Saturday, 10 June 2017

...Solutions! (Bad Ones)

In my previous post, I explained how problems are compiled; how some have grown from insignificance simply because of lower tolerance to stress etc, how some completely defy logic due to flawed premises, through falsely perceived issues. So if you already have skewed problems and have already used faulty thinking to get there, the solutions are going to be just as harmful, if not more so.

First thing we should note is that, because of this lower tolerance of stress - which encompasses the feeling of things just being "wrong" - you're often more willing to do drastic things just in order to make the feeling go away, and this is often just plain avoidance. The door that gives you a panic attack: don't go out, stay inside all day, all week, all month. That awful piece of work that makes you feel like you can't do anything right: leave it until tomorrow...and the day after (ad nauseam). That supermarket that's the only one around for ten miles but is just too full of people and crowds: starve for a few days before you absolutely have to go.

However, while avoidance in itself is an active process and can be very tiring (something I'll discuss in a later post), there are other ways you solve these problems, ways that actively "rectify" the "problem".

General example: some people use self-harm (another topic I'll discuss later) as a method of control. So their thought process might go something like this: "the problem is that I have no control over the things in my life. The solution is to gain control of the pain my body feels." Something that seems so counter-intuitive, that sometimes they themselves know is awful for them mentally and physically, becomes the saving grace they cling onto in that moment. It becomes the solution, even if just the short-term one.

Personal example with a bit of context: I despite catcalling. I imagine many people who have been catcalled do, but many other women - yes, mainly women - I've spoken to don't seem to have the same physical reaction I do. Sometimes when I've been out and a guy is paying a little too much attention to me to be comfortable, I've had to go to the bathroom so I can dry-heave and/or have a panic attack and/or calm down the acid boiling in my stomach. Even without the mental health difficulties. So when I was suffering and a guy on the street said I looked "sexy" in my skirt, my reaction was explosive.

I saw a problem but not as I see it now (ie catcalling is wrong). My problem was that I was too pretty. Three guesses what my solution was: make myself ugly. That inconsiderate and self-centred man was completely ignorant that his words set off a mental obsession in me, luckily one I never followed through with actions. For three months, I had a persistent fantasy of dragging anything sharp - although my fingernails, broken glass and barbed wire featured heavily - repeatedly across my face. I wanted desperately to rid myself of this problem, and I was prepared to do it in the most violent way possible if needed.

Then, of course, there is the solution to the most common problem that makes itself known that I mentioned in the previous post, the problem of being alive: the solution that people see is to end their lives.

These "solutions" seem to be the only things available to us, and sometimes even seem appealing; I know that, at some points, I wanted my barbed wire solution above any other, because its sheer violence would be a catharsis for the anger I felt at the time. These solutions don't make sense - or make a sick, unhealthy kind of sense - so, as with the problems, using logic and reason to dissuade someone may often not work. This is a part that is painfully difficult for someone caring for a sufferer; how do you stop someone from hurting themselves while not offending their currently fragile self-esteem and/or taking away their autonomy?

Whatever way you find that helps in the case of the particular person you're caring for, please know that your continuing patience and care for them/us means more than they/we will ever be able to express.

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