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    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2013 edited
    I think part of it is that it really is widespread, and part of it is that everyone suffers from something at some point, and only asome people have really hard-core issues. For example, I've had mild depression since I was a kid, the kind where sometimes I just get really sad and have to weep and it fucks up my perception of what the world thinks of me. Only once did it start affecting my relationship with friends, and even then it wasn't that bad, and only once did it seriously affect my productivity (when I failed some classes at uni, the first time I got anything below a C).

    Compared to some people, I mentally okay and just happened to have suffered through some "tough times." Because my depression isn't currently really affecting me too much, it's possible a professional wouldn't consider me depressed and might just say that what I'm experiencing is normal. But the days I get sad and have morose thoughts about myself and want to weep and think about the ways in which I can die, and end up being largely unproductive while I lay in bed under the sheets all day are still very real for me.

    Interestingly enough, one of the facebook groups I'm in brought of the topic of over-diagnosing and self-diagnosing right about when this thread came up. I guess one of the girls went into a clinical trial where she got diagnosed with schizophrenia and ADD or some combination, and the point of the trial was that it's really easy to mis-diagnose people if you're just basing it off of a few symptoms. It's really common for people to exhibit a few symptoms of some mental illnesses without actually having full-blown cases of those conditions (whatever "full-blown" may be).

    That said, i'm going to reiterate how much I love you people and this community. The attitude in that fb group thread was...not what I wanted to be in. It wasn't negative but it had that "Oh god ADD really is over-diagnosed these days as if all those people actually have it COME ON" attitude. I'm not saying that certain conditions aren't misdiagnosed - they certainly are - but some people were just being so dismissive of conditions that some people really do genuinely suffer from.
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2013 edited
    @MrMonk: I look at as: A person you've just been introduced to comes at you with arms outstretched.

    A. You freeze up or recoil. They're going to touch you. They want something from you you're not prepared to give. This isn't the way things are supposed to go AT ALL. You can't remember what the proper response is. You want it to stop and go away.

    B. You freeze up or recoil. They seem like they're attacking you. No one is coming to your aid. Should you fight them? Should you run? No, those aren't the right answers. But they know how it all works. They know secrets they don't want you to find out.

    C. You laugh off the surprise and hug them back. Whatever, some people are just touchy feely.

    A and B overlap in external expression but come from different places. A seems to me to be the psyche of the autism spectrum side, where everything has to follow a certain process and surprises, especially of a social nature, aren't welcome. B comes from trying to shove a surprise into a narrative, the sort of thing I've seen schizophrenics do a bit. The world works a certain way and deviations from that way are insidious. C seems to me to be the socially acceptable (and therefore medically healthy) response.

    I understand going back and forth and there's no reason a person's psyche can't do all of the above. (I had to train myself to be ready for damn near physical assaults from actors, where I'm used to just a handshake - hugs are for dear friends. And don't get me started on people who give platonic kisses.)(Despite verging on schizotypy, my instinctive reaction is to avoid touching or looking strangers in the eye.)

    Furthermore, all of this is contingent on our society in the West. Just try up and hugging an Asian in a room full of Asians. Never a frostier reception...

    @argos - that's part of why psychiatry considers disorders under spectra... Dysthemia is generally considered a mild depression and sometimes it's so faint in me I can fool myself into thinking I'm not depressed anymore. Then I get a touch of stress or something doesn't go right one day and all of a sudden I'm submerged and I hate myself and I'm pretty sure the world doesn't need me anymore, if it ever actually did.

    You may have something mild. Something worth keeping in mind so you don't get overwhelmed when it suddenly goes from dormant to active. Maybe you're lucky that you don't need daily treatment (medication) but perhaps someone to talk to every other week could help you keep your feet on the ground. *hug* It doesn't have to be either you have it or you don't.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2013
    My answer is D - they must be a Burning Man type so I'll hug them back. Heh, I've actually often found myself being the person who attacks the person I've just met with a hug because I was so used to hugging people at Burning Man. Platonic kisses are strictly reserved for family and other Spanish-speaking folk, since it's just such a cultural thing for us.

