Reflection Cube

Three-dimensional thoughts

Tag: mental health

circular cause and consequence fallacy - logic - philosophy - reasoning - thinking - argument - rationality - thoughts - picture of spiral

Fallacies – Circular Cause and Consequence

The consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause.

Example: “Sue is lethargic and has poor hygiene habits, therefore, she is depressed.” (In other words, Sue is depressed because she’s lethargic and has poor hygiene habits.)

Here, the consequences (lethargy, poor hygiene) of the phenomenon (depression) are being claimed as the root causes of the phenomenon.

The root causes of depression may be physiological, genetic, emotional, trauma-related, and/or spiritual. Yet some of the signs (symptoms or consequences) of depression tend to be mistaken for the root cause(s) (e.g. someone’s depressed because they’re “lazy”, rather than “lazy” because they’re depressed).

circular cause and consequence illustration


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

stream - poem about leaves on a stream - cognitive defusion exercise - thoughts, negativity, identity, observation

Stream

I hate these thoughts I'm having
They're just not me.
Gonna place them on some leaves
And let them flow down the stream.

I'm not the author of all of my thoughts
I'm more like an observer as they float by me.
I'm not responsible for everything that pops
Into my head, only if those things become my identity.

I'm not these thoughts
And they're not me.
I'm just watching patiently
As they travel down the stream
Inside my mind - that ever moving current
That brings me joy and pain.

Inspired by a meditation technique shared with me by a friend:

“Leaves on a Stream” – Cognitive Defusion Exercise


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

person disintegrating from the core - from within - depression, suicide, mental illness, mental health

Depression and Suicide

In the season of taxes and overcast skies, life can already feel bleak enough.

But often, our battles with depression are not rooted solely (if at all) in finances or gloomy weather. Although they may play a role in aggravating depression, such concerns can present as mild or practically nonexistent annoyances when juxtaposed with the heavy burdens we carry within.

What causes depression in the first place? Sometimes, it seems from our vantage point that there is no apparent cause for depression at all (or anxiety, for that matter). It just appears out of nowhere and stays for as long as it pleases.

And then, in our weakened state, all it takes is a slight tipping of the balance to push us somewhere we thought we’d never go…or at least never go again.

Perhaps you’ll find that our stories are very similar or very different. Maybe some of both.


Depression in My Life

Much of this is very hard for me to write about, though I’ve mentioned or alluded to my struggles before in various corners of my blog. But I think it makes sense to share it in this season, in the hope that someone might read it and know that they’re not alone. Maybe that someone is you. <3

One common misconception is that depression must be caused by a serious or stressful life event. Depression is often mistakenly equated with sadness, the thought process here being that sadness is typically caused by significantly painful or stressful life events, therefore, if depression = sadness, then depression also must be caused by significantly painful or stressful life events. However, while the two do often overlap, they are not synonymous.

It is possible to be depressed but not “sad”, or to be sad but not depressed.

From my piece Platitudes and Cliches You’re Probably Tired of Hearing:

Sadness is not depression. You can be sad that you lost your wallet, but you’re probably not depressed about it. You’re likely worried, and pretty frustrated about the hassle that will ensue, but once your accounts and cards are restored, you’ll be happy again. Sadness is typically circumstantial.

Depression is also frequently circumstantial, but not always. Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere. Other times, the cause is extremely covert. And often, you don’t even know you’re depressed. You’re going through the motions of life – numb, visionless, jaded. Depression can disguise itself as erratic sleep patterns, overeating, chronic fatigue, and general lethargy.

In my experience, depression doesn’t always have an obvious trigger (although recently I’ve learned some patterns and correlations to watch for). It is often just a mode of being. I stop wanting to be around people so much. Their conversation and laughter begins to sound louder and more annoying. I answer people’s questions more briefly or even defensively or critically (though I may not think I’m being critical or have the intention of sounding that way. I just notice problems more (or at least find the same issues to be more problematic or overwhelming than I normally would)).

My depression is often aggravated by overcast skies, but it is not entirely dictated or controlled by that. Often, if the weather is gray and cloudy, I will be depressed, but excessively sunny skies can cause similar reactions in me. My favorite weather is rainy weather (which, yes, involves overcast skies, but the clouds are actually yielding something healing and refreshing and not just hovering ominously over you). Rain melts the ice inside me and evaporates the numbness. It reminds me that I have skin, hair, a face that can get wet. It reminds me that I’m still alive. It caresses me like a timeless friend and tells me that I still have a reason to be here.

Sometimes, I only know I’ve been depressed in retrospect. I felt excessively tired or reclusive, but I attributed it at the time (partially correctly) to my health issues and introversion.

To summarize, depression does not always have an obvious cause – in terms of life events. However, there are many factors – seen and unseen – that can play a role in the onset or perpetuation of a depressive episode.

For me, depression can often be traced to nutritional deficiencies. (So still a cause, but not a readily apparent one.) I’ve found that I struggle if I don’t get enough vitamin B6 (I really notice a drop in sleep quality, skin health, and mood).

