Archive for demoralisation

That one time when I tried to say too many things at once and published a very unstructured post

Posted in personal, rants with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Those how-tos and advice I read…

Quite often they´re designed as a kick-up-the-backside. Tough-love motivational speeches. Depending on my mood, I can read them calmly, feeling unaffected, like it doesn´t apply to me (until I reach the passage that says: “and – YES! – this applies to YOU, too! Specifically to you!”), or I will be cast into a dark prison of rage, hurt, self-loathing and demoralizing internal arguments. Actually, if that doesn´t happen right away, I´ll keep on reading those speeches and lists until it does. That´s typically the point where I skip to the comments section, hoping to find affirmation for my feelings. What I will find, however, is floods of: “OMG, brilliant as ever!” – “Oh god, I´m so guilty of all this! Haha!” – “That´s just what I needed to hear right now. Thank you.”

Those comments demoralize me even more. Because they touch upon something that had me doubt myself ever since I can remember:

How do people manage to respond like that to the emotional equivalent of a full-body-thrashing and why is it so impossible for me to respond in the same way?

I´m torn between two explanations, as always. Either everybody else is simply a whole lot stronger than me character wise (need less ego stroking, not afraid to hear the truth, genuinely eager to improve), or those are some very elaborate defense mechanisms they might not even realize they are using.

I´ll explain the second hypothesis first, because that´s easier: Tough-love speeches put their (willing or unwilling) recipients one-down. Said recipients want to be on equal footing with the author again, but they can´t do that by openly contradicting. It´s nearly impossible to contradict those tough-love speeches without looking like “you´re just too weak for them”. The implicit rule of tough-love speeches is that those who contradict are the once who´d need to hear them most. Therefore, you will need to pretend that 1) you absolutely agree and 2) that you aren´t actually a recipient, you´re a bystander. The recipient is someone else. You might applaud the author for his writing style while not talking about the content. You might keep your positive feedback as vague (and possibly even condescending) as possible. You might want to signal “I learned all those rules a long time ago and I have applied them since, but it´s never wrong to hear them from someone else, so kudos”. At any rate, you will want to make yourself sound like an equal.

This part is something I can understand. I apply those techniques, too, rather often. But then I encounter something like: “I needed to hear this, thank you so much!”, and when I´m done cringing I wonder why the hell someone would respond like this. I simply don´t know how this could be a defense mechanism. Sure, excessive self-abasement can be used as a form of subversion. It can shed light on the true nature of some of those speeches, that is: They´re a form of humiliation. But those responses don´t reek of parody. I can only conclude that they are real. Earnest. Serious. And I don´t get it.

Responses like these make me feel dumb and defective. The feelings that could make me want to say such things are a blind spot both in my imagination and my experience. And there surely must be something wrong with that? Beginning with the fact that other people don´t understand my utter discomfort when faced with such reactions. Or the fact that, when such responses are expected from me, I fail to deliver and instead do things that can only be described as irrational, crazy and incomprehensible?

There is, as always, the special snowflake explanation. Maybe something is terrible wrong with a society based on such put-downs, and hierarchies, and all kinds of humiliations guised as child-rearing – and I´m one of those few people who are sensitive enough to recognize the wrongness of it all. I know what tough-love speeches have to say about that. There are no special snowflakes in tough-love, and even if so, YOU are none of them. (This is meme-worthy. This is so meme-worthy.)

I don´t need to be a special snowflake, though, in order to disagree and be right. Tough-love speeches are good at creating an illusion of all-encompassing consensus. No one contradicts, so everyone agrees. Apart from some really, really pathetic twats. Don´t be one of them. Actually, though, the author can be sure only of the agreement of the 159-ish people who cared to comment. That´s not so terrifically much. So maybe there´s hope for me.

Anyway, maybe that´s part of the reason why I can´t stay away from such speeches even though they make me unhappy and unproductive (actually, that was not supposed to be the topic of this post, but never mind): I cannot accept that there is something I don´t understand. It´s a loose end in my belief system, so I need to tie it up. And that´s why I keep on coming back to this issue.

Anyway. How do people do it? How do they feel doing it? What does it take for you to feel grateful for this kind of treatment?

Somehow, I always tip-toe around this question. I kind of – want to experience that state of mind. And I kind of don´t want to. I imagine myself saying those things. I try to strip that idea of its horror. Of the disgust I feel. I try to be sincere. I try to say it without self-disgust. I try to make it sound plausible, real, like the mistakes I´m accused of are the only right explanation there ever was for all my unhappiness. I even imagine trying to forgive myself for not seeing it earlier.

