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The only way to truly change a person is by killing or maiming them, so stop.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

5 Truths To Correct Your Depressive Thoughts

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 4, 2016

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As exemplified by our reader from earlier this week, depressive thoughts can be powerful, persistent, and, above all destructive. Despite that, it’s possible to defuse these thoughts by responding to them and not letting them have the last work. Here are five common depressive thoughts and how to correct them with the truth.

1) “I used to be able to get things done, and now I’m so tired and miserable that I’m just useless.”

Even truly useless items, like VCRs and rollerblades, are only useless to those who aren’t grandpas or capable of shame. Respond to this thought with the following: “I’m doing a lot, given the fact that I can’t help feeling shitty, my brain isn’t working quite right, and all I want to do is stay in bed and think of more reasons to hate myself. As such, I’m actually proud of all that I’m getting done, and I’m not going to waste time putting myself down.”

2) “I still can’t figure out what I did to make her dump me, except be the worst person who ever lived.”

Depression loves to tell you you’re the worst person, and even though you can clear up that accusation with a quick Google search, it’s easy to believe after a particularly tough rejection. Until Google invents an inter-cranial app, however, tell yourself the following: “If I can’t figure out why she dumped me—and Christ have I tried—it’s not because ‘I deserved it’ because of who I am or something stupid I did. I did nothing terribly wrong other than choosing a girlfriend who’s not a steady, faithful friend, and the worst thing about me is that I didn’t know better, which is no longer true.”

3) “I can’t now and will never find anyone to love a turd like me.”

Donald Trump, Billy Cosby, and multiple guilty death row inmates have found true love, so even if you were a turd, it wouldn’t necessary doom you to a life of solitude. Respond to your sad solitude with the following: “Most people find it hard to find a good partner, no matter how hard they try, so I don’t deserve criticism if I’m doing a reasonably good job of trying to date the available candidates, especially given how hard it is to leave the house or even shower or get out of these sweatpants.”

4) “My job (thus, my life) is going nowhere.”

As we always say, there’s a reason they call it work, which is to say, it’s rarely enjoyable, fair, or as rewarding as it should be. If you hate your job, that’s normal, not the end of the world, and a good time to remind yourself of the following: “Since the Constitution doesn’t promise happy employment, the only question is whether I’m doing a good job with the work I’ve got while I make a reasonable effort to pursue something better.”

5) “I can’t see the point in being alive.”

Only very sick depressed people may act on this notion, but odds are, if you’re feeling really down on yourself, the thought at least crosses your mind. Even if you never take it seriously, there’s no reason to take this bullshit, period. When depression questions your very existence, remember the following: “No matter how hard I try to be a good person, life can hurt. It sucks that the world is unfair, but it’s worth remembering that my pain is caused by bad luck and unfairness, not my own shortcomings. And if I can still get out of bed everyday and try to be a good person and make the world a better place that way, then that’s meaningful, no matter what depression says. I deserve to be here as much as anyone else, and I prove my worth everyday by trying to be the kind of person I admire.”

Career Wrath

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 2, 2016

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It’s very hard to determine whether you’re successful, lovable, or just a worthwhile human being when your thoughts are distorted by the shit-colored lens of depression. Even if you’re making good efforts and getting reasonable results, you’ll see nothing but could-haves, should-haves, and don’t-bothers. That’s why it’s important to recognize when you’re depressed, how depression distorts your thinking, and what to do to be more objective and positive about your achievements. If you can see the effect depression is having on your mind, you can see past the filter to the truth.

-Dr. Lastname

A couple of months ago I was miserable because I worked 12 hours a day for little money and also had to juggle school. While working at this job, my girlfriend for five years left me. I quit the job but never really recovered. In part because I felt I’d disappointed my teachers, because I didn’t perform at school like I used to. Also, I’ve stranded myself from my friends and colleagues because of some internal school politics, plus I rebounded with one of the girls from my class that everybody seemed to want, so now there’s lots of resentment. Since quitting/everything going south at school I can’t concentrate properly, always feel depressed, emotional and anxious around people, and have little interest for things that I used to love. Either something makes me not give a shit about it or makes me cry. I even found a new job where I could make good money in a couple of years and maybe be set for life, but I still feel like shit because the job’s not the field I’m going to school for, so I’m so conflicted. It’s seems like I either try to do what I love/thought I loved but probably will make little money OR make some money doing a job I don’t really love and get to do all the things you couldn’t do before because I was kinda poor. My goal is to get out of the dumps and choose the right career for the right reasons.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Reasons To Stand Up For Yourself

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 28, 2016

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Everybody knows that they should think before they act, but most people ponder whether they should act or not, not why they want to act in the first place. If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re someone with a natural inclination to keep the peace at any cost, thinking before you act may still tell you that it’s best to placate an aggrieved party, even if doing so causes harm in the long run. So, before you think yourself out of doing anything at all, here are five good, non-feelings reasons for standing up for yourself and taking responsible action.

