How Being Sad, Depressed And Anxious Online Became Trendy

I’ve definitely noticed this trend. I’m guilty of it too.

Please comment on the original post.

WebInvestigator.KK.org - by F. Kaskais

How Being Sad, Depressed And Anxious Online Became Trendy

Social media personas built on the illusion of happy, perfect lives are so tired. In 2019, it’s all about being Sad Online.

BY JESS JOHO

“Trendy” emotional distress on social media is part of many must-follow accounts across all platforms. Whether by retweeting the depressing relatability of the So Sad Today Twitter account (at 855,000 followers as of this writing) or commenting the obligatory “same” on a MyTherapistSays Instagram post (currently at 3.6 million). As recently immortalized by a Tim Robinson sketch in I Think You Should Leave, even if you do post pictures where you look cute and happy, it must be accompanied by a self-deprecating caption.

The era of being Sad Online is defined by a sense of reverse FOMO, a tacit agreement to redefine being cool on the internet through JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) — then file it under social anxiety. It’s possible, though…

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Things are getting really scary.

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There’s a reason why I haven’t posted in so long.   My PTSD is at full bore and I can’t focus. I can’t write because my ability to concentrate is shot.   I seem less able to cope with problems as they come up.  I feel constantly on edge.   My anxiety is unrelenting; it keeps me up at night and darkens my days.  I’m often on the verge of tears, and frequently close to white hot rage.    Getting through each day feels like a herculean accomplishment, but there’s no attendant pleasure in a job well done.   Life is more burdensome and the future seems very dark.

There have been problems involving my daughter and addiction again.  That’s bad enough, but I’d be able to cope with that more easily if my country wasn’t collapsing into so much rubble.   Lately, the destruction seems to be accelerating and the things that are happening are becoming more nightmarish and blatantly oppressive.  America has become a place I no longer recognize.

It’s not just Trump.   It’s the fascist patriarchy the Trumpian-retooled GOP has become.  Because of Trump, it has become a party run by a group of  all-white, almost exclusively male sociopaths who despise people of color, non-Christians, Democrats, LGBTQ, migrant children — and women.   Perhaps women most of all.   Their misogyny seems to have no bottom.

The slew of abortion bans attempting to overturn a law that has been in place for 46 years is clear evidence of how much this group hates women.    I don’t care how you feel about abortion, or what your religious views are, the federal government has no business making rules about what should be a personal decision between a woman and her doctor (and in some cases her husband or partner).    The fact that two states made no exceptions for rape and incest, even if it’s a child raped by a relative, proves to me the patriarchy cares nothing about preserving life, or about a woman’s emotional or physical health, but about oppressing women and girls.    The GOP is reminding me more and more of the Taliban.    How much longer until they start making laws mandating restrictive clothing?  How much longer until we are told what we can own and how much money we can have?   How much longer until we lose our right to vote?

The hypocrisy of these men (and a few women) is astounding.  This group is anything but pro-life, judging by their callous and cruel treatment of migrant families and children, their blithe lack of concern about the endless school shootings, their neverending attempts to take away our healthcare (including making pregnancy and even just being a woman a preexisting condition), their contempt for laws that protect our environment, and their unmitigated greed, hunger for power, and lack of empathy.

This is why our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into the Constitution.  Mixing religion and government never leads to anything good.  It corrupts both, and theocracies are without exception violent, hellish places to live, especially for women and people who deviate from the governing religion.  One only needs to look at some of the Middle Eastern countries or medieval Europe to see how bad things can get.  Here in America today, we have a group of fundamentalist evangelical Christians who have way too much power and who wish to replace the Constitution with biblical law.  They appear to be succeeding in their efforts so far.  Such an outcome seemed unthinkable at the time of Trump’s election.

We are falling behind other developed nations in every way.   As they move forward into the future, we are becoming an oppressive backwater, a country resembling a repressive Middle Eastern theocracy or a violent banana republic more than a forward looking democracy.    There’s been an uptick in police brutality, and no one does anything about it.   We have a president who chose an attorney general to be his personal lawyer and “fixer” instead of representing the People.  Trump stomps all over our Constitution and the rule of law.  He and his sycophants break the law on a daily basis and are never held accountable.     There are no checks and balances anymore, and the Democratic Congress seems weak and ineffectual, unable or unwilling to contain Trump’s destructive impulses.

No one wants to come here anymore.   On social media, I have heard people from other countries say they have cancelled trips to America because they are too afraid.  I don’t blame them.   There is much to be afraid of.   People who are able to are leaving, especially the young, who rightly see no future here.

