News for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

TW: My Recent Mindset

Trigger Warning: Most of my posts for the near future will contain a trigger warning since they will reflect my current mindset and feelings. Both of which are filled with pain, anger and helplessness. When I start the articles I do not know how they will turn out so I place a warning on them.

Lately pain, anger, helplessness and uselessness continue to consume me. I watch my wife’s health seemingly decline and cannot do a thing about it. A recent blood test showed she had low levels of red blood cells and platelets and a high level of carbon dioxide.

Today they took a urine culture. You could tell just by looking at it that she has an infection, again. This is the second one she developed since being at this facility. A few hours later I got a call from the CNA on duty that my wife was projectile vomiting. We thought we might need to take her to the ER it was so bad for a while.

Then there are the dreams she is having. The other night she called me in the middle of the night freaked out. She saw five people in Bears uniforms saying they were there to help her.

Her leg and arm muscles seem to be getting weaker as well.

All this is ripping me apart. I am falling back into the self harm mode. It is still infrequent, but it exists again. My anxiety level is through the roof. I had to get my doctor to prescribe me Xanax because the panic attacks were starting to interfere with my daily functioning.

My ability to regulate my mood is deteriorating. Little things are causing me to have intense reactions.

Even seeing others happy fills me with rage and hatred towards them at times. I feel like they are mocking me, throwing their joy in my face. I resent them for it. Why should everyone else get to be happy when my wife and I have to keep suffering. When do we get our turn to be happy and have a good life. It seems like we start to see it and then life pulls it away from us again. No matter what we do it is the same thing.

I just want us to have our turn at being happy. I want us to have a normal life that we can enjoy together. Were we such horrible people in our life that we are being tortured like this?

I only wanted one thing for Christmas, and even that was denied me. All I wanted was to have her back home with me where she belongs.

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Edited: January 5th, 2014

TW: Recent Apocalyptic Thinking (November 2013)

Trigger Warning: I am not sure if anything is triggering in this article, but given the nature of it I felt it best to mark it as such. The article talks about my recent mindset and feelings of hopelessness.

Lately I have fallen into a pattern of apocalyptic thinking, fueled by my feeling like my world is crashing down around me. The feeling that there is no hope. I have only seen pain, suffering and endless darkness around me.

I have seen no positive way out of situations, every scenario I have run has seen things ending poorly. No matter how much I analyzed things, it was always the same result, catastrophic. It had all surrounded my wife’s health.

At the end of October, my wife fell and ended up in the hospital and then later a physical therapy rehab center after breaking her toe. Now, the broken toe is far from the only problem at work. She has been suffering from a rash of problems with her feet and increased muscle weakness in her legs all year. She is also epileptic and the doctor was in the process of changing her medication.

After she got to the rehab center, they started messing up her medication. I won’t go into all the details, but they messed it up quite a bit. This among other factors led to increased stress and anxiety on her part. All of it led to get having increased seizure activity.

Here is where the real problems started. For the first few weeks I was working with the center to get her meds right and reduce her anxiety, feeling that was the cause of her increased seizure activity. It was the only thing that had changed. She had been almost completely off one of one of her meds when she got to the rehab center because of the change. She had been coming off it for over a month and her level of seizure activity had not increased. The amount she had been on when she got there has no real therapeutic value.

Then one day her mother came to visit her and saw my wife having the increased activity. She ran to her husband and had him make an appointment for my wife had the neurologist. She wanted my wife back on the medication she was just coming off. It is a ****ing miracle drug in her mind.  This was done without talking to my wife or I. When the appointment came around I was not available because I didn’t have enough advance notice to get off work.

Then at a family planning meeting, to go over my wife’s care at the rehab center, her mother commented about talking to her father because he has dealt with her case for years and has power-of-attorney. Next, she had the doctor increase the medication she had come off of back to three times a day, again without talking to either of us.

This was the last straw and where the damn broke. I told my wife I could not be involved in her care anymore because of her parents. If they were going to get involved and take over, then I could not be involved. I could not live with them taking over like that. Knowing her mother the way I do, I saw no way to tell them to butt out, especially after her mom threw the fact that her father had power-of-attorney in my face at that meeting, without it being catastrophic.