1) Constant Criticism

Since there will always be nasty, negative people out there (or not-normally- nasty people being negative due to stress or depression), it’s often not worth trying to stop someone from criticizing you, even if when you’ve done nothing wrong. On the other hand, it’s not good to listen to undeserved, repeated criticism indefinitely without giving yourself the right to calmly speak up, declare your self-acquittal, and refuse further discussion.

2) Rampant Risk to Self

When someone’s abusing drugs or alcohol or generally determined to endanger themselves, there isn’t a lot you can do, short of hog-tying them or freezing them in carbonite, to keep them safe. What you can do, however, is coolly voice your concern to them and offer your help. If they refuse it, you’ll know that you’ve tried, at least once, to stop them, and at this point you need to step back and protecting yourself from their destructive impact.

3) Serious Slack

If someone at home or work isn’t doing her share, there’s usually no amount of nudging, nagging, or passive aggressive notes that will get them to step up or even admit they’re not pulling their weight. What you can do, however, is have a reasonable discussion with them about what constitutes a fair contribution, ask them to examine their own actions, and then take whatever protective action you can if they’re still obstinate, e.g., reducing your share or finding someone else to share with, period.

4) Anger and Abuse

Obviously, if you have good reason to believe that someone is abusing their kids, you have a moral (and sometimes legal) obligation to take action. Instead of holding yourself responsible for personally stopping the abusive behavior, however, specify to the abuser what’s intolerable, what you’ll do about it if it continues, and what the repercussions will be for everyone involved.

5) Committing Crime

As a civilian, stopping someone you know from doing bad things and breaking the law isn’t something you should attempt on your own. What you can do is inform the offender what you can and can’t accept and then what you can do to stop being an accomplice or a victim.

Taking a stand doesn’t mean telling someone off, but calmly telling them where you stand, what you’re willing to tolerate, and what the possible consequences are for their bad behavior. You can’t make them stop, but you can make them see where you’re coming from and make things right with your own conscience.

Diplomatic Lies

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 26, 2016

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Avoiding conflict is an important part of making a long-term relationship work, but going too far to placate your spouse in order to avoid arguments doesn’t diffuse the conflict so much as internalize it. Not surprisingly, if you keep eating shit in order to keep your partner happy, that’s how you’re going to feel, and it’s what your marriage is going to turn into. It’s important then to know when and how to draw the line on agreeableness without being disagreeable; if you can avoid a big fight without compromising your integrity in order to do it, you can make your relationship last.

-Dr. Lastname

Early on in my relationship with my wife I fell into a pattern where almost every time we got into a big fight, I’d end up apologizing and admitting total fault, even if I didn’t feel that it was all my fault, basically because I didn’t want to continue the argument. She can be a dirty fighter who is great at playing on my guilt, but also, I’m not very good at being assertive and dealing with conflict. And now, as we have had more complex problems to sort through in our life, and the stakes have gotten higher (kids, in-laws issues, mortgage, etc.), it’s even harder to break this habit, which has resulted in me feeling resentful towards her and emotionally withdrawing at times, which is not something I want to continue. I do get her to “compromise” at times but often those compromises are still tilted strongly in her favor. I’m not a total doormat, but I’d like to stand a little more upright. My goal is to be more assertive, and not fear the outcome of being more assertive with her, which I imagine (based on many past experiences) is her losing her temper (rage, blame, etc.), sometimes making threats (divorce) and making me the bad guy, until I play by her rules.

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5 Steps To Get Your Sh*t Together

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 21, 2016

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At the start of a new year, you don’t have to be like our reader from earlier this week—someone in an usual career going through an usually hard time—to feel motivated to get your shit together. Here are five easy steps anyone can follow to get back on track no matter how rocky the terrain of your life happens to be.

1) Get A List of Goals

Obviously, if you’re trying to figure out how to get organized and motivated, you need to know what’s important enough to you to work for. Define these goals in terms of values, not results, e.g., include making a living, not making a mint. Think about what’s necessary, healthy, and fun in the long run, not what your wildest dreams are made of.

2) Put Together Your Priorities

The hardest part of prioritizing is learning to both accept the fact that two or three things deserve highest priority and the skill of juggling them all at once. It gets easier over time, and in the process of learning, you also get better at figuring out whether some of your priorities are actually worth dropping or putting aside.

