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  • Showing only topics with the tag "mental health". Back to normal view
    1. I'm stuck in an endless loop

      For several years now (4-5-ish, but hard to pin down when it started), I have been stuck in a cycle of enervation/depression. I don't really like to use the word 'depression' to describe this,...

      For several years now (4-5-ish, but hard to pin down when it started), I have been stuck in a cycle of enervation/depression. I don't really like to use the word 'depression' to describe this, because in my youth (I'm in my early 50s now), I suffered from serious bouts of extreme depression, and by comparison, this is a walk in the park ... so I've gotten into the habit of colloquially referring to is as "ennui".

      The duration varies (a lot), but the cycle is most often roughly 7-14 days long, where 60-70% of the time, my energy, motivation, my ability to focus on and accomplish tasks ... all goes into the toilet, and I spend most of my day reading news, surfing the 'Net, playing video games, watching re-runs, walking about town with my dog, or even just sleeping. The other 30-40% of my time, I feel good -- clear-headed, focused, motivated and energized -- and I spend most of this time catching up on all the stuff I neglected during the ennui phase, and making Grand Plans for the future.

      It is hard to tell, objectively, whether I am getting better, worse, or just treading water ... in part, because the cycle varies enough that it's hard to see any clear trends over anything less than 6-8 month time frame ... but more so because my ability to objectively assess my status is so colored by the cycle itself ... when I am in one of my ennui phases, it feels like I am getting worse or, at best, maintaining. When I am in the manic-ish phase, I feel like I will never feel unmotivated again, and I must often remind myself that it is temporary, and in another day or 3, I will be back in a funk. As objectively as I can be, however, I think I am actually treading water or, possibly, getting gradually worse at a very glacial pace.

      I know the "up" phase of my cycle sounds a lot like the manic- part of a manic-depressive bipolar thing. Maybe it is; as I said, it is hard to be objective. That said, though, I am really, really confident that, prior to the beginning of this, ~5-ish years ago ... that "manic" phase was my normal state of mind. I used to be a very focused, productive individual.

      So ... I've tried many different things to address this. Assorted doctor visits have mostly concluded that either they don't know what the problem is, and/or, I'm exaggerating/imagining it (no doctor has explicitly said this -- it is my interpretation of "we can't find anything wrong with you"). I've tried increased exercise, more time outdoors, more sleep, less sleep, meditation, a wide variety of changes in diet, vitamins/minerals/supplements, etc. I've lost over 40 lbs. I'm currently trying (for a 2nd time) large daily doses of turmeric, and contemplating trying (also for a 2nd time) a round of tDCS self-treatment.

      For context, I am right now on an upswing, coming out of my latest "ennui" phase and feeling optimistic and productive.


      I should also add that I have another issue ... one that I believe is unrelated, but sounds similar when I describe it. This dates back to about 15-16 years ago, and is another thing I have seen many doctors for, and tried various things to remedy. In a nutshell, about 15 years ago, I got dumber. Prior to that, my ability to learn and remember, my executive functions, my ability to deduce, my ability to focus and prioritize and plan ... were all much better.

      Over the course of 12-18 months, I lost a lot of my mental functions. For anyone who has read it, it felt a lot like the tail-end of the book "Flowers For Algernon". The simplest quantifiable example I can give of this is the notion of ... how many things are on your mental shopping list (stuff you need to get at the grocery store) before you realize you better write it down? For me, prior to this loss, my magic "I'm gonna forget stuff if I don't write it down" number was around 12-13 items, that I could fairly confidently remember. Afterwards, that number dropped to around 3.

      At that time, my doctor found a (benign) lump in my throat (a goiter), and ultimately, they removed half of my thyroid. After they removed it, over the course of 6-12 months, my mental faculties improved again, but I feel to this day, that they never returned to anything close to what they were before. My mental "shopping list" number today is around 5.

