Wondering if I can get input on an article about depression

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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby treasuretheday » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:19 pm

smiileyjen101 wrote:But most importantly, folks shouldn't think he was any super-hero or anything, he was just living his life as it unfolded

I respectfullly disagree, Jen. He in my opinion, made heroic choices. Yes, he lived as life unfolded, but he could have chosen very differently as circumstances unfolded! Certainly, there are many who go unnoticed---many nameless, numberless people who quietly live and make heroic choices every day too!

But realize how counter-cultural this is, in this day and age. The prevailing wisdom put forth by much of the psych community is that we are victims who need medication. We are not told we can live "heroically!" We are told we are helpless in the face of depression, anxiety, attention deficits, too much energy, not enough energy, phobias, whatever. This is dangerous and very sad.

People in your friend's predicament commit suicide. Many others in the same boat do not. I don't think our culture dump socieity has done anyone any favors by glorifying the path of least resistance. Many have just followed along, and have learned 'accidentally' to believe they have no choice in the face of depression or adversity. Depression is not a "mental health crisis" it is a behavioral crisis.

But we can unlearn what we have learned. We are so afraid these days of words like "moral" or "courage" or "Integrity" or "honor," dismissing them as the sole province of religion. But these are relational principles that keep us connected to one another, resulting in our becoming less "lost" and isolated. When the last brick has crumbled from the last church on earth, as long as two human beings remain, they will still join hands, respecting some common ground between them (or not!).
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby rachMiel » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:20 pm

treasuretheday wrote:Well, RachMiel, I respect your path, and I applaud your willingness to talk about it. Surely speaking about the variety of experiences of depression in a public forum is quite useful to many who are 'lurking.' One never knows who might be touched by another's journey in some way.

Back atcha. :-)

We need to know we are not alone in our struggles, no matter how differently we may choose to go about addressing them. We join hands, find common ground, are united in our humanity.

And therein lies one of the ironies about depression. When you're in there, being/sharing with others would probably promote healing. But all you often want to do is curl up somewhere in the corner alone.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby treasuretheday » Sun Oct 13, 2013 4:09 pm

rachMiel wrote:And therein lies one of the ironies about depression. When you're in there, being/sharing with others would probably promote healing. But all you often want to do is curl up somewhere in the corner alone.

Beautifully said, RachMiel! Yes, yes, yes.

And in addition to our resistance to being and sharing with others when depressed is the prevalence of isolation as a feature of our environments today.

We need to find each other again. We have, as a culture, lost the common ground safety net that included the simple joys of sharing a walk, a porch, a cup of coffee. Many communities have lost the spirit of camaraderie and interest and support that previously undergirded life. Very alienating and isolating.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby Fethor » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:43 pm

We need to find each other again. We have, as a culture, lost the common ground safety net that included the simple joys of sharing a walk, a porch, a cup of coffee.


I couldn't agree more.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby smiileyjen101 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:18 am

smiileyjen101 wrote:
But most importantly, folks shouldn't think he was any super-hero or anything, he was just living his life as it unfolded

Treaure said: I respectfullly disagree, Jen. He in my opinion, made heroic choices. Yes, he lived as life unfolded, but he could have chosen very differently as circumstances unfolded! Certainly, there are many who go unnoticed---many nameless, numberless people who quietly live and make heroic choices every day too!

I agree he made choices -- hmm, how to do this and stay on topic. I do see comparing and idolising others as creating a sense of separation, envy and fear in folks, false expectations and judgements outside of our own experiences. I do think this 'comparing' adds to a sense of either suffering or exalting, of something being 'wrong' with our experiences and/or our responses. Outside of experience we cannot know the moments of it, building one on the next on the next increasing capacity, awareness and willingness to respond - choose, in any way.

For me the notion of hero or victim are both flawed. Yes 'victim' is flawed, and also yes 'hero' is equally flawed.
Both notions 'separate' another from ourselves, we compare and make 'better or worse' of people and situations based on our non-experience of their experiences, as the bloke in the original link has, our perspective and perception and what we tell ourselves is flawed. So then, what we are basing our choices on, is flawed.

EG the original link guy saying you are not depressed, you're selfish - The only thing any one can take from his essay is if he in his current state of mind & capacity, were to behave in the manner that he's experiencing his family members behaving HE would have to (in his own range of capacity, awareness and willingness = responses) behave 'selfishly'. Because that's what it would be if HE behaved that way.

