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What I Am Doing To Improve Life


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Occasionally, I am able to see myself as I have become from struggling with years of depression and its effects.

I just had one such glimpse of momentary insight and realized how subtly but pervasively negative my thoughts have become.

Part of me knew this, but the image of myself as a positive and optimistic person is so strong from my younger years when I internalized religion, certain personal growth materials including positive thinking, it is nearly impossible to accept that my thoughts are really so negative.  I don't intend or want them to be.

As most here probably know, changing your thoughts--even really becoming aware of them--is difficult.  Anyhow, I have a mixed reaction right now - partly grateful for having had what I believe is a moment of clarity, seeing a big part of the problem.  At the same time, feeling demoralized it is that bad and naturally worried I can't change it (since I've been trying for years).  And there, in a nutshell is an example of what I call 'negative rationalization' - the ability to convince myself that my efforts are futile.  Argh!

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I feel empty, like I have nothing more to offer.

I feel like this is what it has come to, that I am a mostly empty shell of someone who used to be a person, with drive, feeling, determination. Now, I try, but basically react to fear.  It is a feeling of powerlessness.  I know some of this is due to something real, and beyond my control, that we call depression.  But of course part of me knows or at least believes it is also partly learned helplessness - that not acting is the defense mechanism I have chosen to try to avoid the things I fear most.  This is also the cause of the greatest pain and something I wish to change, but don't seem able or willing to.

I can't seem to keep pace with anything in life any more, and life increasingly demands the ability to cope with change and move at a fast pace.
I feel I've become a relic.  Obsolete.  

If I can just get through another day...

But then what..

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Yesterday, I sat in on a psychological/professional assessment of a high level oil and gas equipment executive.

He was awkward and didn't do too well.  But a smart and accomplished exec nonetheless.  We asked him what motivates him, and he had trouble answering.

It got me thinking.  It used to be an easy question for me, as I not only had a specific plan, a mission really, for my life, but I also (and maybe because of the former) seemed to wake up motivated.  Everything motivated me.  

As I have so much trouble now focusing on one thing and getting it done efficiently, I thought about it and jotted down my answers.

  1. feeling good about myself
  2. gaining security
  3. providing security and comfort and opportunity for my family
  4. avoiding fear and fearful situations
  5. gaining hope from a realistic plan
  6. seeing myself as a good, honest, hard-working person
  7. gaining control for the present and the future
  8. money (though somewhat indirectly)
  9. feeling that I am using my ability / fulfilling my potential

I'm not sure what this does for me, but I wanted to write it out in part to remind myself that I do still have motivators, both internal and external.  They're often buried or forgotten.  But they still exist.

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....One thing I liked about the old DF site was that it let you post a heading or topic for new posts like this in one's own thread....

Structure & planning work.

One thing I used to do was plan what I was going to do and when (and to some degree even where, although this is secondary or obvious usually).

I don't do that much any more, or I try and I get sidetracked or don't follow it.  Some of this is the nature of modern work that everyone struggles with - interruptions from email, calls, etc. and the fact that I'm low in the org chart, so I have a mix of autonomy but subject to things that come up from bosses, clients and to some degree, even colleagues.

Anyhow, I was just thinking about it and wondering if I can get back to it more to help myself.  I know that's pretty weak tea.  But I'm not going to claim or assume I can do that.  I guess I need to make a choice to try.  I'm going to take my current to do list and take just the top 2-3 things and plan it in time blocks and try to stick to dong one thing at a time.  At least that's more efficient and uses less mental energy.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Returning to work the day after a holiday in the US.  It's usually like a Monday with a bit of an additional hangover from lack of a good sleep schedule.

Feeling lonely, tired and unfocused.  I did some good things over the weekend with family.  I was also sick the last couple days and am still recovering.

Right, now I have a strange feeling of loneliness that is quieting the usual acute anxiety and worry.  I guess I'll take it.

I've started listening to a book on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) called Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life.  It's interesting so far, however, I need to sit down and do the main initial exercise.

