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asleep at mal 9/09
How not to talk to someone about their feelings... 
7/23/12 13:44
asleep at mal 9/09
So a friend of mine is quite ill, and struggling with major changes in lifestyle which suck for him. And someone posted a comment that he should stop whining and think positively and he'll get better.

Bullshit! It is never ever acceptable to tell someone how they should think, to belittle their thoughts as whining, to feel that your right to not seeing emotion x is more important than what the person you're talking to is actually expressing.

I wrote this comment in the thread, but it's important enough for me that I wanted to share it here too.

As someone who struggles with chronic fucked up body, I respectfully disagree with J's comment. Whine away if you want to. It's not positive or healthy to fake being happy or okay with changes when you're not. And it's even less okay to tell someone who is struggling that a if they'd just change their mindset they'd get better. You've got some tough going ahead, and you need to deal with it in your own way; I've been struggling with my broken for 3+ years now, and I'm still fucking angry a lot, depressed sometimes and coping as best I can. It's not easy, but I do what I have to do and moan, yell, cry about it online more than IRL - that let's me get whatever I'm feeling off my chest without being a total basket case when T comes home. But that's what works for me - do what works for you, and know we'll be here to support you no matter what.

For me, anger is the default response when things aren't right - so go figure I'm angry a lot. But I have gotten somewhat better adjusted - the everyday broken now elicits a minor fuck you body as opposed to the full on rage/I'm going to force you to do that thing (clean, work out, go to the store, whatever) anyway and then feel horrific later.

I'm still angry and frustrated because my abilities are so much less and my life feels suffocatingly small all too often. But there's nothing that will fix me, and less rage-y seems to give me more days in the I can do two things (instead of just one) range because I do zero when I need to rather than pushing myself beyond my limits.

I am and always will be a punk at heart, and this is how I work best - if it weren't for the anger I'm fairly certain I'd be really really depressed so I'll stick with the slow burn. I won't suggest you should try my method, but find what works for you and don't let anyone suggest a smile would make it better - even people who default to happy feel otherwise sometimes and that is as it should be.
7/24/12 1:35 (UTC)
This is going in tomorrow's Link Salad.

Me, I fucking hate the cult of optimism. Which is mostly about other people making themselves feel better about the fears that serious illness raises in everyone.
7/24/12 1:47 (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it, and hope it sparks thought and discussion if not here then elsewhere online, in real life or even on (bleh) facebook where it's also linked.
7/24/12 2:01 (UTC)
I so agree! I don't bitch often, but when I do it is because I really need to. I don't ask for much from anyone but when I ask, I don't want to be given some bullshit "be happy " crap, sorry I am on vacation answer.

I recently went thru a small breakdown, asked for help publicly and only got lip service, I was so disappointed in my family and friends that it made the situation worse. If you can't help, just shut the f@0k up! Sorry to use foul language, but I am so disappointed in family and friends on this subject.

I realize I am so independent that people think I don't need help, but damn it, what part of fibromyalgia, single mom of a toddler, working two jobs, isnt understandable? Sigh, I guess only some people get help when they ask.
7/24/12 2:22 (UTC)
Ugh. I'm sorry I wasn't there to help when you needed it. I hope things are less bad right now, and remember I'm happy to listen/talk but I don't usually notice things that aren't posted here.

Hugs and love from the (cold) left coast!
7/24/12 2:49 (UTC)
I'm ok now, it all became too much for a minute, but luckily some things happened and I was able to rally.

I took in Helen as a roommate, I don't expect much help from her with Ian, but at least another person is in the house so I can go to the store when he is asleep and not a bother to watch. I have an adult to talk to when before I wasnt seeing much of my friends due to being a Mom.It also brings in a bit more money when I am facing a 20 percent pay cut due to my airline being in bankruptcy.

I also broke with Ian's father as he was stressing me out too much. I still have to deal with him as Ian's father, but at least I don't have to be a girlfriend.

I know how much you go thru daily and you didn't need more on your plate to help me. I appreciate the offer of talk, but hate the telephone and Ian does not let me talk on the phone anyway, he usually hides it from me. I wish you could meet my little hurricane wrapped in a cyclone, he is quite the charmer.
Hugs and miss you much!
7/24/12 3:35 (UTC)
I agree. Your emotions are your genuine, honest emotions. No one can or should dictate what someone else feels.
7/24/12 12:41 (UTC)
First time visitor brought o'er by Jay's link:

I've had depression and anxiety, family deaths, and sucky jobs all at the same time.

I find anger to be very affirming when used for short periods of time. It's better than despair, certainly, but it's a hi-octane fuel which burn out your engine.

Re "whining": Jay's right about the cult. Suffering in brave silence or plastering a smile are social defaults when people know of nothing else to do. But in my experience, my whining about my family deaths, yes those were major and merited whining. But when I went years pining away for a girl while I was in a depressive episode, I needed someone to say "I'm tired of hearing it", because it got me to seek help.

Just throwing that out there. Whining beats not saying anything.
7/24/12 15:34 (UTC)
I hear you about the depressive episode; but I think that's a different sort of thing to some extent. More importantly if you'd suffered in silence and put on a happy face you wouldn't have had that friend tell you they were tired of hearing it and may not have gotten the needed help.
7/24/12 13:51 (UTC)
Wandering over from Jay Lake's lj. I tend to get pissed off at those kinds of comments too. I have some kind of chronic pain condition, and tend to blow up at people who try to tell me those kinds of things.

Chronic illnesses are fun* that way.

*Not at all.

I'm slowly getting better at asking for help.
7/25/12 3:00 (UTC)
A comment I posted in jaylake's thread in response to a post by an optimist - it's not that optimism is bad but that the cult of optimism (ie: just smile you'll feel better) is a problem.

This is what I was getting at, along with the idea that someone would tell me that if I just look on the bright side...

Be an optimist, but if you want to help someone who is struggling rather than tell them how to think/feel/act actually do something to help. Fix them a homemade meal that they can safely eat; stop by and visit with a well loved movie to watch; take a few minutes to reach out to them on the phone or online with something to cheer them up rather than telling them that if they think positively it'll be better.

Especially when things are going wrong we could often use the contact and human warmth but many of us don't know how to ask. And many friends notice we're not as present but don't want to bother us so we wind up feeling isolated which can make things harder.

Edited at 2012-07-25 03:01 am (UTC)
7/25/12 7:23 (UTC)
my sources of frustration are much more trivial (and indeed mostly self imposed), but i can totally understand the benefit of the slow burn. being too pissed off at things can just burn you out, but feeling like you've got something worth fighting against seems to inspire a will to keep fighting.

that said, i'm not sure why so many people are so interested in telling other people how they're allowed to react to big life trauma. we're all different. we deal with things in different ways. what gets us through is what gets us through.
7/26/12 18:43 (UTC)
*too hot to type more*
7/26/12 21:18 (UTC)
I agree. One is entitled to their own feelings. Why fake it for other people. To make those other people feel better? Just thinking positive and you will all get better is just crap.
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