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Epictetus

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Epictetus last won the day on January 9 2020

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About Epictetus

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    New Mexico, USA
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    Philosophy. Theology. Jainism. Music. Comparative Religion. Poetry. Nature and animals. Fine Arts and Music. Cinema. Travel. Meeting people. Humor and cartoons. Neurobiology. Asian culture. Japan. Flying.
    Philosophical foundations of the natural and social sciences. Dining. Airliners. SimCity 4D. Learning. Aerodynamics. Jet propulsion and jet engine technology.

    Suffer from Depression, Anxiety and Panic Attacks. Also suffer from a hospital-acquired super-infection I am on the antibiotic of last resort and hanging in there. My meds are Citalopram daily and Clonazepam as needed.

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  1. I am so sorry you are suffering this ordeal. What you write about in general is something I can completely relate to from personal experience. A couple of things have helped me with fear of failure and failure. Don't know if they would be helpful to you or not. And these things required a lot of practice before they became second nature to me. Long-standing habits and ways of thinking and feeling are not reversed in a day, sadly. One thing that helped me was to keep "failures" and "fear of failure" in perspective. This was difficult for me since I grew up to be a kind of perfectionist. Perfectionism for all its benefits and merits can be distressing and stressful and take all the joy out of life. Many people are perfectionists without knowing it at a deep level. Perfectionism teaches that only perfection is good and that therefore anything less than perfection is bad or evil. This robs the range of values of all richness and makes everything one dimensional. In truth, good and bad form a spectrum and have many gradations which is why most languages have words for "better" and "worse." Perfectionism can destroy such distinctions and level everything unnaturally and unreasonably. On the scale of good and bad there are many gradations. A couple of men in the last 100 years caused the destruction of tens of millions of men, women and children through campaigns of genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced starvation. I am thinking here of Hitler, Stalin and others. Now I have read of what you wrote about some of your "failures." But I know that you have never failed so badly as to cause the destruction of tens of millions of men, women and children . . . or the destruction of millions . . . or the destruction of hundreds of thousands . . .or the the destruction of tens of thousands . . . or the destruction of thousands . . . and so on. So to me, you are very, very far . . . almost infinitely far from being a failure as a person or having failed at anything like Hitler and Stalin did. So I think it can help to try to put things into perspective. Since anxiety is about the future . . . I don't think you will ever do anything like Hitler or Stalin. We all fail at things but I don't think you should worry about failing at something as grave as Hitler and Stalin did. I don't know if this would help you, but it helps me. Second, the perfectionist attitude locks a person into a very narrow point of view. I would call that point of view a way of looking at oneself, others, things and events in the world and constantly thinking: "could be better but isn't better!" This perspective tends to engender feelings and moods of anxiety, sadness, disappointment, despair, frustration, guilt, anger and restless and joyless striving. But there is another way to look at things. One can look at oneself, others, things and events and think: "could be worse, but isn't worse." Perfectionists sometimes lose the ability to access this point of view because they are locked into the other one. Happier and more peaceful people in general tend to have as their default point of view the "could be worse but isn't worse" attitude. This engenders in them feelings of peacefulness, calm, gratitude, appreciation and joy of living. Ideally one would be able to move easily between the "could be better" and "could be worse" attitudes. But sometimes one gets stuck. I am not criticizing perfectionism in all its forms. Perfectionism has led to some marvelous medical breakthroughs, marvelous machines and technology and so on. But there can be a dark side to perfectionism if it is not balanced and if it loses perspective. Then it just engenders constant stress, distress and a sense of hopelessness. Third, I think . . . is that there is a time dimension to success and failure. A person can suffer a string of failures but then bounce back in a tremendous way. I know of a historical person who seemed to suffer a virtually unending string of losses and failures. He might be called today a total loser. But when he was an older person, he did something quite amazing. He saved many people from being sent to a Nazi death camp. And that is what is he known for today. Nobody today except a few historians are even aware of his many failures in life: career, relationship and so on. He is known as a great hero. Things can be turned around. A man I know who suffered many losses and failures in his life did something in secret that we only know about today. Every few days for 20 years he donated blood. He is today credited with saving the lives of thousands and thousands of people. There was a homeless woman who donated half the money she begged from others to charities. What she did was walk to convenience stores and gas stations and put coins in the little boxes for the March of Dimes, St. Jude's Children's Hospital and so on. What an amazing person. Her failures and losses did not prevent her from doing great good in the world for others. And she is a hero in my home town. When everything is going south so to speak, a little change for the better can turn what is important around. No one can stop a person from being a good person if that is something they really want. Even people who have failed at everything can become heroes. These are things that have helped me in my life. To be honest, I don't know if they would help you or others. I am sure in your life since childhood you have done all kinds of brave things, clever things, kind and sweet things, beautiful things. You are clearly a good person. I hope you will find something that helps you with your distress. And I also hope that others here will have better words for you than my poor words. I want to wish you good things in your life! - Epictetus
  2. Days are warming up and it is warm enough to go for walks without a jacket. Nights are still at freezing temperatures though.
