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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Psyched Ward

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 21, 2014

Despite what the Ramones (R.I.P.) once declared, most people do not want to be sedated, especially if it’s for reasons involving “going loco.” Some people can’t think about psychiatric hospital admission as other than a form of kidnapping, and others as a failure that should never have happened if they took proper care of themselves. In reality, it’s good to think about psychiatric admission as something that can happen again regardless of how well you take care of yourself, and will rarely happen for reasons that you won’t ultimately agree with. The more you accept the possibility of hospital commitment and consider your own views about what makes hospitalization necessary, the more skilled you’ll be at managing the situation if it occurs again, even if it’s something you’re never going to wanna do.
-Dr. Lastname

I’ve got depression that is usually controlled well by medication, but I had one bad episode three years ago when I got really down, couldn’t leave the house for a month, and was on track to starve myself to death. My parents were right to pull me out and take me to the hospital, but it was a horrible experience; there were some scary, sick people there, and staying there was traumatizing. Now my shrink wants me to put together a crisis plan that will tell my parents how to decide when they should take me to the hospital, if it ever becomes necessary again—a sort of “advance directive”—and I’m trying to figure out how to make sure that I don’t have to go back unless it’s really, really necessary. The last thing I want is to visit an emergency room where they like to lock people up, so I end up trapped in the nightmare ward again. My goal is to figure out how to minimize the possibility that I will get admitted again.

As traumatic as it felt to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital, you are familiar with the bigger trauma that you would have experienced if you weren’t admitted. The scary people you say in the psych ward were probably fairies and pussycats compared to the hellscape that your own home had become.

You know how painful your depression was, how it interrupted everything important in your life, including work, relationships and your ability to care for yourself, and how it endangered your health and your life. That’s the trauma it’s now your job to manage, and avoiding the job because you’d like to avoid the hospital is a foolish move. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Job Affliction

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 17, 2014

No matter what drew you to your current job—having to pay rent, wanting to fulfill a lifelong passion, being forced step up where no one else can or will—you do the work because it’s got to be done, and if it didn’t, it would be called play. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t refuse to do work that you believe is not required, or that feeling underappreciated and overworked is always a good excuse to take a break. Instead of reacting to the pressure of your job, be objective in examining your job description. Then, whether you have to say no to someone who expects too much of you or deny your own wounded feelings, you’ll know you got the job done right.
-Dr. Lastname

I’m a photographer, so when my father asked me to take some portraits of a cousin and her husband as an anniversary present, I was happy to contribute. I went all out for them, and they seemed to really enjoy the results. Unfortunately, they enjoyed them so much that my cousin asked me to do more pictures, this time with their kids and grandkids, with the assumption that the next session would also be free. I tried to explain to her that I’d be losing too much money if I did another session—not just on rentals, but on my time—but she just took it as a personal offense, like I was breaking a promise to her and to my father. I’ve done everything I can to explain my position, but she won’t believe me, and while my dad seems to understand, he’s still pretty upset. My goal is to resolve this issue and get her to see that I’m not a liar, just someone who needs to make a living.

Whenever you have a dissatisfied client or customer, never tell yourself that the customer is always right. If your services are in demand, you’re going to meet many customers, and some of them, even if you’re related to them, are bound to be Assholes™.

An Asshole™ customer is rarely right because they’re rarely happy; no matter what you do, you’re dealing with someone who has inflated expectations and no sense of their own responsibilities or obligations. You cannot do right by someone who cannot be pleased. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Venerable Intelligence

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 14, 2014

You lose a lot of important things as you get older—hearing, memory, life—but you also lose the ability to give a crap about things that really don’t matter. That’s why, if you’ve suffered from insecurity, either about work performance or the amount of commitment in relationships, being old can give you a more solid perspective and new management opportunities. So, if you’re old enough to have lots of experience, don’t get too worried by old fears. Rely on your own perspective to tell you what you need to do, regardless of what others think and your anxiety tells you. Just don’t rely on your ability to read small print.
-Dr. Lastname

I’m in a very specific line of consulting work—lots of research, long hours—that I’m very good at and enjoy doing, but I also wind up driving myself crazy with anxiety about doing the job just right. I formally retired a few years ago after many years in the business, when I was 55 and didn’t need the money, but I took a contract a few months ago because the specific assignment interested me. After all these years, however, I’m still having panic attacks, tightness in my chest, and shortness of breath. I even had to dig out the valium. I’m just obsessed with doing a perfect job, even though I know this stuff cold and my clients love me. My goal is to figure out what’s wrong with me and stop making myself sick.

