. I'm going to do that, and maybe get a 3rd or even 4th opinion. Heck maybe Strattera will be fine for me and this will all become a moot point, except for how will I afford it? I'm tired of living like this though. I am running out of ways to compensate for my symptoms. If I don't get some relief soon, I am going to get my affairs in order and say goodbye. Wonder if it's too late to buy life insurance?
Well, as you can see, I'm making an effort to update this thing more often. I think for a long time, I've felt like I needed to wait until I had something important to say. Unfortunately, that calls into question what part of me is deciding what's important, and exposes me to my own hubris in assuming that what I did post was important.
This is actually an amusing thought, because it's a common assumption in the psychoanalytic world that anything a client says is important. They'll point to the truly staggering number of things one could say at any given moment, yet one chose to say X. That would have to mean that by at least some measure of importance, X was in fact the most important thing on one's mind at the time.
I used to think that that was teleological ... um, call it blather ... but ... I've seen a fairly large number of cases where it was true. Even if I argued that one could make animal noises or talk about trivia if they didn't want to give away what was important to them, the analysts would still say that that revealed how important it was to conceal something. Especially in a therapy setting where the cooperation of the client can be assumed (because they're paying to be there), it's hard to ignore their argument.
So I guess by now the question is, what's so important that you had to write three paragraphs before you could get near it? ;-)
And I guess I still don't know (can't bring it to consciousness), despite a growing urge to do so, that shows in my wanting to update the blog more.
I don't really have a planned topic, today, just the urge to post something. So I thought I would ramble.
I've been doing a lot of reading over the past year, even by my own rather expansive standards. I think I've been trying to absorb some of the atmosphere and thought patterns of the people who invented psychoanalysis and the times they lived in. And then for some of their successors, and so on.
I have no doubt that if I get to take classes in psychology, I'll get plenty of "current thought". But I have never really trusted those little one-page synopses of the life work of the founders of a given science that you always get in an Intro course. I figure they must have left out almost everything, and especially things that are no longer considered "current". So what you're left with is an outline, a trivialization of their originality because it's overshadowed by a hundred years of follow-on work.
So I've been reading some classic works of literature, and some philosophy, and rather a lot more psychology. One of the things I'm struck by is the waves of opinion that have passed through the science. The first practitioners were mostly medical doctors, and had the doctor's typical concept of "disease" and that something is either curable or it isn't. Later, there was the confidence of behaviorism, where research made us believe that we could train anyone to deal with anything, at the cost of any real feeling for a person's individuality. Then came the humanists, with their belief that we have a built-in potential for being human; the trick is to unblock it if it's blocked.
Interestingly, and unexpectedly to me, coming as I do from fields far removed from the humanities and psychology, each wave of opinion maintained its own type of optimism, that eventually we would be better equipped to help people be healthy. And maybe that's what I came to say: I'm learning. :-)
I'm making progress toward setting goals, but it's slow. It occurs to me that this is an improvement though because a few weeks ago the idea of even thinking about goals was beyond my grasp. Still need to find a direction in life. I have taken the time to define some values that I want to prioritize, the next step is to make goals that express these values.
Still sober, 40 days now. Not even sure why I'm doing this anymore. I mean I have my reasons written down, but they seemed much more meaningful when I made the decision to stop. Now I miss the escape that alcohol afforded, and the "wrongness" of it - as if I was getting back at society by self destructing. That and it was a miniature suicide, killing myself one brain cell at a time.
Now that I'm not drinking, I think about drinking even more than I did before. Trying to manage urges without drinking, and planning my life around avoiding situations that might be too tempting. Of course being at home is the most tempting situation and I can't avoid that. I also think about suicide more now. I'm ambivalent about the whole thing. Main problem is I haven't changed my lifestyle at all to have something replace the time spent on drinking, so I spend the time obsessing over it instead of doing it. I know what I need to do. I don't seem to have the courage or the motivation to do it.
Still sober but strongly tempted. This is really difficult. Trying to keep a positive outlook but whenever people ask how things are going I find a way to say it in a negative tone, without meaning to. Sometimes I try too hard to be positive and it comes out fake. I'm struggling at work due to my concentration problems. My work is getting harder and I'm reaching the limit of how far I can get bluffing that I actually listened to what the other person is saying. Meditation helps with mindfulness, yet even with that it only helps a little. I don't feel that depressed but watching my behavior tells a different story. I'm trying not to think about suicide since I have decided not to do it, but I can't stop it sometimes. I have no direction in my life and I'm not sure I can even commit to any direction. It would be nice to have goals and values, but I just don't. It doesn't work for me. I need structure but at the same time I can't stand it. My therapist seems to think that since I can get dressed and show up for work and not get fired that there must be no depression there. I don't know how to be more clear that I need help with some of the finer points of getting out from a depressed mode of living.
