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malign last won the day on June 9

malign had the most liked content!

About malign

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Changed in the Fall of '13; now in the snowy state of Michigan, US.
  • Interests
    Bird photography, go, happiness, Demented Bunnies
  • Biography
    Lifelong depressive with a dash of hope. My name is Mark, too.


  • Location
    Changed last Fall; now in the state of Michigan, US.
  • Interests
    Bird photography, go, happiness, Demented Bunnies
  • Occupation
    Software Engineer, site moderator, but most importantly, human being.

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  1. Well, men who are still alive are vastly more successful with women. 🙂 I know, it's not the same ...
  2. Your diagnosis was correct, @uptight outasight. Our host upgraded their infrastructure a month or two ago to require a proper SSL certificate, without really notifying us of the change. I contacted them, finally, yesterday, and they installed the required certificate. If I had known it was that easy, I'dve done it some time ago. As for "ownership" of the site, Beth and I are administrators, and I pay the fees every month. I don't allow advertising on here, and I keep a low profile as "owner" even when I'm here more often. Given the low attendance overall, there have been times when I have considered changing things, but (though tempted) I didn't want the site to fail through my lack of action.
  3. malign

    Why Are We Here?

    I'll be honest: I don't really know what people are using, these days. I'm fairly old-school, and neither knowledgeable about nor interested in social media. I would have thought that more people home idle would mean more traffic, no matter what ... I certainly don't plan anything sudden. I was mostly reflecting on my own feelings, in here. Whatever I do, it will be announced widely, with a comment period in case someone has a better idea than I do. (You'd be amazed at how often that happens. 🙂 ) Things often do things that weren't intended, but that's why we get to make course corrections. Otherwise, we'd have to get it perfect, the first time ...
  4. Sheep don't wear masks. 🙂 They're not smart enough to recognize an idea that's in their own self-interest. This is why shepherds are needed.
  5. Okay, not in the huge sense, or we'd be here all day ... What I'm wondering is, what are we getting from the site, these days? Does it still provide what people need? I guess the answer would have to be different for the two major user groups we have, the SPS guys, and everyone else. The SPS forum continues to be active, particularly for a small number (fewer than a dozen, say) of regular contributors. The opinions differ somewhat, as in any conversation, but the forum itself at least appears to provide its participants with what they want. However, it's unclear whether the forum is doing what it was intended to do, which was to support people through their struggles with a mental illness or at least something like a mental illness. The majority seem to feel that their situation is entirely physical and that any psychological effects on them are due to the actions of others. While we can support people who are in pain, our real goal has always been to help them change in ways that reduce that pain. If, instead, our support helps maintain them in their inaction, we may actually be doing them a disservice. The situation for "everyone else" is even more problematic. We get little traffic, any more, for any other forums. Those regulars who do not identify as SPS sufferers still end up conversing mainly in the SPS forum. There is little mental health anything going on elsewhere on the site. It's quite possible that, had I not been absent, I might have been able to change that situation, but I don't know. It does concern me, though, because it brings the question of purpose into fairly stark focus. Are we doing anyone any favors keeping the site open, and how do I feel about my role in that?
  6. There once was a poet named Gorinj Who was seeking a rhyme for "orange," He struggled all day Then said, "What the hey," Gave up and became a grocer.
  7. "Vocation" originally meant the calling that priests were expected to feel when they chose to enter the priesthood. It only later came to mean whatever career a person chose. I chose to make a right turn fairly late in my life, and go from a quarter century or so of computer programming to a new profession, psychological counseling. The change required that I get at least a master's degree, which at my age is probably as far as I will go. What made me decide to make such a change? Well, some of the events in my own life, which are largely detailed elsewhere in this blog, gave me some experience with psychology, from the user's perspective, you could say. Verbal abuse, depression and suicidality, and a drawn-out divorce made me aware that there had to be more to life than programming. And, coming to the