Author Topic: The Mental Health Thread  (Read 5952 times)

apl68

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #150 on: October 15, 2020, 08:41:23 AM »
I suggest we return to the topic of mental health. We can have a more in-depth theological discussion in a separate thread.

I see where you’re coming from, but I think it is related.

The original questions had to do with trying to scare someone into holding back from suicide with talk of suffering in the afterlife.

It lead to further discussion of whether someone’s most vulnerable time is an appropriate time to talk to them about converting to a different religion. It happens a lot.

People can be well-meaning and not realize how some of the things they are saying may come across.

I was trying to convey why someone might be resistant

But I’ll stop making long posts about this.

Mutual misunderstanding is a very common, human thing.  That's why it's good to have conversations to talk these things out and try to clarify the misunderstandings.  It's one reason why I'm glad to take part in the conversations.  Doing so through this awkward online message board medium does make it awfully awkward, though.

It is true that the New Testament message contains a great deal that is unsettling.  Jesus said that all human beings stand in need of salvation, regardless of how good they think they are (His greatest detractors were the super-orthodox believers of his day who thought that they had earned their own salvation), that their beliefs in other things and in their own efforts can't save them, and that he himself was the way to life.  It's an inherently offensive message.  Those who were offended by it put Jesus to death for it.  Many of his followers experienced the same thing.  Some still do in some parts of the world to this day.

I could try sugar coating it, but I just don't believe that uncongenial truths about God can be ignored or wished away, any more than they can about race relations, or the pandemic, or global climate change.  There are realities that have to be faced if they are to be dealt with.

I wish I could make the message less hard to deal with.  Just as I wish I could reassure people that we don't have race problems and injustices in our country, or a pandemic we've failed to nip in the bud, or a human-caused global climate catastrophe.  None of these situations is hopeless IF human beings are prepared to face up to them.  But we have to face up to them.  Not doing so, for whatever reason, is not constructive. 

I have a lot more that I could say to address the other issues that you have raised, smallcleanrat.  But Parasaurolophus has a point about this developing into a thread drift. 

You have indicated that you have studied the New Testament and are not prepared to accept what it says.  I can't change your mind for you.  Perhaps the time will come when you are ready to do so.  In the meantime, I just want to say that God loves you, and wishes for you to be reconciled to him through Jesus.  I also love you, and wish you all the best.  Please take care of yourself.  You have a lot of people here who shown that they care about you.

the_geneticist

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #151 on: October 15, 2020, 09:48:06 AM »
I do hope everyone on this thread finds what they need. I'll be taking another mental health journey starting this week myself--weekly tele-health calls to a counselor that I clicked with last year. And I'll be talking about anti-anxiety meds with my doctor.

Welcome little bongo.  I'm sorry that you're having a rough time right now.  Finding a good counselor is a great step.  I know I've had a LOT of trouble finding one that I clicked with too.  I hope that your doctor gives you some good options to pick from. 

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #152 on: October 15, 2020, 11:43:10 AM »
Mutual misunderstanding is a very common, human thing.  That's why it's good to have conversations to talk these things out and try to clarify the misunderstandings.  It's one reason why I'm glad to take part in the conversations.  Doing so through this awkward online message board medium does make it awfully awkward, though.
.......................
I could try sugar coating it, but I just don't believe that uncongenial truths about God can be ignored or wished away, any more than they can about race relations, or the pandemic, or global climate change.  There are realities that have to be faced if they are to be dealt with.

I wish I could make the message less hard to deal with.  Just as I wish I could reassure people that we don't have race problems and injustices in our country, or a pandemic we've failed to nip in the bud, or a human-caused global climate catastrophe.  None of these situations is hopeless IF human beings are prepared to face up to them.  But we have to face up to them.  Not doing so, for whatever reason, is not constructive. 

I have a lot more that I could say to address the other issues that you have raised, smallcleanrat.  But Parasaurolophus has a point about this developing into a thread drift. 

You have indicated that you have studied the New Testament and are not prepared to accept what it says.  I can't change your mind for you.  Perhaps the time will come when you are ready to do so.  In the meantime, I just want to say that God loves you, and wishes for you to be reconciled to him through Jesus.  I also love you, and wish you all the best.  Please take care of yourself.  You have a lot of people here who shown that they care about you.

Thanks for your response, apl68. If you want to share further thoughts on this through PM, I'm happy to read them.

I'm used to being shut down or ignored in these type of conversations, so I suppose I had a lot of thoughts built up. I wasn't so much concerned about the details of theology, as I had no expectation either of us would change our minds on this through a few forum posts.

