Have you ever had a time when it seemed that you had lost everything you'd ever cared about, or were about to? How did you get through?

How do you hold on to hope when you can't find any objective evidence that things could ever get better? Have things ever gotten better when that seemed impossible?

Serious question. I'm asking for your own truth, not for advice. So if, for instance, your answer is "faith in God," please elaborate on what that means to you. I am personally agnostic/atheist, but that is irrelevant to the question.

There are no wrong answers. Everyone has their own truth.
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yhlee: Flight Rising Spiral dragon, black-red-gold (Flight Rising Jedao baby Spiral)

From: [personal profile] yhlee

As you know, Rachel-Bob, I'm bipolar, so this sort of happens to me periodically as part of the nature of the beast.

Two things help me: really basic low-effort pleasures, and projects.

For really basic low-effort pleasures, I mean things like sex, or looking at pretty art, or my BJDs (ball-jointed dolls), or listening to music that I like. Usually something that takes little to no effort on my part. (Um, yeah, I am super-lazy at sex, and I'm going to stop right there before we get TMI.) Reading doesn't work for me anymore because my brain doesn't work as well as it used to, and it takes too much effort. One of the things I like about art and my dolls is that I can just enjoy them as pure visual pleasure--it takes very little effort just to look at how pretty they are, and that makes me smile. Petting my cat also falls into this category now. I have a super-relaxed cat and she's very sweet and being with her makes me feel better.

I am super, super-motivated by personal projects. I have no attention span most of the time, but I can usually hold on to one or two things that really matter to me, and that I will work on doggedly. I find it really satisfying to make even tiny bits of progress (one of my mottoes is "Even slow progress is progress"--100 words/day will eventually add up to a short story! this is the life lesson I got from integral calculus, because my brain is weird), and I know that I get a rush from completing big projects (novels, compositions, etc.) so working toward that is satisfying even when the rest of my life seems to be going haywire.

Hang in there, Rachel. I'm thinking of you.

(Also, geez, how long is it going to take my library system to get Dragons of Autumn Twilight in for me? I have it on hold.)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

From: [personal profile] asakiyume

This is amazingly comforting. It's not even that these things would necessarily work for me, it's just that I can **feel** how they do work, for you, and I like how you describe them working, and I can get it. The comfort of the super-relaxed cat, and looking at pretty things.

And the integral calculus of slow writing progress for the win. It's the only way I ever write anything these days, too.

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juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)

From: [personal profile] juushika

I have major depressive disorder (atop some other crazies) that lead to a massive blue screen of death nervous breakdown about eight years ago. The episode was so bad that I have since lost most memories of that period of my life, which I consider a blessing. I had no significant coping mechanisms at the time, no reason to believe things would ever improve, and did not have or try to hold on to hope.

Things got better. Not magically better--all the crazies persist, I still have occasional major depressive episodes--but inertia was what kept me from suicide and with the simple progression of time (and partial interference from loved ones) my status quo changed, removing at least some triggering factors, and that particular depressive episode passed.

I put no faith in concepts like "it gets better," so it's ironic that, for me, it sort of did. It didn't get better because I willed it better, or because I maintained hope, or really through any actions of my own--I wasn't capable of that sort of action. It got better because that level of abject despair couldn't be indefinitely sustained, I suppose.

This is the least useful or optimistic of all possible response. Apologies!
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong

I put no faith in concepts like "it gets better," so it's ironic that, for me, it sort of did.

Seconded. I have profound and bitter distrust of "it will get better!" as a promise.

But, as a data point: I spent a lot of time pretty damn sure it wasn't ever going to get better, and yet here I am. Therefore I must acknowledge that "better" is possible in at least some cases where it really didn't look good.

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recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (book; until use and old age accept them)

From: [personal profile] recessional

Also wandering back over, as due to discussion elsewhere unrelated to this, wording that might be communicative occurred to me:

I tend to be pretty hardcore about splitting things between feeling-vs-acting. I very seldom feel trust, but there are circumstances where I have chosen to behave trustingly; whether or not I feel the warm fuzzies of the emotion of love, there are places where I have made a commitment to behave lovingly. Performance doesn't require the feeling. The feeling makes the performance way easier, it's true, but it doesn't guarantee the performance (see: every abuser ever who feels love for their target but might as well not, because it sure ain't helping the target none), and it's also not necessary.

