Sunday, 27 May 2012

The First Reaction Is Not Always The Best

Today, while I was posting on FB excerpts from the previous post, a friend of mine (who meant well) said that my posts have been "kinda whiny" and that part of the issue might be "an attitude problem". Now, I was mostly in an optimistic mood today, but once I read that, it kinda sent all the emotions down into a negative state. Gah.

So, in my state, I decided to write a long response. Initially it was rather scathing, but then I told myself to calm down, to keep to the doctor's advice of letting go, and to try to move past it. I'm not sure if I managed to pull it off, but I think the end result was a lot calmer than the original. Here's the entire response that I sent to this friend, whose name, of course, shalt not be revealed. It would probably be better if I could provide the original comment to give more context to my response, but alas, I deleted the whole thing, as you shall read in the opening paragraph. Here we go:

Your FB comment initially made me angry (and caused me to delete everything on impulse) and then almost made me cry. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, I'd just like to try to explain that even though the doc didn't want to give me meds, I do have emotional responses that are very volatile and can swing from one extreme to another. Case in point: How easily my happy feelings quickly turned to anger and then to tears. Most well-adjusted, stable folks wouldn't react that way, I imagine. 

See, even as I felt anger at your comment, and then got upset, I could RATIONALISE: "Nick, you know xxxxx's coming from a good place. She does have a point. Calm down. Don't let this get your optimism down." But unfortunately my optimism DID go down,and then my emotions entered a negative state. All it took was two seconds.

This is difficult for me, believe me. And often times I use FB as a place to vent. I'm sorry you found it "kinda whiny", but the alternative is that I keep it all in, feeling awful, and it leads me to the brink of wanting to jump out a window. So at least with FB, I get some of these feelings out. 

You might wonder why I don't talk to someone? Because in that state, it's hard to bring yourself to be with other people. Simple as that. (Doesn't help that I really only have, like, two people in Singapore that I can securely open up to.) But I've taken a step in finding a therapist here, so hopefully she will help me to be able to manage, cope and shift my mental-emotional positions more effectively.

It might sound strange to you that I would choose to allow these feelings to affect my way of thinking -- that I really should try to think positive when these feelings come in. After all, if I THINK like a winner, I can FEEL like a winner, right?? Sadly, not true, and assuming that would be presumptuous on your part as YOU wouldn't be able to fully understand the intensity and effect of MY negative emotions. At the darkest point, they cloud my thinking entirely, and I can't even start to see any positivity because I'm just FEELING so damn bad. 

So I frankly find it frustrating when people say: "You've got to think positive! Think like a winner!" etc, when the emotional state completely drowns my ability to even START to consider that, as much as I WANT to think that and would LOVE nothing more than to consistently be able to see positivity in life. But I can't. The emotions won't let me. And when I try to think positive while feeling negative, it reinforces the notion that by not being able to THINK like a winner, I'm even MORE of a loser. And it spirals from there. In other words: trying to think positively DEEPENS the negativity of the emotions. I'm sure I don't need to explain how difficult that is to deal with.

I don't like the implication behind the phrase "attitude problem", but maybe it's because that phrase is always used in a bad way: "Jeez you've got such a bad attitude", "you've got SUCH an attitude problem" etc. So I know you don't mean it like that. But I think you might need to understand this is more than just a "shift of mindset" needed. 

Going back to your comment: it affected me emotionally. And then the emotions became negative, even though in my mind, I was telling myself: "No. Things were looking better today. Don't let it affect you." But despite being able to think about it logically, it nevertheless DID affect me EMOTIONALLY. And now I have to get things off my chest, to vent and to whine to you, because in doing that there will be an emotional shift -- NOT a mental shift, since my mental state is still ironically positive: "xxxxx means well. She's your friend." 

I don't know if that makes sense. The thoughts and the feelings don't always correspond. Most times, I think positive but feel negative. And then the negative drowns out the positive. That's the most exhausting, frustrating, maddening thing about this. Trust me, I wouldn't CHOOSE to remain in this state. But for the longest time, I didn't know to get out of it, when POSITIVE THINKING wasn't working for me. And now I've taken a first step by seeking therapy. What took me so long? Fear. Anxiety. Emotional responses, not logical. 

My second step was to find a GP to supervise a resumption of anti-depressants. Which led me to last night's crazy consultation.

The doctor didn't deny that I have depression. That there's a lot of feelings, of anger, hurt, fear, etc. The doctor -- this qualified, experienced, well-loved, not-a-quack GP -- said medication won't be the answer. Therapy will be helpful, but won't be the cure. The ONLY cure, he startlingly said, which I didn't post on my wall, is that "You need to turn back to God." 

