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Purpose / Meaning / Joy - Some kind of framework?


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6 hours ago, regentrude said:

Jenny, I hope you don't mind me saying so many things here in your thread... I have been thinking about this so much.

For the many folks who have suggested volunteering and finding people to help: do you consider the inherent meaning and purpose of life to be needed by other people? 

 

It is nice to be needed for the parts of us we want to give, but mainly I think there are enough problems in life, so if we can have and help others have fewer, all the better. We're going to be stuck with some, but we don't have to be stuck with the solvable ones.

 

[quote] Very interesting! But how does one know which of the many voices in one's mind is speaking true, and which one needs to be shut up (assuming that's even possible; it is not a skill I possess)? How does one know one is not shutting down the important voice that tells us we need to make a change, just because it is uncomfortable to hear that? How do I know that what I like to call "fat contentment" is the right way, rather than an uncomfortable and difficult road of change? [/quote]

At least part of one's purpose should be to strive for health. Cross examine your thoughts and make them justify themselves as healthy. If they can't, tell them to keep their metaphorical mouths shut. One's conscious and subconscious minds ought to be allies. At least, that is what I tell mine. Health is an acceptable place to arrive, not just strive towards.
(Different words for the same concepts Lewelma is talking about.)

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I'm right there with you. Lately, I've begun to realize that the reason everything else seems to be time filling rather than fulfilling a purpose is that the single most important thing one does

It is so hard to do things by writing rather than in person.  I thought seeing my thought process might help you see some options.  Perhaps not.  Let me try another way.  I got postpartum depress

I help people.  Not crowds, but individuals.  I make deep lasting impacts on a very few number of teens. This gives me meaning.

Shrooms? I have never tried them, but I have read about some very interesting results using psychedelics for similar things. If I found myself in your situation and other traditional methods hadn’t worked, I’d be exploring some of the psychedelics myself. Not saying I’d just grab acid and try it or anything nuts, but I’d be open to something anyway. Sometimes existential crises can’t be solved head on and logically. And I say that as someone who is decidedly not “woo-inclined”.

If that doesn’t interest you, I have a friend with stage 4 terminal cancer who swears by Radical Acceptance. Sounds interesting to me, too, though more work than microdosing!

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6 hours ago, regentrude said:

Jenny, I hope you don't mind me saying so many things here in your thread... I have been thinking about this so much.

For the many folks who have suggested volunteering and finding people to help: do you consider the inherent meaning and purpose of life to be needed by other people? 

 

No I don’t, for me the meaning is religiously derived but I don’t think that will be helpful to Jenny, based in her initial post.  In fact as I was posting I strongly remember reading a fictional story published in the Atlantic maybe 20 years ago about two mothers who had I think immigrated to the US and were struggling to figure out life here.  One of the things they were doing was trying to do housework for their kids who lived there and the kids were getting frustrated because they were doing everything wrong like hanging washing outside in a residential area where that wasn’t allowed etc.  and the conclusions the lady came to was that she didn’t know what the meaning of life was but it wasn’t about being needed.

It’s more that the two things that’s make homeschooling intense and fulfilling is the intellectual side of it (thinking, planning, learning, new areas).  The other side is the relational aspect.  Jenny has tried many hobbies etc etc so that’s kind of covers the intellectual part so I assume it’s more the relational part that’s needed.  And I was looking for ways that she might be able to fulfill that.  The fact that those ways might be beneficial to others is a side benefit of them helping her.  Does that make any sense?  I may be way off base because I haven’t reached that stage of life.

For me personally this reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes where the preacher tries the great works, books of learning, alcohol abuse etc etc to find or forget the meaning of life.  And his conclusions is to fear God and keep the commandments, but again that solution is not really helpful if you aren’t religious.  
 

Edited to add Ecclesiastes 2 is the specific chapter I’m talking about.  
 

Also edited to add I don’t necessarily expect any one answer from here will be a solution but that’s the point of the forums.  Everyone brings something different and maybe one of the many things will be helpful.

Edited by Ausmumof3
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18 minutes ago, livetoread said:

Shrooms? I have never tried them, but I have read about some very interesting results using psychedelics for similar things.

Psilocybin has shown surprising results in the treatment of depression! It can act like a brain reset after a single dose with long lasting effects. I wish there were more research and a legal avenue (but of course, cynical me thinks big Pharma also wants to keep patients dependent on antidepressants that don't actually cure but just mitigate symptoms and have to be taken for decades - so I am not holding my breath that they're lobbying to develop a standardized shroom extract)

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31 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Psilocybin has shown surprising results in the treatment of depression! It can act like a brain reset after a single dose with long lasting effects. I wish there were more research and a legal avenue (but of course, cynical me thinks big Pharma also wants to keep patients dependent on antidepressants that don't actually cure but just mitigate symptoms and have to be taken for decades - so I am not holding my breath that they're lobbying to develop a standardized shroom extract)

Legal in Oregon now for treatment purposes, but it looks like it will still be two years of figuring it all out before it goes into practice. Possession is legal, anyway, but you can’t walk into a store and buy it like weed.

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38 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Psilocybin has shown surprising results in the treatment of depression! It can act like a brain reset after a single dose with long lasting effects. I wish there were more research and a legal avenue (but of course, cynical me thinks big Pharma also wants to keep patients dependent on antidepressants that don't actually cure but just mitigate symptoms and have to be taken for decades - so I am not holding my breath that they're lobbying to develop a standardized shroom extract)

Someone already posted about the OR ballot measure.

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9 hours ago, regentrude said:

 

For the many folks who have suggested volunteering and finding people to help: do you consider the inherent meaning and purpose of life to be needed by other people? 

