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Dealing with emotional/physical slumps on a regular basis

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  • #378291
    jess
    Participant

    To Tiny Buddha fam

    I’ve been following this page for a while.

    I’m just wondering if anyone has had a similar experience and could shed some light on how to improve the situation.

    I’ve been feeling pretty shitty since I was 12. Nothing particularly happened I just lost interest in a lot things and became pretty insecure. It got worst in high school. when I was in grade 12 (I was 17). I decided to change for the better. I’m 21 now. so much has improved. I’ve reduced so many bad habits like stress eating, maladaptive daydreaming, paranoid thinking.  I’ve implemented journaling when I’m stressed, dancing, regular exercise, balanced diet.

    I have written thousands of pages unpacking my thoughts/emotions etc, letters to people etc. I’m genuinely so invested in trying to improve the quality of my life because I don’t see the point in being alive if you don’t at least try to enjoy it.

    my work is in align with what I want to do. I do feel some sense of purpose and enjoyment with what I do. The difficulty level isn’t too much for me.

    I have seen and felt improvements in my mood and behaviours. It is easier than it used to be.

    Unfortunately about every month and a half I slump/crash. literally for 2-3 weeks. I become incapable. I can’t study, I can’t focus, I become a recluse, all the purpose and enjoyment gets sucked out of my life. Everything in my life feels like a distraction or a shitty coverup for this deep empty feeling I have.

    It used to feel really physical. I was extremely fatigued, couldn’t get out of bed. It was hard to do the basic things. I implemented some healthy coping mechanism to help pull me out of the slumps. It does work, and over the years the slumps become less and less physically exhausting. They are mostly just emotionally draining. But it still interrupts my life, work, study.

    I’ve tried to look online to find something to explain this but I can’t find anything. There are a lot of articles written about slumps but i couldn’t find anything about experiencing slumps extremely regularly.

    Its still happens now every month or so and i just want to know what it is. I genuinely really want to address it but I just don’t know why it keep on happing all the time.

    I am a girl and it does not coincide with me period. So its not hormonal I don’t think.

    when I’m not in a slump i just feel mostly normal. Obviously normal for me still feel a bit grey and empty, especially when i don’t have ‘distractions’ around me but its still liveable, i still can look forward to things and have some aspirations.

    I don’t know if I’m just impatient and it takes a while to overcome these feelings and improve your life. Its only been 4 years since I’ve been proactively trying to improve my life. Maybe that’s really not that long in the scheme of things.

    but anyways if anyone know what it is pls share, i would love to hear your experiences

    #378294
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jess:

    I am glad you started your own thread.

    You wrote: “about every month and a half I slump/ crash. Literally for 2-3 weeks. I become incapable. I can’t study, I can’t focus, I become a recluse, all the purpose and enjoyment gets sucked out of my life.. I was extremely fatigued, couldn’t get out of bed. It was hard to do the basic things…I’ve tried to look online to find something to explain this but I can’t find anything.. about experiencing slumps extremely regularly. It’s still happens now every month or so, and I just want to k now what it is. I genuinely really want to address it… I am a girl and it does  not coincide with my period. So it’s not hormonal”-

    – it could be Recurrent brief depression, Wikipedia,  on the topic: “Recurrent brief depression (RBD) defines a mental disorder characterized by intermittent depressive episodes, not related to menstrual cycles in women, occurring between approximately 6-12 times per year”.

    Did you see a medical doctor on the matter?

    * I will be back to the computer in abut 10 hours from now.

    anita

    #378298
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Jess,

    you said you noticed a change in your character and behavior around the age of 12, and you’re not aware of any particular reason. That’s when puberty hits and we’re much more sensitive to being accepted by our peers. Have you experienced rejection at school? Or have you changed schools or anything like that?

    #378621
    jess
    Participant

    Dear anita

    thankyou, I had never heard of Recurrent brief depression before. I read some articles about it since you commented and do definitely relate to some of the symptoms listed. The next step would probably to go see someone about it. It’s so strange though, RBD doesn’t come up on many websites pages about depression. It seems not to be very common.

