35 votes

Tilderinoes with mental health issues: do you feel like happiness is impossible?

By “happiness” I don't mean “the place where happy people are happy all the time”, but rather “the absence of persisting suffering”.

For some context, I've been suffering from clinical depression for over nine years now. Maybe more. I've been hurt by other people many times in my life, especially in childhood and during school. I have almost never felt connected to another human being, and the older I get, the harder it gets to get any kind of intimacy. I feel like “I'm a creep and I'm a weirdo” regularly, as if my teen angst has never left me. On a good day I will merely be tired, and I think I don't need to describe a bad day.

Recently I've been discovering interesting approaches to therapy and using awareness to “pull yourself by the boot straps”, but whenever the time comes to actually use them in practice, a very real question: “Why should I do it? Happiness is impossible, I will always be what I am, so why go through additional pain of trying to change anything when the result isn't guaranteed?”.

So the question is: how do you answer this (loaded) question? How do you get back your faith in better future for yourself when you have so little experience actually being better? Can you actually do that?

39 comments

  1. [2]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    My case is not nearly as severe or intense that many of the perspectives I'd read, so I'm not entirely sure my reply is appropriate, reflective of the question in its entirety, or particularly...

    My case is not nearly as severe or intense that many of the perspectives I'd read, so I'm not entirely sure my reply is appropriate, reflective of the question in its entirety, or particularly useful. My days are filled with worry and dread, but I'd rarely wanted to end my life. I've had self-harm issues – and scars to prove it. I have mental scars that will haunt me until I die, but they don't prevent me from functioning to a reasonable capacity.

    So, I worry that what I have to say may be out of place, or even unwelcome, because the kind of people that are likely to read this thread often have their issues with much higher intensity. I worry that I could muddy the water, which is never the intent.

    That said, if my words may help even one person figure their path out, I can not stay quiet.

    So.

    A few months ago, I had an existential crisis. I'd spent almost a week in my bed, wasting time away in hopes that the numbnes would go away. I'd pondered a question – "Why do this?" – that I couldn't find the answer to. "This" would refer to living as one could define it: pursuing a passion, connecting with people, improving, creating... being alive. "Why would I bother doing what I love if, in the end, it won't matter?" I lied in my bed, wondering, desperate for the answer – and none would come.

    My memory is blurry on the exact sequence of events, but eventually, I got frustrated with the state of affairs as they were. Not knowing the answer became difficult enough, because I felt like I was unable to function without it. I was getting frustrated that I seemingly had no purpose, because there was no universal truth to the reason I live. It was still daunting and frightening – to this day, thinking about the answer reminds me of the dread – but it was also getting... in the way, I suppose. In retrospect, I feel like this is why I respond to things the way I do since then: with anger, molded in shapes that allow me to get to the core of the situation, as this is how I deal with incompleteness, injustice, and low quality.

    What made it all clear and meaningful again was the writing of Viktor Frankl. I read his words at the right moment in time, which is probably why it struck the chord so heavily. The idea that helped me find the answer to the question was, roughly formulated, this:

    There may be nothing to keep you going innate to the Universe, but this is not what defines you. What defines you is how you respond to the vast emptiness of the Universe, to the lack of natural reason. We, as a species, have been steadily overcoming the emptiness by creating things. We create items, systems, ideas, philosophies, shapes, names... It is this creativity that defines us. You gain meaning in life by creating it.

    After pondering it for some time, I thought to myself: "Well, there may, in fact, be nothing there, and it may not be worth it in the end... But I don't want to die. The idea of suicide doesn't attract me. So, I might as well live, and enjoy living".

    In retrospect, it was silly to expect the Universe to have some sort of a reason for me to exist. I understood intellectually that there need not be one, but it only struck me as true – as in, comprehensively in accord with the reality – after the crisis. Of course there is no inherent reason for being! That's not what matters! What matters is what I make of myself and the talents I've been given. I value living because I choose to. That choice seems more powerful.

    It wasn't a cure for anxiety, of course. I'm still a deeply-anxious person, and on some days, I can get nothing accomplished because without an order to my life – like there was with school, or university, or a job – I'm left reliant entirely and absolutely on my own devices. It's frightening, to try and make work this thing no one sees the value of yet. But I did notice a change in my attitude towards things. A certain confidence about behaving unlike expected, doing things my way. A certain compassion to my problems – things that I would brush aside before, thinking that a person of any consequence may not have those. A better clarity of the path I'm taking.