It's this seeming unwillingness or inability (I'm not sure which is the better description) to be present and work on something until it is completed that creates the biggest doubt about whether I can really recover to any sort of normal or desirable life.  The 'simple' answer is just stop ruminating about the above and get back to work.  This is so obvious, I don't know why this seems so elusive and difficult. 

But perhaps there is real hope.  There are a lot of sources of new discoveries, breakthroughs etc. scientifically and behaviorally, which I occasionally write about here.  Also, there is greatness within the human spirit, and perhaps it is still within me, even if it seems gone.  Maybe it is just latent.  Dormant.  Asleep for some reason.  There must be hope.

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  • 1 month later...

One of the things I like about this forum is that it gets me writing.  Nothing fancy or long, but still the method and medium are in writing.

I used to love writing and through hard work, mostly in college and law school, I was at one time, a good writer aspiring to be better.  These skills have atrophied in the last phase of my life as even professional sales and consulting positions do not require the degree or the same kind of writing.  Concision and clarity are paramount, but most 'writing' is done in the staccato bursts of email, the most dreaded form of communication.

Often when I am at my lowest as I have been recently a lot, I think back to writing as therapy.  As a salve or balm, mitigating ever so slightly, the inchoate pain of depression.  Something about the exercise of sitting down and organizing and then making explicit and tangible, the random thoughts bobbing around incessantly in my head, is intensely satisfying.  I have dialogued here with others who have and/or are courageously pursuing writing as a career, a part-time endeavor or just for their own benefit.  Three young kids, family and job do and will make this challenging, but isn't that the case for anything worth doing.  I don't know if I can do it, but I am at the moment, and I know and believe I can do more if I remain mindful and desire it enough.  I know it takes small, simple steps, and above all, just determining to do it, and then following through as often as possible.  It beats the normal fragmented activity and distractedness that populated my life.  

When I felt good or even normal in my life, even in times of melancholy, writing was something thoroughly enjoyable.  As is always the case with good writing, it was also work, with much outlining and editing.

I have been thinking about this again lately.  It has come up in some conversations here and with family.  The main point is that I derive great satisfaction from reading and writing and discussing ideas.  A few years ago, I posited the idea to a friend about starting up a modern day salon like those of old in Paris or other cities, where people would come to read, eat and drink (of course), write and discuss ideas.  I envisioned intellectuals and other speakers coming to speak, but mostly a gathering place where the core purpose and function was to allow people to discuss ideas.  Other than the university (and a few very lucky in their vocation), I don't think we really have this any more.  During my law school years and somewhat after, I used to take my wife to Barnes & Noble just to read and talk.  I imagined something like this, but with an even more overt emphasis and focus on interacting with ideas shaping the world and our lives.  Politics & Prose, the DC-area bookstore has a little of this, as they invite authors in to speak most days of the year.

We lack this in society, cloistered as we are in our homes and ever more in front of screens with others talking and acting out the moments of our lives.  More than one person I know with depression has said to me--and I certainly am in this category--that one of the activities that causes them to stay most in the moment and actually experience joy, is simply the act of talking to another human being, especially one who can understand, empathize, listen and share their own ideas.  Good research suggests this is a large reason that any therapy--totally regardless of modality--helps people to the degree it does (though in my expereince paying someone causes it to lose a bit of its charm and authenticity and 'specialness'). 

I have longed to be able to get myself into a career where I am reading, researching, and writing more.  This is absolutely a big reason that while in college and law school, even though I worked long and hard (longer than most because I am a slow reader and was one who actually did all the reading as I felt I needed to), and did deal with depression, I was invariably happy and joyful.  School also added continuous positive feedback which surely catered to my self esteem that I suppose was probably fragile then too even if I didn't know it.  Religion helped, but I think I overestimate its overall importance.