      Multiple tests since then have repeatedly confirmed that my half-of-a-thyroid is fully getting the job done, and I do not need any kind of supplemental hormone treatment -- with the possible exception of testosterone (ps: I'm a guy), which I tried for a little while -- and dammit, it helped, too -- but then I freaked out and quit once I started reading about side-effects.


      I am writing this explicitly looking for suggestions and advice. Keep in mind, though, that (I'm guessing here), 80-90% of my responses will be "already tried it, didn't help".

      In advance, danke y gracias.

      16 votes
    2. What happened to those mental health threads?

      I think those could be real useful especially now. Sometimes I want to share related stuff but they would not warrant a full thread . It’s possible that they never existed and I’m delusional. In...

      I think those could be real useful especially now. Sometimes I want to share related stuff but they would not warrant a full thread .

      It’s possible that they never existed and I’m delusional. In which case, I think they should be a thing.

      9 votes
    3. Anyone else diagnosed with depression? I need others to talk to

      Hello, So I've been officially diagnosed with depression a few years ago. I am on medication for it and I've done therapy in the past. I am a more functional person than I was, let's say, one year...

      Hello,

      So I've been officially diagnosed with depression a few years ago. I am on medication for it and I've done therapy in the past. I am a more functional person than I was, let's say, one year ago as I've adjusted my medication.

      However there is something that is SEVERELY affecting my quality of life and that is the generalized lack of interest or extreme difficulty in doing almost anything. Yes I've talked with my doctor about this. It's "normal" and we are working on it.

      I don't know many people and COVID-19 took a hit on my already limited social life. So I guess I want to share my experience and hear from others who experience(ed) the same difficulties. When you are trapped in not wanting to do anything, what the hell do you do?

      Recently I've started reading a physical book again. I think it is a good thing for me to have something to do that does not involve a screen. Plus it makes me sleepy if I am a bit tired which, for me personally, is great. Aside from this next experiment, the activities I do the most are playing one or two video games, study for my degree and work part-time.

      Another thing I've started doing is doing the bare minimum in terms of physical exercise. I am working on doing pull-ups (I went from doing 0 to 1,5 =) ) and doing some squats. School and work rob me of a lot of energy so I tend not to exercise. But now I'm trying to at least do something.

      I will try to keep up with this post but I have a tendency to procrastinate on them if I get a lot of replies. Thanks for bearing with me =).

      32 votes
    4. Coronavirus isolation affects your brain — a neuroscientist explains how, and what to do about it

      Social media makes it possible for us socialise far and wide. Reach out to friends online, call your parents, and learn how to practice mindfulness or meditation. Head to the backyard for a dose...
      1. Social media makes it possible for us socialise far and wide. Reach out to friends online, call your parents, and learn how to practice mindfulness or meditation.

      2. Head to the backyard for a dose of nature, or if you're in an apartment with no nature to gaze at, be sure to get to a green space for your exercise.

      3. To help improve your sleep, try sticking to a routine and avoid screen time for at least an hour before bed. And lay off the alcohol – it reduces the quality of your sleep.

      4. Just 10 minutes of exercise may improve our attention for the following two to four hours, so if you're struggling to focus, get that blood pumping.

      5. Give your isolation brain a boost by laying off the high-sugar or high-fat treats. Have healthy snacks on hand instead, like fruit, vegetables and nuts.

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2020-05-08/neuroscience-of-isolation-coronavirus-pandemic/12200144

      6 votes
    5. I'm meta-anxious about coronavirus and the panic it's inducing

      I'm usually the least anxious person among all the people I know, even when shit is hitting the fan. I practically revel in hardships for the problem solving. But, what is freaking me out right...

      I'm usually the least anxious person among all the people I know, even when shit is hitting the fan. I practically revel in hardships for the problem solving.

      But, what is freaking me out right now is this mass panic. It started off as a joke but now it's real, people are literally selling toilet paper on craigslist of whatever. Maybe it's still a joke, I don't know. But mass hoarding of important goods seems to be causing disruptions already, from a lack of toilet paper to a shortage of surgical masks for medical professionals.

