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More navel-gazing - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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More navel-gazing [Jun. 17th, 2011|11:44 am]
Zoethe
First of all, thank you for all the support when I was breaking down earlier this week. Having the cushion of love and experience that so many of you displayed really made things a lot less scary, if not easier. Not easier is okay: it's part of doing the work.

In answering your comments and emails, I got a good deal of insight into myself. It's kind of amazing to me what a different place my brain is in when I am writing down words. More than when I am thinking or speaking, it's the brain space where insights into myself seem to flow.

As I was growing up, any time I felt sad or upset, I was scolded for engaging in histrionics and informed that there was no real reason for me to be upset. I was accused of self-indulgence and, basically told that my feelings were false, that I was faking it.

Guess which voices come bubbling back up in the midst of depression.

It's hard for me to acknowledge my feelings. It's hard for me to feel my feelings if they are not happy ones. Particularly those that can't be externalized to an object that's not likely to fight back. If they are just inside me, just my own sadness?

I should knock that off. There's no reason for me to feel that way. I'm just trying to get attention/being dramatic/faking it.

I run away from them. I'm terrified of them. They are a black pit whose bottom I've never explored. I think maybe this is part of the reason I took my father-in-law's death so hard two years ago: I could be terribly sad for that and the sadness had a reason. I didn't have to make excuses for it. It was justified by death, so I didn't have to actually look at it.

Now? It's my sadness, and I have to own it. It's my life, and if there are changes that need to be made, I have to make them. I can't shift the burden to anywhere else.

I have no idea what any of this means. Today I'm feeling much better than I did a couple days ago. But I have a couple worries: First, is this going to last? Second, and weirdly enough, did I waste my opportunity to explore the pit? Shouldn't I have taken good advantage of being that sad, instead of distracting myself from it? Did I fail at being properly miserable?

Feel free to laugh, roll your eyes, scratch your head. I recognize that it's a strange thing to think.

The other side of all this is the daily living part. I have been doing pretty badly at that: not working out, not doing any quilting, not cooking or baking bread. And I was beating myself up regularly about it - but not actually doing anything about any of it. Because I was setting standards for myself that were completely unrealistic. If I'm not making Art, then what's the point? If I'm not exercising for over an hour, why bother? I didn't have the energy to do what I was expecting of myself, so I didn't do anything.

Sometimes it's easier to beat myself up for impossible standards than to live up to possible ones.

If I just get in 20 minutes on the NordicTrack, that's better than nothing. If I'm only making a baby blanket, the happiness I get from that work is a good thing, even if the work isn't some great piece of art. Not every meal has to be a gourmet triumph. It's okay just to be okay at things.

But it's much more work than being completely paralyzed by perfection.

Some days I'm not even going to get to okay; I have to accept that. It just means trying again the next day, not that I'm a total failure who needs to beat herself up and then make impossible promises for the next day. That's too much burden on the day, and too little responsibility for me.

I have a lot of work to do.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2011-06-17 03:46 pm (UTC)
First off *giant hugs*

Second off, when I'm at my worst, depression wise, I promise myself that today I will do ONE THING. I will work out. Or I will pick up a book and read for a half an hour. Or I will do X. If I can do that ONE thing, I will have succeeding in pulling something out of the day other than the bare minimum.

Often, I am buoyed by that, and do two, or three things. Sometimes, I only do that one thing. But at least I have a sense of accomplishment that I had a goal, and I met it.

Sometimes, your goals just have to be teeny. But the mental boost from accomplishing it is not teeny, because there are days that teeny thing is HARD.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 04:38 pm (UTC)
The Do One Thing plan is one of the best ideas ever. Success is self-perpetuating.

Hugs, my love.
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[User Picture]From: stormgren
2011-06-17 03:58 pm (UTC)

Sometimes it's easier to beat myself up for impossible standards than to live up to possible ones.

If I just get in 20 minutes on the NordicTrack, that's better than nothing. If I'm only making a baby blanket, the happiness I get from that work is a good thing, even if the work isn't soem great piece of art. Not every meal has to be a gourmet triumph. It's okay just to be okay at things.


I hate to use the particular colloquialism, but so much goddamn THIS.