What he's likely verbalising is the effect of insensitivity that is based not on aware selfishness and rudeness, but on lack of capacity and/or awareness to consider the effect of behaviours on others. So to the family member they are just doing their best with what they have in this current experience. I understand (not saying I agree with him, but I do understand his limited capacity) the original quoted guy's perspective because I too have previously been exhausted and frustrated by the impacts of these sorts of behaviours and felt imposed upon until I grew in awareness and realised they are not doing it 'on purpose' or with our capacity, awareness. They are doing it as a fluid choice in response to their experience within their ability in this situation/experience. Which is why telling someone to pull them self up by the bootstraps is flawed - they don't even have bootstraps!! (capacity).

We grow capacity, through experience, which is why labelling hero or victim is flawed.

I think Frankl discusses this well when he discusses the liberation of the last camp, and the kindnesses within situational restraints that those in the experience of captors had to struggle with. The situation did not just 'capture' & restrain & influence the realistic choices of the prisoners, it also impacted on the realistic choices of the 'captors'. The joy and gratitude of the commandant in being freed from the restraints of his role, the enacting of bitterness or guilt staining life outside the barbed wire for prisoners who survived to be freed. He also discusses the notion that there were always good and evil on both sides, there were sadists and sociopaths on both sides, and for them their range of capacity was limited as well.

I like to separate internal and external notions of response in situations - response ability is internal making conscious choices based on capacity, awareness & willingness, responsibility is externally imposed notions either that one thinks they 'should' do, be able to do, or what others think one 'should' do, be able to do. What one can do, is totally influenced by awareness, capacity and eventually willingness.

Many of the situations and experiences we find ourself in we don't have the 'capacity' to accept the reality of the limitation on our choices yet, we are in the process of growing it and growing into it, through the experience - that's actually the part that hurts, and may be the part where one falls in a heap with the weight of it - the expectation to reality journey, across multiple dimensions of a situation. What I noticed is that Frankl had a healthy balance of notions of freedom / responsibility, and that these took on more meaning in his experiences, PLUS, and likely because of his psychiatric training and experiences, he accepted the capacities of others and himself. Accepting capacity stops one from banging their head or heart against the brick wall of reality, but it's our capacity, learned by our capacity to do so.

The guy in the original link, he likely has pain in experiencing the exhaustion of his capacity for selflessness, which is why he's viewing the behaviours of others as 'selfish'.

I'm not for making 'victim' of anyone struggling to accommodate their reality at odds with their expectations; I'm also not for making 'hero' of those expressing their greater capacity to do so. We all got to where we are, with what we've got and how we've experienced life.

If the greatest thing a person can achieve in this moment, is to put one foot in front of the other and remember to breathe, that is enough. If the only 'solution' a person can see is to end their mortal suffering, that is their reality, within their capacity, awareness. It stands to reason that one who is not capable of being rational, is unable to make rational decisions. The flip side of this is that one who is making rational decisions does so through capacity.

I figure with the guy in the original link, the irrational behaviour is scaring the crap out of him, because he is growing his own capacity to cope with his own expectation ~ reality journey.

I understand that too, I've already made that journey, at times one foot in front of the other and remembering to breathe.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby treasuretheday » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:20 am

smiileyjen101 wrote: I do see comparing and idolising others as creating a sense of separation, envy and fear in folks, false expectations and judgements outside of our own experiences. I do think this 'comparing' adds to a sense of either suffering or exalting, of something being 'wrong' with our experiences and/or our responses
Jiminy crickets! Hmmm....how do I do this and stay on topic? LOL! Is the world coming to an end because the word "hero" was used? You are quite brilliant Jen. I am a simpleton, so I foolishly delight in inspiring examples of people meeting adversity with courage! I call those people heroic!

Maybe that's sloppy thinking in your book. I can't analyze things the way you do, so thoughts don't occur to me that lead to my feeling separate or envious or fearful of such people. I also don't feel inferior to them, or compare myself to them, or think something is flawed in my experience if I have not yet tested my mettle in a similar fashion. On the contrary, I feel hopeful and excited and joyful when I read about people like Victor Frankl. I surmise from his story that I too, if in similarly perilous straits, could rise to such an occasion with grace and power. I am buoyed by the knowledge of what is possible.

I also understand that in your view the notion of 'hero' opens up a can of worms. I just don't see the worms. But I admire your brilliance, Jen.

