A Perverse Jealousy

Jealousy is such a powerful emotion. Whether talking about it in the sense of the Christian faith or not, it isn’t hard to see why it’s considered a sin. Personally, in times where I find myself jealous, it overtakes me in a way very few other emotions do. It clouds my judgement – I find my decision-making revolving around what I can do to achieve that goal that I’m envious of. There’s a fine line between jealousy and determination, and for me that gap is bridged when I find myself having negative feelings towards others who have achieved that goal. If I ever find myself thinking lesser of a person because they have something I do not, that’s my cue to take a step back and look at the situation from a level head.

Not that that’s always easy. In fact, it rarely is – it takes such dedication to this way of thinking that a whole form of therapy has risen up around it (mindfulness). It’s made especially hard on the occasions where the person you’re jealous of brings up their achievement or property like it’s nothing. “You bring this up so nonchalantly, but do you realize what I would do to have what you have? Achieve what you’ve achieved? Do you even realize how much of a standard I hold myself to based on what you have?”

Like so many other facets of life, for some reasons our brains often tell us that it’s easier to get bitter over these things, than it is to simply be grateful for another’s accomplishments. Scowl over smile, bitterness over contentment. It’s hard to pinpoint why this is, but there are a thousand different answers from a thousand different cultures, religions, and psychologists. Perhaps it stems from the competitive mindset of first-world countries, or maybe when Adam and Eve bit into the apple of knowledge, human sin came pre-packaged with jealousy.

I could go into the whole “this isn’t the right way to think,” and “comparison with others only leads to bad things” tangent, but I already have in some of my past posts. Make no mistake, I still very much believe in what I’ve said on that topic: comparison does only lead to destructive habits. To be the best us we can be, we needn’t hold ourselves to the standards of others. But I can talk and talk about why this isn’t the healthiest way of thinking, spouting factoids and studies supporting this hypothesis, but the fact of the matter is this: factoids and studies very rarely help us actually deal with these things. Comparison. Jealousy. Bitterness. Whilst it’s certainly important to understand why these feelings come about, in my opinion (and it’s just that), the world would be a better place if we actually focused on how to deal with these problems as opposed to just explaining their origins.

I’ve found myself getting overly jealous and bitter the past couple of weeks. I find myself around this entirely pleasant, enjoyable person, who has nothing but kind things to say to me. nine times out of 10, I find myself being pleasant back, but recently my depression has begun to take over and, instead of exchanging pleasantries both ways, the kindness seems to become one-sided. This individual will be kind to me, and I’m indifferent towards them. I’m passive-aggressively resentful, bitter, and simply angry. All of those negative emotions, simply because my mind tells me it’s somehow easier to resent this perfectly nice person for what they have, rather than be happy for them and realize everybody has different things at different times, as is life.

As I mentioned before, this jealousy overtakes me. I find my mind so occupied with this incredibly useless emotion that it’s difficult for me to think about much else. I’ve heard of some individuals using jealousy as a type of drive – motivation to get to a better place in their lives where they’re more content. As I feel jealousy coursing its way through me, however, I find it incredibly hard to think that some people could use this to motivate them, because for me it causes nothing but destructive thinking habits. Where one person may say, “I want what that person has, so I’m going to use this jealousy of them to push myself harder,” I generally say, “I want what that person has, but I’m not skilled or charming or innovative enough, otherwise I would have it by now.” You don’t need to tell me there are about 17 logical inconsistencies with this way of thinking – believe me, I know. But depression often overrides logic.

So, for those like me, where jealousy doesn’t motivate you, but instead breaks you, what do you do? What is the best way to deal with this poisonous mindset? Simply put, I don’t know. I practice mindfulness, and that helps to an extent, but I’m by no means a master at the craft – it takes months upon months of practice and dedication (it makes sense, though, you’re literally training your brain to subscribe to an entirely new way of thinking). For what good it does, there is one thing in particular I’ve been trying to tell myself in moments of jealousy:

Each and every person is unique. No two people accomplish the same things at the same time in the same way under the same circumstances. We all have different walks through life, regardless of how similar our circumstances may seem at first glance. In fact, I’m willing to bet someone in your own life is looking at you and saying “I wish I had that,” just as you may be with others. Do not take pride in this, but instead use it as a reminder that nobody is ever perfectly content with life – we all fall prey to wishing we have more than we already do. You aren’t alone in this.

