a reply to: Dark Ghost
Thank you again for taking the time to reply. I acknowledge and respect that sharing your own personal experience is difficult to do and that there
can be personal consequences for doing so.
I believe that meaningful discussion can only be attained when the relationship between the individuals interacting is one of equality. In that
spirit, i think it is only reasonable to share some of my own experiences. Please understand that I am not comparing my situation to yours, nor am i
assuming that I know what is right for you or that what you personally think or feel is 'wrong' or that my opinion or perspective is 'right'.
Also, I'll warn you, some of these ideas are pretty heavy and i don't recommend you read through my post if you're a sensitive person as it may
trigger unwanted feelings in you that you really don't need to be dealing with at this time.
With that being said:
From as early as i can remember i struggled greatly with feelings of depression, cynicism, hopelessness and low self-worth. I have always had a strong
social conscience and I clearly remember feeling immense sadness, frustration and despair at the injustices of the world, even as young as perhaps
four or five. I remember crying uncontrollably when i saw a homeless man in the streets when i was about 5 years old and feeling that this was deeply
unjust and incredibly distressing to me. I have felt, at times, cursed with empathy. I feel the wrongs of the world acutely and have suffered a great
deal throughout my life as a result.
I remember thinking, at around the same age, that life was completely pointless, that the notion of society and all that we have built is simply bells
and whistles, designed to distract us from the inevitably of our own death. That life was futile, existence shallow and society an irredeemable
As I grew up my feelings only deepened and became more entrenched. I had, for many years, an incredibly bleak view of the world, of others and of
myself. This led to substance misuse and suicidal thoughts, as well as harming myself on occasion. There were several occasions that I stood on the
edge of a bridge at 3am when there was nobody around, or sat alone in my house after many drinks, with fistsful of tablets, an internal conflict
raging between my instinct to survive and my desire to be free from the constant suffering my mind was causing.
I took antidepressants for a while but they either made me incredibly high (to the point of noticeably erratic behaviour) or emotionally (and
physically, i experienced some sexual dysfunction) numb.
The turning point for me came when I had a period of about 3 years where my life fell apart completely. My partner left me with a 5 year old child, a
mortgage to pay, thousands of pounds worth of debts that i couldn't pay. My house was in total disrepair, we had no hot water or heating for over a
year and a half, i couldn't afford to feed myself and my son so i stopped eating much, i was walking around with holes in my shoes and soaking wet
feet because i couldn't afford a new pair. I had a relationship in that time with someone that failed horrendously because I was such a mess myself.
there were many things that happened in that time that i don't have the space to get into here. Basically, I hit rock bottom to be honest.
Then i stumbled across a video that someone had shared here on a thread on ATS (strangely enough). This was years ago and well before I even thought
It was a video by Alan Watt's. Something to do with the way we distinguish between time working and time playing. He said something that really
resonated with me and It set me on a very long path of self reflection and re-evaluation of everything i thought, believed and felt about myself and
the world. I listened to many of his lectures, explored lots of topics; buddhism, hinduism, zen and many many more. I began to explore philosophy,
spirituality and perception. I began to connect this with my studies and experience in mental health, psychology, psychiatry and the various therapies
i have learned about over the years.
I resolved to rebuild myself from the ground up. To totally reinvent myself and to take responsibility and control over shaping my own world. Along
the way i had MANY personal epiphanies and revelations and, by increments, my world view changed dramatically. Many small steps that led to BIG
Six years later and, whilst i still struggle from time to time and my efforts are ongoing, i have switched my perspective completely. Things that
caused me great suffering are now some of my greatest strengths. You say it is impossible to maintain a singular perspective when all around you
changes but, for me at least, that is not true. It's why i talked about FUNDAMENTAL views and beliefs.
My fundamental experience is that my happiness, peace and contentment exists within me and is not reliant on external sources. Therefore, any external
circumstance has no power to steal my happiness and contentment. That's not to say i never feel sad or angry or hurt when bad things happen, only that
i have learned to accept that I feel that way, that it will pass and that it does not fundamentally effect who i REALLY am deep down.
And I would also say; you are 100% in control of your internal narrative IF you are mindful, alert and resolve to be. That is actually the hardest
part as your brain is a sneaky bastard and has a million tricks up it's sleeve. But with patience, perseverance and determination it can be made to
work for you, instead of against you.
I say all this, not to blow my own trumpet or to imply that i have all the answers, but because i wanted to let you know that i understand to some
extent what you are going through (though the details may be very different, there is likely some similarities in your general experiences).
It's important that i clarify something also; I am not judging ANYONE and i would NEVER suggest what someone OUGHT to do. My job is not to suggest or
offer advice, it is not to tell people how to think or feel or what they should be working on. My job is to be a mirror, to help people to make sense
of their own situation, to support and to guide them to their own conclusions. Providing someone with 'an answer' is useless; there's no way of
knowing if that answer is right for them, they have nothing invested in that answer and therefore no motivation or ambition to follow through on it,
and they have no idea how that answer was arrived at because they haven't experienced the process that leads to that conclusion themselves.
Change comes from within, from experience and personal insight, it cannot be imposed.
I am not for a minute suggesting that changing ones perspective is easy, or that it's even the solution for anyone else. I'm just going on my own
experiences and observations of others that I have worked with. I don't claim any special knowledge or insight.
I hope you can see that this is just my point of view and that i'm not pretending to be better than anyone else or to have some kind of 'truth'. This
isn't really about me working in mental health either (though it has helped me personally to be better at my job). I'm just sharing my experience, one
person to another.
I sincerely wish you all the best for the future. You came this far so that shows you're strong. You have the tools, you have the strength. You can do