 

That sounds like a recipe for codependency. I think we are social animals and need people, but that's not the same as finding our purpose in being needed. 

8 hours ago, regentrude said:

so what would be the meaning of life of a person who cannot do that? Does such life not have inherent meaning?
Or is their existence only meaningful because it provides others a way to derive meaning?

6 hours ago, regentrude said:

So the person is on earth as a means to an end, kind of a character building pet? 

I've thought about this quite a bit because my son is profoundly disabled and does not contribute anything of worldly value but I've seen just his mere existence be a conduit for love and joy. I used to think his purpose was just in the confines of our family but then I saw the impact of his life outside of our family and all I can say is that it's full of joy and meaning. That meaning is not just confined to those who get to help him (and therefore feel themselves purposeful). It's kind of like watching a baby laugh. Nothing is being produced but there is something purely good and tangible happening. It's beautiful. 

To the bolded, please try to remember that moms like me are on this board. I know you are trying to challenge people to parse their meanings but I also find comments like that unnecessarily  harsh. 

6 hours ago, lewelma said:

I had a severe OCD episode about 13 years ago that required me to learn new mental skills.  I was in what is known as Pure O, where I had the obsession without the compulsion and it consumed every single waking moment.  I thought I was going crazy and it lasted about 6 months.  Nothing I was advised to do worked.  It did not help to argue with myself that my obsession about being not good enough was ridiculous.  Keeping journals, working through tasks, all failed. My mind was in a loop that was unbreakable, and I came to believe the more I tried to rationalize my way out, the stronger the connections became.  So I chose to break the connections.  I decided to never let myself think those bad thoughts.  When they came (which was at first at every moment), I would do whatever it took to stop thinking those thoughts.  I would focus on the wind in my hair, or the feel of fabric under my fingers.  I would focus and focus to stop thinking about bad things.  I quit analyzing my thoughts and focused on stopping them.  It took 3 months, but I rewired my brain.  The connections and loops were broken for good, and I learned powerful skills to stop bad thoughts. When I have a thought that I do not want, I lock it down.  I over power it with my mind.  I can do this in a microsecond now.  

I bring this up because perhaps if thinking about all this stuff has not worked, maybe it is time to stop thinking about it.  I don't need a purpose. I can just be.  I can find joy in every tiny little thing in my life because I am not consumed with looking for more. 

I had a very bad spell of anxiety a few years ago with looping thoughts that ran non-stop. I soaked in it for a few months. Just marinated. Then one day I came to a very similar realization that I needed to stop those thoughts in their track. It took a few months but I did manage to rewire my thinking. I cannot claim to find joy in everything but I no longer spiral about anything. 

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Jenny, I don't have much to offer but for myself, an antidote to feeling unmoored is to get out into nature. But not like a walk at the local park- stunning nature. The more spectacular the better. 

That's not really a long term solution but it's all I've got right now.

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3 hours ago, regentrude said:

Psilocybin has shown surprising results in the treatment of depression! It can act like a brain reset after a single dose with long lasting effects. I wish there were more research and a legal avenue (but of course, cynical me thinks big Pharma also wants to keep patients dependent on antidepressants that don't actually cure but just mitigate symptoms and have to be taken for decades - so I am not holding my breath that they're lobbying to develop a standardized shroom extract)

Developing and testing psilocybin for depression is in the works.

https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/compass-raises-80m-to-take-magic-mushroom-drug-toward-phase-3

https://www.fiercepharma.com/drug-delivery/intelgenx-inks-double-deals-to-develop-oral-film-psychedelics

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42 minutes ago, sassenach said:

 To the bolded, please try to remember that moms like me are on this board. I know you are trying to challenge people to parse their meanings but I also find comments like that unnecessarily  harsh. 

I am sorry,  I didn't mean to offend - on the contrary, I  rather felt the remark somewhat offensive to which I responded.

Eta: offensive is not quite the right word i mean. It just seemed to imply that the person's value was only through the effect they had on others.

Edited by regentrude
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8 hours ago, lewelma said:

 

I bring this up because perhaps if thinking about all this stuff has not worked, maybe it is time to stop thinking about it.  I don't need a purpose. I can just be.  I can find joy in every tiny little thing in my life because I am not consumed with looking for more. 

I think this is very true.  I think you can become so consumed with introspection (even if it's trying to figure something out for a good purpose!) that it begins to be unhealthy.  Some things have no clear cause or solution to find, and you're better off simply trying to steer away from it altogether and not letting it take up so much of your mental energy!  (Way easier said than done though ~ I know.) 

 

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2 hours ago, sassenach said:

That sounds like a recipe for codependency. I think we are social animals and need people, but that's not the same as finding our purpose in being needed. 

Why codependency instead of interdependency?

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Jenny, I am so sorry you are struggling, but thank you for your openness and honesty in this thread. I am sure I am not the only one for whom this discussion has been helpful. 

I believe you are valuable regardless of what you do because you are made in the image of God, who loves you more than you can imagine.

You serve, you love, and you give. I admire all that and have for as long as I've known you on the forum.

image.png.9e7ddcee51aa8d4a2baac55f30171917.png image.png.9e7ddcee51aa8d4a2baac55f30171917.png image.png.9e7ddcee51aa8d4a2baac55f30171917.png

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15 hours ago, lewelma said:

 

I bring this up because perhaps if thinking about all this stuff has not worked, maybe it is time to stop thinking about it.  I don't need a purpose. I can just be.  I can find joy in every tiny little thing in my life because I am not consumed with looking for more. 

Thank you. I've been flailing about recently,  not doing myself or those around me any good. You reminded me of my basic contented thought process. I'm enjoying my second cup of tea and watching a bluetit in the apple tree.