I really wanted to get across how two people might feel very differently about the same concept. I wasn't sure if you were acknowledging my main point that, regardless of intention, your message may come across as telling someone if they do not abandon some of their most fundamental beliefs and core values, then they deserve whatever nasty consequences they get. If someone is already struggling with self-esteem and sense of identity, this can be extremely hurtful.

I do want to get out a few thoughts on the topic of invalidation (which *is* mental health-related) from people who mean well. It's something I've even been coming up against a lot, even in therapy. There are elements of our exchange on this thread that are illustrative.

1) Discounting someone else's experiences if they came to opinions different from yours. I get where this comes from; if something helped you tremendously and you think it will help someone else, you really want to urge them to give it a good try. I've been dealing with this from family a lot; suggestions ranging from acupuncture to crystal healing. It's the refusal to accept a response like, "Thanks, but I've looked into it. I've tried it. It's not for me." They assume I didn't *really* try or whatever I tried before was a substandard representation. Nothing I say seems to matter.

It's why I got kind of frustrated when you kept suggesting I read the New Testament after I already said I had. How many iterations must I go through before someone accepts I've had enough experience to make an informed choice for myself?

2) Saying you did not *intend* to [....] without acknowledging the other person might have had a valid reason for feeling the way they do. The implication seems to be, if you did not *intend* to hurt someone, then they should not feel hurt; essentially saying "you took it the wrong way."

I was getting this response from people who had seemed indifferent to my safety when I was in crisis and needed support. "There was no ill intent." So? Whatever their *intent* was, it was their actions (or lack thereof) that had hurt me.

3) Different base assumptions. This is an issue I have really had trouble with in therapy. The treatment programs I have been in want everyone to start with assumptions like, "It is always better to choose to live." I really don't feel confident in accepting that "always". Other assumptions I'm supposed to adopt (depends on the therapist): "Everything happens for a reason." or "Every person has intrinsic value." (I'm not really sure what this even means).

Problem with assumptions is that there is no expectation that they need to be explained. Which leaves me stuck. One case manager said, "I'm not going to get into a philosophical discussion with you."

But these are questions about what constitutes a life worth living? What constitutes a life well-lived? What value are we talking about when we say "intrinsic human value." What are these if not philosophical questions?

I'm not trying to be difficult by being contrary; I just don't know how to buy into an assumption that does not currently ring true to me if no one's going to discuss how to arrive at such beliefs.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2020, 11:53:23 AM by smallcleanrat »

the_geneticist

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #153 on: October 15, 2020, 12:08:37 PM »
Hey smallcleanrat,
Have you read this cartoon/blog by Allie Brosh?  It's not advice or a cure, but it's the best depiction I've seen of what I felt like with depression.  I remember reading and going "OMG, this is what it's like".  I used it to explain to well-meaning, but clueless therapists/doctors what my world was like.  No idea if it's the same for you, but I figured I'd post it for folks.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

apl68

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #154 on: October 15, 2020, 12:26:09 PM »
Hey smallcleanrat,
Have you read this cartoon/blog by Allie Brosh?  It's not advice or a cure, but it's the best depiction I've seen of what I felt like with depression.  I remember reading and going "OMG, this is what it's like".  I used it to explain to well-meaning, but clueless therapists/doctors what my world was like.  No idea if it's the same for you, but I figured I'd post it for folks.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

Most of it rings pretty true, all right.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #155 on: October 15, 2020, 09:21:33 PM »
Thanks, the_geneticist. I was familiar with the comic but it had been a while since last reading so it was good to see it again. I’d put this up there with the Spoon Metaphor essay. I’ve been thinking of trying to learn some basic drawing/design skills so I can use visuals when sorting my thoughts.

This is what makes a lot of self-help guides frustrating. It’s not that the advice is terrible per se. it’s just alienating when people don’t realize that something that might help a non-depressed or mildly depressed person cope may be completely ineffective with severe depression.

Someone might say, “Take an afternoon to do something you enjoy.” not comprehending what life is like with anhedonia. They mistake cause and effect. “Well, you spend so much time lying in bed. Of course you’ll feel depressed if you hardly do anything.”

Speaking of invalidation, an old friend and I have been keeping in touch through text. He also struggles with suicidality and we have been leaning on each other when we need an outlet. Yesterday, as he was sharing some of his latest depressive thoughts he told me he sometimes gets angry when I mention my own suicidal thoughts. His reason is that he thinks I have a good life and have been able to progress in ways he has not (“You’re in grad school; I never even finished college.”) He told me about financial troubles, chronic underemployment, relationship woes, lack of friends and no future prospects. “I have real reasons to want to kill myself. I don’t know why you feel suicidal. You have more than I ever will.”

