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Life is unfair.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Helping Head

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 16, 2011

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It doesn’t seem mean or destructive to be convinced you or someone else needs help, but the trouble happens when there’s good reason to believe there is no help to be found, at least none of the kind you want. That’s when seeking can become as futile as the search for the Holy Grail, except nastier, sadder, and with more damage than a flesh wound. Giving up is often a significant act of kindness, and the first step to getting or giving a different, better kind of assistance, with or without nerdy references.
Dr. Lastname

I have a friend who has a history of being diagnosed with depression, self-mutilation and, recently, suicidal thoughts. She was forced to seek treatment with a counselor in HS (now 24-years-old) whom she said was no help, and now she says she won’t ever seek treatment again because it won’t help her. She acknowledges she has issues that need addressing, but she doesn’t believe in mental illness diagnoses, states she just needs to “deal” with it. However, all we talk about is how much she hates her life, hates feeling this way but isn’t willing to do anything about it. I’ve told her she’s an adult, and makes her own decisions and no one can force her to do anything, but I’ve been very honest with my concerns about her, and that she needs help. I don’t want to treat her with kid gloves or enable her but I also don’t know how much I can push her, since I know its her mental illness that’s clouding her view of the world/reality. How can I continue to be a good friend without beating my head into a wall and enabling her?

For many people, “help” and “cure” have become interchangeable words, as if good motivation and proper treatment will always make things better (tell that to the common cold).

Sadly, the help your friend needs, just like a cure for what ails her, may or may not exist, depending on her luck, the severity of her issues and whether she sees them as hers or just a reaction to other people. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Doctor? No.

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 5, 2011

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People like to turn to an authority when they’re helpless, and if that helplessness only applied to 911-like situations, there would be no problem. For problems that don’t involve theft or fire but sadness and family, however, authority is useless; sure, doctors like me can give advice, but until medical schools start borrowing from Hogwarts’ curriculum, the best resources you have are your own. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll learn to draw on your own authority to come up with the best possible management plan and execute it with confidence. You are your own best first responder.
Dr. Lastname

I need to find a doctor who will tell my daughter she needs to take her medication. She’s always had a problem with depression, and she did well in high school when she took antidepressants. Now, however, she’s 24 and very reactive to however she’s feeling, whether it’s not getting out of bed, or not working, or feeling dizzy and deciding it’s the medication and stopping it. My husband and I can’t get her to stick with anything, and she won’t listen to us in any case, so our goal is to get you, or some professional, to tell her what she needs to do.

Whenever parents want a doctor to tell their kid what to do, you can be pretty sure they’ve lost faith in themselves and overestimated the power of communication/a medical degree.

And no, it doesn’t matter how old the kid is or how many Harvard degrees the doctor has; the doctor doesn’t have more power than the parents, no matter how powerless the parents feel.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Bipolar-curious

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 17, 2011

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Being diagnosed with mental illness won’t necessarily screw up your life, and screwing up your life doesn’t mean you have mental illness. In any case, people are most effective at managing screw-ups and mental illness when they’re ready to face the worst case scenario, assuming they can do so without letting it reflect on the quality of their management. Consider the worst, hope for the best, and don’t let your fears distort your perception of reality. In other words, don’t panic or feel that you’ve failed when somebody acts “crazy” or you’ll end up driving yourself nuts.
Dr. Lastname

Are there varying degrees of bipolar? My son is 21 and just diagnosed in Sept 2010. He is a student, a swimmer with his university and a likeable, good-looking guy. He is medicated (lithium and Zyprexa) and is doing pretty well. He complains about concentration issues. I just feel sometimes like I need to be reassured that this is manageable and that there are positive stories of other people with bipolar. I hope and pray that he will lead a fulfilling life, marry and have a family. We are all just trying to adapt to this diagnosis.

Not only are there varying degrees of “bipolar,” there are probably various kinds as well, but we don’t know enough about what’s going on biologically to say. Like the Supreme Court once said of obscenity, you know it when you see it, but it takes many forms.

Basically, the word “bipolar” doesn’t have a lot of meaning other than as a description of someone who had an over-the-top episode of wild, excited, high-risk, inappropriately-undressed behavior that then, most probably, was calmed down by lithium.

Since we don’t have a biological definition of bipolar, we’re forced to use the word to describe the unluckiest cases, the ones who have the most severe symptoms that last the longest and come back the most often, simply because they’re the ones that are easiest to categorize.

There are probably lots of mild or brief cases that don’t get included in the definition, so the diagnosis seems to imply severe symptoms and a difficult future, when, actually, there are probably lots of mild cases. So yes, you’re right, he may not have it as bad as people think when they hear the word “bipolar” (which is to say, he will probably doing a lot better than Charlie Sheen).

