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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Grief Respite

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 30, 2017

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As C.S. Lewis once observed, grief feels a lot like fear—it’s just as unsettling, consuming, and uncontrollable—but it does also cause some fear, namely that the grief will never end. You can’t make it end, of course, no more than you can change the way it hurts or prevent loss from happening in the first place, but you can remember that the loss would not exist without love, and that there is meaning in loving relationships that is never lost, no matter if the person you loved is no longer there. And that meaning can sustain you through hard times, no matter how long they last, no matter how scared you feel.

-Dr. Lastname

I lost my beautiful, 23-year-old son this year in a horrific accident. I keep replaying this accident over and over again in my mind. I have two other biological children and a stepchild, but I still feel the loss of this son to an excruciating degree. I am continuing to grieve very heavily to the point that I feel disconnected. My goal is to find a way to ease my horrific grief and emotional pain.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways to Fight Negative Thoughts Caused by Grief

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 26, 2017

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One of the many ways that grief can prolong its stay in your brain is through flooding your mind with doubts and regrets, thus expanding the potential sources of pain and frustration. Then you’re not just preoccupied with mourning one loss but all the mistakes you made in relation to it, including your inability to quiet the thoughts and just move on. If, like our reader from earlier, you’re in a state of grief that you just can’t escape, here are five common negative thoughts from grief and the ways you can fight them, quiet them, and finally begin to let your mind and your heart move on.

1) “If only I’d [done that one thing that could have saved him].

After almost every huge disappointment in our lives, it’s human nature to imagine what could have been done to prevent disaster and spare pain. That’s why TV is filled with all manner of sportscasters, political pundits, and general opinion-havers, paid to fulfill viewers’ basic human need to understand whatever went wrong and figure out who’s to blame. When all else fails, we’ll blame ourselves rather then accept the overwhelming, uncontrollable power that bad luck has over our lives. So don’t be surprised if your thoughts dwell on everything you could have done, but don’t listen to them, either. Remind yourself of everything you did right, knowing that there’s only so much we can do to protect the ones we love, and that no amount of self-torture will change that.

2) “It’s just getting worse when it should be getting better.

Just as we crave reasonable, logical explanations for something as inexplicable as loss, we want to expect a predictable, healing result from something as undefined and arduous as grief. Lots of people believe that you’ll heal from loss if you’re strong and prepared to face your feelings, but most shrinks see more evidence of that’s being false than true. Grief hits different people in different ways, depending more on the usual way their personalities experience and deal with strong emotions rather than on what or how much they choose to share. Having supportive friends, a therapist, or a support group is helpful, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll feel better any time in the near future. So don’t hold yourself to some imaginary, unfair timetable for recovery, especially when doing so will just make such recovery more difficult. Instead, respect the way you get through your days that are burdened with grief and your ability to keep this uncontrollable pain from derailing your entire life.

3) “I’m in so much pain that it’s hurting everyone around me.”

In some cases, like if grief is making you mean or too reliant on drugs or alcohol, then you may be right, and controlling your behavior and preventing yourself from hurting others is your number one priority. But if it’s just that your grief is making you so sullen, quiet, and/or unlike your usual self that you feel like you’re infecting them with your sadness or driving everyone away, then stop burdening yourself with unnecessary responsibility for their feelings. Their feelings are just as uncontrollable as your own and it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect oneself from other people’s pain. If they can’t stand you when you’re in pain, they’re not true friends. If they’re your kids, bearing a loved one’s pain is something they need to learn how to do. Stay focused on managing your own pain while encouraging others to do what’s necessary for theirs, and don’t worry about bringing them down.

4) “I can’t stop thinking of all the things we never said, fights we never resolved, things we never did,” etc.

About the worst thing we can imagine in a close relationship is to have death interrupt it before certain issues or disagreements can be resolved; then you’ve not only lost someone, but you’ve lost the chance to make things right. In this situation, regret enters the picture and compounds your grief with guilt. We know, however, that there are usually good reasons for conflicted, intense feelings in close family relationships. We also know that there is often no way to resolve those feelings with words, which is why we show our love by staying connected and letting bad things pass with time, so even if you both ran out of time, there’s no reason to believe the love wasn’t always there. Don’t expect life to have the kind of tidy resolutions that movies and TV shows do; instead of obsessing over loose ends and lost opportunities, remember what held you together, how you survived the bad times and how much better your life was for the love you shared.

5) “There’s no getting over this pain.”