He’s been messaging again today,  wanting to share more about what’s been going wrong in his life lately. I haven’t responded yet because I’m still pretty stung by what he said. I don’t feel like i can confide in him anymore knowing he might secretly be feeling contempt while feigning empathy. I haven’t decided how to proceed from here.

Hegemony

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #156 on: October 16, 2020, 03:37:33 AM »
I think the fallacy of that kind of thinking is "If you'd only just make the attempt to appreciate your good fortune, you wouldn't be depressed." I mean, it's true that outlook is a factor; I'm sure we can all think of grumpy people who manage to find something wrong with even the most idyllic of scenarios. But changing one's outlook is not like flipping a switch, and the idea that outlook is the only factor or the key factor is that same old attitude of "Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps!  It's your own fault if you don't!"  In a way, depression could be defined as what you have when attempting to pull yourself up by your bootstraps does not work. I'm also a fan of Johann Hari's book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, which, in my view, makes a persuasive case that depression is not failure of self-will, and not weird incomprehensible brain chemistry, but a natural reaction to very real conditions, conditions which cannot be changed merely by plastering on a smile and changing one's mindset. That's true even if one has a PhD and a job and friends and all that. In fact, it's easy to get stuck in self-blame: "I have all these riches and still I don't feel okay!  Something must be really wrong with me." And in fact (in my view) something is wrong, but it's not your, or anyone's fault, and it's not something wrong with you. (He does go on to explain what he thinks is behind it all, and it's thought-provoking and does allow for changing one's conditions, but it takes more than a paragraph to explain.)

But how distressing to find out that your friend has these thoughts. I hope you can find out a little bit more, that will let you know if he will still make a reliable confidante, but without adding to your unhappiness.

little bongo

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #157 on: October 16, 2020, 07:19:16 AM »
I do hope everyone on this thread finds what they need. I'll be taking another mental health journey starting this week myself--weekly tele-health calls to a counselor that I clicked with last year. And I'll be talking about anti-anxiety meds with my doctor.

Welcome little bongo.  I'm sorry that you're having a rough time right now.  Finding a good counselor is a great step.  I know I've had a LOT of trouble finding one that I clicked with too.  I hope that your doctor gives you some good options to pick from.

Thanks, the_geneticist. One of our work insurance plans allows us four free sessions with a counselor of some kind, and then it wasn't financially feasible for a while for me to see this counselor. As of now, we're taking advantage of "tele-health," where our insurance picks up the copay in order to encourage using the phone or a computer set-up. So for the time being, at least, this seems like a good plan. I'll be seeing my G.P. a week from today to see about anti-depressants and how that might work out (this would be my first time trying meds as part of the solution).

I've told my long and Incredibly Fascinating story on the old fora in a thread I started about our foster-to-adopt family--I'll probably tell it again one of these days. But the short version of why there's a hard time right now... I guess it would be, in no particular order: the kids, the marriage, possible retrenchment or furlough at work, and my not-very-manageable responses to all of that (not to mention that hard time I'm consequently giving my family). It's not the best.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #158 on: October 17, 2020, 10:10:03 AM »
I've told my long and Incredibly Fascinating story on the old fora in a thread I started about our foster-to-adopt family--I'll probably tell it again one of these days. But the short version of why there's a hard time right now... I guess it would be, in no particular order: the kids, the marriage, possible retrenchment or furlough at work, and my not-very-manageable responses to all of that (not to mention that hard time I'm consequently giving my family). It's not the best.

Hello, little bongo. Sorry to hear you are dealing with such a difficult situation. Hope you find good support from your treatment providers.

But how distressing to find out that your friend has these thoughts. I hope you can find out a little bit more, that will let you know if he will still make a reliable confidante, but without adding to your unhappiness.

This friend is causing quite a bit of distress at moment. Got a message from him saying he had spent the morning planning how to kill himself (shared some detail). For the next hour I sent message after message through text and phone trying to get a status check with no response. I had no idea where he had messaged from so I wasn’t sure how I could get help for him. Was 2 seconds away from hitting send on an email to my psychiatrist asking him for emergency advice when friend finally responds with “Oh, I was in class. Sorry. I’m fine. Too much of a coward and have too much debt to actually kill myself.”

*sigh*

I’ve got about a half dozen new messages from him wanting to vent more of his thoughts, saying he has no one else to talk to. Eh... And this is so soon after telling me he gets angry when hearing about my depressive thoughts because apparently I don’t have real problems like he does. Trying not to let that interfere with being supportive, but I feel really tired and don’t know what to say to him.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #159 on: October 18, 2020, 04:47:32 PM »
So...how do you deal with the feeling of being surrounded by people who don't care whether you're alive or dead?

I had some issues with intense anxiety when I started to get back into labwork this summer. It's not as bad now as it was a couple of months ago, but the tension and discomfort is still there.

