So I need some help

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    Jun 10, 2007 6:46 AM GMT
    Hey guys

    So, I need some help. I'm at that slump, ya know? The one where you start to slip backwards and everything you've been working on lately seems to slowly be reversing itself.

    I guess it's easiest to say that I've lost my drive? I had a cigarette today (2nd since I quit, 5th in the past 3 months) and I'm slightly downed about it. I'm actually rather down about it. However, I'm not going to let myself slip back and start smoking's illustrate where I'm at, if that makes any sense?

    I dunno. I realize that motivation comes from within, and I accept the fact that I made all these changes in my life when my ex told me that he'd never seen someone work as hard to stagnate as I do. It struck a chord in me and REALLY caused me to start to make the positive changes in my life that I am, at this point, REALLY proud of.

    But it's hard to keep it up. So my question is, how do you guys do it? How do you deal with the slump? How do you pick yourself back up, dust off the knees, and keep running? I guess I'm not really looking for an 'answer' persay - I understand that motivation comes from within, and that the only way to change, and grow, is on your own...but I guess I'm just looking for inspiration.


    I need some help.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 10, 2007 10:08 AM GMT
    Sounds like a very familiar story...

    I've had this happen on a fairly regular basis
    and it rarely has to do directly with workouts per say...
    usually this kind of thing has more to do with outside
    stress boyfriends...
    It's going to require a renewed commitment to yourself
    maybe a vacation or just sitting down and taking a self-evaluation of everything ...whatever you think will get you back into the "groove"
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    Jun 10, 2007 11:21 AM GMT
    Same thing happenes to me when I am stressed I feel the need to smoke.
    But you really are ok with 5 ciggaretes in 3 months though I don't know how much you used to smoke.
    I would think of it it this way if I were you:
    I've smoked 5 ciggaretes in 3 months so during the next 3 months I will smoke 3 or 2.It's really easier pshicologicaly.It is hard to say I will never smoke again cos then you will feel very dissapointed when you have one and there is the danger to start smoking reagulary again.
    So don't be dissapointed for the ciggaret you smoked and focus on your improovement.

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    Jun 10, 2007 1:44 PM GMT
    This is something I've done for a few years now, and it really works. I'll tell all my friends and co workers about it. Take a piece of paper and write down your goals and motivational statements. If you want to workout everyday, write something like "Today I'm going to get excited about working out." Read your list at least once a day, but you can read it twenty times if that works for you. Mine is like 3 pages long but i have it memorized so it only takes me like 2 minutes to read it. Its the first thing I do in the morning and gives me great perspective whenever i'm down and stressed out. Once you gets these statements in your subconscious, they'll literally appear out of nowhere when you are at your lowest. Good luck!
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    Jun 10, 2007 2:16 PM GMT
    I'm a doc in the UK. I came across this article in the BMJ this week which I think may give you some pointers.

    My company is at

    and we have a number of different new forums which we're expoandoing. They're free to use.

    Cheers, Séan
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    Jun 10, 2007 9:15 PM GMT
    Dear BioMatty,

    I find storytelling to be the most encouraging and healing thing I can do at many points. Stories instill in me the messages of hope and grace that i need to hear. The very patterns become a part of my thinking as I internalize them or if they resonate with me and I soon find myself more skillful in navigating these spaces.

    Grace, to me, is the greatest message we could ever receive and pass on. That it is going to be alright, everything is going to be alright, and you don't really even have to deserve it for it to be so.

    One of my favorite stories of grace is Isak Dennisen's, "Babette's Feast." (My Danish soul-mate, Brian, who's looking over my shoulder says I'm a hopeless romantic).

    I also love movies of hope, i don't mean anything by Meg Ryan (that's not hope, that's delusion). But maybe Eternal Sunshine or Shortbus (an awesome awesome awesome story).

    Other stories that inspire me are one's of adventure- I call all that 19th century stuff from Call of the Wild to anything by Rider Haggard Adventure Lit. Or perhaps I need a good cathartic cry like from Melville's Billy Budd. At the time I read that I was dating a guy who was in so many ways Billy Budd and I remember bawling my eyes out and holding him. So wonderful. Sometimes we just need to feel.