I have a terrible feeling about where this country is going that I will leave unsaid.  But I think anyone who is awake and aware sees what’s coming.

We ar running out of time.  We must rise up because no one is coming to save us.    If we don’t, we are complicit in our own destruction.

Why is depression more tolerable than anxiety?

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I haven’t been at my best.   My anxiety has really been acting up.   I’m finding it hard to stay mindful and have a positive outlook.   All the tools I learned to stay mindful and avoid the worst of Complex PTSD are almost useless.

I can never relax.  I’ve been filled with a free floating sense of awful, black dread.  I can’t take naps in the middle of the day like I used to, or even sleep in late because at some point I feel like my heart is slamming in my throat and I’m jumping out of my skin.    Often I wake up early in the morning with a jolt, all that oppressive black anxiety weighing down on me like a lead blanket, and I almost feel like I can’t breathe.   Sometimes it’s so intense it borders on full blown panic.

Some of my anxiety is very specific:

  • Worry about the future of our country under the current president;
  • Worry about my personal freedom and rights as I get older, especially since I’m what most would consider poor and under this horrific regime, I will be VERY vulnerable to exploitation or early death from lack of social security, Medicare or other old age benefits that older generations took for granted;
  • Worry about what will happen to my children (or any children they have) should we become a real dictatorship;
  • Worry that the payout from my insurance company won’t be enough to allow me to buy any kind of decent vehicle, which I need for work;
  • Worry about my daughter’s new husband not being capable of providing sufficiently for her or any children they have.
  • Worry about a likely move in the future: will I be able to afford it?
  • Worry that one of my adult children will be in a terrible accident and possibly die;
  • Worry that my own family is using me financially and talking badly about me behind my back (this is probably the most irrational fear I have).    I know this is due to my past as a victim of narcissistic abuse.  When I’m very anxious and triggered, I have a hard time trusting people, even people I know aren’t out to hurt me.

There’s also the free floating, nameless anxiety I’ve lived with all my life, magnified by my specific (and possibly even rational) fears.   It’s this overwhelming feeling that something awful is about to happen, though I have no idea what.

All that anxiety is debilitating, and yes, it’s painful.   It’s hard to function properly or maintain healthy relationships when you’re constantly fretting or ruminating about something that might happen in the future — or might not.    I irritate my family because of my constant need for reassurance that I’m not being used or they are not going to be doing something dangerous that will get them hurt or killed.   I get annoyed easily at work and just in general.   I snap at others, not because I’m angry, but because I’m so anxious all the time.

There have even been days I’ve contemplated suicide (though I know I won’t actually do it) just to escape from the oppressiveness of all this anxiety and dread.

Every so often though, my anxiety gives way to depression.    I know that depression is actually worse than anxiety because it means you have given up.   You’re no longer fighting (anxiety definitely feels like you’re fighting for your life sometimes).  Oddly enough it feels almost…comforting.    When I’m depressed, I can just lie in bed or in front of the TV and not feel like my heart’s about to slam right out of my chest.   I feel no guilt about being so slothful.   When I’m depressed, I can actually sleep and escape my emotional hell through dreams, or just the oblivion of featureless slumber.   I can find food comforting even though I can barely taste it.    Though tears come rarely, when they do, it feels cathartic.

But mostly, when I’m depressed, it’s like boredom turned up to 11.    Depression is very, very boring.   There are elements of sadness and sometimes grief, but more than anything else, depression is boring.   Yet, I have no urge to do anything to relieve the boredom, except maybe sleep or eat.   The boredom is there, and while it’s intense, it isn’t painful or intolerable the way normal boredom is, the kind of boredom that makes you have to go DO something about it immediately.   It’s just there, like gray wallpaper.

When I’m depressed, I don’t suffer much (or any) anxiety or dread, because in my mind, the bad thing has already happened.  Even though my belief it already happened may be irrational, I’ve emotionally succumbed and accepted it.

It’s like that moment you know you are going to die.   You go through your whole life fearing death, but when you’re finally face to face with it, staring into its infinite maw, knowing there’s nothing you can do, your fear disappears and you just accept you’re going to die at this moment, right here and now.  I know this is true because when I was 18 I got raped.  The man had a knife, and I thought he was going to kill me.   At one point, I was sure I was a goner, and at that moment a strange calm took over and I just accepted this was how I was going to leave this earth.  Obviously it didn’t happen, but I remember that sense of peaceful calm and acceptance.