    @raz - Yeah, I pretty much have just self-diagnosed myself with mild depression. It's a tame enough self-diagnosis that it doesn't make me freak out about needing meds or anything, but enough of something to help me deal with myself when I just want to crawl in a hole - sometimes telling myself that nothing is wrong with me and it's just my brain chemistry being off can help me get through the day. Because, as you say, when it goes from dormant to active, it really can be sudden, and one needs a way to deal with it.

    And totally agree about it not having to be either you have it or you don't. It definitely runs in my family, but i might just be able to manage it better. When I did seek treatment (when I failed all my classes), both my doctor and therapist said I seemed to have a pretty good grasp at what was going on in my head. I'm terribly introspective, which can be good because it allows me to dissect what's going on when things go wrong, but is also awful because I can end up dwelling on things (and then become depressed about them).

    There was a time when I was younger (when I had my inferiority complex, which never fully went away) when I was convinced that no one really liked me but only just tolerated me, and that if I died no one would care or be affected by it, and I would more often than not cry myself to sleep. But even then I still did well in school and I participated in extra-curriculars, so again there's that argument of "well, is the person's life being affected? Is their life actually in danger?" etc. But I think that just because the answer is no to those things, doesn't mean you don't have a condition.
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2013
    Jesus, getting flashbacks now.

    People at my last job, who'd managed to get to know me well enough, used to exploit my allergy to unwarranted physical contact to snap me out of it whenever I got too 'intense' (their word) about something. Not quite a screaming phobic panic attack but it always worked.

    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2013 edited
    Physical contact is an interesting point. I'm a very touchy feely person nowadays, hugging new people and so forth, but I have to admit it's something I actively learned throughout the years. When I was a kid and teenager, I really didn't like being touched, or touching people. If I'm unawares and feeling either high-strung or low on Mental Teflon Shields (tm), a touch I don't have the time to brace for makes me jump a meter. This annoys the everloving fuck out of me, but meh, what'cha gonna do.
  1.  (10999.6)
    in my teens i'd go completly stiff and rigid if someone hugged me, nowadays i'm a hugger
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2013
    It takes a damn long time to get me to initiate physical contact with people. Or accept it. Unless I'm drinking. Alcohol makes me a normal person.

    But yea, I don't hug my brother ever, rarely my parents. If someone is crying near me I tend to avoid physically comforting them unless they seem into it (even if I've known them for years). I even have people who I've slept with multiple times and it's awkward to hug them hello. When someone can break through it and I feel comfortable being affectionate, I tend to go a bit overboard in my joy of not feeling weird touching someone for once. This has also caused some confusion in personal relations where someone can think I'm *too* into them and then I get freaked out again. Sigh.
    This has always made it extremely frustrating to try to hit on people, especially navigating that I like both men and women and sorting out if they're interested in me without wanting to offend them/make them uncomfortable. Mostly I just feel that people would rather I never touched them and so I keep to myself and people get this perception that I am aloof and unfriendly.
  2.  (10999.8)
    I've been wanting to respond to this thread since its inception. I've been scared to. Part of the whole sign-on-under-my-real-name thing. Owning your remarks is easy when they're professional opinions or pop cultural engagement. Less so right now.

    I have a severe brain injury. The whole story is here. I have been described as bipolar II on account of manic/hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes with suicidal ideation, but I spent months with a psychiatrist last year trying to get a solid diagnosis and perhaps change my medication - SSRIs at this stage - if necessary, to no avail. There always seems to come a point where psychs stop returning my calls. Usually after testing, rather than after telling them my life history, although it has also happened the other way around. I think it's probably down to people commonly being pretty unprofessional and useless rather than finding something horrific that they don't want to discuss. I hope. I went through an extensive and very costly barrage of tests last year, and now the bastards won't talk to me. No idea why or even what to do next.

