under the addiction

Submitted by looking4balance on
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well folks, what i am finding underneath my acting addictively and numbing myself is good ol' depression. Seeing how my old ways to avoid pain clearly dont work and that I used this to cover my depression makes even MORE depressed! haha...but at least this is more real than an addictive numbed out state. i am trying to just feel it with out changing too much, although i am finding a good jog really lifts me out of myself and gives some vitality (no doubt dopamine).

Speaking of brain chemicals, i went to see a psychiatrist yesterday and although the intention was good (ie reaching out for help and admitting this is a serious problem), i dismayed at his (not so surprising) suggestion of meds (SSRIs, and some dopamine agents) to correct. I told him i would like to do this naturally with food changes and activity changes, but i am still waiting to see if he will work with me that way. I am an anti-medicine person mostly and also i dont want to get all the side effects of those meds. We'll see what happens. Its been a sexless weekend although i had 2 opportunites to 'score!' haha.. Let's see, last orgasm was 1 week ago today and havent looked at porn for I think almost 3 weeks,wow! thats not bad. might be 2 1/2 weeks, but still. I think the grip is loosening but not gone. I can feel its pull just under the surface, flying low but always there..at least for now.

I wonder why I am adverse to meds to balance this chemisty? I mean the chemicals in my brain are also chemicals and this is just using other chemicals to correct. Kind of makes sense. So,is this a control thing, in that I feel powerless if I take an outside thing to fix my brain? Or am I afraid to REALLY get better? Hanging on to my addiction/depression since its how I have been for so long has become a big part of my self identity. I am afraid to become different, maybe even happy?(crowd gasping sound). Anyway, will see what the doc says and then decide.

So this weekend I did some quality study time with the language I am learning, went for a run, met friends and had dinner, did drink a few beers but did not get drunk or binge, did some laundry..just normal stuff and feel pretty good but still crappy. Really interesting to watch how feelings and perceptions change after food and activity. Biggest one was after that run. I felt so different. Drugs, Sch-mugs, who needs em? Well, maybe ME, but for now i just say no..

Peace out,
M

Comments

I hear you

If those drugs could really balance the brain, they'd be great. But they are about as subtle as sledgehammers. All have side effects, most of which are very dimly understood. Psychotropic drugs like SSRIs cause uncomfortable withdrawal that goes on for weeks when you're ready to try to leave them behind. (I watched my husband go through this, a year into our relationship.)

Shrinks are "bribed" by drug companies to prescribe them (a recent article showed that shrinks that the drug companies "get to" even start prescribing them for kids, when kids haven't even been approved as users by the regulatory agencies).

Frankly, I think that some day we will look back at this period of medicine as one of the most reckless and destructive ever (and unbelievably arrogant, given how little is known about these brain-altering drugs, and how casually docs scribble these prescriptions). Do you think you've pushed a button here??? *chuckle* My husband claims I was Alice Bunker Stockham MD in my past life. She was a holistically-oriented doctor who wrote Karezza: Ethics of Marriage (http://www.reuniting.info/karezza_stockham)

Anyhow, as you can tell, I think your instincts are correct. Balance can't be achieved with sledgehammers and shortcuts. This is another symptom of our addictive, "quick fix" society. What's needed is different for everyone, and your body knows how to find it in all of it's amazing complexity. Think about giving it some time to do so.

All addictions are driven by the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. THEY are the reason the addict returns to his "fix," be it a drug or an exciting behavior. In other words, you may not be a true depressive at all, even if you've noticed underlying depression for years. You've also been pursuing orgasm with great intensity for years. It's hard to accept that we might be doing something so uncomfortable to ourselves (causing depression) just by doing something that feels great (lots of orgasm), but just watch (especially after you team up with a true companion)!

Depression is a very natural withdrawal symptom, because your dopamine levels (or dopamine receptor levels - scientists aren't sure which) haven't rebounded. The depression will pass. I notice some of my worst fallout at about the two-week mark, though, so hang on!

Meanwhile, even though you don't feel like it, do all the "natural" things that make you feel better, like running, being creative, finishing a project you've put off, doing something nice for someone else, exchanging foot massages with a friend, calling your mom, listening to uplifting music, singing, watching funny movies with a friend, fixing something special to eat for you and a friend...and so on.

As your body/brain balances itself, meditation will be more effective, and other simple activities will become more and more satisfying. You will see the progress when you look back over a bit more time. Even greater wellbeing awaits finding a partner and a wholesome relationship - with careful management of sexual energy ;-). And yes, the time you spend on balancing yourself now is well spent.