That’s what happens when I’m depressed.  It’s like I’ve already accepted something that might not even have happened and may never happen.    No, of course it isn’t healthy, but it’s oddly comforting and far more tolerable to me than the almost constant high level of anxiety I’m forever doing battle with.

 

This Christmas is kind of a bummer for me.

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The house is  all decked out for the holidays more than it’s been in years, thanks to my daughter’s efforts.  But a couple of incidents have occurred in in the past  24 hours that have really put both of us in terrible moods and darkened our holiday spirit with worry and sadness.

I don’t really want to talk about what happened, because it’s not really a huge issue (no one died or is deathly ill)  and like all things, it will pass, but it’s ruining her Christmas so much she has been in tears for 24 hours.  As a person that is much more empathic than I ever used to believe I was (I think some of my natural empathy got freed up through therapy and self analysis), her low mood is affecting my own emotional state in a very negative way.    Any Christmas spirit I had feels like it’s gone.

I’m trying to make the best of it, going through the motions, and by tomorrow perhaps I will feel better and be able to enjoy Christmas day.   Gift giving is always fun and I have prepared a wonderful lasagna (my own Christmas tradition) and have a delicious buttercream chocolate/peppermint cake for dessert.

Another issue is I have drifted away from my church and religion in general (long story) and although I want to attend Christmas morning mass tomorrow, I doubt I actually will.

I’ve been having a lot of doubts about Christianity.   I blame much of this on the way Christianity has been poisoned and corrupted by American right wing evangelical/dominionist preachers, politicians, and megachurches.   Like a person with a specific phobia of elevators whose phobia generalizes to include all enclosed places, my entire outlook on Christianity (even the good kind that actually follows Christ’s teachings) is becoming poisoned.

I know the cure for this is to resist my negative feelings and go to church anyway, but every week I say I will go and then I don’t.    I can certainly understand why so many people these days are becoming atheists, especially younger people.    American right wing Christianity is turning good people away from God completely.  And why wouldn’t they?    Sociopathic people in power have made a God in their own image:  a merciless God that is sociopathic, cruel, punishing, impossible to please,  narcissistic, and who takes sadistic pleasure in endlessly and cruelly punishing the hapless humans he demands worship from.   I know that’s not what real Christianity is about, but the compassionate, Christlike Christians don’t seem numerous enough, and certainly aren’t loud enough.   Instead of fighting back, they turn the other cheek.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Winter Solstice celebration.  I hope you are happy this holiday no matter what you celebrate and aren’t bogged down by stress and worry.

Oh yeah.  That reminds me.  The Winter Solstice.  The days are growing longer now, and that makes me very happy.

What is moral injury?

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Moral injury (also known as soul injury), is a serious mental condition similar to PTSD that many Americans are suffering from right now under Trump’s increasingly threatening and authoritarian administration.   This condition is also very common among soldiers who are forced to commit acts that go against their conscience or violate their understanding of right from wrong.

According to Wikipedia, moral injury

refers to an injury to an individual’s moral conscience resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression which produces profound emotional shame. The concept of moral injury emphasizes the psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of trauma. Distinct from pathology, moral injury is a normal human response to an abnormal traumatic event.  The concept is currently used in literature about the mental health of military veterans who have witnessed or perpetrated an act in combat that transgressed their deeply held moral beliefs. Moral injury can also be experienced by those who have been transgressed against. For example, when one goes to war thinking that the purpose of the war is to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, but finds that not to be the case, the warrior can experience moral injury. Those who have seen and experienced death, mayhem, destruction, and violence have had their worldviews shattered – the sanctity of life, safety, love, health, peace, etc. – can suffer moral injury as well. This injury can also occur in the medical space – among physicians and other emergency or first responder care providers who engage in traumatic high impact work environments which can affect their mental health and well-being.

Moral injury or soul injury is quite common, and can affect entire populations.   It tends to separate people with a conscience and empathy from sociopaths, the latter of which are likely to be drawn to the very person or situation that is causing moral injury and PTSD to the normal population.

Since moral injury is closely related to PTSD, the symptoms are very similar.    Depression, sadness, and even suicidal ideation is common, especially if the victim sees no escape from the threatening situation or tyrannical leader/ government.

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It is under the spiritual perspective of moral injury that Lindsay Carey (Australia), John Swinton (UK) and Daniel Grossoehme (USA), provided a comprehensive holistic defintion of moral injury based on the systematic reviews of Jinkerson plus Hodgson and Carey. [30]

Moral injury is a trauma related syndrome caused by the lasting physical, psychological, social and spiritual impact of grievous moral transgressions or violations of an individual’s deeply held moral beliefs and/or ethical standards due to (i) the betrayal of what is right by trusted individuals who hold legitimate authority and/or (ii) by an individual perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about inhumane acts which result in the pain, suffering or death of others and which fundamentally challenges the moral integrity of an individual, organisation or community.