How do you deal with jealousy? Do you have certain coping methods that help pull you through? I’d love to hear what you have to say, so comment or shoot me an email and I’d love to converse with you! All the best to you in whatever struggles you may face.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

“Why are you so sad?”

Spoiler alert: I’m depressed, and probably for no reason.

One seemingly surefire way of determining whether or not someone suffers from depression is to figure out the root of the depressive thoughts. While depression can most certainly be amplified in times of distress, very rarely does it come about solely from outside factors, like events or people. So, if you’re a psychiatrist who has someone walk up to you and say, “My wife of 17 years left me,” or “I didn’t get the position I interviewed for that I really wanted,” they’re probably down in the dumps (understandably). However, if they follow that up with, “I think I have depression,” that’s where the scrutiny comes in.

Again, when bad things happen, we oftentimes feel bad. It’s simply human nature to react accordingly to things that happen to or around us. But clinical depression doesn’t rely on outside events to rear its ugly head – it’s going to make itself known at even good points in your life.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was having a decent week, and that wasn’t a lie. It still isn’t – nothing traumatic or ridiculously bad has happened to me lately. But this past week, my depression has been overwhelming me to no end. I’m mopey, I’m pushy, I’m antisocial and bitter and honestly, straight up pissed sometimes. What am I pissed at? Nothing. Nothing at all. There’s just some seething rage permeating a hundred of my thoughts, but for no reason.

I was raised to never say “I hate [this],” unless I truly meant it. To this day, I still scarcely use the phrase, but I can say with full certainty that I hate this. I hate feeling this way, I hate that other people also feel this way, I hate that depressive thinking is brought on by absolutely nothing at all, with next to no warning signs as to when it’s going to strike.

I understand what it’s like when other people suffer from this, so I try to encourage people in their own battles against depression where and when I can. But even so, there are times when I break, and discouragement clouds my every thought.

I feel like breaking. And I feel like breaking only because my depression says I should, regardless of who’s out there looking out for me.

Try and stay strong.

  • Ryan

P.S. I know this post was a massive downer, and I’m sorry for that, it’s just that….bleeerrrggh. -_-

Thunder

Trying something a bit different today…forgive the amateur quality of this particular post.

She looks up, as the sky weeps unto the land. Across distant treetops cloud-light flashes, creating a brief, but mesmerizing, display, the spotlights of a hundred stadiums brightening the sky all at once. She turns her attention downward as the crackle of thunder roars at her, a roar somehow hitting her from all sides. On the stone below her droplets hit, seemingly bouncing back up for a millisecond before settling in with the rest of the gathering water, making way for the thousands more drips to come after it. On the bare earth, however, they disappear, sinking into the brown abyss.

Another stadium display lights the clouds above her, turning her attention back upwards, where the partially stripped trees sway, unhinged but for their roots. An orange-brown leaf flicks at her forearm; she feels its leathery, veined touch before it flies away to join its multicolored companions. Roar, the sky hurls at her again, yet closer this time.

Leaves crackle and squelch underneath her boots as she makes her way forward, the occasional pocket of mud being hidden in the covered forest floor. A third flash, brilliantly creating a silhouette of trees above her, a half-second from a ’50’s horror flick.

She knows its coming this time, she braces herself for it.

It doesn’t help. This roar is louder than any ones prior to it, so loud she’s certain there’s no way they could get more deafening. She knew it was coming, but it still bites into her, assailing her, beating at her chest harder than her own heart. It almost hurts.

