beezselzak's recent activity

  1. Comment on Medication for depression in ~talk

    Link Parent
    I think I am beginning to reach the conclusion that a great deal of my problems originate from having Too Much Responsibility. I have already dropped 1 particularly draining commitment (a job...

    I think I am beginning to reach the conclusion that a great deal of my problems originate from having Too Much Responsibility. I have already dropped 1 particularly draining commitment (a job where I had to be on call basically 24/7) for my last year of college. But I still have another job and literally two majors and a fuck ton of other shit which might be challenging to drop at this point. Looking for other people to help with any sort of club stuff I do. I like helping people and making sure fun events can happen but it's pretty thankless.

    Vacation is a little hard. Wish that could be an actual thing I could do for an extended period of time. I would love to drive across America. I have this week off and then I start my internship & continue my current job, and that combo goes right up until the next semester so I don't really have any time. I convinced my boss to give me a week off in July so I could meet up with some people at this little retreat in the woods. So maybe that will be a good experience for me. I think right now even this little breather is giving me a lot to think about though.

    I occasionally remark to older people that I'm a little burnt out all the time and they always say that I am putting too much pressure on myself and I should drop some responsibility etc. Which is true. But it's also pretty easy for people with established careers to say that kind of thing. I think the last 2 semesters have told me that I have absolutely zero intention to be an overachiever after I graduate: I think this internship could be a good career path for me, and if it is, I am happy to stay right there for a LONG time. But until I have that sort of stability it is a little hard to justify the stuff they say, "omg just relax it'll all work out." Yes yes and I will not know that for sure until it does. :p

    2 votes
  2. Comment on Medication for depression in ~talk

    Link Parent
    I've thought abt that yeah. It's not a compulsive feeling though. Not sure how to explain. Usually it's kinda a chore, I'm just in the habit. I actually forget a lot of the time so I have to...

    I've thought abt that yeah. It's not a compulsive feeling though. Not sure how to explain. Usually it's kinda a chore, I'm just in the habit. I actually forget a lot of the time so I have to estimate a couple days back.

    I don't think of it as particularly different from therapy, it is a map I can use to help navigate my thoughts in the same way that a therapist helps me unravel whatever confused mess of emotions I'm experiencing. If I don't fill it in it's not like I immediately feel worse, I just don't have data that I can use, so it's harder for me to approach a mental problem. The alternative is probing my brain and relying on my interior data set; but I know my brain and it is not trustworthy when emotions are high. I also just can't remember a lot of things.

    Where the mood tracker is kind of neutral/undefined (merely a tool), I would call the gratefulness journal a very positive 'analytic investment'... I think it has an immediate measurable impact on my mood. Really it reminds me that I just can't remember things if I don't write them down or remind myself of them often, except for very deeply internalized emotions. Sometimes this makes me think I have dementia. At the moment I just think I'm a bit of a clutz. An airhead. You know. Or I just have too many things going on in my life.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Medication for depression in ~talk

    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I'm really extra with the journals. My therapists have all said it's unusual for patients to be this data-driven. I agree, but I can't imagine not doing it and expecting to be able to keep track...
    • Exemplary

    I'm really extra with the journals. My therapists have all said it's unusual for patients to be this data-driven. I agree, but I can't imagine not doing it and expecting to be able to keep track of all the different factors that affect my mood. I can keep exactly 4 things in my brain at a time, and 3/4 of those are what I am eating for the day, so I need to write everything else down. I think the journals help a good amount overall. It's become part of my routine to update it before I go to sleep. If nothing else, it provides a record of my life that I can look back on later, for whatever reason.

    Activity/mood tracker spreadsheet

    So I actually have several different trackers for slightly different things. My main one is an idea I got from a friend a while ago (not sure where he got it), to look at each part of my life as a lightbulb that can vary in brightness: it can be off, dim, medium, or bright (I recommend color-coding, as it provides a visual key that you can use to detect trends a little more easily). All the lightbulbs are connected to a fixed power source with a reasonably high but still finite amount of energy. I keep track of it all with a spreadsheet on my computer that I update right before bed. Each row is a new day, and each column is a factor that I think is likely to affect my mood. I have columns for sleep, my academics in school, work/job-related stuff, exercise, my platonic social life, my romantic life, any creative work I'm doing, any media I'm consuming, and a couple other columns for specific extracurricular groups (in previous iterations I had one column for each group, but in my newest spreadsheet, I merged all the school clubs into one column because the way in which that drains energy from me is the same between them). I occasionally write little notes about things that happened during as comments on the appropriate column, just to provide some quick context ("job interview," "started vacation," "got vaccine," etc).

    All of these use the off/dim/medium/bright scale except for sleep, which I record in hours. And lastly, I have a numeric value for the overall day rating (0-10). The scale for that is really subjective, but I usually hover around 7 or 7.5, my baseline for an unremarkable but not sad day (I went with this rather than a baseline of 5/10 because that would feel depressing). Anything higher would have to be actively good in some way; I semi-often get as high as 8.5, rarely 9, almost never above that, though this isn't a hard rule or anything, just how I've felt. I haven't felt like any day has been a 10 yet, but I'm not ruling it out (can think of some days I would retrospectively give that rating). Anything below a 5 is pretty concerning to me, and very concerning if it's for more than a couple days in a row. I haven't gone under 4 since I started tracking it this way; I think anything much less than that is like "danger mode" of mega-depression, like I am actively damaging some part of my life and am probably going through the rounds of actual suicidal ideation/conceivably planning, which I've been fortunate enough to have avoided recently. idk what a 0 would be, maybe getting mauled by a wild animal and becoming paralyzed, and also my house burning down and my cat dying. Or being dead myself, but I'm not sure how I would update the spreadsheet in that case.