    That last one is important because, as life has the capacity to show, I'm unlike many of the people I'd come to meet. I'm not special, but in many respects, I'm substantially different from my peers of age and culture – more often than not, too different to establish a connection. It's difficult – loneliness felt like a sting for the longest time – but it's not a verdict, or a death sentence to social life.

    This clarity to being different leads to interesting places. You come to recognize that you don't have to be lonely when you're alone, and that you don't have to waste your time with people that will never satisfy your needs simply because you feel like the pool has been impossibly narrow – perhaps nonexistent – for far too long. The connections I make are few but deep and honest. They are intense, just the way I like them – not full of outrage but with the wide bandwidth choke-full of authentic, personal experiences that I can relate to, respect, and admire.

    (That whole last paragraph is what I learned from one of the Internet OGs – an older man of intense, impressive accomplishments, who I'm still not sure is not a bullshit artist. At the time where I wondered whether I, full of quirks and strong preferences, could ever be happy with another human being, he showed me that a person of polarizing personality could undeniably be in a happy relationship and lead a satisfying, if intense, life.)

    Knowing that you're The Weirdo™ means there's no reason to pretend to be someone else. You don't have to worry whether others like you when you consider doing something. A lot of people will dislike you no matter what you do, so why not do the thing that genuinely belongs to you? At least you'll be disliked for something that matters to you, not for a false role you put up with just to get along.

    It also makes choosing a path easier, because you no longer have to be bound by the same restrictions a lot of people put up with for no reason. My parents still want me to get a "real job". When I left the university to do what I do, people were fascinated – that is, excited and somewhat confused at the same time. (Some I talked to even confessed that they'd rather be doing something else but are restricted by external circumstances they feel powerless to push against.) I don't think creative thinking is restricted to The Weirdos™, but when you're already in that position, what do you have to lose? Once you go "underground", so to speak, you'll find that there are people there with whom you could form connections more meaningful and satisfying than the pretense of sociability in the mainstream.

    I'm still quite a mess. I question a lot of things to the point where they erode my confidence and overwhelm me. I'm trying to get the things I work on just right, which is exhausting, time-consuming, and may not even be worth it in the end. My quirks are out of my control, and often cause conflicts for me and those around me. But then, once the existential reason doesn't matter, I get to choose not to engage with subpar items, ideas, and people, and instead derive greater satisfaction from those things that matter to me.

    If all else fails, suicide is an option – but since I chose to live, it might not end being the one I take.

    25 votes
    1. Amarok Link Parent
      I'm reminded of an old poem by Stephen Crane. A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.”

      I'm reminded of an old poem by Stephen Crane.


      A man said to the universe:

      “Sir, I exist!”

      “However,” replied the universe,

      “The fact has not created in me

      A sense of obligation.”

      10 votes
  2. [6]
    vivaria (edited ) Link
    I definitely don't feel like happiness is impossible. (Although, I have at times, admittedly.) As far as diagnoses go, I have ASD and anxiety. But, years ago, the added stress that came from...

    I definitely don't feel like happiness is impossible. (Although, I have at times, admittedly.)

    As far as diagnoses go, I have ASD and anxiety. But, years ago, the added stress that came from overworking myself (engineering undergraduate, social life, relationships, trying to cope with unresolved traumas) sent me spiraling multiple times. Dissociation + depression + emotional instability caused me to drop my courses and take a leave of absence twice. I've been hospitalized lots for crises situations, and have spent a good 15+ years seeing mental health professionals of all kinds.

    The primary reason I keep pushing onward is because I'm generally a pretty curious person. I want badly to understand what goes on underneath the surface. I like finding out how things work. That's probably what led me to engineering, but it's also lent itself to introspection and a driving urge to understand why I've struggled for so long. I like learning about myself, and I like figuring out my strengths and weaknesses. I like pinpointing my triggers, and facing all of the scary parts of myself and my past head-on. I want to do what I can to sort out how best to craft a life that I feel I fit into. That's where therapy has come in... I get a lot out of talking about my thoughts and feelings and exploring the nuances of my circumstances. As someone who would fall under the umbrella of 'neurodivergent', this understanding does a lot for helping me navigate a world that makes me feel like I don't belong.

    I can't say I'm completely satisfied with my life, but I've noticed subtle improvements over the years. I've noticed I look at myself and the world differently than I did when I was younger. I understand some of the pitfalls I'm prone to as a person, and I understand how to address certain dangerous thought patterns before I get trapped in them. I have little tricks and strategies that help me get through the day when I can't function. I also have somewhat of a sense of the preferences I have -- from personality traits to interior decor, even. I have a feeling for what makes me feel safe, and what fits with who I am as a person.

