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gandolfication last won the day on February 28 2019

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  1. That's interesting - a pretty neurochemical deterministic view of cause and affect as destiny. And yet you say you're not sure you keep making the same mistakes over and over. Which I would think implies some real agency, free will, awareness, and ability to change direction. My own philosophy is that we live in within certain parameters we are not going to be able to change, some that we have control over, others we can influence, and wisdom is seeing reality as it actually is, including learning to better identify which things we can and can't change and doing the ones we can. Which might be about the same as what you're saying on second glance. And this is the hard work of a lifetime.
  2. Thank you. That means a lot. I have wanted and would absolutely love to write professionally. It's what I'm best at and enjoy. I have tried. A lot. Making a living writing nowadays is on balance probably harder than it used to be, ironically because of the internet - and everyone thinks good writing should be free. There are also new opportunities to write for pay that didn't use to exist. I have applied for a lot of them over the years, and become an entrepreneur often at least using my writing to make a living in my own law practice, or for hire for other law firms. This is not ultimately the kind of writing I most want to do, but it was something. I also got into and did some paid freelance writing in the past through UpWork, but it was for peanuts in relation to supporting a family of 5. Actually, when this law firm recruited me, I told them it was to do their complex research and writing, but during the interview, the owner said he wanted to and was going to give me a caseload. I wasn't in a position to say know, or at least I thought so. It was a mistake. I have two books I have about 20 pages written and outlines, that I think are worth finishing, and at least one would be marketable if I do. If I thought I could find a writing job, I would do whatever it took to make this happen. It would be something worth staying for, motivating, hopeful etc. Right now, I have zero confidence I could ever get there, do this successfully, and make this a reality. Again, I am aware at least generally, that within the above exchange, exists some negative distortions on my part, and that there is undoubtedly some hope and possibility in actually, eventually becoming a professional writer and having the kind of life for my family that I really want. I don't know how to balance expectations in any kind of realistic way, not too pessimistic, with what to do next right now. But thank you for this just the same.
  3. Yes. In 2010, I was severely depressed and anxious trying to run my solo law practice the first time. On the day of a trial and blizzard (I don't know why I still feel like I have to qualify it), I laid down on the floor in the fetal position, sobbed, finally talked to my partner telling him I wouldn't be showing up at the trial, to notify the court and client, called my mom and then wife, and checked myself into the psych hospital. Then, I got to pick up the pieces when I got out. I've felt like this many times, and really been pretty much as bad off and feeling right on the edge of other nervous breakdowns where I just shut down and stop doing things. Stop being able to work. At some point I'll stop getting out of bed. I've been fired along this continuum many times. I almost certainly will not check myself into a hospital again, because that would only worsen an already dire situation with additional costs, time away from my family, destruction of what little reputation I have left in the legal world, etc. In all this time, and most in between it, I have been somewhere veering near the edge of sui cide as the only solution, and have been closer or not depending on the day. I have been doing this about every two years. With mood stabilizers I've stayed on, and a tremendous amount of learning and work and practice, I have avoided the same level of breakdown again. Which I've thought and am pretty sure is a good thing, as in part of the goal. So I've been there, and I am here now. Normally, in the past, I'd have probably quit this current job, which is ******* me. However, that hasn't helped in the past, and quitting again seems like it would be that very definition of doing the same thing, expecting different results. These are not easy decisions, and I am not in a good place at all, let alone to be making them. I do know how to induce hypomania (though maybe this is harder on current higher dose of mood stabilizer). I'm pretty sure I don't want to try to induce a crash. Yah, my kids actually do care if I make enough money to take care of them, and to provide freedom for them to do things, comfort, stability, security, etc. I know what you mean - they love me despite these hardships. But they do care about money and the things it brings, and they should. I have considered, and applied a few years ago, for disability, but then moved back to my current state, and resumed law practice. If I resigned now, then no unemployment, plus I cannot come close to meeting obligations, which are not dischargeable in another bankruptcy, and the child and spousal support obligations are absolute, and subject to contempt and incarceration. I don't mean to take each of your well-intentioned and not unwise prompts here, and just posture to argue against them. That's not what I mean to be doing. I'm trying to use wise-mindedness in fact. A short while ago, I wrote out a 3-page kind of anthem to doing what I can. It's a mix of what I've learned and tried to practice from CBT, DBT, and ACT, and self compassion, over the past 15 years, and especially past 2. I don't know what will happen. I'm not doing the work at work. I'll be short on rent. This has already affected the new romantic relationship I've been enjoying. My kids are stressed. I'm stressed and near the edge. Hope is a mirage. I am not really functioning, especially at work. I do need a break. I don't know how to get one without occasioning and hastening catastrophe. Thank you for your thoughtfulness here. It is with humility, I hope some awareness of how depression lies and distorts, that I read, try to listen, and continue to fight on I guess at least for now.