Made it through two weekends now without drinking. Trying to quit porn at the same time. Realizing I have a sex addiction. Dammit I get addicted to anything I touch it seems. Actually not everything. Just opiates, alcohol, and sex in general. Looking forward to getting ADHD meds but I'm aware there is a risk of addiction with those too. I can't say it won't happen. Then again my pdoc is aware I had alcohol issues in the past and may refuse to prescribe stims. Or I may grow some self control by the time I see him and have no problem. That is really the ideal. To not have alcohol messing with my meds and the proper combo for my condition. It's taken so long to get this far. It would be nice to be stable for a bit. I've made it over 60 days before, hoping I can do it again and then some. Or at least get to Easter then I could say I gave up alcohol for Lent (minus two days).
I feel better. Since leaving off the booze I have noticed that I want to improve other areas of my life. Not only trying to quit porn but also caring more about myself and my surroundings. Feeling like things in life are important. Wanting to lose weight and eat better. Having better interactions with my meditation group. I still feel depressed at times but overall things appear to be looking up. Maybe this is what normal is.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about human beings is their devotion to stories. I don't just mean campfire stories, fairy tales, myths and legends, though those are included. We tell ourselves stories, large and small, moment to moment, throughout our lives. Our minds practically demand it.
What we're trying to do is fit our experiences, the raw facts and sensations of our daily lives, into some sort of larger structure. If we succeed, we'll say things like "that explains it" or "now it makes sense." Our entire mind, both the linear, logical side and the creative, big-picture side, actively participates in the process. The story, predetermined as it generally is, even acts as a filter, so that some of the input may be discarded, if it would conflict with the story, would not "make sense". Of course, the story can also change to adapt to new information that cannot be ignored, but less readily because of the filtering effect.
Clearly, that makes it important to be aware of the stories one tells oneself, if only to allow a more deliberate selection of material. Such conscious examination may also make the story more realistic, closer to the observed facts, but only if we choose that direction. One can just as easily delude oneself, if desired. The story itself is neither good nor evil; as with most psychic facts, it depends more on how one uses them.
In recent history, for instance, people have become more and more interested in scientific explanations of the world around us. The analytic, logical side of the mind has found a way to take its story (called a hypothesis) and test it more or less impartially against reality. Then the story is adapted to the results and the process is repeated. We all know of the tremendous advances in, well, story-telling, that this process has given us. For instance, you're reading my writing as a result of some of those advances.
But in the process, we've more or less ignored the big-picture side of the story, literally. Though we have uncovered many layers of "explanation", from sub-atomic particles to observations of the universe, we have yet to find anything fundamental, anything that really explains anything. It's still all "because of something else". There isn't any reason to believe we will, either. There are certainly people who hope we will, but in some ways that's comparable to the "insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
Perhaps part of the problem is that the stories we're focused on are exclusively on the outside. Even when we think about our own thinking (what 'finding my way' calls "brain stories"), we're really looking at ourselves as if from outside, as thinking machines. Maybe at some level we are thinking machines, but it's an old cliché that we'll never be able to understand everything about our brains using only our brains. It would be like trying to open a crate using the crowbar packed inside.
And maybe that's what that other half of our minds is for, the one that's good at big pictures. It's worth a look, maybe.
At least, that's my story.
Not really a Fairy Godfather story, but a Fairy Godfather kind of story, so ...
The Silver Sword
A hill, a sword, and an old man
A young girl is dreaming:
I'm in a forest unmarked by signs of people. Everything is emerald green; the tree trunks are black and slick as if wet. I'm on foot, walking quickly in as straight a line as the trees allow, like I know where I'm going though there is no path. The ground begins to rise, and I continue walking straight up the hill. Near the top the trees end abruptly, and I emerge on a green lawn that rings the hilltop like a tonsure. There is something unnatural in the transition, for no smaller trees or taller grasses surround the clearing; it is as if carved from the forest.
As I climb, my impression that people made this place is confirmed, for the very summit of the hill is ringed by a circle of tall, thin stones standing on end, surrounding a great irregular boulder like an altar. I had heard enough of fairy rings to know what they are, and not enough to fear them, so I stepped inside and walked to the center. I climbed up the boulder, I think intending to look out over the forest to get my bearings, though in fact I don't remember the view at all.