The violation of deeply-held moral beliefs and ethical standards—irrespective of the actual context of trauma—can lead to considerable moral dissonance, which if unresolved, leads to the development of core and secondary symptoms that often occur concurrently.  The core symptoms commonly identifiable are: (a) shame, (b) guilt, (c) a loss of trust in self, others, and/or transcendental/ultimate beings, and (d) spiritual/existential conflict including an ontological loss of meaning in life.  These core symptomatic features, influence the development of secondary indicators such as (a) depression, (b) anxiety, (c) anger, (d) re-experiencing the moral conflict, (e) social problems (e.g., social alienation) and (f) relationship issues (e.g., collegial, spousal, family), and ultimately (g) self-harm (i.e., self-sabotage, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and death).

Moral injury can be treated with CBT and other psychotherapies, but not everyone has access to professional help.  Self care is of vital importance.  If the news is disturbing or upsetting to you, and is causing you PTSD-like symptoms, take breaks from it, or even ban it from your life altogether.   While it’s important to stay informed, if there’s a real emergency, you will find out about it.  Your mental health is more important than knowing every detail of what’s going on in the world or in the country.

Try to break the hypervigilance habit.  Many people feel more “in control” if they stay on top of current events, even following the slightest detail, but the reality is, outside of practical activities like voting, signing petitions, writing letters, or protesting, there isn’t much you can do to change things.   SItting around being depressed or worrying about what might happen in a week, or a few months, or a year can drive you crazy and make you miserable.   It will drain all the joy our of your life.  Keep in mind that even in the most undemocratic regimes, most people can still find moments of joy and love in the people and the world around them.  Anne Frank was such a person who remained hopeful even while interned in a concentration camp.   Obviously not everyone has the emotional makeup to remain that upbeat and brave, but her story has brought hope to millions.

Spend time with friends and family that you trust, obviously those who feel the same way as you do (things have become so polarized that you might have to avoid friends and family on the opposite side of the political spectrum, at least temporarily).   Be sure to spend time doing fun, nonpolitical things with your friends and family members, not just talking about politics and the news.   Of course there’s a place for that too.  If you want to feel like you’re making a difference, you can plan to attend protests as a group or have letter writing or phone call “parties.”

One way you can follow the news in a more lighthearted way is to watch the late night TV comedy shows, such as Saturday Night Live or Jimmy Kimmel, instead of cable or network news.     You will still get your news (in fact, these shows are often more accurate in reporting than actual news programs) but in a way that can make you laugh and see the lighter side of a very serious situation.    Gallows humor has its place, and can make an unpleasant or unbearable situation seem more tolerable.

Remember that if you are suffering from moral injury, there is nothing wrong with you.  In fact, it means you are functioning human being with a conscience, and you are merely reacting in a normal way to an abnormal situation.  Still, if the suffering becomes intolerable or you find it hard to function, it can’t hurt to seek counseling to learn coping skills.

Almost Sunrise is a documentary film about moral injury.  It focuses on returning soldiers, but should also be of interest to anyone suffering from this form of PTSD.    You can watch a short video and read an article about the film here:

Almost Sunrise / Moral Injury

According to their site, these are the most common symptoms of moral injury:

  • Overwhelming depression
  • Guilt or shame
  • Loss of meaning in life
  • Feelings of worthlessness, despair and remorse
  • Feeling like “I’ve lost a part of myself”
  • Feeling like “I do not know who I am anymore”
  • Feeling intense distrust

My Seasonal Affective Disorder makes me want to hibernate until spring.

It’s baaaaack!  I hate this time of year.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Graph I made showing my mood pattern throughout the year. It’s this way every year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my SAD.

SAD is triggered by the lack of light and shortening days for those affected with it. During the shorter days the brain produces more melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that induces sleepiness in certain animals, like bears. It’s the reason why some mammals hibernate until the warmer, longer days of spring. Unfortunately, some humans retain this biological urge to hibernate, but because we must continue to live productive lives, our natural urge to sleep is ignored and seasonal depression is the result.

I seem to suffer from a weird form of SAD. The fall is much more depressing to me than winter. Most people with SAD feel terrible in late fall AND all winter. But for me, I start feeling depressed sometime in mid-August, when the…

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Jessica’s last words

I was so touched by this story I am reblogging it.