      I would like to ask the community here what they think about this and how they expect things to go on. Are we going to have a second-order crisis in supply shortages? Are shipping route delays going to hit us on top of the local supply shortages? Because right now it's feeling apocalyptic, and I'm struggling between not acting like a selfish hoarder but also making sure I can get through this.

      EDIT: Toilet paper is just a prominent example, not my primary concern (we have plenty still). I'm more concerned about e.g. pharmacy goods and produce, since where I live literally 95% of our produce is imported.

      EDIT 2: This article articulates what is on my mind much better: An Infectious Diseases Specialist Reflects on COVID-19

      26 votes
    6. What are your mental health upkeep habits/lifestyle?

      I've seen a few posts about sharing issues, but I don't think anything about habits. I'm former "quantitative-self" hobbyist (if you want to call it that), keener and have a side interest in...

      I've seen a few posts about sharing issues, but I don't think anything about habits. I'm former "quantitative-self" hobbyist (if you want to call it that), keener and have a side interest in psychiatry. So in my personal life I'm very active and serious about my own short and long-term mental health. I'm wondering if anyone shares my habits or has others I have not considered. I wont link any literature because there is a lot out there to support most of these habits and I can't make this exhaustive (but I'm happy to help find specific resources).

      Morning quiet time. I wake up early and spend about an hour drinking tea, looking outside and reading. The major benefit here is it gives me a buffer before the start of the day. I used to get up and rush out of the door - I would be stressed from the start and wouldn't have an idea of how to go about my day effectively.

      Reading fiction. I used to read a lot more non-fiction (pop sci and "self-help") but I found with fiction (and also biographies) not only is it generally easier content to process, but the narratives can be therapeutic. There is something about getting exposed to other peoples thought processes (real or not) and overcoming of challenges that can be comforting or inspiring when facing your own.

      Aerobic exercise. And also anything exhaustive - as in you gave it all of your energy. The general health benefits are obviously well established at this point. But, a subjective (AFAIK) experience of mine is the feeling of self-actualization - a sense of victory and fulfillment you can get almost anytime anywhere, and fairly frequently.

      Regular social contact. Specifically AFK/face-to-face. This seems banal but it's really not. I make a serious active effort here - I think about who I haven't seen in a while, who I might feel like would complement or share my vibes right now or near future and make plans ASAP. This among the most important of my habits, or at least has the most therapeutic effect. Something about social interactions, even if they're just about talking shit, can be therapeutic and energizing. And this is coming from someone who is generally an introvert and would usually prefer to stay home.

      Restrict social media. I probably don't need to explain this one. But I'll also add that, after following the advice of someone on Tildes (sorry I can't find the post!) limiting my news source to only the Current Events of Wikipedia has done wonders for me! I've stayed informed and have avoided the anxiety-inducing clusterfucks of newstainment. I group this with social media because they're so close nowadays (gossip?).

      Meditation. Big one right here. I've been practicing for ~7 years now, and it's very noticeable when I skip a 20 min session a few days in a row - I become more agitated, short tempered and anxious (is depressed, but mainly just too focused on myself either way). Specifically "mindfulness" (loose term) or Vipassanā style (I use and highly recommend Waking Up). Style here is important because they all exercise different neural pathways. The product of this practice 1) being much more aware of what has emotionally triggered me and 2) being more able to let go/resolve of negative states of mind. E.g. instead of grinding my teeth with a negative thought train the past 3 hours I notice it's all petty within a moment or two and am able to move on and focus on my task at hand and later sleep soundly.