(I don't know how he knew I once *had* a relationship with God. That's why that whole experience was so surreal.) 

"You need to let God's light back in. Because with his light, no darkness can remain." So maybe there's some degree of "atittude" there in the sense that I have to change my "heart", i.e. open it up to God's grace again. But my reluctance to turn back to God has always been fuelled by fear and anxiety: again, emotion-based, not thought-based. And only when God is in my heart can I heal fully and then share that light with others, to help others in similar situations, he said. 

I guess the point of this entire spiel (I'm feeling better already, and the emotions have lightened) is that maybe I can be as positive as much as I want in my mind, but perhaps only the power of GOD can wholly heal and guide my emotions. And that was the doctor's absolutely unexpected prescription: when he spoke about charcoal and diamonds, he was using light as a metaphor for God. Somehow he could tell that I'd turned my back on God, and didn't allow God to guide my heart and my feelings, and that was in turn a major contributor to the depression. "But once you allow God's light in, that's when you will be able to help others with it... to diffuse that light, like a diamond." That was the context of his coal-diamond analogy.

Is that a crazy story or what?? 

You and xxxxx know one of the biggest part of my struggle has been with regards to religion. I run away from God for several reasons: hurt, fear, frustration, disappointment, confusion (sexuality or otherwise),e tc. And now apparently come full-circle and am confronted with the idea that only by embracing God can these emotional negativities be removed. Oy vey.

I'm not saying the doc's "prescription" has changed my life. But it seems to be a signpost of some sort: "Healing lies this way." And i've got nothing to lose by trying to follow it.

Anyhoo. Thanks for letting me vent, and thanks for the comment. Now that I've typed all this, I might as well send it to you. No hard feelings (anymore... like I said, feeling better now. And maybe typing about God's grace is actually a way of accepting God's grace. It's removing the darkness. See?)  Love to you and xxxx. 

Byebye for now.


Jo said...

I'm so very glad to see that you've allowed your big toe into the crack of the door (no puns dahleeng) and not allowed the said door to slam shut on what the doctor said or this whole new journey.

It is very interesting for a doctor to say something like that. I'm still trying to comprehend and absorb what he has said. So many truths that are simple and yet incredibly hard to do. Where to start for example? But start somewhere, even if it is "right at the end of the story", so to speak, is still a start. His insistence on not prescribing the Prozac is a very big risk but perhaps it is a risk worth taking? I honestly don't know. He has equated mood stabilisers to "false light". Maybe now with so much darkness, cynicism and such, perhaps it is not a good idea to have "false light" and maybe in time you mix up the false light with true light. What happens then?

I wish I can tell you that there is a clear answer for you ahead but I cannot. Maybe (and this response is peppered with that word) you do need to turn back to the light. You've been running away from it from so long, so tired that maybe you stop and end up only looking down, exhausted by it all. You see darkness and not looking around you. Wasn't it rather telling that he said you were surrounded by light? That you were a brother of light (along those lines)?

Look up and crack open an eye. See that small little beam of light...get used to it...accept it and maybe open your eyes a little more. Embrace it and maybe that spark would be a tad easier to find.

You made the first step by not letting yourself spiral after reading your friend's well-meaning albeit insensitive message. The point is that although you felt down, it wasn't as far down as before. Progress! Remember what Ju said about giving yourself credit? This is definitely one of them.

You are well within your right if you wish to pursue a second opinion and get the meds. Or perhaps wait a little to see how this surreal doctor's visit plays out, even if just for a little while.

Judi said...

Yes, well done on turning this negative around Nick! It also shows the power of writing things down when you're feeling emotional, and how it helps to sort out your feelings, and why you're feeling them, even if it doesn't actually solve the problem at the time - it helps to see how your mind is working.

I'm also so glad you've started therapy and its been a positive experience. I'm proud that you fought through those barriers (mentally and physically) to GET yourself to therapy - that in itself is something worth giving yourself credit for. It takes courage and determination to start that journey, to face your fears and anxiety at starting it. I could see your mind was trying to run away from it, but you stuck to your conviction and the inner voice that knew that is what you needed.

The journey between you and God is a personal one, and i'm experiencing on my own personal journey back to Him. I'm quietly hoping you do explore what the doc said, and remember the footprints in the sand - its through the hardest times that He is carrying you along; even if you're keeping your eyes shut and trying to ignore Him ;) I'll also share this - I never really thought much of reconciliation before, but there is so much to be said of the power of confessing all your thoughts and feelings and hurt to God, laying it all out to Him, putting it in His hands, seeing Him take it and lift the burden from you, and how freeing the experience is. Its not exactly the first step to healing, but its definitely an essential one in the journey.

I'm always here if you want to talk xx