  3. I am so sorry you have been overwhelmed. Your thoughts and feelings seem completely understandable to me given what has happened to you. I hope things improve for you and the sooner the better!
  4. I found Lexapro quite stimulating. My doctor added Buspirone to my Rx regimen and it seems to help and also helps with muscle tension.
  5. I have noticed being tired a lot too lately. My sleep is also affected. I think you are right about what you say about the "new normal."
  6. I wish I had something helpful to offer but sadly I don't. Panic attacks are just awful. I have an Rx for clonazepam but I rarely use it as lately my panic attacks are less frequent and less intense. I am so very sorry you are suffering this ordeal. Just heartbreaking! Sure hope you find something that helps you ! ! !
  7. Hi and welcome to the Forums, Reikimonica, It is very nice to meet you. I am so sorry you are in the situation you describe. Wish I knew what to say that would be helpful. Hopefully others here with more knowledge, experience and insight will see your post and respond with something helpful to you. My understanding as a layman and non-medical professional is that there are various kinds of depression. Some that are the result of an event that passes can be eased with psychotherapy and a short course of medication. Other forms of depression involve more biological symptoms and require longer courses of medication and/or psychotherapy. There are chronic forms of depression I believe where there is definite organic pathology involved and these can require long-term or even lifetime medical treatment similar to the kind of continual medical treatment required for epilepsy for example. It is thought that some types of personality can contribute to depression because they expose the brain to excess stress hormones which can be toxic to it. There are many kinds of these too. I suffer from perfectionism which can be heritable through genetics or upbringing. Perfectionism is a way of looking at oneself, others and things and events in the world and chronically thinking: "could be better, but isn't better." This attitude engenders stress induced feelings and moods: aggravation, frustration, anger or rage, disappointment, guilt and sometimes a sense of hopelessness. Psychotherapy can sometimes help people like me and others to learn better coping skills that reduce stress and thus reduce exposure of the brain to the damaging stress hormones. I think it has only been in the last few decades that the relationship between stress and depression has come to light. In the animal world, stress hormones are secreted in matters of life or death urgency. When the emergency ends, the stress hormone response also ends. Human beings for genetic or environmental reasons can find themselves unable to shut off the stress response and the stress hormones are toxic to regions of the brain when the brain is continually exposed to them. I have seen people exhibit life or death stress responses to not getting a good parking spot or a short line at the checkout counter. These are not matters or life or death urgency generally speaking. People less prone to depression tend to have a "could be worse, but isn't worse" point of view as their default attitude. In truth, I think, almost everything can be looked at from either the "could be better, but isn't better" point of view or the "could be worse, but isn't worse" point of view. The "could be worse, but isn't worse" point of view tends to engender feelings of being lucky or blessed, feelings or gratitude and appreciation, a sense of peace of mind and joy of living. I think these are just a few of the factors that go into various kinds and degrees of depression. Some respond well to psychotherapy in some cases. Some need medical assistance or some combination of medicine and therapy. Some depressions, especially discrete event caused depression go away on their own. Some can linger for a year or more or cycle. There are even treatment resistant forms of depression. When I was younger I went off and on medication. But this did not work for me. I didn't like the idea of being chained to a medication until a doctor explained to me that my type of depression involved an organic component much like epilepsy. Someone with epilepsy cannot ever go off medication. It is not a sign of moral weakness or poor strength of character. It is because epilepsy is a chronic medical condition. There has been some research that has linked some forms of depression to atrophy of certain regions of the brain such as the two hippocampi. Other research has linked some depression to thinning of regions of the cerebral cortex. There is also research that has linked to depression to loss of protective glial cells in the brain and at the microscopic level to atrophy of brain cell architecture such as withering and atrophy of dendrites. Brain scans of some depressed people appears to show reduced regional cerebral blood flow and reduced