    Those preferences then tie into a goal I work towards constantly: doing what I can to earn my own freedom, whether financially, or with my time, or with my commitments, or with my abilities as a person. I figure once I get to a point where I can truly explore the world without feeling tied down, I'll be able actually put those preferences to good use and discover all sorts of things in the world that make me excited. I know that I've been excited about the world before (I even keep an organized log of things that once made me happy, https://owl.home.blog/), so whenever anhedonia strikes, I try to remind myself that it's just as possible in the future as it was in the past. It's like... doing what I can to make sure the ground is fertile enough to cultivate a life that's my own.

    EDIT: I also should note that "building a life that works for me" doesn't necessarily mean figuring out how to contort myself to the expectations of the world around me. I've learned that I'm just not compatible with some of my region's norms. Forcing myself to mask my feelings and conform was the source of a lot of my anxiety. Instead, I try now to do what I can to carve out a little niche and live the way that I want to live, rather than how external forces imply I should live.

    tl;dr: happiness to me is learning about what works for me and what doesn't (through introspection and therapy), and building a life that meshes with that understanding.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      ainar-g Link Parent
      A fellow Bojack Horseman fan, I see! A colleague who knows about my condition also recommended that I lead a journal of days and occurrences when things are normal. Thank you for responding.

      A fellow Bojack Horseman fan, I see!

      A colleague who knows about my condition also recommended that I lead a journal of days and occurrences when things are normal. Thank you for responding.

      1. [3]
        vivaria Link Parent
        Not as much anymore? I used like how strongly it made me feel and how relatable the pain felt. But, now it feels... needlessly self-destructive? I feel like they've written themselves into a...

        Not as much anymore? I used like how strongly it made me feel and how relatable the pain felt. But, now it feels... needlessly self-destructive? I feel like they've written themselves into a corner, where he needs to relapse into his old ways for the show to continue.

        I like growth and evolution, but after last season, I didn't feel like that was what the show was about.

        1 vote
        1. masochist Link Parent
          I would certainly say there was growth and evolution for Bojack, but it happened within the context of the cycle of substance abuse. In fact, his arc for this season pretty closely follows the...

          I would certainly say there was growth and evolution for Bojack, but it happened within the context of the cycle of substance abuse. In fact, his arc for this season pretty closely follows the cycle of addiction.

          He had his first real relationship with Gina. He wasn't envious of her success, he was genuinely happy with her, he wanted to spend time with her that wasn't having sex with her. But life got in the way and he found himself resorting to old habits, taking them even further this time because of the stakes involved--a real relationship with a real person who really cared about him and who he really cared about. He was happy, and that was terrifying, because it may have been the first time he was really happy and he had no idea what to do about it, so he did the only thing he knows how to do--he pushed her away, with such finality that they'll never, ever be close again.

          But that's the thing about people with substance problems. You can make all the progress in the world, you can do everything right, and then one little pebble causes you to stumble the tiniest bit and you're right back where you were. I think there's hope for Bojack, I really do. Knowing what that happiness was like is quite possibly the only thing keeping him from a repeat of his bender with Sarah Lynn.

          Todd had an arc (and it was very Todd), Princess Carolyn had several arcs, Diane and Mr Peanutbutter had several arcs (... and I see a lot of Bojack in Mr Peanutbutter toward the end of the season, actually), and so on. These all presented the characters evolving, if not necessarily growing. I'll admit it had a bit of "the more things change, the more they stay the same", but there certainly seemed to be evolution to me.

          3 votes
        2. ainar-g Link Parent
          I still like it. Either because I've binged the first four seasons and so the fifth seemed logical, or because it reminds of my own cases of going one step forward just to make three steps back....

          I still like it. Either because I've binged the first four seasons and so the fifth seemed logical, or because it reminds of my own cases of going one step forward just to make three steps back. And besides, people don't always get a happily-ever-after in their life. “There is always more show. Until there isn't.”

          1 vote
    2. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      Sans a few things, and with replacing "engineering" with "design", you can easily attach this whole comment to mine and get a clearer picture. It's a cool little log. Well-put-together. Glad...

      Sans a few things, and with replacing "engineering" with "design", you can easily attach this whole comment to mine and get a clearer picture.

      It's a cool little log. Well-put-together.