She realizes she can’t beat this. Knowing another roar is inevitable only makes it worse. Nature itself is a force of nature, and no strength of will can stop an unrelenting force.

……

Right?

My fear of having fears

I often refer to my struggles with anxiety as “paralyzing,” and I’m more than certain many others feel this way about their own battles with this illness as well. When my anxiety prevents me from physically getting out of bed in the morning because I’m so fearful of facing the day, that’s paralysis. When my anxiety tells me that I shouldn’t go out with friends to some public place, because I may be put into a social situation I’m uncomfortable with, that’s paralysis. When my anxiety refuses to let me speak my mind for fear of what others may think of me, that’s paralysis.

All 0f these paralyzing things, these anxieties, stem from fears. Notice I didn’t necessarily say rational fears – in fact, 9 out of 10 of these fears are irrational. But when it comes to irrational fears, anxiety is the package deal. “If I say this thing, what will [person] think of me?” “Remember that unimportant thing that happened a week ago that made you slightly uncomfortable that everyone else has likely forgotten about? Dwell on it.” “That person gave you a look that could maybe be taken as offensive, so naturally, it means that person must hate your guts – there’s no other explanation.”

Now, I’ve said this dozens of times, but for those without anxiety: we know these fears are irrational. I, who worries about many of these things on a daily basis, can look at these as I type and say, “That fear isn’t rational.” Trust me, I know, and people with anxiety know. But the day simple logic stops an anxiety-riddled mind from thinking the way it does is the day anxiety no longer exists. This is what separates anxiety-sufferers from “normal” people who are just worrying about something: logic and the knowledge that their fear is irrational will do next to nothing to soothe their roiling thoughts.

This may unintentionally go the way of Inception, but the reasons above are precisely why I fear what fears I may have in the future. I fear my future fears. Why? Because I know, once I have this fear branded into my mind, however irrational it may be, it will be another opportunity for my anxiety to paralyze me. If my anxiety (and I do specifically mean my anxiety) determines that something is to be feared, it’s mighty hard to convince it otherwise. The very anxiety that tells us to prevent doing this thing we fear is the same thing that prevents us from seeing the irrational thought behind it. Sure, it would be great to ride that roller coaster to show our anxiety it won’t come off the rails and kill us all, but there’s no way in hell our anxiety would let us actually do that. What, the odds of you dying on an amusement park ride are 10,000 to 1? No way we’re taking those odds!

So, long story short, I fear what I will fear in the days to come, because I know that it will prevent me from experiencing so much of what life has to offer. This is one of the many reasons I’ve taken to practicing CBT and mindfulness – I refuse to let my mental illness get the better of me if I can help it.

Does anyone else feel this way? We’re so afraid of these fears being stamped into our heads, because we know what the consequences are. If anything, this post certainly argues for the quote: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Ain’t that right.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

I hope you never understand, I hope you never forget

I don’t want you to understand what it’s like to be physically crippled by your own mind.

I don’t want you to understand what it’s like to wake up and not be able to get out of bed. Not because you physically can’t – your legs are working just fine. I don’t want you to understand what it’s like to not be able to move, simply because your own mind is preventing you from doing so. Glued to the bed, battling your own mind. Move your foot, take a step. Pick your head off the pillow. Get out of bed.

I don’t want you to understand what it feels like to nearly be overcome with anxiety just getting through your morning routine. I don’t want you to be filled with dread at the simple prospect of what the day might bring. Even if nothing has given any indication that the day ahead may bring bad things. The mere possibility that terrible things may happen can be enough to make you want to run and hide.

I don’t want you to understand the feeling that everyone in the world has it better than you. You obviously have it better than so many people, but it doesn’t matter, at least not to your mind. You can’t even pull yourself out of bed in the morning, remember?

I don’t want you to understand the feeling of a hopeless future leading nowhere.

I don’t want you to understand the feeling that the best place to spill your feelings is on a blog, because those people can’t see your face. They can’t judge a faceless writer, hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.

do want you to understand that it’s okay not to understand.