I do not rely on the feeling of hope. The feeling is ephemeral and fleeting and, like all my emotions, subject to what (given just how far we can trace it back in my maternal family) is pretty much guaranteed to be a physiological miswire in my brain, and thus something I will for my whole life be working around, not solving.

So I have made myself stop relying on the emotion of hope in order to act hopefully. I rely on stubborn, and sometimes on spite, and sometimes on rage . . . but mostly on stubborn. I am probably fighting an enemy that completely outmatches me and who I have no hope of defeating, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because I decided I would.

Some days that's hit or miss. Different things help, or don't help. But that's pretty much it.

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the_rck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] the_rck

I found that external focus helped more than anything else. I couldn't see anything I could do for myself, but I could find things I could do for other people (I have heard that pets work for this, too). I tended to focus on little things like running a table top rpg campaign or writing fanfic or a LARP scenario (the audience/community aspect was key for me).

I suspect that, for some people, political activism might fill this, but I generally find that too much, too overwhelming and anxiety producing because it requires looking at things that I tend to push to the back of my mind so as not to panic.

I find physical contact with other people helpful. Not sex so much, but things like hugs and backrubs and sitting close together to watch TV or to do whatever else. Again, I think this is something that some folks find pets useful for. I, being allergic to pretty much all non-human mammals, didn't find this a useful option. Also, I'm temperamentally unsuited to dealing with a pet without getting frustrated with it for being what it is. I think that, right at the moment, hugging my daughter is a high point (she's been spontaneously hugging me several times a day, on her own initiative, since my surgery at the end of August), but that's not why I chose to have a child. It's a bonus rather than something that I'm entitled to. She's her own person.

I used to call my parents a lot. That was less useful than it might have been because they're all very bad at showing any sort of affection (and all in different ways). This was mainly something I tried when I didn't have other, better options.

Sometimes, investment in fictional universes has helped as a way to get away from the bad things in my life. This is a difficult one because it only lasts until I run out of that particular universe and because it requires that more be available relatively soon. A really great book or TV episode or movie or game session will only hold me for about a day before I start to be more aware of my body and my life circumstances than I am of the world I was visiting. I never went so far that I couldn't function. This is more about having somewhere for my thoughts to go when I didn't have something else occupying me. Those are the dangerous times, in my experience.
the_rck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] the_rck

I should note that I had fairly bad physical pain for many years (about 20), so it wasn't just my anxiety I was trying to handle. Focusing my mind on something helped a lot because it kept me from obsessing about the physical pain. The fact that it buried the worries helped, too, but that was a side benefit.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

From: [personal profile] mme_hardy

I had the dumbest motivation ever. I told myself that if I lived to a certain date, I would buy myself an emerald ring. It worked. (although I eventually chose a large garnet cut to my order instead.)

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muccamukk: A heart drawn in beach sand, ocean in the background. (Lights: Beach Heart)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

Go down to the sea, for me. Proper sea with surf and shit. It makes my heart sing, no matter what, and it reminds me of God in a non-specific but all encompassing way. There will always be the sea, and everything will work out somehow. But I'm an ocean bb, so idk if that's very useful to you.
legionseagle: (Default)

From: [personal profile] legionseagle

I agree about the sea. Any sort of sea will do though best if there's a beach to walk along or some way of getting out on it.

And dogs. There's something about holding a dog - especially one of the dopey, adoring sorts like a spaniel - which helps one cope.

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green_knight: (Default)

From: [personal profile] green_knight

I took control of the things I could. It was exceedingly hard to be proactive when I wanted to curl up in a little ball (lost my tenancy and no chance to get another at that precise point) - but I managed to find a cheap-pish storage solution and got out of the place with all my belongings instead rather than hoping for a solution which did not manifest. I then had just about enough money to rent a crappy room with dodgy housemates, and instead slept in my car/tent and went travelling. My world consisted of very few choices at that point, but I found them and I picked _something_ that made me feel that I still had some control. Things got worse. I found a short-term job, moved to a place where I didn't know anyone, and ended up in a *really* bad housing situation - a 'not feeling safe' situation, and escaped by the skin of my teeth. At that point, I had no idea whether things would get better, but I had a vision of a place where I could go and recuperate and decide what I'd want to do.

