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Thread: Love your own misery?

  1. #1

    Love your own misery?

    Dear TreeLEafers!

    I realised recently as I was watching my mind getting stuck in the stories it was constructing and the pain it caused that there was a side to me that sort of enjoyed this wallowing in its own misery, this suffering. This struck me as a rather unhealthy choice and choice it was: when I caught myself at being dragged by the thoughts that would then make me feel a certain way I knew all I needed to do was to let go of those thoughts but sometimes (not always) I'd have this but-I-rather-like-this-misery attitude, very subtle and almost impossible to spot but it was there!!! :shock: :roll:

    I am now trying to figure out where it comes from, this self-distructive behaviour. Maybe sometimes these thoughts give an excuse for feeling down and sort of let out the emotional load one carries?

    I also find "misery" being very helpful in waking up my creative side when I would feel like taking up a brush. Am I fuelling my own misery as a way to get inspired??? :evil:

    Anyone has similar symptoms? :wink:

    Gassho,

    Irina

  2. #2

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Yesterday I had a related 'light-bulb' moment. I had planned to do the Treeleaf full day recorded retreat (and, got through part of it, but that's another story). Now, being new, I'm still struggling with doing a daily sit for 30 minutes. As *soon* as I sat down to start the retreat, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that 'I can't DO this!'--kind of a panic, fear, frustration, some type of intense feeling that made me want to just get up and throw the pillow away and go clean the kitchen! So, I sat. By the end of the first session I felt calmer. By the end of the 2nd sitting, I was actually feeling good, and wasn't ready for it to end. Then, suddenly, I realized that my whole life I have constructed this self-image in my mind that I can't do this or that, even after I have proven I could. I realized that I've created in my mind a limited self, and cling to that in any way and at any time possible. So, if mind created, then mind can uncreate, and maybe I can do what I need to do, in the moment, without the attendant fear or apprehension or chastisement that accompanies the task.

    I think, for me, it's a way to avoid. The task, myself, I don't know exactly what.

    I wonder, if you tried to purposefully take up the brush in a moment of glee, just to see what happened, as an experiment, what kind of result you would create at that time? Maybe it just seems easier to focus in misery than in joy, since joy is open and we can go in all directions at once, it seems--misery is grounding, and keeps our feet solidly stuck in mud, thus forcing us to just do whatever we have to at that time and place.

    I usually wait until the fear is overwhelming, before I'm forced to do that thing that I think I *can't do*, and just start it as a way to try to get it over with. By the middle of the task, I'm into the task and relaxed usually, but starting is nigh on impossible. With the sitting, I think I can let go, or start to let go of the fictional 'me' since the sitting starts to break down those boundaries.

    Gassho, Ann

  3. #3

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Thanks for the input, zoukithustra!

    So I would ask the question, if you are holding on to/wallowing in suffering, could it be because you are holding on to hope/happiness, as well?
    Never thought of it this way but this can be it: letting go of the suffering means I would have to accept the past without wishing to change it, give up any hope that things could have been different. Often I prefer to suffer rather than let go of that hope, at least for a while.

    Thanks for this and it does help! :lol: I will pay attention to it now. Probably painting is the way I have learnt to deal with it, sort of letting go of hopes about the past (how starnge it sounds!) by painting myself out of it. :lol:

    Gassho,

    Irina

  4. #4

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Ann,

    Thanks for sharing about your sitting experience.

    Your words really rang the bell:
    I've created in my mind a limited self
    .

    So true! And I do it singlehandidly, don't need no help from any other helpful creature :twisted: .

    Ann, you really touched upon a sensitive subject here: what happens if one starts painting feeling good? :roll:
    I have been suspecting that I am afraid of doing exactly that and self-inject myself with a dosage of misery - nothing lethal, just so it works - so I can follow the old path. Sort of like a junky ops: Re-create the limited self.

    I have the same strategy of dealing with fears. I also find them very helpful as they help me see what I think is important for me and try to pay attention to it without letting it prevent me from doing the whole thing.