I do want you to understand that understanding isn’t necessary to support people, and love people, and have faith in people, even if those people don’t have faith in themselves.

I do want you to understand that nobody, mental health issues or not, can fix everything. I do want you to understand that nobody expects you to be able to, either.

I do want you to understand that everyone has their own stories and their own battles, regardless of whether they let other people actually see those things.

I do want you to understand that people shouldn’t expect to be loved by all, or worshiped, or the center of attention at all times. People just want to be accepted for who they are, not forced to change to suit society’s whims and expectations. In fact, I bet you already do understand that.

I don’t want you to understand my mind, just be content with that fact that you never will. I truly don’t want you to feel any of this for yourself. So just talk with me. Support me, if you can. Be there for me when I need you, and hell, even when I don’t need you to. I will do my best to be there for you. Protect me from my own mind, because ironically enough, that’s what I’m most afraid of.

I hope you find happiness to the best of your ability, and I hope that you wish the same for me. I hope you’re able to remember that you aren’t alone, you have people here for you, whether you realize it or not. I hope you understand that there are others who understand. I hope you understand that there are others who feel the same things you do, in good moments and in bad.

I hope you know that people care about you, and what happens to you, and your happiness. I hope you never forget that.

I hope you stay strong, regardless of what your own mind says to you, because you can overcome it.

  • Ryan

Anxiety over everything

Anxiety takes what good there is in life and overrules it. It is a breath never released, a clenching feeling in the deepest pits of your stomach. It takes a match and lights fire to your insides, a raging fire that, when quenched, will leave nothing but ash and the memory of what tortured you so.

Anxiety is the buckle in your knees at any given moment, the rug that threatens to be swept out from underneath your feet. The unlocked front door, your safe that should be locked, swung open for all to take as they please. All that you value, all that you love, out in the open, vulnerable. The butterflies in your stomach, the shivers down your spine, the cat who has your tongue.

Anxiety is the splinter in your finger, a source of pain that so many say is easy to remove, but the tweezers are nowhere to be found. Anxiety is a fire fed by fuel, all we need to do is stop feeding it to stop it. But that fuel is fear and desperation, that which we have in abundance, and into the fire it goes.

Anxiety is the bully at school we avoid – if we don’t acknowledge him, he can’t hurt us. But others see our so-called cowardice, instead of facing our fears, we run from them. Other people have fears too, we’re told. Ours aren’t any worse than theirs, we’re told. Shame on us for worrying about these mundane things, we’re told. More fuel for the fire.
Anxiety is the ghost of the dark room, the unknown spirit that could lurk around the next corner. Anxiety’s favorite words. Could. Might. Possibly. Probably. Definitely. It’s almost always definitely.

Anxiety is the worst outcome of any possible situation; whatever parallel universe exists to bring us the most pain and despair. It is the pickpocket of your happiness, your contentment, threatening to strike even as you walk through wonderland.

Anxiety has no method to its madness – it runs rampant through our consciousness, no end goal in mind, but causing destruction nonetheless. It is a boulder rolling down a hill – no set path, but crushing whatever lies in front of it.

Anxiety wants us to hate ourselves for existing. It wants us to feel like we shouldn’t exist. But we do exist, and for that reason, we’re already one step ahead of it.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

 

 

Yes, your emotions matter

Whether we like it or not, emotions are very clearly an integral part of our lives as human beings. I say it like that because I’m certain there are some individuals out there who are convinced our existence would be easier if we were all emotionless, unfeeling blobs. I suppose, on my crappiest of crap days, I can sort of see where these people are coming from. But emotion is a two-sided coin. If there’s sadness, there is also happiness. If there’s anger, there’s also serenity. The darkest shadows wouldn’t exist if light didn’t shine. I sound like I’m reciting the Jedi Code from Star Wars, but I digress…