There´s only ever two outcomes: Either it kicks in a a way that it really shouldn´t, or I feel nauseated, depressed and demoralized. Often, it´s one after the other. What doesn´t happen, though, is that it ever feels like a genuine, positive emotional experience. And that makes me feel broken. Defunct.

If I´m incapable of responding well to lectures and criticism, am I then incapable of personal growth? Does my masochism block my ability to react positively to any attempts at improving me? And if so: Do I have to change my sexual orientation in order to become a mentally healthy person?

Those were questions more or less visibly nagging at me when I started seeing Dr. Stoneface. That´s not why I noted them down here. I did so because they still bug me. Part of me feels like the answer to all those questions must be “no”. Part of me feels like this is wishful thinking. Remember, no special snowflakes. Even if there are people who are right, those people certainly aren´t YOU!

Yes. Totally meme-worthy.

I know that many people are inclined to think that the answer to all those questions posed above is “yes”. Dr. Stoneface certainly was. How people answer those questions, though, is my ultimate test of their trustworthiness. It doesn´t protect me, of course. To many people, those questions aren´t even connected. They might think, for example, any kind of masochism or sexual deviation is ill and crazy. But also people who embrace sexual diversity might reject me, thinking I´m an immature twat who isn´t really into their kind of kink but just one of those nutjobs and eccentrics who creep around on the edges and give the “scene” a bad name. And 99% of all people I deal with have no idea of the inner conflicts and the social anxiety I carry around and they will never know that they just failed a major trust test.

I wish that didn´t matter to me so much. Like: I wish I didn´t care what opinions other people have. Fact is, though – when someone I like or even admire has an opinion that makes me feel bad about myself, I sometimes feel unable to continue talking to them. A friend of my partner I always sort of idolized was visiting and I was talking to her about my failed therapy attempts. Suddenly she said that she really took something from her last therapy because her therapist didn´t let her get away with her usual schemes. I felt physically ill hearing her say that. I felt unable to stay in the same room with her. I felt deeply rejected. And this kind of rejection happens to me very, very often, without anybody noticing.

I´m starting to feel depressed, so I´ll just leave it here for a better day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Paranoid visions

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , , on April 22, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Fear and confusion are increasing. I feel unable to describe what´s going on inside of me, and I´m not sure I want anything to do with it. I feel like I´m living in paranoid visions.

A vision of me seeking psychiatric help. A vision of everything I believed to know turning out to be false, of me having to learn that I´m thoroughly paranoid, that everyone I perceived as cruel only ever wanted to help me. The idea that my suspiciousness might be part of crazy.

It what I wrote in the last paragraph is really true, then I don´t want to live anymore. There seems to be no point in it. If all my feelings are completely dumb and paranoid and unrealistic, then I don´t see why I should stay alive. What for? To have a family, have a job, contribute something? If all my feelings and perceptions are nonsensical, then what exactly do I have to contribute? Intelligence? So others set the target, and I work on it? We have computers for that. If I fail in all that makes a person human, I don´t see what I´m supposed to be doing here anymore, goodbye. I´m not going to start some stupid cheesy “journey towards healing”, take pills throughout the last years in which I might pass as young, make myself dependent on so-called well-meaning people who tell me what is real and what isn´t and then work in some job that requires no qualification because that´s a mentally ill´s place in this world. It would be so bloody easy, wouldn´t it, if being insane automatically meant you have no wishes and ambitions anyway, right?

It would be so easy if only I could consistently stay sane and cover up what´s going on. Sanity IS covering up what´s going on on the inside. If you are me, then revealing it would be self-destructive, and self-destruction isn´t sane.

***

Not quite. What´s going on with me is that apparently I´m extremely angry, and that must have been building up for a while. I don´t know why I´m so angry. Maybe those visions make me so angry because their content makes me feel threatened. When I say visions, I mean: It´s like having a nightmare while I´m awake. I don´t believe I´m in some kind of hospital when in fact I´m sitting in my room, but in my head I can hear everything I assume the doctors would say. Most of the time I´m not thinking these thoughts on purpose, only sometimes, when I´m in the middle of such an internal argument, I mentally say what I believe they would say. Most of the time, those thoughts just come to me. They are intrusive and they cause me a lot of inner tension and aggression. I feel like lashing out against anyone who talks to me.

Good. So these visions…they make me angry. That´s most definitely crazy, thank fuck we have that settled. But they´re just visions. I don´t have to do this to myself. I don´t have to go out there and make people punish me like this. Because that, too, is something that goes with these visions: A nasty little belief that I have to make this happen to me. That I need it. That adds to the stress.