    Dear TeaK

    A couple things happened when I was 12 I guess. I became really disinterested/disengaged with school. I guess I experienced a couple ‘rejections’ so to speak but all in all, I had a good group of friends.  I did get mocked/made fun of a lot by some family members. This increased during high school  so it definitely contributed to my insecurities. I feel like that empty and grey feeling that immerged when i was 12 kind of popped out of nowhere. I was told that puberty can affect your hormones and your mood, but if so i don’t know why i’m still experiencing this feeling at 21.

    Even though I got mocked at home, I feel like everything started to go downhill with the onset of this empty feeling when I was 12. It was kind of always there in the background and made it harder to grow resilient and bounce back from problems. So the more mistakes and failures I made the worst I felt. It was a bit of an avalanche effect. I slowly forgot what it felt like to be passionate or hopeful towards things.

    I feel different today because i did a lot of reflecting and steering my life in a direction I’m happy with. 60 percent of the time its ok. Unfortunately the rest of the time is in these slow and emotionally draining slumps that happens somewhat regularly. it Really feels like out of my control. Often nothing much has set it off, or something very small.

    #378623
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jess:

    Names of mental disorders are given by scientists and medical doctors who place hundreds or thousands of symptoms into groups, this group of symptoms is named disorder X, and another group of symptoms is named disorder Y, etc. Every few years, they revisit the previous groupings of symptoms and make changes in the groupings and names.

    Regarding most mental disorders, such as depression, people are not born with the disorder, they develop this symptom and then the other symptom, and over time (due to the “avalanche effect” you mentioned), people end up with particular collections of symptoms. Depending on the groupings decided by scientists, a person can be diagnosed with this or that disorder. Recurrent depression simply means depression that recurs, happening again and again.

    You shared that at 12, an “empty and grey feeling… popped out of nowhere”, then the avalanche effect took place: the more mistakes you made and more failures that you experienced, “everything started to go downhill”. After some work, you feel better 60% of the time, but 40% of your time is experienced in those “emotionally draining slumps”, that is, your depression recurs.

    I am guessing that the empty and grey feeling did not pop out of nowhere. I am guessing it popped out of having been “mocked/ made fun of a lot by some family members”. What do you think/ feel?

    anita

    #378628
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Jess,

    you say that at the age of 12, you “became really disinterested/disengaged with school. I guess I experienced a couple ‘rejections’”

    I believe that those rejections by your peers might have contributed to an increased feeling of insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Until then, the feeling was dormant or not that strong, although present, because you were mocked and made fun of by some family members, and it probably didn’t start when you were 12, but earlier. Am I guessing this right?

    Till the age of 12, perhaps your school friends provided a sort of a support system for you, and you didn’t feel bad about yourself (“I had a good group of friends“). But when some of those friends rejected you, you started feeling vulnerable and “lesser than”, and this started a downward spiral. Do you think this is what might have happened?

     

    #378676
    jess
    Participant

    Dear Anita and TeaK

    The mocking/made fun of definitely started before I was 12.  I’ve never felt such positive connection with this family member so I believe even before the mocking started there was not much support and positivity coming from this connection.

    My parents have always been nice. My dad a little bit disengaged though. They have always provided support but not always the right support for ‘me’. They are their own people, they have their own lives, jobs, my other siblings to take care of. So I’m not resentful for that at all.

    But yes Teak as you mentioned I always felt more connected and closer with my friends. I felt like they understood me better. I remember feeling a little bit more emotionally interdependent from my parents and less family orientated than a lot of peers. for me family was always the people who treat your nicely and care and for me, and that was my friends.

    when I was 12 I went overseas for a couple of weeks without my direct family. I went to visit some extended family. When I came back my friends didn’t ask alot about my trip. I was really disappointed but it also made me realise that unlike me their lives hadn’t changed for the space of a couple weeks. That when I left nothing much changed for them.

    its sounds self centred but when your little you think the world revolves a bit around you, your not so aware of other people. I guess that experience made me realise that the world doesn’t revolve around me and it also made me feel like the people who were supposed to care (my friends) didn’t. A lot of people go through this realisation, its apart of growing up, realising how everyone around your is living their own life. Its how we also learn to have empathy for others. But I guess it made an impact on me none the less.

    I definitely started to feel a bit more detached from everything after that moment.

    #378678
    anita
    Participant

    Dear jess:

    I will read and reply to you in about 10 hours from now.

    anita

    #378685
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Jess,

    it sounds like you haven’t really felt appreciated in your own family, and felt better and more accepted by your friends.