While depression may not always have an obvious cause, suicidal thinking/focus typically does for me.

If I am not already in a state of mild depression (at least), I’m unlikely to entertain suicidal thoughts when struck with an adverse life event or severely impacted emotionally. However, if I am already in a weakened state (mentally, emotionally, nutritionally), I am much more likely to respond to such pain by desperately scrambling for a way to escape the pain which I have no physical, mental, or emotional strength left to handle. If I am feeling vulnerable already, much less of a hit is required to knock me to the ground or throw me into a deep, dark place.

I’ve been seriously suicidal twice (to the point of ideation and attempted implementation) and “mildly” suicidal many other times (where I at least wanted suicide to be an option, or didn’t want to be here). Note: “serious” and “mild” are poor choices of wording on my part. All suicidal thoughts fall into the category of “serious”.

Both “serious” episodes involved situations in which I felt completely helpless. I had an unsolvable problem. Something obviously beyond my control, with no obvious way of escape.

I’m not going to get into the gory details – the triggers or my methods.

All I will say here is, were it not for timely intervention and the tremendous love and care of my family and God, it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t be writing this today.

But what’s really weird is that days or even hours prior to both episodes, I wouldn’t have seen myself reaching a point this low. Minutes or hours before, I was interacting with the public and likely smiling – though whether I was doing so out of social obligation or innate desire I don’t recall.

This is not to say that life wasn’t challenging and trying. Prior to these episodes, I was emotionally vulnerable and in pain, and I felt physically unwell much of the time. Stress from various areas of life was wearing me down. In retrospect, I was most certainly fighting depression in both cases. And unknown to me at the time, I was dealing with some deep-rooted (genetics-based) health problems (which I’ve now linked to many of my physical symptoms and mental/emotional struggles).

In spite of all these struggles, I still saw my situation as partially manageable, or had a glimmer of hope within – even up to a few hours prior to completely collapsing.

But it didn’t take much – in those two Februaries – to snuff out that little bit of light remaining. All it took was some “mild” thunderstorms (which seemed more like golf-ball-sized hail storms at the time).


This – even the vague bit that I’ve shared here – is not easy for me to write about. “Depression”, “mental illness”, “anxiety”, and “suicide” are terms that evoke a lot of emotion and personal pain in some and a lot of criticism from others – particularly some of those who have never personally experienced depression (sadness, for sure, but not the clinical, chronic, bone-deep depression that transforms you into a different being).

But if, on average, one person somewhere around the globe dies by suicide every 40 seconds, then there is still more action to be taken. There are more stories to be shared and hands to be extended. More resources to be created and awareness to be spread.

So here I am, sharing.

Until awareness is increased, the stigma, fear, and misunderstanding will remain alive and well.


More than once, I’ve been in a situation where I was drowning beneath the waves of depression. Most of us, when stranded and sinking in the water, forget how to swim and instead begin to panic and drown.

Right now, maybe that’s you.

You’re trapped inside a terrifying or heartbreaking situation from which you see no escape. A problem for which there seems to be no solution.

No solution except to end it all.

You’ve endured all that you possibly can.

Death has never looked more appetizing or enticing than it does now.

Or maybe…dancing with death is all too familiar for you.

Resources

How Can I Get Help For Depression?

List of International Suicide Hotlines

And as always, you are more than welcome to email me for a listening ear (but please do not treat correspondence with me as a substitute for professional help.)


What’s Helped Me

Note: I am not a doctor. I’m just sharing my story. Please research things for yourself and seek the help of a medical professional and therapist for any and all health and mental health concerns. See full disclaimer.

Some things that have helped me with depression:

  • Vitamin B6 (a key component in the production of neurotransmitters, and in which I’m naturally constantly deficient [see What is Pyroluria, and Do You Have It?])
  • Eating optimally for my body
  • Getting adequate amounts of sleep (when I can, which is more likely when I’m consuming enough magnesium and vitamin B6)
  • Pacing myself. Not biting off more than I can chew (I used to do this a lot)
  • Journaling/blogging
  • Prayer
  • Meditation

You are loved.

<3 <3 <3

Kate


Please see disclaimer.


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

woman studying in people-watching spot

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Indifferent

There is something that can be learned from everyone. From the “good” and the “bad”. The kind and the wicked. The gentle and the ruthless. And everyone in between.

We may learn from a person what qualities we aspire to emulate, or what characteristics and actions we want to deliberately avoid in the future.

In fact, we may learn both of these things from the same person.

By the thoughtful, knowledgeable, kind, considerate, insightful, attentive, and selfless, we are inspired to gain or improve these qualities in ourselves.

And from the annoying, difficult, blind, thoughtless, careless, and cruel in our lives, we can learn exactly who and what we don’t want to be.


We learn not to be like:

The “bully” at work or school.

The boss who micromanages everything and everyone.

The boss who doesn’t communicate.

The coworker who doesn’t communicate.

The nosy relative.

The friend who shattered our trust and shared our secret with others.

The mom at the grocery store who yells at her children.