Anyway, I miss it.  I am going to try to find or create outlets to pick this back up again, even if sporadically, even if many efforts lead to perceived 'failures'.  One thing that successful writers usually agree on is that it takes hard work.  There's the old adage that writing is easy, you just sit down at the page, open a vein and bleed.  This is even more true if one is writing about depression.  I guess of the many topics I've dabbled in writing about the one that seems to persist is in writing about my own life and learning of how to get through depression and the long fall this life can seem to be.  Call it a self-help book, though the main person it would be intended to help is myself, in the writing and creation of it.  

So, here's to writing.  Not primarily because I want to find a different career path (although I desperately do).  Not even first and foremost to 'heal myself' although of course I hope this is an outgrowth that writing helps with.  Here's to writing as a worthy activity and mainly as a thing once learned, is something we have to do like nourishing ourselves with food and human interaction.  Writing because we can do no other.

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I feel like I'm dying slowly (I guess we all are), but quickly enough now to actually feel it.

Able to worry about everything, but focus on almost nothing.  This is the symptom.

It's why I want out.  If I write long enough, I usually find my way around to remembering/re-focusing on something positive.  But I don't have time for that.  This is where the undefined hope comes in- hoping that 'something happens' that will help me feel better.  It is escapism mixed with the real desperate need for some real hope when it seems like all that I have tried and done has come up short.

I know that feelings are fickle and change, but the trick depression does best is convincing me that this horrible feeling is set and will never change.

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I'm reading about how some famous people (with well-preserved accounts too, which is more important), dealt with and overcame depression.

Here is a blurb on William James, the famous philosopher, psychologist and physician:

James’s transformative insight about his personal depression also contributed to his philosophical writings about pragmatism, as James came quite pragmatically to “believe in belief.” He continued to maintain that one cannot choose to believe in whatever one wants (one cannot choose to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 for example); however, he concluded that there is a range of human experience in which one can choose beliefs. He came to understand that, “Faith in a fact can help create the fact.” So, for example, a belief that one has a significant contribution to make to the world can keep one from committing suicide during a period of deep despair, and remaining alive makes it possible to in fact make a significant contribution. James ultimately let go of his dallying with suicide, remained a tough-minded thinker with scientific loyalty to the facts, but also came to “believe in my individual reality and creative power” and developed faith that “Life shall be built in doing and suffering and creating.”

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This morning, after ruminating on it for a the last while, I drafted a suicide note.

It feels momentous and bad.  I am not certain yet, which direction I'll go, but certainly it is one step toward the direction of leaving.

The only possibility I can see is that perhaps if love is really as powerful as I've always hoped, maybe the love I have for my wife and 3 beautiful children will be strong enough to help pull me through.  

I'm just so exhausted.  I want to spend a month at the beach, time in a library, reading, writing again and interacting with new ideas - this is part of why my academic years were mostly free of depression, and almost entirely free of performance-interfering depression.  

The truth is, I just don't know what else to do.  At this point, there aren't any answers or steps that seem clear.  I certainly have tried a lot.  And the question arises, 'do I really want to be here?'  No, emphatically no, not feeling like this.  This is the only thing that could outweigh the love I have for my girls, my son and my wife.

What do I do now, go back to answering emails at work?  Once life has become this pointless, right now, it seems to be an exercise i how much longer I can bluff my way through a couple hours or a day.  Honestly, one thing on my mind, is not getting fired so that I don't lose access to the building I work in.  That would foul up the easiest means here. 

Maybe I'll reach out to someone who can help me re-focus.  

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It's 1:30 pm.  I have accomplished nothing today.  I am in the phase of frozen paralysis.  I guess that's redundant, but so seems life at any rate.

Ok, I had some thoughts this morning about seeing myself in a new position, one that perhaps played to my strengths, doing research, writing, editing.  Perhaps eventually feeling confident, intelligent, proud of my work ethic again - like I used to be.  I looked up a bunch of jobs on Indeed.com.

But I'm in the moment, and the moment is terrible.  I'm not functioning.  I deleted my suicide note after several people helpfully suggested it.  What now.  I can't seem to move or act.