    But for what it is worth, from my skewed perspective you just need to hear that everything is going to be alright, in fact more than alright, it'll be fabulous (I'd say awesome but you're gay).
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    Jun 10, 2007 11:00 PM GMT
    Maybe you can be more specific what causes this slump. It is job related, financial,family, boyfriend, fitness .... Only by indentify the cause that we can indentify the solution. Indentifying the cause is half way on solving the problem. Different causes required different solution and approach.

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    Jun 10, 2007 11:06 PM GMT
    for alot of people it is a lot of different things. I find for myself it is just having a lsump that kicks me out of it. I see where I am headed and I always stop. for alot of people i know it is keeping pictures of what they want to look like, and for others it is a picture of what they looked like at their worst
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    Jun 10, 2007 11:14 PM GMT
    Listen to great uplifting music....

    "And any time you feel the pain, hey, Jude, refrain
    Don't carry the world upon your shoulders"
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    Jun 11, 2007 4:19 AM GMT
    "One of my favorite stories of grace is Isak Dennisen's, 'Babette's Feast'."

    Her diet of champagne and raw oysters might help too. But don't have so much fun you catch her syphilis.

    Matty, I presume you are talking about something that passes in a few weeks. If not, it sounds like depression, and you may want to get evaluated for it, if you have not already.

    First: Get in the gym. Exercise, especially aerobic, works more predictably well than antidepressant medications in elevating mood. If you are so down you can't get in on your own, get a friend to work out with you.

    The cognitive tools here several people have suggested, including those associated with positive psychology, can be helpful.

    Also, Madapolio's suggestion is not without sound basis. He's basically talking about the power of narrative. Recent research has concluded that what happened to a person is much less important than how the story is told. In fact, in the last research I saw, there was not much correlation at all between unhappiness and childhood abuse. The correlation had much more to do with how the experience was framed.

    I think reading stories, including myths, and seeing movies can help one enter that frame of mind, which is about making meaning of experience. I liked Shortbus a lot, too, because -- like Hedwig, the director's earlier film -- it does not deny life's pain but concerns itself with pain's narration. (Play Hedwig's "Wig in a Box" to hear an anthem in this regard.)

    I'd also recommend "Pan's Labyrinth," which also concerns the power of narration and the imagination. (Stagnation, really, is a failure of the imagination.)

    I usually have my clients write their stories from different positive and negative perspectives. I read recently that telling the story in the third person is best, since it provides a measure of psychological distance that permits the "brain" to more comfortably narrate the story differently.

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    Jun 11, 2007 5:11 AM GMT
    Thanks for the responses all. I think I just needed to record this pattern of failure I consistently fall into. This is probably the first time I've recognized it for what it was in my life, and that's made me feel good.
    It means I'm not totally fucked yet, lol.

    Actually, TBH, Madappollo, you're right, reading something other than a biotech textbook is actually helping a fair amount - I tend to devour fantasy novels, lol - started with Piers Anthony as a kid and I'm currently ripping through another Richard Rahl book - lol, sigh, his nobility is inspiring... Also, shortbus made me feel rather good about life as well, except for the dominatrix - I kinda felt bad for her, but I haven't really analyzed why yet, lol.

    OW...I have been diagnosed with depression when I was younger, but it was also when I was on acutane (before they saw the link between the two) and was on a plethora of drugs for it - zoloft ACTUALLY made me not sleep for a week - I reno'd a living room for my aunt during that time. Then I was on Paxil and couldn't understand what was being said to me because it was all just one giant migraine..then I was on some other thing, I think an effexor/rispirtol combo, for like a year...until I told my doc I wanted off the pills.

    Lol, at this point I can recognize that I do have mood swings, and that I could 'possibly' be depressed, BUT...I will not be a slave to a pill. I realize it could possibly help, but...I've had too many bad experiences, I enjoy being clean. And the gym thing is just me burning out - I've actually done a major upheaval of my life over the past few months, and am getting everything to a manageable point - I quit my job for starters (full time student/employee is not a combo I can handle) and it's a major player in my stress and general unhappiness.

    I am feeling much better today, actually - I went out for coffee with my ex (hahahaha) and when he offered me a smoke I I'm totally not in the bucket. I just...needed to vent, ya know?

    So thanks for reading my original post, and thanks for reading this monstrosity as well, lol.