    I will follow your advice and see what happens when I just pick up the brush in the moment of glee :wink:

    Thanks and good luck with sitting!

    Gassho,

    Irina

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Love your own misery?

    Great post and question. A few thoughts jumping enthusiastically in my head.

    Over my few years of practice I have noticed that I cycle through good feelings to not so good feelings, each arises and fades, each slowly and repetitively replaces the other, not always predictably so (keeping a daily journal really helped me see the pattern, the forest from the trees). Noticing these feelings and this process of change doesn't make anything go away, but slowly, very slowly, I am beginning to see equanimity develop. The highs and lows are no longer as high or low. Which brings me to my next thought, that highs need lows, and lows need highs, because the one defines the other. It's that old duality thinking that gets me into trouble, and maybe you also. Somewhere in here also is that old zenny of when happy be happy and when miserable be miserable. But at the same time I try to be mindful that neither are going to last. It's like my favorite George Harrison song, "All Things Must Pass."

    Also, we LIKE to suffer, because it is a strong feeling; it goes deep inside us, and we crave that depth in some ways. Here is an odd example. I used to work with kids that were severely mentally retarded. One of the residents, John Doe, would often bang his head against a wall, HARD. Naturally, us smart people said this was stupid and he should stop, which is true. But then one day a wise (different from smart, but she was that, too) coworker went up and started banging her head against the wall just as John Doe was doing. He quickly stopped banging his head and started laughing at her. She turned to me and said, "Hey, I get it! This actually feels pretty good. Come try it." So there the two of us were banging our heads against the wall as this "retarded" person watched us and laughed. And, to my surprise, it did feel good in a way, especially when you stop . It doesn't hurt as much as you might think, and it is a deep, powerful, stimulating sensation. And here is the real interesting part: this feeling was under our control. We had a new respect for head-banging, but just because we understood why John Doe did it didn't mean he should keep doing it. There are better and more constructive means of deep, powerful, stimulating sensations (like perhaps zazen). Anyway, even though this is a true story, it is also allegorical in how we "bang our heads" a lot in life. I want to say more about this, but nothing seems quite right, so I think it's better that you each relate to it in your own way.

    A word of caution: please do NOT try this head banging at at home. We were trained professionals under expert supervision. You might say John Doe was our head banging sensei :wink:

    As for the painting, I can sort of relate to this also. I used to write a lot of (unpublished) fiction, and I thought I wrote my best stuff when I was feeling bad or depressed. This was because I felt it came from more deep and powerful place in myself (see above paragraph). Maybe this is why so many great artists tend to be self-destructive, maybe not. Anyway, one day for some odd reason I wrote when feeling good and was surprised to find that it was just as good, if not better, than my writing when feeling bad. I ended up giving up my writing ambitions, but for a while there writing was just writing, with no emotional prerequisites. Sorry for the repetitive zenny here, but maybe when painting you should just paint. I don't know, that is up to you to figure out, but this is the kind of stuff that is working for me.

    I paint these days just as a means of expressing creativity, no quality judgments (because then I would realize I am no good and would stop, just like I did with writing), and I really enjoy it. A great book got me started: Life, Paint and Passion, by Cassou and Cubley.

  6. #6

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Hello Irina and all,

    I too can relate to the wallowing in misery. I've done this many times in my life...I've suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression, but they always seem to cycle through and back to higher, lighter points in my life. Just like Alan mentioned, I see nothing wrong with wallowing in misery at least for a little while; accept it, embrace it - allowing the creative energy it provides to flow through you, then let it pass.

    I've used it to my advantage as well...allowing it to consume me so that I may purge it through writing poetry. Some of my best poems (at least in my humble opinion ) were written out of fear, sadness and despair! But I have learned that I can write just as well with "happy" energy once I embrace those feelings and ride them out. Like Alan also mentioned, I too try to realize that these feelings don't last and I try to let them come and go as they please. This is what mainly pulled me to Zen Buddhism - getting help with the letting go part.