  4. Halle Berry poses this question in the excellent trailer to the (awful) movie, Cloud Atlas. It is a question posed by psychologists for why we engage in the same patterns of destructive behavior even though we know they're destructive. Trauma, being stuck, suppression, repression, cognitive distortions, lack of awareness and understanding, and avoiding pain generally, are among the usual answers. I've read and studied, and practiced the various techniques to try to change the harmful patterns I've repeatedly engaged in, and happily now I can say, with some success. Still, every couple years or so, I seem to sink into a pattern of procrastination, perfectionistic paralysis, and hopelessness in whatever job I am in, whether that has been sales or law practice. I have been in this rut now increasingly for some months and it has gotten worse to the point of crisis for some weeks. I'm sure I'm going to lose my job, as I cannot keep up with the most minimal expectations and demands. I feel and seem to be woefully not up to the task of disposing of cases that for most attorneys seem basic or at least not complicated or overly difficult. And still I languish. I just looked up, revisited and shared some techniques with a friend struggling with similar things. Chunking. Implementation intentions (if-then commitments), acting opposite emotion from DBT, asking how I'll feel a few moments from now if I take just the first step versus tuning out and doing nothing. Yet, I'm not doing any of these right now. Drawn toward the anxiety like some sort of perverse trance. I know how to be anxious and depressed. It is at least familiar. I'm watching my life slide into the abyss of continual crisis for me and for my kids. I have constant suicidal ideations, and desperately just want things to end. And all the knowledge I've accumulated from books and things doesn't make a dime's worth of difference right now. My central nervous system and amygdala are overrunning any part of my wiser mind. I try to practice some self compassion, telling myself that while I have a choice in the matter, some response-ability. that I also don't need to beat myself up and blame myself. This isn't all my 'fault.' There's no point or profit in excoriating myself, which is what my inner critic does on a moment by moment basis, in the harshest, and most skilled ways. I tell myself this is common. All people feel this way and act dysfunctionally some times. It is part of being human. The path back travels through grounding and self kindness. Saying, it's okay. I'm safe. My feet are on the ground. I'm breathing. I'm not at risk of physical harm. I can be present, without moral judgment, just now, and decide what I really want, which is to do the next little step on a case where I need to finish a document and then an email. I feel mortified because it's late and should have been "simple," but this is what I need to do next. 20 other 'priorities' scream for my attention, but I'm not doing them either. So I should do the document and email. I know this would make me start to feel comparatively better, it would bill time, it would satisfy a client and my boss, at least to an extent, and this is the direction I am committed to moving. This is the way through overwhelm. I can't control what happens with my job, or very much with my finances right now, or my relationships, all which seem to be hanging by the tiniest of threads. But I can control if I get this document out, review it, then email to my clients and boss, and then to opposing counsel and the court. I know I am able to do that, even in the depressed state I am in. And that's some positive forward motion. I'll try to do that. Just that.
