It’s Not Your Job To Make Other People Happy

It’s Not Your Job To Make Other People Happy

By Mike Hedrick

The one singular overarching experience of living with schizophrenia for me has been the ebbing and flowing of the paranoia that I feel on a daily basis. This paranoia is a worry and an anxiety that people are constantly making fun of me.

To say the least it’s been a rough road. There are times when I want so badly to connect with people but I’m terrified that they’re going to…

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theatlantic:
What’s Wrong with Sentimentality?
What does it mean to be a tourist inside someone else’s suffering? Sometimes, it means taking a bus ride through Los Angeles’s gang-ridden neighborhoods, or watching a former addict bleed and sweat and grow blisters as he tries to run a hundred miles, or visiting a man in jail.
Leslie Jamison has done all that, and more.
But how does another person’s suffering affect one’s own emotional intelligence? What are you supposed to do with someone else’s pain?
Jamison does not know the answer. But she searches for it by writing about episodes of attempted empathy in her own life—for example, the time she became “obsessed” with her brother’s bout of Bell’s palsy: “I spent large portions of each day imagining how I would feel if my face was paralyzed too. I stole my brother’s trauma and projected it onto myself like a magic-lantern pattern of light.” Was that empathy, Jamison wonders, or was it a kind of emotional theft?
Read more. [Image: Colleen Kinder]

theatlantic:

What’s Wrong with Sentimentality?

What does it mean to be a tourist inside someone else’s suffering? Sometimes, it means taking a bus ride through Los Angeles’s gang-ridden neighborhoods, or watching a former addict bleed and sweat and grow blisters as he tries to run a hundred miles, or visiting a man in jail.

Leslie Jamison has done all that, and more.

But how does another person’s suffering affect one’s own emotional intelligence? What are you supposed to do with someone else’s pain?

Jamison does not know the answer. But she searches for it by writing about episodes of attempted empathy in her own life—for example, the time she became “obsessed” with her brother’s bout of Bell’s palsy: “I spent large portions of each day imagining how I would feel if my face was paralyzed too. I stole my brother’s trauma and projected it onto myself like a magic-lantern pattern of light.” Was that empathy, Jamison wonders, or was it a kind of emotional theft?

Read more. [Image: Colleen Kinder]

Trauma Nation: How to Truly Address the Roots of Violence, Suicide, and Suffering in America

Trauma Nation: How to Truly Address the Roots of Violence, Suicide, and Suffering in America

By Leah Harris

We are a deeply traumatized nation. It wasn’t enough that 20 children were massacred at a school in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. It seems we are confronted with a new and devastating mass killing tragedy every few months in America, the latest being the recent shooting at Fort Hood. More soldiers have now died by suicide than by combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and suicide now kills…

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The sads

I woke up at three this morning. Not because I couldn’t sleep but because I wanted to wake up. I didn’t want to be in the haze that I’ve been in the last two weeks so I figured maybe I was getting too much sleep. I woke up because I wanted the alertness I feel normally.

 I’ve been trying to give up cigarettes too. That’s a lost cause. It’s strange, it’s like there’s something that alters your physiology. Perhaps it’s as much a physical addiction as any other drug. I just no that when I try to refuse myself cigarettes and that aching overarching need for the stimulation of a cigarette takes hold it’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s such a deep need that you convince yourself that you need these little paper sticks filled with nicotine to survive. That said, two weeks of trying unsuccessfully to quit sapped every last ounce of willpower and energy I had. I was existing in the semi-depressed semi-out-of-it state. I didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to feel that way.

 Compounding on the physical symptoms I felt like an utter failure, unable to give up this habit, unable to control my diet, unable to do anything besides lie on my couch and pray for the end of the day so that I could fall into dreams.

 I bought a new hoodie yesterday, one that’s too big for me and makes me feel like I’m wearing a blanket. It’s been surprisingly nice to wear. It gives me a sense of comfort even though it looks like shit hanging on my body. I also took a nice shower last night that reinforced the fact that cleanliness makes me feel better. I would be lying if I said it hadn’t been several days since that happened. I just didn’t feel like I could do anything for a few days there.

