Thursday, July 31, 2008

Give yourself a break

Today we resumed making headway into the ACT book we've been working tediously slow through (it's taken us nearly 6 months to get thru just three of 13 chapters). We're at the point where they've finally finished the details behind "why" human suffering occurs and how we're all programmed to be stuck in psychological quicksand. How avoidance or other means of trying to get rid of emotional suffering just sets us up for even more suffering.

At the end of the explanation behind why, it asks: "So, what are you supposed to do?" In other words, what are you supposed to do now that you realize you're stuck on the tilt-a-whirl of life, getting sicker and sicker, and you want off.

This is the point where I feel like I've slammed head first into one of the most formidable roadblocks standing between me and "mental wellness", which I have to put in quotes because I'm not sure exactly what mental wellness is or if such a thing even truly exists for me. Why do I feel like I've slammed into a roadblock? Because the first thing it says it to do is "give yourself a break". For a person whose inner voice has continually assaulted them (seemingly since birth), the whole concept behind giving yourself a break invariably seems like the stuff of fairy tales and sappy chick flicks.

Some of the options offered were:

- I could face the possibility that my avoidance strategies will never work.
- I could have compassion for myself for how hard I've tried to deal with my pain.
- I could stop blaming myself for not being able to make my avoidance strategies work.

I concede that I could probably accept the first one, because nothing has worked so far. However, I can't see giving in to the other two any time soon, if ever, and my therapist knew that before I ever even opened my mouth.

How can I have compassion for myself for trying so damn hard to deal with my pain when the only feedback I ever get is that I'm not trying hard enough and I'm accused of being "willful" instead of "willing"? How can I be trying hard enough when "mental health professionals" throw their hands up in defeat, say they don't know what else to try and wash their hands of me?

Of course that brings to mind the question...should I need to look outside myself for that type of validation? In most situations I would say no. However, being mentally ill, it's almost imperative that I get the input of others because I know my perception of reality is often extremely distorted. If everyone else is telling me something that is so completely contrary to what I'm trying to tell myself (and yes I have tried to give myself credit for making it this far, for not giving up), I'm more inclined to believe the masses than to trust in myself.

As for the stop blaming myself cuz I haven't been able to make things work, I just keep coming back to a sentence in an earlier paragraph in the book...

"You're doing exactly what logical, reasonable people are taught to do: to take care of themselves."

Doesn't everyone want to be a logical, reasonable person? To me, that signifies one of the fundamental differences between sanity and insanity. So why would I want to give myself a break for wanting to be sane?

About the only break that I reasonably think I could give myself, would be to keep an open mind about this material I'm reading and allow myself to believe that just because nothing else has worked, doesn't mean that all this will be a monumental failure as well. Of course I didn't share that with her though...because I was too afraid she would tell me that it wasn't good enough.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can feel your pain - the voices almost never let me give myself break. A former therapist told me that if I cannot be imperfect without berating myself, that is "one fucked up value system" with impossibly high standards. My response was "yeah, so? I judge everyone harshly, especially myself."
Also-sad about your daughter and grampa - reminds me of my own sadness over my G. I hope the good memories help ease the hurt. --Ferny

10:18 PM, August 04, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A valuable post on mental wellness.

Karim - Mind Power

12:22 AM, September 29, 2009  

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