  5. Alone together. There is no one else that can. Words are easy. Actions are hard. Fail. A lot there that is true. And a lot that could be turned inside out. (I know words that are hard and actions that are easy, I bet we all do) But yes, in the end, I think we are the only ones that can help ourselves. Sure, there are others (friends, family, strangers on the interwebz) that can help us. But if we do not want help, we do not want to change, do not want to listen etc, no one can make us. Even with other's helping it can still be hard or impossible for us to change sometimes. Every now and then, I think of a comic book hero. What would they do for mental health? nothing. (If I were Clark Kent, there is a limit to the number of times I would save Lois Lane from falling off the building. At some point, you gotta tell her to stop going up to the roof because she keeps falling off. And yes, some people will purposely jump off a tall building if they have a friend to catch them, just to get that attention. Sure, not all Lois' fault, but at some point...) When we bottom out, or get good and motivated, real meaningful change can happen. But we can still get some guidance from others. What would you say? 99% our actions and 1% help from others? 95/5? 90/10? I think, at some point too much help from others means we are not changing ourselves. Or, we become dependent upon those others and stop trying ourselves. Most think that giving up is easy. I think it is quite hard. And there certainly are degrees of "fail". We can fail, learn and try again. A lot of things in life need a lot of learning! The only real failure is not trying at all (I'm sure that is a quote from someone much wiser than I, but don't remember who) It's not a failure to use tools, therapists, friends etc, as some change might be to fix our blindspots....which we are blind to. (but you seem to have a fair handle on most of this already) I don't know that there's any ratio of personal agency vs. help from others that I'd subscribe to at all. Individual circumstances, timing and a lot of other factors come into play. I quadriplegic, someone with schizophrenia, advanced dementia, a baby, someone with cancer, depression, or just going through the throes of life - I have no idea how to measure, and certainly will not presume to evaluate how much is too much. I rather think that the parable about forgiveness in the bible has explanatory power here, with 70 times 7 really meaning ad Infinium. Unconditional love, let us at least hope. And even here, I'm personally loathe to call someone (as opposed to something) a 'failure,' or, personally use words like 'fault,' 'blame,' 'judgment' 'deserve' punishment, etc. There are consequences of cause and effect that we inevitably become accountable for that effect our quality of life, but I do not believe any sort of moral judgment. Yes, there are tough realities, and tough love, and enablement, and co-dependence, and "teaching a man to fish," and I would certainly even say, "help that doesn't really help." But I have yet to find an example in which a person in this world--and all of us--aren't helped by more compassion. Even, especially self compassion. Which is not at all the same as sympathy or self esteem, or platitudes, or weakness. I think we're all connected in consciousness and a hundred other ways, so much that the self is an illusion, and I'm an appendage of the whole, I just don't see reality as it actually is (which psyche delic therapy is increasingly showing as just one source). One thing I do know, is that it is not just more effort. That way lies despair. And so continues the paradox. It is okay with me to admit there is a little mystery in almost everything, and a lot of mystery in many things. I look up at the stars and realize with amazement, how my tiny brain can think about such grand things, and then I take the trash out because it stinks, and thins are 1% better.
  6. @idkusername465, What a great set of questions and observations on this. I actually think within your post, you've also hit on some of the answers, but some of your questions, and perhaps 'frustrations at terms that seem like platitudes' (my paraphrase I hope is fair), still clamor for an answer. I'm going to try to do so in line below in bold to track with your questions. Gandolf, I've read many of your post over the years, and I've always admired your steadfastness in the face of chronic and sometimes crippling depression. Despite your struggles you always seem to keep pushing through and I've always admired that about you. You might not realize it but I've definitely noticed. Thanks. I think you're able to verbalize a lot of what many of us feel when battling this illness and I feel your posts portray the ups and downs of the recovery process. With that being said I'm interested in the idea of "saving oneself." I hear this a lot. And to be honest I don't really know what it means. How does one "save themselves"? I