 Things are looking up though. I feel ok today, I feel alert, I feel awake and I’m doing my damnedest to fight off the sads. I got an email from NY Times editor that said another essay I did for him would work and that it wasn’t just a one off thing that I’d have my work in the paper of note.

 I’m ok right now. That’s about the best I can hope for I guess. 

dalasverdugo:forgotten awesome:
Do You Love Someone With Depression?
If you have a partner or are close to someone who struggles with depression, you may not always know how to show them you love them. One day they may seem fine, and the next they are sad, distant and may push you away. It is important that you know that as a person who is close to them and trusted by them, you can help your friend or partner have shorter, less severe bouts of depression. Mental illness is as real as physical illness (it is physical actually, read more about that here) and your partner needs you as much as they would need to be cared for if they had the flu.
Your relationship may seem one-sided during these times, but by helping your partner through a very difficult and painful affliction, you are strengthening your relationship and their mental health in the long term.
1. Help them keep clutter at bay.
When a person begins spiraling into depression, they may feel like they are slowing down while the world around them speeds up. The mail may end up in stacks, dishes can pile up in the sink, laundry may go undone as the depressed person begins to feel more and more overwhelmed by their daily routine and unable to keep up. By giving your partner some extra help sorting mail, washing dishes or using paper plates and keeping chaos in check in general, you’ll be giving them (and yourself) the gift of a calm  environment. (I’m a fan of the minimalist movement because of this, you can read more about that here.)
2. Fix them a healthy meal.
Your partner may do one of two things when they are in a depressed state. They may eat very little, or they may overeat. In either case, they may find that driving through a fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza online is just easier than fixing a meal. Eating like this, or neglecting to eat will only degrade your partner’s health, causing her to go deeper into her depression. Help your loved one keep her body healthy, and her mind will follow. This is a great article that talks about the “Brain Diet” which can help the symptoms of depression, and this article talks about how our modern diet could contribute to the recent rise in depression. Here is a recipe for a trail mix that is quick to make and has mood-boosting properties.
3.Get them outside.
 The benefits of getting outside for a depressed person are huge. And it is possibly the last thing on earth your partner will want to do. Take them to be somewhere in nature. Pack a picnic and lie in the sun, take a leisurely hike or plant a garden. Being barefoot in the dirt, or “earthing” helps ground the body and reverse the effects of living in a world of emf’s, and digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate depression. My friend Elizabeth wrote an excellent post about Vitamin D and its link to depression here.  For more information about other sources of Vitamin D, this is a great post as well as this.
4. Ask them to help you understand what they’re feeling.
If your partner is able to articulate what they are going through, it will help them and you better understand what you are dealing with, and may give insight into a plan of action for helping your partner. Also, feeling alone is common for a depressed person and anything that combats that feeling will help alleviate the severity and length of the depression.
5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.
Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.
6. Hug them.
Studies show that a sincere hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release feel-good chemicals in the brain and elevate the mood of the giver and receiver. Depressed people often don’t want to be touched, but a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give your partner a lift.
7. Laugh with them.
Telling a silly joke, watching a comedy or seeing a stand up comedian will encourage your partner to laugh in spite of herself. Laughing releases endorphins and studies show can actually counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety.
8. Reassure them that you can handle their feelings.
Your partner may be feeling worthless, angry and even guilty while they are depressed. They may be afraid that they will end up alone because no one will put up with their episodes forever. Reassure them that you are in the relationship for the long haul and they won’t scare you away because they have an illness.
9. Challenge their destructive thoughts.
A depressed person’s mind can be a never-ending loop of painful, destructive thoughts. “I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, I’m ugly, I’m stupid”. Challenge these untruths with the truth. “You’re not unlovable, I love you. You aren’t a failure, here are all the things you’ve accomplished.”
10.Remind them why you love them.
Look at pictures of happy times you’ve had together. Tell them your favorite things about them. Reminisce about your relationship and all the positive things that have happened, and remind your partner that you love them and they will get through this.
(via The Darling Bakers)

I would add, don’t get mad or upset with them if none of this pulls them out quickly and they don’t “cheer up” just because you told them they’re loved or something. Speaking to the flu comparison in the first part of this post, you wouldn’t get angry if the bowl of chicken soup you made for your sick partner didn’t cure them immediately.

dalasverdugo:forgotten awesome:

Do You Love Someone With Depression?

