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Nobody's ever died from bottling up their feelings, but plenty of people have died from unbottling them.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Icky Dumped

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 27, 2014

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Dating is one of those painful, hard-to-control activities, like losing weight and fighting cancer, where the only way not to feel like a total failure is not to have to do it at all. For daters, success means landing a good partner, but, until that happens, you will probably find yourself being too passive about letting go of a bad partner and/or feeling rejected when it doesn’t work out, or being too sensitive to hurting bad candidates, even with good reason. Instead of letting the dating process get you down, review your standards for dating honestly and safely. Then, when things don’t work out, you’ll do what’s best for you and your non-partner, and achieve a little success, even if the struggle continues.
Dr. Lastname

I’m almost 40 and I’ve never had a relationship. I’ve been in love three times, but none of these relationships were ‘real’ relationships. Love number 1 was when I was in my 20’s I was seeing a guy for 10 years, on and off, but our relationship never got off the ground (no real dates or romance, just drunken hook ups every weekend). He turned out to be gay, so no major surprise there I suppose. Number 2 was a close friend who asked me to wait for him while he got through the pressures of work and nursing a parent through a fatal illness. After waiting two years, and still hopelessly in love with him, he told me he changed his mind and didn’t want to get together with me. Finally, love number 3 is a childhood friend of mine who I reconnected with a few years ago and who has liked me for years. He wanted a relationship with me but I wanted to wait because I was still a bit burned from number 2. We remained friends however and over time our friendship deepened and grew and I started to see him as more than a good friend, but when I told him I was interested in more than just a casual hook up, he disappeared! I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can’t seem to move past the casual into a real relationship with someone. I was sexually abused as a child and I’ve had psychotherapy to address that, then again after the gay ex-“boyfriend.” Basically I’ve been in therapy for about 12 years. I’m really at the end of my tether now because something must be causing me to choose men that cannot commit and I really want to be in love, married and with children and time is running away from me now. I don’t date lots of men and I’ve never been one for one night stands. The one thing all three “boyfriends” had in common was I was friends with them first and my feelings developed into a deeper love from there so I know it could be years before I meet someone and fall in love again seeing as I’m the type of girl that needs this basis of friendship to build on. I’ve tried dating agencies for the past year and I haven’t had any luck, plus I socialize every weekend and I have no problem meeting and chatting to guys, it’s just none of them interest me too much. My goal is to change this pattern.

Being unlucky, be it in love or business or the lottery, always feels personal, but never really is. Bad luck can happen to anyone, no matter how old you are, what you deserve, and how gay your ex might be.

You have lots to offer and, from what you’ve said, weren’t too far off the mark in the people you chose for love or how you behaved with them. Unfortunately, dating guys is always like playing musical chairs with a substantial chairs shortage. The sad news about the birds and bees is that human females often have to deal with the inverse suitable male-to-female ratio that bees have. Even then, it’s lonely being queen. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »


Posted by fxckfeelings on February 13, 2014

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If you could ask Mary Cheney or A.J. Soprano, they’d tell you that inheritance, be it material or psychological, is always tricky. That’s because it’s easy to hate yourself when you can’t get rid of an inherited personality trait, like constant anger or depression, which makes it hard to ever feel happy or express love and affection. What life teaches you, however, is that many people find ways to take care of one another and contribute to the world, even when they’re not fully functional or in full control of their dark thoughts and sharp tongues. They deserve respect for whatever good they do when their feelings give them no relief or reward, and their genes don’t give them much of a choice.
Dr. Lastname

I grew up in a horrid family. My father worked long hours at a couple of jobs leaving my (very young) mother alone with my brother and me. My mother had no clue about parenting and raising children. My home was a miserable cesspool of put-downs, depression, negativity, and yelling. I get that my mother probably grew up herself with a “Mommy Dearest”/”Carrie” mother, but as we all do, I vowed to myself never to torture my children as my mother had done to me. But guess what, I now find myself yelling and haranguing my daughter (but not my son…hmmm?). I think the yelling and disrespectful attitude toward my daughter has been programmed into my DNA. It is my default reaction when I get angry (or when my daughter does anything–wrong– pretty much). I’ve done the anger management, self-help books, etc. I can’t stop. Please give me some advice on how I can stop the “bad psycho mother” cycle. I already see the signs of damage in my daughter.