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    Jun 11, 2007 6:37 AM GMT
    Glad you are feeling better. Recognizing you have a problem is definately the first step to dealing with it.
    I think there is a lot more the Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen than having fun and oysters and champagne. While she did know how to have a good time there is also a lot of sadness in her life that she managed to overcome, or at least does not always portray in her writing. Her father committed suicide when she was nine because of a diagnosis of syphilus. She acquired the disease within her first year of marriage -- probably from her husband who in either case was unfaithful to her. Eventually she divorced and was the lover of Denis Finch Hatton by whom she was pregnant twice and miscarried twice. Her coffee farm, never very profitable, went bankrupt the same year that Denis Finch Hatton was killed in a plane crash. Later in life she had chronic abdominal pain and had 1/3 of her stomach removed for ulcers, but still had the pain. The pain may have been psychosomatic -- at times she believed this at other times she believed it to be related to the syphilus though that was long cured -- or it may have been related to panic attacks which she suffered as well. In the end she was unable to eat and died of probable malnutrition.
    So while she may have had a brilliant and at times glamorous life, and she tends to focus on that in her writing, her life was not without its low times.
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    Jun 11, 2007 7:14 AM GMT
    Wrerick, thanks for adding the background story of Isak Dinessen. I read Out Of Africa as a kid and then saw the movie. Her narrative inspired me to further explore the world. And I took of to live in Indonesia for awhile (the tattoo I have on my thigh is from a Kalimantan tribe).

    It is exactly that, that life is full of pain, and its what you do with it that matters, your take on it. Whether it requires traditional medicine or not, it always offers phoenix-like moments.

    We do not need to frame ourselves as corrupt beyond repair.

    I was thinking that if we approached love and life the way we approach some science we would all be living in despair.

    For instance, real quick, the research that has fueled the latest craze in teaching phonics was based on a small sample group of no more than 43 students. From this study, substantial assumptions were made that all students need to learn to read this way. I have been reading other quantitative research that has also taken small samples and made profound statements.

    So, if I counted all the people I gave my heart to where it went un-reciprocated, I would have to conclude I am not love-able. Or if I counted all the times I failed or hit my head against the wall, I wold realize I need to just walk into the nearest tomb and spare the world more disasters.

    But this is not true. And this is where faith comes in. I find my friends/soul-mates, help me with that when i stumble. And narratives, as Obscenewish said, the way i talk about myself. It seems even when not talking we are always telling our own stories and remaking ourselves.
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    Jun 11, 2007 7:59 AM GMT
    BioMatty, glad you're feeling better. :-) The only thing I'd add to what others have said is to not beat yourself up when you feel down. We all have rotten days, sometimes several rotten days... Take them for what they are and don't punish yourself because you're not Mr. Chipper 24/7. It's ok to feel like crap sometimes. That said, if the feelings linger too long, perhaps there's something else at work. But I find that when I have a bad day, the next one's usually pretty good.

    I also very much enjoyed the comments re: narrative. So true!!! The way we describe events and experiences is all about our frame of mind as we relate to what we're describing. I find that I'm someone who frequently writes a negative script in his head. I think it's a left-over from the days of being a miserable gay kid - and I know it's something I must challenge. When I find myself assuming the worst (writing that negative script AGAIN), I now recognize it and do my best to stop the process - and to focus on the things that really do matter.

    It sounds like you're doing a lot of work on yourself. Congrats! Just don't forget to cut yourself a little slack now and then as well. :-)
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    Jun 11, 2007 12:05 PM GMT
    I was thinking today more about the idea of narrative and the story you make about yourself. It is like we are always making our own history.

    It reminded me of something C.S. Lewis said about the decision for heaven or hell be retroactive. According to him, if you choose hell it would look like everything in your life from the begging to the choice lead to that decision, the same goes for if you choose heaven.

    I don't know if heaven and hell as he imagined it exist. That is not the point. But I find the idea rings true of making these definition decisions about myself or others and seeing how history falls into line behind it. I can make history either way, a journey towards joy or suffering.

    Doesn't make the journey easy though. But it does make it worth it.

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    Jun 11, 2007 12:54 PM GMT
    "I think there is a lot more the Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen than having fun and oysters and champagne."

    Wow, really? I did know she had a sense of humor.
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    Jun 11, 2007 1:12 PM GMT
    "I was thinking today more about the idea of narrative and the story you make about yourself. It is like we are always making our own history."

