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Epictetus

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Everything posted by Epictetus

  1. I am in a very bad situation myself, so bad in fact that I cannot even talk about it yet. Because of this I can relate to almost every single thing you have said although our situations are not identical. But sadly, offering advice is not something I can do. I would like to share what is helping me through the nightmare I am living. I realize it might not be useful to you in any way though. It is something a psychiatrist told me about the depression I was suffering due to the ongoing nightmare of my life. This is what he said: He said that depression causes something very strange to happen to one's thinking and feelings. One who is depressed tends to look at oneself, the people in one's life and one's life iself and get "stuck" in an attitude of "could be better, but isn't better." This is a direct affect of the illness of depression regardless of the nightmares that cause it. Looking at things from the point of view of "could be better, but isn't better" naturally generates certain feelings: dissatisfaction, aggravation, disappointment, anger, resentment, unhappiness and hopelessness. How could such an attitude NOT generates these kinds of feelings, he said. But there is another attitude that one can take towards everything in life, an attitude that depression makes difficult and even impossible and that attitude is "could be worse but isn't worse." That attitude naturally generates happier feelings. He told me that depression can almost be defined as the inability to have this "could be worse, but isn't worse attitude." I told him: "Everything in my life is a nightmare. Everything is bad and getting worse. How can I possibly have an attitude like "could be worse, but isn't worse." He told me that perhaps I couldn't until my depression was under control. But he suggested I try to introduce this attitude into my life. "Every nightmare you are suffering could be worse but isn't worse" he told me. You are never going to feel better as long as you are stuck in a "could be better, but isn't better" attitude. The medication you are taking should help with that," he said. I was so angry at this psychiatrist. "But the people in my life could be better and are not. I could be better and could have been better in the past but am not and is not. All these nightmare situations I am in could be better." I told him. But he said: "Don't you see that all these things could be worse, but are not worse. Don't you see that it is depression that has you stuck in the "could be better but isn't better" way of looking at everything in your life?" I totally and violently disagreed with him. But gradually and over time I have begun to see that he was right. I am still living in many nightmare situations. But since my depression has decreased, I am not longer stuck in the "could be better but isn't better" way of looking at things. The living nightmares I endure have not changed or decreased and in fact have increased and yet I am not so troubled as I was. The psychiatrist also told me not to blame myself that I was stuck in the "could be better but isn't better" frame of mind. Depression is an illness regardless of what living nightmares cause it. One cannot simply throw a switch and look at things differently. It is a real illness. And that is why it is not only useless but cruel to just tell a depressed person to "look on the bright side." Depression itself makes it impossible or nearly so to do that and to urge someone who is depressed to do that is like rubbing salt into an open wound. That is why I cannot and will not offer advice. You are living a nightmare. I am not living your nightmare. I am not in your shoes. So I cannot give advice. I can only share what helps me in my living nightmare life. I have little post-its all over my house that read "could be worse, but isn't worse, thank goodness." One is in my bedroom. One in the living room. One on the bathroom mirror. One on the refrigerator door. One in my car. I look at them when I getting stressed out of my mind and they help me. I am in a living nightmare. But I am not trapped in a burning building. I am not marooned in the Sahara desert without water. I don't have the Ebola virus. The people in my life are far from perfect but none of them are genocidal leaders who have caused the destruction of tens of millions of people. Although I suffer a terrible illness that may take my life at any moment and for which there is no cure at present, I am not suffering an illness for which pain medications do not work. Although I have not been an ideal person in my life, I am not and have never been an Adolf Hitler. Although someone in my life is headed for something really bad, I have done what I could and I appreciate the millions of good things about that person. This helps me to go on. I am not a professional therapist or doctor or ANYTHING. So I cannot give advice. It could be that my nightmare is so unique that what helps me would be useless to you or others. Sadly, I can only share what helps me. I do hope, and profoundly hope, that things get better for you. You are suffering such an unbelievable and heartbreaking . . . utterly heartbreaking set of situations. I think you are a very good and very heroic person and I can only look up to you. So very, very sorry I cannot helpful to you! My heart goes out to you! Something that helps me and still helps me is a little YouTube video "Life Wisdom from Dr. Aaron Beck." Dr. Beck is one of the fathers of Cognitive Therapy.