cerebral energy utilization [glucose metabolism.] Of course it goes without saying that all medical research is subject to caveats and limitations such as size of study, objectivity of study, duration of study, contrary research, confounding factors, new discoveries and so on and so on. None of us here on the Forums are doctors or medical professionals. We are simply fellow sufferers. Nothing we say here can or should be relied upon. It is good that you are in the care of a psychiatrist or were in the care of one. Your health is so important and should not be left to amateurs or laymen such as me. Your health is way too important for that! I do hope you find these Forums helpful to you. I think you are very heroic to be bearing such a heavy burden. Those not afflicted with depression have no idea how much nobility and heroism it takes to carry these heavy, heavy burdens. Hopefully you will find what works best for you personally. It is heartbreaking that you are going through this. Wish I knew how to help. My heart goes out to and I want to wish you only the very, very best. - Epictetus
  8. I am so sorry you are suffering. That is really heartbreaking. I don't know much about anything but I think good and bad form a continuum or range. At one end are those who like Hitler and Stalin and others caused the destruction of literally tens of millions of men, women and children. I am not exactly sure what the expression "scum of the earth" means but I guess if it applied to anyone it would be to people who caused the destruction of tens of millions of people through ethnic cleansing, genocide and campaigns of forced starvation. I don't think you have caused the destruction of tens of millions of men, women and children. Or millions. Or hundreds of thousands. Or tens of thousands. Or thousands. Or hundreds. And so on. So to me, you are far, far, far, far, far, far, far away from being "scum of the earth." You are ten million miles away from being like that. There are people probably within 100 miles of you in prisons who have done unspeakable crimes to men, women and children, crimes of horrible violence, crimes resulting in the deaths of innocent people. I don't see you in that class of individuals either. So I think it is important to try to keep perspective. Sometimes when we are feeling low we tend to compare ourselves to those we think are much better than ourselves morally speaking. But to be fair I think we also need to balance this by comparing ourselves to those much worse than we are. Otherwise we lose perspective, something so essential to truth and fair-mindedness. I think it is also quite common when a person is feeling badly for that person to sort of put himself or herself on trial. But doing this when one is feeling low is not usually very helpful. In the first place, these trials are not fair. They are travesties of justice. There is a judge, jury and prosecutor but no defense attorneys. There are those pointing out our faults but no one to sing our praises and point out our strengths and virtues. Such so-called mental trials and not fair to us nor are they fair to fairness and justice. Although I do not know you well, I am sure that in your life since you were a child you have done countless big and little deeds of bravery, intelligence, kindness and moral virtue. When a person is feeling low he or she has a tendency to say that those things don't count. But the reason they don't count is that we don't count them. Then there is the future. The past does not need to bind us in chains. I know of a man who was sort of egotistical, selfish, grumpy and kind of mean-spirited for most of his life. At some point in his life [I think he was 40 years old] he did the most kind and sweet and heroic thing for some people. And that is what he is remembered for. That one deed redeemed his previous mistakes. I have a contagious illness that prevents me from leaving my house and property and so am quite isolated. But in this situation I have found meaning in helping the little creatures who share my space. I can leave food and water for birds and squirrels. I can leave breadcrumbs for the ants and beetles. I can go on social media and give people a little pat on the back or offer a wee bit of encouragement, understanding, empathy and consolation. These are little things but teach me that I am not locked or trapped in my situation. I knew a very poor lady who lived in basically a shack. She was elderly but she used to go to stores and service stations and put a few pennies and coins into those little charity boxes for the March of Dimes, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, UNICEF and other charities. Sometimes moral excellence does not consist in doing great things, but in doing small things with great love. Sometimes we have to take baby steps towards virtue. Please do not be too hard on yourself. You are NOT a bad person. These is much about you to love, respect and treasure if you only had eyes to see it.