I could, and still do, only see the following outcomes:

1. Best case – Her parents want nothing to do with us/me for a short time, but eventually come around and everything goes back to normal.

2. Her parents tell me I am not welcome in their home anymore and want nothing to do with me.

3. Her parents refuse to have anything to do with either of us and my wife never comes to hate and resent me for it.

4. Worst case – Her parents refuse to have anything to do with either of us and my wife eventually comes to hate and resent me for it.

I am terrified that this will cost me my marriage eventually. I don’t want to lose my wife, but I don’t want her to lose her parents either. I would love to believe that everything will work out fine, but I cannot believe it will.

Edited: November 20th, 2013

Effects of the Government Shutdown on Mental Health

Before I start the article, I want to go over a few things. First, I have my opinions on where the blame lies for the shutdown. Second, I will not go into such things in this article. Finally, I will not approve any comments that talk about the politics of the situation.

Over the past few weeks, those of you living the United States have undoubtedly seen and heard many stories about the affect the shutdown of the federal government has on the economy, at all levels, and the affect it has on many social programs around the nation. While these are all true and serious concerns, there is one thing I have not heard anything about at all, the impact that the shutdown is having on the mental well-being of the furloughed employees and their families.

As one of the 800,000 furloughed employees and the only source of income for my wife and I, I can provide a little insight into this aspect of the shutdown.

The shutdown has greatly increased my stress level, kept me up at nights worrying about how I would put food on the table and pay my bills. These symptoms did not start on October 1st when the government shutdown, rather they started  about a week before the shutdown as it became apparent that the shutdown was inevitable. Each day the stress and anxiety around the office increased, each day there was less productivity because all we could think about was what are we going to do if they do not pull a miracle out of their ass and fund the government? How were we going to pay our bills? How were we going to feed our families?

It is more than just stress and sleepless nights, those two combined have left me feeling physically ill.

I have on more than one occasion felt like a failure and useless because I could not guarantee that I could provide for my wife and I. It has left me increasingly frustrated and angry; especially, since I am hard working and for the last eight years have earned excellent performance reviews from my managers, performance awards and other forms of recognition. It has left me feeling helpless and powerless, to be put in this situation without having done anything wrong and not being able to do anything but sit at home and twiddle my thumbs waiting for Congress to get their heads out of their proverbial asses.

With every day that passes without a resolution, my emotional state deteriorates and I become more stressed. Everyday, I have to fight even harder to keep myself as emotionally regulated as possible. Each day it becomes more difficult.

Sadly, in some cases I am one of the luckier ones. It is just my wife and I. I know a number of people that are married with children, where both parents work for the government. Good hardworking, responsible people who are in the same situation I am in, but even worse off because they have kids. Some of them have some savings while others have had to use up all or most of their savings for medical bills.

How many other workers face mental health challenges? How many of them will suffer severe set backs to their health? How many of them will end up losing their lives if this situation drags on much longer?

These politicians forget, or maybe they do not care, that they are screwing with the lives of human beings. People that are hard working dedicated employees with families, people who just want to do their jobs. People who work for the government, for less money than they could in the private sector, because they love their country.

Edited: October 12th, 2013

Worrying

Recently, I received some news that has left me troubled. There are two problems with this. The first is that worrying is a useless and wasted emotion. The second problem is that at this point there is no confirmation of the problem.

The doctors require more information before they can say it is a problem. The reason is that what they are seeing may be pre-existing and not a new or worsening problem. It may just be status quo.

Let us look at both problems one at a time.

The first problem is worrying about the situation at all. No amount of worrying about a problem will correct the problem. If you worry a little, a lot or not at all it will affect things in the same manner. The effect will be nothing.  It reminds me of something that the Dalai Lama once said, and I am paraphrasing, if you have a problem but no solution exists there, is no reason to worry and if you have a problem and a solution does exist there is no reason to worry.

If a solution exists, what do you gain through worrying? Enact the solution and the problem will go away. If there is no solution, not all the worrying in the world will make the problem go away and you have a great opportunity to use the skill of radical acceptance.