      Glad you're doing better now. Things put a lot more pressure on you when you're younger.

      What's the coolest design (code, architecture, board design, typography...) you'd come across?

  3. [3]
    playeren Link
    As a +10 year depression veteran I can certainly empathize and recognize many of the thoughts you describe. Here are my thoughts on limiting suffering, and allowing for happiness. The big question...

    As a +10 year depression veteran I can certainly empathize and recognize many of the thoughts you describe. Here are my thoughts on limiting suffering, and allowing for happiness.

    The big question is always 'Why?'. Why must I suffer? Why should I continue suffering? Why should I care about myself? Finding the answers to these questions are simultaneously of the greatest importance, but also dangerously distracting. Important because the lack of immediate and obvious answers to the questions above, kind of defines those of us who have depression in our lives - ie. if you have a hard time answering or even facing those questions, you're probably suffering. Distracting, because looking for the answers largely prevents you from finding them.

    Trying to brute force your depression with logic and philosophy, is akin to solve drowning by swallowing water. You can't solve bad thoughts by adding more thoughts. Actions (behaviour) is what led us to this chemical imbalance, and through actions we can change that balance again.

    Being clinically depressed results in a lack of self care. When you have suffered for too long, you'll likely have forgotten what it even feels like to care for yourself. We need to change that with actions and behavior - because that's the only language our brains really understand.

    Here are some of the things that worked for me:

    Step 1:

    • Caring for others, without expecting anything in return.
      • The last part about having a non-reciprocal attitude, is critically important. So, romantic and family relationships are not where you should start, as we tend to have both explicit and implicit expectations about reciprocal behaviour.
      • Tending to a pet's needs can be very rewarding and useful for getting ourselves out of a rut, but depending on your situation, also potentially overwhelming. Pet-sitting or dog walking can be good ways to start.
      • Helping others in even greater need than you can also be an avenue. Don't expect gratitude - do it for the sense of self-worth. Volunteering in soup kitchens or shelters, can be ways to help others.
      • Do not under any circumstances post your good deeds on social media - anonymously or not. Hunting for likes destroys your sense of self-worth. Write it down in a personal journal instead.
      • Don't lose yourself in helping others. When you get into it, you'll feel so good that you won't want to do anything else. Dial it down, take a deep breath. We're not quite ready for that yet. Balance.

    Step 2:

    • Start caring for yourself, in actions. Not words.
      • Affirmations are widely popular, but actions still speak louder. Tell yourself you're pretty, fine. Make an effort to look pretty, better. It's not about the result - it's about the action to care for yourself.
      • Exercise. Besides the obvious health benefits of regular exercise, and the dopamine production, exercising is a very explicit action to care for yourself, and your brain is listening. Try to not get addicted, but if it comes down to choosing severe depression or workout addiction - choose addiction, we can treat that later, if we do it with care and vigilance.
      • Eat healthy - Fresh and organic if possible. Less carbs, more healthy fats and protein. Maybe try intermittent fasting. Again, there are obvious health benefits to this, but we're doing it to signal to ourselves that we care.
      • Pamper yourself. Get a massage from a pro with good reviews. If you've been depressed for a prolonged period of time, chances are that you are severely lacking in human touch. We need that shit. Even if our inner voice (system 2) is screaming that 'we hate being touched', it is likely (but not certain) because we think we don't deserve it for some obscure reason.
      • 'Karie Mondo' your relationships. It's a reverse Marie Kondo, where you point at someone (figuratively - don't be rude) and ask 'Does this person bring me suffering and pain?'. If yes - cut them out of your life. Be ruthless - you're acting to save your own life.
      • Delete Facebook, Instagram and anything else where you portray (signal) your person to the rest of the world. It messes with our minds in discrete and non-obvious ways. However horrible it feels to let go, when you're soMe clean you'll have a sense of freedom that you probably never have felt (depending on your age). Are there people on there, you're afraid to lose touch with? Let them know, and organise ways to stay in touch. Many won't, and that's fine. Life goes on, and we're getting ready to meet a world of new people.

    Step 3:

    • Keep it up. Consistency is what wins the game. Be the tortoise.
    • Pass it forward. If something worked for you, let others know. Most of us deal with this stuff alone, and we really shouldn't.
    • Love yourself. When you allow that to happen, you'll start helping others around you in ways you couldn't have imagined before.

    Stay strong, we need you.

    7 votes
    1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      Damn that's spot-on.