(However I don't suffer from envy or fear as I exalt your intellect to genius level! I think it's a hoot and I enjoy it!).
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby KathleenBrugger » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:55 pm

smiileyjen101 wrote:I've just finished reading Viktor Frankl Man's search for meaning. And it has answered a lot of queries, especially about the rising rates of existential depression, which I never understood. He says in it that human kind in its evolution lost many of the instinctive capacities - no instinct tells him what to do, and increasingly folks are losing culture and/or religion - so no tradition tells him what he oughtto do, and with time as a luxury not needing to be used for existing / survival there's a chasm of emptiness, a lack of understanding the meaning within one's life, an existential vacuum occurs, and with it a state of boredom, senselessness, and suffering.

It seems to me this is exactly what the author of the article was missing when he compared a modern businessman to a person in a traditional culture. When I read it I thought the premise should be turned on its head: our materialistic culture is what's sick and there's nothing wrong with having trouble adjusting to it. As Jiddu Krishnamurti famously said, "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

The US culture I live in worships money, fame, and beauty. If you aren't rich or on TV you don't count at all. We have reminders all day long of our "inadequacies"--from the good-looking young people in ads to the lifestyles of the rich and famous on TV to the constant barrage of new glistening merchandise in the malls we can't afford. Our media culture pounds in the message that there is no meaning or purpose to life beyond the pursuit of pleasure.

In traditional societies people had religion to give their life meaning, and most people had no choice in what they were going to do. If your father was a farmer you were a farmer. I think life was more stable and "comfortable," in that everyone had their place. But it was also very static and if you had talents outside your destined life you had little chance to express them. Life is much more fluid and filled with choices today, which gives us incredible opportunities, but it also gives us anxieties: will I make the wrong choice? We get paralyzed at the fear of making the wrong choice, or we get depressed because we think we made the wrong choice.

Another aspect of our culture is the belief that this is a meritocracy, where everyone rises to their level. So that communicates that if you are struggling at the "bottom" that means there is something wrong with you.

The sickness in our society is also reflected in the approach of the medical profession to "fix" it. The whole attitude seems to be "get the person back to work as quickly as possible." Once again, the focus is on money and work, not the whole person. Plus consumption of pharmaceuticals brings in a lot of money to big business.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby smiileyjen101 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:55 pm

Kathleen said: Another aspect of our culture is the belief that this is a meritocracy, where everyone rises to their level. So that communicates that if you are struggling at the "bottom" that means there is something wrong with you.

I really like that Kathleen, 'bottom' and 'top' are societal constructs. There are also many struggling at the 'top', and also in the middle, which in part is why I cautioned not to make 'hero' of folks, both 'bottom' and 'top' notions alienate folks from feeling free to express all aspects of their being, including failing, in the eyes of society.

Frankl only wrote of his experiences in a concentration camp and put his name to them (he was going to publish them anonymously) in order to outline the 'working' of the theories of logo therapy and understanding of the concepts of it in an extreme environment. If it works 'here' it will work anywhere. Stripped of the trappings of being known as a successful psychiatrist he was given 'freedom' to develop and test his theories in his own experiences and in the observance of others. By holding on to the notions of his theories his premise was that in order to move through suffering (or life in general) one must have a sense of something greater than oneself - a body of work or creative 'thing', a person or persons for whom affection is uppermost, or a sense that the growth / change being experienced was greater than the pain of it. He detailed examples of these in himself and in others and notes when one loses sight of these three how despair moves in and weakens the mind and body.

What allowed him to survive and grow was focussing on these three aspects of life more than the moment by moment suffering. Further to that he developed an experiential understanding of the contrasts or 'niggles', fine tuning of those theories in terms of 'optimum' living.

Now I don't want that to sound mercenary - he just took the opportunity when and where it was presented, by his awareness, capacity and willingness.

If one fails to put these things 'above oneself', then yes meaning in life can be overwhelmed by the pure suffering in/of it.

If a mother did not put her baby's birth in higher 'meaning' than her own pain, none of us would be here :wink:
If Frankl did not with all his heart want to build on the emergence of new sciences (psychotherapy), and be willing to experience radical change & growth himself, he would have found no meaning to his own struggles and despair.

If we are to 'reach' to hold and to make those in despair feel safe then we must cut loose the notions of right/wrong, good/bad, top/bottom, hero/villain/victim and allow & promote the embracing and okayness of what 'is'. Shame and guilt are emotional responses to external judgement, perceived or real. Shame and guilt contribute to the sense of 'worth' of the individual life, and block out the 'larger than self' aspects that give life meaning.