I want out of life so badly it hurts to think about it.  I've been reading/listening/thinking about how to go about gaining in self-love and acceptance.  I doubt there's any one-size-fits-all formula.  Faith probably helps.  One video I watched last night talked about how affirmations and meditation are fine if they help, but it's critical to ask and answer 'why are you beating yourself up / withholding acceptance in the first place.'  That sounded sensible, but um, the answer is everything and nothing.  Because I keep failing at everything.  And also because I feel terrible - it doesn't even need a reason - it just happens.  I don't know.

I was browsing some new books dealing with depression and ordered one on Amazon, this one a biographical sketch of 20 or so high-profile professionals who struggled with depression.  Written in 1995.  Called, On the Edge of Darkness: Conversations about Conquering Depression.  The author, Kathy Cronkite (I don't believe a relation to Walter) profiles the struggles of Mike Wallace, Kitty Dukakis, William Styron, Joan Rivers, John Kenneth Galbraith, Rona Barrett, d**k Clark and others.  She supposedly weaves first person accounts.  Could be interesting.  Was well reviewed.  

Anyhow, I decided to promise myself I'm going to take up reading again as long as I'm going to be here anyway.  It was too important and too enjoyable an activity for me to allow depression, habit, and the internet age, rob me of that too.

 

I'm trying to pause right now and just be freely aware.  What would I do if I were to love and accept myself right now?  Just decide, deem myself an okay person, no better but also no worse than anyone else?  That's both revolutionary and boring at the same time.  :)  Then, do I just need to get on with work to fulfill this declaration?  Is that it?  (It reminds me of the dilemma posed in the 12 steps:  your thinking got you into this; your best thinking can't get you out of it....I paraphrase a little).  Eff it.  I know I'm not a bad person.  I know that brute effort alone is probably going to be a very painful path at best.  But right here, right now, I exonerate myself.  I'm not guilty.  I'm not a bad person.  All the people in my life who have reminded me of this (I usually never understood why - literally, I couldn't see it, but they must have been able to see a guilt/shame complex), are right.  That condemnation is all wrong.  I may or may not get better, but I was never a bad person.  I've always cared about and looked to help others in fact.  I have sought to do good (in fact that is what drives me, and it's probably why these roles in modern business and sales so grate on me).  That, and I still fancy myself a frustrated artist of some sort (writing).

The thoughts of disappointment, regret, fear and failure are so constant, it's hard to steady myself before they start in again, and I feel overwhelmed.  Tough sh*t - it isn't me.  They're just thoughts.  I'm exhausted.  

Ok, now to start making phone calls.  God, I don't know if I can do this.  I'd so like to jump.  How do you fight your own mind and expect to win?

I'm thinking about my kids now.  Ok, I guess I have to trust in something greater than myself and that hanging on here, will benefit them.  I love them like crazy of course.  I can't countenance the thought of them growing up not only with the pretty pi**-poor opportunity think they will already have, thanks mainly to my inability to perform and produce, but so much worse if they lost a father (especially the parent who still is earning all the income right now).  Geez, their lives would be screwed.  So why doesn't that help me get to work and do the next thing I need to?  THAT'S why I feel like a terrible person.  Except it's not entirely in my control.  

Back to Self-love.  Kristen Neff says it's 1) self-kindness, treating yourself like you would a friend; 2) common humanity - remembering I am human like all others, neither perfect, nor condemned; and 3) mindfulness - non-judgmental awareness.

I know what these are.  Why don't they seem to help?  Am I not able to put them into practice?

Ok, for a moment, I imagine a good friend of mine in my place, and what I'd be saying to him, if he were me.  I'd say, hay man, I get it (believe me).  It's horrible, but tis not you.  It's the disease, the condition.  You're better than you know.  You have so much to offer.  You're a wonderfully kind, thoughtful, intelligent, even talented person.  You showed a ton of self discipline and creativity in your formative years.  So now you've struggled with this beast.  You have to recognize it as real and separate it from yourself.  Get some distance.  Some objectivity.  

You've made A LOT of effort to recover, and at times you have improved.  Give yourself some credit.  You're not the terrible person you keep telling yourself you are - and that's not your fault either, it's the essential symptom of the condition.  Without it, you wouldn't be depressed.