    The point of this is to find a correlation between behaviors/activities I do (as well as perceptions I have about myself that day) that affect how I ultimately feel about "the day." There are no limits on how many columns can be labeled "Bright," I just use the "finite amount of energy" thing to reassure myself that it's ok for them to not all be constantly bright at the same time. And judging from the results, that is definitely true. Because I'm a manic, I tend to be happier on days when I am doing more things, but that's not universal by any means.

    There are ways I could improve this spreadsheet. In addition to the columns described above, I have a column that I've labeled "spirit/vitality." In my first iteration of this spreadsheet, it was "happiness," but I found that that was impossibly vague and led to useless data, so I changed it to this and added a separate tally for the day rating. Unfortunately this column is still much too vague to be useful, and the results are too similar to the day rating (which would normally be a sign of a correlation, but in this case it is not helpful). I've decided that next time I update the spreadsheet, I will change it out for more specific columns, probably two of them: 1) energy/awareness/alertness (more outward-focused), and 2) self-confidence/self-appreciation/self-love (more inward-focused). All TBD for sure. I decided I need to break it up in this way (or something similar, I am not 100% convinced these are the perfect categories) because it was possible for me to be relatively low-energy and still happy (depending on certain other parameters), and I think my current setup implies that I need to be very high-energy all the time, which is not true. For example, I can be absolutely fucking EXPLODING with energy and ultra-confident; and I can also be in a very slow, cool mood where I am similarly ultra-confident. Conversely I can be explosively energetic and in a terrible mood (i.e. angry or upset or neurotic or something), or very unenergetic and in a terrible mood (just depressed). I think that by organizing these columns in this way, each variable is suitably divorced from the final output of the day rating that I won't be subconsciously reverse-influenced to describe them in a particular way other than how I'm actually feeling.

    I might merge more columns in the future, or add others (e.g. maybe even more specific mood columns, or multiple rating columns), or update the terminology I use (or even go with an entirely different metaphor, if I think of a better one, though I think this is good for now). It's an ever-changing document.

    Here is a picture of what it looks like:

    Pretty chaotic-looking at a glance, but there's a method to the madness, per the above. I don't provide specific definitions for what NEEDS to happen for a given column to be labeled dim vs. bright. I intentionally keep it vague and just go with my gut feeling. This means that it can occasionally be a little inconsistent, but it's also really flexible and I don't feel too constricted. For example, the "Dim" entries in the "<3" column could be "attractive person was obviously checking me out" just as easily as they could be "went on a date"; and "Medium" could be something as little as "got a snapchat from someone I'm crushing on" if that happened to get me really excited. The key is less the action itself and more how I felt about it in the context of my day; if it really stands out then I usually give it a higher rating. This allows me to properly emphasize "objectively" small things that nevertheless have a big impact on how I feel. The reason I don't go with numeric values for everything is because that ruins the metaphor and makes it harder to fill out. The day rating is already challenging to settle on, I wouldn't be able to be that specific for every little column. Gut feelings are just overall feelings and not so precise, which is why I think they work with the lightbulb thing.

    Not convinced that my day rating scale is quite accurate to how I feel, but I think the important part is that it still lets me see waves of relative happiness/depression.

    Gratefulness journal

    In addition to the lightbulbs, I have a separate spreadsheet where, once a day, I pick 1 or 2 things that happened that day that made me feel good and write them down very briefly. This is my "gratefulness" journal and helps me remember that my life actually isn't complete dogshit garbage all the time. Even on my absolute worst days, I can find something. Examples are:

    • Had a nice conversation with my Lyft driver, John, about Christmas trees and where he was looking to buy a house.
    • My friends complimented my socks when we were hanging out at Greg's house.
    • Sautéed some broccolini today (there was no broccoli). It was good.
    • I felt energetic while lifting this afternoon.
    • Joe Biden was inaugurated as the president today.
    • Had sex with ⸻ and felt very pretty.
    • Given an internship offer for the summer!
    • I found a letter that ⸻ had sent me all the way back in September. I cried when I read it.
    • I'm still alive.

    This journal is important for me personally because I get sad very easily, and having one place where I can go through all these ways in which my life is good helps me from sliding into the abyss. Like, not always, but usually enough that I can still function, or at least am not suicidal.

    I use a spreadsheet rather than a text document so that I don't write very much on any given day (no more than the width of the screen for a single row; it's set to overflow, not wrap), because I intentionally try to pack a lot of good into one space. This way, if I need to be a little cheered up, I am bombarded with a very large array of positive thoughts.

    Kindness journal

    In a similar vein, I keep a spreadsheet for ways in which I am "generous" to others. I can't actually decide on a good title. Maybe "niceness" would be better, idk. It's supposed to be a more outward-focused document. I use the same format as the previous one. Examples:

    • Wished ⸻ a happy birthday.
    • Validated ⸻'s complaints about ⸻ apparently blasting music until 4:30 AM the previous evening (I was asleep).
    • Complimented my friend ⸻ on his newly dyed bright pink hair.
    • Gave some affirmational words to ⸻ in his quest for love.
    • Made many encouraging remarks during beer pong.
    • Smiled at a few of the random people I saw on my walk in the bougie part of town.
    • Admired ⸻'s ability to vape with perfect form.
    • Gave ⸻ a fork with which she could eat her spaghetti.
    • Bought a ton of alcohol for various people.

