Vader’s Team

A while ago, I read a book called “Learned Optimism.”  It was recommended to me by my psychologist, primarily for my husband (as I had recently introduced her to his tendencies towards occasional voracious negativity) but also for me.  But why? I asked myself.  I am the eternal optimist.  Always have been.  I am the “silver lining,” “everything for a reason,” “look on the bright side” kind of person.  I have been engaging in CBT to try to modify some of my core beliefs because “people should be happy all the time” is not really realistic as a life goal.

Turns out, when defined psychologically, I am a terrible pessimist.  I put my husband to shame.  In the “normal world,” though, optimism is pretty strongly linked with trying to be positive about things.  In psych terms, the perfect optimist sees everything as temporary, limited in scope, and not their fault.

Everything is my fault.

Restaurant got my order wrong?  Husband seems grumpy?  Mom’s feeling guilty?  Coworker snaps at me?  Awkward silence?  Given inappropriate medication?  Not past the depression yet?  Must be me, at least partly.  I am vividly aware that I am at least partially responsible for almost all of the bad things around me.

Global warming?  I’m pretty sure I had a hand in that.

I recognize clearly that other people or circumstances may have a hand in these as well, but that isn’t where my focus goes.  I am immediately reflecting on what I could have done differently or better to prevent whatever it is that was undesirable.  Even now that I’m aware of it and sometimes try to deliberately think about another person’s role in things, my mind is constantly interrupting with the “yeahbut.”  Yeah, but if I had been articulating more clearly I’m sure they would have heard me correctly.  Yeah, but if I had said the right things at our appointment, then I’m sure he would have known what to prescribe.

And as much as I hate to admit it, and can see rationally that it’s just not true, at my heart I do have a hard time recognizing that unpleasant situations are just a transient blip on my emotional radar and not the signal that something permanent and dire is going on.

I am feeling generally tired today.  The last few have actually been pretty good for that.  I’ve had a pretty predictable “high” around two hours after I take my morning Ritalin.  I had tentative visions in my head of what I would do with that high today.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And it never came.  First instinct?  THE RITALIN IS NOT WORKING.  There is no particular panic to the statement, just an intense dawning realization.  I was mistaken.  I thought it was helping, but it must have been some other set of circumstances that was making it seem like it was.  Maybe just the timing of my morning coffee (which I can drink again now that the Prozac and its coffee-hangovers are gone!).  The Ritalin does nothing for me.

See, this is the way it almost always works for me.  Unless I focus really, really hard on it (and even sometimes then), my mind immediately decides that I’ve been mistaken in my perceptions of all good things previous, and that this one piece of negative information is what’s real.   Twenty pieces of evidence that I’m doing well and then one that I’m not?  I’m not.  Hours of great conversation with someone and then a stray comment that leaves me feeling misunderstood?  Maybe I can’t really trust them.  Maybe they don’t really get me at all.  Fifty pieces of really positive feedback in a job evaluation and one thing needing improvement will send me scurrying out of the room to work my ass off.

So today, maybe Ritalin is useless.  Sigh.

I will point out that I just finished editing a big list of tips on weathering antidepressant withdrawal symptoms in which I mention the importance of keeping one’s blood sugar stable.  And that I’ve eaten barely anything today.  Except milk.  Which my husband keeps telling me doesn’t count as a meal.

What does he know anyway?

(…besides geography.)

(which helps a lot when we play as a team in Trivial Pursuit)

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7 Responses to “Vader’s Team”

  1. Dfunk says:

    Oh my god – these words you spoke, this is me.

    “Twenty pieces of evidence that I’m doing well and then one that I’m not? I’m not. Hours of great conversation with someone and then a stray comment that leaves me feeling misunderstood? Maybe I can’t really trust them. Maybe they don’t really get me at all. Fifty pieces of really positive feedback in a job evaluation and one thing needing improvement will send me scurrying out of the room to work my ass off.”

    Why do we do that? Concentrate on the bad? I can be having a great week and then one slightly off comment from someone and I am in a huge funk. Other people don’t seem to get like that. How do we brush shit off our shoulder? I always sit and toil and over analyze everything.

    I went off my anti-depressants this week as an experiment – I’ll keep you posted. Instead of ritalin maybe you should ask them for time release adderall.

  2. Curiosity says:

    I’m right there with you in the “off comment” funk, and have no idea how to really get around that. Recognizing that it makes no sense doesn’t seem to help me feel any better about it (just sometimes a little worse because someone made a slightly off comment AND I make no sense).

    Good luck with the non-antidepressant trial, and definitely let me know how it goes. I may change my mind, but I think that I may stay medication-free for a little while once I get myself fully off the Luvox too. I’m feeling generally fed up with the parade of meds making things so much harder, and I honestly can’t even really remember what I’m like when I’m not taking them anymore. I’d like to try getting off of my birth control pills too, as I’m pretty sure the extra hormones aren’t helping anything, and I won’t be able to clearly tell what kind of difference that makes if I’m starting another antidepressant at the same time. We’ll see.

  3. spokeit says:

    The earthquake in Haiti? Probably my fault. I’m right there with you, and I know it can be so hard sometimes.

    Also, maybe I haven’t read back far enough yet, but you take (or are trying to stop taking) Luvox?? Because that’s what I’m taking…and I’m not sure it’s doing anything anymore…

  4. Curiosity says:

    We’ll have to arm wrestle over who gets to take the blame for Haiti.

    Luvox is the most recent that I’ve been on (I think it’s probably a bad sign that my psychiatrist just shrugs now and says “I dunno. What do you want to take?”). I’ve been taking it since…the very end of December, I think? Didn’t do anything noticeably positive for me, so we figured we’d move on to the next possibility. How long have you been taking it? I’ve been hearing a lot of stories lately from people whose antidepressant has slowly just stopped working. I’ve been stressed out enough just trying to find one that works in the first place!

  5. spokeit says:

    Well I took Zoloft for like 8 years when they thought my only problem was depression and anxiety…but that stopped working. So they reevaluated and put me on Klonopin which made me a complete zombie. I’ve been on Luvox for 4 years for OCD/anxiety and it works most days…but I think sometimes I expect it to completely erase my anxiety and when it doesn’t (because it’s not technically supposed to) I get disappointed.

  6. susan says:

    Had a great afternoon with friends? I will be the one fixating hours later over whether or not anyone noticed that I forgot to offer a second cup of coffee.

    It freaks me out a little when you put my mind goo into words like that. In a semi-comforting “maybe I’m not a complete oddity” kind of way, of course, but still. Freaky.

  7. Curiosity says:

    @spokeit – Your last sentence there is just about exactly what I was feeling with the Ritalin when I made this post, except substitute “depression” for “anxiety.” Why do I do this to myself?

    @susan – I am honored to share your mind goo (though if you ever figure out how to sponge the damn stuff up, send me a note, okay?). If we find enough of us, are we allowed to change the definition of oddity to people who don’t think like this? …Or at least, agonize over the details of how to word the definition so as not to offend anyone involved?

    I’m starting to get the sense that many of the ways in which I feel uniquely twisted are not so unique after all. …Which is both a good and comforting thing, and an oddly difficult thing for my psyche to handle.

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