It’s painful to grow up with an angry, critical parent, but it’s even worse to grow up with a parent who can’t provide for his/her family or care enough to try. Despite the pressures on your immigrant parents, they were able to survive and provide you with a home. Even if it was horrid, it beat the alternative.

So, even if you see yourself as a bad psycho mother, you’re also a caring, providing mother, and you need to remember that. That’s why you need to respect what you do right before picking at what you do wrong, because if you can’t see the big picture, you can’t get at the big issues with your parenting. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Balk Therapy

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 14, 2013

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Most of us feel driven to help someone who’s in pain, whether they want it or not, but as sitcoms, Jodie Foucault books, and alcoholics have tried to teach us over and over again, stepping in to relieve or prevent suffering isn’t always a good idea. The sad reality is that lots of pain can’t be helped, and the sufferer is the only one who can make the tough decisions required to manage that pain effectively. Helping, then, is often less a matter of providing relief and more of encouraging people to ignore pain that they can’t change and take credit for the good things they do about it. The outcome isn’t as dramatic as it is when you attempt to rescue someone, but it’s often a lot more meaningful for everyone involved.
Dr. Lastname

I’m a resident advisor in a college dorm (it’s free room and board, and I’m a psych grad student, so it’s training of sorts), but I’m stuck because I don’t know how to help one of the kids on my floor. He’s severely depressed and it’s complicated by the fact that his parents, who are Middle Eastern, don’t believe in mental illness and think he’s supposed to just get over it, so they won’t pay for treatment and would probably accuse him of shaming the family if they knew he got it. For a couple years, he was cutting his arms while keeping it a secret and not letting it affect his grades. Lately he says he’s stopped cutting but often thinks of suicide and sometimes gets into a strange, spacey state of mind where he’s caught himself standing on balconies and thinking about jumping. He’s a good kid and he denies being traumatized (I think he might be in the closet, and with his parents, I understand why he’s afraid to come out), but he obviously needs help. My goal is to find him the help he needs.

Before trying to help someone who’s suicidal and restricted by his own beliefs from getting help, you’ve got to remind yourself that your powers are sharply limited, and that, even under the best circumstances—if you had a practice and he was a willing patient—his case would be a challenge. This is the stuff they don’t teach you in school, or you’d switch your degree to finance.

You can coach him on his options, but the alternatives are all painful and there’s no guarantee of relief, so don’t expect to make him feel better; what you can do, however, is help him see his choices as meaningful and positive. In other words, if the desire to heal others is what’s driving your degree, it’s time to begin your coursework for Life is Unfair 101. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Nil Communication

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 1, 2012

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When a severe disappointment breaks you down, the pain is nothing compared to the damage done to the way you see yourself and your world. If despair sweeps away your most important values and relationships, it may leave loved ones with no way to help or save you from yourself, making repairs impossible. If, on the other hand, you retain some perspective and a sense of humor, you can fight the negative thoughts that flood your brain, regain respect for your own resources, accept the help that others offer, and rebuild yourself into someone better than before.
Dr. Lastname

I have really fond memories of my mother until I was eleven, at which point she became a drunk. Before then, she was really happy and loving and had lots of friends, but my father later explained to me that she lost a job she was very attached to, felt it was unfair, and became very bitter. My father loved her and did everything to help her, but she didn’t seem to care, even though the worse she did, the more she hated herself. He finally gave up, left, and took us kids with him because she couldn’t care for us. Recently (about 15 years later) I heard she tried to kill herself with alcohol and almost succeeded. I’ve been angry at her, because we were once close and I tried to help her, but now I’m afraid she’ll die and I still can’t understand how someone as nice and loving as she used to be could drink herself to death with so many people around her who love her. My goal is to find some peace between us before or after her death.

Alcoholism, like severe mental illness, sometimes lets people develop nice, warm personalities and rich lives before it declares itself. Out of nowhere, it changes the way their brains process information and feeling, and turns them into self-absorbed ghosts of who they used to be.