site during that period, I learned a bit about helping and being helped. Programming isn't much of a legacy compared to that. The path to the degree has been long: four years and counting. The subjects taught were not clear-cut like the ones in my biology undergrad schooling. The classes had varying amounts of "experiential" learning, which seems to have meant that we taught each other. I have failed courses (before this one), something that isn't like me. I put off applying to the practicum several times, tiding myself over with an elective course so that my student loans wouldn't come due. Clearly, then, I have shown some resistance to finishing the program. Now it will take at least another year to graduate, and then I have to get licensed. Anxiety accounts for some of the resistance, at least. The fact that, even when I'm licensed, I will have to be supervised throughout my career is another burden that slows me down. The profession also won't be as lucrative as if I had continued programming, and hey, who doesn't like money? My advisor, even before I was admitted into the program, remarked that I didn't have the same kind of enthusiasm that other students had coming in, mostly just having graduated with psychology degrees. I pointed out, essentially, that I was twice their age and so could be expected to be roughly half as naive, I mean optimistic. I used better words, because he let me in, but I haven't become less cynical. Interestingly, I chose counseling as the way to help because I had experience with (receiving) it over most of my life, and I assumed that was how people get helped. I only realized, this last semester during one of my supervision sessions, that counseling was not, in fact, what helped me through the worst of my own time. It was this site! (The people really.) That startling idea has at least opened my mind to consider other helping options, even if I finish the counseling degree. It probably plays no small part in my reasons for coming back.
  8. LaLa, I'll probably get to some of your points in later blog posts, but ... I'm not trying to make myself feel bad about withdrawing from people to focus on myself. I don't know if I "needed" to, but I guess I thought I needed to, because I did. All I'm saying is that, having tried it, it seemed like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It left me with just an empty washtub. 🙂 And, I'm hoping to be able to come back, because that's what I'm doing. "Does not meet expectations" is my cumulative grade for this course, which is pass/fail; the alternative is "Meets expectations", which means passing. We were all given an evaluation form with a lot of categories and subcategories on which we were rated. The grade is sort of a weighted average of performance on each ... task? I'm not really interpreting the phrase as applying to all of me, though it is discouraging. Sessions definitely make me nervous! (Jeff Sessions does too, but that's another story.) I've always been an anxious person, especially socially. Here I am being evaluated at a skill you don't really get to practice much beforehand. All the coursework gives you a grounding in a lot of the why's, but not much of the how's. It seems that they feel that the actual counseling is something you have to learn by trial and error. Which is my least favorite way to learn something. It makes sense that it's not something you can learn from books, but ... I also didn't feel very well supported in the feedback that was available. You are assigned a "supervisor", who is a more experienced counselor, to go over your sessions with. In our case, the supervisor was also a student, though a doctoral level student, who was herself receiving supervision from the professor. I have no independent viewpoint to evaluate her performance, but ... let's just say that my feeling that it was an inquisition was not relieved by our discussions, and I doubt that that resulted in an optimal learning experience for me. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to focus on the client's words in the session, while being able to observe oneself and the client with enough consciousness to move the session in a therapeutic direction. I remained unable to reach that observer level, by the end of the semester. Of course, no one expects us to be fully competent after such a short time, but that's where the "expectations" come in. I didn't even reach those. More elsewhere.
  9. Well, the licensing varies somewhat by state ... Here in Michigan, LPC (licensed psychological counselor) is for PhD's and LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) is for those with a master's in Social Work. Other master's level counselors (my program is technically a master's in Counseling Psychology), get an LLPC (limited LPC), which means we have to be supervised by an LPC wherever we work. Which restricts us somewhat to agencies, or private practices willing to provide supervision internally. It's a pain, but then, so is getting a PhD.
  10. malign