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On 11/14/2020 at 3:01 AM, Carol in Cal. said:

I remember thinking this way when I was younger.  I don't anymore, and I really wish that I could remember how that changed.  I'm not sure that I have any agency in that change.  I think maybe it just happened.  Part of it was letting go of the 'right livelihood' mindset, the idea that that is one big thing that you're supposed to be doing that makes everything else fall into place.  That's flawed on several levels.  At this point I embrace the idea of vocation, which is more lowkey and less sharply focussed.

How I feel now though, I would like to describe:

--I am enough.  I don't have to justify myself or my existence with meaning and purpose.  I don't need to organize my life around one overarching goal all the time.  I do enjoy working toward things, but I don't have to make that the center of my existence.

--But I do meaningful and purposeful things.  I work on improving my health.  I help people in various ways.  I try to spread good cheer (that sounds so hokey but I really mean it.)  I am a good friend to my friends.  My job enables me to serve others in ways that are sometimes extremely meaningful, and other times more mundane but with potential to be important.  I pray for people--this even redeems occasional insomnia, which is very cool.

--Also, I have lived long enough to have seen that learning and experience have value beyond the obvious.  I've seen skills and knowledge and wisdom that seemed irrelevant and discarded become valuable in another context, unexpectedly.  So that is kind of exciting, and when I have a period where I don't feel like I have much purpose I look at it more as gathering tools into my toolbox that will be used later in some way that I can't currently anticipate.  This mental shift is really big.

--I think that creating and serving wisdom and beauty in all aspects of life are truly meaningful and valuable beyond the way that they seem.  

I loved your post, but the first 2 sentences made me remember that this was exactly what happened when I was struggling with having or not having more children. I desperately wanted more, couldn't have more, and then that feeling eventually faded. I am hoping that this same experience happens with me for the next stage in my life, when all my dc are gone from home. I'm not there yet, but I've already been going though the motions of getting my 'new' career going. 

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19 hours ago, Jenny in Florida said:

I would agree with much of what you wrote, except that I would add the words "for me" in a few places.

"For me, the single most important thing I will do in my life is raise my children."

"For me, nothing is more important than embracing parenting and home-educating in the all-in way I did. Nothing will ever have the same level of  meaning again for me."

After struggling with the issue for going on six or seven years now, I recognize the fact that this is true for me. I acknowledge I will not likely ever find anything as fulfilling (and exhausting and crazy-making and stressful) as parenting/homeschooling. But I'm still trying to find something besides taking the dog outside to pee that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning.

Just a wild thought - something I've been doing to various degrees for the past 7 years, volunteer with a guide dog agency to be a guide dog for the blind 'puppy walker' or person who raises the puppy from 8 weeks or so (can start at 4 months) to 2 years, when the puppy is ready for the serious training. You get to fulfill many 'needs' for the dog, the eventual blind client who's life will be changed from having the dog in their lives, the need to raise and train this dog, your need to be needed and to serve a purpose. The best part is that along-side of raising the puppy is that you can  be doing lots of other things with your life to fill many other needs in your life and the lives of those around you. 

The biggest lie that people ALWAYS say when I tell them that I raise guide dog puppies is, "I could never give up the puppy at the end." It's the hardest part, but it's the reality of life. We have to give up things we've fallen in love with. Learning to give up these puppies, and then going on to find new love and joy in a new puppy is actually an excellent way to learn that you CAN love something, give it up to it's proper and worthy life's purpose, and then go on and do more good. 

Edited by wintermom
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14 hours ago, regentrude said:

Psilocybin has shown surprising results in the treatment of depression! It can act like a brain reset after a single dose with long lasting effects.

 Very good point! I've read and listened to some amazing work in this area. As you said, a brain reset. 

11 hours ago, sassenach said:

Jenny, I don't have much to offer but for myself, an antidote to feeling unmoored is to get out into nature. But not like a walk at the local park- stunning nature. The more spectacular the better. 

That's not really a long term solution but it's all I've got right now.

Ugh, as someone that lives in the same area as Jenny, I can say that awe inspiring naturing is not in abundance around here. There is a profound lack of beauty in this area. It's actually really really hard on me. 

The beach is probably about an hour away for Jenny and would be in that awe inspiring category but beyond that, there just isn't really much. A few hiking places, and weather is getting better, but we are talking just average pine woods or scrubland. Pretty, but...meh. central Florida has a lack of beauty, to be sure. And the things I used to use to fill that beauty need - plays, museums, etc - are now not really a safe option due to Covid. 

1 hour ago, wintermom said:

 

The biggest lie that people ALWAYS say when I tell them that I raise guide dog puppies is, "I could never give up the puppy at the end." 

I can assure you that some people are more able to do this than others. I've fostered several dogs and a cat and twice it was very upsetting and once it  left me nearly bedridden with depression to let the animal go. So suggesting a fragile person go through more trauma, and to some it IS trauma, may not be a very safe idea. 

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On 11/15/2020 at 8:12 AM, ktgrok said:

I can assure you that some people are more able to do this than others. I've fostered several dogs and a cat and twice it was very upsetting and once it  left me nearly bedridden with depression to let the animal go. So suggesting a fragile person go through more trauma, and to some it IS trauma, may not be a very safe idea. 

Why is working with a dog for 2 years so much harder than having one 'as a pet' when it could die at any point? Is the pain easier then?

I'm not saying people should choose to do it if they do not wish to sign up for it, but when people say that they CAN NOT, that is the lie, More truthful to say, "I do not want to."

Also, some people do better with a short-term commitment, where they can see the positive results of all their hard work, and they know that their efforts were for a cause that is different than their everyday situation. Every time I walk my guide dog in training I think of the blind client who may one day walk with confidence and safety alongside this dog. 