The business leader who expects more output from employees in exchange for little care or compensation.

ryan-holiday-quote-life-lessons

In every job and position, there are valuable lessons to be learned. Even in a nasty, abusive, toxic workplace, you’re being taught precisely how not to run an organization. – Ryan Holiday

The people who disappoint us can still serve a purpose in our lives, if we’ll let them.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a minute trying to say that what these people do is okay. Only that we can always come away from our interactions with these people stronger and smarter, if we choose to.


Likewise, we may be inspired to emulate:

The peer who reaches out to the new kid at school and makes them feel welcome.

The friend who sets aside their smartphone to give us their undivided attention – the gift of their time.

The friend who chooses to still be friends with us, even when they discover we have little in common politically or in other sensitive areas.

The woman who doesn’t disparage or smear another person – privately or publicly, even when everyone else is doing it.

The one who is brave enough to be vulnerable and share their mental and emotional struggles with another.

The boss who supports work-life balance for her employees, and demonstrates trust and faith in them.

The friend who lives authentically (quirks and “weirdness” and all), and is not trying to copy or impress anyone else.


If you are the person giving people an example of who not to be – and you know it (?) – do not take this as an excuse to continue in your actions. (“Oh, but I’m teaching them a valuable lesson and helping them become stronger by showing them what not to do and who not to be, so it’s OK.”)

I’m not kidding. I actually knew a parent like this, who treated their kid poorly (ignored, belittled him) because it was supposed to help him “develop character”.


If you are in an abusive situation in your home or elsewhere, please get help.

For an international list of helplines, click here.

There is much that we can learn from difficult situations. However, it is also important that we protect the minds and bodies entrusted to our care, to the best of our ability.

Be safe. <3

Kate

P.S. HAPPY DECEMBER!!!!! 😀


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

 

social acting, smiling in pain

Always Acting

Why do I (along with most people I know) seem to feel compelled to always be smiling, bubbly, or superficial when interacting with others?

It’s not like I want to be this way.

I value transparency, honesty, and realness in myself and in others. Yet, when socializing, it can become hard to live up to these self-expectations. I feel like I must put on a show (or conceal the real, ugly show) for people. I must continuously perform.

I smile and laugh even if I have a headache and it hurts to move my facial muscles. I smile even when I feel like crying.

I’ve been practicing this for so long that I can no longer cry in public if I feel like crying, because I’ve taught my brain that it’s not safe or permissible to be emotionally vulnerable in public, or to expose others to something they might not want to see. If I do, they might not want to be my friends anymore.

Am I afraid of rejection? Do I fear that if I were to throw my real self out there – to the wolves – that this true self would get chewed up and torn apart?

If I make a fake me – a decoy – then it won’t hurt so much when people tear me apart, because they won’t be destroying my actual self. Only a persona I’ve created.

I am also afraid of hurting other people. Afraid that if I seem to be frowning – or not smiling and laughing with everyone else – that people with think me disapproving, boring, judgmental, or negative. Or they’ll assume that I’m upset with them.


When you don’t reveal your genuine self, you are alone. No matter how many “friends” you have.

No one ever has the chance to know and love the real you. And you don’t get the chance to know if you, in your “imperfect” state, would be loved by others.

You continue to reinforce in your head the message that the external, fake you is the only image worth portraying, because it is the only one that the world outside you will accept.

This perpetual acting can come with a physical cost. If you are constantly “gearing up” for interacting in an artificial way with others – then your body will endlessly be in “fight” mode – trying to survive a stressful social setting. Because you have to work hard to keep the mask on.

The body responds to physical and emotional stress the same way: it releases cortisol. This can take a toll on your adrenal glands, eventually leading to adrenal fatigue, and with that, a whole host of other issues, such as hormonal imbalance, blood pressure problems, insomnia, and compromised thyroid function.

And before you know it, this continuous “fighting” mode has led you down the path of chronic fatigue and depression.

Being fake can actually make you physically sick.

Social pretending made me sick. I’ve felt unwell to varying degrees since I was a child (for multiple reasons), but I believe that years of acting and pretending compounded my stress and my physiological issues.

But aside from the health risks of social acting, performing for others can take an emotional, mental, and spiritual toll.

The Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Dangers of Hiding Our True Selves:

 – Our internal and external characters become discordant, creating self-confusion and inner tension.

 – Pretending can be a form of dishonesty, and practicing this has the potential to lead to dishonesty in other areas.

 – Hiding our pain prevents us from getting the help we need.

 – We’ll never know if our genuine selves would be accepted, because we never give others the chance to accept us as we truly are.

 – We send the message to others (who may be hurting inwardly) that it is not safe for them to share and be vulnerable with us, because we’re choosing not to share and be vulnerable with them.

 – We can begin to forget who we are. This happened to me after years of pretending and trying to please other people in the way I presented myself or communicated, while suppressing or ignoring my own inner voice. I am only now beginning to gain confidence and an awareness of who I am apart from anyone else. I’m just beginning to find the courage to be individually and uniquely me.