I know you better than that.  I love you.  I'll be here for you.  I'll walk through this hell with you.  And you will get through.  You will not always feel this bad, like this.  I know it feels like a million light years away (and I'm not here to sugar coat that recovery can be long and tough and circuitous), but in really practical ways, it is also always just a moment away, the subtlest tweak in direction or attitude.  Not blaming you man.  I just want you to know that it's real.  I know it doesn't seem like it, but it is.  I've been through and come through it before, and so will you.  You have more going for you than you realize (you'd have to since you feel like everything is the worst).  A family that loves you is not nothing.  Business and law degrees where you finished and graduated at the top of your classes are not nothing.  Your experience and work in law and professional sales have value.  You can write well, speak well, understand and communicate the complex, in simple, effective terms.  You're probably in the wrong vocational environment.  That can change.  You have to see past your job and your current situation, even if its by faith now.

You'll come through this and you'll be something more.  Better.  Braver.  Stronger.  Deeper.  More empathetic.  More creative.  Have more vitality to share with the world.  More likely to do something great like you've always wanted.

I don't know.  It would sound something like that.  Why is it so hard to hear and accept that.

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I'm struggling to manage anything right now.  I feel desperate and am struggling to do even the littlest things.  I get up late, shower, get dressed, drive to work, and then pretend to work, when in fact, I can't focus on anything.  

I ordered a book yesterday, who-hoo!

I listen to videos about self acceptance/love, something I'm trying to learn still.

I have a to-do list, which I barely touch and not until things are in crisis.  I have lost most perspective I am guessing.  So I come here and try to write as a small means of therapy or at least engaging in something to help focus the mind a little productively.  It beats curling up into the fetal position (sort of).  

I can't seem to shake the feeling of wanting to end it all and just die.  

I'm supposed to call my Dr. to try something again - maybe Prozac, maybe an MAOI (which I've never tried).  It seems like a huge task.  Plus it only holds the smallest glimmer of hope, as a trying many, many medications over long periods of time, has done almost nothing good.

Ok, I'm going to make that call in the next 5 minutes.

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Since I lean towards the negative [ It could be better.  it should be better], I am trying to lean the other way to gain some balance:  I'm trying to lean in the direction of "It could be worse."  Instead of . . . I should be stronger, braver, less lazy, less messy, more careful, more ambitious, more clever, more healthy, more kind, more generous, more attractive, more responsible, and, and, and . . . [which just produces unnecessary sadness, emotional upset and guilt in me], I'm trying to gain balance by leaning the other way towards:  "I could be worse" - - - I could be lazier, messier, less brave, less wise, less healthy, less kind, less ambitious, less successful, less responsible, less charitable, less careful, and, and, and.  This improves my life some because it gives me more joy and peace and less agitation and emotional turmoil. 

I even keep a little card in my pocket that reads:  "Could be worse."  Instead of comparing myself to Albert Schweitzer and feeling badly, I compare myself to Adolf Hitler and feel better.  And I try to do that in regard to every virtue and vice:  strength, courage, ambition, wisdom, beauty, goodness, success.  If I am so low that all I can do is get out of bed in the morning, I try to think:  "Well, thank goodness I'm not catatonic or psychotic.  I don't know.  Helps. 

Reminds me of something a Cognitive psychologist taught me:  "This is not about positive thinking.  Its about reality testing.  Yes, a plane crashed.  But yes thousands of planes did not crash today.  Yes a student committed terrible violence in school today. But yes a billion students did not."

Edited by Epictetus
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2 hours ago, Epictetus said:

Since I lean towards the negative [ It could be better.  it should be better], I am trying to lean the other way to gain some balance:  I'm trying to lean in the direction of "It could be worse."  Instead of . . . I should be stronger, braver, less lazy, less messy, more careful, more ambitious, more clever, more healthy, more kind, more generous, more attractive, more responsible, and, and, and . . . [which just produces unnecessary sadness, emotional upset and guilt in me], I'm trying to gain balance by leaning the other way towards:  "I could be worse" - - - I could be lazier, messier, less brave, less wise, less healthy, less kind, less ambitious, less successful, less responsible, less charitable, less careful, and, and, and.  This improves my life some because it gives me more joy and peace and less agitation and emotional turmoil. 