I then lucked out into a series of events that mean I'm in much, much better place - which isn't to say that this WILL happen, only that it can, so I cannot say anything about how to crawl out of that hole under my own power, because I didn't. The most important thing was that I wasn't too proud to accept help from friends; without them, I would not have survived.

lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)

From: [personal profile] lilacsigil

I very slowly read books I had read before, because I was so sick with what turned out to be cancer that I couldn't absorb any new material. It was like seeing old friends but without the energy expenditure. And I waited and waited and kept going back to the doctors because that was all I could do. And eventually I got a diagnosis and got treated and very slowly with many setbacks got a lot better.
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

Poetry. Some music, too, but mostly poetry. I don't know why reciting Eliot's Ash Wednesday somehow makes it possible for me to go on living, but it does. It's like my aesthetic response to certain kinds of beauty touchs very near the core of my being and makes existence seem like a continuing possibility.

Also, for me, doing work. There are times when I have been unable to believe that my work does any real good in the world, but somehow just the doing of it helps me.

Also, my friend Maria, to whom I can say anything, and who is so globally accepting and loving that I can almost believe she really means it.
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

And because I wrote this quickly, I'll add a bit more -- I mentioned "Ash Wednesday" very specifically, because it has been my talisman in the worst times, and I think that's because it is, for me, the most perfect description of persistence without hope in the whole English language, and, because of me and my relationship with language, just the fact that someone has described it so precisely and beautifully makes it possible. I am really not sure I would have survived some times in my life without "Ash Wednesday."

Doing work as a means of going on does, of course, imply the ability to do work, and I have been fortunate enough that none of the worst desolations in my life have entirely taken away my ability to work -- limited it significantly sometimes, but never taken it away entirely. If that were to happen, I guess I'd be down to just Eliot to keep me alive.

You might expect that I would mention faith in God, but actually not so much; at the worst times, for me, faith is simply a cold-blooded decision to keep acting as if I believe, not something that actually helps. On the other hand, it does always help me to receive communion, but I honestly can't even explain why that is, so it's totally unenlightening for anyone who isn't me.

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snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

From: [personal profile] snarp

Mostly spite.

(This may actually be a wrong answer.)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rosefox

I totally and wholeheartedly cosign the value of spite as a motivator.

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princessofgeeks: (Default)

From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks

Like others have said, I took comfort from very small things.

My issues were depression and a very bad divorce. At the time I was alone I was so bound up in the bad relationship that I could not imagine in the slightest a future on my own. It was like I was staring at a blank wall. I moved in with some friends and didn't so much let them help me as irritably respond when they didn't let me stay in bed all weekend. I had a job and wanted money so I kept going, but it was a basic sort of job that took little energy. That gave my days a rhythm.

Eventually I found a good therapist, which helped with some perspective.

But I remember bursting into tears once at seeing a tall twining strand of grass that had blindly, with determination, grown up inside the outer layer of one of my ex's porch pillars -- it was an old fashioned massive wooden porch pillar, with a gap between the inner structural part and the outer trim pieces. So this grassy vinelike plant was in total darkness but just kept going up -- it was bleached white, but eventually a tiny strand of it poked through the top of the trim board and re-emerged into the light and turned green.

I found this somehow incredibly moving, that this plant kept pushing upward, with nothing but determination and its innate feeling that it had to live. It didn't know any better, but it kept going up, toward the light. And eventually it got there.

So I would watch nature, and take a bit of comfort in its cycles and the fact that winter did end and spring came again. Even if I personally felt no hope at all.

Things did eventually get better. But it was slow.

I've also worked on a Buddhist practice of remembering that I am not my feelings or my desires or my fears or anything else that swims around in my mind… kind of like the Heart Sutra, I guess, where you strip everything away and are left with a kind of clear, observing consciousness that simply accepts without expectations or judgment. It's a hard thing, sometimes, to let go. Watching the sky helps with that, I've found.