Now that I have this figured out, the vision changes. I go see a psychiatrist, I actually manage to tell her about these visions/voices, she thinks that just because I don´t believe they are coming from other people or because I can gain some minimal mental distance from them, they must be some kind of neurosis that can be resolved by looking at my inner conflicts. In other words: She might think there is some truth or some meaningful feeling behind these visions. She might think that I gain something from this, the primary gain that allegedly lies in neurosis, or that I´m just trying to evade something.

That vision makes me feel terrible because it 1) makes me feel like I´m being left alone in this inner chaos and 2) fuels the first kind of vision, the vision where everything is my own fault after all and I “just don´t want to see it”.

Actually, dealing with these visions as psychotic instead of traumatic in nature does not make such a terrible difference right now. It even helps me gain distance and tell myself this isn´t real. If my visions are madness, then what those voices say is madness. That´s quite comforting. It means, like I said, I don´t have to seek out this kind of treatment, this kind of mental breakdown that reduces me to a groveling hysteric sobbing what a moral swine she is.

I´ve heard in that long-ago lecture by Dr. Psych that delusions and delusional belief systems often rely on existing, fairly wide-spread belief systems. A textbook examply is religious mania, but there are also other examples: Alien abductions, current conspiracy theories, the Truman show… Mania attaches itself to whatever it finds. It´s no surprise that with me it was repressed memories and sexual abuse, since I had encountered two such cases some time before. Also, it´s no surprise that my visions deal with psychotherapy since many of its theories cannot be falsified, just like conspiracy theories. The ideas of Freud or Reich are questionable, and I´m by far not the only person to question them. I´m not completely off with the things I say about them. The problem is that I say them coming from a place of deep paranoia. I have voices in my head which interpret my thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a particularly cruel, pseudo-therapeutical fashion (though these voices are informed by what I read and experienced), and I have yet another voice in my head that tells me all this is what should happen to me.

What I feel when I write things like these is deep demotivation. So I´m merely crazy after all. And without some kind of mania my life is incredibly empty. I wrote that two days ago, how empty my life must have been for me to have a vision about the future, slip on another identity and forsake everything. It would be sane to go through with my plans. It would be sane to get a job that binds most of my intellectual capacities so I don´t have too much time to ruminate. It would be sane to get a job that forces me to work scientifically, that gains me recognition and a fair amount of money. It would not just look sane, it would keep me sane. I was my most sane when I was at school. It was always during the summer holidays that the breakdowns came. I need some outside structure that forces me to stay out of the twilight zone for eight hours at least. And yet recognizing how crazy I am deprives me of all motivation. Get a job just so I´m NOT myself? If I´m so bad, then why bother exist?

***

Again, madness is not myself, madness is not who I am. I´m defending something I´m not. The feelings I have because of my visions are part of who I am, but it is normal to respond with rage to the content of my visions. The visions themselves are something crazy, but my reaction is quite healthy and where ever I encounter such behaviors IRL I´d be a good person for responding with anger. Also, the fact that these visions aren´t real doesn´t mean anything that happened to me with Dr. Stoneface and Athena wasn´t real.

It´s useless. I cannot comfort myself like this, I don´t believe in it. It matters a damn whole lot just how crazy I am. If I´m completely nuts, if my perception was always distorted by such visions and voices and expectations, then maybe anything they ever did was brought onto me by myself.

***

Rage. Rage again, because I feel threatened and helpless again. I know no way out of this. All that might happen is that other visions, daydreams come to my aid, that a voice says: “Don´t worry, we´ll kill you!” That would be so damn nice of you, you have no idea. But that, too, is just a result of this inner tension. It is another outpouring of rage. Saying this doesn´t change anything, though.

Distraction, feeling like I can see through things, that´s the only thing that helps. Maybe my feeling in analogies is just the only way I can express my visions? I don´t know, I´m getting so tired.

I wonder if I should ask others what they think of my state. I feel like I need to keep it together in front of everyone IRL, because they cannot afford looking at me as a crazy person who needs help, for one reason or the other. They don´t want to lose me to a world of pills, institutions and big psychiatric terms. It should move me, but right now it only burdens me. And I cannot even be sure if that´s a realistic prediction based on experience and empathy, or if it´s just my paranoia speaking.