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Life As You Know It

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 13, 2011

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When faced with scary health issues, from strange lumps to bad thoughts, people often avoid treatments that hurt, particularly after long-standing symptoms have sapped their hope, fed self-hate, or fostered bad habits. They deny anything’s wrong, or they insist that resistance is futile, but either way, if you criticize them for not helping themselves, they will readily agree, hate themselves more, and burrow deeper into their holes and further away from treatment. Before they can find the way out, they need to reconnect with their real strength. Only by recognizing their actual achievements and their past and potential courage, can they face what ails them. The pain may continue, but not its power to intimidate and paralyze.
Dr. Lastname

Please Note: In responding to suicidal goals, as in the case below, we do not presume to offer emotional support. If you’re at risk of hurting yourself, you should, of course, go to an emergency room, discuss your state of mind with a professional, and decide how much support you need in order to remain safe. In most of the cases we encounter, however, our correspondents are not simply suicidal; they are familiar with treatment and have come to believe that it won’t help. Often, we must agree that their feelings are unlikely to change in the near future. What we try to demonstrate, however, is that negative feelings create falsely negative and hopeless beliefs and that there are ways to recover your strength and perspective, even when the pain won’t let up.

I’m considering suicide. My life is a joke. I am in my late 30s and female and I have never had a relationship with a man. Several men have used me for sex and at least 2 of them begged me not to tell any of their friends they’d had sex with me. I’ve never been loved, been held, been listened to, been cherished. I’ve just been used like a toilet. On the outside I’m pretty. I can hold a conversation and I have a reasonable number of friends. But I hate myself and I don’t feel good enough. I was abandoned by both parents and I was raped for the first time when I was about 2-years-old. It’s like men I meet can smell the self-hate on me and they treat me accordingly. I do not have even one person in my life who cares about me or who I could trust. My friends are there to go for drinks or dinner with me if they can find nothing better to do but they are not there to be supportive ever, in any way. What is the point of me continuing to live?

It’s horrible to feel that you don’t belong to the human race, except for your ability to satisfy the needs and cravings of jerks.

Remember, however, that those feelings almost always beget more falsely negative beliefs, particularly about relationships. Whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, you feel infinitely rejectable, comfortable in the company of jerks, and anxious around people you respect, since you know they will reject you for your anxiety and fundamental worthlessness.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Familial Fire

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 4, 2010

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We’re hardest on family because, unlike those we’re not bound to by blood, family is stuck with us forever. Then again, being stuck together often forces the released negativity to bounce back and forth, like light in a laser, until it gets strong enough to zap your perspective and make you feel like a loser. Getting out of that mindset requires looking outside of the family circle and unsticking yourself from your nearest, dearest and harshest.
Dr. Lastname

I don’t consider myself a lazy person—I take care of the kids and sell some of my paintings—but my husband isn’t crazy about selling cars and would really like to stay home and take care of the kids himself, so he’s always making remarks about having to carry the harder load and asking me if I could find a way to make more money. I’ve tried to find better-paying work, but I’m dyslexic, and what I’m doing is probably about as good as it gets, given my skills and the flexibility I need for the kids. Anyway, he’s been nastier lately because car sales are down and it’s getting to me. My goal is to get him to stop putting me down.

You can’t stop someone from putting you down—haters gotta hate, as the kids say, even if the hater is your husband, and most husbands are haters, at one time or another.

On the other hand, just because someone you love is trying to put you down doesn’t mean you have to take their criticism to heart and sink, doomed unless you can get them to take it back and promise never to do it again.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Therapy Ain’t Free

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 30, 2010

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Someday, people with psychiatric problems will get safe, effective treatment without having to make difficult choices, and Thanksgiving dinner will come in a pill, and jetpacks will be available cheaply for every man, woman and child. For now, the state of the art is much better than it’s ever been, but it’s still primitive, and it certainly isn’t inexpensive. Until the silver bullet for curing mental illness is found, patients have to make innumerable tough decisions for themselves, weighing everything from side effects to costs. Or they can just bide their time until their jetpacks arrive to make everything better.
Dr. Lastname

I decided recently to listen to my friends and family and see a psychiatrist about my depression, but I don’t know whether I’ve made the wrong decision, or whether I’ve just chosen the wrong doctor. Basically, I decided to get help because I feel helpless, but my doctor wants me to do a lot of the work myself and doesn’t really help that much. It’s not just he wants me to ask myself a lot of questions (and answer them—if I had the answers, would I really be paying him?—but also deal with my insurance company and read up on the medication he suggests (he tells me about them, sure, but he says I owe it to myself to read up on them on my own, and that doesn’t make sense to me since he’s a doctor, knows everything about the pills, and he could just tell me himself). My goal is to figure out whether therapy is worth it, or whether I’m just getting help from the wrong source.

I hate to sound like your psychiatrist, but ask yourself what you have a right to expect from treatment, given what you know about its limits and your resources for paying for it.