      You can't solve bad thoughts by adding more thoughts.

      Damn that's spot-on.

      2 votes
    2. ghostsplosion Link Parent
      This is one of the best advice comments I think I've ever seen. Good job.

      This is one of the best advice comments I think I've ever seen. Good job.

      1 vote
  4. [8]
    meristele Link
    I think it depends on how you define happiness. I don't mean to decide that you are "happy" with the current state of being. That always failed miserably. It made me more anxious and depressed....

    I think it depends on how you define happiness. I don't mean to decide that you are "happy" with the current state of being. That always failed miserably. It made me more anxious and depressed.

    I'm not a suicide sort of gal. I have a hazy belief in an afterlife, but it doesn't involve heaven necessarily. So the most horrifying thought is that suicide would leave me in the same mental state, but dead on top of it. Dead and depressed. Alliterative, but not for me. At certain points this gave me huge pressure- there was no escape. I spent a lot of time in bed with the lights off.

    I'm not sure when this state morphed into something else. I don't recall any moment of epiphany. It seemed to slowly grow on me. So I am weird. I don't have a conventional life. I don't know if I will ever have a workable relationship. So many things that I can't do. But the sun kept coming up and going down and days merged together and I hit a resting place in my thoughts. While it didn't feel good, it also didn't feel bad, and that was enough.

    I had to slap down depressed and anxious thoughts to stay in that quasi Zen state. It was and still is hard. It gets a little easier, but I think it will always be hard. But it allows moments of satisfaction to creep in. In small moments of balance, I can enjoy the warmth of a blanket. The taste of an apple. The smile on a stranger's face. Conversation with a hard won friend.

    I am not constantly in this Zen state. I fall out of it and have to climb back in. This is acceptable - and logical. There's no end and no beginning. I want to continue the journey on my own terms and not define myself by non-weirdo assumptions.

    This may not be helpful to you. I hope it might be. Not the method, (I don't think I have one,) but the possibility. The thought that you may clear a space to breathe even one breath in balance and find your own starting place.

    6 votes
    1. [7]
      ainar-g Link Parent
      It is helpful. I've been thinking about seeing meditation as “a temporary cessation of being when being is just too painful” lately. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, thank you...

      It is helpful. I've been thinking about seeing meditation as “a temporary cessation of being when being is just too painful” lately. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, thank you for reminding me.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        masochist Link Parent
        /u/meristele didn't mention meditation explicitly in her comment, so it's interesting that you took that from what she said. Can you expand a little bit on how you arrived there?

        /u/meristele didn't mention meditation explicitly in her comment, so it's interesting that you took that from what she said. Can you expand a little bit on how you arrived there?

        1 vote
        1. ainar-g Link Parent
          She did mention “small moments of balance” and “Zen state”. Besides, “falling out and climbing back” is how a lot of awareness teachers describe the practice. But yeah, my mind filled in some...

          She did mention “small moments of balance” and “Zen state”. Besides, “falling out and climbing back” is how a lot of awareness teachers describe the practice. But yeah, my mind filled in some blanks, apparently. As it often does.

          1 vote
      2. [4]
        pew Link Parent
        How do you do that? When being is just too painful for me, meditation is even more painful for me since it's just me. I'm always on the verge on calling my family but I don't want to bother and...

        How do you do that? When being is just too painful for me, meditation is even more painful for me since it's just me. I'm always on the verge on calling my family but I don't want to bother and just go back to bed.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          ainar-g Link Parent
          I don't really know, sorry. As I've said, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The usual way is to just say to yourself something like “I don't have to exist right now” or “I have no...

          I don't really know, sorry. As I've said, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The usual way is to just say to yourself something like “I don't have to exist right now” or “I have no obligation to keep thinking”. If that doesn't work, then I don't know. When I feel too much pain to concentrate I usually just find a hiding place (Hello, office toilet, my old friend!) and cry until I feel better. My eyes start to hurt though.

          1 vote
          1. Tygrak Link Parent
            Just going to the office toilet to hide is such a weirdly relatable thing :(.

            Just going to the office toilet to hide is such a weirdly relatable thing :(.

            1 vote
        2. masochist Link Parent
          I pair my meditation with yoga asana (the physical practice that most people think of). Focusing on my breath while placing demands on my body really helps. It's not perfect, but it helps.

          I pair my meditation with yoga asana (the physical practice that most people think of). Focusing on my breath while placing demands on my body really helps. It's not perfect, but it helps.

