A revelation: Cameron Frye

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    So yeah, I had a big revelation about an hour ago. I’ve known this for a while, but it really hit me with more gusto than it ever has before: I have Cameron Frye Syndrome.

    In case you don’t remember, Cameron Frye is a character in Ferris Bueller. He’s home from school the same day Ferris is because he’s “sick”. He really believes he’s sick too. But that part’s not the revelation. The revelation is the following exchange, from the movie:

    Cameron: I’m dying
    Ferris: You’re not dying, you just can’t think of anything good to do.

    Ever since I completely stopped drinking to get drunk, I don’t have that crutch. Basically, I don’t have me thinking “well, I don’t have to do anything tonight, because I can just get drunk”. This mindset was keeping me from taking positive risks, like joining meetups or going to play pool or hanging out with friends more often.

    The kicker is this: alcohol (more accurately, getting extremely drunk) is extremely detrimental to my mental health right now. So I don’t drink it. Which in turn means that I’m having to come up with new ways to do things with the extra time I have–I’m not casting off social opportunities in order to get drunk by myself, because I’m not getting drunk.

    Which means I’ve been struggling to fill in my time. Which means, since I’m not used to taking positive risks, I wind up sitting at home worrying. Which absolutely does not help me get through these hard times.

    I need to do more. I’m beginning to understand why people actually go out and DO things–it’s tremendously boring doing nothing. Video games, even with my brother online, only get me so far, and we do it so often that every time I do it lately I can sense my own resentment and doing the same thing over and over.

    None of my friends were around tonight, but the reason I know that is because I did contact them–I wanted to get out of this apartment. Now that I’ve had this revelation, I might go out on my own at some point, just to keep busy and have a new experience. I’ve spent a lot of life hiding, but I’m not sure I can do that anymore without mental health consequences.

    Anybody else get this?


    Hi Brian – as I’m reading through your post, it looks to me that all the activities you are trying to fill your time with (instead of drinking) involve other people – did I assume that right? Is drinking something you do because you can do it alone? Does it bother you to be alone, or rather having no one to spend time with? If so, that may be something you want to ask yourself questions about – because learning more about who you truly are can be an empowering experience. Who are you when you’re not drinking? Who are you when you’re alone? Who are you when you’re struggling to pass time? Who are you when no one’s returning your calls?

    Are there other activities you can do alone and enjoy? I’d say invest time in yourself – try to figure out what makes you laugh, smile, enjoy; try to remember what you loved doing as a child that you could spend hours doing and not even be aware that you were lost in time; try to figure out or even schedule one thing each day you could do which you normally wouldn’t do…. if you did one new interesting / intriguing thing each day, it would create magic and mystery in your life – you would actually look forward to it each day, and you would look forward to the next day and the next… it would open your eyes to your own inner world.

    When you can love yourself and who you are, others will come to you automatically. When you run from yourself, others will subconsciously run from you too.

    Does this make sense at all? If I’ve misinterpreted your post, forgive me.



    The activities I’m trying (and currently failing, but want) to do involve other people, yes. I spend far too much time in my own apartment, and have turned down or otherwise not contacted friends about hanging out on any kind of regular basis…until yesterday, when I had this revelation. I’d been drinking to get drunk so I can do what’s comfortable–being alone and playing video games. Being drunk also allays the intense loneliness I have. It does bother me that I spend time with so few people, but a fair amount of the time that has been my own choice. This revelation is very much me learning about myself and what I might like. I think the alcohol abuse over many years has been stymieing that, and I didn’t know just how much until last night. Lately when I’m alone I worry, but also use DBT skills and try to be in the moment, though I’ve had a very difficult time being in the moment over the years. Then again, this comes back to alcohol–I’ve practiced being in the moment intermittently for years, but always thought in the back of my head “but I can get drunk tonight, so I don’t have to experience the loneliness or try new things”…i.e. I don’t have to feel much of the loneliness, or face the positive risk-taking of doing new things with new people. Or with existing friends.

    I have activities I do when I’m alone (such as video games, helping others on TinyBuddha, watching movies), but I spend *far* to much time not being social and not trying to be social. The lack of alcohol in my life these days, combined with the extreme anxiety I’ve been under (as you read on my other post), brought the revelation to the forefront of my mind. What I enjoy, what helps me the most, is social situations–I’ve been so desperate for social activities, yet so scared of them, and abusing alcohol to where I didn’t care, that my desire to be social was blunted very much.

