Spirituality as a Coping Mechanism

I started re reading The the Power of now by Eckhart Tolle again this morning. I like the idea of spirituality and enlightenment. My only friend awoken me to spirituality a few years ago but it was only the beginning of this year when I saw documentaries on quantum physics and that scientists really haven’t got a clue to what we really are that I started to become particularly interested.

Yes it may be nothing more than a coping mechanism but that’s because all self help books on anxiety and depression and even how to become happier made me think of suicide as the only option. Great help then! They gave me no hope whatsoever as they all demand we change everything about ourselves to be accepted by the majority and  they actually took hope away from me and then seemed to imply I was a coward or deserved to suffer for not being enthusiastic about putting myself through more intense humiliation after a lifetime of humiliation.  Thats because they are full of hypocritical bullshit and ignore a myriad of other problems as mere excuses.

Its become increasing clear to me that thinking differently through spirituality changes the brain chemistry(vibrations?) and our thoughts first and then enables other more positive things to happen. This is in contrast to just putting myself though intense exposures which is what most self help books advocate which are prone to failure and humiliation due to many unforeseen circumstances which then just increases my negativity and avoidance. Spirituality may be the only hope left.

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Advice to your younger self

This question often comes up quite regularly on anxiety forums “What advice would you give your younger self?” Its a hard one. I try not to go for the more pessimistic one  of  killing myself to stop future pain. Of course this is still dependant of what happens but at the moment to say my future looks bleak is a huge understatement and the last 30 years have been pretty shit as well.  This is not depression talking whatever people may say. Lots of life is shit and does get worse. There is no magic cure. The NHS gets more pathetic by the day and no current medical thinking has shown me any hope of salvation.  Do stuff, hope it gets better. Lots of people dont.

I certainly would not have given myself the advice to stay in college. (I quit after only two days!) Any type of presentations would have been a nightmare as I was cripplingly shy rather that just a bit shy and didn’t do great when pushed even though so many self help sites and books seem to think all people with social anxiety do much better than they think and nobody notices your stammering, blushing and sweating! They did! Then after college there would be 3 more years of Uni!  Its a nice idea that I would have adapted and got better but all evidence points to me becoming socially isolated and struggling enormously then getting a job as a toilet cleaner anyway.(if I was lucky)

I think the only possible advice would have been try and do something I enjoyed rather than just follow what other people were doing. Therefore something in ecology or wildlife conversation would have been far more logical that computer studies and having to do Maths pure and applied. I never did actually find out what pure and applied meant. I did it simply because my best friend did, just like going to college in the first place. They gave me algebra on my second day and I quit!

I certainly wish I had not been friends with certain people at work. I was lonely and desperate so latched on to anyone who would talk with me but it is still embarrassing to think of the people I did befriend and it left me with no dignity. especially going to the gym with a younger guy who treated me like shit.  As for girlfriends forget it. In 20 years at the same company I only had a handful of  vaguely pleasant conversations with females and certainly made no friends whatsoever let alone anything more.  Yes my fault for being so shy and not approaching them in the canteen and forcing myself to do the witty banter but it still ignores the fact that if men and women are identical why no females ever befriended me or even tried to. Maybe its because we are not identical and almost all women expect the man to make the first move or reject him as unworthy. The idea that I should have just forced myself to make approach girls and make witty banter whist being cripplingly shy is by people who have never been cripplingly shy and have no concept of the way very shy men are ridiculed and disliked(Creepy weirdo alert!) and the intense humiliation in creates to which you would do anything to avoid.

I cant really think of any advice I could have given myself as I know going back in time even now would probably produce similar results. The only thing I can come up with is learning to not care what other people think although there always seems an air of selfishness about that. Which is probably why so many of the worlds most successful people seem to be so selfish.

Aspergers and social anxiety

It was very interesting to watch the BBC show Aspergers and Me by Chris Packham last night.  Still available in the UK on the iplayer for a while.  I am a fan of his having watched almost all British wildlife shows for the last 40 odd years and already knew of his condition.

Nevertheless it was surprising how many things aspergers has in common with social anxiety. He struggles in social situations and has not been to a party for a decade. He would not even go to a wedding with his partner or the graduation of his step daughter. Yes,  he has a partner but they live separately, He lives in a house in the middle of a wood with his dog. He was also bullied and a loner at school.