For when I stepped onto the top of the boulder, there appeared before me a bright silver sword with its point buried in the stone. I'm sure it had not been there before, for it would have been easily visible from below. It was a thing of beauty, the blade long and slender, the hilts extending straight out to make a nearly perfect cross, and the grip smoothly wrapped in leather. The metal shone as if new and polished; I was sure the blade would be exquisitely sharp. Without even thinking about it, I wrapped my hands around the grip and pulled the sword from the stone.
It came free effortlessly, with a slight ringing sound. It was light and well-balanced, but a little too long for me to handle it well, and obviously I had never had any training with a sword. So, I was holding it with both hands, with the point nearly touching the ground, when I turned around and came face to face with an old man.
Startled, I exclaimed, “This stuff shouldn't keep happening!”
Looking at me gravely, the old man replied, “My dear, don't you think it might be wise to stop telling the world that it can't do the things it quite obviously has just done, and concentrate instead on formulating a cogent response? I assure you that the dangers you will encounter will not stop trying to harm you long enough for you to agree that they exist.”
Still not believing this sudden apparition, I'm afraid I just stood staring at him. He was somewhat taller than I, but shorter than most men, perhaps because of a slight stoop. His hair and beard flowed together and were of a color that blended brown and white. He wore a simple gray homespun garment that resembled a monk's, belted at the waist with a length of rope. Yet if his hair concealed a tonsure, not even God could find it, and there was no crucifix around his neck. The things that held you, though, were his eyes, bright and sharp, and as piercing as if he could look through solid wood.
Recovering, I said, “Dangers, huh? So which one of us is holding the sharp sword?”
“Which one of us needs a sharp sword?” he countered. Then, disconcertingly, he turned his back on me. My first thought was that that was a dangerous thing to do when his opponent, me, was armed with such a great sword. My second thought was that he would only have done it if it wasn't a dangerous thing to do, and therefore he must have an even greater weapon I didn't know about, so I let him talk. It was only much later that I thought that he might have known all along what I would think, and therefore didn't need a weapon at all. And that he might have been trying to teach me to think.
But now he was continuing to talk to me over his shoulder. “The sword you hold is more than just sharp. It is one of the great swords of the ages, once wielded by a mighty conqueror, who used it to perform deeds of legend.”
“Whose sword is it?” I asked naively.
He replied, “Why, it appears to be yours, young lady. It has chosen you; it would not have left the stone so easily for any other.”
“Well then, whose sword was it?” I continued. Somehow the human connection was important to me. However, he seemed to find the question irritating.
“Next you will be asking me who makes the sun rise every morning!” he exclaimed. “Is it not enough that it does? The sword is yours now; its past deeds no longer matter.
“Mark me well, though,” he said, turning back to me at last. “A sword such as this one is not simply a tool of violence. In fact, using it for indiscriminate violence would mark you as one unworthy to wield it, and it would leave you of its own volition.”
I did not interrupt to ask about a sword having volition; I had already seen enough of this world to know that there were things I was going to have to unlearn.
The old man continued, “Indeed, the magic of this sword is far greater than simply being good at cutting people up. It is a living reservoir of courage. It will sustain you when all other hope is lost; it can heal the hearts of your companions when doubt overcomes them.”
Again he turned as if to look out over a land I couldn't see. I kept my attention on him.
“Use it well,” he concluded. “For there are things of great evil abroad in these lands, in addition to the ordinary. And, as always, only one of you. Out there, I cannot help you, any more than I have already. Be careful, and may you come safely through the challenge. Once you have, you may well be my master.” And as I looked at the back of his head, he was gone.
“Boy, I wish I knew how he does that,” I said to myself, as much to cover my sudden loneliness as anything else. I scrambled quickly off the rock, feeling suddenly out of place in the fairy ring, and carried my sword down the hill and into the woods again. I had realized by this time that without a scabbard, a sharp two-edged sword is not something one carries easily. I took turns carrying it by the handle, first in one hand and then in the other. It was awkward, and as my arm tired it would tend to droop and catch on things, which it immediately sliced through of course, but which repeatedly tugged at my grip so that I had to rest more often. Still, I continued through the woods in the opposite direction from which I had come, venturing deeper and deeper into the wilderness.
After years of personally suspecting I had ADHD I finally got tested and unsurprisingly I scored high on the scale for inattentive type. Now my therapist wants to talk to my pdoc about getting me on ADD meds. It turns out the therapist I was seeing for depression specializes in ADHD and could see my symptoms emerging as I got out of depression but still had struggles with time management and relationships. I thought it was still depression but now that I have a diagnosis I am looking at information about ADHD and shocked that what I thought were my unique personality traits are actually pretty common behaviors for those with attention deficit.
