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Author Topic: Depression and anxiety - personal vs. societal causes  (Read 350 times)
eeks
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« on: July 19, 2015, 05:03:27 PM »

I've been exposed to oversimplified explanations often enough that I take great care to avoid subjecting other people to them.  For instance, I was once told, "You believe that big corporations are exploitative because of something in you".  What, you mean if I was healthy I would believe everything in the world was hunky-dory?  I don't think so.

I believe it is possible to have strong feelings about injustice in the world even without a personal childhood trauma that is resonant... .and even if it's only the trauma that causes you to feel that way, so what? 

I would say most situations in which a person finds themselves in distress are both suffering caused by the current situation, as well as the triggering of past unresolved traumas, hurts, losses.  And while it's important to put emphasis on the latter, as that's often the part people neglect, focusing too much there can make the person feel invalidated (current concerns trivialized) so they tune out.

I have a very intelligent, educated friend who is convinced that he suffers because of the way the world is (cruelty, ignorance, prejudice, injustice, corruption).  But he says that if I were to empathize with him, it would actually make things worse because he would feel himself even more confronted with the fact that he can't do anything about it.

I don't know, I have this idea floating around in my head that life is tough and the only consolation is that we don't have to go through it alone.  I believe (from minimal experience) that receiving empathy and validation from another in some crucial trauma related spots in my personal "map" of experience would allow me to grieve, and approach today fresh.  I'd still be disappointed sometimes, but I'd blame myself (and my 'poor performance' for it less often, and it wouldn't be that kind of repetitive hammering of anxiety and depression symptoms.

Thoughts?

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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2015, 05:38:05 PM »

Hi eeks-

I get where you're coming from.  I see your friend taking a victim stance, which is comfortable because we're not responsible as victims, and you empathizing with him wouldn't confront his 'fact' that he can't do anything about it, it would confront his unwillingness to try, it would blow his cover.

There is cruelty, ignorance, prejudice, injustice, and corruption in the world, and I agree, the antidote that makes it at least tolerable is connection with other people.  It is incredibly freeing to be open and honest with someone and have them empathize with us, really see the way we see ourselves and the world, and still respect and care about us; a true connection is borne and life is easier, someone gets us and has our back, and having the courage to be vulnerable to someone like that, take that risk, is what fuels the connection and encourages them to reciprocate.  Or not, not everyone is willing or able to be a true friend, but we're never going to know unless we go there.  There's a line between validation and enabling though, and having someone know where the line is and validate our experience, absolutely, but also call us on our sht when necessary, when it obviously isn't serving us, at least from their perspective, is a true friend.  My pet peeves lately are unsolicited advice and negative judgments, and true friends don't blurt that stuff without an overriding frame of caring, respect and concern for our well being.  And I've also learned the best way to get someone to care about you is care about them.  And do you notice, when we're around folks who genuinely care about us, anxiety and depression disappear?  At least in those moments, and when we experience disappointments, otherwise known as lessons, it's comforting to know we have a fan base to go back to, to get accepted and recharged.  I'm not one to be a social butterfly and have 200 'friends', more of an introvert, but just one true one is enough, and a few?  Pfft.  Bring it world, I'm good to go... .
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eeks
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2015, 11:13:51 PM »

Hi eeks-

I get where you're coming from.  I see your friend taking a victim stance, which is comfortable because we're not responsible as victims, and you empathizing with him wouldn't confront his 'fact' that he can't do anything about it, it would confront his unwillingness to try, it would blow his cover.

Ooh!  I generally avoid the "victim/responsibility" buzzwords because I've had them used against me in an accusatory way, that I can honestly say later after much reflection that these particular comments were unhelpful and even cruel.  Doesn't mean you're wrong about my friend, I just think that these situations are often more complex than fear of accountability, of flying-or-flopping on one's own wings.  In my own introspection I find that there are nearly always hidden conflicting needs/interests (e.g. "I want it/I fear what will happen if I get it" and I've never charged into a situation wielding the torch of empowerment, I'm just committed to self-observation and awareness.

Point taken though, maybe you are saying "victim" because he seems to take the stance "This is how it is and I suffer because of it and I can't change it therefore I can't change my feelings, full stop", there doesn't seem to be a willingness there to at least consider other possibilities, even the inner conflict type situation I just mentioned. 

Excerpt
and having the courage to be vulnerable to someone like that, take that risk, is what fuels the connection and encourages them to reciprocate.  Or not, not everyone is willing or able to be a true friend, but we're never going to know unless we go there. 

That's the conundrum.  I have noticed for me, that past a certain degree of intimacy, it feels incredibly unsafe to go past it, and I thought that was because I was afraid of being shamed/mocked like when I was bullied at school, and I'm sure that's part of it,  but I also think to myself, well what am I afraid is going to happen if I do it.  What comes up is this erotic feeling, not necessarily sexual, but just sensual life energy.  This feeling was very dangerous for my mother, so my internalized parent freaks out.  Which is interesting because it seems like it's not the risk of vulnerability per se that I'm afraid of.  It's more like I'm afraid it will turn out too well and I'll end up feeling forbidden stuff. 