Different things create social ineptitude but the results are often the same. Loneliness, depression , misery. He talked about thinking of suicide and only staying alive for his dogs at one point. Thankfully being high functioning he was able to work in TV and on wildlife shows a subject which he become obsessed with at a young age.

He also looked at cures and treatment in America. These quotes are particular relevant.

“Its easier to change the individual than it is to change society.”

“All of these therapies  are saying lets force these people(to change) rather than adapt to accommodate them.”

Which of course is the same with SA. if we cant adapt and get by (often in jobs far below our capabilities)then we often have to go though extensive therapy in order to fit in with normal people and be accepted by them.  Yet if you even get offered CBT therapy you are considered lucky and some doctors have not even heard of social anxiety and its not even treated as a serious condition. I was in the top 10-20% of my school but ended up being in a manual job for 20 years and am now long term unemployed. I have never had a romantic relationship in my 45+ year life. I have only even had one adult female friend. So it just must be ALL my own fault because social anxiety is just shyness? Right?

Yet we are guilt tripped at every opportunity(often by those who claim to have recovered) for not doing the HARD WORK to recover which basically  just means putting ourselves often through very humiliating and repeated social situations in the hope we get used to them and become normal. Yes just imagine Mr Bean trying to make awkward small talk to women at bus stops and in Tesco and you see how shit some CBT ideas can be for gaining confidence and actually  make you even worse. Whenever we fail as we often do we are then told to just keep doing it until we learn. Some CBT courses are now only six weeks long and taught by nurses rather than trained therapists!

We are made to feel ashamed and not even worthy of a happy life if we dont WORK HARD which totally ignores we did not give ourselves social anxiety and most people who get relationships, have a normal family and go on to university and get decent jobs did not have to do the HARD WORK at all as their anxiety levels did not want to make them kill themselves to escape humiliation and embarrassment. Normal people enjoyed going to parties, going on dates and socialising. They did not hide in the toilets vomiting and punching themselves in the head when they were 18.

Severe social anxiety is not highly treatable with CBT.  If you cant get people to even attend as it looks too hard(9 out of 10 people never even see a doctor) 1 in 4 pull out of therapy before the end as its too hard to complete and then most revert back to previous levels after two years then its not a cure.

Humiliation isn’t an irrational fear like that of spiders. Thats why social phobia is not the same.The humiliation of people throughout human history often resulted in suicide. Look at the humiliation heaped on virgins and loners in modern society for instance and also the long term unemployed. Then you mix in isolation and guilt and you have people pushed to the very edge.

If you stay isolated its not just because of this fear or phobia, irrational or otherwise, its because when you try and STILL act different as in weird and socially awkward, society as a whole does not let you in, they dont want you to be one of them so you stay on the outside, sometimes for good. You have been ostracised sometimes since you could first walk and its never changed.

Weekly Autumn Walk

And turn the radio loud, I’m too alone to be proud
You don’t know how it feels
You don’t know how it feels to be me 

You Don’t Know How It Feels,   Tom Petty

I again forced myself to go out for weekly autumn walk. The weather forecast was wrong again and instead of sunny it went very cloudy which certainly pissed me off considering we are lucky to get one sunny day a week at this time of year. Because the state of my mind is always hyper sensitive when out on my own I tried to force myself to go much slower and sit down occasionally.

 

This is a fly agaric mushroom/fungi. Apparently its hallucinogenic. I was tempted to try some but the image of someone seeing me on all fours licking a toadstool was off putting. I should have picked it and taken it home for later.

A fallen leaf. I liked the tinge of colour. I also darkened the background. macro photography is fascinating and easier to do that getting a huge zoom for wildlife as there are numerous smaller things to photography and I dont even have to leave the garden which is perfect for someone as mental as me.

Now its getting darker earlier its a chance to see sunsets and at last the clouds started to part giving a very red glow as I returned home. Waking somewhere at least once a week has some sorts of benefits. Although at times yesterday I felt very low I certainly felt better and more relaxed after I had gotten home, slept better and feel slightly more relaxed today. As to curing depression its effects are minimal as I would need to keep busy every day and am not fit enough to walk for several hours a day any-more.  Its also ignores that my depression is not chemical and comes from numerous other problems caused by a lifetime of anxiety.