How to Turn the Tide and Promote Realness in the Community

Next time you’re over at a friend’s house, and you’ve got a headache, or you’re tired or stressed, let your friend(s) see it. I know, easier said than done. But make it a social experiment.

If your experiment turns sour (i.e. people don’t want to see the real, transparent you) that just gives you more data about your “friend(s)”. Maybe you’ll begin to question the quality or strength of your friendship. Maybe you’ll even have the guts to call them out on their superficiality (something to the effect of “Hey, I wish we could be more real and transparent with each other. In my book, that’s what friends do.”).

And you know what? The more vulnerable you choose to be about yourself and your struggles, the more likely you are to attract the right kinds of friends in your life. People who struggle like you. Or people who don’t struggle like you, but are mature enough in their thinking to care for and accept people who fight different battles than they do.

Be okay with silence. Silence doesn’t have to be awkward. It’s only awkward because people have said it is. If you have nothing to say, that’s okay.

Resist the pressure to try to convince people your life has meaning. You don’t have to prove to others how busy or hardworking or smart or successful you are.

If you feel that you have little to say for your life – few things that sound impressive or “socially acceptable” (like, I’m going to this school or working that job), it’s okay. Answer honestly and confidently about your current situation. Because the truth is, nobody has it together all the time. So who are they to judge you? We all have rough seasons or unconventional periods in our lives. Sometimes, those seasons are the very best. There’s no need to downplay these aspects of our lives or cover them up.

It’s okay to be hurting or to have an unusual life or “strange” answers to people’s questions. You can’t flunk being you. Make these conversations social experiments as well, and watch how your friends react when you say “I’m trying to build my own ____business”, or “I’m kind of stuck direction-wise at the moment”, or “I’m just taking a break from things and enjoying being with my family/friends or devoting more time to my hobby/passion of ____”.

It’s okay.

Insecure people want you to think it’s not okay to be who and where you are. They have to tear you down because inside, they feel pretty small themselves. Or their lives feel meaningless. And they don’t want to be the only ones feeling that way.

Ask people how they are doing (with the expectation or desire of an answer). Probe for a more honest answer if you feel the first one wasn’t (there’s a fine line between probing and being nosy though. 🙂 )

But don’t feel that you must ask “How are you?” in a bubbly, put-together sort of way. You’re more likely to elicit an honest response if you’re just being and doing whatever’s natural for you in the moment. If you are tired, ask them the question while you’re slumped over your friend’s couch with your eyes closed. Ask them without smiling, if smiling hurts or is not you right now.

If they see you being real, maybe they’ll be inspired to be more authentic themselves.

<3 Kate


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USE AGREEMENT
IN CONSIDERATION FOR YOUR USE OF AND ACCESS TO THIS WEBSITE, YOU AGREE THAT IN NO EVENT WILL REFLECTION CUBE OR KATE RICHARDSON – THE AUTHOR OF THIS WEBSITE – BE LIABLE TO YOU IN ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER FOR ANY DECISION MADE OR ACTION OR NON-ACTION TAKEN BY YOU IN RELIANCE UPON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED THROUGH THIS WEBSITE.

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

faceless person

Battles in My Head

Another piece I wrote about depression – pretty sure in 2016. Slightly modified.

Battles in My Head

I'm tired of picking myself off the floor.
Sick of pasting on a smile when I walk out the door.
Tired of trying to believe I'm fine, trying to ignore
The hopelessness that feasts upon my core.

Faces, lots of faces, everywhere I look.
I wonder if my mind is like an open book.
And if the faces choose to look the other way,
Or if my suffering's a closed display.

Sometimes I don't even know I'm there.
I breathe it in and out just like the air.
It wears the guise of headaches and fatigue
Laziness, restlessness, nightmares, and fitful sleep.

Depression, why won't you show your ugly face?
And wear your heart on your sleeve, for all to see?
Why must you be my secret enemy
To torture me
When no one's looking,
Then force me to smile
And hide my trial
Live in denial
of you?
So they will never know what I am going through?
But punish me instead
For the outward signs of battles in my head?

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

Torn

This is something I wrote last year (with slight modifications), in an effort to express myself and sort through my thoughts.

Torn

Sitting here, writing songs
With a tea kettle burn on my left arm,
Wearing my tee shirt and yoga pants,
Wishing I had a good tune, to get up and dance.

Got a mind full of questions
After such a long day.
Watched the people's expressions,
Tried to study each face.

I went to the mountains,
Drove to the store.
Read a good book,
And tackled some chores.
And I'm not really sure
Which things mattered more.
Am I wasting my life?
I don't know, but I'm worn
And I'm

Torn between the surreal and mundane
The mental battles and the physical pain.
Not really sure which one feels more insane.
Maybe the questions I'm asking are lame, but I'm

Torn between the blue sky, the green earth.
Yet somehow, I think without one, there's a dearth
Of the other, they cover and link with each other.
The flesh and the soul often breathe together.

Not really sure where this conclusion brings me.
It's nice though to know every moment has meaning.

Washing laundry, fixing tires,
Paying bills, repairing wires,
Dancing in the rain and fire,
Climbing mountains, soaring higher.