    A Year Gap

    It's good to hear from you, Jai. At a minimum, it inspired me to post again, about how I haven't been posting. 🙂 Here's to steadfast partners, and friends of all sorts. My wife and I are doing fine, both covid-ly (so far, anyway), and relationally. Learning to be together is constant, as learning to be oneself is. © 2020, Platitudes-R-Us. All rights reversed. We'd love to hear more from you, Jai, whether "out loud" here, or not. You take care, too. Care is what it's all about, after all. (That's it: I could do greeting cards!)
  11. I was surprised the last time I found I hadn't posted here in a year. Now it has happened again. I think part of the reason I turned away from the site is that I turned away from myself, a little. Not consciously, but perhaps I was trying to turn towards whatever the counseling profession was or is, or what I thought it was. It's four years later, and I still haven't finished. I put off the practicum last Fall, and though I took it this Spring, I received a "Does not meet expectations" result, which means I have to retake it in order to move forward. After I retake the practicum, I would have to find and complete an internship somewhere. To the extent that I need a defense, more than half of the semester was spent under a stay-at-home order, and so involved both distance learning and distance counseling. But it's also true that I never managed to relax into just being in session with someone. What remains unclear is whether I will be able to, in the future. I am definitely considering dropping out. I'm obviously resisting the program; whether from personal anxiety or from some nobler dislike for jumping through hoops, I don't know. On the other hand, there's a sizable amount in student loans and four years of my life that would have little to show for it. Still, finances might be better if I went back to computers. Speaking of finances, though, my "day job" of working for a local big-box grocery-and-everything-else store has unexpectedly made me essential in some way that no one would have said I was, before. So, I go to work, full time, with a two-dollar-an-hour raise and a mask on my face, and get thanked by people for doing it. Still, I worry more about people who can't go to work, or who will have to decide between risking their lives and earning a living, soon. Amusingly, we're finding that not everyone can work from home, and even better, that the ones who can't may well be more important in keeping our society running. And don't get me started on how vulnerable this makes us, being dependent on internet connectivity for everything, now. I find myself increasingly discouraged by the evidence that our political system, and for that matter, our reasons for being as a society, are breaking down. Suspicion is not only normal; it's openly expressed at every level of society against every other level. People seem to have stopped admitting even the possibility that other people might have good intentions. A famous dead man said that a house divided against itself cannot stand; he presided over the last civil war. So, back to me, and figuring out which way to turn. Strangely, as I tried to focus on learning how to counsel people, I felt less and less able to keep contact with people I was already involved with. It felt like I needed those resources to work on myself, during a process that undoubtedly induces changes in anyone who goes through it. But I can see now that I lost by doing that; that as I pulled back from the rest of my life, ostensibly to improve it, I made it colder and darker, for myself and for those I abandoned. I thought I had to turn inward (even more than I naturally am), but the truth is that the reasons for living aren't in there. They're in the people out there, who need help. So, I may have to get through some more hoops, but if I do try to, I won't be focused on the hoops as much, any more.
  12. malign

    A Year Gap

    I think this is the longest gap there's ever been in this blog, which has been running since 2008. I guess nothing too surprising happened this past year: classes go on; it will soon be time for practicum, where the rubber meets the ... forehead of the client; I went back to work for the big-box grocery-slash-everything chain I worked for before ... All the usual anniversaries went by: my hospitalization, my ex filing a restraining order that began the end of our marriage, and so on, but they didn't carry very much weight this time. More prominent was the two year anniversary of my second marriage, which is much happier. I continue to make progress in my own therapy. And that might be part of the reason for the gap: I would like to postpone writing until I'm "done", whatever that means, until I think I can sound smart describing the humbling process of coming to terms with coping "skills" that I would rather change. What I found, mostly, is that my childhood was, in fact, kind of difficult, despite everyone involved doing their best and no major evil. My folks just had too much on their hands, having two baby boys in their 40's. As the first child, I did my best to relieve them of some of the burden, which simply isn't a child's job ... It made it very confusing about what I'm allowed to do, what I'm allowed to want, who I'm allowed to be. The limits seemed a good idea at the time. Now I have to reconcile the part that resents all that I thought I should give up with the part that thought that giving those things up was a good idea. And I do mean reconcile; there's a desire to "replace" the old manager part, but all that does is change which part is exiled. I have to find an argument to which they'll both agree for why they're stronger and better together. So. Still here, still reading, still hoping that people benefit. See y'all around.
  13. In this particular context, the BBC is the British Broadcasting Company.
  14. Knowing people, they'll still make fun of a guy whose balls rattle. 😁
  15. Hi Bob, I'm sorry to hear you're suffering so much. I hope you'll give yourself some time before going with an irreversible decision. I'm interested in your phobia of people; could you talk about that, more? It doesn't apply to your family, it seems. Did something happen to cause it? What are you afraid will happen? Since we're people, I assume that it would require us to meet in person? Recluse or homeless, or dead. Seems like there might be some other options -- treatment or self-help for your phobia comes to mind. You said that being homeless would be like dying only with more suffering. What if, though it might take even more effort/suffering, you could actually live?
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