My Desire to Be Well-informed Is Losing

My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.

What part of this year’s election isn’t terrifying? No, don’t answer that. No matter what you say, which side you’re on, it’ll leave me wanting to curl up in the corner and cry. That’s what happens my desire to be well-informed gets the better of me. Every political update makes me feel helpless and hopeless. Add in current events around the world, and I want to build a bomb shelter. And never leave it.


Afraid of Trying: Do Emotional Issues Ever Die?

Imagine that those feet belong to someone who’s never used a skateboard. That’s the feeling.

You might’ve gotten a hint that I have some issues (Why else would someone be afraid of trying?). It’s been a few years since the worst ones started, and I thought I’d gotten a lot better about dealing with them. Fate must’ve laughed pretty hard when I thought that.  Now, I’m wondering if emotional issues ever die or if they just go into hiding until you run into another situation that brings them up.

My main issues are depression and anxiety, and both are firmly tied to a lack of self-confidence and self-worth (see “They Call Them the Depths of Despair for a Reason” for more details). That’s what caused the fear of trying – a few years ago, I believed, no, I knew, that I would fail. That there was no other option. That no matter how hard I worked or what I tried, there was no possible way to succeed. Add that to a need for people’s approval, and you have a recipe for a hideous mix of depression and anxiety.

Over the past few years, I’ve worked on rebuilding my confidence and trying to develop some self-worth. I thought I was doing pretty well. I thought I was getting stronger and confident enough to deal with, well, life. Notice the past tense. After this week, I have to face the fact that either I was wrong, or I still have a long way to go. Or both.

This week, I found myself facing change. New challenges. New responsibility. New possibilities. And are they bad things? No. They’re probably very, very good things. Things that I’ve wanted for a long time. Things that I still want. Things that would be wonderful and amazing if I could make them real. And even the idea of trying to make them happen gives me enough panic that I can’t sleep at night.

Because I’m still afraid of trying. Like all the things I’ve tried over the past few years didn’t count. I can try new things in very specific areas – new angles on things I’ve already tried. But new stuff? Trying things in other areas? Oh, no. No. That’s no good. Run away, my insides say. Get out now.

That’s when I realized that I’ve carefully formed a bubble around myself. I have layered myself in a comfort zone that gave me a sense of security and false confidence. Within those parameters, I can be confident. I can have worth. But outside of that? Outside of that, I’m not sure if anything has changed. Even thinking about trying something outside of those bounds makes my stomach knot and my chest feel shaky.

Somewhere, somehow, my subconscious has labeled the inside of that bubble safe, and the outside as dangerous. As risky. And risks are scary, especially if they’re risks that rely on me. And all these changes I’m facing rely on me. I have to make them succeed. No one else can. And because I don’t believe that I can, because it is easier to believe that I can’t, I find excuses not to try. I put it off and put it off because then I can tell myself that I’ll do it someday, that the timing’s wrong.

Hurrah for new insights to my problem, but how does this help? Knowing that I’m afraid to try these things doesn’t help me overcome the anxiety. I can throw logic and deep breathing at the anxiety all night – it still doesn’t lower enough for me to sleep. Running numbers, showing evidence that, yes, I can do these new things, that I can make them successful doesn’t lower the conviction that, no, no, I can’t.

All I can do is hope that if I force myself to do it, force myself to try, and I succeed – despite the panic and the anxiety and the doubts – then, maybe, maybe, the anxiety will fade. Maybe, the panic will stop. Maybe, the bubble will grow. And just maybe, the next time I find myself facing a change, I will be less afraid of trying.

Wish me luck.

Watching TV Shows Makes Me Jealous Of The Characters

Call me shallow but I get jealous when I watch tv shows. Seriously. I get jealous of the characters that someone invented for a show. Pretty pathetic, right? I’ve been binge-watching a couple series lately, and I’m really jealous of some of the characters.

Well, not in Orange Is the New Black. But other series. Like Bones.

From the pilot episode on, Temperance Brennan’s life is pretty enviable. She’s super smart. She’s majorly successful in multiple careers. She’s highly respected. She’s got good friends. She’s got a great apartment, nice clothes, cool jewelry, and a sweet ride. She can kick ass (literally). Guys think she’s hot. And she has sex with hot guys. Later on, she’s also got a hot husband who adores her. And kids. Bad guys, danger, social awkwardness, and occasional appearances by a semi-crappy family aside, she’s got a pretty sweet life.

The closest I come is in the house, clothes, and jewelry departments. And that’s not very close. It’s kind of depressing.

I’m not saying I want all of it. That would be greedy. And while I can be greedy, my self-esteem is way too low to think that I can have all of that. I can’t even imagine having a life where I succeed so well in so many areas. Of course, I have a hard time picturing anyone blowing life out of the water that well. But it’s really hard to imagine when it’s me.