    One person in my immediate family is certainly ASD with a solid diagnosis, and at least one more is probable. It seems to run down one side of my family. I am not ASD, but I do alright as a companion to someone who is because I am capable of changing myself when necessary, and because I don't give up on people on the basis of mental illness, no matter how far off the rails they might go from time to time. It's just not right for me to expect that leeway from everyone else and then not give it when it's required of me. Perhaps ASDs are over-diagnosed but that's very different to being fictional, and while at least one person in my life who has an ASD is brilliant, largely socially functional and also pretty damn hot, I can confirm that it really isn't a glamorous or fun thing to live with.

    I have a long history of alcohol and drug problems. I'm straight at present, and have been for over a year. The basic problem is that my dopaminergic system is flat fucking broken. My options are feeling like shit all the time or constantly looking for ways to goose the damned thing into action. My most stable and productive periods have usually been when I have been able to alternate between abundant supplies of different psychoactive chemicals in order to avoid both habituation and spiralling side effects.

    I think this place does attract people who aren't well but who are struggling to keep it together and make something of their lives. I think the secret is that we don't tolerate bullies at all. Clearly stated rules and vigilant moderators help, but also mutual acceptance and an appreciation of diversity, not to mention a properly sick sense of humour. Oh yeah, and a generally high IQ, too. That doesn't hurt. I started reading because Warren. I started posting, after a long period of lurkage, because I came to trust people here. I have come to rely on this place because this is what I hoped social media would be and it isn't. I've never met any of you but in many ways you're as important to me as my real-world friends and family. Thanks for existing. That is all.
    • CommentAuthorSteerpike
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2013
    Generalized anxiety is what gets my current shrink's claims paid - I really should see if I can find the medical paperwork from the last one I saw, as she never came out with an actual diagnosis that I remember, apart from suggesting paranoia at one point. Maybe depression. And that was when I was afraid of losing my job after some workplace outbursts.

    I found out a few years ago that, oh, by the way, you were diagnosed with 'autistic tendencies' as a kid, we never told you. Not sure how much stock I set in it, the 1970s understanding of ASD being right up there with methods for identifying witches.

    Morac: That comic is so what goes on in my head some days.

    On medication: It's tricky because not only do different medications act in different fashions, but different dosages also have different effects. I remember a nightmarish experience when I was on Geodon, which left me barely conscious and feeling like I was walking along the bottom of a very deep body of water all the time. That being said, I've also done the 'Hey, real men don't need your fancy pills' route, which has its own problems.

    My shrink has taught me some breathing exercises and meditative stuff which helps, and I've found Feeling Good helpful for teaching me how to short-circuit the negative thoughts I get before I spiral.

    I guess, don't be afraid to ask about alternatives to medicines, or to tell your doctor "Hey, I'm having these symptoms, can we try a lower dosage or another medication?"

    And know that it's normal to have good days and bad days.
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2013
    Hmm. I typically don't get too terribly personal on here (or on the internets, period). But all of you sharing helps me feel like I'm not alone in this. So here goes.

    I have been struggling with chronic depression since I was a child. I was formally diagnosed with depression when I was six years old. I'll be 36 in a couple months, so that means I've been dealing with that for over 30 years. I grew up with a shitty mother who constantly reminded me that I ruined her life (not her fault she got pregnant at 15, no, it was somehow my fault). So I grew up suffering her psychological and physical abuse until I was big enough to start fighting back and eventually leave. I ended up getting married way too young, to a man that ended up being just as abusive as her. I finally broke that cycle, struck out on my own...and then developed PTSD after being beaten and raped by an acquaintance.

    That of course exacerbated the depression. I have been through a couple of self destructive periods. I had a long string of failed relationships. Got married again. That ended after I got pregnant and miscarried. A couple of years later in a new relationship I managed to have my twin girls. Post partum depression was a whole new world of crazy. It took my normally Eeyore-like depression and turned it manic and spastic. It cost me my relationship with the kids' father. Not that everything was my fault, but it was a contributing factor, I'll just leave it at that.

