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About to fail counseling . . . again.


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Posted (edited)

As I've shared in various posts before, I've been stuck in depression for a good while, now (like, multiple years, with some ups and downs). I am currently making my fourth attempt at counseling. 

  • The first time, when my kids stopped speaking to each other, I had a series of phone sessions via my then-employer's employee assistance program, which petered out/ended with the counselor saying she thought I had good reasons to be sad and stressed out and I should work on taking better care of myself. We were, unfortunately, unable to come up with any kind of definition of what "self-care" meant for me.
  • Then, when I was in the process of getting back to work and finishing up radiation following the breast cancer, I spoke with a social worker at the hospital's cancer center, who essentially told me that I had valid reasons for feeling tired and sad and stressed and that I should be kinder to myself and give myself time to get back on my feet emotionally.
  • Last year, I got to a point at which I was really just not functioning in lots of ways, basically crying my way through a lot of days and unable to focus on work, etc. Through my primary care provider, I was referred to a psychiatrist and counselor. I met with the counselor weekly for a few months, and the psychiatrist put me on medication and saw me monthly to check in. The counselor eventually decided that I was not so much depressed as I was experiencing an existential crisis, which was beyond his skill set. He told me to reach out if I wanted to resume sessions, but felt we weren't making enough progress to continue at that point. The psychiatrist stopped seeing me when I had a really bad reaction and had to wean off the medication. 
  • A couple of months ago, I started seeing a new primary care doctor after we moved to another part of town. After we talked during my first appointment about my continuing depression symptoms, she referred me to yet another counselor, whom I have been seeing for a few weeks. Today, she asked me if I felt like I was getting anything out of the sessions and whether I wanted to continue. At her suggestion, we are cutting back to meeting every other week. 

I'm trying. I really am. I go into this every time open and honest, willing to share, willing to work on the issues, genuinely hoping that this time, this person will be able to help me figure out how to feel better. 

I'm just so sick of feeling so empty and sad. And it's disheartening to feel like I'm such a hopeless case.

What am I doing wrong?

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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Nothing. Yep two of my counselors told me I was in crappy situations and was coping well with them. Basically, it is as good as it gets. I'm sorry. Wish it were different. Counseling is pretty useless in my opinion. 

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Ugh. 

I know a lot of this is stuff you don't have much control over - husband's mental health, kids issues with each other, etc. Not sure what to tell you there, unless kids would do family counseling together or something, or DH gets better...sigh. 

Have they looked at hormone levels, in addition to other stuff? Vitamin levels? Iron levels? Low ferritin even without anemia can cause fatigue and depression. Same with vitamin D, B vitamins, etc. Between the neuropathy and depression I am assuming they have checked those things, but worth asking just in case I guess. 

Hugs. 

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Posted (edited)

You are not doing anything wrong. You may be expecting too much from counseling.
What would happen if you gave up the questioning and decided to let go of the search for meaning?
What if you decided that life does not need to have purpose?

 

Hugs. I hope you find a way out of your crisis.

 

Edited by regentrude
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Nothing. I'm actually a member of a group of child abuse survivors and everyone always yells "Counseling! Counseling! Counseling!" and I hate it because I've been to counseling multiple times to no avail. I think I just haven't found the right one, so maybe keep searching? 

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gently - have you looked at physical contributors?  diet?

I have a genetic predisposition, and no amount of talking was going to help until the other was resolved/supported.  (I'm currently supporting my adrenals, and taking 5htp - and had to take a much higher dose than on the label, but approved by my dr.  (I was about to give it up as not working when i tried the higher dose.)

I also found yoga helpful.  And when I was super stressed and angry all the time (my cortisol levels were probably through the roof) I ended up with used brick. It was great for hitting something.  I could clean ten before my arm gave out.  but it was SOOO cathartic!   i got dudeling some karate break boards for when he was angry/frustrated.

I hope you're able to find something that works for you.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, regentrude said:

 

“Magic's just science that we don't understand yet.” - Arthur C. Clarke (though I may or may not have heard it from Thor)

Edited by Slache
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3 minutes ago, Slache said:

Nothing. I'm actually a member of a group of child abuse survivors and everyone always yells "Counseling! Counseling! Counseling!" and I hate it because I've been to counseling multiple times to no avail. I think I just haven't found the right one, so maybe keep searching? 

