Difficulties Understanding Treatment
Counsellors and psychologists to whom I have spoken have told me to identify my long term goals and strive for their achievement. But my attempts have been unsuccessful because I lack the practical skills for achievement and that has caused me greater dissatisfaction than before I attempted to achieve the goals. What is the reason for this strategy and why are counsellors and psychologists unwilling or unable to give me practical advice?
I identified the technical topic most interesting to me, looked for collaborators, and asked for support to pursue my interest. I found only two people in Australia with similar interests and believe they are unwilling to collaborate with me because by discrediting me their circumstances will improve. The feedback I received about my requests for support is that the topic is not relevant to society. Instead I am expected to perform a job for which I am imperfect and therefore I am excluded because my processes and ideas are different to the industry. Is it true that society's objective is for greater normality and what is the reason for such a strange aspiration? Why does society reject people who are different? Why does society not allow me to pursue my individual interests and talents? What is the purpose of living if society has no use for my talents and the role that society would have me fulfil causes me trauma?
I was told that independence will not cause me long term satisfaction. Yet, as I have tried unsuccessfully for more than ten years to form a friendship, I question this assertion. The prevailing strategy suggested to me for gaining friends is to participate in activities I enjoy as there I am most likely to meet others with similar interests and beliefs. What is the purpose of living if society directs me to one outcome but it cannot provide the means to achieve that outcome? Surely independence is a far more effective solution.
I'm pretty sure I am lonely. I would like to have a friendship or at least feel welcome in society. But my efforts never seem to work. People make suggestions but I must be special because they don't work for me. The harder I try, the more independent I become, because my methods appear stranger to others, and the less liked I become. I really don't understand the society in which I live. I wish I wasn't so sad.
I often cry uncontrollably and am unable to sleep when I realise I will not achieve my desires and there is nothing I can do about it. My life is apparently meaningless.
I know that you can improve. Anyone can. You can do this!
It’s about understanding and recognising the emotions and emotional states we humans experience. Not just happy, sad and mad. But insecurity, disappointment, resentment, irritably, being perplexed, love, jealousy, etc.
Then you need to able to put yourself in another person’s shoes to respond appropriately.
So, if I told you my dog was sick and I didn’t think I could make it to work even though I had to make a big presentation and it was causing me a lot of stress, how do you think I’d be feeling? What if you could hear me sniffling? Or, you saw tears in my eyes? How would you respond if I asked you for advice?
I’d be feeling sad, anxious and worried about my dog. I’d also be feeling guilty about missing work and concerned about letting the team down. I’d be feeling torn between my two responsibilities. What I’d really be seeking, even though I’d never say it, is permission from you to take the day off work and care for my dog.
So, imagine you said to me: “I know how much you love your dog. It’s okay, take the dog to the vet. Work can wait. You can give your presentation tomorrow.” You would give me comfort, reassurance and relief.
Then imagine you said, “I’m not working today, I’ll come and pick you up and drive you to the vet.”
Can you see how it works? Empathy, compassion, an act of kindness—and all of this builds a friendship. I would be grateful and appreciative. I would then be highly motivated to do something nice for you in the future.
Now, maybe you wouldn’t naturally be concerned about my dog and you might think I’m silly. But if you pushed through that to be kind I can guarantee you that you would feel good about yourself. It feels good to help other people. There is an immediate benefit to you.
Hope you can find the book.
Kind thoughts to you
Last month I concluded a coaching programme with a charity organisation, where during six sessions a coach helped me in difficulties I face in employment. I am employed full-time but encounter much distress.
Here is a record of the meetings.
- I should develop search criteria and searching plans to identify roles and opportunities in my interest areas.
- The industry sectors most likely to be accepting of me are universities, not-for-profit organisations, and small and medium enterprises. However, the industry sectors most likely to offer paid jobs are government, larger organisations.
- Statistically, I will probably never be paid for a role in my interest area. Some people conclude that life is purposeless. I can instead be more self interested, make achievements that I do alone, and criticise others for actions that harm me.
- The best strategy we concluded is to continue my current strategy of as best as possible performing a role imperfectly suited to me and causing me distress, while volunteering as much as possible in my interest areas outside business hours. I should try to use the volunteering strategically by receiving recognition, connection, or new skills.
- I should try to develop an agreement between my manager and I about how I can work more effectively. For example, my objectives are to work on projects in my interest areas, to work on one project at once for an extended time, and to take regular extended unpaid leave. These are all possible in my organisation, and are even written in policies, but always with the condition "... if agreed by your manager". I should try to formulate these "difficult conversations" to improve their outcomes.
- I should seek professional, public, community, and self-help to overcome the psychological costs I experience in performing my current role.
Earlier this week I visited a new clinical psychologist for the first time.
I felt most sad when I was asked whether I liked myself because I was unable to answer this question. I instead said that I felt life was meaningless.
I still don't entirely know how to answer the question, but I feel that my response is in the negative because of the symptoms I experience.
I think that if I liked myself I would want to be a friend to myself and the type of people I would like to befriend would share my interests and values but find me valuable to them and therefore want to spend time with me.
How is one supposed to be valuable to themselves unless they somehow live with two separate personalities? Is this what is meant by being a friend to yourself? At this moment I think life is meaningless.
Two days ago I had a small realisation about the processes of mental illness treatment that I have experienced. Here is a summary of my realisation.
- Self-esteem, independence and self-actualisation are the highest goals of an individual.
- Mood disorders are symptoms that an individual is lacking self-esteem, independence and self-actualisation.
- Cognitive behaviour theory is the primary treatment of mood disorders. Its objective is to increase self-actualisation.