Anxiety often causes symptoms that feel like sickness or even a heart attack (chest pain, tightness in your chest, shortness of breath, sweating), but that doesn’t mean that, like those other illnesses, it also shortens your life. A heart attack can kill you; a panic attack just makes you feel like you’re going to die.

So, while it’s natural to think that you’re making yourself sick every time you allow yourself to get anxious, anxiety isn’t deadly, or even totally detrimental; in regular doses, it helps you by making you worry about survival, making a living, and avoiding danger. Anxiety’s a lot like wine; a small amount everyday is helpful, a large amount everyday can make you feel helpless. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Messed Friend

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 3, 2014

One of the common mistakes in one-sided relationships is that the wrong side—the jilted side—tends to feel responsible. People tend to blame themselves when the other person doesn’t do their share, act respectfully, or just return a damned text. In any case, talking about it doesn’t usually change character, behavior, or interpersonal chemistry, so trust your judgment and do what’s necessary to find friends whose commitment meets your standards and drop those who don’t. When you use good judgment in relationships, there’s no need to blame yourself for someone else’s bad behavior.
-Dr. Lastname

Please Note: In honor of both Canada Day and Independence Day in the US, we’re going to take Monday off so we have the time to celebrate most of North America. We’ll be back on Thursday, 7/10.

I’ve been going out with a girl I get along with pretty well, and we’ve been comfortable about making it exclusive for the past eight months. I always have the feeling I shouldn’t push things too far though, and the other day, I really needed her help because I was moving into a new place. When I asked her, she said sorry, but she needed the time to see some friends and take it easy. It pissed me off, but now I wonder whether I’m just being needy. My goal is to figure out whether I should say something or whether her behavior means a whole lot.

There’s a world of difference between being needy and simply needing; being needy usually causes nothing but anger and bickering, but needing a little deserved help is nothing unusual, and nothing your average friend would refuse. Unfortunately, this friend is not average (and might not be a girlfriend for much longer).

Instead of mistrusting your standards of give-and-take in a good friendship, you should wonder whether your girlfriend knows how to be a friend, and whether it’s time to tell her to take a walk. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Desire Exit

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 30, 2014

Unless your sexual relationship began with a matchmaker, a bet, or a promise to a dead sibling, it probably started out with the spark of mutual attraction. Being wanted by someone you love is part of the high, but when lust becomes love and love becomes the boring reality of commitment—i.e., when people are too tired and/or comfortable to lie about being in the mood—the high turns into a new kind of emotional low. Sexual frustration feels like love is over, and encountering sexual resentment feels like your prince is a whiny brat. If, however, you can put sex into perspective and value what you’ve found in someone beyond the spark, then you can manage those feelings, which is the true test of love.
-Dr. Lastname

I hate the way my husband isn’t interested in sex as much as I am, and doesn’t want to talk about it; it’s as if he has no respect for my needs, doesn’t appreciate all the hard work I’m doing to support the family, and doesn’t find me attractive anymore. I feel like he got me to marry him by pretending to love me and be interested in me but then just changed his mind. I thought he was cheating on me, because what gay man isn’t interested in sex, but even now that I believe him when he says he’s just stressed about a million things right now (he even cries about it sometimes), I still feel like he should put me first once in a while. Of course, sulking doesn’t exactly make me sexy, so I’m aware I’m being stupid, but having an affair seems like justified payback. My goal is to find a constructive way of responding, getting laid, or at least not having to get a divorce.

Nothing lasts forever, but it’s not clear which eventual loss will pain you more: the end of your marriage, or the decrease in your now-rabid sexual desire. Just because your husband is first to lose his sexual appetite doesn’t mean you should be so quick to sacrifice your partnership for your boner.