I have no idea if any of that would be helpful or not, but those are some things I did. Nature seems to really help me get out of my own head and see things going on in their own way and in their own beauty.

You are in my thoughts.

Edited Date: 2015-12-02 01:40 am (UTC)
sixbeforelunch: a stylized woman's profile with the enterprise and a star field overlaid (Default)

From: [personal profile] sixbeforelunch

I'm not very good at being hopeful. I tend to get tangled up in my own head and become completely unable to see beyond the mess of my emotions and (illogical) thoughts. I find that the one step in front of the other method works well for me. I cannot see a brighter, better future, but I can see a slightly less dim one, sometimes, and I just keep trying to move toward that light.

When I was in my early 20s, I got a promising job right out of college. And then I developed panic disorder with agoraphobia, and what I can only call an eating disorder NOS. My mental illness cost me my job, my independence, my social life, my financial well being. I lived on my parents' charity, in my parents' house. In my mind, I had no future beyond living at home forever (I was terrified of my parents dying, because then what?). I used to think that eventually, I would not be able to leave my bedroom, or would need to confine myself to the bathroom because.

It took years, and a lot of hard work, and a lot of one foot in front of the other thinking, but it got better. I used to set small goals for myself. 'Eat something before 10AM' might be my only goal for the entire day. Eventually, eating something before 10AM became routine, and I moved on to other goals like, 'go to Target and buy two things', and 'read a book', and 'have a conversation with another human that doesn't take place via computer'.

Eventually, my hopes for the future went from being able to be more than five minutes from my house to restarting my career and being able to move across the country.

I'll add also that I find being in nature very helpful for getting out of my head. Once I was able to be away from my house, I found that walking in the woods or sitting in a garden lifted my mood immensely, and gave me a measure of hope.
commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)

From: [personal profile] commodorified

Mostly, on the whole, a sense of duty. I didn't so much as hang onto hope as admit that I felt like total shit and was tired of trying to pull myself out of it but there were still commitments I had to keep and things I had to do so I had to keep plugging resentfully away at things and at some point it turned out that if I was doing those things then I had to eat and sleep and generally look after myself and I guess I just kept doing that and eventually the hope snuck back in while I wasn't looking.

I am glad this isn't meant to be advice, because I honestly don't know that I would recommend this approach, as such. It more-or-less came down to realising that it was possible to feel very very bad indeed, and admit it, and let it happen, and survive, and that everything passes. Which was a thing I'm not sure I had believed.

Because the thing is, it turns out, and I realise that this may not qualify as objective evidence, it always does get better eventually, when it's as bad as that, because change is a constant and when you've lost everything almost any kind of change is an improvement.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks

"change is a constant and when you've lost everything almost any kind of change is an improvement."

I find this very profound. Thank you.
anniegee76: me, windblown, in front of the Cliffs of Moehr (Default)

From: [personal profile] anniegee76

You don't know me at all, but I've been following you for a while and this prompted me to answer. To give you a sense of where I'm coming from: I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer when I was 39; it's stage IV, which is incurable, and it will probably kill me.

I generally fake it til I make it. I don't actually feel like I have hope a lot. But what I do have is people who depend on me, and people who I love (these are frequently the same people). So getting to spend time with them gets me out of bed, and keeps me going when I feel like lying down and giving up. In my case, those people are my children.
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)

From: [personal profile] staranise

Hm, a few things.

There's figuring out how other people do it, more or less, kind of like what you're doing here. I used to dance and fence and run and a lot of other things, and about 10 years ago my hips and knees staged a massive protest at having to work for so long on crappy congenital deformities, commencing several years of extreme joint pain and limited mobility. Things have eased up sort of thanks to surgeries and orthotics and stuff--I used to be a daily 6-8 on this pain scale, these days are a 4-6, and if I accept my limited range of activities and don't push myself I'm a 2-4. It was super hard to deal with, especially because at the time I had no clue how much "better" I'd ever be again.

