un-conscientious

Disclaimer: although this post is based off of a video on OCPD, it is not itself a discussion of the disorder, so if that’s what you’re interested in reading about, you can move on πŸ˜€

Also, i might edit & update this post at some point.

6:28 OCPD & the five factor model

Dr. Todd Grande, whose channel I spend a little too much time watching & can highly recommend, recently uploaded this video about obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Transcript of the relevant portion of the video (my post begins on the next page):

Now looking at the personality characteristics associated with this disorder. I like to look at personality using the five factor model of personality theory. I remember the traits in the five factor model through the acronym OCEAN: Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

I’m actually gonna start here with conscientiousness, because that’s the personality trait that we think of, initially, as being the most related to OCPD, having the strongest association. So conscientiousness describes individuals who are industrious, reliable, self-disciplined, and ordered. There are six facets of this personality trait: Competence, Order, Dutifulness, Achievement striving, Self-discipline, and Deliberation.

Now, again, a lot of people look at this and say, OCPD must be related to conscientiousness, it seems like an obvious connection. But the findings in the research are actually… not as clear as that. Self-report measures of OCPD show large positive correlations with conscientiousness. So what this means is, when people have the disorder, they tend to rate themselves as highly conscientious.

But here’s where it gets tricky: interview-based measures of OCPD — so these would be when people are observing other people who have OCPD — these show a non-significant relationship. So outside observers see OCPD differently than people who have the disorder. So we see really little evidence of a relationship between OCPD and conscientiousness at the trait level.

But we really have to look beyond the general trait. The real story in this relationship is in the facets that I talked about before. Now, self-discipline, competence, and order are negatively correlated with OCPD, and the disorder is unrelated to deliberation and dutifulness. But it has a positive relationship with achievement-striving. So what might be happening here is that people are seeing a lot of achievement-striving, and perhaps forgetting that there’s much more to conscientiousness than just that one facet. People tend to equate achievement striving with the overall trait of conscientiousness.

So that covers conscientiousness, but what about the other traits I mentioned before, the other four traits in the five factor model. Well, we see, really, an unclear relationship with openness to experience, it seems like there is a negative correlation with the fantasy facet, but other than that it’s really not clear.

In terms of extraversion, there’s an overall negative correlation, but again, the facets are important: we see that the disorder is negatively associated with warmth, gregariousness and positive emotions. So people with this disorder would not tend to be friendly, not tend to be outgoing, and probably not have a lot of positive feelings. OCPD has no relationship with assertiveness, activity, or excitement-seeking. Right, so again, the facet-level detail is important to understand the relationship.

In terms of agreeableness, we do see a negative relationship here, so people with this disorder tend to be disagreeable and antagonistic. They have low trust of others, for example.

Now in terms of neuroticism, we see a positive relationship, especially in the facet of angry hostility. Now, this really isn’t that surprising, as high neuroticism is associated with all of the Cluster C personality disorders, and for that matter, it’s associated with all of the Cluster B personality disorders, as well.

So going back for a moment to the conscientiousness trait — this is the one that kind of surprises people, that relationship surprises people — so here’s what this kinda means, from the research findings, with conscientiousness: high-conscientiousness people are competent and self-controlled. They can handle situations and get the job done.

Individuals with OCPD are perfectionistic: their need for order and regulation is excessive. So it seems like it aligns with conscientiousness again, but it may actually interfere with other behaviors that would be part of conscientiousness.

So this reminds me of the phrase “perfect is the enemy of good”: the paradox here is that if somebody is too conscientious, they stop functioning in a conscientious manner. So individuals with OCPD tend to be ineffective at making decisions, and they have difficulty completing tasks. So when we look at the behavior, it does appear to be differentiated from conscientiousness; we have that overlap with achievement striving, but other than that, the two constructs really seem to diverge.

s c a t t e r brained

it’s been difficult to finish a post lately. you have no idea the number of drafts that are piling up on my account (and in my head). but its hard to maintain the internal logic and continuity of individual sentences, never mind the essays that i usually write. and its not for lack of trying… it’s more like there is so so much id like to discuss, it’s overwhelming. not because i cant decide between topics, but because they are so interconnected.

if i were to eloquently express my feelings on any one topic, that would lead to more digressions than i have time for, each calling for an elaborate backstory, disclaimer, footnote, parenthesis, and reference.

i don’t know how to prioritize.