  2. Hi Seeker, You have received such good advice from the members here and I don't really have anything better to offer. I just want to say that I hope everything works out for you. I'm so glad you are getting better!
  3. I also want to say "welcome" to you, TheGiftedOne. May you feel quite at home here.
  4. Hello FerryJerry, I am so sorry for all the suffering and grief you are going through! I can't even put into words what I am experiencing in my heart over your terrible, terrible suffering ! ! ! A trained crisis counselor or team is skilled in tackling complex problems that seem beyond solving. They are experienced and skilled at breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable units and have connections to doctors, social workers, social service centers and helpers. They should be able to handle complex problems regardless of the income or assets of a person in trouble. That is the whole point of a crisis counselor or team. It is heartbreaking that you are not being helped. It is just utterly, utterly heatrbreaking ! ! ! Since I am not a crisis counselor I lack the education, tools, experience, connections and everything that would enable me to be helpful to you in a very real practical way. Otherwise, I would definitely help you to the limits of my experience and resources. People here on the Forums, including me, are fellow sufferers. None of us are trained to handle even simple crises at a professional level. So we often refer people to crisis hotlines and centers. I am not saying that empathy and understanding are not valuable. I wish I had those when I was in the most hopeless mess of my life. But what you really need are professionals who both care and have the know how to contribute real solutions and who meet your economic needs. If the crisis people you deal with are not helping, I would urge you to try to connect to other crisis personal or the National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1 [800] 273-8255. If a particular person is not helpful, try to talk to another one and another one. Perhaps an attorney would be able to help you too. There are free or nearly free law centers in many cities. You have been on these Forums awhile and have helped me and others here. You have made a difference in my life and the lives of others. If anyone deserves to live and be helped, it is YOU. My deepest apologies for not having the skills and resources to help you. I hope others here will respond to you with the best they have to offer you and I hope it is better than my poor response ! ! !
  5. The Good News is that fatalities from the new Coronavirus happen mainly to those who are 65 years old or older. The Bad News is that I am 65 years old.
  6. I'm looking forward to riding the train again. I'm thinking Albuquerque to Chicago Union Station and then Chicago to Washington DC Union Station. I can probably only afford going to LA though.
  7. I made a curry rice dish without using a recipe. Luckily it turned out pretty good.
  8. It makes me laugh when I go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and pile my food all the way up to the ceiling and then order a diet drink.
  9. I was kind of in a daze all day because I didn't get much sleep. I did manage to do a little housework.
  10. I couldn't fall asleep last night. Actually I might have gotten about one hour of sleep. Hope I can sleep tonight.
  11. Your post hits quite close to home for me, JessiesMom since I also struggle with issues with my parents along the same lines as you have sketched out in your post. We are partially the product of a million and one things and events that makes us absolutely unique. No one else has been thought "what" each of us has been through and no one else has been through what each of "us" have been through. So I don't think anyone can tell you what you "should" do. There are certainly psychological reasons to forgive, health reasons and there are moral reasons. But one cannot change as though it were as easy as flipping a switch on or off. Something that is often overlooked is that it is not even all that easy to "want" to change something. And I am the last person on earth to tell you what you should do or even what you should want to do. The human brain is very mysterious. A famous neurologist wrote a book about how the brain seems to have a mind of its own. I wonder if people really reflect on that. Why do certain thoughts "pop" into one's head and in a specific order and frequency? do I will my thought stream or its content? Do I wake up in the morning and say: "Today I am going to think of 1000 things, these 1000 things and in this order"? Everything has a kind of mysterious aspect to it. "Not forgiving" is not something that is simple and obvious either I suspect. The brain is getting certain needs met by "not forgiving." I think it would be wrong to attribute malice to "not forgiving" as though that would suddenly make everything crystal clear. Things are not often crystal clear. "Paper logic" sometimes oversimplifies what is in fact very deep and complex. Sometimes it seems as though the human brain runs on its own schedule too, which is often perhaps not all that convenient to what we