That was also the time I got really into the disability rights movement, which meant getting to know a lot of people worse off than me. I looked at their situations and started asking myself how I'd live in their shoes, because it seemed easier to plan for that than to plan for my own situation--"If I couldn't walk at all I'd get a power chair and join a square-dancing group." "If I were totally bedridden I'd sign up for correspondence classes." That kind of thing. I also found fiction by/for disabled writers that were stridently featuring disabled characters but not about disability.
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid

There's figuring out how other people do it, more or less... That was also the time I got really into the disability rights movement, which meant getting to know a lot of people worse off than me.

I'd started to learn more about disability stuff and chronic illness in the couple of years before I got (physically) sick, and it helped so much to be able to have a language to use to describe what I was experiencing, and to be able to read other people's stories. I met my bff who has fibromyalgia in 2006, and got sick in 2008. So because I'd learned stuff to support and understand her, I was better able to advocate for myself, both to other people, and against the brain weasels.
Edited (forgot to paste quote) Date: 2015-12-02 10:55 am (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid

These days I have the cats, and the idea that they need me for foods and protection is a good strong one.

In 2005 my relationship of 11 years ended badly, and I lived through that. I had a good GP and counsellor in Canberra, who helped me deal with the first two weeks in concrete ways, like giving me sleeping pills so I could sleep without nightmares, but only a couple at a time so I had to go back and get more when I needed them. Then I had a good GP here who gave me anti-depressants and was informative about side effects and what I should expect. They helped almost immediately with the suicidal ideation and self-harming. She also got me registered for 6 free counselling sessions (and 6 more after that charged on a sliding scale), and wrote me letters which meant I could suspend enrollment in PhD, and get welfare while I wasn't receiving a scholarship.

Being able to take 3 months and not have to worry about work of study was really important.

All of those things helped, but I was still really miserable, and often apathetic. LJ was my lifeline, as were friends from LJ with whom I chatted on a regular basis. Knowing there were people who'd experienced similar things and who cared about me was probably the thing that got me through, as well as having a safe space to vent through using filters and cut tags.

In 2008 when I was still in extreme pain and fatigued long after I should have recovered from surgery, I had a (different) good GP, who was very much on my side, even when some of the specialists I saw were awful, she took the info they provided and made it useful. There were days during the month when my then partner was overseas and before I had a diagnosis, where it hurt to sit up and call in sick to work, and the only thing keeping me going was the need to get out of bed to feed the cat, and I used that time to feed myself or use the toilet. Those were bad days. On not-so-bad days, I could watch dvds or catch up with people online.

Again, it helped that I already knew people who dealt with chronic illness, and in general my social group was understanding of mental illness and chronic pain. So I didn't feel alone, and also I had people who understood that sometimes I couldn't commit to social stuff. Being able to connect with people online, even if I was too low on energy to actually talk face to face, was really important to keeping those relationships going.

TL;DR: My tools involve good support groups, good GPs, and cats. Also the fact that I'm a citizen of a country with socialized medicine and pretty good welfare helps a lot.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)

From: [personal profile] vass

There was a time when what I told myself was that even if I couldn't do what I wanted to do, or be happy, I could find a way to be useful, even if only for parts. That was when I started donating blood regularly. I felt like even if I had no other value, at least some part of me would be good for something. I can't give blood any more, but "find something to do that will help someone else, even if it's a tiny thing," continues to be comforting. It might not work so well if helping other people were my day job, as it is for you.

Also, making lists. Things to read, things to listen to, things to watch, things to make, things to learn, things to write, things to do, things to buy. Even if I never do the things, making the lists helps, it puts me in touch with wanting things, which I find is a very powerful force. And writing the lists gives me control.

I think the biggest single reason I have never been actively suicidal is curiosity. No matter how horrible my own life gets, I want to see what happens next. Not to me, necessarily, but the world. History, scientific discoveries, art, technology, all of it. I want to know the rest of the story.

Also, if there's no objective evidence available that things could ever get better, delusion and denial can be lifesavers. And avoidance, grandiosity, laziness, whatever personality flaws you can enlist.

There's a book by Kate Bornstein that I love, Hello Cruel World. She bills it as 101 alternatives to suicide. Not reasons not to, but other things to try. Like I said, active suicidality hasn't been one of my problems, but I find it works for despair or hopelessness or misery too.