          1 vote
  5. annadane Link
    My case is special because it's circumstantial, there was a choice I made which has made me unhappy and there's no way to undo it, so yes, happiness is impossible

    My case is special because it's circumstantial, there was a choice I made which has made me unhappy and there's no way to undo it, so yes, happiness is impossible

    5 votes
  6. [7]
    masochist (edited ) Link
    I've said a couple times in this thread that I do meditation and yoga, so I wanted to make a top level comment going into some more detail. First, you may be thinking of yoga as a spiritual /...

    I've said a couple times in this thread that I do meditation and yoga, so I wanted to make a top level comment going into some more detail.

    First, you may be thinking of yoga as a spiritual / religious practice. It isn't. Or at least, it isn't inherently spiritual or religious*. You can do the physical practice of yoga (the asana, the poses that you're probably familiar with) and the mental aspects of yoga (specifically meditation) without any spiritual / religious beliefs. I am literally more atheist than Richard Dawkins yet I go to a yoga studio every day and meditate at least five times per week. Some studios / teachers will certainly focus on the spiritual / eastern medicine side of things, but in a lot of cases you can just ignore it and focus on the physical side (motions and breath). Or, if you're like me, you can view it as culture / mythology and look at it with academic curiosity.

    So, that said, I practice asana every day. Not everyone can do that, for sure, and not everyone will want to, and that's fine. It's a big part of my life both as a way to stay, if not physically fit, at least not any worse. There are all kinds of benefits of asana, supported by repeated studies. Strength, flexibility, balance, and of course all of the benefits of physical exercise. I deal with depression occasionally, though not as much as you. My big problem is anxiety. I tried various anxiolytics and they only made things worse (in addition to side effects my doctor was certain I wouldn't experience, the kind it's awkward to talk about; if you've ever taken an SSRI, you know what I'm talking about). Cardio made me feel miserable and didn't help. But yoga works. Asana practice is definitely physical exercise and has the anxiolytic and antidepressive effects of physical exercise for me. Note that if you start an asana practice, it's important that you remember that not every pose is for every body. Fit the practice to you, don't fit yourself to the practice. You spend enough time bending to demands off the mat; your practice is the one place where you don't have to do that.

    And then there's the mental practice of yoga, meditation. There's an important thing here that I should mention up-front: the word I use here, for both meditation and asana, is practice. It's like playing an instrument. Sometimes you're doing great and everything is beautiful. Sometimes you feel like you can't even stand up properly. And that's okay. That's why it's called a practice. Sometimes I just can't get my head to empty at all, and it's buzzing with all the thoughts and pressures that I'm trying to avoid. But! The physical practice always, always helps. Even when I got no sleep the night before, it helps. Even when the physical practice isn't exactly what I wanted at the time, it helps. And, most surprisingly, even--and especially--when I am utterly exhuasted at the end of the asana practice before meditating, the physical practice helps. And that's not surprising; the physical practice was always intended to help prepare the mind and body for sitting in meditation. Just yesterday I attended one of the most physically demanding classes I've ever taken, yet the meditation thereafter was among the deepest, most valuable I've ever experienced. A lot of what I'm going to say next sounds... well, it sounds a lot like the Zen bits that /u/meristele was mentioning, and it's just as ineffable. When I was utterly exhausted on the mat yesterday, meditating, I felt totally at peace. Empty the body and the mind will follow. I was able to relax and empty my mind so that I could focus on being at peace. That feeling of peace has stuck with me the entire weekend and I look forward to deepining it at class later tonight. edit: I forgot to mention that there are similarly documented health benefits for meditation, including decreased blood pressure. When combined with the asana practice, one study shows an 11 mmHg decrease in blood pressure compared to controls.

    More than this, the things talked about at class have helped me to empathize with myself. And that, in addition to the peace brought by the actual practice, has helped me work on being happy. It's not yet happiness. But these days, everyone--and especially those of us suffering from mental health issues--need to work at happiness rather than expecting it. This has been my journey, and so far I think I'm doing the right thing. At least it's not arduous and odious, and it gives me something to look forward to each and every day. Plus, practicing at a studio has meant that I can start to build friendships with the people I meet there, and that is helping me deal with other stuff I'm dealing with.

    This has been something of a reflection on a year of more or less regular practice, with near daily practice for the past few months. I encourage the syncretic approach I described above; take what you want from what I've said, find what works for you.