  9. I also want to welcome you here. It is very nice to meet you. It is heartbreaking how many burdens have been placed upon you by life. I think you are incredibly heroic to have survived them all. People not afflicted with the crushing burdens of mental illness can never understand how much heroism it takes to just keep going. I will be looking forward to reading your posts here and want to wish you the very best!
  10. Peonies, Depression and anxiety can both be so brutal. They have woven themselves like dark threads throughout my life. I think affirmations is a great idea. One that helps me the most is this one: "Things could be worse, but are not worse, thank goodness." I have heard and read that certain mindsets are depressogenic. Whether from genetics or my environment or both, I inherited a "could be better, but isn't better" mindset. It darkened my view of myself and others and of things and events in my life and in the world. And it kind of became my default mindset. And of course it is quite true that anyone and anything "could be better in certain ways, but isn't better." But such a mindset can engender chronic feelings and moods of disappointment, aggravation, anger, sadness, guilt and hopelessness. I am not saying that the mindset itself is purely negative. Many of the greatest inventions and creations in world history started because someone said: "could be better, but isn't better" and then did something to make it better. But pushed to extremes, this mindset can make life miserable. And I think it needs to be balanced with a "could be worse, but isn't worse" perspective. I read somewhere that the "chronic outlook" of "could be better but isn't better" goes by the name "perfectionism." People whose default attitude is "could be worse, but isn't worse" tend to have engendered in them feelings of appreciation and gratitude, hope, peace of mind and joy of living. I realize that major depressive disorder is an illness and that it can cause one to literally get stuck and trapped in a "could be better but isn't better" mindset and for which medication can be helpful and life-saving. And I was certainly saved by medication. But these days I have "could be worse, but isn't worse" post-its all around my house, work space and even on my car sun visor. When I am feeling low or anxious I ponder the message. I could be lost in the Sahara Desert without water but am not. I could be trapped in a burning building but am not. I could be in a desperately poor hospital with a painful illness and no pain medication available to ease my suffering, but I am not. I have certainly done things in my life that I am not proud of. But instead of getting stuck in the "could be better but isn't better" guilt, I think of those men in the last 100 years who sent millions and tens of millions of men, women and children to be destroyed in concentration camps and through forced campaigns of systematic starvation. I am not one of those tyrants and so my misdeeds in the past and probably in the future are far, far, far, far away from that kind of thing. There is also the realization in me that whatever happens in my future, I will still be able to look at it and say "could be worse, but isn't worse." This helps calm my anxiety about the future. So I think affirmations can have an important place in a life tormented by depression and anxiety, especially when but not only when it is caused by brain pathology. I think you are a very heroic person to be struggling against depression and anxiety. Those not afflicted with these terrible, terrible maladies will never know how much heroism and nobility is takes to struggle against them. So I definitely look up to you and think you are model for us all here on the Forums. Best Wishes. Epictetus
  11. I'm sorry this is happening to you. Your understanding of the Christian God and mine are quite different. I was always taught the the very foundation of the Gospel [which means 'good news' not 'bad news'] is that God desires the salvation of every human being and that nothing is impossible to God. So for me, the default Christian attitude is one called "hope." God is Love and love toward those lower than God in the order of being is called "mercy." Since you suffer from OCD and since Jesus continually showed mercy to the sick, I am sure that God does not regard your promises and other actions done under the influence of your illness as anything but manifestations of your illness so that God looks upon you with the eyes of great love and mercy. God I was taught offers many graces to individuals and perhaps one grace is that there are medical treatments for OCD. It is awful that you are suffering so. I