Edited by wintermom
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On 11/13/2020 at 9:52 PM, Jenny in Florida said:

 

So, any thoughts? What gives your daily life shape or meaning? What do you consider your purpose? And, if you ever felt you had lost it, how did you find it again?

 

I dove in with single minded purpose for several years.  I would have told you my purpose was to serve God through educating my children and equipping them for the life God called them to... And I wouldn't have been wrong.

But, when my first went off to college, wow! I truly struggled.  Why? My niece started college after our oldest DD and finally I put my finger on it!

For years I had worked, and worked hard, for some kind of RESULT... And then my daughter started college like every other kid.  She did great.  She got good grades, she functioned, we had a good relationship, but still, ALL that work for the same results as everyone who sent their kid to PS and what had all that work been for?

DD began dating someone that didn't thrill us and, long story short, was expecting.  This DOES NOT happen in my plan, FYI, for my very conservative daughter who was going to go on to get her Masters in School Psychology, blah, blah, blah.  This was not The Plan.  Add health problems.  Also, not The Plan.  Truly, what did I do everything the hard way for anyway?!?!

Jenny, I'm not remotely sick of your existential crisis.  If you ever wanna be penpals, just say the word.  😉 The game changer for me was that baby, I think.  When Bri started making her baby registry, I think that was when I realized everything I'd done had had some tangible impact? She put on the lists books I'd read to her a thousand times when she was little.  When Magdalyn came (her second and more planned, lol) she wanted silks and Waldorf dolls.  It wasn't the things... It was that she realized what appreciating simple beauty, sweetness, well written stories where good is GOOD, actually was and sought it for her children?

I think, Jenny, when people come to an end of a season, they flounder.  There is a lot of reflection - Did what I choose to do have value? And if you felt it did, you kind of want some affirmation of that value.  Moreover, if it did have depth of value as you define it, you are seeking a way to move forward and it's HARD.  I mean, what really compares to pouring yourself into your children, and chasing a vision for years? Just going to a 9-5 job where you're not very passionate has the potential to feel very empty.  I've noticed several homeschool moms struggle with exactly this.  The happiest ones, from my very limited observations, have stayed in the homeschool community, contributing in this thing they loved.  But there is a broader concept there - recognize the unique way in which you're made.  What are your gifts? What are you passionate about? How can you use your unique gifting to bless others? It's really about the stewardship of what God has given you and investing it for a return IMO.  But it's sorting out those gifts and HOW you can apply them to pour into others, where the theory meets application gets difficult.

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44 minutes ago, wintermom said:

Why is working with a dog for 2 years so much harder than having one 'as a pet' when it could die at any point? Is the pain easier then?

I'm not saying people should choose to do it if they do not wish to sign up for it, but when people say that they CAN NOT, that is the lie, More truthful to say, "I do not want to."

Also, some people do better with a short-term commitment, where they can see the positive results of all their hard work, and they know that their efforts were for a cause that is different than their everyday situation. Every time I walk my guide dog in training I think of the blind client who may one day walk with confidence and safety alongside this dog. 

Well, losing a dog to death is also traumatizing, and I wouldn't recommend it as a plan for a person already dealing with depression and anxiety. 

Can she or I do it? Of course. I CAN do lots of things that will leave me more scarred or anxious or depressed. Doesn't mean I SHOULD. This is something you do, and do well I assume. We all have different ways to serve the world - different Charisms in the terms of the church. 

An example - mom mom has a gift for working with the elderly. She started at 16 as a candy striper in a geriatrics ward, became a nurse and continued in geriatrics, then became an activities director when the emotional trauma of nursing and the physical lifting got to be too much. But always with geriatrics. It took a toll on her, but she also thrived. It is her gift. I COULD physically force myself to work in geriatrics, but it would be miserable, and is not my gift. I shut down walking into a nursing home, and am nearly catatonic by the time I leave. I am awkward, anxious, and miserable. I don't serve well. But I AM good at working in a veterinary setting. I can counsel anxious owners, soothe painful pets, even help with euthanasia. It's upsetting, but not traumatic to me the way geriatrics is. My mother, on the other hand, has said several times that there is no way she could work in veterinary medicine - it is too upsetting for her. 

I could dismiss her concerns and say of course she could - but that's not acknowledging that her experience, her psyche, is different than mine. You are saying that the serving you are doing outweighs the trauma of letting go - and for you I believe that. Just like I believe that for my mom, the good she did in geriatrics outweighed the pain of watching patients deteriorate and the good I did working with sick or injured pets outweighed the pain of euthanasias, etc. But that doesn't mean that she and I could switch places, and have that same experience. We are different. 

Trust me when I say, for some, the service of raising a guide dog would NOT outweigh the anxiety and trauma it produced in me, especially if I went into it already depressed. Wouldn't kill me, but sure wouldn't help my mental health. 

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19 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Trust me when I say, for some, the service of raising a guide dog would NOT outweigh the anxiety and trauma it produced in me, especially if I went into it already depressed. Wouldn't kill me, but sure wouldn't help my mental health. 

But you aren't everyone. And for most people who quickly blurt out, "I could never do that" haven't thought much about it. 

I don't understand how you can work at a vet clinic where many people choose to euthanize an animal, and many vets happily take the money and proceed with killing a healthy animal. Maybe not at your clinic, but it happens. I could easily say that "I could never do that."  Should no one work or volunteer at a vet clinic because I think it would be tough? 

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3 hours ago, wintermom said:

But you aren't everyone. And for most people who quickly blurt out, "I could never do that" haven't thought much about it. 

I don't understand how you can work at a vet clinic where many people choose to euthanize an animal, and many vets happily take the money and proceed with killing a healthy animal. Maybe not at your clinic, but it happens. I could easily say that "I could never do that."  Should no one work or volunteer at a vet clinic because I think it would be tough? 

What? First, I've never ever known of a vet that would euthanize an animal for no reason. Certainly none of the half dozen I've worked with. Not sure what that has to do with anything. 

Second, you are missing my point. I'm saying we all have different things we can handle. I am NOT saying no one should foster/raise guide dogs because I can't - I'm saying that not everyone CAN in a healthy way just because you can. 

That sometimes, when people say they couldn't do that, they really mean it, the same way that people would tell me they couldn't work in a vet clinic or help with euthanasias. I mean, they CAN but not without significant trauma to themselves. 

Given that the OP is already dealing with depression, I was pointing out that this particular thing may not be a good thing for her, at this time. That some people really mean it when they say they are not up to that, and especially if already fragile. That when people tell you somthing isn't a fit for them, it makes sense to listen to them. 

If it helps, I wouldn't think a fragile person should go help with euthanasias either. 

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5 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

What? First, I've never ever known of a vet that would euthanize an animal for no reason. Certainly none of the half dozen I've worked with. Not sure what that has to do with anything. 

Second, you are missing my point. I'm saying we all have different things we can handle. I am NOT saying no one should foster/raise guide dogs because I can't - I'm saying that not everyone CAN in a healthy way just because you can. 

That sometimes, when people say they couldn't do that, they really mean it, the same way that people would tell me they couldn't work in a vet clinic or help with euthanasias. I mean, they CAN but not without significant trauma to themselves. 

Given that the OP is already dealing with depression, I was pointing out that this particular thing may not be a good thing for her, at this time. That some people really mean it when they say they are not up to that, and especially if already fragile. That when people tell you somthing isn't a fit for them, it makes sense to listen to them. 

If it helps, I wouldn't think a fragile person should go help with euthanasias either. 

See, again, your experience is your own. Your experience with vet clinics, your own depression, your experience fostering. 

I'm making a suggestion for the OP, and NOT for you. She can decide what she may want to try. And she can hear it from someone who actually has been a volunteer with guide dogs. 

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5 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

 I mean, what really compares to pouring yourself into your children, and chasing a vision for years? Just going to a 9-5 job where you're not very passionate has the potential to feel very empty.  I've noticed several homeschool moms struggle with exactly this.  The happiest ones, from my very limited observations, have stayed in the homeschool community, contributing in this thing they loved.  But there is a broader concept there - recognize the unique way in which you're made. 

Using this quote as a jumping off point, my response is not directed at you. 🙂

I have been aware of the potential for this. So with 2 years to go, last year I started thinking about my future. What do I actually want to do when this homeschooling gig is over?!?! And I have decided to retrain in environmental geology and work in water and soil remediation.  🙂 I start university next year. Can't wait!  I will continue to tutor to pay for it, as I can make a teacher's salary in 15 hours per week with my tutoring gig. 

When deciding my plan, I had to consider what I already had that I could build on. I've been a teacher, a statistician, and a scientist in my past life.  I had to consider what was different about me now compared to back then, and think about how to leverage my talents and knowledge and qualifications to move forward.  It took a good year to work through all the options.  But now that I know where I am headed career wise, I am working to prepare this year. I've got a lot of chemistry and physics to review, which is fun and motivating.  I've even considered the need to dye my hair to get a job (I'll be 55 when I'm done with my degree), or if I can't get a job, I've made sure that the career path I have chosen has outstanding volunteer opportunities.  I can definitely volunteer as an expert for conservation groups. 

The point is, I can start on a new path later in life. I don't have to coast if I don't want to. There are so many awesome options available in our world, pick one and enjoy it.  I have a friend who has decided that she will be going into fabric art - spinning, weaving, textiles.  The range of possibilities is endless, and there is no right answer so you don't need to fear deciding. 

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21 minutes ago, lewelma said:

The point is, I can start on a new path later in life. I don't have to coast if I don't want to. There are so many awesome options available in our world, pick one and enjoy it.  I have a friend who has decided that she will be going into fabric art - spinning, weaving, textiles.  The range of possibilities is endless, and there is no right answer so you don't need to fear deciding. 

True. But being some ways into that journey, I would like to offer my perspective, and maybe a few words of warning (please understand that this is not directed AT you, lewelma, and I am NOT saying this to rain on your parade).

It is entirely possible to spend time thinking, analyzing and preparing for the post-homeschooling life and decide "I want to do xyz" because I know this is where my talents lie, what I am good at, what I enjoy... and then some years into that trajectory to discover that this no longer brings fulfillment. 
A person can love their job so much that they feel they'd gladly do it even if they didn't get paid for it and cannot imagine to ever retire - and three years later, they can barely motivate themselves to go through the motions because the thought of doing this for another fifteen years appears completely soul crushing.

Middle age messes with the brain in ways I had not ever imagined. So yes, there are many new paths, but careful research and decision making is no insurance against finding oneself completely unmoored and directionless a few years into the new thing.

 

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35 minutes ago, regentrude said:

True. But being some ways into that journey, I would like to offer my perspective, and maybe a few words of warning

 

Oh, I completely agree. But I just wouldn't plan for 15 years of anything.  My father was and is a role model for me. He changed career paths every 10 years or so.  He was a heart surgeon, then retrained in hospital administration and ran hospitals, then switched to running a university medical center, then switched to working in the Department of Health for the state government making policy, then became a professor and ran the cadaver human anatomy classes, then switched to be a professor in public health and public speaker, then at 78 they asked him to be the head of the department so he spent 2 years cleaning it up (he did at that point have a LOT of management experience), and now that he is retired he has 5 book contracts -- 2 in health and 3 in history.  He was never locked in, and I won't be either.