    The problem for many people with this is that they have the idea, as I mentioned in an earlier thread, that history is concrete and fixed -- that the recall of our lives is a narrative outside the imagination -- and that events are inscribed on the body and psyche without our constructing meaning of them (with the culture of psychology's complicity).

    So many people immediately resent the idea of re-narrating their lives. They see it as fictionalizing, when in actuality we are engaged in that process whether we bring intent to it or not.

    Interestingly, Freud recognized this early on and referred to his case histories as "healing fictions." (He also said that this central aspect of his work made him far better understood by artists than scientists. It's one of the reasons he supported lay analysis.)

    Matty: If antidepressants bring you more anxiety than relief, then you should of course avoid them. Paxil is a nightmarish drug for many people and I insist that the psychiatrist supervising my clients' meds only prescribe it as a last resort.

    On the other hand, I've seen many people benefit from some drugs' use.

    It sounds like you've taken steps to deal with your situation.

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    Jun 11, 2007 4:03 PM GMT
    I know you were joking obscenewish with the champange and oysters, and maybe my opening line of using them was not the best. But I did find the following phrase about not having so much fun you catch her syphilus flippant. Would you say the same thing about someone with HIV/AIDS? Particularly someone who contracted the disease through a partners infidelity? When she acquired the syphilus it was not as treatable, and the treatement wasn't considered definitive, as it is today with antibiotics. I know you are not unfamiliar with HIV, and have commented on losing friends to it on other posts, and maybe am reading the sentence wrong or being too sensitive, but it just sounded callous to me.
    My question would be how do you get people to edit a positive scenario out of their lives rather than a negative. Because while many seem to be able to do that, and despite all sorts of disaster, land blissfully on their feet while with others the slightest breeze turns into a hurricane. Why do some automatically go for the positive while others see the negative.
  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Jun 11, 2007 4:20 PM GMT
    i watch oprah it makes me feel warm and safe. just remember while you are trying to stop smoking your body is chemically misfiring a lot of your emotions. so breathe relax, remember your mantra, and realize it is one movement at a time. i am currently quiting to smoke and just bought a pack, so i am in the same rip tide you are.
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    Jun 11, 2007 4:22 PM GMT

    I too, quit smoking within the past year and a half. (smoked for 18 years and decided to turn my life around, quit, get fit, get healthy- sound body-sound mind type of mentality). I know how difficult it is to maintain a quit, so take it a day at a time.

    Life's stresses often get me down as well. I rely mainly upon my own determination, however I also rely upon my close friends to motivate me as well. You (and others) are right, it mainly does have to come from within, but don't discount the motivation and encouragement from friends and other outside sources.

    It is so important to keep perspective on things. A positive outlook is often difficult to maintain when things/people around you work against it. A good diet, exercise and sleep make ALL the difference in the world. As well as knowing which battles to fight and which ones to disregard as manufactured drama (which presonally I loathe).

    Keep that chin up and keep that quit going. One slip does not make a failure, it is just a slip.

    Best regards,
    Todd (in Durham)
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    Jun 11, 2007 6:58 PM GMT
    I just started taking Chantix, It blocks nicotine from getting into your system so you can still smoke if you have the habit but your addiction goes away slowly. I've been able to cut down a ton and I don't see quitting being a problem as long as I can get over the habitual smoking. My Moms started it before I did and she hasnt had a ciggarette in almost a month ( she smoked for 40+ years, so Im pretty impressed. )

    Depending on what it is that caused you to smoke, it might be helpful.

    If its just willpower thats the problem, its just something you're going to have to overcome on your own. Best of luck to you
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    Jun 11, 2007 8:29 PM GMT
    Oh, just as an FYI, I quit 3 months ago - I started taking Zyban (Thank you 100% drug coverage!) and used it for the first 2 months, then stopped about a month ago. I had one smoke the day I stopped taking zyban, and then the smoke this past saturday night.

    Lol, ironic that i used an anti-depressant to rid myself of smoking...but *shrugs* I got to stop the zyban, lol.

