liverwurst

Take That Suckaaaaa: Asking for Help #4

I recently had a birthday. Birthdays, for me, have been rough since I was a teenager. The rest of the year I can manage the desperation caused by my deep certainty that I’m not living out my values. Leading up to my birthday I’m paralyzed with guilt, frustration, and shame.

My close friends and family understand that I hate my birthday and so, understandably, tend to not make a big deal of it – leaving me to feel alone with the meanest of voices. Enter cycle of frustration: me woefully ignorant of why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling and unable to set things up so I’ll get what I need, my friends kindly trying to give me some peace and quiet, totally unaware that what I want is company and support.

Blame yourself for the infuriatingly stupid cycle, double down on the shame, get nonsensically mad at your friends, know that’s ridiculous, triple down on the shame. Eugh.

So, in keeping with my new tradition of asking for help in weird, awkward ways, this year I threw a small party. I invited only people I really like, and told them in the invitation that I was embarrassed but that I’ve been trying my ass off and what I really want is some validation and positive reinforcement. I opened my notebook to a blank page and people left me notes while they munched on Thai food and enjoyed some whiskey and NA beer.

It was the best birthday I can remember.

I was told that I was doing positive things for others that I never would have guessed. I was told that my friends were rooting for me, fiercely. I was told things that cut through the fog, things that made me honestly, happily proud of myself. I was told things that validated my seemingly glacial improvement and shamed that mean voice into silence. For once – silence.

Sometimes you ask for help and you get liverwurst. Sometimes you ask for help and you get kind words and actions that you’re not ready for, that you can’t really hear or appreciate. Sometimes you ask for help and you get thanks.

Sometimes the victory is in the asking, sometimes it’s in the helping. Sometimes it’s in the – TAKE THAT SUCKAAAAA!!!! Mic drop – you get to hurl toward that pesky, finally weakening, mean voice.

 

Take that Suckaaaa.

Suckaaaaa

 

Photo by Lwp Kommunikacio on Flickr

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Drastic Pain Calls for Drastic Improvements

Still Life with Skull Leeks and Pitcher by Picasso

Still Life with Skull Leeks and Pitcher by Picasso

I’ve been told by multiple mental health professionals, from psychiatrists to social workers, that I should not make big decisions while in the midst of a crisis.

I mostly think that’s terrible advice, and it’s definitely inappropriate when it comes from someone who doesn’t understand the context of your crisis. When you’re suffering an abusive relationship, it’s a huge decision to leave – a huge decision that you must make and enforce before your crisis will end. That’s an easy example, of course. There are harder ones – quitting your job when you don’t have another one lined up, ending a relationship that has its ups and downs.

But there’s something deeply marginalizing about that advice. Yes, you’re hurting, and that means you’re not qualified to choose a path, so just keep crawling along for a while. Your problems are not real, so things will probably clear up on their own.

True, you’re often not thinking clearly when you’re in a crisis. But recovery is full of big decisions. Seeking treatment itself can be a life changing decision. We’re supposed to wait? For what?

I stayed in a traumatic job for more than a year after I knew I needed to leave. I stayed in a city that I desperately wanted to leave, too. I suffered without the support of my closest friends and family, who were too far away to realize how bad I’d gotten.

Maybe I didn’t have it together enough, or didn’t have the confidence to leave. I don’t think I was blindly following bad advice – but I did take it seriously, and it was liverwurst.

A chemistry professor, who was also a minister, once told me that we live more powerfully when we live by our own choice.

Trust yourself. Find a calm moment, think on it, and trust yourself.

 

Photo of painting by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr

This Blog is Full of Liverwurst

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I hate when people seem to think that they can fix, off the top of their heads(!), problems that have taken me years to even define. It’s rude and almost never helpful, almost always hurtful. I strive in this blog to never give flippant advice, and to never assume that I know how something will affect any given reader.

And toward that end: The Menu Approach.

I'll start with some Exercise and have the You Do You! as an entre please.

I’ll start with some Exercise and have the You Do You! as an entre please.
(Getting fancy with the multimedia, people!)

 

When I was feeling better, I would use The Menu Approach when there were too many cool things to do. To avoid becoming overwhelmed at picking the right one, I would pretend all my options were on a menu.

I might want to order everything, but if I tried to eat it all I’d have a terrible night. Also, I don’t expect myself to always pick the absolute best thing on a menu. I just pick something and it’s almost always perfectly good. (I know plenty of people who do stress out about menu choices. If you’re one of them – this post might be liverwurst.)

I try now to use The Menu Approach when people give me advice, even if they don’t present the advice as optional. Oh, you think I should wake up earlier because it might help me avoid nightmares? Thanks. I’ll put that on the menu, but I feel NO sense of urgency in trying it out.

I use The Menu Approach to rob the advice of its sting. The “wise adviser” may not realize that mornings are the hardest part of the day for many depressed people, and that making your morning longer might be a special kind of torture.

So instead of getting mad at them for thinking they know what’s good for me when they do NOT understand what’s going on with me, I put it on The Menu. And sometimes I just let it sit there. Like liverwurst.

P.S. This blog is full of liverwurst! Please treat it as such