I don't like or agree with all of her alternatives, but I'm very fond of the basic premise, which is: so long as you're not mean, anything else you do is better than killing yourself. Obviously, some things you could do are more harmful than others, and it's better to choose less harmful ones. But even a maladaptive coping strategy is better than no coping strategy, and if a maladaptive one is all you have in your hand, use that while you look around for something less harmful.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong

Even if I never do the things, making the lists helps, it puts me in touch with wanting things, which I find is a very powerful force.


Any time I find something I really want (that's possible for me -- wanting things like "not to be crazy in the head" or "to do this thing which unfortunately I will never be able to do" is not a help) it feels very powerful. Good to know I still can.

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boundbooks: Zhang Ziyi (Default)

From: [personal profile] boundbooks

I did it because I was damned if what had just happened was going to ruin my memories of loving a place for the last few years. I didn't know if I could pull my life together again, but I just refused to lie down and let the last few months leech the joy out of the past few years without a fight.

So, I stayed and tried to pull my life together again, so that I wouldn't lose the memories and experience of the city I loved to the memories of what had happened. It got pretty rocky. Some times I just hung on because 'fuck what happened, just fuck it'.

Eventually, and with a lot of help from my friends and some good therapists, I won.
Edited Date: 2015-12-02 04:15 pm (UTC)
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong

A thing someone said to me, which helped at the time:

That they understand I might be in a mental place where hope wasn't possible*. But that (if it was okay with me) they would carry hope for me, be hopeful on my behalf.

{*And some of the time I couldn't allow myself to hope because it was so terrible/treacherous and kept being dashed and hurting me even worse.}
Edited Date: 2015-12-02 06:57 pm (UTC)

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pene: (Default)

From: [personal profile] pene

When I lost my faith in God as good and lost my church and eighty percent of my friends and my husband, I struggled to work and had constant stomach pain (not like yours, stress-based and because of a bout of dysentery, but painful enough that I was best off somewhat drunk and on pepto bismol most of the time) three things got me through.

1. this one tree. it was so pretty against the sky. I drove past it regularly, in a location I hated, and every time I looked at it and thought "fuck that tree is pretty" and that somehow indicated to me that there was beauty I hadn't seen yet and would see.

2. books on tape. specifically all the Peter Wimsey books.

3. alcohol and pepto bismol and company and being sort of amazed that I could have drama like that and new friends in my own life. not ideal, sure.

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vladdraculea: Rainbow Autistic Pride lemniscate over the black, grey, white, and purple stripes of the Asexuality Pride flag (Default)

From: [personal profile] vladdraculea

I've been mulling over whether or not to post a comment here for a couple of days, but as you are not asking for advice but only for what has helped us, I've finally decided to respond:

What's helped me has, of necessity, been quite radical and very much dependent upon the fact that I have certain neurological gifts, one of which is the ability to feel faith in something for which there is no proof. Furthermore, the thing that I have faith in, while not unlike the equally far out beliefs of many religious faiths, would nonetheless be considered “delusional” by western psychology. So while I try to describe what has worked for me, I won't go into more specifics here about my faith than those that are more familiar (and thus seemingly less “far out”) to most people (e.g.: reincarnation, or hope for future technology, etc.).

The times when I've been really down and out are, thankfully, mostly years behind me. I'm at a point in my life where I have an excellent living situation, my family and I get along much better than we did prior to my late 30s, and I'm in a stable aromantic relationship with my best friend of nearly three decades.

But life hasn't always been so good. For one thing, I'm transgender and trans-lots-of-other-things, so it isn't just a simple matter of taking hormones and getting surgery to fix the problem of being in the wrong body. Additionally, I've been ill with dysautonomia due to EDS (at the time I just thought it was chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia) since my teens, so I have never really been able to work, nor have I been able to be a reliable volunteer. And recently, due to a brain injury sustained two years ago, my executive dysfunction has become even worse; so I have had to stop volunteering entirely because the anxiety of trying to overcome the executive dysfunction was too overwhelming and I couldn't avoid yelling at people when it got to be more than my brain could handle.