    It's harder to fill this one out if I've been antisocial all day, but I can usually come up with something to write anyway. If necessary I will say something stupid like "exhaled carbon dioxide from my lungs so my plant wouldn't die." The point is less the actual thing I'm saying and more the mindset that it puts me in. It reminds me that I am very connected to the world I live in and that I can have an actual impact on it.

    Miscellaneous journals

    I also keep a long-form journal on my computer where I will occasionally write out my thoughts. Usually this ends up being a "venting journal." Most of the time I do not write positive things in there, I write in it because I'm stressed or anxious or depressed or whatever. Occasionally, if I am just very excited about something, I will write about it too.

    I've been thinking of making another spreadsheet for venting/complaining, but I'm not sure it would actually be useful in a short format, so I think I'll stick with the word doc.

    I have several other documents where I sorta just write down things in my life, like a journal about particularly vivid memories I have (I only write retrospectively, never day-of, so it's like a natural filter). Or another one where I just write down my reasons for being alive (it's like a bullet-point list), which is maybe somewhat redundant now because I have my gratefulness journal, but whatever.

    I also keep a dream journal that I write in the moment I wake up (if I realize I was dreaming). That one's just funny. Kinda cute sometimes too.

    Hope that helps, happy to elaborate further if needed.

    9 votes
  4. Comment on Medication for depression in ~talk

    Link Parent
    How does that even work? Do you not build up a tolerance?

    How does that even work? Do you not build up a tolerance?

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Medication for depression in ~talk

    Link Parent
    I told my therapist that I was thinking about medication and she said I should talk to a psychiatrist. I guess I will do that soon. It's just weird because I feel like mental diagnoses are so...

    I told my therapist that I was thinking about medication and she said I should talk to a psychiatrist. I guess I will do that soon. It's just weird because I feel like mental diagnoses are so dependent on the story I tell and I have no idea how accurately I'm representing my condition whenever I talk to these people.

    I actually did see a GP in the winter to check if any hormones were screwy. Absolutely fucking perfect lab results. The doc almost sounded disappointed at how unproblematic they were. Utterly bewildering to me. I know something in my brain is not quite right, and this makes me think I'm just conjuring up the problem.

    4 votes
  6. Medication for depression

    Hello my lovelies, I struggle with a moderate amount of anxiety and obsession with self-image, which tend to amalgamate as some kind of depression or other over time. At least I think they do....

    Hello my lovelies,

    I struggle with a moderate amount of anxiety and obsession with self-image, which tend to amalgamate as some kind of depression or other over time. At least I think they do. I've never really been sure if what I experience is actually depression, or if I'm just a Mopey Idiot, or if I have a more acute cognitive issue that I'm not aware of.

    I keep very precise semi-quantitative logs of my mood and behavior every day, and they suggest to me that some of my stress is related to being a little overloaded. I'm working on cutting back on some of that responsibility. But it's also extremely obvious to me that, for quite some time—I think since about early October 2019—I've lacked the physical energy that typically allows me to be consistently happy. There was no one, singular "proximate cause" two years ago, certainly it was none of my actual obligations (at that time I had very little work to speak of). However, I nevertheless very distinctly remember that my energy was suddenly just sapped, and has not come back to the level it was at before. The best theory I have is that it might've been a mini-existential crisis triggered immediately by some books I'd been reading, with a background of relatively more social isolation than usual. There have been specific circumstances since then in which I can be high-energy (and I mean be, not just act like I am), but they are fleeting and rare. The overall background energy of my life has been different.

    In short, I do not really have a solid anchor per se, even as I have many little mini-anchors. I have been floating around for a while as a result.

    At least that has been my working theory for a little while. The persistence of my condition has led me to question whether that theory is useful, or whether there is something fundamentally wrong with my brain. I am Young and Naive so I simply do not know how to tell. The pandemic has made it much more challenging to figure out the root cause of my problems, because I cannot tell if they are just because I can't do the fun activities I like doing in the social environments I like doing them in, or something presumably biochemical.

    Things that each help a little:

    • Getting more sleep
    • Getting more exercise
    • Being good about meditating, or when my therapist is useful (rarely)
    • Being successful (I have a job for the summer and a likely career after I graduate. Knock on wood)
    • Being hot as fuck (I'm not that attractive, but I feel pretty after I exercise, or when I dress nice, or when people compliment my body)

    Things that each help a lot:

    • Having extremely attentive and caring friends
    • Not being around people who constantly drain me
    • Consuming certain substances

    Specifically, the most non-low-energy I've felt in a long time was when I ate some funky little mushrooms with my friend this year. Specifically, after I snapped back to reality (mom's spaghetti). I was just more alert and more able to function properly. My brain operated at its normal capacity; words flowed freely from my mouth in a gorgeous array of sentences; positive banter was at an all-time high; I was positive and optimistic; and so on. You know how you can sort of visualize the ideas popping around and the gears turning when you're sober but just really on top of your social life? Well that's what it was. Unfortunately my ability to be a normal person only lasted like 1 or 2 days from there, and then it was back to the same old.