The mother you remember may well deserve your respect, but she vanished after disappointment triggered her addiction, making her incapable of loving others or saving herself. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Critical Condition

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 20, 2012

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Maybe you can’t help feeling guilty when someone tells you that you’ve destroyed their self-esteem, particularly when you’re critical of something they’ve done, no matter how much you know they’re overreacting. If, however, you remember how little control you have over anyone’s self-esteem, including your own, and have expressed your criticism positively, you can arm yourself against guilt and stand by whatever you’ve said. It’s not your fault if they’re hypersensitive (or hyperbolic).
Dr. Lastname

I’m going to kill my kid if she doesn’t kill herself first. She’s a drug user and chronic fuckup, on probation for a DUI, and she just can’t stay out of trouble. Last week she stole my checkbook and went on a spending spree at Best Buy. A month ago she got restless, took my keys, and went out for a midnight drive without a license. I don’t think it’s just because she’s depressed. I think I’ve failed her, probably because I’m an alcoholic and wasn’t sober during her first ten years. It’s so hard for me to feel compassion for her, though, because I’ve managed to get sober and put the work in to stay that way. When I confront her about how stupid she’s being, she says “I want to die, you’re right, I’m an awful person,” and puts a handful of pills in her mouth. That’s when I really want to kill her, while I’m driving her to the hospital. She’ll only go to AA meetings if I drag her along, and she doesn’t get anything from them, so maybe she just has to hit bottom first, although I can’t imagine how low she’d have to go. My goal is to stay away from her before I do something I regret.

It’s horrible to have a kid whose fuck-ups are fearsome, persistent, in your face, dangerous, and expensive. You give her an inch, she takes a mile of rope and hangs both of you.

Even more horrible, however, is letting your anger loose on such a kid, then watching her declare you’ve made her hate herself so much that she does something risky and dies. Losing a kid is terrible, but losing a kid after so many words you can’t take back is worse.

While you’re the first to call her a fuckup, you’re the last to actually believe it. It’s true that some fuckups can see the light, try to get better and learn how to hit the breaks on their urge to partake in fuckuppery, but that’s their call, not yours. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Blues Control

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 6, 2012

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Like all symptoms of mental illness, anxiety and suicidal feelings seem controllable since they’re related to thoughts and how we look at things, especially since they have the potential to be so destructive. In reality, their primary causes are powerful, mysterious and, whether rooted in past events or biology, are not curable or easily reversible by the best treatments, most loving families, and strongest willpower. What good treatment and a loving family can do, however, is give meaning to the courage it takes to ignore pain and dangerous impulses, giving one comfort, if not control.
Dr. Lastname

How do you get rid of the pain from your child’s suicide? My son died four years ago, and our entire family is still devastated. We are all now living with depression, anger, and our own thoughts of suicide at times. We are all in therapy but it’s moving so slowly, it doesn’t feel like life is moving forward. After a tragedy like this, how do you get your purpose back?

While I can’t imagine anything much worse than having your child suicide, the key to surviving it is to understand how similar it is to having your child die of any other cause. No parents should have to bury their child, no matter how that child’s life ended.

Intuitively, suicide feels like a preventable cause of death, so it seems justified to review the many would-haves and could-haves leading up to it.

Mental health professionals sometimes make things worse by focusing on such possible “causes” as unacknowledged trauma, unshared feelings, or unrecognized calls for help, all of which mean blame. Blame then feeds the depression and anger you talk about, poisoning normal grief with feelings of guilt, regret, and failure. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The Deep Blue Me

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 9, 2012

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Depression and life’s miseries have an amazing way of working together to make you feel like a loser who doesn’t belong, has nothing to contribute, and should not get out of bed. That other people are happy just makes you wonder what you did wrong, when it’s just misfortune and depression doing their job really well. The fact is, however, that we create value in life by pursuing what we believe is most important, regardless of whether we get lucky along the way. That’s why you need to assess whether you’ve done your best to live up to your values, disregarding negative thoughts and the failures over which you had no control. Then pain and negative thinking can’t succeed in damaging you, which means you won’t damage yourself.
Dr. Lastname