will agree that we all have an ability to positively influence our lives through our actions and behaviors. I think "positively influence our lives through actions and behaviors" is an excellent initial working definition. The reality is, we are always changing in significant ways even when we tend to focus on maladaptive stagnant patterns. This is the unavoidable conclusion of a book called Personality Isn't Permanent, and many others. The question, from ACT, and other evidence-based therapies is, can we be more aware/intentional and influence the direction of that change in line with the values really most important to us? That' is what it means to live a good life to me (as well as human connection, which is a value of mine). This also implies that we ought to go back to old things that worked, even moderately well, but also try knew things if some of the old things didn't work. And I think with depression its particularly important to remember this given how it can reduce someone to hopelessness. So yes there are a number of healthy coping mechanisms that can help with depression. But isn't that what many of us have already been doing? Yes, to be sure, just often not very adaptively, and that's not to cast any fault! Haven't many of us who have been fighting mental illness for many years tried the most popular and widely suggested "solutions"? What more is there? The implication seems to be there's something extra to be done. As if you must make some sort of internal breakthrough. And this is where things get nebulous. Because I'm not sure what that even means. Again, yes! and I love how well you articulated this. Exactly. The science (and I think real reflection) shows that it is changing the inner landscape that we have the most influence3 over, and that makes the most lasting difference, by far. Steven Hayes, in Get out of Your Head and Into Your Life (on ACT), talks about how much of this is not 'hard' in a conventional, "I-must-work-harder" sense - in fact this is part of the problem of why and how we overthink, get stuck destructive patterns, and generally repeat getting in our own way. He acknowledges this inner change of willing acceptance, compassion, etc. is, however, "subtle," "elusive," and even "tricky." And isn't it? Isn't that your experience? It's downright maddening a lot of the time, like I feel like I can hear it, see it in others, but almost never get it myself. Forgiveness, inner critic, self loathing, etc. Its similar to when people talk about forgiveness, or acceptance, or something similar to that. You can talk to people and they can try to help you see things in a different light, but ultimately that's a process that has to happen inside you. It's something internal. I AGREE. But I've never really understood what this "process" was or what it entails. It always just seems so uncertain. I don't know what any of it means. What it actually means. Or how to achieve it. And this is what I mean above by "subtle," "elusive," and even "tricky." Sorry, I realize, this alone isn't much help. I feel like this is one of those really paradoxical things that is simultaneously the journey and challenge of a lifetime, and also as close as my deepest self within, like Dorothy just needing to click her ruby slippers, she always had the power within. She just needed to learn how to use it. To me, this is what therapy and mental health education is largely about. Haven't you already tried grounding techniques, practicing mindfulness, etc? Haven't you already tried a myriad of techniques that have proven to be moderately helpful at best, and woefully inadequate at worst? At what point should you stop blaming yourself for things not working out? Where is the line between personal responsibility and uncontrollable external circumstance? Where does one begin and the other end? Yes, I have, although my consistency and improvement in these things is sporadic. Also, as you've noted, I have had some at least moderate results with them, which at least is in the right direction. That beats the h*ll out of going in the opposite direction. I really don't mean to sound negative or try to suggest that you shouldn't be doing these things. You absolutely should and I commend you for doing so. I need to start employing more of these techniques in my own life lol You don't sound negative. And remember, depression is such a skilled liar to us, it keeps us 'headlocked in a daydream (Van Halen) of cognitive distortions that actually become delusions after a while. I just see a lot of the same cycles in myself and a lot of other people on the forums. At first there's a commitment to getting better, and a greater focus on positive thoughts and behaviors. Within a few months they're at a another breaking point. And then the process repeats all over again. Yep, and I still am at a breaking point, and god I was this weekend. But life goes on (as Robert Frost said were the 3 words in which he could sum up everything