3) Choose a Coach/System

Without a domineering spouse, day job, or ticking bomb in the basement, most people have to develop a system for self-management, particularly when they have to juggle their own obligations on top of their spouse’s, kid’s, dog’s, etc. Since most schools don’t teach you executive functioning skills, take a course and/or hire a coach. It’s amazing how much better you can do with a good to-do list, a set of urgency categories, and an omnipresent schedule.

4) Suss Out a Schedule

Assuming you have lots of responsibilities, limited time, and a strong desire to have fun, you need to create a schedule. A schedule helps you develop habits and shortcuts, so that you can reduce procrastination, deal with top priorities first, and make time for the things you really want to do. Again, don’t hesitate to take a course or use a coach.

5) Learn Your Limits

Many people experience endless feelings of responsibility once they engage in a serious task and those feelings can become consuming, particularly if an outside source (boss, spouse, parent, etc.) believes your share of responsibilities is never big enough. Train yourself to judge your responsibilities objectively by comparing them to your job description, taking into account your resources, and determining what a good person should do. Then you can remain focused on what’s really important, not overextend yourself, and not only get your shit together, but get shit done with a real sense of pride.

Needing Lady

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 19, 2016

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No one’s life is really controllable, but if you’re one of those lucky people who works freelance, dates long distance, and generally has as much control over his life as a cat wrangler over his herd, then you know a special kind of chaos. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can avoid falling into these categories, but it does mean that you must work even harder, not to stay sane, but to respect yourself for tolerating frustration and loneliness while persisting in your efforts to pursue goals that you truly value. Your life may feel out of control, but if your goals are steady, then you’ll be able to stay the course.

-Dr. Lastname

I am an actress in my 30s, and I was on a roll after not working for a year and a half. I booked an amazing movie and met a guy, fell in love quick and deep, but then I had to go home, thousands of miles away from him. I went back to being busy with work, doing well, looking forward to getting back to his town with another job, but of course it didn’t work out this way. I got close on some jobs and was working with a life coach who told me the job was coming, but 9 months went by and I was working a part-time job and getting depressed about the dude as I hadn’t heard from him and suspected he had moved on. I forced his hand and decided to go to see him anyway, so I saved a bunch of money to go see him and have my heart broken in person (and then make peace), but then I got home early only to discover my part time job and apartment were gone. The life coach tells me I have to get a regular job and that I sabotaged my career. I feel like the last of all my friends to get my shit together and it’s all a bit overwhelming. Plus I still have feelings for the guy and I’m still 9000 miles away. I want to go move home, closer to my family (and to him), but need money to do so. I feel lost and pulled in a million directions—I want to really focus on my craft and making a living doing that, but also have a boyfriend, and it always seems like it’s one or the other, and my feelings get the better of me sometimes. My goal is to figure out how to make it all work.

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5 Ways To Not Kill Your Kid

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 14, 2016

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If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re having a tough time getting along with your teenaged kid, there are ways to keep things more civil, even if you can’t keep your kid from acting out. Here are five typical things a teenaged kid says to provoke a parent, and five responses that won’t feel as satisfying but will minimize conflict and make a tough situation easier to deal with.

1) “I’ll do [this chore] later. I’m not your slave.”

“I don’t want you to feel like a slave, though we both have to do lots of shit that everybody hates doing. I’ll put together your share of the shit list and make sure it’s fair and necessary, and we’ll discuss it. Meanwhile, I really appreciate what you do and think it’s making you independent.”

2) “You never listen to me and I always listen to you.”

“You’re right, [my illness/schedule/obligation to your siblings] doesn’t let me listen to you as well as I’d like, and I hate it, too, because you’re one of the most important people for me to listen to. But if we are both patient and persistent, I’m sure I’ll get the message.”

3) “You’re lucky I don’t tell anyone how abusive you are.”

“Anger can get both of us to do things we really regret, and I’m sorry I lost it. I’m the parent, and I’m supposed to have the experience and maturity to keep it together. I’m determined to learn from what went wrong and try to do better.”

4) “You’re lucky I didn’t hurt you because I’m stronger than you.”

“You’re right, which is why I’m glad you restrained yourself. For that matter, though you may not believe me, so did I. And that’s what we both need to get better at doing: keeping it together when we really want to kill one another.”

5) “You’re really psycho.”

“So, who’s perfect? But seriously, it’s not nice to be nasty about mental illness, especially because, if I do have a crazy, terrible temper, then you inherited it. So yes, it’s my fault, but here we are, so we both have to learn how to manage our inner genetic psycho.”