    This has made me ask the question: might it be prudent to look into some sort of legal medical prescription that would have a similar effect? That is, anti-depressants or like whatever. I'm also open to alternative treatments but I am mainly asking about prescription meds. I just don't know anything about the whole world of medication. I almost never take meds for anything ever, even physical injuries, and I'm afraid that if I start doing medication I'll never be able to stop. The concept of always being medicated is a little scary to me. Like even if it helps, I'm still worried. But I kind of feel like nothing I've done so far has been able to permanently work, so I kind of need to do something.

    I appreciate any thoughts that you can give!!!


    18 votes
  7. How do I get better at expressing vulnerability?

    Hi my lovelies,, I've been having a hard time over the past few weeks because my life is pretty much a never-ending stream of problems and insecurities right now, most of which I cannot resolve...

    Hi my lovelies,,

    I've been having a hard time over the past few weeks because my life is pretty much a never-ending stream of problems and insecurities right now, most of which I cannot resolve for at least a few months. This has led me into a state of intense listlessness and unhappiness. I do not like being unhappy and have Officially Decided that I would like to be happy again. But I think I need some help getting there.

    Moving beyond the basic "I'm terribly lonely in this very unpleasant pandemic" stuff, my main issue is that I actually am not alone at all, at least physically or socially, I am just alone emotionally/spiritually. I live with a bunch of other people my age and certianly have opportunities for interactions (quite a few). I get dinner with some of my very favorite people every week (on Wednesday!!!!) and am kept on at least a slightly consistent social/exercise schedule with some of my other very favorite people every day. My issue is that in most or possibly all of these settings, there is something preventing me from totally relaxing. I can only talk about my surface-level problems, like "oh haha I'm so busy with class ahah lol joke" and not "my deepest darkest insecurities are clawing their way into my brain more intensely every day and I Cannot Stop Them." Its like I keep my little shield up the whole time and don't allow myself to be vulnerable. I suspect there are a few factors going on here:

    • I have several leadership positions, either formally or informally, and actually have a very difficult time not stumbling into them and accepting more responsibility in general. I think I have internalized the stoicism or steadfastness I try to exemplify in those positions, in my everyday life
    • I often (usually?) look like I have my shit together, even when I very much do not. My default way of existing is just pretty relaxed and I think people assume that means I have no stress in my life (false lol)
    • I like it when people think and say Good Things about me and not when they think and say Bad Things about me, and that includes their perceptions of me as someone who has their shit together all the time

    sooo the leadership thing is unfortunate because it means that kind ofa lot of people look up to me as a beacon of stability and idealness. I know this because I have been told it several times by several different people, and it's sort of obvious when people emulate your mannerisms or call you at 2 am because they're drunk and lost and need help. There is exactly a 0% chance that I will do anything other than express my normal "everything is going good" attitude when I am running a meeting or giving a presentation or whatever because doing so would signify "everything isNOT good" and therefore "oh no help where is my beacon of stability beezselzak ahhhhhhh" (we cannot have a crisis at the same time because I must be there to attend to their crisis whenever it happens. Part of the job) And also it would upset my narcissistic tendency toward being perfect always.

    Even when I'm with my friends, who I can be at least moderately normal around, I still find it very difficult to begin talking about anything that is rather Serious because it is much more pleasant to just talk about enjoyable things, and though I see these people on a regular basis, it is not ever for very much time, so I don't want to waste it. I would feel very awkward bringing up serious mental health problems at dinner. And also even though we're close friends there is still a little bit of an expectation to have your life under control? you know how it is. I have 2-3 people who are sort of individual confidants (about specific things), and there are occasions where we can have very insightful conversations. But it's hard because the covid makes getting together unrealistic and I find it very challenging to initiate Serious Conversations over the telephone. And even in person, I still think I have some barriers yet to break with them.

    The end result here is that I am kinda just walkin around every day with a lot of issues and nowhere to exactly put them, and everyone thinks it's all sunshine and roses and I really feed into that perception because it makes me feel good short-term (even though it makes me feel worse long-term). I have a therapist, but you know how that goes. It's not the same as talking to a peer, which is really where I'm stuck. So this is my question to the wise and learned gentlefolk of Tildes:

    How do I shed this annoying habit of trying to be perfect even when it's really not necessary and really not helpful? I know that there's a problem, I just can't give up my leadership positions (at least for now) and am having a hard time giving up my narcissism.

    and yes yes I do therapy and journaling and the mindful meditation and whatever, I am not interested in generic self-help advice. I'm more curious about your rituals, or forms of understanding that are personal to your struggles in regard to being vulnerable with friends, your SO, and people who look up to you. I'd like to learn more about how any of this might resonate with you, and then how you have dealt/would deal with it yourself. Because I am Young And Naive I think I lack most of the experiential knowledge about like, "how to exist," and I want to be able to take your ideas into account. Things that matter, things that really just don't matter, ways to conceptualize the self versus the great vast universe of possibility and collective individuality to ultimately be less concerned with perfection and the like. etc. Also I ought to teach some of these people how to be better at being independent functional humans and that is a little tricky when I am not one myself.


