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Rising Phoenix - Taking Back My Life from Mental Illness

News for the ‘Reflections’ Category

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

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

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