Parental Warning

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 12, 2016

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Many parents know what it’s like to hate their kids at some point in the long, close process of living together as a family, be it during the early years when they eat, break or crap on something you really care about, or during the teen years, when they metaphorically do the same. Unfortunately, some parents don’t know it does no good to hate yourself for the way you feel, so instead of trying to feeling loving all the time or running away when you’re angry, remember what you want to accomplish as a parent, whether you like your kid at that moment or not. Then learn how to keep hate to yourself while pushing the relationship in the direction you think it should go, namely towards mutual respect and away from destruction.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m a single mom in my 40s, and I am in complete awe of kids today and their sense of entitlement. My teenaged daughter down-talks to me constantly and is always arguing about every little thing. Tonight I told her to do the dishes, and when she gave an attitude about it, the fight escalated until we started hitting each other. She talked down to me and called me crazy, and I ended up putting her in a headlock and saying, “You think this is crazy, you haven’t seen crazy!” Eventually, I even said the words I will go to hell for saying–“I hate you”—and I hate myself right now. All I have ever wanted was the best for my daughter. Her father was in and out of her life and that devastated me because I know how important a father is since I didn’t have one myself. I have done everything to show her love and build her up so she would have the self-esteem to make better choices for herself, yet here I am acting like my mother, which makes me want to go play in traffic. She has been stubborn and strong willed since day one and everything I thought about having a little girl has been shattered. A factor to consider is I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago. I can’t work (but I take care of the household), am in pain a good percentage of the time, and my cognitive skills are most effected, so I can’t multi-task at all (and I have explained to her that if I am doing something and she comes in and starts talking, my brain can’t shift that fast, but she still gets annoyed when I ask her to repeat herself). I feel like my life is fucked and over and I’m depressed about a shitload of things, but mainly our relationship. What the hell do I do to change our relationship before I have a stroke? My goal is to get my daughter to see that I love her so much instead of just seeing my resentment.

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5 Ways To Stay Positive While Going Through Hell

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 7, 2016

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If life puts you through the ringer, as described by our reader from earlier this week, it can leave you feeling like every last ounce of hope and joy have been wrung out of you forever. Here are five ways to get through hell with some of your positivity intact.

1) Less Reaction, More Distraction

Keep busy—the more time you spend working, volunteering, cleaning the garage, etc., the less time you have to think, remember, or have any serious talks you aren’t ready for. You’re not running from your feelings or avoiding facing the truth; you’re just working hard to keep these things from taking over.

2) Busy Body, Busy Mind

Exercise isn’t just a distraction, it’s a sort of healthy meditation; it gives you a chance to focus, but it’s active enough so that you can’t just sit and sulk. Running on the treadmill while watching Bravo will give you distraction, fitness, and endorphins all at once.

3) Dare (Not) to Compare

While it’s natural to want to gage your progress, never compare yourself to others, be they non-hell dwellers or hell-ions like yourself, because there’s always someone who’s happier and luckier. Think instead about what you’re doing to cope with hell, including surviving the pain and unusual heat.

4) Count Out A Cure

Don’t expect relief to come until it comes; assuming that a good talk with an old friend or therapist, a long vacation, or just a new pair of jeans will provide all you need to ease your ache will probably disappoint and then discourage. One day, the pain will be bearable, but all you can do is wait and focus on other things in the meantime.

5) Shelf Self-Blame

Never ask yourself what you did wrong to wind up in a feelings hell, or berate yourself for all the mistakes you made; sometimes things hurt even when you did everything right and nothing wrong. Remind yourself about the good things you were doing when everything went bad and the good things you continue to do in spite of the way you feel. It’s hard to be a good person when pain doesn’t stop, but if that’s what you’re doing, be proud of the way you’re surviving life at its worst.

Hurt Response

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 5, 2016

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When you lose someone you really care about, the despair can also cause you to lose your confidence; you sometimes feel you should be stronger, or should have cared less, or that you now lack the independence to recover. In reality, we have as much control over how we feel about or experience loss as we do over our loved ones. Some people wind up with much more pain than others, and much more than they deserve. What you can always do, however, is find meaning and value in the relationships you’ve cared about, and, in doing so, find reasons to believe in yourself and carry on.

-Dr. Lastname

In the past three years I have lost my father, my husband, my son, and had a bad breakup. I also am responsible for the care of my handicapped mother. The loss of my son and the breakup have both happened in the last three months. I feel overwhelmed and cannot pull myself out of it. It’s too much to go through all at once, and I can’t see any relief in sight. My goal is just to survive the excruciating period of my life.

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