If you have a partner or are close to someone who struggles with depression, you may not always know how to show them you love them. One day they may seem fine, and the next they are sad, distant and may push you away. It is important that you know that as a person who is close to them and trusted by them, you can help your friend or partner have shorter, less severe bouts of depression. Mental illness is as real as physical illness (it is physical actually, read more about that here) and your partner needs you as much as they would need to be cared for if they had the flu.

Your relationship may seem one-sided during these times, but by helping your partner through a very difficult and painful affliction, you are strengthening your relationship and their mental health in the long term.

1. Help them keep clutter at bay.

When a person begins spiraling into depression, they may feel like they are slowing down while the world around them speeds up. The mail may end up in stacks, dishes can pile up in the sink, laundry may go undone as the depressed person begins to feel more and more overwhelmed by their daily routine and unable to keep up. By giving your partner some extra help sorting mail, washing dishes or using paper plates and keeping chaos in check in general, you’ll be giving them (and yourself) the gift of a calm  environment. (I’m a fan of the minimalist movement because of this, you can read more about that here.)

2. Fix them a healthy meal.

Your partner may do one of two things when they are in a depressed state. They may eat very little, or they may overeat. In either case, they may find that driving through a fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza online is just easier than fixing a meal. Eating like this, or neglecting to eat will only degrade your partner’s health, causing her to go deeper into her depression. Help your loved one keep her body healthy, and her mind will follow. This is a great article that talks about the “Brain Diet” which can help the symptoms of depression, and this article talks about how our modern diet could contribute to the recent rise in depression. Here is a recipe for a trail mix that is quick to make and has mood-boosting properties.

3.Get them outside.

 The benefits of getting outside for a depressed person are huge. And it is possibly the last thing on earth your partner will want to do. Take them to be somewhere in nature. Pack a picnic and lie in the sun, take a leisurely hike or plant a garden. Being barefoot in the dirt, or “earthing” helps ground the body and reverse the effects of living in a world of emf’s, and digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate depression. My friend Elizabeth wrote an excellent post about Vitamin D and its link to depression here.  For more information about other sources of Vitamin D, this is a great post as well as this.

4. Ask them to help you understand what they’re feeling.

If your partner is able to articulate what they are going through, it will help them and you better understand what you are dealing with, and may give insight into a plan of action for helping your partner. Also, feeling alone is common for a depressed person and anything that combats that feeling will help alleviate the severity and length of the depression.

5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.

Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.

6. Hug them.

Studies show that a sincere hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release feel-good chemicals in the brain and elevate the mood of the giver and receiver. Depressed people often don’t want to be touched, but a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give your partner a lift.

7. Laugh with them.

Telling a silly joke, watching a comedy or seeing a stand up comedian will encourage your partner to laugh in spite of herself. Laughing releases endorphins and studies show can actually counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety.

8. Reassure them that you can handle their feelings.

Your partner may be feeling worthless, angry and even guilty while they are depressed. They may be afraid that they will end up alone because no one will put up with their episodes forever. Reassure them that you are in the relationship for the long haul and they won’t scare you away because they have an illness.

9. Challenge their destructive thoughts.

A depressed person’s mind can be a never-ending loop of painful, destructive thoughts. “I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, I’m ugly, I’m stupid”. Challenge these untruths with the truth. “You’re not unlovable, I love you. You aren’t a failure, here are all the things you’ve accomplished.”

10.Remind them why you love them.

Look at pictures of happy times you’ve had together. Tell them your favorite things about them. Reminisce about your relationship and all the positive things that have happened, and remind your partner that you love them and they will get through this.

(via The Darling Bakers)

I would add, don’t get mad or upset with them if none of this pulls them out quickly and they don’t “cheer up” just because you told them they’re loved or something. Speaking to the flu comparison in the first part of this post, you wouldn’t get angry if the bowl of chicken soup you made for your sick partner didn’t cure them immediately.

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. His work can be seen at Salon, The Week, Thought Catalog and soon at the NY Times. Follow him on twitter at @thehedrick