The second problem is that right now there is no confirmed problem. I am “borrowing trouble”, or in other words, I am creating a problem where one does not yet exist. We all have enough real problems, stress, and difficulties and flat out drama that we need to deal with every day that we do not need to make up new ones that are not there. Besides the universe will kindly provide you with real things to deal with if you really feel the need for more problems.

Worrying about problems that do not exist wastes valuable time and energy. There is a discipline called risk management in which you identify, categorize and provide a plan for how you will deal with a possible risk.

For example, if you live in hurricane alley, you know there is a high risk that a storm a hurricane will hit during certain months. You would come up with a plan on how to mitigate the risk as if you cannot mitigate it; how you would, deal with it is it happens. The plan might include having a bag packed fit each member of you household, including your pets, in case you need to evacuate. It may also include making sure you have enough canned goods, batteries, after, etc on hand in case you lose power.

Once you have the plan in place, you do not worry about it anymore. You do not sit there worrying that maybe a hurricane will hit this weekend especially if there is no tropical activity.

I joke at times, I might walk out my front door and are hit by a meteor, but you know what, I am not going to worry about it actually happening. I could be hit by a car walking across the street, again I am not going to worry about it and assume it will happen. I will make sure I am careful crossing the start though. If I worried about everything that could happen, I would be paralyzed with fear and never move.

I need to try to live my life and only deal with actual problems that exist without making up be ones.

 

Edited: September 11th, 2013

Relationships

RelationshipsDuring the best of times relationships can be complicated, at the worst of times they can be a disaster. I do not mean just romantic relationships either, I mean any relationship. We struggle at times with our relationship with ourselves. Regardless, unless we plan to move to the mountains, live off the land and become hermits, we will have relationships with people.

While becoming a hermit may sound appealing to some, the problem is that humans are, by their very nature, social animals. Regardless of of we admit it or not, we all need and long for the approval and love of other people, even if it is just one person. From the very first day we have needed the love and caring of others, just to survive.

If you think about it, there is a mental health condition called anti-social personality disorder (ASPD). This means that being anti-social is a personality disorder and that being social is considered the “normal” behavior in people. Please keep in mind that ASPD is considerably more complex then described here. This is a gross  simplification of a very real and serious condition.

I was recently thinking about a relationship I had with someone I used to work with and how complicated it seemed. As people, we got a long time and liked each other, in different circumstances we may have even developed a true friendship. As co-workers we had a mutual respect for each other, but at the same time frustrated each other. While I cannot speak for them at times I had a very negative view of them, almost to the point of pure hatred of them.

This is just one example of a complex relationship with a person that I have had.

How do you handle and resolve all the parts?

One unhealthy way is splitting, where we see the person in extremes depending on how they treat us at any given time. In the above scenario, I feel comfortable saying I was splitting.

One of the things that makes relationships so difficult, at times, is that it involves someone other than you. You need to factor in their thoughts, feelings and opinions and act accordingly. You need to understand their feelings as well as your own. You need to distinguish between how they may feel about you in the moment versus how they truly feel about you and see you.

Take the example of a couple who just had a bad fight. During that fight they may have said things like , “I hate you” or called you any number of profane names; however, they do not mean it, they are just angry with you or hurt at the moment. The reality of how they really feel is often the opposite of what they say during the heat of an argument.

You will find that the better your relationship with yourself, the better your relationships with others will become. The reason for this is that when you have a good relationship with yourself, you understand your emotions, feelings, wants and need as. You are comfortable in your own skin.

The better you are able to relate to yourself, the better you can relate to others. You can use what you know about relating to yourself as a building block on learning to relate to others.

Once you can relate to others, you still need to act on that ability. You need to use that understanding to treat people in the appropriate manner. Probably the best advice here is the “Golden Rule”, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Edited: August 20th, 2013

Trigger Warrning: House of Cards

housecardsfall

Trigger Warning: since I am going to discuss some recent difficult events that have left me in a very depressed state I am adding this generic trigger warning. Descriptions and events in this article may be triggering to some individuals. I will categorize them as relating to relationship and feelings of despair.

Some days, I am afraid of the concept of happiness. While I desperately want to happiness and to recover, they both share me.