    20 votes
  8. Comment on How'd y'all grow up? in ~life

    I had thoughtful parents and a good social life as a kid, but growing up in the suburbs surrounded by an obscene level of affluence made me internalize a lot of unhealthy ideas about what I needed...

    I had thoughtful parents and a good social life as a kid, but growing up in the suburbs surrounded by an obscene level of affluence made me internalize a lot of unhealthy ideas about what I needed to achieve to be "successful", and what it meant to be happy. I'm still struggling to get over many/most of these.

    My parents were fairly well-off, but not rich -- they just worked very hard to live somewhere with a high-performing school district so that I could have lots of opportunities. I did have a good education, but it was ridiculously stressful even as a public school because there was so much of an expectation to get straight A's, run 7 different clubs, and get into an Ivy League college. The worst part is that it was almost all unspoken. I'd always be told that I could do whatever I wanted in life, but... my parents were very academically successful, and school admins seemed to implicitly look down on any institution that wasn't very selective. My classmates certainly did. We couldn't avoid the fact that no plumber was making enough money to buy the $2.8 million house with the Ferrari at the top of the hill. The elitism was inescapable, and I constantly struggle with these ingrained beliefs, even though I seriously doubt I'll ever be the one in that house. I haven't decided if I want kids, but that would make things much harder. I worry that if I can't get the kind of career I'm searching for, I'd never be able to offer them the financial support they would need to really live good lives -- as good as or better than mine.

    To be less depressing, I also went on many adventures in the woods and outdoors with my friends as a kid. We went camping, hiking, kayaking, white water rafting, biking, and everything else you might expect. I fell in love with nature and the environment. I learned survival skills and the rules of the wilderness. I can say that I learned more about myself wandering around the woods, building fires, or looking at the stars than I ever have sitting at a desk. I want the rest of my life to reflect my appreciation of nature in some way.

    5 votes
  9. Comment on Surviving the winter in ~life

    Link Parent
    I don't know how to explain it. My past is my past, it's not who I am anymore. My current is myself now, it's what I identify with. I remember very little about my childhood, so within this...

    If you don't mind me asking, how have you differentiated your current and past before?

    I don't know how to explain it. My past is my past, it's not who I am anymore. My current is myself now, it's what I identify with. I remember very little about my childhood, so within this mindset there is an inherent disconnect between little me and adult me. I have some memories, but not a lot. Most of what I do remember is because I wrote it down, or my family talks about it. Everyone else seems to remember so much more. My mother can name things that happened to her 40 years ago with near-perfect clarity: what it was like, how she felt, who people were. I know that's a little unusual, but I still feel like I'm so far on the other end of the spectrum. Memories get pretty fuzzy for me much faster, even if they were really important.

    Some of this disconnect is also conscious. I do not like many aspects of my past selves; I am embarrassed, irritated, or resentful of them. As such, I try to avoid them altogether. I have also come to believe that some of it is a byproduct of trying to grow up too quickly, and intentionally allowing myself to forget more of the past.

    So just thinking about my past selves in terms of time, I can break my past into a few sections. They are a little retrospective, but I definitely felt like there was a distinct "turning point" at the time, clear lines that delineated how my life operated before/after.

    Past selves
    • I feel like I have a grasp on the last 2 or 3 years. The way I look at the world, the way I look at myself, ~75% of the kinds of things I do for fun, these are mostly all products of that period. I am close enough to this part of my past that I don't really consider it separate, although early pieces (and, confusingly, a couple recent pieces) of it are starting to chip away.
    • I feel distinct from my high school self, but close enough that we are still kind of in touch. I know and feel that I'm a continuation of that self because I worry and agonize and despair now in the same way I did back then, I just have a little more experience with the world (emphasis on "a little"). I can read my old journal entries and identify with what I was experiencing, even if I don't remember any of it (which I usually don't). All or almost all of my morals originate from this period or later. If this past self and my current self met irl, the past self would probably idolize whatever image my current self projected. My current self would do one of two things: 1) if in a bad mood, snort and ignore my past self's opinion (after maybe giving some condescending advice about how stupid high schoolers are); or 2) if in a good mood, be very mentorlike and tell them it'll get better and they should enjoy their youth and not be so judgy and also go outside more, and talk to that girl who clearly likes you for God's sake, and... So whether they would get along is a bit of a toss-up, but it's still... kinda me.
    • There is a very jarring break at age ~14, which is when I believe I became "self-conscious." Before then, in middle school, I was not capable of real thought. I experienced thoughts as input data, guessed at their meaning, and was fortunate enough to be correct most of the time, but it was mostly just through conditioning, not understanding (or even truly listening). I just said the right things for 14 years kind of by accident. When I explain this to people, they try to tell me that all children are stupid, and they were a stupid child as well. I was not just a stupid child, I was a soulless piece of machine code, pre-programmed to respond to stimuli. I cannot identify with that because there was essentially no identity to compare my current self to. I knew (implicitly) that I existed, that I was an individual, but I was not a person. This is probably my least favorite past self out of the ones listed.
    • There is another break at around age 11 or 12. It was like a miniature version of what I experienced at ~14. I basically realized that I was "on my own," and that I could actually fail at life. Really I was forced to by school, it was not a consensual or pleasant revelation. Before this, I was sheltered and my life was easy.
    • I have no memories before age ~4 and do not consider myself related to that person at all.

    So the way that I can distinguish between my past and current self is based on where a given habit, activity, belief, etc. falls on this timeline. If it has been superseded by a new version of myself then I do not associate with it.