Not only is grief unpredictable, but it may also be eternal; to some degree, the pain of loss, especially the loss of a child, can linger forever. On the other hand, so do your memories of the one you lost, the impact he had on your life, and the love you shared. Just loving someone opens you up to a world of potential pain, but it’s also a brave, admirable act to improve and give meaning to your life and perhaps even make the world a better place. The sadness may never disappear, but neither will the meaning of your relationship or the positive influence it had on you and your world.

Words with Amends

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 20, 2017

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If someone breaks up with you for what you perceive to be unfair or unfounded reasons, one of the ironic effects of of the unjust uncoupling is that you can become so filled with confusion, pain and resentment that you can become the very kind of negative person your ex accused you of being in the first place. While there’s no reason to like the negative person you’ve become, there’s every reason to fear the results of sharing your feelings with your ex, even if you’re desperate to share something with her to win her back. Finding something sweet, giving and positive to think about and say may then seem like a good, positive solution that could restore your self-esteem and do some good. If being with her makes you become such a bad version of yourself, however, there are reasons to think twice about offering to help your ex feel better and instead use a different approach that will make you the better person you used to be.

-Dr. Lastname

I have an ex-girlfriend that suffers from depression and also has Aspergers. When she broke up with me, she accused me of being a liar and becoming a different, uncaring person over the course of the relationship. I don’t think any of those accusations are true, or that she even believes them, and I haven’t been able to get over her. Even though she said harsh words to me, I do not think she meant them and it was just the depression and Aspergers talking, especially since she told me she’s been depressed her entire life. I know that this might sound selfish and dumb, but I want to write something that could express that to her and maybe help her in the future. I will admit that I still like her and that’s why I’m writing, but I also really want her to be happier overall. My goal is to be able to get her out of her misery and be able to have a better life. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Strength and Fertility Test

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 24, 2015

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If you’re cursed with obsessive yearnings for something that’s out of reach, it’s natural to feel ashamed, particularly when you feel blessed in other ways and sharing your feelings would cause pain to those you love. It’s then also natural to obsess over how much you’re obsessing, which obviously just makes things worse and hard to feel anything but cursed. Unfortunately, however, ruminations are ruminations because you don’t control them. What you can control, of course, are the decisions you make about those yearnings. If you do what’s right regardless of your yearnings, you should recognize the significance of your accomplishment, and if you need tips for managing those yearnings, we’ll provide them later this week.
-Dr. Lastname

My husband and I can’t have our own biological kids, due to my husband’s infertility. We have a healthy and strong marriage, so that’s not the problem, and I’m also not mad at him for not being able to get me pregnant. I wish I was, however, because I feel like that’s an easy fix (or at least I can find plenty of how to do that online). What I am searching for is how do I stop wanting to be pregnant. We have adopted and our child is wonderful, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to carry a child of my own. As much as I have searched and asked, infertility advice is about dealing with in vitro or other fertility treatments or how to repair a marriage after infertility, not how to cope with this kind of loss, so I am searching for advice on how to move on. My goal is to figure out how do I accept my fate and stop wishing (desperately) for pregnancy. 
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Breaking Sad

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 9, 2015

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People often have simple, easy expectations about complicated, difficult feelings; grief should resolve itself with time, and overwhelming guilt should be resolved by redeeming actions. Of course, grief doesn’t always disappear on schedule, if ever, and guilt shouldn’t become overwhelming unless you’ve actually done something wrong. So don’t grieve for persistent grieving and do feel guilty for over-reacting to guilt. Adjust your expectations, hold on to your values, and get used to the simple fact that painful feelings have a logic of their own.
Dr. Lastname

I lost my son ten years ago when he was hit by a drunk driver, but I still think about him every day, and sadness comes back periodically. I’ve always liked to stick with the things I liked—I’ve had the same job for many years, the same friends and hobbies, and I’m often reasonably happy—but he was my only kid, I never remarried after his father left us, and I just sometimes wonder whether I should still be thinking about him and feeling sad so frequently, even after all these years. My goal is to learn to accept his death in a healthy way so I don’t grieve forever.

Like rage and exhaustion, grieving is one of those feelings that you’re only “allowed” to experience for a limited amount of time; otherwise, everyone around you wants to kill you, and that’s only if your emotional-overdose doesn’t kill you first.

While rage and exhaustion really can burn you out, grieving over a death, even for ten years, isn’t necessarily unhealthy or unusual, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed to hasten your own demise.

In reality, people differ in the depth of their attachments and life doesn’t always offer second chances. So your experience with prolonged grief after losing your only son may be unavoidable, if uncomfortable, and, of course, sad.

