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Old 12-14-2018, 08:59 AM   #21
missbella
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

In the arts, many people I know conduct their lives as if that’s part of their creations , from work to dress to dining to homemaking to dining to gathering friends. They treat every endeavor and moment as a chance to create something inspiring and special.
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:42 AM   #22
ArtleyWilkins
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

I spent most of my life in that state, and spend the decade of my 40's in and out of the hospital for suicide attempts and severe suicidality.

. . . and then I decided that gray life, that default to "I want to die," that constant centering on how miserable I was all had to stop. In one year, I lost two friends to suicide and my sister to cancer. The grief of loss was devastating, and not just to me. I watched while the people left behind, no matter how the loss came about, were pained by that permanent separation from the people they had loved. I realized that I could not intentionally do that to the people who I know love me, respect me, and look up to me. I realized there are more of those people out there than I really imagined.

I started looking for the subtle ways I matter to those around me. Of course I matter greatly to my family; that was a given. But I started noticing the smiles on the faces of my students when I greeted them at my classroom door, the "so nice to see you agains" from people who hadn't crossed my path for a few weeks or months, the taggle-wagging joy my dogs go into when I walk in the door after a long day at work, even the relief on a complete stranger's face when take the time to be polite to that retail worker that I'll never see again. I don't know that, beyond my family, I do anything heroic, but I have realized people find me to be kind. They admire my strength, ironically, when they observe me dealing with the challenges in my life. I started giving myself credit for the good person that I basically am. I can be content with being a good person.

I wouldn't say my life is "joyful;" it certainly isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes my life is, in fact, extremely difficult and overwhelming. Most of the time it is pretty routine and mundane (pretty much like most people see their lives I suspect). But I've found some hobbies that keep my soul filled and my hands busy. I developed a few relationships that I know are genuine and comforting.

I'm glad those attempts didn't work. I'm glad I saw my son fall in love and get married. I'm glad I've been here to support two other sons as they have openly come out, one as gay and the other as transgender. I realize I was born to be their mother so they could feel accepted and supported rather than judged and rejected. Had I left any of their lives, the impact would have been devastating, and I never want to be the agent of another person's suffering.
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:00 AM   #23
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

Since I left my childhood home, I haven't struggled much with suicidality. Feelings some, no attempts. It sounds painful to live in a state where you feel like you'd rather not be alive. I would be naive to suggest that if your life doesn't have joy, then you need to change your life. Or something trite like maybe a desire to feel differently would lead to one feeling differently. I do have some belief, though it's not as simple as snapping fingers or deciding to feel differently, that we actually are in charge of our own feelings. As the mom of an adolescent, I see the way feelings rule his world and I suggest that feelings aren't always "right" or "real" and that an always "trust your gut" may not be the way to organize your life. Sometimes feelings are just B.S. and they lock us into a prison where we reinforce them and have no motivation for it to be different. So I guess maybe I do feelings different than a lot of people do, and my experience has been that both the negative and the positive and the neutral and the undefinable come and go.

I've figured out what brings me joy and purpose and meaning and even some relatively sustained happiness, and I focus on the right now. Sometimes I feel gratitude that I have the life I want, minus some things I can't really control like world peace and unlimited wealth and a loving partner. But I dig the doing of my life and pretty much every day experience a range of things I feel, which are less important to me than what I do and what that means to me. I wake up engaged with my life and the world around me and I go to sleep satisfied that I've done something or more than something that made me feel like I matter to myself.
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:18 AM   #24
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Frown Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtleyWilkins View Post
I spent most of my life in that state, and spend the decade of my 40's in and out of the hospital for suicide attempts and severe suicidality.

. . . and then I decided that gray life, that default to "I want to die," that constant centering on how miserable I was all had to stop. In one year, I lost two friends to suicide and my sister to cancer. The grief of loss was devastating, and not just to me. I watched while the people left behind, no matter how the loss came about, were pained by that permanent separation from the people they had loved. I realized that I could not intentionally do that to the people who I know love me, respect me, and look up to me. I realized there are more of those people out there than I really imagined.

I started looking for the subtle ways I matter to those around me. Of course I matter greatly to my family; that was a given. But I started noticing the smiles on the faces of my students when I greeted them at my classroom door, the "so nice to see you agains" from people who hadn't crossed my path for a few weeks or months, the taggle-wagging joy my dogs go into when I walk in the door after a long day at work, even the relief on a complete stranger's face when take the time to be polite to that retail worker that I'll never see again. I don't know that, beyond my family, I do anything heroic, but I have realized people find me to be kind. They admire my strength, ironically, when they observe me dealing with the challenges in my life. I started giving myself credit for the good person that I basically am. I can be content with being a good person.

I wouldn't say my life is "joyful;" it certainly isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes my life is, in fact, extremely difficult and overwhelming. Most of the time it is pretty routine and mundane (pretty much like most people see their lives I suspect). But I've found some hobbies that keep my soul filled and my hands busy. I developed a few relationships that I know are genuine and comforting.

I'm glad those attempts didn't work. I'm glad I saw my son fall in love and get married. I'm glad I've been here to support two other sons as they have openly come out, one as gay and the other as transgender. I realize I was born to be their mother so they could feel accepted and supported rather than judged and rejected. Had I left any of their lives, the impact would have been devastating, and I never want to be the agent of another person's suffering.
I feel like I would be glad to know you A.W. I value what you wrote because I am looking for people around me who can say, "it sucks BUT I choose to live something positive". I'm not sure why I am searching for people like that, but not finding them makes me lonely.

I guess that it's because I've been up against the wall so many times, and chose to hang in, and often I feel that people are nurtured by my presence at the same time as... not appreciating the depth of my journey. It's hard to find the language to show that about me when the outside seems to be predominantly superficial.

Any suggestions would be muchly appreciated .
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:24 PM   #25
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

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I would try medication but fear being fat and no one will hire a fat personal trainer. I alreay just look at food and gain weight. I can hide hating life but I can't hide fat. Feeling like this is soo tiring.
There are many medications that dont cause weight gain. With you being a personal trainer you exercise so I sure you would be fine.
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Old 12-15-2018, 08:17 AM   #26
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

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There is nothing innately great/meaningful about life in my opinion. One can make meaning or find something that brings a sort of pleasure. Most of it is fleeting. That doesn't make it bad, just that it is a continued pursuit, not an end game. I have a job I like and friends I enjoy. A family I don't despise. I have hobbies I enjoy. Does that make life great - not really. But there are bits of pleasure, bits of boredom, bits of everything else.
This is very close to how I see it as well. When I was young, I was very much into trying to figure out meaning on all sorts of levels and looking at everything I can come across including many philosophies and spiritual systems. I was particularly a big fan of existentialism, which basically addresses the same questions and concludes in complex ways what stopdog summarized very well above. For me, a lot of the self-imposed pressure eased when I realized that it may be better to give up all (or at least some) of that compulsive, often abstract seeking and focusing more of creating a life that is reasonably satisfying for me on different levels, from basic survival needs to the "higher realms", and engage in it actively. I like the ideas in Maslow's Pyramid very much in this sense. Simply following abstract, philosophical motives (that I was so prone to when younger) or waiting for positive mood states to do something would never be enough.

The other side is the conditional part - depression, for example, can make all of this very complicated and, for those of us that are prone to even lower grade depression or existential angst, being in those states can really color the entire reality. But those are physiological states that cause symptoms, much like someone who has diabetes, for example, and is experiencing and hyper- or hypoglycemic states with all the discomfort and sometimes life-threatening dysregulation. What has helped me tremendously is learning to recognize when my momentary feelings, motivations, perspectives etc are clouded by those fluctuations in my brain and body chemistry. It can sometimes still be quite challenging to recognize this without doubt since the physiological state is what often generates the feelings of anxiety, low mood, sadness, and also sometimes the particularly elevated, happy states (for the latter, just think about how people use drugs to alter their mood by changing the chemistry!). I became quite good at recognizing what comes from benign physiological fluctuations (and can be ignored as they will pass) and what are more persistent, recurring, disruptive states that need to be address, potentially by making serious lifestyle changes and modifying the things I choose to engage in.

For me, there is also that I have a pretty strong novelty seeking temperament, so repetitions can be frustrating and exploring new things tends to be highly rewarding and mood-enhancing for me. But none of them will last forever - typically I find new things super engaging for several months or sometimes years, then it dissipates. But at this point of my life, I can't just blow many things that I created and took complex responsibilities for - well, I could, but that would not click well with my conscience. So many of the daily tasks are, by definition, boring and more like a chore, including dealing with the same people and activities I don't find very stimulating. I guess there is no other way around it but learning to still do it no matter what. It is an ongoing struggle for me that I just need to accept. Engaging even when I don't feel initially inspired or don't think it will be meaningful can sometimes brings unexpected levels of motivation and sense of meaning on the go, so the trick is to start doing things even if I feel zero inspiration. But it is also important to always have a bunch of things in my life that feel interesting and pleasurable enough - I can use those as the anticipated rewards of dealing with the daunting, boring stuff. All of this involves a lot of self-awareness, assessing situations and strategy. Waiting for things or states that will magically provide stable meaning and inspiration would be a very futile, sterile approach for me and would lead to nothing else but laziness and then accumulating anxiety and self-flagellation about it. Have been there many times.

I often like to view dealing with life as some sort of creative project - no one else and nothing else will make the visions in my head happen but me. And there will always be both creative blocks and moments of joy coming from both the process of engagement and occasional really satisfying discoveries and products. But, just like life on its own, most of these will not last very long.
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Old 12-15-2018, 09:51 AM   #27
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

as tolerable (and thoughtful ) a definition of adulting as i guess i'll ever see.
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Old 12-15-2018, 10:11 AM   #28
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

I sympathize with staying away from psych medications driven by a fear of gaining weight. I don't gain particularly easily and have been slim in my whole adult life but was overweight as a young kid and that led to many years of ordeal, including an eating disorder that was very hard to resolve and some of the mental consequences will just never go away, I think. I have a few rationalizations for not using meds and one is definitely the potential effects on weight. It is true that not all antidepressant meds and mood stabilizers have that side effect and not on everyone, and I know my fears are exaggerated, but I understand it because I have similar and have not been able to overcome it so far.

Something else about keeping inspiration up for me is associating myself with curious, motivated, well-adjusted and generally positive people. I have a tendency for this automatically (I think coming from my experience with my dad) but I do need to keep an eye on my choices when I have a more low or challenging period because I have a strong tendency to seek out the company of what I perceive as similar people. Consequently, I tend to choose more insecure, imbalanced, critical, irresponsible, extreme etc individuals when I am not doing well momentarily. Why? Because it is easier to vent, commiserate and not do anything to fix the problems. I am very aware of this now and can consciously say 'no' to those for the most part but still at times find myself engaging in ways that do not serve me well - luckily at this point it never lasts long and those individuals get highly aversive quickly. I see similar tendencies in many other people as well who have good basic morals but struggle with anxiety and depression - they can be quite sensitive to environment, including other people. In that sense, positive and inspiring choices for company can help a lot especially if one has to engage in challenging interpersonal exchanges e.g. in work, family etc. I guess some people keep a therapist for this purpose.
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Old 12-15-2018, 11:00 AM   #29
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

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Originally Posted by ArtleyWilkins View Post
I spent most of my life in that state, and spend the decade of my 40's in and out of the hospital for suicide attempts and severe suicidality.

. . . and then I decided that gray life, that default to "I want to die," that constant centering on how miserable I was all had to stop...

Thank you for sharing your experience Artley. A very thoughtful post.
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Old 12-15-2018, 11:11 AM   #30
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Default Re: So now that you decided to live what has been so great about it?

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I would agree that for the most part, because life isn't all that great- life is just a random series of trials and bad experiences (that differs for everyone), then, you're gone.

I certainly don't agree with, "life is what you make it", if life was what you made it, then surely it would all just be sunshine and rainbows (because after all,, no one wants to deal with grief, or pain, or illness, what ever)

I also think life's unfair because even if you are living a good life, with a good paying job and family and kids, etc etc, it all stops and is all taken away from you eventually.

life doesn't care if you work for mcdonalds or if you're the president of the united states, it's unfair to all of us.

and I do think (strongly think), that death is going to be a lot better

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