Maybe you are feeling discouraged because
That venture that you started transformed into rust.
Your steady, unseen efforts got lost in the dust.
Get up, keep moving on, get up because
It's not about the end - it's all in the process.
The glory doesn't matter - it's the progress
That you make in every moment
When you're faced with disappointment.
The struggles that you face have been anointed.


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

 

slithery green python snake

Toxic People

Let me preface by saying that you can’t possibly avoid – 24/7 – everyone who makes you uncomfortable. But you can limit contact with some of them, and you definitely should, if at all possible, limit contact with the toxic (rather than simply annoying) people in your life.

While some might argue that it is a character-strengthening practice to “deal” with these people, the truth is, toxic people can only be “dealt” with when YOU maximize your distance from them. Toxic people – and their toxic behavior – can rarely be reasoned with or reasoned through. You will reach a breaking point, if you try to “tough it out” and make lucidity out of lunacy. You’ll be trying and trying to wrap your brain around an iron post. The post will remain intact and unchanged, but your brain will end up mutilated and mangled.

Toxic people are often skilled (wittingly or unwittingly) at twisting your mind and bringing you closer to the threshold of insanity.

For your benefit and theirs, you need to establish boundaries in your life to keep these people from getting too close to you – to the point that they can compromise your ability to think clearly or function in life.

Remember, to love someone is not necessarily to be close to them or to maintain contact. Sometimes, the best way to love someone is to cut off the emotionally-enabling supply that you’ve been feeding them. (Note, this is different from providing emotional support for someone within a healthy relationship/context.)

I am going to mention some character behaviors that may indicate a person is toxic for you.

Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. – Travis Bradberry


Signs to Watch Out For

Keep your eyes open if your loved one (girl/boyfriend, friend, family member) shows any of these signs.

Needs to put you down to feel validated.

This person has a hungry ego, and must drink someone else’s blood to keep that ego alive. Like vampires, or Ravenna (in Snow White and the Huntsman) – who absorbed the youth and life-force of other beautiful, young people, causing them to shrivel up and age before their time.

This person cannot live apart from crushing your soul – the beauty and youth of your spirit. In order to thrive, they must cause you to wither.


Makes you feel undeserving of anyone or anything better.

In other words, they have to constantly berate you or physically hurt you to keep you. After enough of this treatment, their hope is that you’ll begin to think you really deserve this treatment and nothing better. It’s a tactic that shouldn’t work, but is often effective nevertheless.

If you are suffering from emotional or physical/sexual abuse, find a friend’s place or shelter where you can be safe until you can work out something else.

If you are suffering from abuse, stop reading NOW and call the National Violence Domestic Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 


Exaggerates when recounting stories of accomplishments or experiences.

  1. If they’re always embellishing and modifying the details, how are you going to know when you can trust them?
  2. If they’re insecure to the point that they need to alter the particulars about themselves, then that insecurity could start playing out in other ways that harm you down the road. Who knows how far they’ll go to maintain their prized and protected image?

Needs to prove EVERYTHING to you or constantly remind you of their personal character “qualities” (e.g. trustworthiness, likability).

They shouldn’t have to prove these things. If a person really is trustworthy, that should become apparent over time, without the help of any verbal affirmation.


Refuses to take responsibility for anything or ever accept blame or admit fault.

If they can’t be wrong, then you can be sure the blame’s going to fall on you or someone else. This is not healthy for your mind. If you’re fed a steady diet of the message “It’s your fault” or “You’re a piece of s**t” or “You’re going crazy”, you’re eventually going to begin to believe it.


Constantly flatters you.

One difference I’ve noticed between flattery and compliments is that flattery usually has no actions to back it up (except, perhaps, infatuation, sexual desire, or greed), while a genuine compliment is often supported by other actions and gestures from a person that signify care/concern/love, like talking with you about the good/bad parts of your life, wanting to spend quality time with you, being concerned when you’re hurt, or remembering a detail about you.

Flattery is often exaggerated, over-the-top, or just a little too addictive and ego-boosting to be true. If someone tells me I’m the best vocalist they’ve ever heard, I’m going to wonder a) if they get out much, and b) what else they’ve lied to me about.


Is insecure or jealous, to the point of becoming hyper-controlling.

If they feel threatened whenever you smile innocently at someone else, there’s a problem.

If they become angry when it takes you a while to respond to a text about your whereabouts (not like an “are you safe?” text of genuine concern, but a “tell me where you are and what you’re doing every hour” kind of text), there’s a problem.

If they’re following your every activity with little cameras or want passwords to all your social media accounts, WHY the f’ are you still there? The NSA (or ASIO, CSIS, BND, CBI) already spies on you enough. You don’t need any more of that.


Uses religion or “faith” to prove their point or make you feel immature or un-spiritual if you disagree (a spiritual narcissist or spiritual “tyrant”).

I’ve had some personal experience with the spiritual narcissist, and I hope to write about this subject in more detail in the future.

For now, suffice it to say that the spiritual narcissist is doubly dangerous for a person who aspires to adhere to or live out a certain faith.