So I am very well acquainted with feeling like I've hit bottom, and I am very well acquainted with being stuck at bottom for years on end. My recent (in the past year or two) lows have been much shorter lived because of family support, my friends, that I have care workers (PCAs) who make sure I get enough to eat and that the house is tidy and the laundry is done — and — the above-mentioned faith.

Part of this faith consists of an imaginary scenario in which I have a certain role to play in the cosmos, and that staying in this incarnation — not “ending it all” to end the pain — is very important to the plot of this scenario. This scenario is as well developed and richly imagined as other well known stories such as “The Lord of the Rings”, any of the better parts of “Star Trek” or the recent re-imagining of “Battlestar Galactica”, or for that matter the mythoi described in any of the holy texts of various world religions. My imaginary world even draws from some of these sources. For example, concepts such as reincarnation, time travel, meta worlds (as in “The Matrix” trilogy), etc., and the modern Jewish idea of “the Messiah within”.

My world also draws from the psychological and imaginative works of people like Jung, Eliade, and Campbell, especially the ideas of symbols and their relationships, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity, the latter of which I have had far more experience with than my fair share. In fact, it is largely due to the many synchronistic experiences I've had over this incarnation that my imaginary world came into being.

As to whether my imaginary world is real or not, that's a matter of faith — and by that I don't mean a “leap of faith”; I mean how I *feel* about it — since it can neither be proven nor falsified by scientific experimentation. I don't consider it a problem that I happen to believe in (“have faith in”; *feel* it is “real” that there is) reincarnation and other aspects of my story, since such faith doesn't contradict aspects of reality that science can show to be real (or not real) such as the age of the Universe (e.g.: evolution is real) or the falsehood of many quack “cures”, etc. This kind of faith is essentially harmless so long as its existence gives me hope and the will to go on. Yes, at times it gives me sadness and other “downer” feelings, since the story of my imaginary world explores the full range of emotions, but in the balance, it has sustained me tremendously on days where I couldn't get out of bed for hours at a time (like this morning after breakfast when I went back to bed and couldn't get up till past 1 p.m.).

Thus my imaginary life gives me meaning when the life my current body can give me would otherwise be entirely meaningless. That's its value, and while I've always wished I could write the entire story down and publish it as fiction, I've long since accepted that this isn't something I could ever do (due mainly to executive dysfunction, but also due to dyslexia and other learning disabilities that prevent me from doing the story justice as a written work of fiction). However, what I've come to discover is that my faith in my imaginary world is so strong that it doesn't matter whether or to whom I tell the full story. It's not something either about which to proselytize or to make profit from.

It is, thus, something of a gift to me from a Universe that has otherwise given me so much pain in this life, and I am deeply, deeply grateful to have it for now. If one day I no longer need this faith, it may dissipate into nothingness (since I can't write enough of it down to make a story out of it), and that's okay. I'm a (Jewish) Buddhist, and I've been learning non-attachment and the ability to be grounded even when bereft of things that I have depended on in the past for my psychological wellbeing. So when (or if) this imaginary world is no longer useful, perhaps I might be fortunate enough to be able to replace it with a kind of faith that is not based on anything better describable than Zen.
ranalore: (anyband bora resistance)

From: [personal profile] ranalore

Mostly I rely on rage. My sister and her kids have done more to help than I can say, too, but for self-motivation, rage has almost always sustained me. When even my rage deserted me, what kept me getting up in the morning and taking the minimal care of myself was that I couldn't let my sister or nephew or niece find my body. That was the point at which the realization I might need help managed to break through the lifelong programming to deny any problems even when fronting like I'm working through them, and I actually started talking to my therapist and got on an anti-depressant. It helped enough to let me re-access my rage, so I call that a win at least for now.

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From: [personal profile] ranalore - Date: 2015-12-04 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
rydra_wong: Text: BAD BRAIN DAY. Picture: Azula, having one. (a:tla -- bad brain day)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong

Permission to link? I will understand if you feel it's too personal, but -- some of the comments are very moving and powerful and I'm finding it helpful reading myself; I think other people might too.
dhampyresa: (Default)

From: [personal profile] dhampyresa

I don't know. I honestly never thought I'd live this old and part of me still thinks I wasn't supposed to.

But here I am.
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