After all, you’re the type of person who experiences strong, lasting attachments, so your relationship with your son would probably have been central to your life if he were still alive. Based on your long history with the same job and friends, it seems that you’re also the sort of person who values continuity and relationships over adventure, change, and new experience.

The pain of prolonged grieving could have become destructive if it caused you to lose interest in relationships or the values that shaped your life, but that isn’t the case. You’re living the life you want to lead; you just miss your son.

It’s hard to live with grief, so don’t make it worse by wondering why you can’t make it stop. Certain kinds of grief never end, but that’s what comes of loving, having children, and being fully committed to them. You wouldn’t want to be a different person; you’d just want life to less cruel to people like you.

So don’t question lasting sorrow. It’s a reflection of the loving relationship you had with your son, it hasn’t stopped you from leading a meaningful life, and it’s a key part of that meaning and of who you are. You have moved on in so many ways, even if your heart hasn’t.

Don’t feel bad about feeling bad; feel good about having a good relationship with your kid, even if he isn’t here anymore.

STATEMENT:
“When I find myself still grieving for my son after many years, I wonder if I’ve really moved on. I know, however, that I’ve made the most of what life has offered me even when it’s been unbearably painful, and grief hasn’t changed what I care about or have tried to achieve.”

I can’t stop feeling like I screwed up because an executive I hired a year ago feels I hired him under false pretenses. It’s true, his prospects changed recently when I relocated our company, but, when I hired him, I didn’t know that was going to happen. He doesn’t accept my explanation, however, and feels I’ve derailed his career, or at least uprooted his life. The situation reminds me of my mother, who always lamented how becoming a parent sidetracked her career, and I hate the idea of making anyone feel that way. My goal is to stop feeling guilty all the time.

As a manager, your job is to allocate responsibility fairly after considering a person’s job description and workload, and to avoid making anyone responsible simply because you need someone to blame. That might be emotionally satisfying, but it’s bad management. Especially if the person you’re mindlessly assigning blame to is yourself.

Don’t let yourself become responsible for an employee’s unhappiness, or even your mother’s unhappiness, without first stopping to examine the facts.

You suggest that you did nothing wrong, but you continue to blame yourself because he does. Forget about him then and consider your job description and what you could or couldn’t do about his career. Then ask yourself whether you treated him properly. If you met your own standards, then give yourself the right to disagree and to decline responsibility for ruining his life.

It’s hard to watch someone feel his life is ruined. Even though life sometimes takes a turn for the worse, however, it’s seldom helpful for anyone to see himself as a helpless victim who can do nothing to improve his situation but blame his problem on someone else. Taking on responsibility for other people’s problems doesn’t just hurt you; it also hurts them by giving them an excuse not to look for a solution.

So don’t take responsibility you don’t deserve and don’t listen to whining; you have a responsibility to protect yourself. Maybe you acquired the habit of feeling responsible for the sad lives of others as a child, but you’re an adult now, and a boss, and the blame stops with you.

STATEMENT:
“I feel terrible to hear someone say I’ve ruined their lives. I know, however, that I haven’t done anything wrong and that, if someone’s luck is bad, it’s their job to make the best of things without complaining. I will no longer accept undeserved blame or listen to unhealthy complaints.”

Control-Option-Complete

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 15, 2015

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It’s strange that, as children, we’re pushed to declare what we want to be when we grow up, and then get disappointed with ourselves when we can’t achieve that goal, even though most kids want to grow up to be king or a dinosaur. If you get to adulthood without an idea of what you want to be, plausible or no, you may feel doomed if uncertainty and indecisiveness make such decisions difficult or illness makes your chosen path impossible. In reality, what matters most is not choosing a career or doing well at it, but being a decent and independent person as you find your way in life. Then, whether a career appears or, like the dinosaurs themselves, comes to a premature end, you will grow to be a strong person who can be proud of your choices.
Dr. Lastname

I’m in my mid-20s and struggling from some choice-paralysis in regards to my career. I went to college on the other side of the country a few years ago and obtained an arts degree (I know, I know – bad move), and am doing administrative work. I find it deeply unsatisfying but it pays quite well, considering. I also know that if I wanted, I could build a solid career here in something practical, I would just have to decide which career. On top of that, my family is here, and I’ve taken up meaningful volunteer work. I have some friends with their masters that are starting up serious careers, and then some that are doing things like buying houses and getting pregnant, which makes me feel like maybe I should just find a boyfriend and start settling too. On the other hand, I deeply want change, a bigger city and different industry options. I got into a program at a college in a bigger city on the other side of the country, and it’s probably as useless as my current degree, but I would love to go back to school and be more qualified in something. Also, this city I would be moving to has more varied industries. But leaving my job and going back to school on the other side of the country means I would have to take out more student loans which just seems stupid. I know there is no right answer and that everyone goes through this in a way—if I go, I can always come back—but the part of me that wants to be pragmatic knows that with my current debt, moving would actually set me back a lot. My goal is to reconcile my desire for a cool arts job in a bustling city with my growing desire to be practical and either make a decision to find something that works for me here, or move, explore other options, and not look back.