No matter who you are, libido is fragile and easily affected by a million factors, from age to illness to humidity level. If, like many men, you’re sexually needy, then you can’t allow yourself to think that true love and a marital commitment guarantee sexual availability. People and circumstances change, which is the only thing you can count on. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Character Factor

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 26, 2014

Character attacks, like drive-by shootings and lottery winnings, never seem to go to the right people; sensitive innocents are often used as pawns (and attacked, and tortured) in battles between those close to them, and clueless and insensitive idiots refuse to accept any criticism as valid. Whatever emotional hurt you experience, dish out, or deny, your moral judgment of the behavior being criticized counts most in the end. Hurt fades quickly if you see no wrong in what you’ve done, and if you see wrong in the actions of others, what you do to avoid them is more important than calling them out and getting to their feelings, certainly if you have something of a drive-by nature in mind.
-Dr. Lastname

I feel ashamed that my weaknesses are opening my son to a vicious attack by his ex-wife’s lawyer. She’s a monster and her lawyer is trying to make my husband and I look like we’re incompetent and even dangerous grandparents when it comes to caring for their kids. His ex-wife’s lawyer told the judge that, because I’ve been hospitalized for mania and alcoholism, I shouldn’t be allowed to care for my grandchildren, and then demanded my medical records. I can’t defend myself, because it’s true, even though I’ve been sober and doing well for the past year and have never endangered those kids. My goal is not to let my illness jeopardize my son’s custody of his kids or prevent me from helping him care for them.

If there’s anything positive you can take from the experience of being attacked in court for having mania and alcoholism, it might be that, as a grandparent, you’ve been given the chance to feel like a kid again; specifically, like a child being attacked in the schoolyard for something you can’t help but are sensitive about. Everyone laughs, it hurts, and the bully gets a win.

Since you are an adult, however, and not a nervous little kid, you can recognize that, just because you’re ashamed of something, and someone attacks you about it, doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. Unfortunately, bullies often grow up to be Assholes™, and some of those Assholes™ trick nice men into marrying them (or just get law degrees). WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Ice Cold Fear

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 23, 2014

Of all the instinctual emotions the deserve to be second guessed—i.e., lust, hunger, blind cooperation with the statement, “holy shit, this milk must be a decade old, smell it!”—fear deserves the most examination and contemplation before fully giving in. That’s because sometimes we feel very threatened when we’re actually stronger than we think, and sometimes the threat is, indeed, immense, but we’ve done much more to fight it than we recognize. Whenever you’re threatened, don’t let anxiety tell you that you’re helpless and have done nothing worthwhile. Assess your actual options and accomplishments before you let anxiety control your choices or self-respect. In other words, think before you jump (or get a nose-full of bad dairy).
-Dr. Lastname

I’m afraid my father-in-law is going to destroy my marriage. He gets insulted over nothing, and holds grudges forever, so spending time with him is torture. My wife has no trouble admitting her father is like that, and while she doesn’t exactly take his side, she wants to maintain some kind of relationship with him. I want to keep him away from our home and kids completely because he makes me very nervous—it’s already hard enough to take care of them while also trying to manage my business—but she won’t cut him off. My goal is to protect my family without letting him break up my marriage.

Your father-in-law sounds like the kind of Asshole™ who would make anyone nervous; very quick to anger, slower to get over it, and never to stop blaming are the ultimate Asshole™ trifecta.

It’s understandable that he makes you so nervous and uncomfortable that your first instinct is to ban him from your house (or, ideally, shoot him into outer space), but your first instinct isn’t always your logical best choice. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The Gene Tool

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 19, 2014

We all wish we could leave our kids lots of wealth, property, and maybe a senate seat, but instead they just end up with our receding hairlines and bad metabolisms. For those of us with especially poisonous genes, it’s hard to know how much or little to warn your kids about what they might be in for. On the one hand, you don’t want to make them feel different or doomed, but on the other hand, you don’t want to nag them so much that they rebel and tempt their genetic fate. In either case, you can help kids understand and manage their genetic risks if you can stay calm and stick with the facts. You can’t get kids to do what you want, no matter what their genes, but you can help them think rationally about scary problems and teach them your methods for living with risks and leading a meaningful life, no matter what kind of gut or estate they end up with.
-Dr. Lastname

Mental illness runs in my family—I take antidepressants and my mother is on lithium—and now I’m really afraid that my fifteen-year-old son is showing signs of having the family disease. We’re a really close family, including my mother, but this is just not a subject we talk about. I want to get help for my son, but I don’t want him to feel like I’m trying to control him, nor do I want to spook him about how he’s going to be a psycho all his life. My goal is to tell him something that gets him to accept help.