Are they twisting text to prove a point or support their own personal arguments and interests?

Are they making up the rules as they go, and slapping a verse on everything?

Can you never “win” an argument with them?

Are you labeled “unforgiving” or against “reconciliation between brothers” when you tell them you need space or time away, especially after they’ve done something that really hurt you?

Are you called “unsubmissive” when they’ve asked you to do something that would be self-serving for them, greedy, dishonest, or otherwise dishonorable, and you’ve refused?

Are you accused of being “unfaithful” when you smile innocently at someone else?

Are you labeled “heretic” or “blind” or “unbelieving” when you interpret a piece of the Bible (or other text) differently than they do?

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. – Aristotle


Is obsessed with their and/or your outward appearance (physical and/or social).

If they always expect you to attend social events with them and can’t respect your need for alone time, or they sign you up to go out and “do” lots of stuff so you can both brag about how busy you are, if they expect you to dress a certain way so they can show off their “trophy” girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, then you’ve got issues.

If they cannot respect your emotional needs for space and your personal definition of modesty or your preference for comfortable clothing, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. I’d encourage you to share your concerns with a therapist.


Has to always maintain a superficial facade.

Can never talk about deep, hard, or sad things. Can never hear you share about your struggle with depression, at least without slapping platitudes in your face and telling you to “snap out of it” or bragging that they’ve never been depressed. Can never share about any of their own struggles or issues or insecurities or flaws. In essence, a person who can never be real or authentic.

And I realize we all have those parts of our lives and ourselves which are tough to share.

There are many aspects of ourselves which we don’t share for fear of judgment or because we haven’t found the “one” with whom we feel safe sharing. But if someone is unable to let you see the human side of themselves at all, then that is cause for concern.


Doesn’t respect your boundaries or standards.

Are they pushing you to kiss, have sex, or for you to let them hold or touch you in a certain way? Are they saying things that they know hurt you? Are they unable to ever give you personal, private space to be alone and think and have some down time? Do they expect you to completely tailor your schedule to theirs, and always put them first?

Do they expect a daily report (vs. desiring a casual, caring conversation) about all your activities?

Do they follow you with cameras (hidden on their person or in your apartment/house)? Do they monitor your email, or otherwise censor your actions? Do their actions suggest they don’t fully trust you?

Do they view you as an extension of themselves rather than an individual and independent human being? Even if you are financially dependent on them, this is no excuse for them to attempt to govern your daily and personal affairs. You are an adult, after all, and you are CHOOSING to occupy the same place (even if you’re broke, there are places you can go if you need to be safe).


Doesn’t listen to you at all or take much interest in you.

Are they never asking you questions? Do they seem totally uninterested/uncaring about your hamster’s death, the charities you’re passionate about, or your entrepreneurial aspirations?

A healthy relationship is marked by give-and-take. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you both talk an equal amount. But if they’re never asking you anything about your life (unless it pertains to them or their need to know all your whereabouts) then you should ask yourself what you really are to them. A sounding board?

Are you just there for them to talk and feel good about themselves, as you tirelessly nod, smile, and say “mmhmm”?


Tries to control your activities, ambitions, or life (different from providing solicited advice or gentle nudging and loving words of counsel).

If you are really skilled at something – or want to become skilled – and your friend/family member/SO is not supporting you in this, or even seems a bit envious, ask them about it. Ask why it is such a problem that you invest time and energy in becoming better at something for which you have the potential or interest or talent?

Granted, there are different seasons of life for everything, and if you’re trying to bite off more than you can chew, then please listen to the counsel of your loved one. If you have responsibilities that cannot be annulled, redistributed, or reasonably delegated (with kind consideration for the workloads of others), then yeah, maybe it’s just not the season to build that cat shelter, launch your baked goods business, or trot the country as a professional speaker. Yet.

Ascertain, as you speak with your loved one, whether they are against you ever doing this thing, or just doing this thing right now. And even if you decide to put your dream to sleep for now, watch over time, to see if it’s really a matter of “now” or “ever” to your loved one.

If they never want you to pursue your passions and hone your skills, then maybe they feel insecure, and all they know to do, in their immaturity, is hold you back.

If the answer is always “no” to practically anything that you want to do (anything that’s safe 🙂 ), there’s a problem in the relationship.

The problem may be that your loved one is overprotective or feels possessive of you. Or it may be that they just tend to see the flaws in every path or course of action you could take. While such a cognitive approach is imperative in fields like engineering, it is impossible to apply this mentality seamlessly to the rest of life, as life is too full of permutations and possibilities for us to account for every potential setback, glitch, obstacle, failure, or error. In the end, you have to acknowledge that the risk of pain, harm, and failure is everywhere, and therefore, that pain, harm, and failure are inevitable. Eventually, you must say “yes” to something.

If you have a GF/BF, friend, or parent who just believes that you’ll suck at anything you try, and it’s never worth giving anything a shot, then work to create distance between you and them (even if you have to do this gradually and subtly). They may be trying to keep you close, available, and dependent on them so they’ll have a steady diet of narcissistic supply. You don’t need that negativity and neediness dragging you down.