My daughter is recovering from this as well and I can't tell you how many counselors we've been through. Last month she was kicked out of an adolescent depression support group for being too depressed. (Don't get me started on how they called me two weeks later and asked why she hadn't been attending. I literally glared at my phone). She has found one counselor that she's been seeing for a month and it's been going really well. This particular counselor has picked up on the fact that my daughter is actually really smart and can out-think the basic strategies that (supposedly) work for most teens. 

(And as an aside, IME people love to "prescribe" counseling because they don't want to take the time to care but think this is a helpful response).

OP Jenny-I think perhaps trying a psychologist (PhD or PsyD) may get you better results? It seems they tend to be more focused than social workers and counselors. At least based on the small sample I've experienced. If you're still interested in shopping around for a therapist, maybe see if you can find one of these before giving up. 

Have you gone through any CBT? That seems to be the gold standard so I imagine you've been exposed to it at some level. Maybe get a book with CBT techniques and just work through it on your own. Honestly, I feel like I had success with therapy when I was younger and at some point I just knew the techniques and didn't get much more out of therapy after that.

But don't take it personally. It is the responsibility of the mental health professional to figure out how to help you, especially as you are a willing participant and meeting them at least half way. It's like they forget there's a reason you are there for help. I'm sorry. 

 

 

 

 

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I'll third the suggestions to look for medical causes. I often wonder why doctors don't start there. If you haven't already done it, get your thyroid, iron, B12, etc. checked. Also, inflammation is involved in depression, so maybe get your c-reactive protein or some other measure of inflammation checked. 

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I only worked with a counselor once and it was extremely helpful for me.  And I don't think it was magic.  She helped me sort through my history and my unhealthy thought patterns and helped remind me that I can't control the world.  But I can control myself and my reaction to things around me.  That doesn't mean I don't get sad or mad and need to process that.  I do and everyone does.  But I remind myself to stay present and find joy in what I can control and to lay out healthy boundaries so I am not sucking up everyone else's stress.  Which I just tend to do.  Medication was helpful for me for a time but I have been off entirely for years.  Is your health otherwise good?  I really need to manage stress mindfully and regularly, eat clean, exercise/yoga is helpful, etc.  I was losing it this spring and my anxiety was ramping up. Well it's a global pandemic, etc but I was having crazy  perimenopausal stuff too.  I went in my hemoglobin was just a little low.  Like had it been checked a different time of the month it may not have even registered as low.  I started taking a prenatal and wow, I feel SO much better, I am stunned at the difference.  My energy levels, activity levels, mood, eating are much better all around!

Regarding adult kids not getting along.  I don't get along with my brother and I interact with him minimally to just keep the peace with my mom.  But I don't initiate stuff with him or regularly communicate with him. My mom was so hurt by this.  But I told her I was not willing to prop up a one sided relationship that she wanted to see happen.  We have little in common any more, he has a dysfunctional relationship that has ruined many a family get together, and it just wasn't happening.  My mom has found peace with what we do and we just stay away from that as a topic because it never ended well.  Anyway - I think it is emotionally healthy to divest your own happiness from the exact actions of others but consider what would bring you joy with the people in your life as they are?  Because you cannot change anyone without  them wanting that.   Can you maintain relationships with them individually?  Do they complain to you about the other?  And I don't expect you to answer those questions, just speaking theoretically from my own situation and experience.  

I hope your husband is choosing to take care of his own mental health.

I will say I have read a bunch of books on self fulfillment and happiness, etc and some really struck a tone with me and gave me tools that I have used for years.  I think that can vary widely by person though.   I was referred to a counselor who really GETS GT/intense thinking type people which might  be helpful for an existential crises and I have been there.  That is kind of hard to ask directly about but maybe with the right line of questioning you  might be able to fit on a good fit faster.  Good luck, I am sorry you've been struggling for so long.  

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9 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

This particular counselor has picked up on the fact that my daughter is actually really smart and can out-think the basic strategies that (supposedly) work for most teens. 

 

2 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

 I was referred to a counselor who really GETS GT/intense thinking type people which might  be helpful for an existential crises 

This is a really good point. You seem to be a very smart person, Jenny, and it's quite possible that your counselors simply didn't know what to do with you. Because I'm sure you've read all the standard advice and see through the attempts to manipulate you.

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10 minutes ago, JumpyTheFrog said:

I'll third the suggestions to look for medical causes. I often wonder why doctors don't start there. If you haven't already done it, get your thyroid, iron, B12, etc. checked. Also, inflammation is involved in depression, so maybe get your c-reactive protein or some other measure of inflammation checked. 

Yup - and Autoimmune stuff like Celiac and Lupus can present primarily with neuropsychiatric symptoms, including depression and anxiety. 