***

Embitterment, another tangible feeling, thank fuck. I´m tired of believing I´m crazy, I´m tired of visions of my own mental and intellectual deconstruction, I´m tired of ruminating, I´m tired of feeling attacked, I´m tired of BEING attacked in my visions, I´m tired of having no one to blame, I´m tired of having no one whose head I can bash in for this, I´m tired of being conscious of myself, I´m tired of myself, I´m tired of almost everything and remarkably enough some small little things can still make me want to live for another few days, weeks, maybe months. Overall, though, I wouldn´t mind to take a hammer and demolish all that I am.

 

 

 

 

 

Same old

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on March 21, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Okay FUCK. ME. SIDEWAYS.

No, not really. I just return from an appointment with a college counselor. Not the one I saw last time, that woman was really sweet, but an older lady who is also a psychotherapist. Well, may the troubles begin. I´ll call the first counselor Natalie and the second one Mrs. D, just for clarification.

Natalie was a young woman (maybe ten years older than me). I liked her from the moment I saw her. She reacted to what I said, helped me formulate my thoughts, and if she ever seemed surprised it sounded like pleasant surprise. “Oh, so you do some kind of field research?” When I clarified to her that I was in a lesbian relationship she simply accepted that, no question. She seemed to be under the impression that there was nothing extraordinary about it. I was okay with that, my family was okay with that – what was there to talk about? She told me how I came across to her and that this was basically okay (I demand a lot from myself and want to achieve much in life – but that´s okay, I just need to be aware that not everybody is like that. I studied philosophy because I didn´t want to make a decision yet – you can do that, there´s no point bashing yourself over it. I write about sadism – so if something interests you you work a lot on it, that sounds good!). I went out there feeling like I was an acceptable person who didn´t have to hide who she is. I felt like my interests were okay, worthy to be pursued. She truly came across as someone who´d heard it all – at what? Age 35?

Mrs D – well. The moment I saw her I was a bit worried because she was an older woman. She was of a similar age as Dr. Stoneface. I sat down with her and tried to talk, and she – sat there like a stone. Well, a comparatively talkative stone. Still, she didn´t really help me to get the conversation going. At some point she simply started to ask me questions. First she asked me what worried me about pursuing the career I´m thinking about. I answered that I was worried I wouldn´t have time for my relationship, then she started to talk about that. When I clarified I had a girlfriend, not a boyfriend, she asked since when I knew I was a lesbian. Well, since when does that matter? I´m here with career and college issues, decision-making issues!

Ugh, this entire atmosphere! Her not helping me talk in the slightest, barely responding to what I said, asking tons of questions about my family and my relation to my different family members – this felt like a typical assessment in TFP or psychoanalysis. And in the end, the conclusion she reached was that I wasn´t ready to make a decision. I should consider psychotherapy as a way to get to know myself. I said I´d already been in therapy, told her some basic things about Dr. Stoneface. Again, very moderately, in a very self-critical fashion. Then she said that she´d think it might be a good idea if I went into a psychosomatic hospital for a while.

I´ve been told plenty of times I should go to some mental hospital, so it doesn´t really come as a shock anymore. I said I´d think about it, let her give me the address, and I was extremely glad when I could leave. But seriously – I enter this room as a person who´s struggling with ordinary life problems and I go out there with an address for a mental hospital???  I didn´t even tell her about how I´m feeling at the moment. Like: The stress, the anxiety, the disordered sleeping rhythm. So what exactly does she base her assessment on? My family circumstances? The fact that I studied the wrong subject for too long? Again: Fuck me sideways!

Sorry, I had to vent. I definitely won´t go see that woman again. She was okay compared to Dr. Stoneface, but I simply don´t want to be treated like that. I go out there feeling worse than I did before. I´m not. that. ill. I don´t know what world she grew up in, but nowadays EVERYONE has trouble finding a place in life. That´s why I prefer to talk to younger people. They are just more in touch with my generation and our life styles.

Actually, this doesn´t get better from thinking about it. Her words are just sneaking into my head. I want this to leave me alone. I just want someone I can tell everything and he assures me I´m not insane. I think the technical term is validation.

I think that woman wasn´t completely incompetent, but I just didn´t feel good talking to her. I felt my hard-fought self-confidence dripping away and it was only by distancing myself that I could get back some sense of control. I felt like I was walking on eggshells once again and I had to remind myself that it was okay to state my opinion. Or to have an opinion, more like. I managed to remind myself, and I surprised myself with how relatively honest I was. It´s not like there were repercussions for it. Still, I felt like I was in a threatening situation. I didn´t trust Mrs D. I did trust Natalie.

I don´t know. I´m too exhausted to reflect on this. I just wanted to get this out there.