    I also agree with Ann, I'm a big self-defeater. I think I can't do things, so I don't even try. That's starting to change with sitting zazen. I'm learning it's okay to not be good at something...the trying is what is important.

    Alan, thank you for sharing your story with us here. You brought up some really good points about having these intense strong feelings and how we want to hold on to them - they truly are those that let us know we are "alive." That's how I feel, I just could never quite put it into words. You've stated it beautifully!

    Keep up with the painting Irina and Alan...it is a great outlet. I might start drawing again - yikes, maybe I should just stick with my poetry. There I go again - the self-defeater. I think I'm going to go sit with that and be quiet.

    Gassho,
    Kelly Rok

  7. #7

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    I will follow your advice and see what happens when I just pick up the brush in the moment of glee :wink:
    Let us know how it goes! I'm also working through the relationship of misery and creativity :mrgreen:

    I find any notion of happiness or misery pretty much disappears while I'm "in the moment" of creating. I'm pretty miserable dragging myself to the point of doing it, then in the moment creating, and then usually pretty chuffed with the result :roll: haha

    Skye

  8. #8

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    I realised recently as I was watching my mind getting stuck in the stories it was constructing and the pain it caused that there was a side to me that sort of enjoyed this wallowing in its own misery, this suffering. This struck me as a rather unhealthy choice and choice it was: when I caught myself at being dragged by the thoughts that would then make me feel a certain way I knew all I needed to do was to let go of those thoughts but sometimes (not always) I'd have this but-I-rather-like-this-misery attitude, very subtle and almost impossible to spot but it was there!!! :shock: :roll:
    Hi Irina,
    This is my experience too. I don't have many bad moods now, or at least they don't last as long, because I realise they are caused by allowing myself to dwell in negative thoughts, and I see the thoughts starting to develop quicker than I used to. Our zazen practice helps us to become more aware of these types of thoughts, doesn't it? I think we enjoy wallowing in dark thoughts in a sadistic kind of way because it strengthens our ego by making us feel important - 'nobody suffers/has suffered/will suffer the way I do, because of .......' - fill in your own content.

    I do a lot of painting too, but I tend to see it as a kind of samu, work practice, something to do. I think what Alan said is right, it's best to just paint and see what happens without worrying too much about results. You can't control it anyway. Picasso once said "Painting is stronger than me, it makes me do its bidding"

    Gassho,
    John

  9. #9

    Re: Love your own misery?

    only happy when it rains... by garbage

    i see many times how people are so used to feeling sad and miserable that they are afraid of changing, they dont know anything but suffering.

    i sometimes like the melancholy feeling myself... it is not even such a bad feeling as much as a butter sweet sensation.
    like being happy with everything and shading a tear in awe of its beautiful complex simplicity.

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Love your own misery?

    Hi Irina,

    I was definitely in love with my own misery at various times in my life and am fortunate that now is not one of them. However, I am well aware that I could fall back into that pattern very easily given the proper conditions, so I would never say I "got over" that feeling.

    There's always been a notion out there that pain, suffering, depression make "better" art and while I would never subscribe to that or any absolute I do think there is some truth there. My favorite singer growing up produced albums with intense amounts of pain described, but in later years since she got married and says her life is happier her art is clearly not what it once was. Notice I didn't say worse...it's just different.

    For me, I don't think I could have begun the practice I have while I was in those moments, but I was rather young during the majority of them and that's a whole other avenue. But I was never fully aware of the cocoon I had enveloped myself in and I was afraid to let go of what had sustained me for so long. It kept me from going into very bad places in my mind, but after awhile I realized I didn't need it anymore and was just clinging to the staus quo.

    If any of that made sense, I'd say it's a miracle. I did appreciate your post though and thought I'd add my $0.02.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  11. #11
    disastermouse
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    Re: Love your own misery?

    I've had this experience too. I had identified with the suffering.

