22 votes

Thoughts

I don’t even know where to start. I realize it’s not meant to be a coherent piece of text, but rather a (fortunately short) stream of related thoughts.

I could talk about when an ambulance took me to the hospital because I was so drunk I couldn’t even move.

I could talk about how with other friends I bullied people for no justifiable reason.

I could talk about how I can’t stop watching porn, and consequently how my sexual tastes diverged from the normal, making me guilty of engaging in and craving illegal content.

I could talk about how I wasted literally years trying to finish a bachelor degree, to the point where I am now lying to my family and friends about exams.

I could talk about the many other stupid things I did, some of which while being recorded by people who aren’t even friends any more and who could easily ruin my life by sending them out (not that they have a reason to do so, but nothing can change the fact that I am powerless).

I could talk about how I wish suicide was an option, but since it’s not, the best alternative is sleeping while enjoying dreams. Too bad you can’t sleep forever.

The list could probably go on.

I can’t seem to spend a day without dwelling on at least one of these (and other) burdens; be it a memory, a negative feeling, an evil thought, an action, or a combination thereof.

When I think about the past, I feel overwhelmed by nothing but regret. When I think about the present, I’m filled with guilt. When I think about the future, I feel fear (of life, of ageing, of death).

No one can object to the intrinsic meaninglessness of life, unless you take into account religion (which I do not) or subjective purpose (which I could consider, but it’s impossible to consistently focus on that when you are reminded everyday of the underlying nonsense of life while fantasizing about suicide).

I often ask myself If I’m being truly honest with myself or if I’m semi-unconsciously sabotaging my existence just because playing the role of the victim is admittedly easier than fighting for your life.

I am ultimately confused by the reason why I am the way I am: is it because of my past (wrongdoing)? Is it because I suffer from a mental disease? Is it because I suffer from a physical disease? Is it because that’s simply how (evil) I am? I have so many questions and so little answers.

9 comments

  1. [4]
    patience_limited
    Link
    I've been volunteering with Crisis Text Line for a while, and your story is a familiar one. [Please note that I'm not writing here as a representative or advocate for that organization, and I'm...
    • Exemplary

    I've been volunteering with Crisis Text Line for a while, and your story is a familiar one. [Please note that I'm not writing here as a representative or advocate for that organization, and I'm not a mental health professional.]

    It's common for people who suffer from unbearable stresses to seek relief in self-medication with alcohol, or distraction in porn or games. Those actions arise from an understandable desire for respite, even when they're self-harming or injurious to others.

    It may be difficult to acknowledge that even the behaviors and traits you despise in yourself are actually signs of resilience, toughness, and creativity. You write with intelligence, wit, and verve even when expressing self-loathing.

    As I've had some experience with these depths of despair, I can say that in retrospect, one of the worst and most self-reinforcing aspects is the salience of negative recollections. I won't go into the body of research on this, but there's a clear evolutionary bias to gather, store, and retrieve painful memories much more easily than pleasant ones. For basic animal survival, it's most important to have propulsive painful emotions at the hint of any threat, rather than lingering in happy recollections and speculations about rewards. With our advanced capacity for abstraction, "threat" becomes so diffuse and ubiquitous that we're constantly prone to perceiving danger (e.g. "what if people don't respect me?"), and perennially helpless to respond to it effectively.

    In the absence of balanced, accurate perception and recall, it's easy to create a downward spiral of negative memory, negative acts to suppress or distract from painful feelings, leading to more negative recollections, and eventual exhaustion or despair. The good news is, there are ways to interrupt this circular descent if you're willing to accept that memory is biased and faulty, and that the narrative you've created from it is incomplete.

    Again, I'm not a professional, but one of the most immediately useful self-help tools I've found is a simple phone app called Woebot. It's not a substitute for professional interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy or EMDR. However, Woebot does let you track negative thoughts and helps you to consider alternative explanations for what you've perceived. It's not force-feeding you happy feel-good crap, it's just a reframing process that's more creative than being stuck going in the same old circles.

    I will say, based on having lived through multiple periods where I felt the way you do now, that the desires for meaning and purpose can be fulfilled in many ways that don't involve religious faith. What is required is suspension of the disbelief that we can be meaningful to other people in positive ways.