Why do they scare me? Too many times in my life I have seen one or both of them in my grasp. I start getting optimistic and feeling good about things, but then all to often the rug gets yanked out from under me and the house of cards comes crashing down.

That’s where I am right now. In 2006, I got divorced, partly because there were things I needed in my life that my ex-wife did not want to share with me. Those things were very important to me. I decided that I would not get married again unless the person shared those same interests. I also wanted to have kids.

After a few years I found my current wife and we shared the same interests; however, she wasn’t able to have children. I thought about it and decided that sharing the other things with her would make up for not being able to have kids.

Over the last year, that has changed. The things she was once willing to share with me, she no longer will share with me. In some cases it is by choice, in others it is related to ability. The reason that the relationship had changed are not important. The important part is that change. The things are just as important to me today as they were seven years ago.

If I ignore them and bury them it is another form of self-harm. It might not be physical, but it is emotional and psychological self-harm. Ignoring these things would leave me feeling numb, angry, hurt and a big part of me would be missing and unfulfilled. I would never be truly and totally happy.

It is not a matter of life, I still love her more than anything else. It is a matter of missing vital parts of me. The moment she told me, everything came crashing down and it sent me into a tailspin. All weekend I have had my head filed with morbid and dark images. My heart and soul have felt totally empty. I have wanted to cry since Saturday but have not been able to for some reason.

It has also awakened a white hot rage in me, not for my wife but for the “person” that hit us four years ago. Maybe without the accident this never happens or maybe we would have found out before we get married and could have walked away friends

The last four years I have dreamed about the day we could share the things together. It was one of the things that helped me get through all the hard times, helped me but hate the woman that did this to her. It was just a matter of time, it was a delay in attaining, not a destruction of, what we wanted. My wife’s words the other day were the destruction that the accident started.

It crushed my dreams. It has left me feeling dead inside, full of pain and rage. The extremes are not desirable and even the middle ground that exists does not sit well with me. It is almost as undesirable as the extremes.

There is so much hopelessness in my life right now. A few months back my therapist and I talked about a small subset of this problem. She seemed to agree with me that depriving myself and neglecting this part of myself with be unhealthy and self-harm.

There does not seem to be any good solution. I am devastated, lost, angry and empty.

After last year, this year seemed so promising. I was full of hope and optimism. I do not even feel like trying anymore. I am tired of getting there…almost but never able to get the brass ring and hold on to it.

Edited: July 9th, 2013

Thoughts and Feelings

One thing on my mind lately is how do you know when you can trust your thoughts and feelings?  Now, keep in mind I am far from ‘perfect’ with this, but I think I am getting better with it. Here are my thoughts on the topic.

For me, in addition to the wild emotional ride, I also have a strong analytical part to me. So over the last twenty or so years, I have taken to analyzing myself. The last few years, I have come to start analyzing ‘why’ I do things, ‘how’ I think, ‘why’ I feel certain ways at certain times, etc.

So, I have developed a bit of a ‘baseline’ understanding of myself and an acceptance of at least some of my strengths, weaknesses, ‘flaws’, etc. (In some cases it took decades of people ‘hammering it into me’ before I finally did accept certain truths.)

I have started getting to a point where I can mentally ‘Gibbs’ myself when I start going toward a thought or feeling that I know is not true.

For example, recently I had a series of rough meetings at the office. My lead was not there and my customer was NOT happy at all, so I took the brunt of her displeasure. I knew that part of the reason they were NOT happy was because of mistakes, real not imagined in this case, that I had made over the last few weeks.

I started to feel like I was a total failure, screw up, etc. but I was able to ‘Gibbs’ myself. I was able to tell myself “NO” that is not true, it is just a feeling and one that does not reflect the truth. I was able to use the things that friends, family and co-workers have drilled into me over the years and that I had accepted as truth. I was able to look back at where I was and some of the things I had accomplished and compared them with the way I was started to feel. Once I did that, I saw that I could not trust my feelings at that point.

Another thing I have come to believe is that when I have a really intense emotion or feeling, that more often than not it is not completely accurate, because most things in life fall in the middle. So when I have a really intense feeling, I do not trust it. I am firmly agree with the old advice of not making any important decisions when you are experiencing extreme emotions, because more often than not, you will choose wrong.