Treasure said: I also understand that in your view the notion of 'hero' opens up a can of worms. I just don't see the worms.
It's the same worms that eat at a person who is cast in 'villian', 'victim' labelling.
It's focussing attention on the 'person', when their acts and achievements were 'bigger' than them self as above.
If one thinks that 'they' will behave in a certain way because 'he' did, without acknowledging for instance his passion for his work to be known - he even tried to have a manuscript saved while in the (real) shower at Auschwitz. That his love for his wife, that even when he knew the chances of her being alive were slim, he would fantasise conversations with her - knowingly, not delusion ally, knowing it was giving his despair comfort, giving him meaning and reason to survive; and his awareness of his own growth and growth in his knowledge in terms of 'testing' aspects of his logo therapy theory.

Without this - without finding and exercising your own 'bigger than you' reasons, any 'hope', joy, or excitement would be very short lived, and despair would ensue. For one in it - there is no heroism. It's not about 'him', 'me', 'you'.

The 'selfishness' / self-centred nature of depression / despair / floundering to find meaning is this, where the focus is on self, rather than the bigger picture.
And it is physically true, 'self' is just a bag of bones with blood coursing through it and skin and hair covering it, experiencing the stimuli of pleasure and pain. Life - is so much more.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby treasuretheday » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:12 am

smiileyjen101 wrote:If one thinks that 'they' will behave in a certain way because 'he' did,
...I don't think I necessarily would, but I have hope at least, that perhaps I could to some degree. As I went on to say, I appreciated learning about what is possible. I take away that all human beings have this capacity. As I suggested earlier, culturally, we aren't supported in that realization.

I totally agree with you that Frankl's heroism was not just 'about him, or me, or you.' His experience underscores the idea that a human being is meaning itself.

Yes, I realize that Frankl had an overwhelming desire to write a book about his camp experiences, and this desire fueled his choice to take each difficult, painful step. He was influenced in this by his study of Nietzsche who said a person can always survive if he or she can find meaning in life---that with a why, one can survive any how. Choice is what gives us meaning, and since we can never be without one, we can never be bereft of the other.

Dr. Frankl found that he could despair, or he could make a small joke. He could be angry, or choose to help someone. He saw that he was never without some freedom of choice---either of action or attitude.

Well, I am surely missing some important points. Even though my 'review' of his book and life surely do not do it justice, I have appreciated this opportunity to revisit it. Granted, my perspective may be relatively shallow and superficial. Fortunately, you came to the rescue with a more in-depth analysis, Jen. Maybe you should write about book about his book!
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby smiileyjen101 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:42 am

Treasure you are a treasure!

See, my take is not that he wanted to write about his personal experiences, claim them personally or be hailed a hero and separated out from the 'average' person, it was more in order for folks to understand the impacts of incarceration on the 'average' person. He later realised that it is also a great case study in terms of his theories and practices in logotherapy.

He coins it as answering the question How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?

If one regards him a hero, then one must regard all 'average' people heroes, even our selves. It is heroic merely to put one foot in front of the other and remember to breathe if that is all one is capable of in this moment. In that way, maybe. I think I originally said for one not to regard him as a super-hero, because in doing this we 'separate' and alienate in a way that is not helpful for either the experiencer or the observer.


smiileyjen101 wrote:
If one thinks that 'they' will behave in a certain way because 'he' did,
Treasure said:
...I don't think I necessarily would, but I have hope at least, that perhaps I could to some degree.

you've already realised that
I take away that all human beings have this capacity.

No one has 'his' capacity. They only have their capacity. Albeit that capacity is always enough if one accepts and expresses it.

What are the 'bigger than you' things that get you through a day - any day, regardless of your experiences / situations in it?
What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The thing is one cannot hold onto to any one thing in any of those three aspects - creation, love of another, growth - until one is IN it to be able to apply it. One can have a general sense, but things change, and our 'bigger than us' aspects change too. We do the 'big stuff' in the same way we do the 'small stuff'. It's just magnified so it's easier to see.

Jen. Maybe you should write about book about his book!

Treasure you have no idea how much I needed this 'off-topic' discussion to make sense of and create a strategy for & towards accepting that some folks will confuse the 'responses of an average person' to extreme experiences for isolating hero-making or victim-labelling.