    I did finally get into a good relationship after that, with a wonderful man that was in his own way, just as damaged as me. Maybe more so. We spent seven immensely weird but good years together before he died from a motorcycle accident about six years ago. Cue another downward spiral/self destructive spell. That one nearly killed me. If it weren't for a couple of people reaching out and pulling my head out of my ass for me, I probably would have let it. I started life over in 2009. Sobered up, got away from people and situations that were driving me further into my despair. I've been doing a lot better the last couple of years.

    I do still have days or weeks when the depression rears its ugly head. Sometimes life just sucks and you can't control it. Like a year and a half ago, when I lost my job and my grandmother died in the same week. That was rough. And then sometimes, everything is going along just fine and all of a sudden I feel this crushing weight come down and smash every bit of happiness I have. The PTSD from the rape and losing my husband pop up randomly as well. A sound or a smell or just the way someone will look at me will set me off. Most of the time it's circumstantial. But occasionally, my sadistic brain chemicals just like to wreak havoc. This is why we can't have nice things.

    I've been on medications before. I don't care for the disconnectedness that goes along with them. I struggle with being outwardly emotional to begin with. Just about every drug I've been on just turns me into a robot. Also, before, I was also self-medicating with other things (alcohol, pot, pills, etc) which definitely didn't help. Now I'm managing ok without any meds, but like I said, I still have days. And by the time they sneak up on me, I just do my best to ride them out and hope they don't cause me to do or say anything to jeopardize the other aspects of my life.

    I'm lucky to have a few people in my life that will tolerate me when I'm talking out of my ass when the depression makes me feel like the biggest failure of a human on the planet and won't argue, they'll just let me get it out of my system until I realize that I am, in fact, being a twat, and that I'll feel better after it passes. Sometimes I'm lucky and it's just a day or so of intense introspective self-hatred and misery. Other times, it can slowly flood around me and I'll spend weeks trying to pull myself out of it. Sometimes if I'm able to recognize that it is, in fact, the depression and anxiety taking over, then I'm able to control my responses to it better. But sometimes I don't, and that's when I kind of become an unbearable bitch until I do.

    Sometimes I have to take life a day, an hour, even a minute at a time. We all gotta do what we gotta do. *shrug*
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2013

    THIRDLY, I guess I've always been depressed. Runs in the family. Alchololic? OH yes. I've also enjoyed a flirtation with one or two other chemical agents, neither of which is good for your brain and I HVE SEEN THE FUNGUS AMONG US AND IT IS US. (lsd, coke and mushrooms, in dangerous abundance.) Been self-medicating with marijuana since I was 14.

    I also have a ... bit of a borderline personality disorder? Much like Peter Sellers, I don't feel that I actually have a personality. There IS no 'Me' - I'm just a collection of scraps that I tend to piece together, in some pleasing configuration, whatever the situation demands. I have a thousand yard stare that can light steel on fire. I've used it to scare people. I've gotten out of more sticky situations by using humour, though - always a laugh and a joke, cut the tension, here's a reference to this, quote that, steal this. I'm a Walking Google.

    Like Peter Sellers, I've managed to parlay this into .. something. However, I also have some social anxiety issues, which prevent me from fully realizing my potential.

    Imposter Syndrome? I adapt myself for whatever I need to be. It troubles me. I am an Unabashed Geek that thinks he's Steve McQueen and that Dude From Dr. Strangelove. That won't end in tears, will it?

    Secondly, I won't take pills. I'd rather meditate. Or sleep. Or ride my bike. No pills. (When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike into a forest and talk to a tree. True story.)

    I also make up my own math, whenever I feel like it. My credit score looks like Baghdad.

    I'm a kid, basically. I never grew up. I am amazed at people who can do things, manage things, gogogo all the time. I'm up and dressed, what more do you want?