    I remember that there was a unique feeling that went up my spine when it was really intense. Even when I think of it now, a part of me is drawn to it.

  12. #12

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Hi,

    Just a good time for me to remind folks that there is a difference between "sadness" and "suffering". The Buddha did not say that "old age, sickness and death" are the reason that "life is suffering". Those things will always be around, and even the Buddha eventually got old, sick and kicked the bucket. No, he meant that our resistance to what "is", our resistance to "old age, sickness and death" is Dukkha, meaning "suffering", but also often translated as "friction" or "resistance" to what is. Be "at one" with and embracing of life ... even "old age, sickness and death" as they arise ... then, if you don't see events as a "problem", where's the problem! :wink:

    In my view, same for our acceptance of our human emotions.[*]

    So, even "being sad" (maybe even "being depressed") is not "suffering". Instead, "suffering" is the added bits of tension and struggle, self-flagelation, that come when we are not only "sad" or "depressed", but resist that fact and wish life were some other way.

    Time for me to drop in my favorite story about my first teacher (I probably retell it once a month) ...

    My first teacher, Ikuo Azuma Roshi of Sojiji, lost his wife after I had known him a few years. For many weeks, he was not himself and was easily a bit teary eyed. I was SHOCKED because, of course, Zen Masters are supposed to have surpassed life and death and all such petty human emotions. So, as I had known him so long and we talked about anything and everything, I asked him about this, "If life and death are states of mind, why are you upset?" He said to me, "Life and Death are nothing; I am sad because wife die."

    That shut me up. He looked at me like it was the most obvious thing!
    Now, our Buddhist Practice also allows us to see all these emotions as something of a dream, a mental created fiction we impose on the world. When the mind feels and thinks "miserable thoughts", it tastes the world as "miserable". And when the mind feels and thinks "happy thoughts", we taste and experience the world that way. So, it is important to always know that our mind is "creating" the flavor of the world in this way. This is important. During the many years I suffered from depression as a young man, I thought my depressed thoughts were "the only way to experience the world, the world really stinks!" Later, I got a handle on the fact that my thoughts were just mind created scenery, and that the thoughts and emotions were not fixed ... they can change like the weather. On sunny days, the world no long stinks! As Alan said with his little Zenny, "when happy be happy and when miserable be miserable. But at the same time I try to be mindful that neither are going to last." To be that way is very different from thinking that they will always last.

    Do not be attached or cling to one's sadness and depression, neither be attached to or overly "crave" happiness. Also, our Buddhist practice counsels us not to go to EXTREMES in our emotions. Ours in the way of moderation in all things. So, there is a difference between being sad, or even a little depressed, and being trapped by those thoughts, basking in them and being chained by them. When I was depressed, it often felt like going into a deep, dark black place from which it feels that there is no escape. No, that is an extreme and being trapped by our mind.

    I am not sure of "wallowing" (Irina's word) in misery in order to be creative. If one can just "be one" with the wallowing, not take it too seriously or as more than a passing phase ... then maybe it is fine. If one really gets sucked in, then maybe not. I still am an "everything in moderation, even "moderation" Buddhist", so I believe it even good and important to fall off the edge now and then ... it gives perspective and is all too human.

    By the way, ours is a way of moderation and balance in all things, but that does not mean that one is doing Buddhism "wrong" if one loses one's balance once in awhile (Just watch the best gymnasts in the Olympics today ... even the best lose their balance quite often). I still have days in which I get up on the wrong side of the bed, even feel a little depressed. That does not mean that I am a Zen "failure" so long as I see it just like the weather ... let cloudy days be cloudy, tomorrow the sun will shine again! ....

    Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
    and I say it's all right
    It's all right


    Anyway, why not learn to create balanced, peaceful, Wise & Compassionate Buddhist art? George Harrison did! (Okay, he was a Hindu ... but same difference)

    Gassho, Jundo (Today, partly cloudy)
    [*]By the way, some schools of Buddhism took the Buddha's message as being that we should lose and "extinguish" all our human emotions. Others do not, and see it more as a matter of living "at home in our shoes" as a truly "human" human being, with balance and good perspective on our emotions ... perhaps even some control over them.