If you want, you can spin things positively by saying that you’ve heard about good new treatments that can really help and that you’ve got great insurance that you pay a ton of money for. Of course, you’d probably be full of shit.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Medication Hesitation

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 9, 2010

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Whether it’s wishful thinking, fear, or a powerful sales pitch from the church of Scientology, we have lots of emotional reasons for shutting down our logical minds when we have to make medication decisions about psychiatric illness. The good news is that, while those decisions should be made carefully, they’re not rocket science. The bad news is that it requires more courage than brains (or Thetans) to be a good manager of your own health.
Dr. Lastname

I recently started going to a doctor for my depression. She thinks I should take pills, I’ve seen lots of articles about how antidepressants don’t work and the main reason they’re prescribed is because of the huge investment that big pharmaceutical companies have made in producing and marketing them. It makes sense to me that there are better natural, holistic solutions that get played down by the medical establishment because they can’t make money for anyone and threaten the profits made by those companies. My goal is to find treatments that work best, not the treatments that server the corporate interests.

The problem with most criticism of current drug treatments is its hopefulness; it implies that there are good, effective, cheap and low-side-effect treatments for depression (that are being suppressed). If only principal clause of that statement were true.

Sure, a magic bullet, holistic or otherwise, would be great (there are lots of other unsolved and incurable problems I can work on, so I’m not worried by the hit my business will take).

The truth is, however, that current treatments are time-consuming, weak, often costly, sometimes risky, and not guaranteed to work

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

That Nagging Feeling

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 28, 2010

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Our deepest instincts tell us that there’s nothing more important than saving the lives of those we love; it’s like the mama bear instinct, except it extends to all those closest to us, and has less hair. Unfortunately, there’s no off switch to that drive, and most of the things that threaten our lives don’t respond to sacrifice, no matter how sincere, extreme, or persistent. That’s where nagging ends and plan B begins (and B doesn’t stand for bear).
Dr. Lastname

I’ve been getting increasingly nervous about my aging parents, particularly because my mother, who’s a very vigorous near-90, likes to ignore the real risks of continuing to vacation in their old, 2 story, roughing-it country home. She loves to garden, take vigorous walks, build fires, and keep to the same routine she had when she was 40. I know I’m a nervous person—I’m a nurse, and I’ve had to deal with an injured leg since childhood—but I’m haunted about what could happen to her if she fell down and it’s no place for my dad, who’s very frail after a stroke. When I said something to her yesterday about how she should hold onto my father’s arm when he walks, she told me to mind my own business. I’m the only one of the kids who lives nearby, so their safety is my business. How do I get her to understand she needs to be more careful?

It’s understandable that you worry about your parents, but even if they were both freakishly healthy and lived in a hermetically sealed bubble, the sad fact is, they’re both going to die.

[Moment to process.]

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Doctor Dependent

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 7, 2010

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Most people panic if their mental health goes south, and if/when they find a doctor to help them recover, they assume that treatment is a mystery about which doctors know best. If you’re in that situation and disagree with your doctor’s decisions, don’t act like a helpless child challenging an all-knowing parent. Learn what you need to know to make well-informed decisions and stand by them, whether or not your doctor agrees. It’s the best way to cure yourself of panic, and it makes refuting your doctor’s advice a discussion between equals, not a pleading.
Dr. Lastname

My psychiatrist thinks I should increase my medication, but it already makes me sleepy and has caused me to gain 10 lbs. If anything, I’d really feel better getting off it entirely, because I hate being dependent on it. For the time being, I know I need it, because I’ve barely recovered from my last depression, but even thinking about increasing the dose makes me feel depressed. I’ve seen this doctor throughout my entire illness and she’s been very good with me up to this point, but now that I don’t agree with her I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to have to take more medication.

It’s much easier to have an agreeable disagreement if you’re not pushing someone with your emotions; after all, lawyers use evidence, not tantrums, to win a case.

Still, it’s hard not to push with your emotions when the issue is personal and scary. Unfortunately, you don’t have a choice.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Husbands and Habits

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 26, 2010

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Bad habits are rarely personal—your average nail-biter doesn’t have a cuticle vendetta—but when one half of a marriage gets into bad behavior, even if it has nothing to do with his/her spouse, it’s hard for the other half not to blame his/herself. Women want to discuss the bad habit, men quietly stew, and either way, something impersonal feels like an affront. There’s no escaping the pain when a partnership starts to break down, but you can find ways to talk about bad habits without implying that anyone has failed, or doesn’t care, or just plain bites.
Dr. Lastname

My husband and I have two kids, we both work hard, and he always used to find time to play with the kids and spend time with me, but in the last few months, he’s buried himself in online poker in the evenings, and the kids see a lot less of him (I do, too, and it’s been a long time since we had sex). He tells me there’s nothing wrong and that he’s not betting with real cash, but I know what I see, so I’ve told him we need to talk, and that’s what’s really infuriating, because then he won’t talk at all. My goal is to figure out why he’s stopped caring about me and find a way to get through to him.

You’re assuming there’s something bothering your husband that you can figure out and communicate about, because that’s what would allow you to fix things; that it’s not the poker that’s really the problem (or the not being poked).

Before you sit him down and try to take him away from the e-poker table, ask yourself what happens if it doesn’t work, which it often doesn’t, and clearly, in your case, hasn’t.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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