    * There are some styles of yoga that are more focused on that kind of thing, like Kundalini, but it also has useful physical and mental teachings to steal from. I take a very syncretic approach myself, and would suggest anyone interested do the same.

    edits: Added a link to a report on a study about the effects of yoga on blood pressure and some typos / wording fixes

    5 votes
    1. [6]
      meristele Link Parent
      I love yoga too. It helps. I especially love the long stretches like when you hold pigeon pose for minutes at a time. A sort of meditation in slow motion.

      I love yoga too. It helps. I especially love the long stretches like when you hold pigeon pose for minutes at a time. A sort of meditation in slow motion.

      1. [5]
        masochist Link Parent
        It sounds like you focus on yin, yes? Or perhaps your teachers are just really gentle. ;)

        It sounds like you focus on yin, yes? Or perhaps your teachers are just really gentle. ;)

        1. [4]
          meristele Link Parent
          Well. Empty chair for minutes at a time is gruesome, but also meditative. Painfully so. XD

          Well. Empty chair for minutes at a time is gruesome, but also meditative. Painfully so. XD

          1. [3]
            masochist Link Parent
            Empty chair? I don't think I've heard of that one. I've heard of chair, utkatasana (although, like all yoga pose images on the internet, there are problems with this one), but not empty chair. Is...

            Empty chair? I don't think I've heard of that one. I've heard of chair, utkatasana (although, like all yoga pose images on the internet, there are problems with this one), but not empty chair. Is that what you're thinking of?

            1. [2]
              meristele Link Parent
              Yes! I got it mixed up in my mind a while ago, and keep forgetting what the real name is. Perhaps it's a fruitless wish for my state of mind while doing it... ;_;

              Yes! I got it mixed up in my mind a while ago, and keep forgetting what the real name is. Perhaps it's a fruitless wish for my state of mind while doing it... ;_;

              1. masochist Link Parent
                No worries, sometimes you just blank on names! Happens to the best of us. I can absolutely understand having trouble with it. Stick with it and it'll get better. :) It's always so satisfying to...

                No worries, sometimes you just blank on names! Happens to the best of us. I can absolutely understand having trouble with it. Stick with it and it'll get better. :) It's always so satisfying to notice how the body improves as you get better.

  7. hereticalgorithm Link
    I have moments where things feel okay, they're rare, but journaling's helped a lot because I can have a reminder that they've happened at all (and looking back, they seem to be more common these...

    I have moments where things feel okay, they're rare, but journaling's helped a lot because I can have a reminder that they've happened at all (and looking back, they seem to be more common these days).

    3 votes
  8. Arshan Link
    I can relate to this on a deep level. I have never had a time where I was happy; the best times felt like happy-adjacent. I am not going to lie to you and say I haven't had the exact same thoughts...

    I can relate to this on a deep level. I have never had a time where I was happy; the best times felt like happy-adjacent. I am not going to lie to you and say I haven't had the exact same thoughts as you. However, I can honestly say that accepting the lack of meaning can offer some respite from the struggle. My moments of peace come from actively experiencing the oddities of existence. The feeling of cold tile on my feet, the interplay of snow and light, the flow of water between clunched hands, etc... I don't know how else to explain it, but it does offer me some peace.

    3 votes
  9. Heichou Link
    For a long time now, I've known that I'm unwell. I always have that pit-in-your-stomach feeling, and I always feel out of place around people. I'm constantly worried about my future, what I'm...

    For a long time now, I've known that I'm unwell. I always have that pit-in-your-stomach feeling, and I always feel out of place around people. I'm constantly worried about my future, what I'm doing, how people perceive me, what I'm not doing, and if I'm going to live my life the exact same way day after day. I've had an intense desire, for the longest time, to change, because for years now I've just done school>go home>computer>sleep, and now work>go home>computer>sleep ad nauseam. But there's an even more intense feeling raging in me that desperately wants things to stay the same, and when I try changing something, I'm met with anxiety, fear, and loathing. So for a long time now, I've been stuck in a sort of loop where I try to make changes, but inevitably fall back into old habits and I'm constantly lamenting being the way I am, and wanting more, but never having the courage to do it or the resolve to continue doing it.

    So, at present, in my current mindset, I'll never achieve happiness. Even the mere concept of happiness irritates me, like everyone is just in on this big joke of being happy, that it's so easy to not always feel like shit, or nervous, or anxious, or cynical. Happiness, to me, is a mask. And people who always wear that mask scare me the most. I don't think anyone is ever truly just happy. That isn't a thing. You can be happy about certain things, but you can't be 100% happy all the time. The idea of happiness has been over-inflated by the way society is these days. Movies, TV, social media; everyone's having a grand ol time, but it's all scripted. You're shown what they want you to see. Nobody's ever just happy. To chase after something you will never attain is futile, and doing so will only make you feel worse. Try as I might, I can't fly. If I pout about that for a while, I'm going to feel worse about it.