he had learned about life). And so, I have a choice. I'm having the damndest time making it a lot right now, because yah, I'm just wrung out, demoralized, feel hopeless, think and feel like I've just read and tried, and practiced everything. And yet. There they are. So many people still fighting, and some getting better. I'm hopeful that things like psyche-delics therapy are going to really revolutionize mental health (check out How to Change Your Mind documentary on Netflix, based on the same book). So there are things we haven't yet tried that can and do change us, and again. We change. Every Day. No matter what. I just don't understand what the point of any of it is. There's so many people on this forum who have been desperately trying to get better your years and have seen little to no results. At a certain point I'm not sure it's up the individual. Yes people should be doing all they can to better there lives. Yes people should exhaust every resource to get better. But at a certain point things just are what they are. I have 2 reactions to this...and absolutely agree, I am one of these people who've been trying desperately for years. First is radical acceptance of what is. Then is the return to commitment without judgment...something I believe I am still learning how to implement in my own life, just a tiny bit more every other day or so. It's not a straight line. A step forward, a step back, and so on. It's hard work for me. Some of it is creative hopelessness, which for me, I just mean, ah, letting go of more. Things aren't perfect, and mostly don't feel good; I'm still having constant thoughts of suicide and hopelessness, and feeling pain and suffering. But this morning, I just had actually a wonderful morning - what a surprise. Watching How to Change Your Mind while on the treadmill....I messaged 6-7 friends about it (probably annoyed or made half of them think I'm even weirder than they already did, but I don't care - its a gift if they watch it). I apologize if I came off as negative, I really wasn't trying to be. Your post just sparked a few ideas in my head Not at all. I think these things are deep paradoxes. Dialectics. How two seemingly oppositional things can still somehow be true at once. It is largely a mystery. I think it's okay to admit this. I just have this one moment, this one breath, this one choice. I keep taking it, oddly, however poorly, imperfectly, painfully, I keep on, "boats against the current born back ceaselessly [but not necessarily] into the past," to turn the last lines of the Great Gatsby on their head, which they deserve. So, so very often, constantly almost, especially when I'm in this perfect storm of seemingly impossible external circumstances, along with severe internal depression, I try with everything I have, and yet still come up empty, just in despair. Every input I can sense seems to confirm to me, that this is a cruel, Sisyphean joke. I knew I was worthless, deserving to be judged, condemned, and die. I've read the treatises, and synthesized them into writing about the theories of rational sui cide, involuntarism (when a human just can't bear any more pain, and as I conceive of it, their survival instinct flips and turns to eliminate the suffering by ending conscious living), and yet, in the end, there lies a ferocious choice of will. And no guilt or shame or blame or fault or judgment of any kind is implied to those who have ended their pain. Just that I still have this choice. It's a miserable one to be honest, most of the time. But just .1% better, each day, makes a big difference in a year. And still, I am unable to escape this mystery of live that I have for my own kids and friends and lovers. It's crazy. I'm okay with life being crazy. I just want a little more joy. So, saving myself? Mainly I mean what you've already said above, influencing what I can, in the direction I really want. Exercising the courage to be present in the spectacular / difficult / terrifying (yah, often miserable) now moment, unfolding with its changing sensations washing over me like a river I have no real idea what to do with except take the next breath and wonder and feel. To decide, "right now, I'm okay." Doesn't seem like it. Doesn't feel like it. But yep, I'm checking, grounding, and I'm okay. No one is shooting at me and I'm not bleeding out or gasping for air. Most of my troubles are technically and very literally in another time and another place (which was also the title of a Christian song in my upbringing). It's hard for me and for most 'authorities' I've read to describe this without resort to a lot of metaphors like I've used above, which I grant is frustrating. I don't have this figured out. I just keep walking through hell, trying to point myself one degree more intentional and accepting and open and flexible and learning, and sometimes finding unexpected joy. You know? I'm hoping things get better for you! And you as well. I hope some of this made sense.