    Also, more to the point, anyone who smokes who reads this post - zyban WORKS...BUT

    it doesn't make you 'want' to stop smoking. It allows you to see your craving for what it is - a craving. For me, it allowed to to recognize that "It's just a craving, it will pass" - I still WANTED to smoke, but the absolute RAGE I had felt when I had tried cold turkey was no longer there, and I could function in public without having a smoke...I couldn't have done that cold turkey. I would have had to have been chained in a dungeon somewhere...and I'm totally NOT fucking with you, I got THAT bad.

    So yeah. Zyban kicks ass, kills the rage, but ultimately YOU have to say no.

    And I am very much of the mindset (now) that one slip does not equate to failure.
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    Jun 11, 2007 9:39 PM GMT
    I quit by switching from Marlboro reds to an additive-free brand like American Spirit, smoked them for a few weeks, and then quit cold turkey. The worst was over after the first day and a half. I haven't smoked a single cigarette since then (first week of August 1996).
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    Jun 12, 2007 9:36 AM GMT
    Wrerick has an AWESOME question, how do we narrate our lives positively? For some it is a talent and little gets them down for others the opposite. And then there's many like me who goes back and forth.

    One thing that helps me is that i know when I am narrating negatively, that I am full of shit. The principal is that if the story is bad, then I'm thinking about it wrongly. Also it helps to have friends who give you grace and faith and don't attend your pity parties.

    I don't know what else to say other than it takes practice.

    I think I will start a post about unrequited love, as I have been hearing lots of people talk about this and am interested in what others might have to say. But that is an example of a narrative that can be quite damning or hopeful. Damning in thinking you are not worthy, hopeful in that you are capable of feeling and being in love and meeting people worthy of it.

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    Jun 12, 2007 11:49 AM GMT
    "My question would be how do you get people to edit a positive scenario out of their lives rather than a negative."

    First: Actually, yes, I might well make such a remark about HIV. Most of my friends who have lived with the disease have developed quite a sense of humor about it.

    I well remember in the beginning of the epidemic, going to friends' rooms in the hospital and finding several wearing opera gloves to cover their Kaposi's Sarcoma. One of my friends talked compulsively about where I was to store his ashes -- in a KFC box. My first lover, who died of the disease, became the subject of a black comedy about living with AIDS.

    I could go on, especially about the humor people develop in the face of prejudice about the disease.

    And this is said by way of answering your question:

    We still live in the imagination of Freud. Psychology was founded on the basis of a tragic myth, Oedipus, and this remains the primary lens of western culture. Whether we actually see a therapist or not, we are indoctrinated with this way of psychologizing everything with a tragic perspective. Just turn on Oprah. It's all about tragedy and redemption.

    Christianity, the other predominant perspective of the culture, does the same thing. It is based on a myth of martyrdom.

    The Greeks themselves knew the fallacy of this. Thus, in their theatre festivals, the tragedies were almost always followed by the performance of comedies. Many of the comedies directly parodied the previous tragedies.

    So, the indispensable means of rewriting your narrative is learning to take a comedic perspective toward your life experience, no matter what it was. You can express this in the classic terms of the Greeks or you can express it in postmodern terms of "play," in Derrida's sense of recognizing that there is no "real" meta-narrative. (And the irony of Derridean analysis is that while it dispenses with the meta-narrative, it becomes hyper-concerned with ethics.)

    Because I work with psychology as an aesthetic practice and because my sense of humor literally saved my life several times, I find this approach very comfortable. My mother, previously a jabbering and hilarious artist, lived as a stroke patient for 14 years, unable to talk, walk, read or write, but her sense of humor obviously kept her going.

    My refusal to subscribe exclusively to the tragic narrative admittedly shocks new clients now and then. It is amazing how glued to the tragic narrative people are. At most, such people will consider only redemption -- not a move toward the absurdist. (Pirandello: "Life is full of infinite absurdities, none of which need seem true, simply because they are.")

    And of course, this step toward the absurd and the comedic is not something I bring up at the outset of work with someone typically. But I do ask myself how long my role is to comfort before we begin exploring that aspect of the self that feeds on tragedy. This morning I am seeing a former client whose gay son died a year ago because of meth abuse. Horrible, but the woman, a performance artist, said she wanted to resume seeing me because she'd lost any sense of levity in her grief.

    As to how one shatters the culture's tragic lens, that is too complex for this space.

    This has been written at warp speed, pardon any typos, please.