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5 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

My...

You pretty much described my experience with one as a child. My mother lied to my doctors and it took the right person to trust me. She simply took me at my word and we worked piece by piece with what I was "allowed" to do considering that the basic strategies didn't work, like in your post. Unfortunately once I began making progress she pulled me out. BUT (OP), despite multiple bad experiences as a child and adult, there was someone who heard me, someone who helped. I think OP and I just need to find that someone.

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19 minutes ago, regentrude said:

 

This is a really good point. You seem to be a very smart person, Jenny, and it's quite possible that your counselors simply didn't know what to do with you. Because I'm sure you've read all the standard advice and see through the attempts to manipulate you.

Thirding this. I've been in a lot of sessions with two of my kids, and it's pretty rare that they say something I haven't already read and already know. It gets tiring to hear things said as if they will be revelatory when they seem common knowledge and obvious. I think someting outside the box sounds worth a try, otherwise I also second the suggesting to find someone PhD level and I also recommend seeing if you can find DBT. It is very different from any kind of "talk" therapy and I think works well for people with very logical minds.

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54 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Have they looked at hormone levels, in addition to other stuff? Vitamin levels? Iron levels? Low ferritin even without anemia can cause fatigue and depression. Same with vitamin D, B vitamins, etc. Between the neuropathy and depression I am assuming they have checked those things, but worth asking just in case I guess. 

Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, between the neuropathy and thyroid maintenance and insulin resistance and oncology stuff and depression, I get a wide range of blood work done regularly. Recently, a neurologist who was new to the practice was insistent about having fresh blood work done, because she was certain there had to be some kind of vitamin deficiency, even though I told her I was checked for that kind of thing frequently. Sure enough, everything came back fine, at which point she pretty much shrugged and suggested adding more medication, since she apparently couldn't think of anything else to do.

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57 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Oh, one other question, that I think comes from solution focused therapy - are there times you DO feel happy? Or happier? And what is different about those times?

Not really. I can kind of perform happy when I recognize it's called for, but there is always a thrum underneath of not.

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25 minutes ago, Jenny in Florida said:

Not really. I can kind of perform happy when I recognize it's called for, but there is always a thrum underneath of not.

how did you feel when you did your solo camping trip recently?

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51 minutes ago, regentrude said:

 

This is a really good point. You seem to be a very smart person, Jenny, and it's quite possible that your counselors simply didn't know what to do with you. Because I'm sure you've read all the standard advice and see through the attempts to manipulate you.

I agree on getting someone with GT experience. Hoagie’s gifted site might have people to try.

28 minutes ago, KSera said:

Thirding this. I've been in a lot of sessions with two of my kids, and it's pretty rare that they say something I haven't already read and already know. It gets tiring to hear things said as if they will be revelatory when they seem common knowledge and obvious. I think someting outside the box sounds worth a try, otherwise I also second the suggesting to find someone PhD level and I also recommend seeing if you can find DBT. It is very different from any kind of "talk" therapy and I think works well for people with very logical minds.

Agree with this too. DBT can make a person feel heard. 

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5 minutes ago, Jenny in Florida said:

More peaceful than usual, but not "happy." It was a relief to be away from immediate stressors for a while. 

peaceful is a good first step.

For me, feelings of peacefulness came long before feelings of happiness.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, regentrude said:

peaceful is a good first step.

For me, feelings of peacefulness came long before feelings of happiness.

It's so hard to describe, but even then it was like the sadness and hopelessness were just suppressed, not actually relieved. 

Like I said earlier, I can perform more positive emotions temporarily (even if I'm the only audience), but I always know it's an act.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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There are so many things that can cause or contribute to depression. You need a really good doctor who will leave no stone unturned. Also a naturopathic doctor might be helpful. There are a lot of nutritional things that can contribute to depression and regular doctors are not educated about such things. If that doesn't help find a different psychiatrist. It is common to have to try different meds and it can take time and a lot of trial and error. Also sleep is very important. If something is interfering with you getting quality sleep that can cause or contribute to depression.

And you aren't doing anything wrong. 

Susan in TX

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I wish I could fix this for you, but it is not unusual at all to struggle with finding the right fit with a good counselor. Sometimes you just don't mesh and then you feel less willing to open up to that person.

In my case, someone I knew who was a counselor recommended a couple other women counselors, and one of them ended up being great. I have seen her on and off for years.  Recently I only see her every three months or so because most of my stress relates to things outside of my control--things outside of me. Sometimes I am able to manage my feelings about those things--to detach and accept I am responsible to and not responsible for--and other times my anxiety gets the best of me and I pick up the things I just put down.  I just want to encourage you that it is normal to struggle with the load you are carrying. We really aren't intended to carry these things alone.  

For me the counselor helps in just reflectively listening. She hears me. She helps me to identify for myself the underlying feelings, beliefs, etc. and we talk about how I can trust God in those spaces. She challenges me to reach out to friends when I am hurting, to be honest with my husband about my fears and disappointments, and to take care of myself.

I don't know if you are a Christian or not, but if you are, I want to encourage you to keep trying to find a good Christian counselor. Trust me, there are bad ones.  Please PM me if you think I could help direct you.  

I just wanted to say also that I am sorry that you are struggling. It's so hard to wander about in the desert for so long. You just want someone to see you hurting and to care for you. Someone to hold your hand while the storm rages.  

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2 hours ago, Jenny in Florida said:
  • At her suggestion, we are cutting back to meeting every other week. 

I'm trying. I really am. I go into this every time open and honest, willing to share, willing to work on the issues, genuinely hoping that this time, this person will be able to help me figure out how to feel better. 

I'm just so sick of feeling so empty and sad.

Well at least she's honest. 

I'll just toss out a radical suggestion. How about becoming your own private nun? Like just make a new life. You seem to have a lot of thought in you and feel empty, so how about reading the Bible, philosophy, etc. and creating your own private nun time? 

I don't know. I think lots of people have sucky boring lives at some point and they treat it as a spiritual exercise.

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1 minute ago, cintinative said:

I don't know if you are a Christian or not, but if you are, I want to encourage you to keep trying to find a good Christian counselor. Trust me, there are bad ones.  Please PM me if you think I could help direct you.  

I just wanted to say also that I am sorry that you are struggling. It's so hard to wander about in the desert for so long. You just want someone to see you hurting and to care for you. Someone to hold your hand while the storm rages.  

Not a Christian in the usual sense of the word. 

But, yes, the way I describe it is that I feel like I just want to go home. I'm tired and sad and I want to go where I feel safe and can relax and rest and feel loved and cared for. The problem is that place doesn't seem to exist. At least, I've never been there.

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1 minute ago, Jenny in Florida said:

I feel like I just want to go home. I'm tired and sad and I want to go where I feel safe and can relax and rest and feel loved and cared for. The problem is that place doesn't seem to exist. At least, I've never been there.

Well see I'm not so crazy. You are spiritually contemplative right now. Wanting peace, calm, sureness, these are good things. Maybe the quietness and alone is where you find them. 

I don't know. I had years where I was housebound and couldn't think clearly, so I have kind of simple views on spirituality. (read, take what comes, be quiet) And I watched my FIL as he declined and wanted to be somewhere else, doing something else, and he had to sit. There's a lot of peace that comes with acceptance. 

But who am I to say? I'm just thinking if you don't have another plan, maybe kill some time for 1-3 months with your own little spiritual journey, pull in, read, listen to quiet music, whatever, see what it does for you. You could read the Bible a different way from what you've ever done before. Like try a chronological and see if you could get through the whole thing in a month. Use a translation you never read before, something really modern. And maybe alternate it with biography readings of someone who inspires you. And then watch tv episodes of Call the Midwife or old b&w movies with nuns to round out your study. 

How are your feet? Do you need a pedicure? I'm pretty sure you could still do that.

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Just now, Jenny in Florida said:

Not a Christian in the usual sense of the word. 

But, yes, the way I describe it is that I feel like I just want to go home. I'm tired and sad and I want to go where I feel safe and can relax and rest and feel loved and cared for. The problem is that place doesn't seem to exist. At least, I've never been there.

I am SO sorry.  Not feeling loved, cared for, and able to rest at home is a huge, huge grief. Have you ever thought that maybe part of this depression is that you are grieving that home is not that kind of place?  For example, that home is a place that adds burdens, rather than helping you carry them? Or it's place where you feel less than loved, cherished, and supported?  While it's true that sometimes depression can be caused by health issues as others have mentioned (mine is definitely aggravated by hormones), all of us really do need that safe space where we can be known and loved despite our warts.  When we don't have that, our hearts hurt. We hurt.  

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Uh-no. 

Counselling is failing YOU* 

Check out Kristen Neff - self compassion. Her guided meditation series help support the creation of the good inner therapist - someone who can hold space for your emotions or numbness or whatever state you present in. 

*You probably need a practitioner of depth psychology, not a 'counsellor' who is focused on quick and easy interventions. 

 

 

 

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I read something recently which really resonated with me - the fact that when you're happy, you don't worry about the 'search for meaning', so the idea that it's going to solve something might not be true.

Recently in Australia they've begun to fund a new treatment for chronic depression called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It is non-invasive and it can have lasting and immediate effect. Others may know more about this but it seems to have few side effects.

 

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16 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I'll just toss out a radical suggestion. How about becoming your own private nun? Like just make a new life. You seem to have a lot of thought in you and feel empty, so how about reading the Bible, philosophy, etc. and creating your own private nun time? 

Can you explain this to me?  I don't quite understand but am very interested.

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17 minutes ago, Jenny in Florida said:

But, yes, the way I describe it is that I feel like I just want to go home. I'm tired and sad and I want to go where I feel safe and can relax and rest and feel loved and cared for. The problem is that place doesn't seem to exist. At least, I've never been there.

I understand this feeling well and am in the same position.   Sending you a lot of love and gentle hugs.  I wish I could make it better for you.  We all deserve to feel safe and loved.

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2 minutes ago, Ditto said:

I understand this feeling well and am in the same position.   Sending you a lot of love and gentle hugs.  I wish I could make it better for you.  We all deserve to feel safe and loved.

Kristen Neff for you too. 

As adults, that place is internal.

Therapy, imo, is being supported in finding your way to that understanding and practice. 

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Posted (edited)

Okay, going to throw an off the wall suggestion at you:  Are there any counselors that call themselves philosophical counselors or existential counselors in your area?  Odds are that they are not.  I would see if you could contact a philosophy professor and ask about a conversation about existential crises.  

I think your issue is less mental health related than it is intellectual sense for meaning.  Of course, those things overlap.  But that's what I would be looking for.  

On the other hand, you desperately need to be able to feel like home is a place you can relax.  If you can't relax at home, that's a huge issue and should be worked on, but maybe it's not something YOU can work on?  Like maybe you need a place that's all yours, like a room?  Or maybe it's an issue with relationships?  

Edited by Terabith
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1 hour ago, Jenny in Florida said:

Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, between the neuropathy and thyroid maintenance and insulin resistance and oncology stuff and depression, I get a wide range of blood work done regularly. Recently, a neurologist who was new to the practice was insistent about having fresh blood work done, because she was certain there had to be some kind of vitamin deficiency, even though I told her I was checked for that kind of thing frequently. Sure enough, everything came back fine, at which point she pretty much shrugged and suggested adding more medication, since she apparently couldn't think of anything else to do.

Have you had a hair tissue sample done to check for deficiencies. Many times other cells can be "starved" of essential vitamins and minerals to maintain proper balance in the blood, but it doesn't actually mean that your levels are at optimal levels in the organs and other tissues throughout your whole body. 
 

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Posted (edited)

I have friends whose depression has been helped by neurofeedback or Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture and herbs) when nothing else worked.

So sorry that you are on such a tough road! 

Edited by ScoutTN
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Do you like to read?  Maybe it’s just time to lose yourself in a book series and stop looking for a solution for a little while?  If you want something to reflect the existential crisis you could go to some Russian Lit or poetry.  Or you could just go for something escapist if you want to get away from those though processes.

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Posted (edited)

@regentrude I’m not quoting but I wonder if some aspect of the resolution for you was being able to put aside the logical thinking self and just embrace something seemingly illogical?  Maybe not, but this is something the yoga with Adrienne lady often says - just turn off the thinking brain.  
 

sometimes the smarter you are the harder it is to be ok with just being a physical animal body sometimes. Anyway maybe it’s not that at all but it just struck me as I read your post.

Edited by Ausmumof3
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Just now, Ausmumof3 said:

Do you like to read?  Maybe it’s just time to lose yourself in a book series and stop looking for a solution for a little while?  If you want something to reflect the existential crisis you could go to some Russian Lit or poetry.  Or you could just go for something escapist if you want to get away from those though processes.

I used to love to read, but I haven't been able to focus on reading for pleasure for a while. (I also can't listen to most music -- Anything other than fairly quiet classical music makes me feel more sad.)

I do listen to audiobooks, but I have virtually no tolerance for pure escapism and can't concentrate on anything demanding. Plus, I cannot tolerate (in the sense that it throws me for an emotional spin) any story in which a child or animal is endangered or harmed. 

So, I end up just not reading very much.