My grandmother lived independently in her own home until she was 103 (still wearing high heels until 3 weeks before she died), and my father at 82 is writing books, and lots of them.  I'm 50. I just can't say I'm ready to coast.  That is a LOT of coasting given my genetics, and I don't think I can do it. But if I don't like the field that I choose, then I can *change*.  If doing water remediation becomes boring, then I can go into communication on science topics.  Or I could go into lobbying. Or I could teach.  I can be like my father and change when I need a shake up.  I am keen to enjoy my life, help where I can, and embrace the positive. 

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I'm starting to think that, as with puberty and pregnancy, mid-life hormones can be more disruptive than anticipated. The severity of the disruption may call for short-term chemical assistance, may answer to other changes, or may just be endured. It's hard to know with no firm end-date in sight.

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14 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Oh, I completely agree. But I just wouldn't plan for 15 years of anything.  My father was and is a role model for me. He changed career paths every 10 years or so.  ...He was never locked in, and I won't be either.

I'm 50. I just can't say I'm ready to coast.  That is a LOT of coasting given my genetics, and I don't think I can do it. But if I don't like the field that I choose, then I can *change*.  If doing water remediation becomes boring, then I can go into communication on science topics.  Or I could go into lobbying. Or I could teach.  I can be like my father and change when I need a shake up.  I am keen to enjoy my life, help where I can, and embrace the positive. 

PLEASE DON'T QUOTE.

Oh sure - longevity runs in my family, too. I just wish I wasn't such a rational safety driven creature. The idea of quitting a well paying secure job I am extremely good at and jumping into an unknown insecure future, particularly at a time like this where opportunities are extremely limited, scares me. I don't have the confidence that "everything will be ok". The changes I had planned to make have all been eradicated thanks to Covid - so it looks like sitting tight and doing the same familiar thing is pretty much the only option. 
Also, I like my husband, and any change for me would mean leaving here (small town, no opportunities), but he is going to stay for the next fifteen years because he does what he loves and there is zero chance of him being able to do that somewhere else (the job market in academia is not such that you can change every ten years). How does one balance that?
ETA: I've been over that forward and backwards and feel completely stuck.

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Would it help to have a deadline on how long you would need to sit tight?  Like, I can do this, but for 3 years, and then reevaluate.  Or, we will be financially able to retire in 5 years, and that’s the maximum that I’ll stick to this?  Sometimes I think having a good reason for a less comfortable course of action, and a goal that would enable dropping that less comfortable path at a defined time or status can make it more bearable.  

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2 hours ago, wintermom said:

See, again, your experience is your own. Your experience with vet clinics, your own depression, your experience fostering. 

I'm making a suggestion for the OP, and NOT for you. She can decide what she may want to try. And she can hear it from someone who actually has been a volunteer with guide dogs. 

That's fine, I wasn't saying you shouldn't. I was saying you shouldn't assume that when people say they can't do it they don't know what they are talking about. (meaning, it would be a bad fit for them on an emotional level not that they physically can't) 

My experience is my own, your experience is your own. I am not going to say yours is not relevant, but I'm also not going to say it is universal. Neither is mine. You seemed to be implying your experience WAS universal, which is what I was responding to. If you didn't mean that, I apologize. 

And it's moot anyway, lol, as the OP says she can't have another dog in the house as her own is aggressive with other dogs. 

 

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11 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Would it help to have a deadline on how long you would need to sit tight?  Like, I can do this, but for 3 years, and then reevaluate.  Or, we will be financially able to retire in 5 years, and that’s the maximum that I’ll stick to this?  Sometimes I think having a good reason for a less comfortable course of action, and a goal that would enable dropping that less comfortable path at a defined time or status can make it more bearable.  

I have thought about that. But there really won't be any change in the near future (other than hopefully Covid ending and the college kid graduation lessening the financial pressure). Opportunities are not going to miraculously arise in this small rural town, and DH is NOT going to retire earlier than in 13+ years.  It would still be a decision between leaving and sticking it out.

ETA: I also thought what I would like to do for a limited time, like a summer. But who knows when that will be possible again. It wasn't this year, and it won't be next.

 

@Carol in Cal. would you mind deleting my quote? Tried to send you a pm, but it said you cannot receive pm. I added don't quote after you had already started replying

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10 minutes ago, regentrude said:

How does one balance that?

I hear you. My dh is stuck in his job right now because of Covid, and it is not very pleasant. And although what I would really love to do is environmental engineering, the engineering university is 6 hours away, so I can't do what I really want to do without some serious marriage issues. I guess, I just work within the limitations I have.  I will continue to tutor for the money even though I am seriously over it. But by doing that, I reduce the stress on dh if he loses his job. I'd rather not, but we all make compromises.  So I'm doing something that is second best but taking a positive attitude and getting excited. Change is fun. So I am changing.

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I think joy is an occasional byproduct of living purposefully and meaningfully. That's deeper than the temporary, shallow pleasure of amusements. Amusements aren't bad, but they're not what really resonates at a deeper level.

I find being more aware of the details of the daily lives of those needing help from volunteer organizations increases the meaningfulness.  While many of us have a vague awareness of some of the challenges less privileged people have, listening (in person or through the written word) to someone who vividly articulates the pain helps me so much more. And there are different kinds of help-cutting a check to and doing PR for an organization are very removed compared to being in the midst of the work delivering groceries to and visiting with homebound elders in poverty, tutoring kids who fall through the cracks, childcaring for a single Mom at work, scrubbing toilets at the shelter, renovating low cost housing so it's livable again, repairing an engine for free, driving someone to a medical appointment and picking up their meds while covering out of pocket costs on their behalf, etc.

