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Post by Prajnaparamita on Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:49 pm

So I broke up with my boyfriend last night. The timing of which actually wasn’t that bad—it turns out that if I hadn’t broken up with him then, he was planning on breaking up with me today, so this really was a mutual thing. No one was surprised, and we actually managed to have a laugh over that. After that conversation he mentioned that he thought our relationship would be better when it was no longer a romantic one, and that the tension came from there and we’d be good friends without it. I expressed apprehension, that I didn’t know where our disconnect came from but it seemed like it wasn’t just going to go away, but I’ll wait and see. And then I guess he did that thing again where he started rambling but what he said suddenly made everything make sense for me. He reiterated his old thing about not wanting negativity and he couldn’t deal with my negativity and I finally asked him—when he’d met me, I’d been in a pretty dark place, but it didn’t seem like he minded. Actually, he’d enjoyed spending time with me and sought me out—so what was different with my negativity now? To that he reminded me of how at the beginning of our relationship we’d talk about philosophy and religion and history and politics, there was this spark of intellectual curiosity, and that was unquestionably what drew us together and made spending time together such a joy even when things were hard, and that seemed to have faded. Now, he doesn’t know that I’ve had to leave school—not just not being able to continue another semester, but also having to take a medical withdrawal because there was just no way that I could hand in the rest of my work this semester. But I think he could tell that the spark of intellectual curiosity died and I lost interest in things like that as school and my studies got increasingly demoralizing.

It seems like these things, like my intellectual curiosity (for lack of a better word) come and go, but mostly they go. I actually don’t think I’ve read a book in over two years now—really. Before my breakdown I was a voracious reader, I could do 100 pages in an hour if undistracted, and I’d read anything, even if I actively didn’t like the material I would still read it anyway if I thought it was important enough—one summer vacation I put aside three days to make it all the way through the complete surviving works of the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi and his theory of state consequentialism, and holy cow was that dull! Now sitting down with a book is a joyless chore, if I can even convince myself to try at all, so I just don’t. I’ll sometimes still read newspaper and magazine articles, but that’s only for the sake of keeping my mind occupied with something other than the constant anxiety churning in my head—I’ll be there enough to process the words, but immediately after that the words just fall away and I’ll have absolutely no recollection of what I read. I’m just in this dulled-out fog most of the time, and I can understand why he wouldn’t want to be with me for that. Also, he made a comment about how it just feels like we’re in entirely different places now from when we met, which once again I’ll have to credit to his powers of subconscious observation, as he didn’t know the facts about what’s going on in my life. But when the two of us met, he was coming out of a major breakdown and finding success, stability and enjoyment in school, and I was attending his large state university for just one semester until I got it together to return to the small, prestigious liberal arts college I’d been at before—we were both turning our lives around and on the upswing. And then I fell through on returning to my old college, and then fell through with picking up more classes and becoming a full-time student at the university, and finally I’m just not continuing with school, and if he didn’t know for sure, I know he could tell that while he was moving forward, I was falling back. Or at least returning to my normal ever since this all began.

I haven’t contacted him since, and I don’t know if I will, because feeling like the accusation of “negative” that he’s given me (not unfairly) could be sprung on me at any time was what was causing a major amount of anxiety in terms of relating to him, and I don’t know what I can to do resolve that. I don’t know if I can do anything to resolve that, because this is just how I am, depressed and if not constantly, usually in this dulled out fog. If what interested him about me was my intelligence and curiosity, which is one of my few attractive features when I do have access to it, well without it I can’t see any reason why we’d have a connection.

It isn’t just him. This is why I lost basically the entirely of my old, somewhat large group of friends that I had during my time in college (there’s only one person out of that entire group that still even speaks to me)—I just stopped being that person that they had been drawn to in the first place, and I didn’t seem to be coming back anytime soon.

tl;dr I’m depressed and that wrecks all my relationships eventually and I don’t seem to have any way to make it stop.

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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:55 pm

I'm sorry things didn't work out.

I imagine a lot of things are going through your head right now.

What do you think you need for yourself right now?

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Post by Werel on Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:09 pm

I'm glad the breakup was fairly mutual, and that you guys were able to have a laugh about it. (You probably already read the latest SLLotD that talked about how expectations can kill relationships, and letting some expectations go--e.g. after a breakup--can make it easier to be friends afterwards, yeah? Worth thinking about as you ponder "can we be friends again," but take your time; post-breakup friendliness can't be rushed).

And man, I am so sorry you're having to confront a whole new set of ways mental illness can disrupt your life. I am searching for some words of comfort, something about how most friendships end eventually (especially after college), mental health struggles or no, and it's not just you; everyone changes with time, sometimes for the worse, in ways they can't help, but they also grow stronger and become a person better-adapted to their circumstances; and that time can probably will weaken the hold of mental illness on your brain (things got a lot better for my neurochemistry after my early 20s). But thinking rationally and optimistically about this stuff is for a little bit down the road, after the immediate sting of loss and frustration passes; big Jedi hugs.
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Post by Enail on Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:25 pm

Prajna, many hugs. It sounds like the breakup is for the best, as painful as that is, so I hope that things ease for you a bit in the aftermath of that, but the whole depression and accompanying loss of intellectual curiosity thing and how it affects relationships is all really hard, and I'm so sorry you're dealing with that.

I sympathize a lot with what you describe, because I've had a pretty big loss of enthusiasm for reading and other intellectual pursuits I used to enjoy due to a recent chronic pain condition. It's hard having a defining trait/interest just sort of go missing on you, and not knowing if or when it will come back and what that means about who you are and what you bring to the table.