In the same way that making enemy, obstacle, means to an end is palpably isolating, so too is this glass wall that separates one who has grown into and through experience when it is viewed as other than just human ability, doing what one can with what one has. Whether it's the separation of pity, the separation of pride, the separation of fear, the separation of ego, they all create a chasm of distance in difference. All anyone seeks is to be accepted for who they are, regardless of their experiences or ability in navigating that which cannot be changed.

I love, love, love in the intro to this book that he says
This book does not claim to be an account of facts and events but of personal experiences, experiences that millions of prisoners (substitute people) have suffered (substitute experienced) time and again. It is the inside story of a concentration camp (substitute any experience) told by one of its survivors (substitute experiencers).

This tale is not concerned with the great horrors (substitute aspects of the experience) which have already been described often enough, though less often believed, but with the multitude of small torments (nuances). In other words, it will try to answer this question: How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?

This ^ this wonderful piece of selfless sharing, if only it were more often believed, is priceless for those wishing to view, and/or share their own experiences as a 'reflection' in an average mind.

Just think of the possibilities -
'How is everyday life with depression reflected in the mind of the average experiencer of depression? First person account.

That article in the original link could be - how is everyday life with a family member with depression reflected in the mind of the average father, brother, husband, son of that person? First person account of second person experiencing.

That article is 'his reflection'. It's not about the other person at all.

Does that make sense??
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby treasuretheday » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:58 pm

Jen, I agree that Dr. Frankl did not feel moved to write a book to later be hailed as a hero! No, not at all. This desire flowed, I believe, from love.
smiileyjen101 wrote:If one regards him a hero, then one must regard all 'average' people heroes, even our selves. It is heroic merely to put one foot in front of the other and remember to breathe if that is all one is capable of in this moment. In that way, maybe
I agree that putting one foot in front of the other and breathing can be an act of heroism. Certainly, I regard many 'ordinary' people as heroic. But not all people live heroically!

My chief point, in light of the original topic of the thread, was that our psychologized world has lead us ordinary folk away from our innate capacity to live heroically. In the context of this modern, prozac-addicted world, reading Frankl's book could possibly introduce such an option, such possibilty, for the first time!

As I mentioned earlier, we have learned 'accidentally' to feel helpless in the face of adversity. We have been guided by the 'professional community' to follow the path of least resistance, pop a pill, and take on a victim mentality instead. Due to this 'encouragement' a valuable form of cultural currency has been created in pleading some sort of victim status (at least here in the USA, I see that!). This is not who we are though!

Indeed, I see all of humanity as potentially heroic. But the deck has been stacked against us. Earlier I said that we can unlearn what we have learned. Frankl's book could be instructive in guiding us back to Truth.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby rachMiel » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:58 pm

treasuretheday wrote:As I mentioned earlier, we have learned 'accidentally' to feel helpless in the face of adversity. We have been guided by the 'professional community' to follow the path of least resistance, pop a pill, and take on a victim mentality instead. Due to this 'encouragement' a valuable form of cultural currency has been created in pleading some sort of victim status (at least here in the USA, I see that!).

Yes! A disorder status too. I have ADD. I'm cooler, I have ADHD. I win: ADHD + social anxiety disorder and I've got the prescriptions to prove it! That kind of thing.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby treasuretheday » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:28 pm

OMG, RachMiel, yes, exactly, that kind of thing! 8)
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby rachMiel » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:58 pm

I must confess to "milking it" on occasion. I guess I give myself the liberty to wallow a bit when my brain neurochemistry is nontrivially off.
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Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Postby Jbrooke » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:31 pm

If the greatest thing a person can achieve in this moment, is to put one foot in front of the other and remember to breathe, that is enough. If the only 'solution' a person can see is to end their mortal suffering, that is their reality, within their capacity, awareness. It stands to reason that one who is not capable of being rational, is unable to make rational decisions. The flip side of this is that one who is making rational decisions does so through capacity.


I REALLY appreciated this comment, Jen. This offered a lot of clarity to me. Especially since, after I read a bit about Frankl, I immediately felt a surge of self-hatred, guilt, shame, and harsh comparisons. I can barely get myself out of bed without wanting to slash my wrists most mornings and here is this man who finds himself in a concentration camp(s) and is able to stay present. I know that comparisons are not helpful, but I find myself at the mercy of them right now. So, when I read what you just wrote (above) it really spoke to me and I am trying to keep that in mind. I do tend to compare myself to the "heros" in this world such as Frankl and I become more deeply engrossed in depression when I do. But I feel compelled to do it and it feels almost out of my control. I thank you for sharing all of this insight you have.
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