I hope I can now get appropriate treatment, because this is causing significant frustration in my life and has impacted my relationships to the point that I'm pretty much alone because I can't make plans. Not sure about meds but I don't see my pdoc again for a couple months anyway so I've got time to think about that. It would be nice if I could just take a pill and have it all go away but something tells me it's going to be more work than that.
Well, I didn't stay sober this weekend but I didn't make myself sick either. I didn't day-drink on Saturday like the past two weekends. The result is that I didn't have panic on Saturday although I did face depression that felt like a train running through my apartment. Mostly it's because I miss my boyfriend.
I went to lunch with my meditation group and that felt good. Beats eating alone. Then we all went our separate ways and the good feeling went away. I guess I need to be around people, although I am probably the most introverted person I know. I don't want to be the life of the party, I just want to be invited.
I've been thinking lately about life and death and what does it all mean. I'm trying to create my own meaning for life and coming up short. The only reason I don't commit suicide is to avoid hurting those around me, but that doesn't leave me with much of anything positive to do. Depression has taken away my interest in just about everything. I need a reason to live that suggests a direction for my life. I need interests, I need at least a hobby or two.
Still drinking even though I try not to. I keep making myself sick but don't seem to learn my lesson. I'm worried now about what will happen if this doesn't change. I'm scared I'll do something stupid when drunk and not be able to handle the consequences. I'm so depressed and anxious right now. I'm starting to think that drinking is causing some of the panic I've been feeling on the weekends. Of course not drinking puts me in full contact with my depression, isolation, and regret, which is probably why I do it in the first place. I want to stop but I have yet to keep my resolve when Friday night comes around. So I'm going to come back and read this on Friday, see if having it in writing helps.
I only drank one night this week. Had a hell of a hangover on only 6 drinks. Had multiple panic attacks to wade through on Saturday. I don't know if that is due to drinking or if I just am prone to panic on Saturdays - probably a combo of both. Need to try not drinking on Friday night to find out.
My therapist thinks I might have ADHD and gave me a test to fill out. I used to think I had ADHD, then figured it was just depression mimicking the same symptoms because no pdoc would consider it as a possibility, now I'm all unsure again. If it was ADHD it would sure explain a lot, such as why the meds have not quite been right yet and why I still can't seem to get anything done on time. But who knows what the diagnosis will be, it's just a test and it hasn't even been scored yet. I just wish I could know for sure one way or the other.
I'm still isolating but I'm working on that with my therapist. So far not a lot of progress but I'm trying.
I am back on my meds but haven't stabilized yet. Still drinking too much. It was helping me for a while but got to a point where the depression caused by drinking is worse than the depression I feel when not drinking. So now my primary coping mechanism isn't working and I have to find something else. I am staying sober just for today. We'll see if I can keep it going into tomorrow or if I end up changing my mind again.
It has been a hard day with a couple times breaking down in tears and having so little motivation that I can't think of what to do. I wish I could just end it, but that would be immoral especially in light of all the people who have helped me. I want to get better.
I have been better, but it seems so far off now. Acting to achieve goals in the long term feels so difficult that I have a hard time doing it, which isn't healthy. Starting to think about values again, maybe I can get from values to goals that I can actually be motivated about.
I cut back on my meds to make them last until my next pdoc appointment, and predictably my depression got worse. I was feeling like I could handle it, but I ended up drinking, so I could not have been handling it that well. I keep thinking that I can drink and get away with it, but with a mood disorder the after-effects are more severe for me than for normal people. I can try to remember that but short term thinking gets me every time. I still have some alcohol and I know I shouldn't drink but I can't bear to pour it down the drain. I'm not ready to quit. It's too much of a crutch and I don't have anything to replace it with.
I must be getting better, though, because I am starting to think about what I should be doing with my life. I've never had any personal direction before, so this is going to be hard. I can't help but imagine that I would feel better if I could choose a direction and go with it. Also I have been thinking that instead of trying to deal with my pain I could try creating more positive experiences, which means achieving goals, which means setting goals, which means having some sort of idea of what I want to do with my life. As I look back on what I've done so far, I see a lot of regrets. Wrong decisions made in ignorance and fear that brought unwanted results, or decisions that were right for the me of 15 years ago that are not right for the me now because I am a different person.
I never intended to live to this age when I was younger, so planning ahead didn't make sense. I'm clearly not very good at making decisions, which leaves me reluctant to do so now. However I am going to have to or else I will just keep marking time, running out of the limited life I have on this earth without accomplishing anything. And that is possibly the scariest outcome of all - would it be more of a regret to potentially go in the wrong direction, or to choose no direction at all?