With more moderate feelings, I rely on past experiences, checks against my values and beliefs and at times just my gut. I try not second guess every feeling or thought. When it comes to more moderate feelings and thoughts, I know I will get some right and I will get some wrong. I also figure, then when things are moderate feelings or thoughts, if I am wrong, it will not be a disaster most times.

Edited: December 24th, 2012

Thoughts and Reflections (April 2009)

While looking up some of my old blog entries I wrote about my interpretations of the “Wizard’s Rules” from Terry Goodkind’s novels, I came across this entry from April 2009. It was simply titled Thoughts“.

Thoughts

The last few days I sit here and think about your ‘joke’ from the other night. I do agree with you, it was not exactly the funniest joke I have heard, but I know what you were trying to say. I have often made similar ‘jokes’ that have greatly worried people or earned me a good lecture from them. I sooooo love being lectured *snort*. I have also had visions of myself in similar types of situations, not sure, if that is any comfort or not *Chuckle*….

You are right in that we cannot forget where we have been and that we need to be mindful of it, but one thing I do need to say is that just because we have been there before does not mean we will ever be there again. We all face our own challenges in life, and we will have our ups and downs that is to be expected. Personally, I have dealt with these types of things since my teenage years. The biggest problems for me over the years was that I was never diagnosed, partly because ‘back then,’ it was often chalked up to me just being a rebellious teen.

My dad made the comment a few nights ago that if we knew then what we know now our lives would have been much easier, but that is life, as it goes on we learn more. The other problem is that I never had anyone who understood me and what I was going through. That is until I met you, that is one of many reasons why you and your friendship are so special and important to me. Having someone that understands is a huge help, someone who does not think I am ‘crazy’ when I am struggling, when I say that I feel like ‘a ghost.’ I know you have others around you to help you and support you, but know that if you ever do need or want to talk you can always bend my ear.

However, that is not what this is about actually; I seem to have veered from my original thoughts. While we need to learn from the past, we should not assume that we will be there again. If we start assuming we will be there, again we are making, what I think, a few big mistakes.

The first is we are seeing the glass as ‘half-empty,’ we are predisposing ourselves to a negative way of looking at life. The second thing is that we are ‘borrowing trouble,’ let’s face it, there are enough real problems and challenges we have to deal with in our day to day life on every front, we do not need to be looking for more of them lol. The third and last big mistake we are making is we risk ‘violating’ the wizard’s seventh rule – “Life is the future, not the past.”

It is explained in the novel as follows: “The past can teach us, through experience, how to accomplish things in the future, comfort us with cherished memories, and provide the foundation of what has already been accomplished. But only the future holds life. To live in the past is to embrace what is dead. To live life to its fullest, each day must be created anew. As rational, thinking beings we must use our intellect, not a blind devotion to what has come before, to make rational choices.”

If we start thinking too much, about where we have been, especially things like you mentioned, we risk triggering ourselves and causing a self-fulfilling prophecy. The good news is that even though we can wind up in those dark places once again, it is at least partly in our control to prevent it. There is no guarantee that we will prevent it, but we do have some control at least.

One way we can control it is by controlling our environment. If our job is brining a great deal of negativity into our lives, we can look for a new one, if there are people who are ‘toxic’ to us, we can remove them from our lives and so on. Our environment is not the only thing that affects us and determines if we are sucked back into that darkness, but it is one factor that we can control. Another big way to help ourselves is to stay determined not to go backwards.

We cannot just will ourselves not to go backwards, but if we maintain our conviction and keep fighting for ourselves no matter what, at the very least it will help mitigate the hard times. It can lessen the time we struggle. Just as the ‘Seldon Plan’ from Asimov’s Foundation series was unable to prevent the collapse of the Galactic Empire it was hoped that it would “reduce 30,000 years of Dark Ages and barbarism to a single millennium.” The same thing is true with determination.

These days while I am aware I could wind up where I was, I choose to believe I will not ever go back there. I will do everything I can to make sure I never do end up there again. I believe I will not be, because I will only look at life positively. I was pessimistic for too many years. To me it is one thing to be aware the it can happen, but another to believe it will not.