would hope you would avail yourself of medical help to ease your suffering. Clearly you are a priceless child of God who is struggling. Perhaps it would help you to write down on pieces of paper: "God desires the salvation of every human being and all things are possible to God" and then place these pieces of paper around where you live and where you would see them so that you do not live in dread and terror. What do you think? It is just heartbreaking that you are suffering and I wish I knew what to say to help ease your pain and grief. Maybe it would also help you to remember that Gospel means "good news" not "bad news." It almost sounds as though you might regard the Christian God as some kind of enemy who is out to get you and destroy you by making your life so hard that you will fail and God will punish you. Do you really believe the Christian God is like that? What do you think? OCD is a medical problem although it can manifest in religious ways. Sadly I am not a medical professional or doctor or I would help you. Please seriously consider seeing a physician for real help. None of us here on the Forums are physicians so while we can offer you understanding, encouragement, compassion, consolation and comfort, we cannot really alleviate your OCD although we surely would if we could because we hate to see you suffer needlessly. Please know that I have the greatest respect for you and pray for you daily.
  12. In a field I am the absence of field. This is always the case. Wherever I am I am what is missing. When I walk I part the air and always the air moves in to fill the spaces where my body's been. We all have reasons for moving. I move to keep things whole. Mark Strand. Keeping Things Whole [1964]
  13. This is the first I've heard of that medication. I'll will do some research. Many others here have personal experience with Aurorix. I hope that if they do, they will see your post and respond with something helpful. I hope it helps you.
  14. Things seem surreal to me in this lock down. And I have definitely noticed that it has adversely affected my motivation and also my energy levels. So sorry that it has adversely affected you too!
  15. Hi Bradly and welcome to the Forums. It is very nice to meet you. I am so sorry you are carrying the heavy burdens you mentioned. I cannot even imagine how heavily those burdens must weigh upon you. I wish I knew what to say that would be helpful to you but sadly I am at a loss. Awhile back I was in a situation somewhat similar to the one you describe and I was helped most by medication for depression. It wasn't that the medication was magical or anything. It didn't change my life or the situation I was in, but it put a floor under me and gave me the strength, energy and hopefulness I needed to get unstuck. To be honest, I did not think medication would help me so I was very happily surprised. While people are aware that any organ in the human body can become ill, not so many people realize that the brain itself can suffer illness and pathology due to stress and distress. And the brain can be so hurt that it sort of gives up. Sometimes consulting with a professional therapist can help too especially when one is stuck in a some unwelcome mindset and can't seem to get free of it. Although none of us here are physicians or medical professionals, we are all fellow sufferers or recovered sufferers of depression and other maladies. Hopefully these Forums will prove helpful to you. I think you are very heroic to be bearing such heavy burdens and struggling to rid yourself of them and move on with life. People not afflicted with troubles like the one describe cannot ever really understand how much nobility and heroism it takes to bear them and struggle. Sometimes even professions fail to understand this. Your post will actually help people here who are struggling with their own personal anguish and grief, help them to feel less isolated and alone with their pain. And that is a wonderful gift to give someone. It is both a healing and in a way, a life saving gift. So I am grateful to you for posting what did. I think it took tremendous courage on your part. I hope you will find these Forums a warm and friendly place where you will meet people who will respect and treasure you. If I had the knowledge, experience and insight to be really helpful to you in this complex situation you described so clearly, I definitely would. Sadly I lack these skills. Hopefully others here will see your post and respond with something truly helpful. I wish you only the very best her on the Forums and in your life. You deserve some peace and joy of living!
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