    I enjoyed video games as a child, but for the most part I didn’t love anything as a child. If you look at my”Apartment noise and fear” post in Emotional Mastery, I describe key points of my childhood. In a nutshell, it was hell every single day, and the only “safe” place was my room (though even that wasn’t always safe). I hid all the time. So that’s what I’ve been doing for so many years as an adult. Only nowadays such coping mechanisms no longer serve me. My life has been closed, and I’m hoping that with this revelation I can open it up.

    “When you can love yourself and who you are, others will come to you automatically”–I’m not sure how you mean this ultimately, because the way I see it is thus: if I love myself and who I am, I will seek out others, because that’s what I want to do. Though I do see that, if I’m in a lot of pain and hiding, people might not want much to do with me because I’m a drain. On the other hand, I’m honest about myself to friends. I don’t say I’m doing fine when I’m not. I’m being myself.


    Hello Brian – thank you for your detailed explanation. I apologize for jumping to conclusions too soon, and I did wonder about that even as I was writing my earlier response. It’s always sad when I hear that someone didn’t have a happy childhood, or at least escapes as a child when you could get lost in time. Instead you’re talking about your childhood as “hell every single day” – I can’t even imagine the emotional wounds from a time like that. I have to admire you for being able to live somewhat of a normal life now, trying to overcome a dependence on alcohol, and trying to make social connections – when I suggested things to do on your own, I didn’t really mean more video games alone, but things like visiting social places like bookshops or museums or even volunteering activities where you can make meaningful connections, rather than reaching out to “friends” who may or may not be supporting you. I’m happy to hear that you do enjoy social situations – that they’re not an escape from yourself, but something that you thrive on.

    I agree though, the Cameron Frye revelation you had was a powerful one, and I think if you allow it, you could open yourself to seeing what that may come to mean in the next few weeks / months. Revelations seem to work that way for me – in spurts. You maybe onto something 🙂



    I haven’t tried visiting per se social places by myself. That might be a good idea to see how I cope with the emotions, because if I go by myself I can leave at any time. On the other hand, going with friends pretty much means I’d be practicing coping while in the moment–which would be a very valuable thing for me to do. I can cope in the moment alone, but when alone I’m not potentially disappointing anyone else; with a friend, I can practicing coping with any real or perceived disappointment.

    I guess I wouldn’t say I “thrive” on social situations–I’d say that, right now, I desperately need to be social so that I’m not staying up in my head and worrying and producing panic. I don’t work, so that’s something that would occupy my time if I did (which makes me think of your volunteer suggestion). The prospect of work is a whole other can of worms. The last time I worked with any regularity was 2008. This is also about fear: fear of authority figures, disappointing others, my own stuff exploding to the surface and making me a sobbing mess and/or lashing out at others. At three of my previous jobs I got angry with the store manager, a supervisor, and a customer respectively, and in the first two instances I told them to go eff themselves. That’s not how I want to act. And it’s all about my fears and depression and immediate judgment of authority (this comes from my dad being terribly unsupportive in every way except money) being not expressed and held in until it bursts.

    I have a few supportive friends, but not ones whom I’m close to. I mean, I tell them things, ask for help, and they help the best they can, but just about none of them truly “get” me, or if they get me they aren’t communicative anywhere near as often as I’d like (with one of them it’s been two months at least, another a couple weeks). And when I say “desperate”, I’m also desperate to be held. I can hold a pillow and cry at night (which I did last night) and breathe and work to comfort myself, but it isn’t the same as another person wholly understanding me and holding me. I want to feel the love others have for me, but if I can’t seem to feel that for the time being, I want to be held and comforted. Basically I want what my parents couldn’t or didn’t give me.

    Incidentally, the friend I’m meeting later today and the friend I’m meeting tomorrow aren’t really huggy types, and one of them is male…I’ve had a difficult time being friends with guys due to the closed-up nature of my dad and how he modeled avoiding friendships (he still does avoid friendships, at almost 73 years old; I don’t even know if he himself is aware he avoids friendships. He probably doesn’t allow himself to even go there mentally).

    Anyway, the part about revelations…or epiphanies as I sometimes call them: I’ve had two since this whole thing started, and they came about either while I was using calming skills or immediately after. They’ve been about a couple weeks apart, I think. So I can see that about spurts 🙂

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