I’m not even sure where to begin so I’ll try and keep this as short and concise as possible. I come from a broken family– my mother was abusive and distant, and I became that way to the point where it was hard for me to feel genuine love for anyone because I never learned what love is. I got away from my family and had a string of bad relationships (where if I think about it, I am to blame really). I then met and almost immediately married my husband. He went along with it because he loved me, I pushed for it because I was insecure. I didn’t “feel” any real love for him but wanted him to validate my feelings because I believed then that that’s how love grows. For me back then, love = infatuation. I admit I’ve been messed up. I’ve beaten myself up enough. Anyway, our marriage has been rocky with a major indiscretion on my part and several minor ones (chatting/talking on the phone with strangers) on his part. He forgave me for my error and begged me to stay (this was 3 years ago). Only just a few months ago have I realized how fucked up I am and how I’ve let my “feelings” guide me to hell. I’m still trying to rewire myself and it’s hard work. Unfortunately I recently found out that my husband was still talking to random women for hours because “he’s lonely.” What scares me is that even though I am working on my issues, he still feels lonely and it’s likely he will hurt me again. I realize now that I do love him but I can’t always project it the right way or appear to be happy when really I’m feeling like shit. I keep thinking it’s all my fault that he feels lonely and that nothing I will ever do will help this. I’m really tired of dealing with my own crap and now realizing that he has his own set of issues that may or may not be related to me. I’m very confused. How do I stop obsessing over our faults and focus on the good? I don’t want to throw away everything I’ve accomplished because of my ‘moods’. Please help. How can I trust him again and more importantly, trust myself?

There are a lot of smart people out there with high standards, like yourself, who have brains that naturally favor negative thinking and family backgrounds that are full of sad events and broken relationships.

As such, it’s not your fault that your mind tends to put fault on you and call you broken. What’s worse, if you try to be more positive, your brain pushes back by calling your efforts to think happy thoughts a dismal failure (which, of course, they’re not). Brain 1, You 0.

So, instead of trying to focus less on your faults, aim higher by taking pride in your many remarkable accomplishments. After all, if you can’t think differently, you can nevertheless force yourself to think about different things. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

That Loathing Feeling

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 23, 2012

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Whenever you’re about to do something you feel you need to do, you’ve got to wonder whether it’s good for you. As any overweight person can tell you, we often need what we can’t have or shouldn’t get too much of, and “needs” (i.e., frosting) have a way of winning out over logic. So whether your needs are driven by depression or dreams of a better marriage, don’t let them shape your goals until you’ve asked yourself where they’ll lead, what matters most, and what you need to do to manage them. After all, the difference between a need and a want is a slippery, frosting-covered slope.
Dr. Lastname

I constantly feel the black dog shadowing me. Mostly I can function and I pay it a gentle nod on my daily musings but every now and again the feeling is so great I want to slide on into the abyss. I may allow myself to indulge for a day or so but am careful to put in place an exit plan before I do (I know this place can feel so good but not really be good). It often takes great effort to avoid this feeling and even more so to get out of it. Lately I’ve been wondering if my approach is purely avoidance on my part rather than management. Does it really matter if it’s working? Yet I feel that slowly the effectiveness is waning and I seem to have a feeling of despair more often. Is it poor anxiety management driving the depression?

Your letter focuses so much on your subjective, “black dog” feelings of depression that I don’t know whether you A, feel seduced by the idea of taking time off to indulge sad ruminations, B, are low enough that you’re planning your suicide, or C, crave scones from the same-named bakery Martha’s Vineyard.

If the answer is B and you believe you are capable of harming yourself, you need to get away from the computer and into an emergency room right away. Since your letter doesn’t read as totally helpless (or New England-based), however, I’m going to assume the answer is A.