Her mission is our mission

On March 10, 2015,  my daughter Jessica took out a piece of paper and wrote out one last letter to me. She used a pink marker (her favorite color) as she jotted down her last thoughts. It was her last attempt to explain to me that life had gotten to much for her. That all the bullying and pain that she had endured from the previous year and a half had finally taken over her mind. Helpless and hopeless she ended the pain that she fought so hard to be free of. I know she didn’t do this to hurt me. She was ending her pain and what she thought was a life that couldn’t get better.img_8924-2

I carried a copy of that note in my purse for  3 years. I thought  about what the words meant to me and I decided to have her last thoughts      …

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Ask the Question. Ask the Direct Question.

I was heartbroken to hear of the suicide death of Anthony Bourdain.   I loved his shows about exotic cultures, food, and everyday life in faraway countries.  He always seemed so happy and had a life anyone would envy — traveling all over the world and writing about it for a living is my idea of heaven!  Many people would say the same thing about fashion designer Kate Spade, who also committed suicide earlier this week.

Depression and suicide doesn’t discriminate and can affect even those who seem to have great lives. We just don’t know what sort of inner demons Bourdain (and Kate Spade) struggled with.

If you struggle with depression or have suicidal thoughts or ideation, please reach out and talk to someone you trust. Don’t keep your depression a secret — it’s a medical illness, not something to be ashamed of.

Peace from Panic

(Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide. If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800)273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line in the U.S. at 741741)

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This morning I woke up to the tragic news about chef and travel host, Anthony Bourdain. Death by suicide.

Heartbreaking. And after the shock earlier this week, the suicide death of designer Kate Spade.

My husband and I love to watch Anthony Bourdain’s show on CNN, “Parts Unknown.” He was an amazing storyteller. He traveled to both popular and remote places around the world to get his stories. My favorite episodes were when he visited unknown villages, and I learned about another culture’s cuisine and way of life.

In his interesting, quirky, and cool way, Anthony would sit with locals and have in-depth conversations over a meal. People opened up to him. He had a special way of delving…

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Update about my son’s mental health ordeal.

This is just a quick update about my son, who started suffering severe panic attacks/dissociation episodes and a week later, from near-suicidal depression.

He is doing much better.   It turned out the medication the Emergency Room gave him to control the panic attacks (lorazepam — commercially known as Ativan) had an adverse effect on him and caused the depression.   Since he stopped taking them, he has not been depressed.

He’s been a lot less anxious too, but that may have been job-related.   He was transferred to a different location which is closer to his home, and is less stressful, and he has not had another attack.

He still plans to find a therapist, since he is an anxious person who has OCD and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which my daughter also has).  Having these disorders together makes a person likely to suffer sudden panic attacks.

Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and prayers!  I do think that helped too.

Anxiety spiraling into major depression?

Last week I wrote about my son’s dissociation episodes and panic attacks.   He got some anti-anxiety medication there, but they put him to sleep so they haven’t been useful to him, and the panic has not gone away.  He’s been able to manage it a little better, using some mindfulness tricks, but has not been able to see a doctor yet (he will tomorrow).  His two trips to the emergency room just told him what he already knew and gave him a few pills for the panic.

Since last Monday, he says he has had 14 panic attacks.  Today he tweeted this:

the last 2 weeks ive been in a very dark place. im constantly afraid, never happy. ive lost all hope and happiness. i feel broken. I’m only able to focus on my faults. making choices triggers panic attacks. im so fucking scared of life itself. help me.

This rose alarm bells so I called him right away.  He sounded alright but sad/down.   I asked him if he was having suicidal thoughts.  He said no, but he thinks about death a lot (suicidal ideation).   He also said it feels like someone else has taken over his mind and this isn’t him.   He can’t think of a specific trigger that would have set off the panic attacks.  It seems to me the attacks were and are part of a depressive disorder, possibly major depression, which is what it sounds like.

I made him promise not to do anything crazy.  He said he wouldn’t.   He did say he appreciates me calling him so much (it used to annoy him) and staying on top of the situation.   I’m glad he tells me everything, but I’m still really scared.   I can’t be near him right now, and that makes it worse.

At least he’s opening up and being honest instead of keeping everything inside.   I think opening up and talking about it is a good first step.   He also said he’s been thinking about checking himself into the hospital for a week or a few days.  I think that is probably a good idea, even though he will lose pay.

I’m asking everyone to send your prayers his way (or positive thoughts, if you aren’t religious).     I hate seeing him like this.