    12 votes
    1. emdash
      Link Parent
      You're a good person. Thank you for doing this.

      I've been volunteering with Crisis Text Line for a while

      You're a good person. Thank you for doing this.

      7 votes
    2. [2]
      wiki_me
      Link Parent
      From what i understand this can act as a form of habit formation, the relieve from negative emotions forms a habit , making the behavior automatic and making you crave it, replacing it with some...

      It's common for people who suffer from unbearable stresses to seek relief in self-medication with alcohol, or distraction in porn or games. Those actions arise from an understandable desire for respite, even when they're self-harming or injurious to others.

      From what i understand this can act as a form of habit formation, the relieve from negative emotions forms a habit , making the behavior automatic and making you crave it, replacing it with some other emotionally rewarding behavior (even something as simple as a walk in the sun, or some relaxation technique), can reduce the craving . This is a interesting video about habit formation.

      4 votes
      1. patience_limited
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Again, 100% not an expert here, but my suspicion is that what I think of as "hyperlearning disorders", or excessive capacity to absorb and act on information, are at the root of addictions and...
        • Exemplary

        Again, 100% not an expert here, but my suspicion is that what I think of as "hyperlearning disorders", or excessive capacity to absorb and act on information, are at the root of addictions and other mental health issues. We're accustomed to people who, for one reason or another, simply can't master some learning tasks; why not people who are prone to grasp information quickly, thoroughly, and permanently?

        "Using drugs makes the pain go away" is a pretty compelling nugget of knowledge, as are memories of trauma for the 25% of the population who report PTSD-like symptoms. These learnings are so salient and persistent that they tend to warp the whole structure of a person's cognition around themselves.

        Likewise, the compelling stories woven in religion, conspiracy theories, propaganda, ideologies, rituals, cultures, are meant to embed themselves in such a way that the learner (with or without initial consent) can say , "This is known, and I don't have to waste energy thinking about it anymore."

        A lot of what I've absorbed from professional counseling involved versions of, "Here are new ways of thinking, so that you might absorb broader information again, which can explain your ongoing experiences differently than the story you've been telling yourself". Regaining and maintaining mental plasticity and resilience to traumatic experience has been hugely beneficial, even if it means I'm not as permeable to negative information as I used to be.

        We've talked about "confirmation bias" elsewhere on Tildes, and it's another natural human tendency that we're far more comfortable with knowing than with perpetual uncertainty. Even if "knowing" involves constantly digging for validation that you're a bad person, or that life is bad and hopeless, or that world-ending disaster is imminent, or that taking another dose is the only way to make the pain stop. Again, it's learning disorder territory when you're foreclosing access to new information that might lead you to healthier behaviors.

        P.S. - Any AI/ML experts here who might have relevant comment on models of reinforcement learning?

        6 votes
  2. krg
    Link
    Reading this, I thought "hmm...did I create an alt-account and drunk post this?" Suffice it to say, you're not alone. Work on yourself in small steps. A mile walked is a mile walked, and you're...

    Reading this, I thought "hmm...did I create an alt-account and drunk post this?"

    Suffice it to say, you're not alone.

    Work on yourself in small steps. A mile walked is a mile walked, and you're probably not as time-constrained as you think. So, take small, manageable steps.

    11 votes
  3. beanie
    Link
    Although our experiences with life differ, I think I know how you feel. This feeling that the more I go on, the more cringy moments/bad decisions accumulate. To the point I no longer trust myself...

    Although our experiences with life differ, I think I know how you feel.

    This feeling that the more I go on, the more cringy moments/bad decisions accumulate. To the point I no longer trust myself to make decisions. Sleeping away the consciousness is a form of suicide. So is putting myself in dangerous situations over and over again (hay, if I die by being in a dangerous situation, the suicide's not on me, right?). I cycle between these two extremes, both are distractions. We know our sub-conscious and what we're doing. Maybe hiding something from us that seems so painful to look at. Or maybe just bipolar... idk.