I have been trying to work on this in therapy but, due to insurance complications and other factors, I haven't been able to speak much with the therapist for the past month.

Despite all attempts at communicating openly and clearly with PI and labmates, I still believe I could have a medical or psychiatric emergency and not receive help, even if surrounded by people. Too many experiences of assurances failing to turn into actions.

Example (mentioned in another thread): I talked to my PI about moving a few items that I knew would be a safety issue for me if they were in plain sight and too easy for me to access. I made it explicitly clear that seeing the items can trigger or increase suicidal thoughts and urges, and that impulses could lead to actions. He said it was no problem, but nothing happened until six weeks (and two reminders) after the initial request. So for weeks I was in a state of pretty high distress; I couldn't understand why I hadn't been taken seriously. I had to expend a significant amount of cognitive effort silencing the part of my brain telling me he left everything out deliberately because he *wanted* me to kill myself.

Whenever I confront someone about things like this, I keep hearing, "It's not that I don't care. I just didn't think about it." And I still haven't figured out how to wrap my head around that message.

polly_mer

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #160 on: October 19, 2020, 05:03:42 AM »
So...how do you deal with the feeling of being surrounded by people who don't care whether you're alive or dead?

Believe it when people show you that they flat out don't care and then act on that belief to get out of that situation and into one where people do care and want you to live.

You need to prioritize you and that probably means taking a leave of absence from the PI's group at this point.  You need to be with people who will prioritize your needs at the level of being met instead of still focusing on their own todo lists.

Quote
Example (mentioned in another thread): I talked to my PI about moving a few items that I knew would be a safety issue for me if they were in plain sight and too easy for me to access. I made it explicitly clear that seeing the items can trigger or increase suicidal thoughts and urges, and that impulses could lead to actions. He said it was no problem, but nothing happened until six weeks (and two reminders) after the initial request. So for weeks I was in a state of pretty high distress; I couldn't understand why I hadn't been taken seriously. I had to expend a significant amount of cognitive effort silencing the part of my brain telling me he left everything out deliberately because he *wanted* me to kill myself.

Your PI does not want you to kill yourself.  However, he doesn't care as much about you as you need at this point. 

For you, having the items in visible range is an emergency that should be corrected immediately. While your distress is real, it's not visible to others who are focused on their own thoughts and emotions.

While the PI is not malicious towards you, your needs are just one more thing on his todo list.  Thus, while you were in a state of emergency for six weeks, the external reality for the PI is you didn't commit suicide or even need to be taken to urgent care.  Ignoring your needs had no consequences for the PI and he will continue to prioritize other things over you.

I just came from the relationship thread.  This is a situation where your primary power is to leave (at least temporarily) to spend more time with people who do care about wonderful, special you so you can be confident you will get the support you need during this difficult time.
Do whatever you want--I'm just the background dancer in your show!

polly_mer

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #161 on: October 19, 2020, 05:11:01 AM »
You, smallcleanrat, matter.

You, smallcleanrat, are worthy of attention.

You, smallcleanrat, deserve to focus on yourself and get yourself the medical care you need.

I’ve got about a half dozen new messages from him wanting to vent more of his thoughts, saying he has no one else to talk to. Eh... And this is so soon after telling me he gets angry when hearing about my depressive thoughts because apparently I don’t have real problems like he does. Trying not to let that interfere with being supportive, but I feel really tired and don’t know what to say to him.

Don't say anything to him.  You need to prioritize yourself at this point and let this guy draw on other members of his support team.  He is an adult with access to counselors and other professionals as well as family and friends.

You have my official permission to just ignore this guy and prioritize you.  You are much higher priority than this guy.

Put your valuable time and energy into getting the help you need.
Do whatever you want--I'm just the background dancer in your show!

Volhiker78

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #162 on: October 19, 2020, 07:51:00 AM »
Totally agree with Polly_Mer’s last two messages. 

little bongo

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #163 on: October 19, 2020, 09:45:34 AM »
Thanks, smallcleanrat--I appreciate the good wishes and I hope things can turn your way as well. I also agree with Polly_Mer's messages.

2nd tele-health meeting will happen tomorrow; meeting with G.P will happen Friday. I will either be officially retrenched or not at the end of the month.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #164 on: October 20, 2020, 07:16:10 PM »
Thanks so much for the kind words, polly_mer, Volhiker78, and little bongo.

I've been struggling to figure out if the problem was my expectations. Maybe it's not reasonable to expect people to be responsive to this sort of thing.

Regarding stepping away: if I distanced myself from everyone who has acted this way towards me, I'm not sure who would be left. It would include my parents and my partner. I don't think I would last long with that level of isolation. I'm working towards being able to function more independently, but I'm not there yet.