  13. #13

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Thanks for the insights, TreeLeafers!

    AlanLa: I can relate to what you wrote:
    Also, we LIKE to suffer, because it is a strong feeling; it goes deep inside us, and we crave that depth in some ways.
    When I do "suffer" I don't go as far as depression and have a pretty good control over the situation, kind of allowing myself to stay in it as long as I get "something out of it". At the very first signs of the situation getting too far I do what I know helps me: drag myself to the gym for a sweaty workout, put on the favourate tune or watch "Me and You and Everyone We know" by and with Miranda July.

    But I LOVE this sensation of a strong feeling, down to your very guts (I guess this is somehow akin to head-banging but on the emotional level) and somehow find a correlation between it and making art.

    Alan, I have been reading Peter London's "No more secondhand art: Awakening the artist within" that rocked my world and how I perceive art and making art. London sees art as a tool of personal transformation and discovery. Great book!
    Yet I still have this idea lurking in the back of my head that I can only paint when I feel very deep which is when I "suffer".

    Everyone,


    Thanks for your inputs!
    Let us keep up writing, painting, making music, feeling...!

    I have yet Jundo's post to read through.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  14. #14

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Jundo,

    Thanks for your post! I can relate to "suffering" not being the same as "sadness". When I cry I cannot say I am unhappy or suffer but I would say I do suffer when things don't go the way I'd want them to or when I cannot get what I want.

    Distinguishing between thoughts, emotions and feelings , it is not the emotions that I see as causing "suffering" (those are the body's reponse to the world when we touch reality with all our senses) but feelings that come as a response to those thoughts.

    Love the story you keep re-telling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Anyway, why not learn to create balanced, peaceful, Wise & Compassionate Buddhist art? George Harrison did! (Okay, he was a Hindu ... but same difference)
    Honestly, Jundo, I don't know what the result itself could be like (if any in the form of an accomplished piece). I strive to make genuine art, that is the process itself to be genuine and hopefully the result would reflect this too.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  15. #15

    Re: Love your own misery?

    great story, jundo

    i think the ego suspects that between birth and death there is a big hole, and it's task is to fill it up with anything, as long as it isn't empty, since that is terrifying to ego -- people with good coping mechanisms fill it up with career, family, etc. -- those with not so good coping, fill it up with drama, misery, etc. -- of course, these are the same people on different days -- but from another point of view, i suspect it doesn't matter what it's filled with, is it so necessary to always keep it full? -- i think zazen, and other things, is like a time of not cramming it so full

    interesting to compare depression with,say, making love -- both take all of you, but in a different way -- depression is total "self" involvement, draining you of all your energy, wearing you out, you're withdrawn into your own misery, unable to be there for others -- sex, on a good day, is, as they say, the "little death", you are, for once, gone, merged with the "other", and once you've come back to earth, renewed

    and so it also is seeing the grand canyon, or a beautiful flower, or music -- so maybe the equation is: gone = joy, self-involvement = suffering?

    i suppose its possible to open your heart, to be more open to, depression, as you would to these other states, and maybe that would then be joyful? -- as thaddeus golas pointed out, its not the "object" of awareness thats actually determining our "inner" state, its our reaction, our openness or closing to the "object", that feels "positive", or "negative"

    gassho, bob

  16. #16

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Bob,

    Interesting comparison.

    I have never been clinically depresed, lost a friend to depression. I believe in lovemaking although there is this merging with the other sensation at some point, one is acutely aware what is going on with one's own body and mind and (hopefully) picks up the signals from the partner. This is no time for playing mindgames (or else it will be a lousy sex :shock: ), one has to be completely present, the mind where the body is. I believe it is somewhat different with depression. I am not sure what opening one's heart to depression could be like. Getting more depressed? Can one find the way out then?