Like marriage, a career is about the long game and shouldn’t be judged by its immediate rewards, be they to your mood, wallet, self-esteem, etc. Besides, while marriage is hard work, a career is just hard work; the only way to get the same kind of bliss from a new job as you would as a newly wed is to start working in porn.

Once you take that into account, it’s becomes easier to simplify your career choices, particularly when it comes to work, going to school, or change in general. Right now, in your mid-twenties, you have a great opportunity to explore career options, new cities, even sexualities if you’re so inclined, all without having to worry too much about pay or security. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Control Stop

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 11, 2015

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Humans have long struggled to control strong emotions—to put limits on our heart’s desires or angry thirst for justice—but those emotions can become even more dangerous when they push us to try to control other people. You may want to control someone because you love him, or you may hate someone because she’s trying to control you, but in any battle for control, be it over passions, loved ones, or central Asia, there are very few victories. If you can tolerate those urges without allowing them to drive your priorities and control your mouth, however, you can avoid an epic struggle. You might not be in control, but at least you’ll be free.
Dr. Lastname

My stepfather recently went to the doctor and got diagnosed with pre-diabetes and some other things. This means that he would have to stop drinking and smoking. It’s been a month or two since then though and he hasn’t done a thing. I feel so angry and scared for him whenever I see him making a drink or smoking because it’s like he’s just pretending it will go away. Some of his logic is that some people smoke and drink for years and they live to be 90, but his parents deal with some pretty life-threatening health risks. I think to myself, “doesn’t he realize how serious these issues can get?” I talked to my mother about it and she says that he said he won’t give up drinking entirely, if at all. I feel so incensed because he is making us watch him ruin his body and his health. I know it would be hard for him but I feel like he should just suck it up, because if he doesn’t want to do it for himself, shouldn’t he be doing it for us? We’ve talked to him about it and he just blows us off. I think he is an alcoholic and I don’t know what to do. I can barely look at him but I want to help him. I don’t think he will ever admit to his problem and he won’t ever go get help for it. My goal is to figure out a plan because I can’t stand to see him kill himself like this.

When you share a strong bond with someone, you don’t just have feelings for them, but with them; it’s hard to watch someone you love suffering because, when you really care about him, you’ll experience his suffering, as well. The pain you feel if you lose him, however, will be yours to bear alone.

Trying to steer him away from possible distress, however, often makes your own distress worse, because you can’t control his decisions, addictions, or decisions about addictions, and pushing usually causes push back. You can share each other’s pain, even if it comes from accidentally hurting each other. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Restraining Day

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 19, 2015

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The issue of control—what you’re responsible for controlling (not much), whether it’s possible (not often), and what happens when you try (not good)—is a frequent topic around here. Our frequent negativity is due to the fact that people often try to control something they can’t, be it in themselves or others, while they should instead be trying harder to control their response to their helplessness. Fact is, the inability to control something doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, but that that something can’t be controlled, period, so redefine your responsibilities instead of pursuing the control you wish you had but never (ever) will.
Dr. Lastname

Since my father died unexpectedly last month, I’ve found myself bursting into tears without warning, and I know it’s upsetting my children. We were all close to him, but he and I had a special bond, and his death has left a huge hole in my life. I’ve never felt anything like this before—he’s the first person close to me that I’ve lost, and lost suddenly—and I’ve never lost control like this in front of the kids. My wife says grief is natural, but I’m worried that I’m really acting crazy and scaring them, and I just can’t stop. My goal is to get a grip before I hurt my kids.

While the pain of grief, like depression, is uncontrollable, what you do with it isn’t; some people ease the pain with booze, hibernation, and/or memorial tattoos. It doesn’t make a lot of sense then that you’re beating yourself up for some tears.

You’re not making bad judgments due to your grief, but, instead of expecting to get rid of it or hide it, ask yourself what your goals should be to manage it. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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