Lots of disorders are hereditary—near-sightedness, sickle cell, that thing where you think cilantro tastes like soap—but few are quite as stigmatized as mental illness. After all, nobody is ashamed for having or passing on genes that make you dislike most gazpacho.

Then again, if you’ve managed to keep the stigma of mental illness from keeping you from seeking treatment for yourself, you shouldn’t let fear or shame keep you from reaching out to your son. You’ve managed depression for many years, and even though you didn’t intend to pass this on to your son, you can at least give him the benefit of your experience.

The fact that you’re his father need not interfere with your ability to help, as long as you don’t allow worries to cause you to pressure him. Instead, give him information and tell him how to think about mental illness, but don’t tell him what to do. That’s because telling him what to do is the best way to get him to do exactly the opposite; every directive has an equal and opposite reaction is basically Newteen’s Third Law. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Trying Power

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 12, 2014

There are many moments in life when we wish we had telepathic powers, and while some occur during Presidential debates or doctor visits when you’re getting test results, most are inspired by the challenges of relationships. Mind-reading feels most useful when you either can’t do anything to make your spouse happy or can’t blink without setting them off, but if your first concern is just to repair your relationship, you will wind up taking too little or too much responsibility for whatever they’re mad about. Before trying to make up, measure your responsibility for their grievance by your own values. If you can read your own mind, then you’ll know whether it’s you who needs to improve, or your partner’s temper, with no special powers necessary.
-Dr. Lastname

I don’t know why my partner won’t let me make amends. I’m crazy about him, and I really didn’t mean to start drinking again, but I got very depressed because I have depressive episodes from time to time, and drank to relax. Now I’m dried out, back to normal, and I’m trying to do everything I can to make it up to him, but the nicer I am, the madder he gets. He says I should go to AA meetings and get a plan for my life that includes what I’m going to do the next time I get depressed and/or drunk. I just want to get back to living life, finding a job, and being close the way we used to be. If he keeps on hammering me for being loving and attentive, though, I don’t see how I can keep from getting depressed and drunk again. My goal is to get our relationship back.

The reason your partner isn’t reacting well is because trying to assuage his particular issues with affection and remorse is like trying to help a hungry person by giving him a blanket. Your partner will feel better if he knows that you’re serious about staying sober, and just like you can’t eat an afghan, you can’t say you’re focusing on sobriety with flowers.

He knows you love him, but that didn’t stop you from drinking and it won’t stop you, in the future, from getting stressed and drinking again. You write as if it’s all behind you, but since he believes, with good reason, that it’s never behind you, he worries more when you appear to worry less. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Deflect and Deserve

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 9, 2014

Whether you’re humiliated by excess praise or criticism, too much attention for one’s deeds, be it positive or negative, can make you feel fake and, worst of all, stuck in a world where good deeds get punished. Instead of trying to make sense of this classic disconnect, accept the stupid way life has of making innocent, hardworking people miserable. Then continue, as before, to work hard for what you believe in while ignoring pain that often comes to those whose achievements are special and need for recognition isn’t.
-Dr. Lastname

A year ago, I was named by a hospital journal as an outstanding up-and-coming oncologist, and now my name is synonymous with accusations of malpractice. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I made the mistake of pissing off a couple crazy nurses, having bad luck in the operating room, and being unfriendly with reporters. I won’t get convicted, but my reputation is shot, I’ve got no patients and huge legal bills, and most of my so-called friends don’t answer my calls. I can’t get out of bed and, when I’m up, I can’t focus on getting anything done. My goal is to figure out how to get my life back.

Being a star physician isn’t much different from being a celebrity; praise and attention make you feel like you’ve made the right career choices and are good at what you do. Unfortunately, power attracts its own special kind of bad luck, and now you’re the medical world’s Justin Bieber.

When you’re up and coming, people seem ready to ignore your faults and exaggerate your virtues. After a while, however, you become one of the powers that be, which people like to tear down. You might be more talented and less racist than Le Biebs, but your trajectory is identical. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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