    Can someone recommend a book on - no, not on love making :lol: - but on depression, for non-professionals, that would help to understand what exactly happens in one's brain etc and how one can be of support to someone, the first signs of depression, etc. Maybe a good webpage?
    Thanks in advance!

    Gassho,

    Irina

    Quote Originally Posted by roky
    great story, jundo

    i think the ego suspects that between birth and death there is a big hole, and it's task is to fill it up with anything, as long as it isn't empty, since that is terrifying to ego -- people with good coping mechanisms fill it up with career, family, etc. -- those with not so good coping, fill it up with drama, misery, etc. -- of course, these are the same people on different days -- but from another point of view, i suspect it doesn't matter what it's filled with, is it so necessary to always keep it full? -- i think zazen, and other things, is like a time of not cramming it so full

    interesting to compare depression with,say, making love -- both take all of you, but in a different way -- depression is total "self" involvement, draining you of all your energy, wearing you out, you're withdrawn into your own misery, unable to be there for others -- sex, on a good day, is, as they say, the "little death", you are, for once, gone, merged with the "other", and once you've come back to earth, renewed

    and so it also is seeing the grand canyon, or a beautiful flower, or music -- so maybe the equation is: gone = joy, self-involvement = suffering?

    i suppose its possible to open your heart, to be more open to, depression, as you would to these other states, and maybe that would then be joyful? -- as thaddeus golas pointed out, its not the "object" of awareness thats actually determining our "inner" state, its our reaction, our openness or closing to the "object", that feels "positive", or "negative"

    gassho, bob

  17. #17
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    Bob,
    I am not sure what opening one's heart to depression could be like. Getting more depressed? Can one find the way out then?
    How has resistance worked out? In my experience, it doesn't work at all.

    It's a tenet of Buddhism that suffering depends on causes and conditions and that by eliminating the causes and conditions, one can extinguish suffering. Saying 'No' to depression does nothing to address it's causes or conditions. You can say 'yes' to the weed even as you pull it out of the ground. Actually, I think you sort of have to acknowledge the reality of your situation in order to change it in any meaningful way. Also, it may be that the only thing that must change about the situation is your attitude toward it.

    Saying 'no' to reality is saying 'no' to the only time and place where anything can effectively be changed.

    IMHO, YMMV.

  18. #18

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Hi disastermouse,

    I did not mean to suggest resistance or saying NO would be the way to go rather wondered if someone cleanically deprerssed could actually make a CHOICE of accepting one's depression or not. As I said, I know little of depression but last time I tried to speak to the depressed friend it seemed to me we were going in circles so after a while I just gave up.

    What I wonder is if someone depressed is actually capable of self-observation to be able to catch onelsef when one gets this choice or saying Yes or No to anything. Doesn't it require some clarity of the mind? Once the chemical balance is off it cannot be easy to make those choices if your think you are in a black hole or something like this. :shock:

    Gassho,

    Irina

  19. #19

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Hi Irina,

    I haven't read the following book but have read others by the same authors and it looks like it might be interesting:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindful-Way-Thr ... s_ir_all_1

    Gassho,
    John

  20. #20

    Re: Love your own misery?

    cinnamon - sorry about your friend, may he/she be well -- as a former therapist and clinic director, i also lost a few folks -- can't say why one person does it,and another doesn't (it definitely doesn't have to do with the "amount" of misery) -- although i did notice that for many, there was an incredibly childish view of what "death" is -- like another state of "alive", where you are just taking a nappy or something

    it sounds like you tried, in your own way, to help -- loving-kindness, metta, is maybe the only real thing we have -- intention is the thing, very powerful -- no guarantee on the outcome, however -- its like sitting zazen, expecting something to happen --

    understandably, therapists see many folks like your friend -- inevitably, they get burnt out, and lose someone after a bad session -- then they get into "did i say the wrong thing?", and start beating on themselves -- soon, they have to leave the work behind, and everyone loses -- they forget that in metta, there is no "i" and "other", and that the practice begins with oneself -- that it is loving, and letting go, not loving and controlling, as in, "you were supposed to stay alive", "i was supposed to save you"

    it seems like pushing too hard for any specific outcome(there i go, back to the love-making reference again!) screws everything up :roll:

    bob

  21. #21

    Re: Love your own misery?