I know it's not the same situation, so I don't want to overcompare, but one thing that I've been finding helpful is thinking about as a clog in the system or a part that's malfunctioning, I can't expect it to work by just shoving in more fuel and kicking it, but I am fundamentally still a machine that is made for thinking and learning and creating, I just need to reroute the pipes or change the fuel. Or, to take it out of bad metaphor, finding different ways to help those aspects of myself function and be useful even with some parts out of order; for me that tends to mean shorter-form and more interactive ways to get intellectual interest, creative activities that ask for less planning and more gentle grunt-work than I'm used to, working in shorter bursts, and putting more effort into finding interest in what's at hand and less into going and seeking out new and challenging things to interest me. Probably it would mean different things for you.

It's something I'm still figuring out, but I think it's a doable thing, and maybe there's some sorts of adjustment like that that can help you expressing the you-ness that's being befogged by depression. It's not the same, and probably small comfort in the face of a feeling that you cannot be the you you want to be right now - and I think and very much hope that things will ease and resettle with the depression over time and that you will be able to be that you again more and more - but those parts of you still exist, and maybe it can help a little at least to seek them in a different way.
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:09 pm

Hey guys, thank you so much for your kind words and advice. To be completely honest I haven’t been posting here much because everything has just been wearing down on me so much, and I feel like I have very little energy left to give. Personally, I feel uncomfortable asking for advice and support from others if I’m not at least trying to provide advice and support to others—I feel best when I’m able to give back, and awkward otherwise. But because of how I’ve been feeling, I feel like I don’t have any capacity, and as a result I haven’t really been posting.

Dan: as for what I need right now, I’m really not sure. I imagine short-term distraction, just to keep myself from feeling even more unstable and torn up—plus I’m home alone tonight, so it’s not like I have people there for support if I have a rough night. Right now though I have a ball of purrs in my lap and I’m responding to this, which surprisingly feels better than I thought it would, considering that I’ve felt weird about posting recently. I wonder how much of that was me unconsciously isolating?

Werel: Thanks hun, really. It’s kinda encouraging to think that this might get better as I get older, but that’s not really been the pattern in my family. My aunt’s bipolar seemed to have started as a post-partum thing, or the really extreme swings at least, and my grandmother didn’t really fall apart until middle age, and ever since then has gotten worse. The hardest part about it for me at this moment of processing it is the feeling of powerlessness in terms of holding onto my friendships and relationships. I can choose to be a good friend to someone, choose to be attentive and caring and supportive, and when I care about someone, I will put a great deal of effort into those things, but I don’t have any control over this. I’ll devote time and energy into a relationship, and then my depression will rear up again and I just have to watch it fall apart. It’s really scary, and it leaves me feeling helpless and demoralized.

Enail: Wow, that’s… Actually super helpful to know that someone else has/is experiencing this, and your situation sounds quite similar. If I’m poked and prodded gently to wake up my brain and in a good headspace and given time I can sometimes reconnect, at least briefly with that intellectual side of myself that’s still so important, but most of the time I just feel dulled out. And as I have struggled with chronic pain too, I totally get that pain could get in the way of that functioning—it’s just something else that stalls out or clogs up the brain. Sometimes people will try to cheer me up by attempting to engage me in discussions of philosophy or whatever, and often it will result in me actively feeling worse, because it’s just showing me how clogged up my brain has become and jerkbrain spirals out from there.

I totally get what you’re saying about finding other ways to engage—I thought about this some, and I think I want to continue learning about graphic novels/comics, because even if a whole page of text causes my brain to shut off, combination text/images is often easier to absorb. The problem is throughout this period I’ve experienced a total lack of motivation or drive for anything at all, even stuff that I know will make me feel better. If left to my own devices, the entirely of my life would be an endless cycle of eat, sleep, and mindlessly surf the internet. Because I have no motivation to take initiative, I’m worried that now that I’ve left my class, where I was required to read graphic novels, attend lectures on graphic novels and go to discussion sections to talk about them, I won’t have anything to propel me to continue doing those things to engage my brain and just let the fog take over.

Apathy is pretty much my default mode, even though it really doesn't make me feel good is I let myself sink down into it. But if I fight it, and force myself to do things, then those activities, even if enjoyable, become tinged with frustration and resentment because I associate them with having to fight my brain and it's just so exhausting and wears at me. So it feels like a double bind.

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Post by Enail on Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:18 pm

Re: comics & graphic novels, would online comics be of any interest to you? There are some pretty amazing ones, and since most of them post in small drips, you can get poked regularly to check out a non-overwhelming number of pages at a time. And YYMV, but in terms of motivation to do it, I find it feels more like wasting time on the internet than getting up the wherewithal to pick something up and read it.
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:29 pm

Oh goodness yes I would love that--I love getting into a good webcomic, and I'm wondering if part of my hesitation about exploring this topic further comes from the barrier to entry of comics. Getting into the DC backlog for instance means leaving the house and going to the comic book store, interacting with the people there, trying to find out what I should be looking for and spending money that I don't really have--it can be awfully overwhelming to think about sometimes.

The only thing is I'm kinda picky in what webcomics I like--I love Order of the Stick, but was just meh towards Questionable Content and Goblins and a whole bunch of others that people said I should totally read.

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Post by Enail on Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:43 pm

I know what you mean, I'm often so picky that I hate asking people for recommendations because chances of me liking it are so low. But if you want to start a thread and give an idea of your tastes, I'm sure people can try and come up with some tailored suggestions.
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