    I don't want to bombard you with advice. What I want and what works for me may not work for you. I think you know what you truly want and/or what's best for you. Sometimes finding that out requires us to stop the bad habits and start listening to ourselves. And that fear that if we stop and listen, it may not have anything to say. That's what makes me run towards those bad habits sometimes. Anything to stop all that noise in my head, it's so loud, yet it says nothing.

    I've noticed for myself that I treat others way better than I treat myself. So I try my best to treat myself how I do another person, a person that I love. I wouldn't feed someone I love horrible foods/drinks, I wouldn't call them the names I call myself, I wouldn't be as critical to them as I am myself, I wouldn't lock them in sleep/put them in dangerous situations if they are going thru a bad time. I'd make them something healthy, maybe a fruit plate, I'd encourage them to do the thing they love: maybe that's going outside, hiking, painting, making music. I'd hug them and be by their side when they are going through a tough time.

    I can bombard you with advice, but I feel like that wouldn't help. Know that you aren't alone. And you aren't a failure or embarrassing to be around or a train wreck or whatever it is you're calling yourself. Maybe you're stuck between being the person you want to be and being the person society wants you to be? Shot in the dark here... maybe projecting.

    Yeah... you seem like a pretty cool person (spunky, tenacity) who's going through a rough time. And you sound fun as shit. Stopping those dangerous things won't make you less fun, trust me.

    10 votes
  4. mrbig
    Link
    I don’t have a computer so I’ll be concise. Living with your parents is no reason for embarrassment (I know it’s hard). The idea that living with relatives is a failure by default is not...

    I don’t have a computer so I’ll be concise.

    Living with your parents is no reason for embarrassment (I know it’s hard). The idea that living with relatives is a failure by default is not universal. You do have an obligation to contribute as much as you can both for them and society as a whole. But sometimes we need a little help. Sometimes a lot (that is my case).

    Do your best. Beware of the sunk cost fallacy, and know that the only losers are the ones that give up on life. I failed most of my life: beautiful failures that made me who I am. I wear them with pride. You should do the same.

    Thank you for making me cry on this Friday afternoon. I guess I needed that.

    9 votes
  5. wedgel
    Link
    I think you have described a lot of people. Some of it hits home. But it's up to you where you go from here. Yes, sleep is awesome and depression can be a seductive beast . I've been there, hell I...

    I think you have described a lot of people. Some of it hits home. But it's up to you where you go from here. Yes, sleep is awesome and depression can be a seductive beast . I've been there, hell I seem to be heading that way lately. After an awful set of events, I too moved back in with my parents as an adult. Was it something I was proud of? Of course not. But I had a lot of shit to work through. Still do, just not that shit, that feels like four lifetimes ago. I'm always aware that things can always get worse. I often forget that they can also get better. And more often than not when depression is taking over and fucking with me, shit's not nearly as bad as it seems. I often have to remind myself to take a step back to get a real perspective. It's something I've struggled with my whole life but ultimately that's just part of my existence. For a long time I thought my self destructive behavior was me. I'd lose who I was if I wasn't depressed. The thought terrified me. That was my lowest point, lasted for years. But once I crept out of it, I found that I just got to add traits, not subtract. It was amazing to find out who I really am instead of being the self destructive pile of shit I thought I was. The following years were some of the best of my life. Ended up making life long friends and doing things I never would have considered before hand. I still struggle, I'm pretty sure I always will. My wiring is off. But that's ok. You do what you can and make do. We are all broken to some degree. We all have flaws. You can embrace them, try and fix them, or try to ignore them. But I've found trying to ignore them is the worst thing I personally can do.

    7 votes
  6. wiki_me
    Link
    I think working on yourself is your best course of action, exercising, meditating and reading books or articles on the internet by people who seem smart and competent and using methods that were...

    I think working on yourself is your best course of action, exercising, meditating and reading books or articles on the internet by people who seem smart and competent and using methods that were shown to be effective either by science or the experiance of other people (not that i am perfect, but certain aspects have definitly gotten better). this could act as a good start.

    The most important thing i think is to avoid a pessimism bias, give things a chance and try to make them work, as thomas edison said on why he didn't give up when trying to make the light bulb despite a lot of failed attempts "I haven't failed -- I've just found 10,000 that won't work.".

    5 votes