    In a clinical depression the pain in one's mind is so acute and overwhelming, and no glimpses of hope can be detected, that death seems to be the only option, the only way out of the suffering. It has nothing to do with not understanding the finality of death. It has everything to do with ending the suffering.

    Julia Kristeva has written a book about depression (Soleil noir, dépression et mélancholie)- yes it's called Black Sun in English - in the book she describes also what depression does to communication. Your words don't reach your clinically depressed friend... You can't really communicate with a clinically depressed person. But metta, a cup of tea and some music by George Harrison + a good cry together might be nice.

  22. #22

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Someone close to me was diagnosed at the age of 17 or so with depression, after having their Mother succumb to MS and father succomb to Alzheimers and be put in a nursing home. This person told me that the psychiatrist at that time said that a depressed person will NOT even have any awareness that they are depressed. They just live through the days as the days come. This statement seemed peculiar to me at the time, and almost makes sense, but maybe not quite? I was in no position to question it further, so maybe someone here knows better if a depressed person actually knows if they are or not? If that makes any sense? Gassho, Ann

  23. #23

    Re: Love your own misery?

    diagnosis jargon, equating the organ the brain with mind, scientific terms like "chemical imbalance", are attempts to exert control over an area that is by nature a mystery: consciousness -- one result of this type of shorthand, is a failure to really see the person in front of you, but to instead think you know what they are about -- dangerous in general, but particularly so for a therapist -- i'm more comfortable with not knowing, and seeing where that goes -- and fortunately, conceptual understanding is not a requirement for healing

    steve hagen discusses the "problem of "this is that"" -- in order to communicate, we use phrases like "this is a laptop" -- actually, "this" can never = "that", it can only = "this" -- "this is that" is harmful in that it creates the illusion that you know what "this" is -- you don't, at least not conceptually -- it is a useful shorthand, but not reality

    if i'm rebuilding an engine, i use a manual -- but consciousness, no -- that is what the zazen is for

    actually, i did have a favorite diagnosis -- i called it "loss of tribe" -- for some reason, the insurance companies wouldn't accept it :wink:

    gassho, bob

  24. #24

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Roky said

    i think the ego suspects that between birth and death there is a big hole, and it's task is to fill it up with anything, as long as it isn't empty, since that is terrifying to ego -- people with good coping mechanisms fill it up with career, family, etc. -- those with not so good coping, fill it up with drama, misery, etc. -- of course, these are the same people on different days -- but from another point of view, i suspect it doesn't matter what it's filled with, is it so necessary to always keep it full? -- i think zazen, and other things, is like a time of not cramming it so full
    I agree with that. Misery, anger, any of that stuff that reinforces the illusion of an ego helps us sustain the sense of importance in this little representation. Anything goes, as long as it's about me

  25. #25

    Re: Love your own misery?

    DSM-IV-TR Criteria

    Major Depressive Episode
    Five (or more) of the following symptoms have A. been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from
    previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. Note: Do not
    include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.
    (1) Depressed mood most of the day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by
    others (e.g., appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
    (2) Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by
    either subjective account or observation made by others).
    (3) Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or
    decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
    (4) Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
    (5) Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness
    or being slowed down).
    (6) Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
    (7) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self reproach
    or guilt about being sick).
    (8) Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed
    by others).
    (9) Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specifi c plan, or a suicide attempt
    or a specifi c plan for committing suicide.
    B. The symptoms do not meet criteria for a mixed episode.
    C. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of
    functioning.
    D. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general
    medical condition (e.g., hypothyroidism).
    The symptoms are not better accounted for by E. bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer
    than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation,
    psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.

    this is the DSM 4 definition of Major depression.

    i have actually got to work with people suffering from such mental disorders in the mental hospital.
    one thing i could actually say for sure, is that during the episode of depression ( and i mean major- severe ) the person is not even willing to get treatment all they want is to be left alone and lie in bed doing nothing. not even talk...

    it is a bit different from the regular depression most people think of.

    hope that helps. if you want some information on this i could send you a copy of books in pdf format on psychiatry.

    Gassho
    Daniel

  26. #26

    Re: Love your own misery?

    Thank you immensely for this. I've done some reading, but this registers more clearly for me than anything else I've read. I feel like now I finally have a guide to recognize when a new episode has come to the front with my close one. I've only seen 2, maybe 3 episodes, over decades, but in the back of my head I think i always fear another one pending... Gassho, Ann

  27. #27

    Re: Love your own misery?

    you are more than welcome

  28. #28

    Re: Love your own misery?

    John: thanks for the book tip. I will see if I find it in a library.

    Bob:
    not loving and controlling, as in, "you were supposed to stay alive", "i was supposed to save you"
    very true, trying to remember it now, when loving to not strive to control and to be able to let go;

    honestly I don't think I tried enough, I KNOW I did not but where I was at the moment and who I was then could not possibly grasp what was going on. I hope I'd act with more compassion and less ego-centrism today but this remains to see.

    Daniel, thanks a bunch!

    Gassho,

    Irina

  29. #29
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Love your own misery?

    I absolutely love wallowing in misery sometimes. There's something about it that can be decadent and lush. And amusing. And yeah, it does produce a lot of good music, doesn't it? 8) But I think the problem is... while I can actually enjoy the early stages of an emotionally dark period, there is a point where it goes from being fascinating and intense to being deeply miserable. And usually when it's gone that far it's hard to recover. When you play a game with your own mind to see how dark it can get, how absolutely and fully you can enter into the nightmare, you can get in some pretty nasty trouble. It makes me think of a quote from Chogyam Trungpa that I recently posted to my blog:

    This mind is our working basis for the practice of meditation and the development of awareness. But mind is something more than the process of confirming self by the dualistic lingering on the other. Mind also includes what are known as emotions, which are the highlights of mental states. Mind cannot exist without emotions. Daydreaming and discursive thoughts are not enough. Those alone would be too boring. The dualistic trick would wear too thin. So we tend to create waves of emotion which go up and down: passion, aggression, ignorance, pride--all kinds of emotions. In the beginning we create them deliberately, as a game of trying to prove to ourselves that we exist. But eventually the game becomes a hassle; it becomes more than a game and forces us to challenge ourselves more than we intended. It is like a hunter who, for the sport of practicing his shooting, decides to shoot one leg of a deer at a time. But the deer runs very fast, and it appears it might get away altogether. This becomes a total challenge to the hunter, who rushes after the deer, now trying to kill it completely, to shoot it in the heart. So the hunter has been challenged and feels defeated by his own game.

    Emotions are like that. They are not a requirement for survival; they are a game we developed that went wrong at some point--it went sour. In the face of this predicament we feel terribly frustrated and absolutely helpless... So we have created a world that is bittersweet. Things are amusing but, at the same time, not so amusing. Sometimes things seem terribly funny but, on the other hand, terribly sad. Life has the quality of a game of ours that has trapped us. The setup of mind has created the whole thing. We might complain about the government or the economy of the country or the prime rate of interest, but those factors are secondary. The root of the problem... is mind.


    Like Trungpa says, we often conjure our own emotions as a way to prove to ourselves we exist. We find this enjoyable on some level and so we keep doing it. But then the game goes sour on us, and at that point, it's too late to say, "Okay, maybe I shouldn't have played this game." We're in too deep already, and everything is dark and black as hell, and we can't see how we got where we are from where we started. Some people call the moment you realize this a "come to Jesus" moment. Perhaps here it would be more appropriate to call it a "come to Buddha" moment :lol:

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