  7. This is the simple conclusion I have come to within the past couple weeks, form some reading, thinking, going through a kind of stretched-out nervous breakdown at home, work, financially, etc., and most importantly as a matter of choice and commitment. Probably this was always obvious to some people, and at a level, I've always known it. In life, we are so to speak, at best, along together. No one else is going to save me from the situation I am in. I have lived with some sort and degree of learned helplessness or delusional hope that either somehow someone or something would somehow save me and help me get to the place I want to be and live as my best self. But it won't. There is no one else who can. It is against the nature of things. It has been a form of repeating the same basic patterns of behavior and excepting and hoping for different results, largely as a result of traumatic complex PTSD, and mindless unawareness and poorly-managed anxiety. None of this is to discount the importance of a support network, or getting help - which is what strong and wise people do when they are in crisis, and even in life in general. For me, I think rather it means taking the next breath, being willing to bring myself back into awareness in the present moment, and courageously and continually deciding to take up and exercise every ounce of full response-ability I have to control what I can control, influence what I can influence, prioritize those according to my values, and do my best to let go of the rest, and just live and be. For me, it also means doing my best to let go of judgment / punishment / self-hatred and self condemnation, and along with it somewhat chosen hopelessness and despair. It means doing something different, starting by consistently using grounding techniques, practicing them at least 2-3 times per day, and as often as possible, to improve present moments and live my best life. I watched several YouTube therapists' videos to refresh on these, and made a simple 1-page list of my preferred 4 or 5 of them and began doing them yesterday and today. This is the first step for me in actually physically applying all the massive amount of information I've taken in and tried over the past 12 years. For now, I'll focus on just this one thing. To get through. To get better. I'm on a knife's edge of being fired from my job that I desperately need. My checking account keeps going to zero. Bills aren't paid. Home life is pretty tough. I've been really depressed, not handling worsening anxiety, procrastination, and I was all but shutting down, etc. the past couple weeks, and it was worsening fast. That happened and is now in the past. This isn't all my "fault," nor am I a bad person for it. But there are consequences, and I am and will be held to account. This is a declaration that I have the ability to respond, to choose, to simply breathe and then do my best in the next unfolding moment. Words are easy. Actions are hard. But I'm giving it my best. And if I still "fail" at it, whatever that means, I can live with or die with that being okay, that I did the best I could, with the knowledge and resources and ability I had at each given moment.
  8. It is great talking with you all here.
  9. Well, no, this makes perfect sense. I may have over-emphasized that the great weekend was the sole, or even primary cause. I associate it, but correlation as you know doesn't necessarily even imply causation. I'm a basket case right now I think mainly because: I'm bipolar anyway. I'm just perpetually burnt out and exhausted these days from non-stop overactivity and survival mode at work, at home, etc. I have sleep problems and bad chronic back and neck pain I want to see a chiropractor and/or acupuncturist for (cuz I think I've done about everything else). The anxiety and stress I feel financially is extreme and acute. This last one, especially, is probably the one I can best address through practicing of acceptance, letting go, stoicism, self care and the like. Through this tumultuous maelstrom (e.g. I'm still putting kids' rooms together, the young ones are sleeping with me, waking me up all the time, I already get very poor sleep, etc.), I have maintained a very difficult but rewarding morning self-care routine that includes quite solitude, meditation, yoga and stretching, and exercise. Every. Single. Morning. Starting usually at 4 or 4:30 a.m. I do get tired later in the day, but this counsels me to go to bed earlier. Anyway, your advice to balance is still well-taken, and it is part of the chosen values I have of wisdom (compassion, mindfulness and emotional/self regulation). And thank you.
  10. I know what you mean, although that isn't and can't really be what it was or meant to be a stoic. There is a good podcast on this I sometimes listen to, but I think stoicism for us is more about acceptance of what we can't change, being aware and changing what we can, and emotionally regulating the ups and downs of life. That's my own paraphrase.
  11. I think this describes hedonism, which I have generally always struggled to find much criticism of, except possibly that it if one tempers it by adhering to a values-based "good" life embracing others around us in empathy, then I think we have it. But, I am actually applying most of what you've said above in my life now, after and still now struggling with a deep self condemnation, judgment and punishment, which tends to feel guilty and ashamed for doing pleasurable things. Dating is one of those things that has been overwelmingly just really fun, and when I notice thoughts of guilt and shame, I think I'm doing a pretty good job so far of just letting them go. They do no one any good and don't add anything to the world.
  12. I think that's right Sober. That, and I'm just dealing with a lot of exhaustion and burnout. And I kind of refuse to slow down too much on the dating, at least with people I've already been talking with (setting dates) and meeting. Because it's one thing that feels good. I could always try to balance it more, but being bipolar, too much of a good thing is never enough.
  13. I've just had one of those days where everything felt like it fell apart and I feel like I want to give up and die. I did have a really amazingly good weekend with a love interest, and I should be grateful for that, and I am... god I just feel so horrible all the sudden, and it's such a roller coaster, and I'm just tired and want to get off
  14. This is so true of most of us with depression. We think more deeply than most about so many things... ...but its like certain circuitry just doesn't connect or manifest well in the concrete real world
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