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Passions in Poetry

The Gravity of Responsibility

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Falling rain
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0 posted 05-05-2011 09:45 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

Hello,

In case some of you didn't know, I struggle with depression. I have for the past 5-6 years. Yes, I am medicated and go to therapy once a week. I've been going to therapy for the past 3 years. By now I have learned a lot about myself. I've learn that my disease is a disease. Medication for me is necessary like diabetics need their insulin. Just because things require work doesn't mean they aren't worth it in the long run.

Lately, I've been getting revelations/epiphanies about not blaming my moods on my depression. It's a lot easier to blame people/things that way the burden gets brushed from your shoulders. The thing is that it's not right to do that. Society teaches men to "Man up" and just do it, is that right either? Personally, I don't think so but I'm getting off topic. Haha.

Anyway, I've been having a hard time of not letting myself use my depression as the blame to my moods. Yes, it does play a big thing in my moods but only so much. Feeling sad is more to it then the physical lacking of serotonin. It's a mental thinking that you place yourself in. I do have a choice when it comes to my happiness.

My question: Is it typical to feel like you can't control something, yet in a way you do have that power? Am I just in a sense of regaining power over myself and just a coward and not able to get a hold of it quite yet?  


(sorry if others thinks this belongs somewhere else. Message me if you believe it should go somewhere else.)
Alison
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1 posted 05-05-2011 10:43 PM       View Profile for Alison   Email Alison   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alison

I don't know if this is in the right or wrong place.  I will have to think about your questions.  I know two things, Zach.  I have missed you and I love your picture.

Alison
Falling rain
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2 posted 05-06-2011 09:19 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

Hey Alison! It's been a while. I've sadly been avoiding this place a lot lately. (It can get boring sometimes) Anyway, how are you doing?

thanks for the compliment.
Bob K
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3 posted 05-07-2011 05:49 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Missed hearing from you on occasion.

     The depression is part chemical and part a matter of how you get used to thinking about yourself and the world.  Folks get trapped in certain types of thinking traps, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, where people don't credit themselves for something unless it's living up to some absurd standard.  For example, "This poem's no good unless it's published in The New Yorker; otherwise it's trash!"  There are are fair number of pretty good poets who've never published in The New Yorker, and there are a very large number of poets who think they're failures because they haven't.  That's all or nothing thinking, the depression that comes from not filling unreasonable expectations.

     Black-and-white thinking's another, where a person get's very rigid about what's good and bad or right and wrong about themselves.  Guess which side of the line they usually place themselves on?  People who speak grammatical english are good; people who speak ungrammatical english are bad.  People who are thin are good, people who are fat are bad.  People who are christian are good, people who are muslim are bad.  Sometimes the black and white categories are put a little bit more elegantly, but still manage to make people judge themselves harshly, and end up causing themselves a bit of depression.  Try this one, which you'll still hear quoted with a sort of smarmy approval every now and again:  "You can never be too rich or too thin."

     Wrong.  Especially about the second.

     If you want to learn about the theory behind this stuff and get more detail on how to spot some of this sort of thinking when you do it yourself, try googling  Cognitive Therapy.  There are a number of useful books for regular folks.  There's a M.D. whose last name is Burns who's got a book called "The New Mood Therapy," I believe, that's worth looking at, and your guy should be able to recommend a book as well.  It's very useful in conjunction with medication.  

     It should be useful in putting some of the power and control into your hands as you put some time into it.

Best, Bob Kaven
Brad
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4 posted 05-07-2011 11:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm not sure I understand what you're asking.  Are you asking if taking responsibility for your moods is possible?

If so, the answer is a qualified yes.

I'll defer to Bob on the psychological aspects of it but it seems to be that there are a few tricks to help here:

1. light exercise (hiking or some such thing)

2. repetitive action of some sort (learning music or language or some sort of ritual, performance art).

3. creation (writing, painting, or in some way creating your own stuff  -- not so much art but craft)

4. meditation (yeah, to use Dogen's phrase, "Just sit." It does hurt though.

5. rote memorization (that's another whole thread to be honest).

6. religion (that may seem odd if you see the threads surrounding yours but I don't doubt that religion and religious experience change things, I doubt the conclusions that result from those things).

With the exception of six, my mood has changed with all of these.

Of course, if I've misunderstood you, please ignore this.

Bob K
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5 posted 05-08-2011 12:22 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     Brad has some interesting points.

     In particular, a type of meditation called "mindfulness meditation" is useful in depression because it  brings attention to exactly what you are doing while you are doing it in a very concrete and highly specific way.

     Few things screw up a depressive state as well as watching yourself going through the steps you have to go through to produce it while staying conscious of the process and the outcome the whole time.  As in, Now I'm distorting reality by lying to myself.  Now I'm repearting the lie.  Now I'm pretending I don't know any better.  Now I'm pretending that only poets who publish in The New Yorker write good poems.  Now I'm pretending I read the New Yorker often enough to know what they publish.  And so on.  Now I'm pretending I care enough about what The New Yorker publishes to read what they publish every week.