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3 minutes ago, Jenny in Florida said:

I used to love to read, but I haven't been able to focus on reading for pleasure for a while. (I also can't listen to most music -- Anything other than fairly quiet classical music makes me feel more sad.)

I do listen to audiobooks, but I have virtually no tolerance for pure escapism and can't concentrate on anything demanding. Plus, I cannot tolerate (in the sense that it throws me for an emotional spin) any story in which a child or animal is endangered or harmed. 

So, I end up just not reading very much.

Yep I understand.  It really just sounds like you are physically mentally and emotionally exhausted from caring for others so long and you need someone to care for you for a while and there’s no one stepping up to that 🙁

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

@regentrude I’m not quoting but I wonder if some aspect of the resolution for you was being able to put aside the logical thinking self and just embrace something seemingly illogical?  Maybe not, but this is something the yoga with Adrienne lady often says - just turn off the thinking brain.  
sometimes the smarter you are the harder it is to be ok with just being a physical animal body sometimes. Anyway maybe it’s not that at all but it just struck me as I read your post.

Yes, that was definitely part of it. I spent over a year thinking of a solution, working through scenarios, approaching the question of meaning as a logical question for which, if I just think hard enough, there should be an answer. 
I stopped doing that. I found that journaling, the much touted therapeutic tool, was actually toxic and harmful for me, because it made the spiraling thoughts repeat. It was an avoidance mechanism, pure navel gazing without any benefit. I burned my journals and stopped keeping one. For a while, I even stopped writing poetry.
Instead, I engaged physically. Last summer, I worked on a friend's farm a few days a week, hard physical labor, in the heat and sun. No thinking. Just digging, shoveling wheelbarrows full of compost, stuff like that. I hiked. Long, hard hikes. 
Thinking was not helpful. Physical exertion and sun on skin was what got me out of the hole.
(ETA: And I don't think it's something like "exercise makes endorphines". I think the effect goes much deeper and has to do with connecting with the body and the soil and a more meaningful way of interacting with the world than out Western civilized lifestyle which, I believe, is very unhealthy for humans.)

Edited by regentrude
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8 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Yep I understand.  It really just sounds like you are physically mentally and emotionally exhausted from caring for others so long and you need someone to care for you for a while and there’s no one stepping up to that 🙁

This is kind of the point of (good) therapy - learning to be the person who cares for yourself with compassion. 

 

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1 hour ago, regentrude said:

Yes, that was definitely part of it. I spent over a year thinking of a solution, working through scenarios, approaching the question of meaning as a logical question for which, if I just think hard enough, there should be an answer. 
I stopped doing that. I found that journaling, the much touted therapeutic tool, was actually toxic and harmful for me, because it made the spiraling thoughts repeat. It was an avoidance mechanism, pure navel gazing without any benefit. I burned my journals and stopped keeping one. For a while, I even stopped writing poetry.
Instead, I engaged physically. Last summer, I worked on a friend's farm a few days a week, hard physical labor, in the heat and sun. No thinking. Just digging, shoveling wheelbarrows full of compost, stuff like that. I hiked. Long, hard hikes. 
Thinking was not helpful. Physical exertion and sun on skin was what got me out of the hole.
(ETA: And I don't think it's something like "exercise makes endorphines". I think the effect goes much deeper and has to do with connecting with the body and the soil and a more meaningful way of interacting with the world than out Western civilized lifestyle which, I believe, is very unhealthy for humans.)

My experience with good therapy is that it's about reconnecting with the body, reflecting on the information the body holds for us - not about retreating into our thoughts aka a kind of disassociation from the body. 

Definitely, many people don't need a therapist to help them do that. But when the disassociation from the body is less habit and more trauma, it can be v helpful to have support through the process of reconnection. 

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2 hours ago, Ditto said:

Can you explain this to me?  I don't quite understand but am very interested.

Well I'm not catholic, so I'm not meaning to be disrespectful to anyone who is. My whole knowledge of nuns is from movies and driving by a couple convents, lol. I'm just saying I have my impressions of what it means to devote time (to worship, to reading, to thoughtfulness, whatever) and I'm just saying she could embrace that. 

1 hour ago, Jenny in Florida said:

I used to love to read, but I haven't been able to focus on reading for pleasure for a while.

Oh dear. You must be very drained. I had that when I was living under the high tension power lines and chronically fatigued. I would just read the Psalms, small amounts (like a few verses). And then I wouldn't really remember what I read, sigh.

I'm not sure if it's dopamine levels or what. It did eventually heal with a lot of good food. 

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