    Sure, maybe some people don't experience these anhedonic emotions as frequently as I do. And I know that. It's unfair to believe everyone feels the way I do. There are people out there who are, inherently, better off than I am mentally and physically. But I think it's important not to chase happiness. You'll never find that white whale. No matter where we are in our lives, the human brain will find something to worry about, or get angry about. Conflict is in our genes, but we need to balance our emotions. So maybe don't focus on "being happy". That's an extremely loaded goal. Focus on finding happiness in small groups. Be happy about certain things. Pick out things you can be happy about. This works for me. One habit I managed to cement is playing bass. When I'm working on a song and I nail a riff, that's my happiness. When I'm with friends/playing games with friends, that's my happiness.

    Happiness isn't a state, it's like a side dish. Seek it sparingly, and you'll be surprised. If you try to seek it en masse, you won't ever be satisfied. Maybe I'm wrong, being depressed and shit, and this isn't an apt explanation of happiness, but it's mine, and it's worked so far. Hope this helps

    3 votes
  10. [9]
    mrbig Link
    That's a kind of post that would benefit from anonymous commenting.

    That's a kind of post that would benefit from anonymous commenting.

    10 votes
    1. [7]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      Or an alt account.

      Or an alt account.

      5 votes
      1. [6]
        mrbig Link Parent
        I remember reading that the idea was to try avoiding this somehow? But I don't remember who/where/when.

        I remember reading that the idea was to try avoiding this somehow? But I don't remember who/where/when.

        5 votes
        1. [5]
          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          In various discussions on the subject of alt accounts, some people have put forward their opinion that they would prefer it if Tildes prevented the use of alt accounts, but those people don't...

          In various discussions on the subject of alt accounts, some people have put forward their opinion that they would prefer it if Tildes prevented the use of alt accounts, but those people don't speak for Tildes: only @Deimos speaks for Tildes. And I'm pretty sure he has said he's okay with reasonable use of alt accounts - but they shouldn't be used to manipulate the system, such as by voting on your own topics/comments or applying labels to your own comments.

          1 vote
          1. [4]
            Deimos Link Parent
            That's correct, the code of conduct includes a section specifically about this. However, I think @mrbig was saying that we'd like to try and avoid the need for creating alt accounts solely to post...

            That's correct, the code of conduct includes a section specifically about this. However, I think @mrbig was saying that we'd like to try and avoid the need for creating alt accounts solely to post anonymously, which we could do by just allowing people to post anonymously and/or disassociate themselves from comments they've previously posted.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
              But we don't have anonymous commenting now, and are unlikely to do so for a while. In the interim, the only option in circumstances like this is to use an alt account.

              But we don't have anonymous commenting now, and are unlikely to do so for a while. In the interim, the only option in circumstances like this is to use an alt account.

              1. [2]
                apoctr Link Parent
                Correct, but I thought that was exactly why mrbig had brought attention to it? To advertise it as a useful potential future feature of the site.

                But we don't have anonymous commenting now

                Correct, but I thought that was exactly why mrbig had brought attention to it? To advertise it as a useful potential future feature of the site.

                2 votes
                1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                  You may be right (I can't read his mind). But, seeing as we don't have anonymous commenting yet, and we do have a lot of new users who may not know we don't have anonymous commenting yet, it was...

                  I thought that was exactly why mrbig had brought attention to it?

                  You may be right (I can't read his mind). But, seeing as we don't have anonymous commenting yet, and we do have a lot of new users who may not know we don't have anonymous commenting yet, it was important to also point out that: a) we don't have anonymous commenting yet; b) we do have an existing feature which can be used instead.

                  1 vote
    2. ainar-g Link Parent
      I was considering either creating an alt-account or just posting it on 4chan's /r9k/. An alt-account just felt like too much hustle, and 4chan is, well, 4chan. In the end, I figured, no one would...

      I was considering either creating an alt-account or just posting it on 4chan's /r9k/. An alt-account just felt like too much hustle, and 4chan is, well, 4chan. In the end, I figured, no one would ever google me, so why bother? (And even if they would, what would it change?)

      4 votes