- Once CBT is mastered and independence achieved, the individual may then exercise actions to asset themself and gain followers. This is usually done with graded exposure and behaviour experimentation.
- Most of the human population functions normally, meaning that they are self-actualised. They know what they want, their purpose, and how to achieve it. Gaining compassion with others (interdependence) is a large part of their goal. Often, however, they must compete with others to achieve their goal.
- A moderate percentage of humans are dysfunctional occasionally. A short course of CBT will restore their function.
- A small percentage of humans are dysfunctional for an extended time.
- The small percentage also use CBT to attempt to restore self-actualisation. However, though they too desire compassion with others, they are perpetually unable to achieve it.
- a) They are unable to self-assess their personality and goals.
- b) They are unable to effectively identify and manage emotions.
- c) They are unable to integrate socially and sub-ordinate others to their goals.
- Therefore, their life goal is independence, not interdependence. They do achieve compassion but it is intellectual, intangible, and with nature rather than other humans.
I really admire your perseverance to better understand yourself and improve your mental health.
From your recent posts it seems that you are learning a lot. Thank you for sharing and letting us know how you are getting on.
I really hope the process and exploration is beneficial to you.
Kind thoughts to you
Last week I visited my psychologist and asked, in relation to my previous comment about not liking myself, how I could find meaning in life.
As I understand it, life is meaningless because people try incredibly hard to achieve their goals but fall short, because of impositions by other people which are inescapable. A small number of people enjoy life because they can achieve their goals, through fortune that they are born with. God is also meaningful because he has say in the deterministic nature of the world.
According to my psychologist, the solution to this problem is to set a lower goal, such that achieving it is easy and will bring contentment.
However, this approach appears to contend with the nature of the human mind to transcend time and space, and therefore generate more problems and goals than it can solve.
Apparently one must subordinate themself to themself, and in doing so live a double life. One of meaning but subordination, one of meaninglessness but authority.
How can it be that in the whole history of humankind, humanity has not found a better model than this, and that the solution I pose, that humans would live meaningful and content lives if they reject society and lived indidivually, is banned by societies in which individuals must live?
The hard truth is that our world can be very challenging for anyone who is unique. I have watched this play out for over a decade with my daughter.
Some people, like you know, spend an awful lot of time and effort trying to bend or twist themselves into an “acceptable” shape to gain acceptance because exclusion is so painful. But here’s the rub: all that bending and twisting is painful too.
I’d just like to remind you that you are an amazing human, just the way you are. Obviously highly intelligent. Committed, determined and successful, as evidenced by your academic and professional achievements. Courageous, as evidenced by your pursuit of a really unique special interest.
Now the world may not yet be ready and willing to embrace your interest but maybe one day it will. And even if it doesn’t, you will still have uncommon knowledge that no one else has and that’s amazing.
I’d really like to encourage you to accept you who you are, including who you are not. And, remember that despite it all, you have been able to make an online friend.
We have never met but have still been able to form a connection. You have this achievement to be proud of. I am here replying to you only because I want to.
You said earlier in your thread that you have a condition that will be with you for life. I may be going out on a limb and I hope I don’t upset you, but I suspect this condition may be creating obstacles for you in life and underpinning your depression and sadness. Do you agree with that?
I’m asking because maybe if you disclosed this condition to your employer you could get some reasonable adjustments in the workplace to help you gain more meaning from your work. Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could bend just a little for you? I know it’s a big decision but maybe you could discuss it with your psychologist?
Maybe if you could meet other people with this condition you could learn how they cope with life’s challenges. Who knows, you might even find your tribe. Again I would encourage you to discuss all this with your psychologist.
I wish I could do more or say more to help and support you. But I hope it helps to know that you are not alone.
Kind thoughts to you
So glad that you have some support at work and that there has been some recognition of your needs and an attempt to meet them.
Sorry if the book isn’t for you. Agree with what you say about the “religious faith” element. I am interested in that angle but recognise everyone is different.
Take good care. Kind thoughts to you
Hi Summer Rose,
When you suggest acceptance, I feel interested because I have heard this concept before but appear to have difficulty understanding it fully. When my psychologist asked whether I agreed with the disorder he believes I have, I replied that I didn't understand how acknowledging it could help me because I had read every resource I could about it and still felt unsatisfied. I believed my need was to learn practical skills, which I can rote learn in order to try to disguise myself better in society, because when I have expressed more of my true self I have been made fun of or traumatised. As far as I could tell, a human's life is too short to obtain justice; it is more achievable outside the span of a lifetime, therefore the objective of life is to survive, and make more meaningful progress outside life. In some ways, the end goal of psychotherapy diagnosis appears to be to categorise individuals into various classes of outsiders in society, in which the profession as a whole doesn't know how to treat. If this is the objective of psychotherapy I am left a little disappointed and find greater connection with faith.
As I am religious, I value the concept of faith and therefore have some connection to the book we are discussing. However, like other areas of my life, I have often found my religious beliefs different to majority groups. I am a Christian, but theologically I think I am motivated more by God than Christ, a belief which I discovered is not held my most others in Christianity. It has only been recently that I have begun to very slightly understand the concept of Christ. I will use the concept of faith to comfort me when I am an outsider.
I also have difficulty with the prevailing strategy suggested to me in order to fit into work environments. I was told my work experiences would be simpler if I did exactly as I was asked and only what I was asked, regardless of how absurd I thought the requests were or whether I believed them. Now I have done this I have found the strategy questionable because people either expect me to exercise a greater authority or they make so many requests that the only way to achieve them is to mindlessly complete them at a pointless rate.