So I don’t want all of it. I only want a little slice. The sex with hot guys, for instance (I want a Ferrari). Or even 1 guy that I consider hot.

I mean, I like being single. Honestly. But sometimes I miss having someone to talk to or to hold on to. Especially when a tv show makes it look better than delicious, calorie-free ice cream and a million bucks. I’m also jealous of her success. I’ll never be the top of any career. I’m not sure I’d like to be. When I see how nice they make it seem on tv, however, it’s hard to believe that I really don’t want it.

And that’s the problem. They make all these things seem so awesome that it makes me want them. And a lot of the time I don’t actually want them. How confusing is that? And how psychologically trippy is it that watching tv shows can manipulate my emotions enough to make me feel like I do? That’s, well, that’s just plain terrifying.

I don’t want my television to tell me what to do. And the fact that I wrote that makes me feel both paranoid and crazy. But I don’t. I don’t like having my emotions manipulated so that I feel jealous of things I don’t even really want to have. Who are they to tell me what I want? And how much of my life has been shaped by that manipulation?

It’s like being suckered in by a sale. You get a coupon with a great deal in the mail. So you have to go to the store. When you get there, you find a few things that are ok. You kinda like them. And it’s a really good deal. So you spend $40 on something that’s worth $100 just to get $60 off.

That’s what watching tv shows is doing to me. They angle things so that they seem like they’re such a good deal or such a great situation that I feel jealous of the characters on the show. And half the time, it’s all show. I don’t really want that. And I don’t know whether to be annoyed or scared.

A Nursing Professor Tells A Student That Her Self-Harm Scars Are Inappropriate

There is a very interesting blog, The Mighty, that focuses on serious issues like mental illness, rare illnesses, autism, etc. One article, “When My Nursing Professor Told Me My Self-Harm Scars Were ‘Inappropriate‘” by Kathleen O’Brien, describes an incident that happened to her in nursing school. To summarize, a nursing professor noticed the 19-year-old student’s self-harm scars in class one day, called a meeting with the student later, and told the student that the scars are inappropriate and should be covered in front of patients.

You know, I think if I were teaching and saw that a student was cutting, my first concern would be to check on the student’s mental well-being. This so-called teacher didn’t even ask the student about her well-being. Not once. Instead, she told the student to hide the scars as if they were somehow shameful.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how that would make the student feel. But just in case you’re wondering, this is what she said about it.

“I was shocked, hurt, sad and confused. I left her office in tears.”

To add insult to injury, when the student asked a friend what she thought, the friend supported the professor.

“I wouldn’t trust you to be my nurse. I would walk out of the office if I saw your scars. You are not mentally competent enough to be a nurse.”

What a thing to say to a friend who struggles with depression and several anxiety disorders. Even if that’s what you believe, saying something like that so bluntly and ruthlessly is pretty cold.

I’m still struggling to process this story. I know I don’t think like a lot of people. But how would self-harm in any way make her unqualified to be a nurse? It’s not like she’s going to hurt her patient (unless the patient is herself). Cutting is an unhealthy way that people deal with interior pain or stress. Overcoming that shows that someone has learned to deal with their problems in healthier ways. I would think that both the strength and the healthier habits could be useful as a nurse.

And sometimes patients feel safer or more comfortable if they feel their caretakers really understand what they’re going through. Saying it would make patients doubt her competency is like saying that people’s skin color or sex would make patients doubt the nurses’ abilities. It’s true because people have prejudices against both, but it’s not a concern that should be catered to.

And it’s not like they aren’t going to have nurses who suffer from depression or anxiety. Or do you now have to pass a psych eval to get hired as a nurse?

On the other hand, I automatically question stories told from only 1 perspective. Is the professor reacting from experience? Has she seen patients become disturbed after seeing a nurse’s scars? And what about the friend? Is she thinking of more than the scars? Is there something in the student’s behavior that makes her seem like an unreliable caretaker? I don’t know. The student probably doesn’t know.

And having those perspectives be true doesn’t make hers false.

Because even if those other perspectives are true, they didn’t show any empathy, forethought, or even simple kindness. As far as the friend is concerned, I know that many people who don’t have anxiety or depression have trouble understanding it or knowing how to support people who have it. That isn’t helping me stifle the gut reaction that she’s not much of a friend. There’s honesty, and then there’s cruelty. At the very least, she owes her friend an apology for her delivery.

And teachers who have that little concern for their students’ health make me angry. For her to completely ignore the topic of whether the student is coping and getting treatment is extremely cold and irresponsible, especially when the teacher’s actions are likely to make any problems worse. And especially for a nurse who knows what the scars are and should be aware that that would probably be the result.

IMHO, that teacher is probably very lucky that the student didn’t complain to someone. It’s pretty hard for a university to publicly endorse professors insulting students’ self-harm scars. And if the school would have supported the professor’s actions, if that’s a common attitude in the medical field, that student has a long road ahead of her.