    I apologize if I seem flippant - I've read your stories and I cried for each one of you. You all are some of the best people it has ever been my privilege to meet, either virtually or in meat-space. I wish all of you all the best and encourage any lurkers to at least consider adding comments. This community might help you, as it has helped me. I've met some people I would call my very best friends in the world here.
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013
    Does anyone dealing with anxiety/depression also get to deal with GI disorders? Crohn's, IBS, etc? There is growing evidence of a link between intestinal flora and brain chemistry. But the science is still kinda new.

    Anxiety and wallflowerish cowardice in myself so pisses me off I'm almost willing to a pill made of shit if that means I'll be brave and take chances.

    I'm a kid, basically. I never grew up. I am amazed at people who can do things, manage things, gogogo all the time. I'm up and dressed, what more do you want?

    HAH. I hate to admit but I pretty much live like I'm 12 and on summer vacation - and have been living like this for a few years now. My parents pay my way. A part of why it's hard to drum up motivation? Maybe? I don't know. I hate being so lazy, so poor and so cut off from the responsible people anywhere near my age. But... Hell, some days I don't make it out of my PJs.

    @Argos - kinda interesting about family. Can't get out of the touching (we're Mexican here - though sometimes my sister teases me and calls me a Mexi-can't because I stick out some) at home. But not a lot of smooching like I was talking about. Family kisses are on the cheek. I was talking about being weirded out by friends - Burners! - who like to kiss on the lips and insist it's Platonic. It may be for them but it makes me mad uncomfortable because it's just not Platonic for me. If I like the person but I'm just supposed to pretend it's a friendly kiss then it tears me apart - and if I don't like 'em that way then it squicks me out to kiss them.

    Sometimes that mild form is why society still seems to treat therapy as a luxury. It sucks that you have to be practically crippled with it for anyone to give you any credit for what you're having to deal with and meanwhile you're flailing like crazy to keep your mild or moderate situation from becoming the sort of acute emergency that will define your life. *grumbles*
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013
    I've found myself writing and deleting most of what I want to say about my situation. Even deleting a post. So you folks are pretty damn awesome for speaking up and I've developed a whole new appreciation for this place.

    Question to those who suffer with depression stemmed from emotional abuse: Were you ever met with criticism when talking about it because emotional abuse "isn't real abuse" according to them?

    A lot of my shit got knocked out as a silly first world problem by people who were practically competitive with their mental illnesses. So much that that, along with an "I can fix this myself" stubbornness and a fear of taking meds has resulted in me only taking the minimum amount of treatment options (and only then when I'm in Red Alert).
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013
    @raz OH! yeah, platonic lip kissing is weird for me. With family used to do it with my mom and dad growing up until I got weirded out by it around middle school, and then there's my best friend from high school with whom I do it and that's it.

    @oldhat - yes and no. In my case it wasn't that "emotional abuse isn't real abuse" so much as my emotional abuser believes she's been nothing but an angel to me. And omg YES about being competitive about mental illness. A lot of "I'm the one whose been emotionally abused and you have no idea what emotional abuse is and you can never know" kind of stuff.
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013
    @Clark and all the other lurkers. I'm constantly on that line. Kinda floored by all this. It's amazing and thank you for sharing. In line with what it seems are more than a few others, I've written and deleted this post a couple times over the last few days.

    As for treatment, that leads into a whole other discussion about medical care in the US. My financial situation isn't so dire that I can get state help,however without help I can nowhere near afford it.
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013 edited
    @ Raz: I have acid reflux/hiatus hernia problems but I think those might be hereditary because my mum & grandmother both have/had it, too. However, I know someone with IBD (ulcerative colitis) who has a history of mental illness, including severe depression, from way before the IBD started. I'll definitely be passing-on the link to them, though, thanks.