    What is it you feel you can or can't trust?

    Typically: if I remember something, it was real. If I felt good about it, it was me/my identity. That's it. I could trust anything in that category. I knew what I liked and I knew what I didn't like because the world was simple when I was younger; I was never led to dislike something that I did like because of social pressure, or depression, or anxiety, or for absolutely no reason at all. I could actually remember more or less everything that had happened to me life until I was around 11 (I distinctly remember remembering that I had this ability, or specifically I remember getting slightly older and realizing that I couldn't remember everything anymore).

    However, in the past few years, I have felt distrustful of many of my earlier memories. There are inconsistencies that don't line up, I do things that fundamentally don't make sense. I find it easy to lie to myself and believe that something didn't happen, or happened a different way. (I am not a pathological liar though.) I do this constantly whenever I do something I later regret, I try to rewrite it in my own personal history. And usually I can do it successfully?! I only really trust what I've written down, but that's not good, because I only write a couple of things down a day so it's not really representative. And I also have a habit of changing or deleting my old journal entries if they're really bad, just because I can't have that being written down anywhere for someone to find (but also I just don't like looking at it, because I am a terrible narcissist). So then, even the known passes into the unknown.

    Slow descent into madness

    I feel extremely lost because more and more of my memories/identities are sliding into the unknown. I am not sure if I actually like the things I thought I liked, and so I'm not sure which "past self" they should be assigned to. I know I have a certain belief right now, right? Something fairly strong-held. But do I actually have that belief? It originated... semi-recently, it would seem, so I should be quite certain of whether or not I believe it. But I just don't know. It's not that I believed it then and changed my mind (which is my first instinct), it's that I'm not sure if I ever actually believed it in the first place; i.e. I was lying to myself the entire time without even realizing. I am really, really worried that many of my political beliefs in particular were never truly held, that I have been faking it this whole time and I am not actually woke or whatever. But also most of my preferences about hobbies. Do I really not like TV that much? Do I really not enjoy video games anymore? Do I really like partying? Do I really even like what I'm studying? (I seem to like it when I succeed at it and hate it otherwise.) Or am I like, peer pressuring myself into believing that I'm "growing out" of my past selves when in fact I have never truly left them? I don't feel like the past few years have been fake, I think I enjoyed what I was doing a lot. But am I just telling myself that so I don't feel like I've wasted 3 very important years, or however long??

    The scariest one to me is this: do I like my friends? How do I know? Over a long period of time (usually a couple months, as short as a week) I can find myself swaying back and forth 2+ times with whether I really like or detest someone. Being in quarantine makes it easier for this to happen I guess, but it was still an issue in person. I am not bipolar, it's more like I just believe the last thing I was told, so if I hung out with a mutual acquaintance who likes this friend then I will like them more. And if I hang out with someone who doesn't like this friend, then I will start to like them less too. I hate this because it threatens my own individuality, it's like I'm back to that "pre-programmed machine code," responding to inputs and not thinking for myself. It just becomes confusing with friends who have passed in and out of my life, people who I'm not sure I like because I've gone from "I like them" to "I don't really like them" to "no actually I don't mind them at all, I was just in a bad mood" to "this person is going to drive me insane" and then back to "I legitimately do not mind being around them and I am certain of it," etc. This happens with some people I know from high school, but occasionally, also some more recent friends. And it also happens with romantic interests. That is truly terrifying, because I feel like when I have felt something approaching L*ve it should be much closer to the "trustworthy" side of things. I often experience crushes but I think I am less impulsive than my peers about going forward with this stuff. I know you can be misled by your body or whatever but I've really tried to think a lot about my partners beforehand and not jump into anything I don't like. But now I am doubting that entire assumption. I am doubting whether I actually have given it much thought at all. Perhaps I've been misleading myself this whole time and I really did dive into something I wasn't prepared for, and now I'm in a bit of a bind. Maybe I call a romantic interest and it's like we can't really talk, maybe I just got caught up in it all... and then I see them again irl and it's like they're my absolute favorite person in the world, I feel this outpouring of genuine affection and euphoric satisfaction with their presence? And repeat, this back and forth... and it happens all the time!! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Reading @wedgel's comment, and having laid out how my little chart of past selves has apparently stopped working, I am not so sure if there is a distinction between all these selves anymore. Maybe it is all just "me." I am uncertain how to reconcile that with the fact that I really do not fucking like many of my past selves. Maybe I just need to stop being whiny and hold myself accountable for the fact that I used to be a real shithead, but that just feels impossible. Literally, physically impossible. My current self understands what the issue was and has probably thought/read about it to improve. So how do I... atone (?) for something I said, or did, or implied, or thought a long time ago? I do try to own up when I fuck up. But half of this stuff I can't apologize for because I don't even remember it that clearly, or it wasn't anything specific, or I never even vocalized it. Like, I haven't murdered anyone, I was just so flawed, so insecure, such a terrible human... I can say "I used to be a bad person" but what does that even mean? Is that holding myself accountable or is that just saying a bunch of meaningless words? And for the stuff that wasn't objectively bad, that I just didn't like about my old selves, how do I reconcile with that? I hate associating with it, how is it "me" if I hate hate hate it? I don't feel like I hate myself (??) so clearly it must be separate? (Or do I hate myself and I just don't want to admit it?)