I fight the same thing, day in and day out. If I'm not going to come up with something amazing and perfect, I struggle with doing it at all.

For me, a lot of that comes from repeatedly hearing "You're just not living up to your potential" when I was a kid, because I wasn't an all-A genius rockstar in school, even though The Tests Said Otherwise. You bet it got internalized, really really badly.

Learning to flip that internalized shit the bird and keep moving is something I still struggle with. But I'm learning, and then re-learning.

So yeah, it's okay to be okay.

Sometimes the highest standards we try to live up to we set for ourselves.
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[User Picture]From: ariaflame
2011-06-17 04:18 pm (UTC)
To paraphrase the Flylady, who is much in favour of bypassing perfect to just get things done, babysteps. In small babysteps we can do things. We don't have to do everything at once, and it doesn't have to be perfect. If we have plenty of energy and time and inspiration then yes, we can aim for more, but most of the time then it's OK to go for 'good enough'.

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[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2011-06-17 04:01 pm (UTC)
You just did 95 percent of the work.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 05:44 pm (UTC)
Holding onto it is the trick.
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[User Picture]From: astridsdream
2011-06-17 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm right with you on struggling to feel ALL my emotions, not just the socially acceptable ones. One thing that has helped me change my internal monologue is a book called How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen. One of the things it discusses is how to give your kids the space and freedom to feel whatever they are feeling. I don't have kids, but I do have me, and I've been trying that kind of talk as self-talk, and I think it's helping. Certainly I feel much more free to be angry or frustrated than I have before. (Sadness has never been my bugaboo, but anger has.) I dunno if it'll help you, but there you go.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 05:45 pm (UTC)
I will look for it. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: shadowwolf13
2011-06-17 04:20 pm (UTC)
I've been dealing with some of this too.

Seems like every time I start getting on track with some good habit, daily editing, working out, or tarot cards, something comes along to derail me and I just can't cope. At that point everything basically stops and then I spiral into guilt for not doing more.

I'm still trying to learn that I don't have to be perfect, I just have to try.

It's not easy but you're not alone.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 05:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm doing the same thing. And my other problem is that when I am doing okay, I just keep piling on more things until I fail. I can't do everything. I have to learn to be okay with that.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2011-06-17 04:20 pm (UTC)
Some days I'm not even going to get to okay; I have to accept that. It just means trying again the next day, not that I'm a total failure who needs to beat herself up and then make impossible promises for the next day. That's too much burden on the day, and too little responsibility for me.

you're doing the work. This is one of the most difficult things to remember, remember, REMEMBER. And oh yes, there's no such thing as perfect.

(((hugs you))))
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 05:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: roniliquidity
2011-06-17 04:39 pm (UTC)
Denial of experience can be hella damaging. My family functions on not remembering bad things that happen as their fault. That family trip that was cut short because my father and grandfather got into a screaming match and we left the next day, didn't actually happen, my grandfather just didn't feel well so we went home. Some horrible, scarring thing a parent said to me? Never happened, I must have made it up. Major family fights caused by my dad's drinking didn't happen that way, don't I remember why it way my fault? We'll just have to agree to disagree. That time my grandmother and I had a fight because she demanded I take apart my whole computer rig so she could move it to clean the rug when I was already late for a Dr's. appt? And if I didn't do it she'd try and move one piece at a time while I was gone, without understanding how to detach the cables? I was touchy about the split with my ex that occurred the year previously and picked fights.

I try very hard to remember everything without ego, without cushioning, focusing on the facts as neutrally as I can because if I don't hang on to the facts, I'm a terrible person, and if I change the facts, I'm one of them. I have a really hard time letting things go in my personal life without both parties acknowledging the facts of a situation, because not facing them is the first step toward self-delusion. This can make me really hard to deal with but I don't know any other way to be. I don't hold a grudge often, don't care about blame, but what happened needs to be clear. I find it it really hard to let people hold on to personal fictions that I should be personally invested in without saying "BUT YOU SEE WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING, RIGHT?" This can lead to very high standards, which I don't see as unfair because I adhere to them too.

I don't really have any helpful conclusions. Just commiseration that having your experiences constantly invalidated by people close to you is not a light carry on in the baggage department.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 05:56 pm (UTC)
I have resigned myself to never dealing with my family. My dad is dead, and my mom is never going to remember the bad parts - her reaction when my brother tried to confront things was to deny that things had ever been bad. It's mine to deal with. I love my mom, and we get along, but our relationship is pretty shallow.
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[User Picture]From: mplsindygirl
2011-06-17 04:42 pm (UTC)
Reading along here is good for me. I think we have quite a bit in common. A friend often reminds me of how she functions when things are black -
1. Get out of bed
2. Don't kill anybody
3. repeat as necessary

Add things to the list as you are able. In allowing myself to fall back to the very most basic steps, I can also give myself credit for making it through each day without killing anybody.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 05:57 pm (UTC)
It's a good list.
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From: anonymousalex
2011-06-17 04:44 pm (UTC)
First, thanks for saying that our interaction helps. It's selfish, I know, to think in terms of myself when you're the one with the problem, but it does make me feel less useless to know I'm contributing, in however small a way.

Second, I have something to say about this:

"First, is this going to last? Second, and weirdly enough, did I waste my opportunity to explore the pit? Shouldn't I have taken good advantage of being that sad, instead of distracting myself from it? Did I fail at being properly miserable?

Feel free to laugh, roll your eyes, scratch your head. I recognize that it's a strange thing to think."


Is it going to last? You mean forever? No. But neither will the thing that comes after it. "This, too, shall pass."

I don't think it's strange at all to wonder if you might have missed an opportunity in your sadness. Not because it's fun being sad, but because if you didn't do it right the first time, does that mean you will have to do it over?

From my own experience--and yours and others' may differ--I found the pit to be remarkably homogeneous. You've seen one part, you've seen 'em all. The odd thing for me is that while the feeling is clearly in every way, both intellectually and emotionally, unpleasant and undesirable, it is nevertheless strangely attractive.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 06:02 pm (UTC)
You're definitely helpful. And yeah, having to do it again sounds no fun.

Attractive sounds scary. I hope it doesn't get that way.
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[User Picture]From: phillipalden
2011-06-17 04:58 pm (UTC)
I have always had a problem with fear. At times it controlled my life. I've learned some tools to help drive it away, (for a time,) and the medication helps a lot.

It runs in my family, and it's also a big problem for one of my siblings.

As you said, it takes "doing the work" to keep the irrational fear at bay. But even with the tools it still sucks.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 06:05 pm (UTC)
Hang in there, and I will too.
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[User Picture]From: forestmaster
2011-06-17 05:21 pm (UTC)
What others have already said... baby steps, try to get one thing done that may only take 5-15 minutes, but that may be all you're capable of at that particular moment. Other days you may do a lot more, but that shouldn't be your standard. You already saw my links from your last post about hard work and not setting your standards too high/setting yourself up to fail. At this time, especially when you're more fragile, it's ok to set up small goals that you still can accomplish and build from there, rather than being at the bottom of the abyss and expecting to be able to leap out in a single bound. [hugs]
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 06:30 pm (UTC)
Not leaping up in a single bound is hard for me to accept. Can't I just have a montage? ;-)
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[User Picture]From: lothie
2011-06-17 05:39 pm (UTC)
There are times when I think I should go off my meds simply because I'm not just less depressed, I'm less emotional in general. This can't be good, I think. And by the way, by "less emotional" I don't mean "like Spock". I am sure most people think I'm just NORMALLY emotional.

Which is why I then laugh and keep taking the meds. I'm taking them because I'm in less emotional PAIN. Duh.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 06:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, good point!
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[User Picture]From: unmutual
2011-06-17 05:40 pm (UTC)
did I waste my opportunity to explore the pit? Shouldn't I have taken good advantage of being that sad, instead of distracting myself from it? Did I fail at being properly miserable?

Nah. Without meaning to sound pessimistic, you'll get other chances to explore the pit. It's just how it happens. This time, you didn't. Next time, you might. Don't forget to bring the helmet with the built-in light. :)

Some days I'm not even going to get to okay

Ah, but remember: it's okay to be sad. It's even okay to have intermissions of being not-okay. Just like it's important to have rest days from exercise, I think it's also important to have rest days from this serious type of introspection and inner work. Your brain is making new connections which might need time to cure and set.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 06:33 pm (UTC)
Very, very good point. I can't chart this like progress on a physical project. I have to give myself permission to feel like I'm going backwards and recognize that backwards is sometimes the way to progress.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-06-17 06:02 pm (UTC)

this is not a coincidence

Hi, I stumble over your LJ occasionally, on a "friends" site from someone else's. So I'm nobody, no one you know. But I read this entry and something jumped out at me.

My dad died in 1985. By 1987, I was deep in depression, serious therapy, with a short hospitalization. It took me years to realize his death had opened up all the doors of repression and maintaining that had kept me from feeling and experiencing stuff I needed to cope with. Never mind the details, it's the process I'm highlighting. You have no more taboos to these feelings, with your step-dad's having passed. So those feelings aren't willing to cooperate anymore. They're here, and you're facing them. It sucks, it's painful, but there's the other side waiting and it's better. Best of luck.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 06:35 pm (UTC)

Re: this is not a coincidence

Good insight. Thanks for pointing this out to me.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-06-17 07:06 pm (UTC)
As I was growing up, any time I felt sad or upset, I was scolded for engaging in histrionics and informed that there was no real reason for me to be upset. I was accused of self-indulgence and, basically told that my feelings were false, that I was faking it

I still get that. Which is why I'm estranged from most of my "family". They always said I was "falling into dramatics (or histrionics) just to get attention". When I had my first full blown panic attack (that I know of) at fourteen, I just happened to be with my dad, and he knew what was going on enough to get me to the ER. Unfortunately the doctor in the ER diagnosed me with - wait for it - acid reflux. My dad gave them an earful and took me back to his place. ADHD wasn't something that was bandied around when I (we) were small. So I was always being told that I was just lazy and not living up to my potential. (of course I'm as pig-headed as my dad, so that doesn't help LOL)

It's hard for me to feel my feelings if they are not happy ones

That one is a hard one to circumvent. But it can be done. (yeah, i know ...)

did I waste my opportunity to explore the pit?

You'll know when it's the right time for you. Gods that's so cheesy, but it's the unblemished truth.

Sometimes it's easier to beat myself up for impossible standards than to live up to possible ones

It's okay to have an "off" day. Just make sure it doesn't turn into an "off" month. ;)

Some days I'm not even going to get to okay; I have to accept that

I finally figured that out. I wish Preston would. I think he got it into his head that my medications are a magical cure-all, and it just doesn't work that way.

(and everything aiela said ;))

I've found that what helps me quite a bit, and has for years, is journaling. Not my blog. My pen and paper journal. My mind flows better when I have an ink pen in hand (which is why I write all my poems and stories longhand, btw; not keyboard phobia as some presume). Stream of consciousness journaling is sometimes hard to go back to read (but you don't really have to). But it's great for just getting your head unclogged. If that makes any sense.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 07:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, ADD didn't even exist as a concept when I was a kid.

The writing down does help, even here. I haven't paper journaled in decades.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 08:37 pm (UTC)
I understand that. My sewing table was gritty when I went downstairs yesterday. Gotta clean that up.

We all support each other. Hang in there.
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[User Picture]From: firebirdgrrl
2011-06-17 08:28 pm (UTC)
Listening and thinking of you.

I understand the do something (or one thing )plan and do it myself-it's very helpful.
It is also so effing hard if you got told your feelings were wrong to really figure out what they are and how to feel them. You're doing really good work and if this is okay to say I'm really proud of you.

If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being there and listening. It means worlds.
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[User Picture]From: perseph12
2011-06-17 09:12 pm (UTC)
I'm going to open this comment with hugs and snuggles and support. Just because you deserve them, lovely lady. I wish I could do more for you. You have my prayers, my positive thoughts, anything you want.

I really wish I had the right answer for you. The best I can say is that the pursuit of "perfection?" It's crippling. I often find myself looking around a house or office that I find to be "disgusting" and realize that I'm projecting. If you find yourself worrying over a dirty dish or a task that needs doing but seems impossible, just stop. Read a book, write an e-mail, create something. Just ignore the so-called disarray.

My upbringing was different than yours in that mental illness or psychological pain was readily accepted. My dad had a crippling case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and a trip to the psychiatrist was a perfectly acceptable remedy. This was smothering in its own way. I have developed a shield of armor that leaves me lonely beyond words, and there are days where I actually want to cry, but I just can't. I have OCD, too, and the medication doesn't help matters, but I also can't get over my family's "support."

If you need me, I'm here for you. I am here to listen.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 11:10 pm (UTC)
I don't think there is a perfect way to parent, and I know my daughters will have those "look how my parents screwed me up!" days. I try to remember that they did the best they knew how. That they were screwed up by their parents. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were incompetent but not hateful in the way that some people's are. So I work to remember that.

And thanks.
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[User Picture]From: erratio
2011-06-17 10:38 pm (UTC)
At the risk of offering unwanted advice, something my psychologist said to me about how to function when depressed really stuck with me. It was something like "We advise clients to try to do one thing every day that's intellectual, one thing that's useful, one thing that's physical, and one that's enjoyable. No matter how small each one is. That way you can look back on each day and feel like it wasn't a complete waste" (feeling like you wasted your day obviously not being conducive to kicking depression).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-17 11:12 pm (UTC)
That's not a bad list.
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[User Picture]From: mariness
2011-06-17 11:17 pm (UTC)
:: hugs ::

You and me both.

(It's been a hell of a week, so, my insightfulness it is gone at least temporarily. But, yes, I hear this, every word.)
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[User Picture]From: irishgalinabq
2011-06-18 02:06 am (UTC)
I am a fellow paralyzed perfectionist. I am retraining myself to be happy with doing small parts of tasks and enjoying them. Thinking of you.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-18 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's a bad disease.
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[User Picture]From: ibsulon
2011-06-18 06:36 am (UTC)
Howdy. :) - I'm not a frequent commenter (spellcheck doesn't like that.. commentator?) but I have read your LJ for quite a while. Pieces of what you said about your family reminded me of something that worked for other people I know. http://www.recreateyourlife.com/free/

I'm not even suggesting spending any more than the time it takes to go through an (admittedly cheesy) web/video program. But for people who have embedded thoughts tied to family, it works for some people. And you watch one, and you can pretty much figure out the formula and do it on yourself. Or you can discard it as baloney.

But it's some insightful material, especially for those with family issues.
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[User Picture]From: miripanda
2011-06-18 07:56 pm (UTC)
The two most valuable things I tell myself when I'm hitting bottom is that "There is no should" and "One day at a time."

I'm big into the shoulds, usually, because I'm just not comfortable unless I'm guilting myself in or out of doing something, or sitting around Very Aware that I ought to be doing something else instead of whatever I'm doing. It's weird how comfortable I am in discomfort, and uncomfortable in ... well... comfort. So I try to let go of the shoulds and just ask what I can do, what I want to do, and remind myself of what I am doing instead of living in the fantasy world of everything I coulda-woulda-shoulda do.

I can't bank on yesterday's level of mental health showing up tomorrow, and I can't predict how I'm going to feel the day after that based on how I feel right now. So I try (and often fail, and try some more) to just figure out what I am going to do today, without judgment for all the things I am not going to do today.

And that's how I hang on when things are rough.

I'm sorry it's such a lot of work right now.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-20 06:01 pm (UTC)
Shoulds are beasts that I use against myself all the time. Thank you for this reminder. Much love!
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[User Picture]From: pachamama
2011-06-19 09:12 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it's easier to beat myself up for impossible standards than to live up to possible ones.

This is such a profound insight; thank you!

I wonder if a book on self-compassion might be helpful to you. The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert, or Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion.

You're doing good work here. I admire you for that.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-19 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the links, and thank you.
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[User Picture]From: labelleizzy
2011-06-19 11:33 pm (UTC)
oh sweetie.
(hug)
I am so there with you. I have visited ALL those landmarks.

I want to talk about what's worked for me but not to push it at you, and shit, I start school again tomorrow at oh-my-god-it's-early.

If, later this week, you don't already have what you need, please let me know.

Blessings and gentle Zen hugs.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-06-20 02:18 am (UTC)
It seems to be taking any number of strategies. If you have time I would be happy to hear what works for you. Thanks.
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