      Psychedelics. Namely the tried-and-true classics. This one is finally getting the attention it deserves in the public domain. As opposed to the others which I do on a near-daily basis (aim for daily), psychedelic experiences I limit to only a handful of times per year because 1) it's work, it requires planning and a day or two off; 2) the positive/resolving effects last for months/years/lifetime; and 3) it requires integration with you baseline reality life to really be effective.
      This one hands down has provided me the most benefit out of all and has inspired me to actively pursue everything above, especially meditation and social life. Specifically, it's the perspective you can get from a psychedelic experience that can be like years of therapy because it's all internally-motivated - you can get an objective perspective on you own life that no one else can offer and one you normally would not accept, especially if it's self-critical.
      For best results I do this with close friends, at home and/or in nature - taking long walks by the river or woods. Sometimes quiet time at some point as well, to allow self-reflection, taking a moment for an honest review and check in.

      Safety disclaimer Psychedelics, and also exhaustive workouts and meditation, can have serious adverse effects if done in excess or without proper planning. Always practice harm reduction: do your research (e.g. Erowid for substance info) test your drugs, carry Naloxone and *always* have a friend, at leas to check in with. Start small - you can always take more but not less.
      32 votes
    7. Reflections on recognizing and resisting abusive practices in psychedelic organizations

      I have been noticing a disturbing trend in psychedelic groups lately, in which powerful mind-altering substance are being used for emotional and sexual manipulation -- especially among young and...

      I have been noticing a disturbing trend in psychedelic groups lately, in which powerful mind-altering substance are being used for emotional and sexual manipulation -- especially among young and vulnerable demographics. In order to combat the collective trauma resulting from these practices, I am attempting to spread harm reduction information far and wide as it pertains to the subject.

      This is one of my more recent articles. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, in case anyone would like to build off of it. If anyone has constructive criticism or experience, any feedback would be immensely appreciated. Thank you :)

      Psychedelics facilitate increased intimacy

      There is a tenuous association between psychedelics and cliquey, tribal, or cult-like group behavior. This should be taken seriously, especially in large group whose members bond through regular psychedelic sessions. Psychedelics have a number of potential effects that can make individuals more suggestible, and may occasion rapidly-escalating intimacy:

      • facilitate deep feelings of connection to others
      • induce dissociation, depersonalization and ego loss
      • increase suggestibility, making it easier to impress new beliefs or ideas upon the user
      • re-expose the user to potentially traumatic memories
      • evoke emotional re-association and object transference, including trust and sexual interest that may not otherwise be present
      • invoke religious or metaphysical experiences, that instill a sense of meaning and personal significance
      • create a sense of paranoia or suspicion, in part as a result of being involved in a potentially illicit activities
      • evoke symptoms of mental illness in vulnerable users, making one reliant on external social and economic support

      Not all of these effects guarantee problems, but rather indicate how psychedelics can open users up to remarkably strong bonding. The ability of hallucinogens to connect individuals into family-like organizations is notable, as psychedelic have been foundational to many rituals, communities, and cults through history. In part due to these effects, many psychedelic groups exhibit some degree of organizational eccentricity, marked intimacy, or social drama.

      Identifying safe group dynamics

      If you need help identifying whether or not an organization exercises exploitative practices, consult the following guidelines on cult behavior and gaslighting. Troublesome psychedelic groups are usually large in size and have organized leadership structure, exhibiting the following qualities (as adapted from the Cult Education Institute’s webpage):

      • possessing an egotistical leader of social or creative influence, who may have a record of abusing power or individuals
      • a rigidly directed ideology, and excluding or punishing members who do not conform to it
      • provoking members who are under the influence of psychedelics, or attempting to selfishly influence the psychedelic integration process of another member
      • maintaining a culture of misinformation or fear or threats, in which members are easily excluded or blacklisted
      • illicit dealings and in-group abuse that is concealed by a culture of secrecy, including: promoting or selling increasingly risky drugs, sexual or romantic grooming, or the use of psychedelics as “tools of seduction”

      Perhaps the best takeaway from the association between psychedelics and cult activity is this: psychedelics have the ability to destabilize and rearrange one’s sense of self, which makes them more susceptible to peer pressure and the influence of others. For users who already are mentally liable or require a secure mindset and setting, it is essential to make sure that they feel in control of their drug use, and have the personal autonomy to ensure their trips are safe and serve personal growth.