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On 11/14/2020 at 5:55 PM, regentrude said:

Psilocybin has shown surprising results in the treatment of depression! It can act like a brain reset after a single dose with long lasting effects. I wish there were more research and a legal avenue (but of course, cynical me thinks big Pharma also wants to keep patients dependent on antidepressants that don't actually cure but just mitigate symptoms and have to be taken for decades - so I am not holding my breath that they're lobbying to develop a standardized shroom extract)

I did research for a class on psychedelics and learned a lot.  One thing that seemed important for a positive outcome was to take them with a professional present who can guide you through the experience.   It didn't have to be a doctor, but someone who is experienced with this method.  

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan was an excellent and educational dive into this topic. 

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I remember reading years ago about Charlotte Mason's thoughts on "the way of the will." The interpretation that I read was "if you don't like a thought, then change it." Clearly, this is easier for some people than others, but apparently Mason had come upon the same approach that I fell into.  If I don't like a thought, I change it.  I have taught 'the way of the will' to my younger son from a young age, and he has mastered it.  If he is really upset and hormonal, it might take him 5 minutes to turn it around, but he knows how to control his mind and can usually do it in the moment.  I don't want to be dismissive of all the struggles that so many people out there have especially if mental illness is involved, but learning meditation might be something to consider to help with the feelings of ennui. 

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8 minutes ago, lewelma said:

I remember reading years ago about Charlotte Mason's thoughts on "the way of the will." The interpretation that I read was "if you don't like a thought, then change it." Clearly, this is easier for some people than others, but apparently Mason had come upon the same approach that I fell into.  If I don't like a thought, I change it.  I have taught 'the way of the will' to my younger son from a young age, and he has mastered it.  If he is really upset and hormonal, it might take him 5 minutes to turn it around, but he knows how to control his mind and can usually do it in the moment.  I don't want to be dismissive of all the struggles that so many people out there have especially if mental illness is involved, but learning meditation might be something to consider to help with the feelings of ennui. 

I don't mean to be snarky, so please don't take this the wrong way:  
if this is something you can teach a child, how come many people are going to therapy for years and decades and therapists are unable to teach them to get rid of their intrusive thoughts ? What is the secret? Are the therapists too dumb? Too uneducated? The patients too stubborn?

ETA: how do I know whether a thought is reflecting reality and should not be banned? 

 

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7 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I don't mean to be snarky, so please don't take this the wrong way:  
if this is something you can teach a child, how come many people are going to therapy for years and decades and therapists are unable to teach them to get rid of their intrusive thoughts ? What is the secret? Are the therapists too dumb? Too uneducated? The patients too stubborn?

ETA: how do I know whether a thought is reflecting reality and should not be banned? 

 

A lot of people in therapy are there not to become healthy, but to learn how to feel okay while damaging themselves with poor emotional hygiene.

Thoughts can be reflecting reality and still be worth banning because you've thought about them already and thinking more won't help. "Do I have any new solutions to this?" *pause* "No. Well that's a bummer. Hey Brain, want some bean dip? Sure you do."

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14 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Thoughts can be reflecting reality and still be worth banning because you've thought about them already and thinking more won't help. "Do I have any new solutions to this?" *pause* "No. Well that's a bummer. Hey Brain, want some bean dip? Sure you do."

That's a interesting approach. I never thought about most thoughts requiring a solution. Does that mean we should only think thoughts and feel feelings that can be solved
I am envisioning what it would be like to ban any unpleasant thoughts... that sounds like living in a cult of relentless positivity and seems to me lacking facets of the human experience. Sometimes pain is a great motivator that kicks us off out of an oversaturated stale situation... in which we'd remain if contentment were the ultimate goal.
IS contentment what life is all about? 

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17 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I don't mean to be snarky, so please don't take this the wrong way:  
if this is something you can teach a child, how come many people are going to therapy for years and decades and therapists are unable to teach them to get rid of their intrusive thoughts ? What is the secret? Are the therapists too dumb? Too uneducated? The patients too stubborn?

ETA: how do I know whether a thought is reflecting reality and should not be banned? 

 

Honestly, I'm not sure.  I have it, my 2 sons have it, my dh does not.  My sister is a counselor and she says that what I can do, most people cannot do.  But yet I have taught it to my boys from a very young age, and Charlotte Mason also wrote about the concept so I am not way out there.  Maybe we need to ask people who meditate if they can do it.  Maybe that is the key.

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I was just talking to my younger about these issues, and he started saying such clear things. So I stopped him, and started him again while I was typing.  This is what he said:

" I have different values for bad thoughts.  I have some thoughts that are just ugly and just should be dismissed without thought because they have no purpose.  Those I simply brush aside and then my mind just moves on. Then I have important thoughts which I am too close to to be able to judge properly, this usually comes with anger or frustration with other people. These I split my mind into 2 pieces, and have my intellectual piece judge whether my emotional piece is justified.  I make myself a calm observer who is observing a ball of fury. If it is not justified anger, it dissapates as soon as I realize it is so. Lastly, I have overall mood swings. In particular feeling depressed and these are the hardest to change. And require a concentrated focus on a single personal image of clear skies and a quote that I love. (I made this up when I was 8, and it is a strange concept). I visualize me walking up a hill with a spear and all around me the skies are a dark dismal grey and pervade my thoughts at which point I thrust my spear into the air and shatter the leaden skies and saying my quote "above every cloud is blue sky" at which point my depressive thoughts usually go away. Otherwise, if I am feeling super bad I will meditate on a single very strong pathway which I have etched into my brain which will remove all my other thoughts."