    I think besides conquering internal peace, another worthy goal is to find people who you know accept you as who you are.

    How do I even tell? At a certain point, I don't know if I'm putting on a persona or if I'm really being me, so I don't know how they would know they accept me for who I am if they aren't even SEEING the real me! I have a few close friends who I would immediately jump to and say "Yeah, they know me for who I am, right?" but like, do they? Really? I neeeeever open up like this irl, it is just not possible to do it all at once. I do bits and pieces. I don't want to overwhelm my friends. Maybe the real me comes out when I'm absolutely gone (idk, cant remember) and they're okay with that, but I think that's probably still a persona and not the "real me." So I don't know if their existing acceptance is actually acceptance or just acceptance of what they like.

    I guess that is all just what I was talking about before

    I don't know

    I just... wrote a lot of words. Which may or may not have any value. I think I just need to vent sometimes. You don't have to respond if you don't want to, or can't. Possibly all of those questions are completely unanswerable, or have already been answered and I just need to give it time. Although I do welcome continued advice :/ I am a bit of a wreck evidently, more than I thought I was

    5 votes
  10. Comment on Surviving the winter in ~life

    Link Parent
    That makes sense to me. When I get into a bad state it's like I feel terrible about existing, "a pain to love" as you say. I seem to dissociate from my friendships, even my very closest ones,...

    That makes sense to me. When I get into a bad state it's like I feel terrible about existing, "a pain to love" as you say. I seem to dissociate from my friendships, even my very closest ones, asking myself if anyone really likes me, or COULD even like me given how much of an absolute fucking idiot or self-aggrandizing asshole or hopelessly pathetic failure I am, and I just wait for it to all come crashing down. The worst feeling, the worst the worst the worst, is when my mind turns to past or potential relationships and I just want to scream into a pillow for a hundred years and shatter into a thousand pieces and dissolve and be forgotten for the rest of time. I get caught up in this idea that every mistake I've made there just proves more and more that "I can't understand people and they can't understand me," and I'm "incoherent, incompetent, over-bearing" and it was never worth it and will never be worth it and I'll never amount to anything. I think you describe it perfectly there. And of course whenever I do meet someone who makes my heart flutter, or have a good interaction with a friend, I'm taken out of this state for a short while, but it always seems to come back very quickly once I'm not in their company anymore, and now it has new ammunition. It's a very hard situation. I completely feel you.

    3 votes
  11. Comment on Surviving the winter in ~life

    Link Parent
    I also found myself watching reality TV the other day, which is weird because I think it's one of the worst forms of entertainment out there. I had the willpower to stop after an episode or two...

    I catch myself just absorbing useless junk all the time now-a-days, I found myself watching reality TV last night.

    I also found myself watching reality TV the other day, which is weird because I think it's one of the worst forms of entertainment out there. I had the willpower to stop after an episode or two because it was actively making me irritated. I've also noticed myself redownloading some apps I used to have installed 7 or 8 years ago, mostly strange little games that I used to spend a lot of time playing. As I've been inside more and more I've fallen back into a few old habits in general, most of which I am neutral on, but some of which I don't like. Last night I watched someone play a video game on YouTube for like an hour, clearly staged. Somehow I was taken up by the mindlessness of it all. I did enjoy it, in a "haha imagine if I watched this for real haha" sort of way... but it kind of was me watching it for real, because I did find it entertaining. And 10 years ago I probably would have liked that video a lot, but I'm not that person anymore. I feel very little connection to my much younger self in general, so this resurgence of things I used to do is throwing me off a lot. I'm losing my ability to differentiate between my current and past identity. It's possible that not all of these things I'm revisiting are bad, but I have no way to gauge what I can trust.

    It's as though I'm falling down an empty shaft and my body is spinning at a strange angle. A force is pulling me down and taking away a lot of my energy. In a hopeless attempt to regain that energy, I'm grabbing onto all the other objects falling around me, all of which I see at strange angles and in strange lights and moving in strange directions of their own. Every time I make a rotation, I lose some sense of what's happening and it becomes harder to tell what's actually spinning, what's in stasis, what's an object, and what I represent. To some degree it's become unclear if I'm falling or moving laterally, or not moving at all.

    Boredom is an inevitable part of life, and a life without boredom I've learned is a tiresome one. The ability to be able to just not have to think about anything, and exist in that state without extraneous filler or negative thinking is an important one I would like to master.

    That's a remarkable anecdote... and something tells me you're absolutely right, I need to learn how to be bored. I honestly don't think I remember what it's like anymore, anxiety always comes rushing in the moment I'm no longer devoted to a task. I remember my coach telling me something similar a long time ago, although I completely ignored him at the time. I think I was and still am under the impression that time is running out and I need to do and learn as many things as I possibly can as fast as I possibly can, and that means being hooked in or doing something at least slightly productive all the time. I have not escaped this mindset in the slightest. Every day I wake up and immediately feel anxious because I have a list of tasks I need to complete, books I need to read, things I need to listen to, etc. I'm not sure what the end goal is. Maybe it's to become the Perfect Person, one who has absorbed so much information that I can talk about anything at any time, and has done so many things that I can see every perspective and can solve every problem. It's like a terrible completionist mindset, but for my actual life, not a video game. I am not exactly sure how I can drop this mindset because it feels like it's baked into my existence. School costs so much and I feel like I need to spend every moment making use of my time so that I haven't wasted anything. And I feel like my career path has so much of an expectation to know how to do everything, everything, everything, so if I'm "bored" then I'm doing something wrong. I don't know if I can get out of it?!