Well, that is how I look at things these days. Not everyone would agree with me, some people might tell me I am very wrong, but it is what works for me.

Edited: December 21st, 2012

The Invisible Man Sensation

Trigger Warning: This entry discusses the sensation of not being part of the world around you. It also touches on self-harm in times of distress. This may trigger some people.

One of the more difficult things to cope with is the ‘Invisible Man’ sensation, that feeling that you are not really part of this world. It is that sensation that you are on the outside of life looking in on everyone else.  It is a hard feeling to cope with, you feel like no one sees you and that if you vanished off the face of the earth that no one would even notice, or if they did somehow notice they would not care.

You feel like you are adrift in the world, but at the same time like you are not in the world. You are left feeling alone and unwanted. You see life going on around you, but cannot seem to reach out and touch it. It is like there a glass wall separates you from everyone and everything else. You are left banging your fists against this wall trying to break through to join the world, yet nothing you do works.

It is a very difficult and painful feeling. It is one that I have struggled with over the years. I remember saying to people that:

“If I walked out my front door, got in my car and drove until I ran out of gas and money and then started walking that no one would ever notice I was gone. I could walk all the way to the Alaskan wilderness and no one would notice.”

When you start feeling like this, the most important thing is to find a safe and non-harmful way to validate your existence and worth. I say a safe and non-harmful way, because at times like this, we may feel that engaging in self-harming actions can validate ourselves; however, at the end of the day, nothing good comes out of hurting ourselves. So it is important to find positive and safe ways to validate ourselves.

When, I start feeling like this, I try to sit back and think of all people that I have an impact on in this world. I look at things both personally and professionally. I try to remind myself that I have an affect on each of their lives and that most of the people in my life are their by choice. There is nothing that is forcing them to be in my life, so the mere fact that they are still around must mean I exist in the world.

Edited: December 2nd, 2012

Modern Culture and Mental Illness

Trigger Warning: Since this entry talks about families, family relationships and touches on holidays, I have decided to add a trigger warning to this entry. I know that for many people one or more of these topics can be triggering.

Note: I know that not everyone has had a positive family experience; however, for this article I portray family as a positive influence in our lives.

The other day I had a brief conversation with someone about the fact that their family does not get together for the holidays the way they did when they were younger. The family gatherings started becoming more infrequent after the family’s matriarch, the grandmother, passed away. Adding to the difficulty, several of the matriarch’s children also passed away within a few years of her death. This of course led to even more infrequent holiday gatherings; especially, since most of grandchildren were of an age that they had their own families and committed relationships, with a few of them even moving to other states.

This conversation, while brief, reminded me of something that I read awhile back. In one of my books on mental health, treatments and BPD, I ran across a discussion by the other on how the change in our culture has impacted mental health.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the book and the exact quote. The author proposed that as we have moved away from the tight knit family units, who for the most part all lived in the same general geographic area for generation to a more of a ‘scattering to the winds’ culture that this has had a negative impact on our mental health, both at the individual level and at larger cultural levels.

In the past, when families stayed in the same region and maintained closer relationships, it helped provide a stronger sense of identity and a strong support network for everyone. At the same time, communities were closer and often provided support for those who needed help. Since families remained in the same area, often time parents would teach their children their trade, further helping provide an identity for the next generation.

However, as we have moved from a family and community centric culture to a more materialistic culture, our families at times have scattered to the winds, at times moving hundreds or even thousands of miles away from one another in the name of advancement and progress. While, there are obvious upsides to this, there are also negative effects as well.

Moving far from our family denies us a strong support network and takes away a component of our identity. Moving far away removes the consistency that being around our extended family provides, that continuation of family values, culture and loving support.

Unfortunately, I do not know if any research exists that shows this correlation exists or if it is merely someone’s personal opinion and theory. I know it is one theory that I do believe has a good amount of validity to it.

Author’s Note: Writing this entry has been emotional for me. Several times as I wrote this entry I have had to distract myself to take care of myself. It has brought up both positive and negative emotions for me.

 

 

Edited: November 24th, 2012

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