I think that’s what I’m circling around the most. She talked to 2 people and got the same response. So is it a common attitude, or was that an anomally? Would the school support the professor and say the scars are inappropriate? And would patients really be afraid to have a nurse with self-harm scars?

Posting A Face For Revenge: The Observer Missed The Point

Assuming that this article from The Observer is true (I didn’t check. Sue me.), the same guy is listed as a victim in multiple terrorist attacks or tragedies (Paris, Istanbul, Orlando, etc.). Sometimes they even used the same photo when they listed him as one of the dead or missing.

When people noticed the repeated photo and began to wonder how the same man could have died so many times and in so many different places, they decided to look into it. They found out that the people who originally posted his photo on social media and said that he was a victim of various tragic events used to be his friends before he stole a lot of money from them. Now, besides suing him, they decided to get revenge on him by posting his picture all over the internet and ruining his reputation.

Yes, you heard that right. They’re posting their former-friend’s pictures on the internet as victims of tragedies to get revenge on him for stealing their money.

What does the rest of The Observer article discuss? The legalities of the situation. Is it legal to post someone’s photo online for revenge? What possible litigation could the first person to post it face in different countries?

To me, those are interesting side notes, but they’re not the main issues/lessons to be learned from the situation. The issues I see are

  1. Internet Lies
  2. No Take-backs
  3. Respect

The internet lies. Ok, the internet isn’t sentient (we hope). It’s the people who lie. They lie by posting things out of context. They lie by stealing someone else’s work and posting it as their own. They lie by posting things that they know aren’t true to mess with people, to make them think a certain way, to get revenge, or just because they can.

So many people don’t even question whether something they read on the internet is true or not. They read it and send it on as if it were gospel. And all that does is spread the lies. Even if The Observer article was a total lie, it would still show very clearly that you cannot trust everything you read on the internet.

I’m not naive enough to think that most people are going to pick up on that lesson and change their ways, but the more the message is put out there, the better chance there is that some people will.

And that links right to the no take-backs issue. Once you post something on the internet and people start sharing it, you have no control over what happens to it after that. It could become part of someone’s lie. It could be used to promote something that you hate. It could become viral, turning a private joke into an internet-wide sensation.

All other repercussions aside, that means that if you post something for revenge and then change your mind, it may be too late. You might want to google all the people who’ve lost their jobs over stupid twitter posts before you decide to make an impulse post on a public forum.

As for the last topic, that’s the one that I’m really surprised that they didn’t address. I can see skipping the others. They’re pretty generic. As important as I think they are, you could link them with most article topics. So maybe they’ve beaten those dead horses enough, and I just don’t know it. But I don’t see how they skipped the topic of respect in this article.

Those people put photos of a living man on lists of the dead to get revenge. Lists of the victims. Those lists are to honor the dead. In the case of ongoing searches, they are to help identify remains and find people again. They are not there to be part of your sick joke because someone owes you money. If you want to ruin someone’s reputation, if you want to get revenge on someone, you don’t disrespect the dead and their grieving families to do it.

You don’t troll murder victims and their families. Not if you have any respect for the dead. But if that article is true, then that’s exactly what those people did. They showed zero respect and even less empathy for the people involved in those tragedies, and I cannot believe that The Observer didn’t even touch on that aspect of the situation. They missed the biggest point of the situation. Or do you really think nitpicky legalities are more important than human decency?

Happiness is… — scatteredimpressions

So many quotes about happiness are totally useless when it comes to dealing with problems. Or even harmful (“happiness is a choice” AKA “your depression is your own fault, so decide not to be depressed anymore.”).

Now this, on the other hand, this is an idea about happiness that’s worth sharing.

via Happiness is… — scatteredimpressions

After all, part of the problem with some common varieties of unhappiness/depression is the idea that in order to be happy, we have to solve every problem in our life. That our lives have to be perfect. And that kind of mentality is half (or more) of what causes us to be unhappy in the first place. How can you allow yourself to be happy if you think that you’re failing at the things that are supposed to make you happy?

And if you think translating that sentence is hard, try untangling the strange twists and turns of your own psyche. It’s a pretty close match.

What makes this quote even better is the word ability. It’s not a talent. It’s not something you have to be born with. It’s something you can learn. That doesn’t make it easy. That doesn’t make it an on/off switch (like a decision or a choice). What it does is make being happy seem more possible. And that makes learning to deal with problems more worthwhile.

And, yeah, that’s a lot to read into 14 words. I’m probably thinking too much about it. As usual. But, hey, it’s still a good quote. And if it helps any of you, that makes it an even better quote.

A Cat Video: For When You Need A Little Giggle

I know, I know. Cat videos are everywhere. they’re overwhelming the internet. We’re so sick of them. But… there’s something about watching a cat do something stupid/embarrassing and not get hurt that is simply awesome when you need a good laugh.

Here’s a good one. You know, in case you needed a laugh today. Or a little giggle. Whatever.