    7 votes
  12. Surviving the winter

    When I was a child I never seemed to mind the winter, but in the past two or three years it's become exponentially harder for me to live through the cold and dark. I'm dreading the next few...

    When I was a child I never seemed to mind the winter, but in the past two or three years it's become exponentially harder for me to live through the cold and dark. I'm dreading the next few months.

    The lockdowns in March and April were pretty agonizing because I had too many responsibilities but suddenly none of the support systems I had built up in my friend groups. I got through that because it was slowly getting warmer and I could just go on a walk if I needed space. But it's started snowing this week and I don't know how well I'm going to manage for the rest of the season, with it getting dark at 4 PM and seeing so few people. I get caught up in my own head in these destructive patterns of anxiety about past friendships and relationships and obligations that are very hard to escape from around this time of year. I have a lot of hobbies but I can't do most of them right now, so I kind of just end of staring at the wall or my phone for half the day, feeling bad that I screwed up a relationship or said something weird 6 months ago or whatever. On repeat for every day. I have some friends in the area who I like a lot, but I'm a little scared to leave my house from what I hear about the virus on the internet. I've been trying to do phone calls sometimes but they kinda just burn me out and make me feel worse.

    I'm wondering if anyone else has a recurring problem with the winter like I do. I'm not sure if this is a normal thing and I'm just naive and haven't figured it out, or if most people are automatically as happy in the winter as they are in the summer. I've brought this up sometimes with people irl and they say "haha yeah I have seasonal depression too," but they mostly seem to just not like the cold (?), it's not the issue of banal-yet-existential dread and torturous self-probing that I can't avoid. I have a very sweet cat who will keep me company, and she's a good listener, but she doesn't talk a lot and she's hiding in another dimension half the time anyway. I journal and meditate every night, and that helps a little, but I really mostly rely on being able to go to pretty places to keep myself happy, and it's hard to do that when they're all closed or when it's too cold to be outside for a long time. If people have any thoughts or experiences I would love to read them.

    thank you xoxo

    19 votes
  13. Comment on How it feels like to think about my own death about once a day in ~talk

    (edited )
    I'm sorry that you've had to go through this process for so long. It's tough. And I feel you. I wouldn't describe myself as actively suicidal (at least not right now), but I am a perfectionist,...
    • Exemplary

    I'm sorry that you've had to go through this process for so long. It's tough. And I feel you. I wouldn't describe myself as actively suicidal (at least not right now), but I am a perfectionist, and that quality extends to every aspect of my life such that suicidal ideation becomes a regular—if restrained—thought in my mind. When I encounter a problem, even a minor one, I instinctively think of it like an attempt at a perfect run in a video game. Anything goes wrong? End it. Start over. It's not worth finishing. My boss is a little irritated with me? My entire career is done for, may as well prepare for being homeless. Said something weird in a conversation? Welp, all my friendships are doomed, no point in socializing ever again. You know the stuff.

    As much as I value what my brain can do for me, I resent that it leads me down these paths. I often lean into the abyss when I feel this way, wishing for a death that would raise me up above everyone else. (This would happen daily, if not more often, when I was younger. It still happens a lot.) A martyrdom, maybe. Something that would make everyone else feel sorry for my absence, for not talking to me enough, for not having loved me more, for never having apologized. It's a cruel desire, but to a moderately narcissistic person like myself, hanging out near the abyss feels really good. "Woe is me!" Feeling bad for other people is awkward. Other people feeling bad for me is embarrassing. But me feeling bad for me is something totally different. I get all the benefits of attention and none of the drawbacks of public humiliation, because I can come up with my own fantasy about what happens afterward. A grand, tearful, and reverent funeral, my name in the history books, my legacy not only preserved but bolstered by my premature death. "My life is the only thing that matters," negative though the context may be. I rarely seek this feeling out, but I've allowed it to take hold of me too many times and for too long once I've felt an inkling of darkness. The path of least resistance, no?

    I practice mindfulness and just generally try to live in the moment, enjoy the little things in life, and express my gratitude for what I do have. That helps a little. But the only thing that stops me from feeling this way is not having problems in the first place, which is obviously not realistic. I want to be flawless. This desire to fix my weaknesses—not to capitalize on my strengths—defines my personal motivation. But it's a deathtrap, because it focuses my attention solely on what I can't do, not what I can already do well. I have a lot of talents, my brain just likes to pretend otherwise. And I can say from the bottom of my heart that this is true for every person in the world. I have never met a person who is incapable of extricating the good from the bad in themselves, and prioritizing the former. You do need a little bit of a kick sometimes, though. For me it's therapy and a lot of hobbies. For others it may be a piece of media, or a pet, or a really good friend. Something to remind yourself that the world is not a place of darkness.

    Life is a beautiful thing. I take solace in the meaning I find in art, the good times I've had (and continue to have) with my family, the more resilient friendships in my life, the visual aesthetics of the world around me, the physical pleasures of the human condition, and the goodness I've tried to spread in other people's lives. I'd never feel sad if I were dead, sure, but I'd also never be able to experience all of these wonderful things either. That's what keeps me going.

    7 votes