Shy AND depressed?

“The problem is that when depression leads to inactivity, withdrawal and isolation, there are even fewer opportunities to derive pleasure or a sense of achievement from life. As a consequence, depression, hopelessness, lethargy and motivation worsen over time. At this point, the “vicious cycle of depression” is in full swing.”

Yes, that’s me!

“It sounds simple, but the next step is to schedule more of the “better mood” activities and steer clear of the “lower mood” activities. You might also schedule activities you previously enjoyed in your life, even if you don’t find them as rewarding at the moment.”

What you mean drink even more alcohol? I never did anything else.

 

Shy? Go out and speak to people. But dont act depressed or they wont like you!

Depressed? Go out and speak to people but dont act shy or they wont like you!

What? You are shy and depressed? F**k that there’s no help whatsoever!

Every single time I look up help for anxiety or depression I cant see anything whatsoever that gives me the slightest hope. The only cure(non meds) for depression is to go out and do stuff you used to enjoy but ignores that if its anxiety related you probably did nothing anything anyway and have no friends or family. Therefore there is virtually no help whatsoever.

There aint no easy way out

In the dark of the sun
Will you save me a place
Give me hope, Give me comfort
Get me to a better place

In The Dark Of The Sun, Tom Petty

 

From: About Social Anxiety

“Does it ever strike you as odd that social anxiety disorder (or SAD, as I will refer to it sometimes on this blog) is among the top three most common mental health conditions (yes, up there with depression and alcoholism), there are science-backed treatments for it that we know work, and yet around a third of people with social anxiety experience symptoms for 10 years or more before seeking help. 10 years? Surely you can do better than that.” 

Arlin Cuncic- Author of the self-help books Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder and 7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety

 

First things first Arlin, 10 YEARS! If only!  I have had anxiety for over 30 years now without ever seeing a GP.  My mum did though and the help was poor, my sister did and the help was poor and my best friend did and the help was poor, often awful. British NHS, I know.Its failing to pieces. If only we could all afford to go private. Perhaps therapists should not charge £40-120 an hour then when normal working class people here are on less than £10 an hour.  Although I  actually read somewhere else that 9 out of 10 people never seek help for social anxiety and most that do only go because of their depression getting worse. In fact that’s the reason I was thinking of going BUT…..

……………….. whenever I actually look at help for Social anxiety  online all therapy basically says is do lots of social exposure stuff on your own and demands you just keep doing it until you get better. Humiliating stuff, embarrassing stuff. Stuff you have avoided your whole life and now you have added depression, paranoia and probably other issues like anger too.  Its hardly surprising life long avoidants are not lining up to be non avoidant and face all their worst fears just because a therapist tells them to.  Doing lots of humiliating stuff on my own isn’t exactly my idea of help. if just me doing everything on my own as I always have and that never before worked did it? Even the so called easiest tasks like smiling at strangers on the street or making small talk with cashiers makes me cringe with the near certainty of being humiliated yet again.

Being told that doing this is the only way to get better and that you are basically a coward for not trying only makes me think actually there is no real help at all.  Therefore its not effective therapy is you cant even convince someone to try it without having to guilt trip or shame them. It looks like it only works for people who are already highly motivated enough to start with  and willing to do anything.  I mean who the F**k would would walk backwards slowly or lay down on the street unless they were brain washed, mentally insane or hypnotised?

No Strengths Detected!

My Social Anxiety Test results from;

Strengths
  • No strengths detected!
Potential Strengths
  • No potential strengths detected!
Limitations
  • You are very anxious in social situations
  • You are not comfortable socialising with peers
  • You are very uncomfortable meeting new people
  • When all eyes are on you, you want to shrink from sight
  • You often experience embarrassment when faced with social activities
  • You frequently avoid social events
  • You are as miserable as Fork.
  • You are old, probably too old now, have anger issues, paranoia , a fear of intimacy a bad hip and walk like a sasquatch.

Yes, I did add the last two myself.  Perhaps I should do some positive affirmations!