     Now I pretend I understand what thin actual means.

     Once you start paying close attention, some of the things you or I do can be pretty spectacularly funny considering the conclusions we draw from them that make us unhappy.
Bob K
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6 posted 05-08-2011 09:42 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Having mentioned "The Gravity of Responsibility," the poet in me wants to ask the question if you'd thought about writing a poem about "The Responsibility of Gravity?"  Sometimes such turn-abouts can offer an interesting exercise.
Falling rain
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7 posted 05-09-2011 05:10 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

No, you guys misunderstand my question. I guess what I'm trying to ask is, do you ever feel that you have the decision to change yet you cannot seem to bring yourself to it because of fear?

Bob, I know all of that stuff but thank you for the reminder.
Bob K
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8 posted 05-09-2011 07:08 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     If you're having to deal with fear, you may be trying to deal with What? instead of How? when, truth be told, you already know you want to make some changes.

     Exactly what about feeling terrible are you afraid of giving up?

     Look at it closely, because it will probably be legitimate.  Then ask yourself if you'd be willing to accept the same goodies if you didn't have to hurt yourself and others to get them.

     Time to put the old brain to work.  That old solution's worked great forever and a day, but it's entirely possible that an older wiser Falling Rain might be able to come up with a more life enhancing way of accomplishing it.  Better to come up with two or three, to make sure.

     Imagine doing those instead of the old familiar standards.  Run through the new way a few times in your imagination.

     If there are any hitches, plan around them until you have a way that works and which you can practice a few times all the way through in your head.  Now add color when you run through it next time.  Now add sound.  Does it feel comfortable?

     If it does, step into it in your imagination like a suit of clothes and run through it until you feel like you're wearing it.  

     At this point, you'll probably notice that you actually feel differently.  Chances are that you'll have made the change you've been looking for, that easily.

     Try it out, pay attention to how it feels when you've finished, and see if you still feel frightened.  If you still feel frightened, ask yourself what frightens you, and rearrange that the same way that I outlined above.  Make sure that at the end, you do not feel frightened, and that you feel comfortable and confident, and practice your new behavior if you'd like, in the world a few times to make sure it's as solid as you want it to be.

     How's that for a suggestion?

     It's a variation of some Neurolinguistic Programming techniques that are pretty effective.  It's a variation on what they call reframing.

     The fear is useful because it tells you that there are pieces that you still need to rework, and it shows you where they are.

     You don't want to eliminate all fear.  Fear of, say, hitting your thumb with a hammer is very useful fear to have, and you don't want to make that go away, do you?  You want to keep that around.

     Just to be clear about it.
Brad
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9 posted 05-09-2011 08:18 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Okay, fear of what?

Oh, Bob already asked that question.  But I can't help but wonder if you're experiencing ennui:

quote:
a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom: The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.


Have I experienced this?  Sure.  I bet Bob has too.  

quote:
It's a lot easier to blame people/things -- that way the burden gets brushed from your shoulders.


Does this work for you?  Does it hurt anyone else?

It's a defense mechanism but does have its uses.  Yes, I've done it.  

I can't resist one example:  Hitch, in an address to an atheist group, begins, "I woke up this morning with a sense of ennui." He concludes with the reason, "It's the first time in a year that I've spoken to an audience that already agrees with me."

That is, how dare you ruin my fun by already agreeing with me.

I would also argue that schadenfreude has its uses.

I have recently discovered keyboard cat.  And yes have been entertained by others' mishaps.

One possibility is to see these 'bad' things as a kick-start to more productive and positive actions.

One immediate possibility would be to get angry at Bob and myself for writing these ridiculous advice columns.
Falling rain
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10 posted 05-10-2011 12:28 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

I have a fear of getting rid of my scapegoat: depression. It's so much easier to blame my depression for my terrible moods.

Example: My friends ask to hang out with them and go to the movies for the evening. The thing is that I've had a long day and I'm feeling depressed. I say, "No I'd rather not go because I'm feeling depressed and I don't want to ruin your fun with my bad mood." They understand and leave me be, which I am thankful for.

Then I feel a guilty feeling brewing inside. I know that I have the option to go out. Whether either option are right or wrong are a matter of perspective, but still I feel that I always choose to stay home and isolate myself. Personally, that's wrong sometimes.. especially if feeling depressed.

I know how to help fight depression yet I seem to resist. Fearing the gravity of responsibility. The responsibility to learn to feel better, make better choices, and learn to love myself instead of hating myself.

That's where I fear the gravity of responsibility. I know what's the "right" thing to do yet I'm hesitant.  
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