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Goals, not wishes-- I'm a doctor, not a genie.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Instability Insurance, Pt. 1

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 3, 2015

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Dear Readers,

As you might have noticed, the site’s been going through some changes in the past week or so as we prepare for the release of our book, F*ck Feelings (see pre-order links to the right, it makes an excellent Labor Day gift).

This week, we debut our biggest change—instead of doing two cases per post, we’re going to do two per week. New posts will still go up on Mondays and Thursdays, but those posts will contain just one case, and it’ll be the Monday case and the Thursday case that have a unique and insightful connection, as opposed to two cases within each entry.

We hope you approve of these changes, and we appreciate your patience as we revamp the site and drag it from the WordPress dark ages.

In conclusion, please enjoy FF 2.0, and also, please buy our book. These A/C-bolstered electric bills aren’t going to pay for themselves.
-Dr. Lastname


When people are under stress, they sometimes become different people. While nobody aside from Bruce Banner experiences a physical transformation, stress does make some people repeatedly do things they know they shouldn’t. If stress sucks you into a bad habit, learn to accept your loss of control, put shame aside and have faith that the real you is still there and will come back from your mental-Hulk state. Next time, we’ll discuss the strange flipside of stress-induced compulsion.
-Dr. Lastname

I pride myself on being a pretty independent woman, so when I realized I had to give up on a relationship that was going nowhere with a guy I liked, I barely let it phase me. Six months later, however, I fell hard for someone else and, when he dumped me, it seriously messed me up and made me miserable. That’s when I was horrified to find myself calling my previous, going-nowhere boyfriend again. Since then, I can’t seem to stop calling him, even though I feel the same old vague emptiness after we spend time together. I’ve never seen myself as weak, but I feel like an addict every time I get sad and find myself picking up the phone. My goal is to figure out what went wrong with me to make me become someone who can’t stop calling someone whom I know will leave me feeling worse.


Experiencing the urge to do something destructive, be it calling a crappy ex, eating your weight in Oreos, or returning to the vodka trough, isn’t always a sign of overall weakness, weirdness, or creepiness. More often, it’s a sign that a part of your brain is possessed, and Oreo-loving demons don’t get up and leave on their own.

That’s because these compulsions often have a life of their own, and sometimes independent people who are proud of their self-control find themselves struggling with the urge to do something they really don’t want to do, whether it’s drinking, eating, or over-connecting. Nobody’s immune to bad habits, not even good people.

Love and/or depression are the usual triggers for these compulsions, but sometimes the phenomenon just happens for reasons no one understands. Shame, which is an unavoidable result, just makes it worse.

If you were really a creep, you’d feel it was all your ex-boyfriend’s fault that you had to call him, and you wouldn’t be ashamed. Since you’re not a creep, you blame yourself; you hate calling and it makes you ashamed and self-critical, which probably makes you more desperate and eager to make another call.

You’re right, of course, in wanting to stop this addictive connection, particularly because it seems to leave a hangover of unhappiness. So cast aside shame, and look for ways to strengthen your resistance to a behavior you wish to end.

Talk to friends about your problem and ask their help in keeping you busy and away from the phone. Perhaps one of your closest friends could even call your ex-lover and guilt him into not answering (or, in the most sincere-yet-empty way possible, threaten to cut his nuts off if he does).

Treatment with medication may help; high-dose SSRIs sometimes reduce compulsive urges, as well as improving depressive symptoms. A good behavioral therapist can coach you on managing compulsions, but using therapy to discover the reasons for your having these compulsions will probably be less useful. Knowing why you started feeling this way isn’t the key to stopping it; learning how to manage it is. Above all, credit yourself with wanting to do the right thing, even if your compulsion makes it hard.

Your goal isn’t to stop the urge to call your ex, but to do your best to recover your self-control while your heart recovers from a tough breakup. As you recover, your head will get straighter, and the demon will leave your brain and return to your bowels/the depths from which he came.

“I can’t stand the idea of needing someone so badly, particularly when it’s a one-way relationship, but I can’t help the way I feel. I will try to manage a self-destructive behavior while I gradually get back to my old self.”


Please check back on Thursday to learn another way that stress can smash and destroy.

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