Your feeling-focused ambiguity leaves me (and you) uncertain as to whether your depressive time-outs are becoming worse or dangerous, by impairing your ability to work and sustain relationships. The answer is to be found in your actions, not your feelings; think less black dog, more black and white. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Indefensible Despair

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 2, 2012

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When you’re overwhelmed with depressed or anxious feelings that don’t seem “justified” or connected to the usual events of your life, you first doubt whether you deserve to feel that bad, then doubt your sanity entirely. That’s because these intense, negative emotions tell you that you’re worthless and/or doomed when you’re not (at least, no more than anyone else), and most people assume their emotions must be at least a little right. In reality, symptoms pass and you’re never worthless or doomed as long as you can keep your perspective, so instead of jumping to dire conclusions when intensely negative feelings try to seize control of your brain, stand your ground.
Dr. Lastname

I feel guilty for feeling like I might be depressed. I have no reason to feel sad (and that word makes me cringe because it doesn’t quite sum up the multitude of emotions that devastate me on a regular basis; desperate, useless, pathetic, oxygen thief, loser and plenty other perfectly good adjectives could cover it) and because I can’t justify it, I start to feel frustrated. I’m like an elastic band – one minute I’m the happiest person on earth and the next I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, ready to drop where I stand and content to never get back up again. I’m twenty and so it might just be that I’m walking the boundary line between physical maturity and teenagerdom, where angst haunts us all. I’ve had difficulties with this kind of thing in the past—my dad died when I was nine and I developed anorexia shortly after and while I’ve since ‘recovered’ (I hate that word), I still have issues with the way my body looks. I tried to kill myself when I was thirteen for no other reason that I can remember other than I had a rope and a bunk bed and fuck it, why not? Obviously I failed and I’ve never tried it again, but now and then I’ll look up at my ceiling fan and think, “Why not?” And then I’ll feel silly and awkward. But then I’ll be driving down the freeway and think “one jerk of the wheel and I’m out”. Or I have a headache and I’m staring at a very large bottle of aspirin and it’ll be there, in the back of my head, whispering away. It’s not normal to feel like that, is it? Even if they are just passing thoughts, it shouldn’t be like this. Does everyone think like this?

When you find yourself with frequent feelings of self-loathing and an urge to end it all, the question isn’t whether other people think like this (not usually), or whether you should have to feel like this (should or not, you do, and that’s the way it is), or why you feel like this (life is indisputably unfair and some people carry inexplicable pain).

The question you should instead be asking yourself is whether you can find a reason to live, knowing that you often don’t really want to. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Recovery Mission

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 1, 2012

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A serious trauma will change the way you see the world, but if you’re not careful, it will also try to change your very beliefs by distorting your feelings and perceptions. You can’t prevent it from causing depression, anxiety, and lots of fear, but if you know what matters in your life and are determined to continue on your course, you can stop it from affecting your beliefs and drawing you into vicious cycles of isolation, conflict, and more trauma. Trauma is random and meaningless; your job is to give meaning to the part of yourself that endures it and still believes you can make the world a better place.
Dr. Lastname

After a dark couple of years fighting off my worst bout of depression, anxiety and PTSD from a bad sexual assault (aren’t they all!) last year finally saw the fog lift and for me to really get back into my creative work which is now doing really well. I met a guy a few months ago. He is the first man that makes we want to really tackle some of my man issues, so I can really connect in an emotional and sexual way with him. We haven’t been intimate yet as I have been traveling for work, but I am returning soon. I cannot wait to see him, we talk every day and we really do have a special bond already. He has commented on my ‘aloofness’ at times and my ‘shutting down’. I don’t want him to think I don’t care about him, or that it is his fault. For the first time ever, I am considering telling him about the assault (I have never told a partner before) but I worry that it would be too big for him to handle, or that he would treat me differently, either like I’m a fragile victim or that I’m damaged goods. I don’t want or need a rescuer. My goal is to make a decision that would not only benefit me but us as a couple.

When deciding whether to tell a new friend about your abuse, what’s important isn’t whether you tell, but how. You never, ever want trauma to define you; it’s what you do with it that counts.

Post-trauma depression can leave you with hopeless thoughts about your inability to trust or be happy again. It tempts you to regard moments of anxiety and withdrawal in a new relationship, not as normal new relationship jitters, but as evidence of permanent damage and an incapacity to relate.

What you know, however, is that you’ve survived those fears and reflexes while going on with your life and taking the risk of getting close to someone new. They won’t stop you (unless you happen to pair up with a guy who can’t stand occasional depression and aloofness, in which case, he’d be better off with a robot).

So, if you haven’t let being a trauma victim hold you back so far, don’t treat yourself like one now. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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