I even keep a little card in my pocket that reads:  "Could be worse."  Instead of comparing myself to Albert Schweitzer and feeling badly, I compare myself to Adolf Hitler and feel better.  And I try to do that in regard to every virtue and vice:  strength, courage, ambition, wisdom, beauty, goodness, success.  If I am so low that all I can do is get out of bed in the morning, I try to think:  "Well, thank goodness I'm not catatonic or psychotic.  I don't know.  Helps. 

Reminds me of something a Cognitive psychologist taught me:  "This is not about positive thinking.  Its about reality testing.  Yes, a plane crashed.  But yes thousands of planes did not crash today.  Yes a student committed terrible violence in school today. But yes a billion students did not."

I like that. Its something I've heard and it seems so obvious but of course my inclination is the opposite.  

I'm going to start playing with this again myself - I'll need to force I'm sure at least for a while.  Thanks for sharing it. 

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I'm trying out two ideas of Leahy:

One is beginning each day as day zero and "counting" any little brave, wise, good or beautiful thing I did or any two or any three and so on.  Instead of aiming at 100% and perfection, I aim at starting from zero and noting any progress and celebrating it.

The second thing is my attempt to not just compare myself to the best in every category [and feel badly as a result], but to compare myself to those worse off.  Instead of comparing myself to the strongest or bravest or wisest or best person . . . instead of comparing myself to the most successful or the so-called "most" normal; I start at the bottom and compare myself to the most cowardly, most weak, most foolish, most immoral, most unaccomplished, most abnormal.  Usually I find myself far away from the negative end of the scale.

Seems to help.  Will continue to try it. 

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On 8/12/2016 at 8:42 PM, Epictetus said:

I'm trying out two ideas of Leahy:

One is beginning each day as day zero and "counting" any little brave, wise, good or beautiful thing I did or any two or any three and so on.  Instead of aiming at 100% and perfection, I aim at starting from zero and noting any progress and celebrating it.

The second thing is my attempt to not just compare myself to the best in every category [and feel badly as a result], but to compare myself to those worse off.  Instead of comparing myself to the strongest or bravest or wisest or best person . . . instead of comparing myself to the most successful or the so-called "most" normal; I start at the bottom and compare myself to the most cowardly, most weak, most foolish, most immoral, most unaccomplished, most abnormal.  Usually I find myself far away from the negative end of the scale.

Seems to help.  Will continue to try it. 

I like those.  I've continued to just think about all the ways it could be worse, and it naturally gets me thinking about what's going well/right or not bad, and that is a BIG improvement in thinking for me.

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I've been feeling okay and even occasionally good the last few days (since re-starting on Prozac).  That's great - and I'm so thankful.

At the moment, I'm feeling very flustered and anxious trying to get ready for meetings.  I always still think and feel 'less than' and not up to the task any longer....extremely low confidence, and inevitably focused on my real or perceived flaws, etc.

I desperately need to get ready for an internal and then client sales meeting, so I'm going to do that now.

I just needed to put this out into the world in my little semi-public journal here.

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Went to my doctor today and got my 2 scripts renewed.  The last few days I've experienced an uptick in mood I think attributable to Prozac.  This is very good obviously.

Yesterday was tough and today I just feel awful....I can't get going and am so tired.  It reminds or makes me think of something I read about the tendency of depressed people (maybe people in general) to return to a baseline equilibrium virtually regardless of other factors, internal or external circumstances.  I can't worry too much about this.

I've reminded myself and others, and just heard it again last night on a depression podcast I was listening to, that action precedes mood.  I always find this to be true, and also a very tough reality. It is a big part of what I think of as the power of response-ability.  