want to do or don't want to do. I wrote about this yesterday. Maybe human freedom and responsibility is not simply an all or nothing thing. Perhaps there are degrees of freedom and therefore degrees of responsibility. I think this was how the philosopher Aristotle viewed it. Perhaps its not like a pure river of goodness or malice that we generate but a mixture of many things. Maybe this is another way of saying that human freedom is finite and not infinite. It is easy to say human freedom is not infinite but also easy to go as though it were infinite. I think we can say that what we will is affected by all kinds of things which do not destroy our freedom but certainly limit it: our past, our genetics, our environment, fears, strong emotions, habits, various forms of psychological coercion. It is easy to tell someone to "forgive." If that advice worked, why is it stated over and over again. I think something should be said to the question of "how" one can forgive and "why" one should or shouldn't forgive. I cannot tell someone to sit down at a piano and play a Beethoven piano concerto. There is a difference between being free and being capable. I am free to play a Beethoven piano concerto but maybe I am not capable. People, I suspect, sometimes fail to distinguish freedom from capability. It could be that people exercise their freedom without always exercising the entirety of it, 100% of it. None of us can bring our subjective state to complete clarity and objectivity. Someone who "seems" to have not , say, forgiven someone may have actually forgiven that person more than they know. Perhaps the desire to forgive is deeper than the refusal to forgive. If we cannot lay bare our motives with completely objectivity, how can do so with the motives of others? I don't think we can pass final judgements on people. Another thing . . . One person might have a great capacity for forgiveness which makes it almost easy for them while someone else might have great difficulty. The person with great difficulty might only be able to muster up 1% of the forgiveness they desire to give and yet that 1% is 100% of their capability. And then there is look at things from the opposite way. Did this parent of mine hurt me from pure malice or were there perhaps other things going on as well. I know I was deeply hurt by things my parents did. At one time I saw things in black and white and "assumed" pure malice on their part. Now I see there are often grey areas. I don't believe one has to be a philosopher to get some handle on how things can interfere with what we would "want" to do. I have been diverted from choices by things as minor as a mosquito in a room. If a buzzing mosquito can affect me, how much more can I be affected by "big" things I didn't choose, like when and where I was born and to whom . . . or what group of people there was in my life from which I drew my friends . . .and so on. So I would not beat myself up [beating one's brain up] over things like forgiveness. Another factor in freedom is knowledge. Sometimes we are in need of an important insight but we cannot force that insight to come to us and perhaps we do not even know we lack it. At about three pounds, the human brain is pretty amazing. But it is not a god. Perhaps none of these things will prove helpful to you in the least. It is so difficult to know how to be helpful sometimes. Hopefully I haven't said anything that has made you feel badly! I'm very sorry your parents hurt you! PS: I don't think forgiving entails forgetting.
  12. I don't see you the way you see you, Natasha. You help me and others here on the Forums and so to me you are a hero. Your life actualizes the greatest values there are in the world: understanding, compassion, caring, kindliness and helping those who are suffering.
  13. I also want to welcome you, LostSerenity. It is very nice to meet you and I look forward to reading anything you post here.
  14. A joke with two punch lines. A cathedral places an ad for someone to ring the bell . A gentleman shows up but he has no arms. When the Bishop asks the man how he can ring the bell, the man runs towards the bell and hits it with his head. So he gets the job. One day the man is running towards the bell and loses his footing. He falls from the top of the bell tower and crashes onto the sidewalk below. He has no identification so the police ask if anyone can identify him. One man says: "I don't know him, but his face rings a bell." The cathedral places another ad in the paper for someone to ring the bell. A gentleman shows up but has no legs. He is told about the previous bell ringer and how that didn't work out. The man says, "I know, that man who used to ring the bell for you was my brother." He is asked how he can ring the bell. He grabs the rope and raises himself into the bell. He swings back and forth and uses his body to ring the bell. All is well until the day when he loses his grip and falls. The police investigate but this man too, has no ID. The police ask if anyone can identify him. A woman comes forward and says: "Sure, he's a dead ringer for his brother." And that is a joke with two punch lines.
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