Love them from a distance.


Isn’t willing to take their health or your health seriously, or invest in health preemptively, proactively, and protectively.

If your loved one doesn’t give a s**t what happens with your health, or blindly believes that you’re going to be feeling just fine 10, 20 years from now on a “cheap” diet of fast food, potato chips, frozen dinners, and burgers, you need to put your foot down and take responsibility for your own health, whatever that takes. If they’re more willing to spend money on frivolous crap than on your wellbeing, that isn’t love.

If money’s tight, and taking care of your health (and their health) means cutting out cable TV or spending dessert money on some extra fruits/veggies/oils/meat instead, I believe someone who truly loves you will be willing to do that.

Plus, if they’re not taking care of themselves, how long are they going to be around to share life with you?


Cannot save money, AND expects financial support from you.

If only one of these cases is present, things might work out. In other words, someone who struggles to save money but makes their own money, OR someone who is capable of saving at least some money but relies or is going to rely on you for financial support.

But if they are going to be depending on you financially AND they always have eyes bigger than your shared pocketbook, keep your eyes open. There could very well be issues down the road.


What To Do

If you’re seeing any of these signs in your relationship, ask other people you trust for their perspective on the situation. Narcissists often have a way of disguising themselves to their victims.

The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for. ―Bob Marley

You can love a narcissist, but you should keep your distance. Love does not, by default, equal proximity or trust.

If you are receiving such treatment, I’m here to tell you that you do not deserve that. Do what’s necessary to protect yourself so you can be free to thrive.

 

National Violence Domestic Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 

Find a safe place

 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

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© Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

 

 

stereotypes, uniqueness, stars

Stereotypes: Part 2

This is the second part in Reflection Cube’s series Stereotypes.

If you haven’t read Stereotypes: Part 1, feel free to check it out here.

 

Stereotype #5: Depressed individuals are weak or self-focused.

person resting in bed, cuddling cat

Photo by Chris Abney on Unsplash

There’s an unhealthy stigma – which is only beginning to dissolve – in our culture that says a depressed person is a weak person.

Depression, like any illness, happens to the best of us – to the strong and weak alike. Depression typically involves biochemical changes in the brain (though this is not the only factor in depression). Wacky neurochemistry is a monster too powerful for even the hardiest spirit to combat alone.

So a depressed individual is not weak. In fact, significant mental strength is drawn upon by persons who fight and survive depression (make it out alive).

Regarding the “self-focused” accusation frequently thrust upon depression sufferers:

In order to recover – or at least prevent themselves from sinking deeper – depressed individuals may (and, generally, should) be compelled to concentrate on their own needs for a time, so it follows that they might come across as a little “self-focused”, but depression is rarely (if ever) an attention-seeking tactic.

The insinuation “You’re just trying to get attention” is made by those who have never experienced depression, or perhaps never experienced it in the utterly debilitating and overwhelming way that many individuals do.

This is one of the most excellent pieces I’ve ever read on depression:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/8-things-people-with-hidden-depression.html

Also a practical, short read on how to express support for a depressed person:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20393228,00.html#how-to-show-you-care-2

 

Stereotype #6: Physically attractive (by society’s standards) women have below-average intelligence.

silhouette of woman standing in sunlight near shoreline

Photo by Gianandrea Villa on Unsplash

The assumption here may be, I suppose, that if you’re attractive, you must be vain and seriously obsessed with maintaining an attractive appearance. You obviously spend too much time in the mirror (and, therefore, less time reading or learning).

There seems to prevail – particularly within occidental society – an outlook which precludes the possibility of being both beautiful and smart. You can’t possibly have the time, money, or the genetics, or whatever to be born with or to achieve both beauty and intelligence. You just can’t have it all! If you “lucked out” with looks, then by default, you must have paid the price with another part of yourself (like, brains).

(For my perspective on beauty, click here.)

Unfortunately, this stereotype can negatively influence an attractive woman’s career opportunities – her ability to land a job or progress upward in the workplace.

Women have been fired for beauty.

Another example:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/debrahlee-lorenzana-sues-citigroup-claims-bank-fired-sexy-article-1.178086

More attractive = Less intelligent

Beauty Discrimination in the Workplace

Beauty Discrimination During a Job Search


There’s no way I can cover all the stereotypes out there, but these are a couple that came to mind. And no doubt, there are countless others that haven’t crossed my mind, which I may be guilty of unwittingly believing and supporting.

What stereotypes drive YOU nuts (can be one(s) you’ve noticed that don’t directly affect you, or something you’ve personally experienced)?

Share about a societal stereotype that you’ve observed or perhaps caught yourself perpetuating. Who knows? You might see it pop up in another Stereotypes post!

pretty yellow flowers

Photo by Jacob Townsend on Unsplash

 

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

 

modestly dressed person standing in kitchen

Why Emotional Modesty Needs to Die

Heads-up: The beginning of this piece might have you thinking that you’re about to digest some erotica, but before some of you dismiss this piece on that premise – and before some of you get excited – I might as well let you know, this discourse doesn’t fit within that category. Unless, that is, you consider emotional intimacy to be equivalent to dancing leafless in stilettos.