Excerpt
There's a line between validation and enabling though, and having someone know where the line is and validate our experience, absolutely, but also call us on our sht when necessary, when it obviously isn't serving us, at least from their perspective, is a true friend. 

My pet peeves lately are unsolicited advice and negative judgments, and true friends don't blurt that stuff without an overriding frame of caring, respect and concern for our well being. 

This is pretty much what I did with my friend.  I sent him a facebook msg reply, he hasn't responded yet.  It wasn't really the tone of "whether or not this is serving you" but presenting an alternate point of view, that maybe even hoping things in the world could be different is dangerous for some reason. 

Also, speaking of "validation", I saw uBPD ex on Friday after 5 months NC (never "declared" it, things just drifted off).  I know, sounds iffy, but sheer curiosity (about what he wants from me and why he is contacting me now) won out over concern about what might happen. I knew that as long as I refused any sexual overtures, I would be fine (and he didn't make any).  He has made significant improvements in his apartment and lifestyle, seemingly by kicking himself in the butt.  However, when it comes to interpersonal stuff, he still does a lot of complaining about perceived unfair treatment. 

I tried to validate, not because I think I owe him or had any expectation of a relationship, but because I value empathy and people feeling heard.  In this case I said "yeah I can see how when everyone else knows the itinerary ahead of time and you don't, you feel like you're not included, you're a central part of this project so they should keep you in the loop so you can be prepared" so to be honest I was doing more agreeing than empathy, but he just kept repeating his points!  I can't really tell what he wants, me to tell him he's right?

I'm not posting the above for communication-with-a-pwBPD advice (I feel ready for my next conversation with him... .if one even occurs at all), but because I realized something.  Complaining is not very vulnerable.  If you're complaining, especially the finger-pointing kind, you're not really putting it out there, asking for what you want. 

Excerpt
I'm not one to be a social butterfly and have 200 'friends', more of an introvert, but just one true one is enough, and a few?  Pfft.  Bring it world, I'm good to go... .

When I get rare glimpses past the anxiety, I see that I might be more naturally butterfly-ish than I thought, but I will probably still only have those deep connections with one or a few people, I think that's just how it works, and I agree that that's enough.

I've gone on a few tangents here but I've had several insights.  Thanks for the discussion.
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fromheeltoheal
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2015, 10:00:24 PM »

I get where you're coming from.  I see your friend taking a victim stance, which is comfortable because we're not responsible as victims, and you empathizing with him wouldn't confront his 'fact' that he can't do anything about it, it would confront his unwillingness to try, it would blow his cover.

Ooh!  I generally avoid the "victim/responsibility" buzzwords because I've had them used against me in an accusatory way, that I can honestly say later after much reflection that these particular comments were unhelpful and even cruel.  :)oesn't mean you're wrong about my friend, I just think that these situations are often more complex than fear of accountability, of flying-or-flopping on one's own wings.  In my own introspection I find that there are nearly always hidden conflicting needs/interests (e.g. "I want it/I fear what will happen if I get it" and I've never charged into a situation wielding the torch of empowerment, I'm just committed to self-observation and awareness.

Point taken though, maybe you are saying "victim" because he seems to take the stance "This is how it is and I suffer because of it and I can't change it therefore I can't change my feelings, full stop", there doesn't seem to be a willingness there to at least consider other possibilities, even the inner conflict type situation I just mentioned.  

Yeah, I obviously don't know this guy and there are usually deeper issues, unmet needs and/or belief conflicts, I just see folks taking a victim stance literally every day, myself included sometimes, it's popular because it's comfortable.  And blurting out a judgment like that can be accusatory, an attack, or it can be supportive, it depends on the frame and the intent; are we trying to bring someone up or tear them down?  Gotta admit I've done both, but blurting negative judgments have no place in the types of relationships I'm currently interested in building.

Excerpt
and having the courage to be vulnerable to someone like that, take that risk, is what fuels the connection and encourages them to reciprocate.  Or not, not everyone is willing or able to be a true friend, but we're never going to know unless we go there.  

Excerpt
That's the conundrum.  I have noticed for me, that past a certain degree of intimacy, it feels incredibly unsafe to go past it, and I thought that was because I was afraid of being shamed/mocked like when I was bullied at school, and I'm sure that's part of it,  but I also think to myself, well what am I afraid is going to happen if I do it.  What comes up is this erotic feeling, not necessarily sexual, but just sensual life energy.  This feeling was very dangerous for my mother, so my internalized parent freaks out.  Which is interesting because it seems like it's not the risk of vulnerability per se that I'm afraid of.  It's more like I'm afraid it will turn out too well and I'll end up feeling forbidden stuff.  

Interesting, I hadn't considered that, but lately I've experienced it.  I haven't had a problem with unbridled intimacy in romantic relationships, it's not a problem until I discover later that I made the wrong choice in partner again, or more like trying to wrest compatibility out of incompatibility.  Although I spent my youth insecure and unsure, so I got very good at being who I needed to be in a situation to be liked, and it worked, at least I was liked but maybe not respected, but I've swung the other way lately, really since I left her and hit a wall, where I've decided to be myself at all costs, let my freak flag fly, and connect with as many people as possible from that place.  It's working in that it feels free and I find out right away who I connect with and who I don't, although the ones I really connect with, there's a point where I get so close and vulnerable that, hard to explain, I kind of lose it, lose control, feel like the line between me and them disappears, weird feeling, uncomfortable so I pull back.  :)on't really know what's up with that yet, but it does feel like living all the way, so I'll try again, there are things to be learned there, I can feel it.

Excerpt
There's a line between validation and enabling though, and having someone know where the line is and validate our experience, absolutely, but also call us on our sht when necessary, when it obviously isn't serving us, at least from their perspective, is a true friend.  

My pet peeves lately are unsolicited advice and negative judgments, and true friends don't blurt that stuff without an overriding frame of caring, respect and concern for our well being.  

Excerpt
This is pretty much what I did with my friend.  I sent him a facebook msg reply, he hasn't responded yet.  It wasn't really the tone of "whether or not this is serving you" but presenting an alternate point of view, that maybe even hoping things in the world could be different is dangerous for some reason.

Wow, that might shake things up, have him consider a possibility he wasn't aware of or in denial of, something a friend would say in his best interest, nice!

Excerpt
Also, speaking of "validation", I saw uBPD ex on Friday after 5 months NC (never "declared" it, things just drifted off).  I know, sounds iffy, but sheer curiosity (about what he wants from me and why he is contacting me now) won out over concern about what might happen. I knew that as long as I refused any sexual overtures, I would be fine (and he didn't make any).  He has made significant improvements in his apartment and lifestyle, seemingly by kicking himself in the butt.  However, when it comes to interpersonal stuff, he still does a lot of complaining about perceived unfair treatment.  

I tried to validate, not because I think I owe him or had any expectation of a relationship, but because I value empathy and people feeling heard.  In this case I said "yeah I can see how when everyone else knows the itinerary ahead of time and you don't, you feel like you're not included, you're a central part of this project so they should keep you in the loop so you can be prepared" so to be honest I was doing more agreeing than empathy, but he just kept repeating his points!  I can't really tell what he wants, me to tell him he's right?

I'm not posting the above for communication-with-a-pwBPD advice (I feel ready for my next conversation with him... .if one even occurs at all), but because I realized something.  Complaining is not very vulnerable.  If you're complaining, especially the finger-pointing kind, you're not really putting it out there, asking for what you want.

Impressive that you stayed as grounded as you did with your ex after 5 months; I'll probably never see mine again and if I do we certainly won't have anything to talk about, although I don't think it would phase me at this point.  No desire to test it.

Agreeing with someone is validating a little, contrasted with disagreeing which would be invalidating, but if he was on a roll there probably wasn't much room for interjection.  I agree, complaining isn't very vulnerable, it is what a victim sounds like though, and it is what pain sounds like.  It can also be an invitation for someone to dig deeper, empathize, see that's really going on, or not, it can just be the sound of a steadfast victim stance looking for validation.  Sounds like your ex was the latter, if you'll forgive another judgment.

Excerpt
I'm not one to be a social butterfly and have 200 'friends', more of an introvert, but just one true one is enough, and a few?  Pfft.  Bring it world, I'm good to go... .

Excerpt
When I get rare glimpses past the anxiety, I see that I might be more naturally butterfly-ish than I thought, but I will probably still only have those deep connections with one or a few people, I think that's just how it works, and I agree that that's enough.

Letting my freak flag fly is anxiety relieving for me and the key is to notice what reaction I'm getting and keep the good ones, beats the hell out of concluding I'm 'wrong' if I'm unaccepted, and my march-to-my-own-drummer MO does confuse people sometimes.  And it only takes one or two real connections to make the rest tolerable.

Excerpt
I've gone on a few tangents here but I've had several insights.  Thanks for the discussion.

Me too, and thank you.
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2015, 01:02:26 PM »

eeks,

I am familiar with the core ideologies that kind of form the core of capitalism today.  IDK if you are familiar with Ayn Rand but  she exposes it fairly transparently and it is essentially malignant narcissism and when it is contained into non human entities given personhood it becomes psychopathic. The message we are constantly bombarded with is it is our personal responsibility to enjoy ourselves to the fullest. Not to be the person who brings down the enjoyment of others around them. If we are not enjoying ourselves that their is something wrong with us and it is our personal responsibility to fix that and contain said negativity to not infect those around us. That is the  voice of the "inner critical parent," in our head is to deny the exisistence of the inherent lack within the human condition and to satisfy it through consumerism or projecting the lack onto those who remind us of the lack in ourselves we feel obligated to deny the existence of.

the core way this is sort of activated is by being triggered in a way that makes us aware of our lack in comparison with a representation of an ideal self that signifies a self without the lack.
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Blimblam
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2015, 03:23:12 PM »

you might want to read this.

www.jcfar.org/past_papers/A%20Short%20Account%20of%20Obsessional%20Neurosis%20-%20Hara%20Pepeli.pdf
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