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22 minutes ago, regentrude said:

wow. seriously?

what does "poor emotional hygiene" mean? 
 

You know, all the stuff you know doesn't do you any good. Listening to music that depresses you, watching shows that set off your anxiety, engaging with emotional vampires, or whatever you don't have the resilience to deal with properly... Poor boundaries with your own self. That phrase "you are what you eat" refers to the fact that your body can't be healthy if you won't nourish it properly, but it applies just as well to brains and hearts.

There's nothing wrong with listening to depressing music if you really need to have a good cry and that'll help. There's nothing wrong with watching telly that raises your adrenaline levels if you are bored, providing you're not watching them right before bed when you've been having trouble sleeping. There's a time and place, and all that.

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29 minutes ago, regentrude said:

That's a interesting approach. I never thought about most thoughts requiring a solution. Does that mean we should only think thoughts and feel feelings that can be solved
I am envisioning what it would be like to ban any unpleasant thoughts... that sounds like living in a cult of relentless positivity and seems to me lacking facets of the human experience. Sometimes pain is a great motivator that kicks us off out of an oversaturated stale situation... in which we'd remain if contentment were the ultimate goal.
IS contentment what life is all about? 

I suppose I used the word solution because I like solving problems. I mean, I just went down the shops to buy a bottle of coconut aminos because my neighbour loves soy sauce, but it gives them migraines. Maybe my ten bucks will revolutionise their whole life! Also, I think obsessive thoughts are usually about something we wanted to work out differently, so they are about trying to nut out some kind of resolution.

Having needs met is the ultimate goal, I think, rather than contentment. There are times when we need contentment so we can have a bloody rest and there are times when we need a problem to solve so we can feel good about achieving something. 

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21 minutes ago, lewelma said:

 

I was just talking to my younger about these issues, and he started saying such clear things. So I stopped him, and started him again while I was typing.  This is what he said:

" I have different values for bad thoughts.  I have some thoughts that are just ugly and just should be dismissed without thought because they have no purpose.  Those I simply brush aside and then my mind just moves on. Then I have important thoughts which I am too close to to be able to judge properly, this usually comes with anger or frustration with other people. These I split my mind into 2 pieces, and have my intellectual piece judge whether my emotional piece is justified.  I make myself a calm observer who is observing a ball of fury. If it is not justified anger, it dissapates as soon as I realize it is so. Lastly, I have overall mood swings. In particular feeling depressed and these are the hardest to change. And require a concentrated focus on a single personal image of clear skies and a quote that I love. (I made this up when I was 8, and it is a strange concept). I visualize me walking up a hill with a spear and all around me the skies are a dark dismal grey and pervade my thoughts at which point I thrust my spear into the air and shatter the leaden skies and saying my quote "above every cloud is blue sky" at which point my depressive thoughts usually go away. Otherwise, if I am feeling super bad I will meditate on a single very strong pathway which I have etched into my brain which will remove all my other thoughts."

A VERY well developed coping strategy for a young person, or any age, really. Love it.

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2 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I suppose I used the word solution because I like solving problems. ...

Having needs met is the ultimate goal, I think, rather than contentment. There are times when we need contentment so we can have a bloody rest and there are times when we need a problem to solve so we can feel good about achieving something. 

I like solving problems and am good at it, but it doesn't bring me the sense of purpose the OP was talking about. (Maybe I haven't found the right problem?) Contentment doesn't bring the sense of purpose either; it sometimes seems to stand in the way, as if settling for something less than what's possible. Like being given a tealight  (which is beautiful in its own right) when you are yearning for a wildfire.
It's the need for meaning that isn't met. 

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53 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I don't mean to be snarky, so please don't take this the wrong way:  
if this is something you can teach a child, how come many people are going to therapy for years and decades and therapists are unable to teach them to get rid of their intrusive thoughts ? What is the secret? Are the therapists too dumb? Too uneducated? The patients too stubborn?

ETA: how do I know whether a thought is reflecting reality and should not be banned? 

 

I do see quite a wide variety of mental health treatment that falls under the therapy umbrella. It's the piece that makes finding the right therapist exceptionally difficult. My oldest had a really great one in Seattle that had a plan and goals for each session. It worked beautifully. The others have been listening ears for the most part, and not really offering solid tools to improve the situation. I don't know if there is a lack of standardization that is a problem. I suspect that is the case, as there seems to be a number of paths to becoming a therapist.

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6 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I like solving problems and am good at it, but it doesn't bring me the sense of purpose the OP was talking about. (Maybe I haven't found the right problem?) Contentment doesn't bring the sense of purpose either; it sometimes seems to stand in the way, as if settling for something less than what's possible. Like being given a tealight  (which is beautiful in its own right) when you are yearning for a wildfire.
It's the need for meaning that isn't met. 

I was talking about dealing with intrusive thoughts. A sense of purpose is a different issue.

 

For the most part, I've had to make peace with living without meaning most of the time because that's my reality. It's not a problem I can solve right now. I guess I chalk it up to "I can't have everything I want." My tolerance for that runs out at times though, and I have to reprocess it over again. It doesn't become easy, but my ability to do it is something I can have faith in. I can believe in my ability to do a thing I've done a zillion times. Comforting, in a crappy kind of way.

Another thing that not everyone seems to know, or have made peace with anyhow, is that one does not always need to care about one's feelings. 

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3 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I was talking about dealing with intrusive thoughts. A sense of purpose is a different issue.

but the two can be intimately related. The intrusive thoughts can stem from the lack of a sense of purpose. How many people who have a clear sense of purpose have intrusive thoughts of hopelessness or suicide? I would guess not many. 

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