Don't be afraid to allow yourself time to heal.

yes, I totally agree with

yes, I totally agree with overRX of meds. I can also relate to the horrible withdrawl coming off SSRI. i did it more than once and its not pretty to say the least. I will do those activities you suggested as a way to naturally affect my mood and balance my 'noggin' ^_^. thanks for those tips!~

integrating the daemon

hi . . .

i posted something last night in reply but it didn't get up somehow. Summary: I was a caregiver for a highly medicated man for one year who was taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medication. It certainly didn't heal him, only maintained him in a state of functioning in a way acceptable to others but totally meaningless for himself.

I would also caution against meds, and suggest that 1) therapy or meds could easily become an addiction in itself - another outside thing that is supposed to fix you when 2) the spiritual quest usually involves discovering the latent potential within oneself, rather than further reliance on outside phenomenon and 3) I personally think that depression is a very healthy symptom of a deeper issue, and shouldn't be looked at as a thing in and of itself, but rather a messenger from the soul. When we see it as a symptom, we realize that it can have much to teach us and, potentially, may in the end make our life much more rich and rewarding if we are able to listen to it and integrate it, rather than numb it down with porn or meds.

I've gotten some of these ideas from a book called "Love and Will" by a Psychoanalyst named Rollo May. I was reading this book a lot when I was taking care of my depressed friend (actually, he is one of my fathers on the intentional community I was raised in).

For what they are worth, here are some excerpts that I found might be illuminating:

"Normal, constructive anxiety goes with becoming aware of and assuming one's potentialities. Intentionality is the constructive use of normal anxiety. . . . Paul Tillich points out that pronounced neurotic anxiety destroys intentionality, 'destroys our relationship to meaningful contents of knowledge and will.' This is the anxiety of 'nothingness'. Tillich goes on to relate intentionality to vitality, and then to courage: 'Man's vitality is as great as his intentionality; they are interdependent. . . . Vitality is the power of creating beyond oneself without losing oneself."

Antoher passage:

"For Heidegger, care (Sorge) is the source of will."

And:

"Conflict presupposes some need for a shift, some change in Gestalt, within the person; he struggles for a new life, as it were. This opens up the channels of creativity."

May then goes into a fascinating analysis of the daimon. For our sake, we could view the daimonic in your case as being depression, rather than rage as in this story, but the myth is still pertinent:

"It is the failure of therapy, rather than its success, when it drugs the daimonic, tranquilizes it, or in other ways fails to confront it head on. The Furies, or daimons, are called in Aeschylus' Oresteia the 'disturbers of sleep'. In the drama they drove Orestes into temporary insanity after he killed his mother. But when one stops to think about it, if Orestes had slept soundly that month after the killing, something tremedously important would have been lost. Sleep is possible only after the pattern of fate-guilt-personal-responsibility is worked through to new integration.

"When Orestes is acquitted by the jury, Apollo demands the expurgation of the Furies - these daimons who are the symbolic spirits of anger, revenge, retaliation. Apollo speaks as the representative of higly respected rationality; he lives by logical balance, accepted forms, and civilized control. He argues that these primitive, archaic Furies - spokesmen for the irrational id if ever such existed - who torment men at night , be banished forever from the land.

But what Apollo does not see, and what Athena has to drive home to him, is that he can be as cruel and implacable in his intellectual detachment as the furies can be in their primitive rage. Athena . . . argues: 'Yet these too [the furies] have their work. We cannot brush them aside, and if this action so runs that they fail to win, the venom of their resolution will return to infect the soul, and sicken all my land to death. Here is dilemma. Whether I let them stay or drive them off, it is a hard course and will hurt.'

"She is enunciating a psychotherapeutic insight . . not yet learned in our time: if we repress the daimonic, we shall find these powers returning to sicken us more, whereas, if we let them stay, we shall have to struggle to a new level of consciousness in order to integrate them . . . (and either way it will hurt.)

"But in this drama, the act of accepting the daimonic also opens the way for the development of human understanding and compassion, and even raises the level of ethical sensibility. Athena proceeds to persuade the furies to remain in Athens and accept their rolse as respected guardians of the city. By accepting the daimonic Furies, welcoming them into Athens, the community is enriched.

"Then our time-honored symbol comes home to us again, as at the birth of every new form of being - the Furies have their name changed. They are henceforth to be called Eumenides, literally meaning workers of grace.

"It is important not to forget that any healing process - even the question of what each of us with a common cold is to do about his virus - is a myth, a way of viewing and evaluating one's self and one's body in relation to the world. Unless my illness changes my image of myself, my myth of myself, I shall not have distilled from the trauma of illness the opportunity for new insight into myself and my possibilities of self-realization in life. And I shall not attain anything that can be rightly called 'cure.'"