My vote is in favor of emotions, and I’m willing to bet most people feel the same, most of the time. How we feel is directly linked, obviously, to what happens to us, around us, and from us. Very rarely can we control what happens to us, but with discipline we can control how we react to it. It’s called mindfulness. I’ve mentioned it briefly in a prior post, as it seems to be a growing practice among many who suffer from depression and/or anxiety. In short, mindfulness is putting our emotions aside during our initial reaction to a situation, and viewing that situation from a purely logical standpoint. Mindfulness does not ask us to become those aforementioned unfeeling drones, but instead to only take our emotions into initial consideration of a situation when absolutely necessary (which it rarely is). By avoiding passionate emotions such as anger, jealousy, and rage when reacting to a situation, we save ourselves the trouble of jumping to conclusions or doing things we later regret. After we’ve given ourselves time to view that situation from an unclouded mind, only then do we let our emotions run through us. It takes constant practice and dedication, but a mindful view of the world has done wonders for people.

Mindfulness teaches us to acknowledge our emotions, just not when initially reacting to a situation. The emotions are still there, though. They’re real. They mean something. With that in mind, I think about a little reverse psychology trick depression loves to play on people – telling us that our emotions don’t mean something.

The word itself, depression, recalls all sorts of terrible emotions: sadness, hurt, guilt…the list goes on. Depression is an expert at bringing these feelings into the forefront of our minds and letting them rule out any positive emotion that tries to come in. Here’s the irony – sometimes that same illness will try to tell us that those emotions we’re feeling, the ones it invited to the party in the first place, are wrong. Invalid. Undeserving of our attention.

Cunning depression tells us there are those out there who have it much, much worse than you.

 

“I barely have enough money to make rent this month…”

“So? There are parents with families who can’t even afford meals each night.”

 

“I feel like absolute crap, but my boss says I have to come into work today anyway…”

“So? There are people with illnesses so terminal they have only months to live.”

 

“I want to hang out with my friends, but I have more important obligations…”

“Ha! Don’t even get me started!”

 

It’s like…your boss at work telling you to do something. You do what they ask to the letter, but then they get mad at you for it afterwards. “I did everything you wanted, depression! I let these negative emotions lord themselves over me, and now you say ‘shame on you for feeling those things.’” What even…?

It may seem that through this, depression is convincing us to be thankful for our blessings instead of our inconveniences. Indirectly, maybe. But what it’s really trying to accomplish is make your head go in circles; telling you that your emotions aren’t valid, so you feel even crappier that you felt that way in the first place, and the cycle starts anew. It’s the job of a depression-addled mind to make you feel hopeless. It rubs salt in the wound – not only do you not deserve to feel happy, but you aren’t even worth it to feel sad, or angry, or livid.

Like most of the things depression tells us, this isn’t true. Through mindfulness, we can put our emotions aside, but there is not one person on this planet who can “turn off” their emotions permanently. Again, whether we want them to exist or not, emotions are there. To deny their existence or validity only does harm to us. Your emotions matter.

I watched a YouTube video yesterday of someone talking about mental illnesses and the stigma surrounding them. So many people who are uninformed about what someone with a mental illness goes through say that we shouldn’t pay attention to our emotions. “If your depression makes you sad, just push the sadness away! You aren’t actually sad, it’s just your depression telling you that!” No. No. NO. You ARE sad. You’re upset, you’re ecstatic, you’re giddy, you’re guilt-ridden. Any emotion you feel is real, no matter if it’s brought on by a mental illness. In that YouTube video, the girl used the word “valid” a lot, and I think that’s a fantastic way to put it. Even mindfulness, the very technique that teaches us to put aside our emotions, doesn’t deny that they’re real. You have every right to feel the way you feel, at any given moment.

I feel like this post is quite scattered, so I apologize for that. The video I watched yesterday made me think about it all last night and early today, so I figured I’d put my thoughts to (digital) paper and make sense of this myself. Regardless, I stand firm on what I said. Even in the moments where we may not want them to be, emotions are real.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan