A Realist, An Idealist, or a Pessimist?

I can be very negative because of my depression. It makes me think in worst-case scenarios and negative outcomes. Many people would call me a pessimist because of this. They would say I view the world with a ‘glass half-empty’ attitude. Many people who don’t know me very well would probably say that I have absolutely no optimism. That I can’t view the world as anything but negative, and while that might seem true, I know that when I’m not consumed by my depression, I can be a very optimistic person. I have the capability to view the world as ‘glass half-full’ and to be excited about events. Unfortunately, my depression consumes that person, leaving behind a pessimist.

I like to consider myself a realist when I’m in a depressive state.This seems less negative than considering myself a pessimist. A realist, however, is a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are. I don’t necessarily do this. While I say that I am a realist, I still view things more negatively

In all actuality, when not consumed by depression, I would probably fall more under the definition of an idealist. An idealist is a person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are. An idealist is often a visionary or impractical person. I dream of a world where there is no cruelty or injustice. A world where everything is fair.

Instead my depression turns me into a pessimist. A pessimist is defined as a person who sees or anticipates the worst and is disposed to be gloomy. I can have a very negative attitude and believe that nothing will work out for me. Often times it seems like this belief is true, but my therapist says that it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction or belief that causes itself to become true due to the feedback between belief and behavior. In simple terms, I’m causing these beliefs to come true because of my attitude or behavior/

So then, am I a realist, idealist or pessimist? I think the answer is that I can be all three. I can also be an optimist depending on the situation. It depends on my mindset, my beliefs, my moods and my behaviors.

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The Word “Should”

While in therapy, we talked about the word ‘should’. Because of this discussion, it is my honest belief that ‘should’ is one of the worst words in the English language. The word should is defined as used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency. I think it’s easier to say that the word should most often is used to place guilt or blame. We say someone should do something because that is our opinion however our opinion, while it might have some weight based on our relationship with that person, can’t be the deciding factor for someone to do something. Instead, should is used to indicate blame or lay guilt if the person doesn’t do what we say they ‘should’.

A good replacement for the word should, is like or want. “I would like you to…” rather than “You should…” By replacing should with like you are stating your opinion rather than placing blame or guilt. I’m not saying that the word be removed from our language entirely because there are some instances when it is appropriate to use. However, when it is used to place guilt or blame, it can hurt or harm another person.

So lately, I have been attempting to remove the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary. It’s proven harder than I thought. In just writing this post, I’ve had to rethink how to word sentences because I would normally use the word ‘should’. But this exercise has taught me that is important to think about what you say before you say it. You never know how what you say may affect another person.

 

What Makes A Hero?

What makes a hero?

Today’s world is permeated with superheroes. Every year, there’s a new movie about Iron Man, Superman, Captain America, etc. And while I enjoy these action movies as much as the next person, lately I’ve been considering; what makes a hero? You have the general trait of saving the world. Most of the superheroes are people who find themselves with powers beyond those of a normal human and they use these powers for the good of humankind. Of course that is all fantasies and comic book. Superheroes can’t exist in real life. Can they?

I choose to believe that there is a superhero inside of each of us. Whether it’s helping a stranger or volunteering. It may be the smallest act but eventually all of those acts add up.

Superheroes aren’t perfect. They make their share of mistakes and often those mistakes are bigger because of who they are. We make mistakes too, but we’re also most often given the chance to fix those mistakes.

Heroes are everywhere in everyday life. They can be the person walking down the street or the coworker down the hall. Mental illness is an invisible disease. The smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference to anyone who is struggling or having a bad day.

So who do you want to be? Your average, normal person or a superhero? Because they come in every shape and size and you can be a hero.

Control

“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Charles C. Noble

We all have a desire to control our lives. We feel helpless when we feel like our lives are not in control, and the problem comes when we can’t let go of that control. The only thing we can control is our behaviors and actions. We can’t control other people, certain situations and their behaviors. Anxiety comes from the worry that we have because of the uncertainty of our situations. By letting go of our need for control, we can find some peace within our lives.

We have a number of choices when it comes to letting go of control. We can accept people as they are and let go of our need to ‘fix’ them. We can let go of the ‘victim’ role within relationships. Be strong enough to get your emotional needs met. Let go of your ‘shoulds’ for people and yourself. Should implies guilt and shame. Read more about Should here. See other people as having wounds, not faults. Realize that the only ‘failed’ relationship is one that you didn’t learn from. Often failed relationships are helpful life lessons. Choose to see the love and the good in other people and yourself. We also need to let go of a thirst for approval, super competitive-comparative mode (comparing yourself to others) and relying too much on other people.

You can understand more about yourself and where your need for control comes into play, by asking yourself two questions. What are three unhealthy habits in your life? And what are you willing to do to break these habits?