Things might finally start to move on selling the house. Last Friday, we went back to court to get legal fees for the ex's year of appeals, and incidentally, it turns out that she wants (me) to sell the house. That's good, because my understanding was that her resistance was the only reason we weren't selling it.
So, I went to a real estate agent last Sunday, and his information is encouraging regarding the market. That means that I now have to do some hurried work to prepare the property before listing it and starting to show it. In fact, there's a chance that it could be sold by, say, the end of February!
That would be my last tie to the ex, which is great. On the other hand, there's a lot of work in the meantime, and all of it likely to need me to do it; I can't expect her to help.
But once I'm done, I could do anything I want! :-)
Now, what do I want ...
Guess its been a while since I last visited here, and thought a visit was long overdue
Ive been a bit out of things the last few months (or maybe longer, cant remember) but things are getting better - i think
Never seem to have much (if any) spare time on my hands these days, parts of me are missing the days of lounging about whinging coz i had nothing to do or worth doing - now its like im on catch up, and cant sit still long enough to enjoy the moments im having.
Not grumbling though, things are moving and so am I
Happy New year all (sorry its some what belated)
Make this day last.
Not because it is the last; it's just the day before the next, just like December 22nd was the day after the end of the world.
But because it's this day, this moment, that counts; one day we'll each run out of them.
So in a way, every day is a "mental health day".
My toast: To Life!
I think we're all still trying to deal with the enormity of one young man, with who knows what problems, killing himself, his mother, a school principal and teachers, and a lot of random small children who never did him any harm.
I know there's a tendency for us to want to change something as a society, to make sure something like this never happens again. But what? Opinions differ on whether or how to limit the availability of guns; we all wish that more could be done for the mentally ill (assuming the shooter was ill), but it's difficult to know what. Taken to extremes, the actions we take could well reduce personal freedom without any guarantee that they will have the desired effect. It's not even clear, in the end, that society as a whole will take any action at all.
Where does that leave us? Are we, as individuals, powerless unless we can persuade a large enough percentage of our fellows to take the same action?
Not at all. Even if indirectly, we have at our disposal every day the opportunity to take action. Look out for the defenseless, the children, the mentally ill. Surround them with your love; buffer them from danger; comfort them when they're hurt.
That's an action anyone can do, that has no potential for harm, that needs no negotiation or legislation, that leads by example.
Who knows how many shootings have already been prevented by just such actions as these.
I haven't updated in a while because very little has changed. I feel very ambivalent about everything, pulled in two directions. Can't decide. I know the "right" choice but I don't have the motivation to follow through. So I make the "right" choice and give up, or I take the easy way out and just do nothing. I missed pdoc appt and keep forgetting to reschedule. Kind of scary because I'm low on meds. Hopefully I will remember to do this tomorrow. I did get Christmas cards out today, only took me two weeks of trying to get up the courage to face the post office. I also went a whole day without porn. This is no small task for yours truly. My therapist seems to think I'm fine but it feels like there is something very wrong with me. Normal people don't look forward to spending all their free time in bed, staring at the ceiling, do they? I'm trying to get better but it's so much easier to do what makes it worse. My boyfriend is visiting next week, that will make me happy for a while.
or Office Holiday Party
I don't want to be told
when to be happy,
or how, or why.
Not unless you want me to lie.
I think it's great
that you want to get
But I want to be asked,
and I may not say "yes",
for without the right to say "no",
what does "yes" even mean?
Sing carols, if it brings you joy,
but don't assume that I'll join you.
I sing when the spirit moves me,
not because of what you think I should be.
No matter how badly
you want me to be free,
no amount of force will work
when the prison I'm in is me.
I'm taking slightly better care of myself today, eating real food instead of junk and laying off the alcohol. I drank a lot this past week which probably explains my worsening depression. I tried to force myself to get busy and felt a little better but eventually I felt overwhelmed and had to lay down for a while. I hate not being able to get stuff done but evidently I needed to take a time out for sanity's sake. Lately I've been feeling down about life itself, not anything in particular. Everything seems to be pointless even though I don't have any real problems except for isolation.
It hurts so bad. I wish I could explain but stupid words won't work for me right now.
I want to go but I don't have the guts. Yet I have the guts to live with the fact that I would hurt those closest to me simply to escape. I don't know how I sleep at night. Oh yeah, I don't. Unless I forgive myself, just for this moment. Maybe I can escape without hurting them. Will they even notice? Will it ever stop? Will I ever feel safe?