I realize that so much of the time like now, a core of anxiety is present, and I rather actively do not want to do what I need to do, and in one way or another, I just don't.  I'm so sick of this.  I just keep struggling on, but feel so empty.  

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Wanted to come back here to remember to congratulate myself.  I had a big client meeting with my boss and a new consultant on Tuesday.  So Monday night, I had to create a presentation for it.  In our somewhat old version of PowerPoint, a program I hate and am perfectly tailored to waste time formatting.  Normally, this would have been near panic (or actual panic) and an all nighter.  It wasn't overly long, but in any case, I started at work, outlined it.  Went home, and forgot my laptop charger.  I wrote and sent out the presentation from about 8:30 - 11:00.  It was pretty good, and just a minor change was made in the morning.

Anyway, this was a significant accomplishment for me these days.

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This isn't directly related to depression, but is an area of interest for me, so I'm posting it here.

My oldest daughter is very curious about whether there are other planets like earth in the universe that might have life on them.  Until recently, physicists mostly only speculated essentially from mathematical probabilities that it was likely.  That era appears to be coming to an end.

We're getting closer to knowing there are other planets similar in physical makeup to earth out there.  And probably A LOT of them.
 
And that gives me an excuse to include a line from one of my favorite movies about this.
 
"In the grand history of the cosmos, more than 13 thousand million years old, our earth is replicated elsewhere.  There's another you out there."  
 
 
 
 
image.jpg?1454078865
Tuesday Aug 16, 2016 · 10:21 PM EDT
 
NASA, as seen from the International Space Station
 
 
You are here.

The ability to detect planets around distant stars has grown remarkably in just the last few years due to a combination of improved instruments and better techniques. Where not so long ago it was possible only to discover large, Jupiter-like worlds, now, year by year scientists are discovering more planets with sizes similar to that of Earth. Some of these planets are even found in the zones around their stars most likely to produce conditions that could support life.

But one of the most intriguing discoveries may be one that scientists aren’t quite ready to reveal.

… in what may prove to be the most exciting find to date, the German weekly Der Spiegelannounced recently that astronomers have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, just 4.25 light-years away. Yes, in what is an apparent trifecta, this newly-discovered exoplanet is Earth-like, orbits within it’s sun’s habitable zone, and is within our reach. But is this too good to be true?

The answer … maybe. Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star, a very common, long-lived form of star. It’s only about one-eighth the size of the sun, but it will stick around much, much longer. And Proxima isn’t just close, it’s the closest—the nearest star after our own sun. Previous searches have indicated there are no large, Jupiter-scale planets around Proxima, but they didn’t rule out smaller objects. For a planet near the size of Earth to be found in the habitable zone of the very nearest star would seem to indicate that far from being unique, planets such as Earth are extraordinarily common. Plug that into your Drake equation, then explain the Fermi Paradox.

The article goes on to state that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will be announcing the finding at the end of August. But according to numerous sources, in response to a request for comment by AFP, ESO spokesman Richard Hook refused to confirm or deny the discovery of an exoplanet around Proxima Centauri. “We are not making any comment,” he is reported as saying.

At the moment, people are taking “not making any comment” for “yes, we found something.” But it could just as easily mean “we’re very unsure of the data,” or even “this seems unlikely.”

Stay tuned. Because even if the planet that’s been found is more Mars-like or Venus-like than Earthy, it’s still a hugely exciting prospect. 

Oh, and “nearby” is a relative term. At 4.25 light years distance, Proxima Centauri is very close in interstellar terms, but it’s still better than 25 trillion miles away. That … is a long walk.

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I'm feeling so tired, overwelemed, listless, directionless, empty and hopeless right now.

I've had this brief uptick since resuming prozac.  I try to prepare myself for the potential return to equilibrium or the normal feeling of wanting to die, but nothing qutie does prepare one for this.  

I just cannot seem to marshall the energy and effort to change actions and behavior and break through into a better mode.  I just feel like giving up.  