Today, I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom after practicing some yoga. As my blood circulation improved, I became more introspective. I began talking to God.

As I was talking to God, I felt the neckline of my shirt slide down my left shoulder (whether it voluntarily slipped or I initiated the shoulder slip, I don’t know, but I let it happen).

Somehow, I felt like I was approaching greater authenticity and intimacy.

Feeling mentally awakened by this shoulder-baring thing, I allowed my neckline to drop down the other shoulder as well (the neckline was wide enough to expose both shoulders simultaneously).

It was just me and God (who sees me totally unclad all the time), so I had no fear of judgment.

As I continued to feel more genuinely myself – and entirely free from fear of judgment – my mind awakened. I entered a limitless, unchecked introspective state. I found ideas and observations coming naturally to me. My mind approached a clarity of thought that I hadn’t experienced in a considerable while.

At last, I found my soul reestablishing its connection with my mind. My spiritual and cognitive spheres fusing. The experience was…exhilarating.

But all of this got me thinking. Why is it so wrong – so loathsome – to be emotionally naked in society?

Why – in an age of sexual chutzpah – does the disclosure of one’s raw mental and emotional state remain taboo? Why do we stare at a “professed to be depressed” person as if they’d arrived at work in gossamer intimates?

Our minds and spirits are integral components of our essence. Why, then, is it so unacceptable to discuss emotional and mental health?

Why – when combating mental disease – are we identified as our struggles? Why, when we are fighting a monster, are we characterized as “weak”?

Anyone – even a warrior – when compared to a monster, will appear to be weak!

Why is “Depressed” a label and not a condition, like MS or Lyme or fibromyalgia? Why is it something you are, and not something you’re fighting?

face of depressed, teary, hurting woman

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

More than ever, as stress in the workplace increaseswe must make it a priority to support the emotional health of our colleagues, team, friends, and family.

Where possible, remote work may provide a partial solution to employees’ mental health struggles. Allowing them to complete tasks in a setting detached from workplace drama – and to not have to put so much effort into grooming before work, or to drive in when suffering from a migraine from crying all night and battling insomnia – would make a significant difference for many employees suffering from depression and other mental health struggles. This employee would also likely be more productive by not having to put out extra energy (or time) for unnecessary interactions or chatter with colleagues on a rough day. Providing options like this (when possible) for employees is a win-win situation.

james-mcgill-57897.jpg

Photo by James McGill on Unsplash

It’s okay to be depressed. But it’s not okay to stay there. <3 (I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, btw. You may fear that you’ll always stay there. It seems like depression will never leave. You sense that you’ll be fighting this giant for the rest of your life.) Yet, you probably will stay there if you walk the road alone. If you’ve got to constantly conceal your gushing wound (depression, anxiety, other mental health struggles) with a massive bandage (acting fine when you’re not), then who’s going to recognize that you need help?

Maybe you will realize you need to seek help. And maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll just continue to live in denial – because you don’t want anyone, yourself included, to see you as “mentally ill” or “weak”. You’ll pretend you’re not bleeding, because you fear judgment – and the suffering that comes with that – over the suffering of pain endured in silence.

If you sense that you’re being judged (or would be judged) for your mental battles, then you will close off and no longer be your authentic self.

If you put up a mask, you will underperform. You will not be able to give all of yourself, because there will be a part of you that you’re still withholding and ignoring.

I have certainly done this many times. Even when I wanted to be able to share my pain with others, I would just automatically smile and laugh and pretend things were fine. Working in customer service for several years exacerbated this problem, because it taught my brain that we “smile, rain or shine”. I reached a point where I could not cry when I felt like crying. This constant detachment from my “inner self” created a deathly numbness in me, from which I am only now recovering.


How can we encourage emotional rawness in our culture?

As a friend, when you’re hanging out with your buddy, and you sense that something’s a bit off, say something. Ask, “How are you doing, truly?” or “Everything okay?” And be ready to hear the answer, even if it’s ugly.

Even if your friend is smiling and seems fine, ask how things are going. Many depressed individuals have achieved Hollywood-class acting capabilities, just to protect themselves from becoming targets of social stigma.

What if we were free to be emotionally and mentally transparent? To say “I’ve been battling depression” just as readily as we might say “I’ve been battling cancer”?

What heights of emotional and mental health might we reach, if we could simply be authentically ourselves, without fear of judgment? Without fear of being identified and labeled by the things happening to us? What would happen if we shed our emotional and mental clothing?

Might we achieve the clarity of thought and flow of creativity that I enjoyed on my bedroom floor?

What will it take to get there? What will be required to change the cultural perceptions about mental disease? How will we achieve emotional nakedness in ourselves and within our communities?


What do you think it will take to reengineer society’s view on mental illness? Songs by pop artists? More films and dramas that don’t glamorize depression, but that do portray it as a real and very common struggle? Baby steps made within the community and within relationships? All of the above?

 

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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