In the end, you have to remember that all we can change is ourselves. “It is as it is.” So if you’re having trouble remembering this, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. How much control do I have? What is outside my control?
  2. “It is as it is”. I’m not agreeing with or giving up on it, but I can let it go for now
  3. If I can’t change the situation, can I change the way I think or do about it?
  4. What can I do that is within my control?

 

My Social Environment

I don’t do well in social environments in fact, I downright suck at them. I always feel awkward, like I don’t fit in. I never feel like I’m part of the group, but just hanging on by my fingertips.

Social environments have always been hard for me. I didn’t thrive, socially, in school. I usually had one or two close friends and many acquaintances. I remember times when I would be chasing after the popular group of girls, wanting them to accept me but never being accepted. This hurt, but I never considered it to be my fault. When I was younger, I just accepted it as status quo and I was ok with that. I had friends elsewhere and I never had to worry about having friends to hang out with.

As I grew older and entered high school, I never found my niche. I was involved, with my classes, with choir and theater, but I never quite fit in. It was the same story, feeling like I was on the outside looking in. I was never invited to events unless it was a group thing and while this bugged me every once and awhile, I was too busy for the most part to care. I may not have felt like I fit in but I was involved enough not to care.

College was a disaster for me. Everyone thought I would thrive in a college environment, at this point, I feel like I did everything but thrive. I feel like I crashed and burned. I had many issues with roommates and by the time I left college 3 years in, I hadn’t made any serious friends. In fact, the only thing I had done throughout college was lose friends. As I said, not a good experience for me.

Today, I have 2 friends, one of which is an ex-boyfriend while the other is my current boyfriend. I don’t know what they see that no one else can be I’m grateful that they do. My social environment still sucks. I don’t really get out, but then again I don’t enjoy doing the things normal 20-year-olds do, like drinking every weekend. But I do want to have fun. I want to hang out with people and do things, I just can’t find the people to do things with and I don’t even know how to go about meeting people at this point. I wish I could make friends but my depression makes that nearly impossible, so maybe if I get better, my social environment will change for the better.

100th Post

This is my 100th post.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog. While this blog is therapy for me, it is also written to inform and educate others regarding mental illness. Without you, this blog wouldn’t have a purpose.

Secondly, I would like to give some background on where I was when this blog was started versus where I am now. When I first started this blog, I was freshly graduated from outpatient treatment. I was writing not only as therapy, but because I was inspired. I wanted to inform and educate others. I wanted to share my personal experiences and take the stigma away from mental illness. And while there was some rockiness in regards to this blog (my two year absence), I have come so much further. I have learned so much and made great strides in my personal life.

While I should never have stopped writing, it was a necessary break for me. I need the time to separate from the friend who started the blog with me. The friend who walked away.

I hope to continue writing and educating others on this blog as I continue my own journey through depression and anxiety. I hope this blog has helped you and I continue to encourage you in your own journey with mental illness. I know it’s a difficult path, however you can make it through. Know that I am here for you and I am rooting for you just as I hope you are rooting for me.

Please note that for the future, because of time restraints I will be posting only once a week.

The Trouble with Psychiatrists & Doctors

Until my stint in outpatient treatment, I had my fair share of struggles with psychiatrists. I often felt like they weren’t listening to what I was saying. And out of the 3 that I had seen, the 5 different medications they had prescribed hadn’t worked.

With the initial psychiatrists I had seen, I felt ignored. You walked in for a 15 minute session, perhaps a 30 minute initial session and you talk to them. They ask you how you feel, and you give them some background history on your mental illness. At the end of that 15 minutes, they either up your dose, change your medication or tell you to continue taking it. This often frustrated me, because I would be told to continue taking something that I felt wasn’t working.

I’ll admit that a psychiatrist’s job isn’t easy. There are no tests that they can perform to find out exactly what medication you need to take for your illness. It’s all guess work based on what you tell them; trying to figure out which receptors in your brain are working overtime or are not working at all. But it’s still frustrating trying different types of medications and having them not work or getting viciously sick on them because of the way they are interacting with your body.

My previous therapist had heard so many complaints about psychiatrists and medication that she decided to go back to school to become an APN, or nurse practitioner. She felt that because she saw her clients weekly, it would be easier for her to prescribe a medication that would work for them. I think this is admirable because at the age of 50, she is going back to school and getting her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate to become a nurse practitioner.

Now that I’ve finally found a medication that works, I feel better. I’m not so down anymore. I’m glad I followed my doctor’s directives at the outpatient center and I’m glad that I’ve found someone who listens to me.

If you don’t feel like your doctor is listening to you or if a treatment plan isn’t working, speak up. Try and explain to them how you feel or, look for another doctor. You’re allowed to see other doctors. Find a fit that works for you and will provide the best treatment so that you can recover. Be proactive, it’s your health that’s at risk.