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Acting opposite is a "coping" skill I have been using since before I ever started any kind of therapy. It's challenging but I manage to act opposite well enough to maintain appearances to the majority of the outside world that I'm well. 

But so, I don't trust myself. When is it okay to act in line with what I'm feeling and when is it indulging my depression? How do I know what feelings are real and what feelings are depression? Surely non-depressed people get overwhelmed with stuff and retreat sometimes? Surely securely attached people call someone when they're upset and it's not being needy?

I need a flow chart for life.

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I'm also struggling a lot lately with trying to tell what emotions are mental illness related and which ones are standard operating ones. I have exams coming up and am having such a difficult time figuring out how much stress is normal and how much is anxiety. My pdoc appointments are a lot of me saying all the things i feel, and him saying "that's expected" or "that's anxiety". I'm trying to battle down everything I think. I feel like if I wallow for two seconds I'll lose it.

The thing that pdoc keeps telling me is that non-depressed people can relate (though often on a lighter level) to a lot of things we experience. They do sometimes get overwhelmed, or need extra support from others, or retreat for a while. Like they say, everyone experiences depression, but it's when it interferes with your life that it becomes mental illness. I'm sure you've been told that before, but what I'm saying is, you don't need to be so hard on yourself for feeling or wanting certain things. People understand.

I think it's okay to show people you're not doing well. Not that I'm very good at that, but people claim it can be liberating in small ways, or at least easier on you. Maintaining an opposite front takes a lot of emotional effort. I commend you for being able to keep it up in public.

Sorry I can't be more helpful. But I relate to what you're saying, and I hope one day it doesn't have to be an act to show others that you're well. Sending good vibes your way.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, I think the "Opposite Action" thing is not about denying your feelings, shutting down and being "fake" or inauthentic. Or hiding all of your feelings around other people.

The idea is, if you are indulging in anxious or depressive behavior patterns (like isolating for days, sleeping way to much, not eating or socializing, avoiding everything) The idea is to (after a moment of giving yourself a break, psych yourself up, to collect your strength) do the Opposite Action. For depression, it may be forcing yourself to go outside for a walk, forcing yourself to get up at a decent time, making a checklist and being proactive) It does not "Feel good" Safe, or normal, because giving in to depression and anxiety is easier, it feels GOOD, but we get STUCK there and it becomes an automatic dysfunctional coping mechanism. This feedback loop then continues.

I think what @echolocation says is true - "normal" people all experience various states of disappointment, anxiety, fear, sadness, etc. It is often justified (when you fail an exam, a pet dies, you have an argument with friend), The difference is, they are able to bounce back and healthy coping mechanisms that often come automatic to them. For those of us struggling with mental illness, we must actively try to enforce healthy coping mechanisms, monitor our negative thoughts and behavior patterns more closely to prevent a huge downward slide into a serious episode. I think we are also "wired" differently, more sensitively...for example, normal people get anxious for an exam, or speaking in public, but for someone with MI, we are highly triggered and it takes alot of work to come back to baseline/normal level of emotion and realistic thoughts. We react more sensitively and we are affected more profoundly.

Most importantly, try to ease the pressure from yourself. Self-care means slowing down, going easy on yourself, admitting it's ok not to be perfect, its OK to cry a bit and retreat (with a time limit) Don't get stuck there into a habitual pattern. We need to keep moving.

Edited by Blahblah
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Posted (edited)

@Geek

 

I think the others have a lot of good good good wisdom. 

I too think the key is to take a break yes, but to keep moving. We do need to keep moving. Otherwise we get stuck, and in a bad spot too. Which isn't healthy. 

I think it can be a fine line between indulging the depression too much and taking a mental health break for a while. But I do think the key is to keep persisting. To keep moving. Time limits on the break.

And FWIW I don't think you are a needy person geek. I think depression is lying to you. If anything, I think you don't reach out enough maybe! Or maybe it's about right. But either way I don't think you appear needy at all from anything you have shared here. 

Edited by Wonderful.Cheese
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On 4/9/2018 at 10:27 PM, echolocation said:

I'm also struggling a lot lately with trying to tell what emotions are mental illness related and which ones are standard operating ones. I have exams coming up and am having such a difficult time figuring out how much stress is normal and how much is anxiety. My pdoc appointments are a lot of me saying all the things i feel, and him saying "that's expected" or "that's anxiety".

I feel like there should be an app for that... you know, to help all of us out. :) 

 

On 4/10/2018 at 7:01 AM, Blahblah said:

Yeah, I think the "Opposite Action" thing is not about denying your feelings, shutting down and being "fake" or inauthentic. Or hiding all of your feelings around other people.

You're right, Blahblah, that's what I'm really doing isn't it. I hadn't thought about it that way. I wonder how to do the skill without denying/hiding/shutting down my feelings. It's hard to imagine. I guess that's my black and white/all or nothing thinking. My tdoc would say it's about greys. Intellectually I get that. I just don't know how to see the grey. 

 

On 4/10/2018 at 10:29 AM, Wonderful.Cheese said:

I think it can be a fine line between indulging the depression too much and taking a mental health break for a while. But I do think the key is to keep persisting. To keep moving. Time limits on the break.

And FWIW I don't think you are a needy person geek. I think depression is lying to you. If anything, I think you don't reach out enough maybe! Or maybe it's about right. But either way I don't think you appear needy at all from anything you have shared here. 

Ahh, that fine line. It's grey. I suck at greys. :( 

It makes me wonder, sometimes, if the ways that I'm broken are why I am good at engineering (which is all about black and white thinking), or if I would be a good engineer even without all the MI and broken thought process crap. Seems like a chicken/egg problem, you know?

I appreciate you, Cheese. I feel needy often. Sometimes I can intellectually understand that I do not act needy and that, as you say, I am in fact not reaching out enough. If I even think about reaching out, though, the anxiety and depression take over. :unsure: 

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