but i think that the theme of all the changes ive been noticing is that im becoming increasingly… self-aware i think is the word. in an odd, detached, emotionless way. but my problem is, you can only get so meta — especially on your own. though of course it just seems like im in the same place i was when i started out. this time around,

i’m painfully aware of the emptiness i feel when im alone. this is why it takes me ages to string together a single complete sentence: when i start to think, really think, about my thoughts, behaviors, motivations — when i break my self down to a bunch of psychological constructs and analyze them (to the best of my ability, of course) — it seems abundantly clear that i have very few inherent qualities.

meaning, there are few things i could say about myself that i could have any degree of certainty would remain relatively constant over time & place. does that make sense? but these statements can’t both be true simultaneously: i cant be stubborn & narrow-minded and also mimic the beliefs and opinions of everyone around me at the same time … can i ?

im kind of angry. i had this conversation a while back with a friend of mine, and he compared my making someone else gain a level of insight about their poor mental health to giving a blind person a knife for them to slice some bread with. i came up with an analogy that to me seemed better suited to the situation: explaining to a short-sighted person unsuccessfully trying to slice bread with a spoon … that they need to get a pair of glasses.

lets move away from the analogies because neither of them works perfectly well, but that’s not the point. they are both pretty pessimistic. and ye. what i tried to do to (for?) someone else, i also did to myself: i thought. i thought, and i thought, and i guess i myself realized after a while that i must be doing something wrong. except i can’t just have my bread sliced for me, nor can i have my eye defect fixed with a simple prescription from the opthalmologist.

i went down the rabbit hole hoping to find some answers, or at least reassurance. what i got instead was more questions that only further fueled my self-doubt.

this is the first time i have ever lived not just with a suspicion but with the knowledge that i’m not fully well. and what happened was, it became just one more thing to build my identity around: living from appointment to appointment, reading books and articles on the subject, putting my life on hold until i “recover”. and explaining away all my flaws and mistakes with a single resonant acronym.

but in all honesty, it is too much.

because before, i could, in a way, live in the moment. life seemed unpredictable and at times even satisfying. but now… in retrospect, everything that happened seems much less random. and if that inevitability is true of the past, it must be equally true of the present & future.

i’m angry because,,,

the truth about me would have remained true whether i found it out or not. i could have just lived in blissful ignorance and enjoyed my life (wrongly) believing myself to have some say in it. but naaah, i had to go and find things out that i cant change anyway.

now i can see myself for the terrible, messed-up person i am, and im gonna have to live the rest of my life trying to work on the few things that i can, just so i can kinda sorta compensate for the countless things that i can’t. and stay frustrated about wanting things i know i cant have. and of course i can’t unlearn stuff about myself, so im left with no hope, even.

i can feel myself aging. i can feel myself pushing people away. i can tell im wasting time and opportunities and potential. i know, now, when i’m being weird and generally off-putting. and yet there’s nothing i can do about it. because i’m just so lost and aimless. so… fragmented. empty. my mood and self-perception shift from moment to moment, but no corresponding change ever occurs in my life, which stubbornly remains just the way i (non)arranged it years ago. i’m 25, but i could be 15, could be 45.

I genuinely hope that IF i learn enough about myself and develop healthy coping skills and set some goals and learn some basic life skills, i might be able to actually DO something and not just THINK.

i have always needed somebody else to get me out of my comfort zone. but people like that are hard to come by when you let yourself go & isolate yourself. here’s something you may not know about me: even though i dont believe in a god, i have always kind of considered becoming a nun. anything just to have some external structure in which im never going to get rejected so long as i abide by the rules.

i’m not crying for help anymore…

because i no longer believe that i can be helped.

but maybe “help” simply looks different than i thought.

any ideas?

i had my first “proper” therapy session this week, and it was… eye-opening.

i was asked to think about what goals i would like to set for myself to accomplish through therapy. the more i think about it, though, the more confused i am.

how general or specific should i be? what’s a realistic goal for me to have?

the truth is, i can’t think of anything that i wouldn’t like to change about myself. and sure, i can try to consider which parts of my personality cause the most problems in my day-to-day life… except, of course, i only have limited insight, and i might not even realize what the real issues are.

good thing i have a lot of time to think this through.

physically filling an emotional void?

tw: please don’t read this post if you suffer from eating disorders, especially those on the restrictive side.

it’s relatively easy to start talking about emotions once you’re given a vocabulary. but now i need to talk about something i continue to feel a great deal of shame about, mostly because of how basic it is.

i’m a compulsive overeater. there, i said it. it’s pathetic, i know. how stupid do you have to be to not be able to control something so simple? how mindless and self-indulgent? but i am able to control it, in the short term, anyway; at least i used to be: in high school i was severely underweight.

what i am is … disillusioned. starving myself didn’t make me happy, so who the fuck cares what i look like.

and besides, it’s not about mindless / emotional eating anymore. the problem is that im now acutely aware that im doing irreversible damage to my body … painfully so … and that’s kind of the point.

it may be simple, but it does what it’s supposed to: it makes me feel even more weak, pathetic, disgusting, ugly, empty, unapproachable… worthless.

if im happy about one thing thats changed over the past two years or so, its that im less obsessed with my body.

yes, the reason i originally went into therapy was a sort of depression brought on by the discovery that i had high blood sugar (that i most likely was like 90 per cent responsible for) and the guilt & other negative feelings associated with that.

but my current health concerns have little to do with how i feel about my weight, lifestyle, & eating habits. it just so happens that i have to change them for health-related reasons.

im less preoccupied with my weight & size, and my self-esteem is less dependent on my appearance. but it’s not exactly out of self-acceptance…

…it’s out of indifference. i find it difficult to care enough to change the things that i should. all of my previous efforts to stay in shape and eat healthy were externally motivated (though it was my fucked up mind that took them to extremes). now, ive completely given up on trying to be “attractive”… or healthy.

so even though i could technically eat less, and potentially even fit a workout routine into my schedule, i know id find it not just hard but pointless to do so & stick to it.

what is more, i now frequently find myself forcing myself to binge when im already uncomfortably full. because … the emotional urge to numb out may be gone (for now at least), but the habit remains. i simply don’t know what else to do with my time.

part of it is down to the behavior pattern itself, but most of it results from the thought process that drove me to develop the pattern in the first place:

i feel empty. i feel stupid. i feel that i don’t deserve to do anything worthwhile or enjoyable in my life (yes! i don’t enjoy eating anymore! in fact i kind of hate it now! i don’t even eat most of my favorite foods anymore, nor do i crave them. i kind of don’t care either way). i feel that i deserve to isolate myself and rot away in my bedroom. and i mean, i’ve been doing that for so long, it’s scary just thinking about breaking that pattern, like … where do i begin?

but i’m proud of myself for reaching out for help, not just with this, but with everything. i’m proud that i can stop myself from overeating at least some of the time. and now, i’m proud of speaking out. it can get better. it will.

permission to think

there is so much i’d like to discuss, but i just can’t get the words out, can’t find the right words, can’t collect my thoughts. just as it used to with journalling, it feels like im going in circles. like im using repetition & redundancy, unnecessarily complex syntax & vocabulary, and elaborate digressions to obscure my own thought process and distract from the utter vacuity of my underlying assumptions & motivations. in short, i’m playing for time.

but, who am i really playing with? aren’t i supposed to want to gain insight, get out of my own way, and learn how to get better, how to change? but the idea seems both terrifying and overwhelming, if not downright impossible, so i steer clear of the topic altogether.

You wanna know the truth? I was in denial about this for quite some time: I never intended to change. I did hate myself for the way I behaved, and i wanted to change… i just wouldn’t accept that i actually had any control over how things turned out. in a weird way blaming myself for virtually everything … absolved me of any real responsibility for my actions.

I’ve always found it hard to operate on the assumption that something so seemingly foundational to my personality as I understood it wasn’t, in fact, integral to it. So realistically, there was nothing i could do, because i was just inherently worthless and powerless. Nice cop-out. But even if my personality was shaped by things outside of my control — my genes, my upbringing, adverse childhood experiences — that’s an explanation, not a justification. And it’s a lousy excuse to continue to do nothing about it in the future.

i’m somewhat less angry about being in the place that i am right now. it’s not ideal, but it actually makes perfect sense in the context of my life. i’m working through whatever issues i need to work through and taking things at my own pace, and if parts of my personality include laziness and procrastination, i might as well embrace them.

any pressure i have ever felt to achieve achieve achieve was always external. i took it at face value, as i take everything, never once stopping to think, why? what for?

so if i feel guilty now about 1) “not making the best of my life” and 2) leading a parasitic lifestyle and perhaps even 3) just generally being bone idle… even though i never had the motivation to do or be anything else in the first place… tell me how that makes sense.

this is not to say that i dont have the internal motivation to do/be anything; just that the standard i was holding myself to was entirely based on cues i was taking from my environment. parents, church, school, friends, media. always without, never within. again, it’s not that i didn’t want to think for myself… i just didn’t think it was an option. i never trusted my own judgment enough to know what i liked, what i wanted, what was good for me. i couldn’t believe that voice, so i stopped listening. and silenced it. and eventually, i guess it shut up.

truth is, i could be a teacher translator working on my Ph.D. and fuck knows what else right this very moment, and my life would be just as empty because i would still be doing it for the wrong reasons. it makes me think of this:

a tweet by @yellowcardigan that perfectly describes what drives 99% of my behavior
my attitude to life, basically

I’m grateful for my job. It gives me a sense of stability and a reason to get up in the morning. That’s all it ever was; all i ever needed.

I’m grateful that my parents don’t put any pressure on me to grow up too soon, that they’re patient and supportive in their own way… and that they’re responding to my clumsy attempts at open communication.

I’m grateful for the people in my life who chose to stick by me when i wouldn’t have.

and, i dunno. somebody very special once told me i was easy to please… or something along those lines. it was meant as a compliment, but i took it to mean i was complacent / an underachiever / that i settled. that, and that they were plain wrong, because i knew myself to be greedy and perfectionistic.

but maybe they had a point. maybe the only reason i think i want / need so much more than what i have or can possibly get … is because i want things that seem to work for others. but when i stop & listen to that inner voice of mine for a little while, quiet as it is at this point, i can find a way for a brief moment to be content with those things that i do have.

because that standard i was talking about, it isn’t real. it’s a sort of composite of every idea i have ever encountered in my life, filtered through my uncritical, clueless and confused mind, compounded by my natural inclination to generalize and catastrophize.

but the truth is, im happy now. things could be better, but they could also be worse. and nobody’s rushing me, and there is no final exam, and i can just do whatever i want & need.

wow. …what a relief.

now that's what i call _free_writing

song for today

do you believe in free will? i know it’s a complex topic, and (as per usual) i’m not equipped to do it justice. but you don’t need that much intellectual sophistication to be able to tell whether you, personally, on an emotional level, find the concept convincing.

i know i don’t.

for the sake of clarity: i’m not talking about your freedom to choose how you take your coffee or the friends you keep. i’m talking about something… larger. not just how you choose to live out your true nature, but your true nature itself: your personality, intellect, interests, inclinations; the very way you interact with the world.

you might have some influence over the environments / situations / contexts you find yourself in, or put yourself in, but you don’t have as much of a say in how exactly you respond to them. you can try to “curate” your repertoire of behaviors, but even then you’re limited to the pitifully small range of possibilities that occur to you.

similarly, no matter the particular details of the circumstances you’re under — no matter what, exactly, is happening — you can react in a number of ways, but they will always have YOU written all over them. i suppose this is less true the more self-control and discipline you have. then you can feign emotions, flirt, manipulate people, make jokes, act more like somebody else, do all sorts of things. but they will still be specific to YOU.

true free will would mean having access to an infinitely vast pool of possibilities. in reality, however, our freedom has very real physical limitations. how can you speak of free will if you can’t even will your own brain into approaching life with a sense of humor instead of the earnestness and fatalism that you know to be so unhelpful? you can teach (train?) yourself to always look on the bright side of life, but it will always be an uphill battle.

what if you’re emotionally unstable by nature, and the thing you want most in the entire world is to achieve a sense of balance at last? or — do you think I like being stuck up and condescending? Do you think I wouldn’t rather be spontaneous and generous?

I don’t intentionally act in ways that make me more miserable, any more than those of you with healthier personality profiles intentionally act otherwise; we kind of just… do. Most people probably don’t have to have their well-being at heart at all times, not explicitly, anyway; it’s more like an assumption on which they operate; a given, not a variable. and then they can fully commit to also factoring other people into their decisions.

My laziness and selfishness are patterns of behavior, individual instances of which i can rarely recognize for what they are in the moment im exhibiting them. and even if i were able to recognize them, i wouldnt know the first thing about how to change them.

a sense of self that is predicated on identifying as anything is bound to be unstable. why must i insist that people are monoliths… archetypes, or emblems, of such human concepts as kindness or cruelty? yes, some people better fit what we understand to be the definition of “kind”. but words themselves have their limits. i know that that’s kind of the point, but more than just limited, they end up also being limiting.

even constructs such as personality profiles, traits, etc., are only helpful to the extent that they give us a general idea of qualities otherwise nebulous & elusive, so that we can communicate & assume that we mean more or less the same thing. neither words nor images, nor our minds themselves, can comprehend or convey the entirety of the thing were trying to describe.

but if not with labels, how else (if at all) do you define yourself…?

and sure, some people are more creative, open-minded, flexible. by extension theyll have more free will, because they can act more freely, more spontaneously. it’s not that the options aren’t there for some people. (well, sometimes they aren’t. but lets not get into that whole mess right now.) potentially everything can be turned into an opportunity. it’s just that some of us see the opportunities more often than others.

who’s there to tell any one of us that we can’t start a career as singers? whether we’re any good at it or are lucky enough to get discovered is a whole different question. i could build my whole identity around being a singer, but that self-perception wouldn’t at all correspond to reality.

so, what if you want to see yourself as a “good person”, but some of your behaviors could be construed as evidence to the contrary? well, then you’re fucked & my previous post happens. you’re selfish, evil, and you’re facing a grim future of suffering imposed on self & others.

but yeah, never mind that a large portion of your choices is actually dictated by external factors. Even controlling for those outside influences, you’re still little more than a statistic, happening to fall some place on that goddamned bell curve at some point in time.

sound familiar? “Where am I going with this????” Fuck knows. i think it’s just my roundabout way of saying that im not happy with the fact that significant chunks of life go way over my head, and there’s not much i can do about it.

and that overwhelming feeling that free will is an illusion and my story has been written for me, long, long, long ago and it doesn’t really matter what i choose, because while the stage design might change, and i might deviate from the plot somewhat, im still destined to repeat those same tropes & mistakes & dilemmas that my ancestors struggled with.

regardless of what i do and how i get there, i’m still going to end up in pretty much the same place. Sometimes it feels like I’m already there, and i cant change the outcome because it’s sort of imprinted on my genes. everything feels pointless because try as i might to get better, i will always go back to my old ways and my original outlook on life, which is… not good.

i’m kind of all over the place today, sorry about that.

today was my first appointment with a therapist. my last post was the one she read when i showed her my blog, and it’s actually an accurate representation of my state of mind pre-psych meds. i’ve come to the conclusion that, among other things, they allow me to compartmentalize in a way i never thought possible. the day i wrote that post I was feeling kind of shitty, so i vented, and proceeded to go about my day as if nothing had happened. i smiled, i laughed, i joked around.

normally if my mood is shitty, my whole day ends up being shitty as well. right now, though, i can set my own feelings aside for a while and focus on the task at hand. not always, and not to the same extent as others around me usually do, but more than typical for me. also just because i can do it doesn’t mean i always choose to, but still. πŸ˜€ which is to say that i can now feel like shit and be in a great mood at the same time??

so anyway, because i feel like i could go on forever and somehow manage to still not say anything of substance, ill end here and hope i haven’t bored some of you to death by now.

i’m off to do my therapy.. homework.. assignment.. thingy πŸ˜€

doing a 180

πŸ™ƒ

you’re not fooling anybody you dumb bitch.

you can take all the pills you want, but it’s never going to make you likeable. the only thing it does is it keeps you in this delusionally narcissistic state where you’re artificially, superficially, mindlessly “happy” and completely oblivious to other people or even what’s going on in your own mind.

whatever made you think it was a good idea to unload on the internet, after all this time spent marinading in your own toxic bs??? nobody. cares.

and you dare pretend you’re getting better, all the while following those same patterns that got you here in the first place? and climbing onto shelves tempting fate to let you fall to the floor?

who are you kidding? you know full well you have nothing to offer. you’re empty inside, you’re mean, and you want to see people suffer. Youd take everyone down with you if you could. you’re not “kind” “deep down”; youdve been kind a long time ago if youd genuinely wanted to.

some people are just destined to be miserable, and they dont even really want to be happy. if you want to change, why dont you make some fuckin effort for once in your life, you entitled, lazy fuck????

all you can do is make excuses. you’re too stupid, too ugly, too boring, too annoying, or you’re not enough this and not enough that… to just do your best. thats not how life works, you absolute twat.

if you can be counted on for anything, its one more stupid mistake, you thoughtless, good-for-nothing waste of oxygen.

really you were trying to do the impossible all along; trying to accept the unacceptable.

but im done with that.

im done pretending i can ever like myself. what kind of stupid goal is that, anyway? whoever said you had to like yourself to survive? i never did like myself, and yet im still alive. easier that way.

less internal conflict if you can come to terms with simply being a shitty human being.

Paxilβ„’ is bae

This post is emphatically not brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline! πŸ˜€

cw: suicidal ideation … physiological functions? sorry, i’m not good at TWs

youll know by now that i dont have that many opinions. and even when i do, they’re rarely some firmly held beliefs. the controversial statement above, i’m not particularly attached to, either. but it is the way i feel, at least for now.

antidepressants can cause weight gain. true. also? irrelevant. they can increase blood pressure + sugar. the list of possible side effects goes on and on. for me right now, it’s memory problems and dry skin. oh, well.

now weigh that against the deepest, most profound and absolute sense of hopelessness and worthlessness you have ever felt in your entire life. a loneliness and insecurity so severe, for the first time in your life you start vaguely contemplating suicide not because you want to die, but because the thought of going on like this indefinitely simply feels unimaginable.

I shudder to think about the depths of depression people have descended to who are physically incapable of getting out of bed. That they live to see another day is an achievement in and of itself. I didn’t have it that bad, but it was still getting too much for me.

and i didn’t see a way out.

I remember going to Open’er Festival last year, excited to stay at the campsite for the first time ever and to see The Strokes, Interpol, LP, The 1975, Tom Walker… Vampire Weekend, who are one of my favorite bands of all time… I was going alone, but that was normal for me, I usually travel & go to concerts alone.

but when I arrived, I immediately wanted to leave. not go back home, but bury myself in a deep dark hole and never get out. i was surrounded by people who were all happy to be alive, enjoying their time together with their friends, and i felt like the loneliest person on earth.

and there was no way out.

obviously I couldnt leave. so i stayed. i stayed, and i forced myself to get out of my pitch black tent… sometimes. i had to summon all the willpower i could just to put one foot in front of the other, and there were times i almost stopped in my tracks and lay down on the grass. i had to keep going though, because if i stopped, it felt like i might never ever get up again.

at times i found myself going through the motions of “having fun”. i’d be standing close to the stage, mouthing the lyrics to my favorite song, and then a minute later it’d be like i wasn’t even there.

i was completely isolated and detached from what was happening around me. i ended up only seeing parts of the acts i wanted, and none of the “fillers”, even though i usually go from one artist to another and try to experience as much as i can possibly cram into one short day.

this time, though, I lay motionless in my sleeping bag, hardly registering Kylie Minogue and Swedish House Mafia performing at the main stage. To me they were just background; just noise, cancelling out my own thoughts.

and still no way out.

I came back home, and I… immediately asked my Grandma to get me a psych appointment. i couldn’t go on pretending any longer.

My doctor first prescribed duloxetine. It’s a strong SNRI, and it took the edge off. …across the board.

On my third day on the drug, I went to Berlin, to see AnnenMayKantereit live: a concert I’d been waiting forever to go to. The concert itself was great, though I would have enjoyed it much more fully sober. But at least that poignant feeling of loneliness wasn’t quite as bad.

Adjusting to the medication took a while. I would sweat like a pig, have heart palpitations and anxiety attacks, wake up very early in the morning. I would get dizzy just standing up, and have unpredictable mood swings. I also had really bad constipation. (Sorry!)

But…

god, the clarity.

it didn’t come on immediately. I was in Berlin for four days, and I spent most of that at a nearby Starbucks, reading research papers on antidepressants for seven hours at a time. i was in some sort of hypnotic trance where that seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to spend your time. And anyway, I also got tired easily, so i liked the not moving part.

But I was starting to see a way out.

Cymbalta wasn’t perfect for me. In the end it made me impulsive and sort of crazy. But in a way it saved me; it did exactly what it was supposed to do: it dulled the pain. It alleviated many of my physical symptoms, and there was a short period of time where it gave me some insight into my mental states.

Because i was so bad at expressing myself, I accidentally offended my psychiatrist when trying to tell him that I wanted to try something else. I stayed on it for two more months, and then, after hearing some of my symptoms, he complied with my wishes…agreed that duloxetine wasn’t good for me, and switched me to something else.

and that something was paroxetine, and it made a world of difference. it’s not perfect either. perfection doesn’t exist, you see. but its pretty fucking great.

it made me gain weight… and those hands, ugh, i need to moisturize like 24/7.

but it is so worth it.

Because now, I can see a way out.

and for the first time in my life, i can understand that the road to recovery is long and bumpy and far from linear… and be okay with it.

I owe it to Cymbalta that I was able to tell my doctor that I wanted to go off Cymbalta. It started to happen often, me recognizing my needs and not being afraid to tell people about them. I owe it to Paxil that I finally did what I should have done years and years ago, meaning starting this blog.

Continued use of antidepressants over several years may or may not be harmful, as anyone in certain facebook groups and some professionals disillusioned with their own field will tell you.

Moreover, I myself don’t believe that they’re the solution to the underlying problem. I would gladly stay on them forever, if not for the side effects and certain health concerns. Not because they solve the problem, but because they help. Simple as that.

Because there is a way out.

and now i can see how good life could be. and it’s like the negative experiences in my life hadn’t affected me. and i feel less anxiety. less shame. less dependency on other people. and things aren’t as black and white anymore.

i had absolutely no idea how many of my most basic assumptions about the world where wildly inaccurate. it’s kind of insane how one small pill a day can change your perception of everything that happens to you (or not even to you, but just in general). in very subtle ways it reduces the feeling of being inadequate, a burden, incompetent, that sort of thing. finally i can take criticism and not be tormented by it, or by whatever mistakes i make, for days afterwards.

i feel it’s important to keep in mind that the meds have changed my personality in some small but significant ways. contrary to what some of you may believe, though, it’s mostly been positive, and im far from the medicated zombie that some might make me out to be.

i feel as though i’d been deprived of an inner life before, and it’s now that i can finally process all my negative feelings. take a step back and assess them more rationally, because it doesn’t hurt as much.

What’s more, I’m not afraid of being vulnerable. coming off as silly. making a fool of myself. because i just. don’t care. and i know this kind of disregard for your own … dignity? migh be dangerous for someone who’s naturally more open about their feelings, idk, but for me it was eye-opening.

it’s now — on Paxil — that I wrote those notes to my family. it’s now that i started the blog. it’s now that i’m affectionate towards my loved ones, i sometimes joke around with friends from work, and i occasionally giggle (out loud!) when i read something funny. all of these seemed impossible just last July.

I can still (genuinely) laugh. I do still cry. And, to my own surprise, i find it easier, not harder, to empathize with people; possibly because I’m not burdened by my own emotions all the damned time.

and i can finally see how far up my ass my head has been all this time — and, importantly, still is. you have to be comfortable acknowledging your flaws if you’re ever going to change. damn right i’m narcissistic. and lazy. i can work on it.

Lastly, I would like to point out that initially, being prescribed antidepressants felt incredibly validating. i thought i wasn’t “sick enough” to seek help, but that prescription was proof that what i was going through wasn’t normal. i didn’t hide the fact that i was on them, but i didn’t overshare, either.

well, now i’m all about oversharing, haha. neither bragging, nor complaining, but simply stating the fact: antidepressants can help. they have helped me, and my only hope is that the withdrawal symptoms aren’t too bad and i can keep at least some of that positive outlook when i stop taking them.

i hope a similar peace of mind can be achieved naturally, if you know what you’re going for. that it is within your reach. in this way it’s a helpful therapeutic excercise that can teach you by how much your own perspective can change depending on the circumstances.

i believe the above is true for me. if you feel that you’re always going to need antidepressants, i can see where you’re coming from. they’re more than just a crutch, and i hope with time there’s less and less stigma surrounding them.

you take care of you, and do whatever you need to do. ❀

where do i stand?

The caption says "anti-Polish political slags"
Yesterday’s issue of “Warszawska Gazeta”; it says “anti-Polish political slags”

So I saw this yesterday, and I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you guys.

I don’t follow politics, i don’t know much about it (yes, yes, ik i should); but it’s not about that.

I believe in freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. But this isn’t freedom. This is hate speech, and a personal attack directed at some public figures in the Polish political arena.

I’m not even saying that that kind of thing shouldn’t be allowed; it’s not for me to say. If some of the people on the cover decide to sue for defamation, that’s their (bloody well justified, imho) decision; if they then lose in court, i wouldn’t be surprised either.

Anyway, let me confess to something that most of you will frown upon: I don’t vote. I wish I would, which I know seems like a nonsensical statement, but I really can’t. I’m so on the fence about everything, I literally physically can’t bring myself to decide when confronted with so many options, so drastically different from one another. I guess I’m more or less a leftie, but even leftist parties have certain qualities that are deal-breakers to me.

But never mind that. There could be a “perfect” party, completely aligned with my own beliefs (which in itself is impossible, because they shift constantly; I’m easily swayed by the mere suggestion of an argument.), and I still couldn’t handle the idea of having contributed to them being elected, lest they fuck up. I would feel too personally responsible, and I don’t much like the idea of choosing the lesser of two evils.

I don’t refrain from voting out of laziness. (Well, maybe intellectual laziness plays a role, but it’s not the deciding factor.) The cause of my indecision is that I know i’m prone to extremism.

Let’s take something as simple as food, which is rather too important in my life but a good example nonetheless: at various stages of my life I’ve gone on so many diets I don’t even remember many of them. I have restricted calories (which in the end led to a variation on anorexia), I’ve been vegan, and then I tried keto for a while. (β€½) Oh, and I binge-eat.

And it wasn’t because I wanted to lose weight… not really. It was because “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I thought changing my body would magically solve all my other problems. And I wanted to believe it so strongly, I uncritically accepted all the tenets of whatever new diet I adopted as gospel.

I find conviction off-putting. I don’t claim to be free of it; quite the opposite. Sure, there are certain issues that are pretty much clear-cut. But as soon as we stop talking about filicide or whatever — things that everyone can agree on — it gets much more complex.

Agents everywhere on the spectrum abuse human gullibility for their own ends. The question then becomes, where do you draw the line between inflammatory language and manipulation? What were they trying to achieve, and what part of what they say do they themselves believe?

Was the cover disingenuous or ironic, or purposely over the top? Was it because controversy sells? Were they appealing to a very specific demographic who would readily believe whatever accusations were made in the article? Or maybe it’s not a big deal and I’m blowing the whole thing way out of proportion?

But I don’t think I am. You may think it’s not that serious. But I know that there are people who would wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in this headline. I know because I live with some of them. They’re good people, but this is what treating religion as the only valid coping mechanism does to you: you start believing bad things, and justifying them with flimsy concepts such as your narrow idea of patriotism.

Please explain to me, because I don’t understand: what good can possibly come of polarizing the discourse any further? What point is there in conflict, hostility and animosity? Why can’t people just listen to each other and reach some kind of consensus, I mean, isn’t that the whole point of democracy?

But every arrangement, no matter how perfect in theory, is bound to be perverted by our countless cognitive errors. We live in such an advanced society, but we can do nothing to override our most basic, tribalistic instincts and our narrow-mindedness. You may be surprised to find that this is also true of people on the left.

Some might argue that being prejudiced against prejudice is different. But it still makes true communication more difficult than it needs to be, because it dehumanizes the opponent in your eyes. It gets harder to see where they are coming from, and concede that they might have some valid points.

In my susceptibility to extremism, I almost became, to use a term considered derogatory by some — though not me — a social justice warrior. But that degree of certainty about anything, and dismissing counterarguments right off the bat, simply doesn’t sit well with me. I actually agree with most of what they say, it’s just how they say it…

I’m not the right person to mediate between extreme world views, which is precisely why I don’t get involved in it. But surely some people would be?? Surely there must be people who would be able to muster the empathy both for minorities, and for those who oppress them?

The mechanism behind prejudice is quite straightforward. But eradicating prejudice takes more than simple appeals to reason. Hostility is very much emotional. You feel threatened, so you reject everything that could shake the very foundations on which you have built your entire life, worldview, and a sense of comfort and security.

If I can’t stomach blind hatred, i at least have some respect for the deep, imperfect humanity it stems from. Everyone has fears, and everyone copes with those fears whatever way they can. But sometimes eliminating racism, sexism, or homophobia takes years of undoing a lifetime of indoctrination.

I propose something fairly impractical, and extreme, but non-violent: everyone should go to therapy. Of course if everyone understood themselves and had compassion for everyone else, the structures that keep our society as we know it in place would collapse, and civilization would fall apart. But isn’t that the direction we’re headed, anyway?

πŸ˜‰

PS Please don’t treat this post too seriously. I know I’m not equipped to give this topic the justice it deserves, and I haven’t really said anything new… I just wanted to share my thoughts on something other that my emotions, while — inevitably — connecting it to those emotions. I’m interested to know your thoughts on this subject. What do you think of the headline? Do you think reaching a compromise is possible, or is even a legitimate goal to strive towards? Please let me know.

Note to self: objective β‰  neutral.