Finally:

"The Daimonic will always be characterized by the paradox inhering in the fact that it is potentially creative and destructive at the same time. This is the most important question facing psychotherapy, and the most fateful also - for on it hinges the lasting success and the survival of therapy. If we try to avoid the dilemma of the daimonic, as many therapists wittingly or unwittingly do, by helping the patient adjust to the society, by offering him certain 'habits' which we think are better for him, or by making him over to fit the culture, we are then inevitably engaged in manipulating him. Rilke is then right: if he surrenders his devils, he will lose his angels too.

"The daimonic, which is part of eros and underlies both love and will, acts as a gadfly to our consciousness by throwing us into continual dilemmas. The deepening and widening of consciousness we seek in psychotherapy consists not of the solution of these dilemmas - which is impossible anyway - but the confronting of them in such a way that we rise to a higher level of personal and interpersonal integration."

Another book worth looking into is "The Spell of the Sensuous" by David Abrahms. Much of the book looks at the history of language and how the written word divorced us from direct sensory experiences, but there are also fascinating insights about how shamans in various cultures live on the periphery of the settlement in order to keep a balance between the human and natural world. When symptoms of illness appear within the community, it is seen as directly related to an imbalance in how people have been acting towards their natural habitat. Further, Abrahms points out that the qualities the shamans are endowed with, such as hearing voices, hallucinating, and other qualities, are exactly those that our culture finds very threatening and medicates or locks away.

In other words, what we call mental illness is really just a very natural reaction of sentivie indivuals to a sick way of life. So: utilize the sensitivity, even if painful, and look to see how it could be integrated. Often, integration requires major shifts in lifestyle and identity. Usually, we think it possible to be healed without making any changes in our life or outlook at all. We only want to be comfortable again, not fully empowered. Illness does challenege us to choose empowerment and the shedding of old skin, and healing is not likely to happen without this sometimes painful letting go and new vulnerability.

Thanks for taking the time to post all this

Reading it, I realize that Hotspring has described my own learning curve in a way. In the 90s I was living in a foreign country at a time when anti-depressants weren't handed out like candy. So I really had to KEEP learning new insights as a way to cope - in my case I was coping with the misery of watching my relationships fall apart...again.

Looking back, I see that one of my best tools was journaling, and then using oracles, like the "I Ching." Both did the same thing. They helped me gain insight, so I could see my circumstances in very different terms, and gain insight about what changes I needed to make in my life.

This was a mysterious process sometimes. For example, one day when I was asking my 'I Ching' something about the cause of relationship disharmony, it lead me to a passage that said, "It is time to break up that which divides, because isolation brings discord and blocks creative energy." While I was puzzling over what THAT might mean, I dropped a big, good quality kitchen knife on the brick floor in my kitchen...and the blade BROKE IN HALF. I've never, before or since, seen that happen. But even I realized that it was a symbol of "breaking up that which divides [a knife]."

I felt like Something was trying to get my attention about the importance of focusing on what REALLY divides men and women. So I kept asking more and more questions about this issue, and reflecting on the answers. You all know the result of this questing...this website.

But the process also helped me keep my sanity, and that's the real point I want to make here, as it ties in with Hotspring's. Because I didn't have drugs to artificially manipulate my mood, I kept asking hard questions and getting interesting answers. Ultimately they helped me to make sense of an aspect of the world that had caused me great pain, and to see how critical equilibrium is to sound choices and wellbeing. What a gift!

Meanwhile, it was fun to feel like something larger than myself cared enough to try to answer my questions and help me revise my assumptions about things. It was also fun to feel like a Sherlock Holmes of sorts...piecing together clues.

However, it was also very frustrating at times. For example, first I thought the message was that sacred sexuality was the whole key, but I didn't know orgasm was potentially a problem (I was a VERY slow learner in that respect. :-)). Then I thought ejaculation was the problem due to semen loss like the tantra/taoist books say, because I didn't yet realize that it is sex's effect on our brain chemistry that's the true culprit, so women are affected, too. And so forth. It was a long, slow learning curve. Still is. I know there's more to learn, and I also know that I've been learning something worth learning.

Anyhow, I think Hotspring is right to urge us to find a way to gain insight rather than medicate. Ultimately, this insight process has lots of rewards, even if the short-term is uncomfortable, and there are periods of depression or frustration.

There are lots of ways to gain such insights: books (thanks, Hotspring!), forums (thanks, Janitor!), oracles, dreams, prayer, meditation, spiritual teachers, blogging, journaling, and perhaps one day...direct revelation! Who needs drugs?

hmmm.. that is really

hmmm.. that is really interesting..i never thought about depression as a potentially positive thing...I guess we are socialized to believe we should be rid of it as soon as possible as well as just our 'feel good' value about things. I guess when you can attach meaning to pain it no longer becomes so painful/intolerable..

thanks for those great excerpts.
:)

Thanks, Doc

Funny, and indirectly a nice way of making Hotspring's point of how we fail to grow by covering up our woes with drugs (or repeating addictive behaviors).