If I remember, it could be worse.  I certainly felt like not getting up today, calling in sick, 'working' from home, etc.  I've felt like quitting my job.  And mostly, I feel like ending life.....the burden is just so tiring and overwhelming, anxiety-inducing, and monotonous at the same time.  It's hideously painful.  This is what depression is:  seeing and knowing you are capable of more, better, but not being able to get there from here.  Over, and over, and over again.  Comparing my insides to others' outsides, and ruminating again and again on the same regret and worry.  And turning the dread inward in the form of guilt and shame.  I'm struggling to deal with it.  I can't, no I desperately don't want to go home another Friday, feeling like I left so much on the table or underperformed.  I used to be such an overachiever....and one way or another, I defined my own value this way.  it seemed to work then.  Nothing seems to now.  

It's hard to focus, hard to enjoy anything, and I don't even know entirely what I want in terms of vocation/future (other than of course security, interesting work, etc.).  It's part of at least a change in and what feels like an overall loss of identity.  I used to really like who I was and know why I believed and felt what I did.  Now, I scarcely know who I am.

But for my family, I would give everything I have (which isn't much apart from them) to be able to fall asleep and never wake up.

This life just seems to hold so little hope or joy.  And what it does hold, I do seem to forget immediately upon its passing.  Such is this condition.

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I realize that the majority of (my) depression, whatever it's 'causes' are about wanting to know that at the end of of it all, I'm loved and that somehow it works out in a way that is meaningful, like virtually every movie we've ever watched.  I just want to be able to believe that the worst fears I have aren't the bitter end of it....  It is the belief in this inevitable demise devoid of meaning that draws me toward the impulse to end it now rather than suffer through more months or years of nonsense just to get to the painful end.

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Teddy, I appreciate the thoughts which seem common sense enough.

But after about 10 years with precious few breaks, and trying so many things, no I can't agree that "its going to end."  In that light, it doesn't feel like and I don't think I'm 'rushing it.'  Things change, yes, but they do not necessarily get better (in fact, entropy and age generally cause them to get worse).

No, I definitely have not been handling everything or almost anything for that matter, okay so far.  Yah, it's really that bad.  Or it feels like it.

I'm foundering in my job (which I hate), I am barely and soon won't be able to pay bills and take care of my family, even after declaring bankruptcy.  I have no direction or prospects for changing jobs or really fixing or improving any of this.  And most constantly, I just feel this acute dread and anxiety - and it makes life nearly unbearable.  

All of this just makes it feel utterly un-worth while to try to stay here.  I keep wondering, 'for what?'  My kids are going to get older and realize I can't provide for them.  I will cease to be thought of as a good dad, let alone the hero they think I am at their young ages.  I suppose it is the impossibility of imagining things getting better that is one of the worst parts right now.  And I can't stand the fact that I'm not working hard at something, let alone something worthwhile.

I'm sorry, I'm just broken and crushed.  I think this is what keeps the impulse to die so near.

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1 hour ago, standup said:

It's hard to stay optimistic when nothing ever gets better over a period of years, and when simply getting through each day (and in some cases, each hour) feels like an exercise in futility. It's not just a matter of not functioning well. It's a matter of feeling like your in constant pain/ distress/ discomfort. 

Exactly my thoughts too. We aren't talking about a few days, perhaps a week or two or even a month of hardship. We are talking about years of pain. That is what I am going through at the moment anyway. Soon to be 4 years of torment and still counting.

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23 hours ago, Teddy545 said:

I meant it's going to end like your life is going to end. They censor those kind of words on here.  I didn't know your money problems were that bad.  I think that they will think you're a good dad, even if you're poor. 

I may be misunderstanding.  Above, you said:

"I'm never sure how to respond to this topic.  You're here now, you might as well deal with it while you can.  Its going to end, why rush it?  I bet you've been through worse.  You'e been handling everything okay so far, is it really that bad?"

The answer to "why rush it?" is becasue if ****** hurts, and also it seems completely pointless.  I don't feel like (and often don't even think) I am doing anything good.  And did I mention that IT HURTS!?  I can't stand it.   

I just am not sure what you're trying to say.  

I certainly don't mean to lay any of this at your feet.  

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