    @ mister hex: Fuuny how you describe "not having a personality" because it's really similar to how I've always seen myself: a collection of premeditated responses to everyday situations (God help me if I come across something new), "instinctve" emotional contrarian in that if someone's down, I'll perk-up and try to get them to do the same and vice versa - without ever realising it until long after the fact - but, deep down beneath all those Rolodex-responses, not caring one way or the other about how anyone feels, either in general or as a result of something I've said or done. It's not that I don't want to emphathise with anyone - there are times when I'd kill do anything to get them (and them me, inevitably), it just doesn't happen. I can't "relate" to anyone's issues unless I've been through a similar experience, and even then it's more of a "hey, look what we have in common!" moment than me understanding how they feel.

    I've been accused of being a narcissist once or twice but one of the shrinks diabused me of that idea. Anyway, I think I'm more Zelig than Patrick Bateman.
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013
    @razrangel - yep, which then compacts my agoraphobia that I'm going to get sick in front of a crowd of people so I'm even more anxious. Hence, taking an ungodly amount of antacids and other stronger medicines to the point of fucking up my insides. But hey, at least I could ride a train in rush hour for 20 minutes. I see a family member of mine starting to go through the same thing and it makes me worried for them - it's become a question where I'm not sure if the anxiety came first or the start of the GI issues that then causes the anxiety.

    @oldhat - my folks used to always tell me that any emotional outburst I had where I stood up against something bothering me was "overreacting", which is where for the longest time I was convinced I was just making up all these things wrong with me for attention. Which really, thinking about it, was incredibly dangerous for them to do to silence me - I stopped sharing anything with them and it lead to a lot of bad situations for me that really needed a support system and taught me that family isn't a reason for people to give a damn about you.
    I've also had those kinds of toxic friendships and still always feel like I'm playing the Mental Disorder Olympics where it's a competition for sympathy, as if that's in limited supply! Most of my friendships and relationships have had a lot of that element to it, where whenever I was having a bad day, they'd have their own meltdown and I would be packing my shit down just to take care of them. So I'm kind of that weird fairweather friend: along with my general inability to connect with people, I just can't handle helping someone and then having my own requests for understanding be slapped away as if I'm imposing on them. So I don't make an effort.

    It's kind of one of the reasons why try to contribute at least my experience to discussions like this - if I can't really emotionally be there, at least it's documentation that someone is not alone in what they're feeling. This idea that there can be only One broken person and they can have all the love and sympathy and that I (or us) are not the ones who are allowed to have it is incredibly hard to break. Having safe spaces where we're not being shut down and instead have people who understand and even those who don't have disorders show support is proof that that thought is wrong.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2013
    whenever I was having a bad day, they'd have their own meltdown and I would be packing my shit down just to take care of them.

    *non-intrusive hugs* That's the worst when people do that, it's one of the ultimate forms of selfishness.
  3.  (10999.19)
    On platonic affection - My Dutch relatives are all cheek kissers as their standard hello to family and friends. I feel like a Clumsy American when greeting them, but try to reciprocate the three-kiss cheek dance without completely embarrassing myself.

    @razrangel - I think part of the problem with feeling lazy (I've been struggling with that one, too) is the assumption that it's an inherent part of our personalities. The way we talk about ourselves, especially when it's encouraged by the way others talk about us, encourages a feeling that there's something wrong with our basic nature, rather than with the situation. The belief that something is true makes it more true, psychologically, you know what I mean?
    I've been trying to separate my low motivation from how I feel about myself as a person. I'm hoping that treating it as just another challenge in the world, rather than as a broken part of me, will make it seem not so insurmountable. Not calling myself lazy, and not letting other people get away with calling me lazy, certainly makes me a little bet happier, and considering I'm getting more work done lately, perhaps that's part of the reason why.
    ...To change the topic back to platonic affection, I think that vetoing platonic lip-kissing is a reasonable boundary that people should respect, and you shouldn't let them make you feel bad about that.
  4.  (10999.20)
    One day, I need to sit down and sort out all my baggage. Many of you have touched upon/reminded me of many things in my life that I should probably talk about, or at the very least, write down.

    ...ugh...that sounds daunting...

    One day...

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