      The Cult Education Institute’s signs of a safe group/leader are also adapted below:

      • can be asked questions without judgement
      • discloses ample information such as structural organization/finances
      • may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate, or forbid others from associating with them
      • will not have a record of overwhelmingly negative articles and statements about them
      • encourages family communication, community interaction, and existing friendships
      • encourages critical thinking, individual autonomy, self-esteem, and personal growth
      • leaders admit failings and mistakes, accepts criticism, and follow through on implementing constructive changes
      • operates democratically and encourages accountability and oversight
      • leader is not be the only source of knowledge excluding everyone else; group values dialogues and the free exchange of ideas
      • members and leaders recognize clear emotional, physical, and emotional boundaries when dealing with others

      Gaslighting & manipulation tactics

      Many of the tactics that both individuals and groups use to manipulate people are examples of gaslighting, or attempts at convincing members that they are somehow mentally compromised in order to control them. This is often done by withholding information from them, invalidating the victim’s experiences, verbal abuse (including jokes), social isolation, trivializing the victim’s worth, and otherwise undermining their thought process. When combined with the suggestion-enhancing properties of psychedelic drugs, these kinds of behavior can be traumatizing to individual victims, while remaining relatively undetected or overlooked by onlookers.

      In order to help identify gaslighting by a group, consider if you relate to its effects, as described by Robin Stern in her book The Gaslight Effect:

      • constantly second-guessing yourself, feeling confused, or as if something is wrong
      • asking yourself “Am I too sensitive?” throughout the day
      • frequently apologizing to people who hold power over you, feeling as if you can’t do anything right, or running over things you may have done wrong
      • frequently wondering if you are “good enough”
      • frequently withholding information from your friends or family so you don’t have to explain the group or make excuses for it
      • you lie to group members, to avoid being put down or gaslighted
      • paranoia about bringing up innocent conversation topics
      • speaking to group leaders through another member, so you don’t have be worry about the leaders becoming upset with you
      • making excuses for group members’ behavior to your friends and family
      • friends or family try to protect you from the group
      • becoming furious with people you used to get along with

      If you suspect you have been involved in a psychedelic cult or gaslighted, you may be experiencing regular instability, dissociation, or feelings of uncertainty. Although it can be difficult at first, finding a new group that demonstrates a high degree of member safety and accountability may help rebuild one’s sense of safety and trust. If you shared psychedelic experiences with group members while being taken advantage of, it may be beneficial to seek out a professional psychedelic integration therapist to help emotionally contextualize these memories. Victims may also benefit from adjunct trauma therapies, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Radically-Open DBT, somatic bodywork and movement therapies, therapeutic massage, and other complementary therapy practices.

      Sources

      Douglas, James. (2017). Inside the bizarre 1960s cult, The Family: LSD, yoga and UFOs. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/13/the-family-great-white-brotherhood-australia-melbourne-cult-anne-hamilton-byrne

      Evans, P. (1996). The verbally abusive relationship: how to recognize it and how to respond. Expanded 2nd ed. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Media Corporation.

      Mayorga, O. and Smith, P. (2019, May 19). Forgiving psychedelic abusers should never be at the expense of their victims. Psymposia. Retrieved from https://www.psymposia.com/magazine/forgiving-psychedelic-abusers/.

      Neiswender, Mary. (1971). Manson Girl’s Acid Trips Detailed. CieldoDrive.com. Retrieved from http://www.cielodrive.com/archive/manson-girls-acid-trips-detailed/.

      Ross, Rick. (2014). Warning signs. Cult Education Institute. Retrieved from https://www.culteducation.com/warningsigns.html.

      Stern, R. (2007). The gaslight effect: how to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life. New York: Morgan Road Books.

      Windolf, Jim. (2007). Sex, drugs, and soybeans. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/05/thefarm200705.

      8 votes