    In your family, there was one family member who’s always mocked you, and “there was not much support and positivity coming from this connection.” Your parents were “nice”, your father a bit disengaged, and it appears they were preoccupied with their jobs and your other siblings:

    My parents have always been nice. My dad a little bit disengaged though. They have always provided support but not always the right support for ‘me’. They are their own people, they have their own lives, jobs, my other siblings to take care of.

    They might have provided material support, but they didn’t provide adequate emotional support for you, weren’t there for you when you needed them. You got that support from your friends instead:

    I remember feeling a little bit more emotionally interdependent from my parents and less family orientated than a lot of peers. for me family was always the people who treat your nicely and care and for me, and that was my friends.

    Perhaps it wasn’t just your father that was disengaged, but your mother too (because she was too busy and preoccupied with care for your other siblings)?

    Then, when you were 12, you went to an overseas trip, and when you returned, your friends weren’t exactly jumping up and down from joy that you’re back. They didn’t even ask you much about the trip. It appears as if their lives went on, regardless of whether you were there or not.

    That’s when you felt a strong sense of rejection and the sense that “I don’t matter”, I suppose. Till then you felt you mattered at least to  your friends (you didn’t feel you mattered that much to your parents, did you?), but from that moment on, even that was shattered. You lost interest and became disengaged with school, and an “empty and grey feeling” overwhelmed you out of the blue.

    That was the feeling of rejection by your parents that was always dormant, but was until then successfully held at bay by the interest provided by your peers. But when their interest seemed to have evaporated, the empty and grey feeling took over completely.

    I think this is what happened, Jess. If you’d like to share some more about the ways you felt neglected and emotionally not supported in your family, please do. Healing that emotional neglect, I believe, will be key for healing your recurrent depression too.

     

    #378702
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jess:

    You shared that your parents were always nice and supportive. About their support of you, you wrote: “They have always provided support but not always the right support for ‘me’. They are their own people, they have their own lives, jobs, my other siblings to take care of”.

    Growing up, you felt more connected to your friends than to your parents, you felt understood by your friends. You noticed that you were “less family oriented than a lot of peers” .

    I noticed the  quotation marks you placed around “me”, in the context of your parents providing support to you, meaning, as I understand it, that they were supportive of all their children in the same, identical, nice, and superficial way, seeing their children perhaps as  standardized children, and therefore their treatment of you was nice but aloof, and you felt unseen and understood as a person who is more than a surface, or an appearance of a person.

    It’s possible that their aloof, impersonal support of you created an acute emptiness and loneliness in you that is responsible to those “emotional/ physical slumps on  regular basis” (in the title of your thread), and motivated you to look for a close, personal support from friends to fill in that emptiness.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by anita.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by anita.
    #378581
    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Hi Jess,

    I think this is a rather serious problem, since stress always has a reason, maybe some event in your life shocked you? In such a situation it is good to have an interesting hobby or do sports. Sometimes, it is difficult to force yourself, but if you enjoy it, then why not. Also, you can try to meditate: https://ivypanda.com/essays/meditation-as-a-way-to-alleviate-stress/
    It will help you relax, feel your body and understand your thoughts.
    But of course, it is better to consult a doctor.

    #382235
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Jess?

    anita

    #383495
    jess
    Participant

    Hey Anita

    I’m good. I’ve been in counselling for a couple months now. I don’t feel like I’ve been in counselling long enough for it to have made a huge difference but i think it will go in that direction soon enough. It’s nice to have someone who listens to you and actually believe that you are trying hard. That don’t think failing subjects etc is a result of being lazy and believe you when you say you can’t control these mood slumps. I cut my study and work load by half and have allocated myself 2 full days to rest so i’m hoping this new routine will reduce the chance i will slump. I have also set some programs in place for me and made contact with some study help programs so that when i slump i will have someone to go to to help with my studies.

    My study term has just started again after weeks of no study (because i avoided everything and had to drop out). So i’m hoping i have put enough support networks in place this time that when i slump i can go to those and hopefully come out of the term without failing my studies.

    My Doctor and Counsellor recommended i see a psychiatrist  so i have an appointment booked for the end of august so i will just see what they say. I’m not interested in medication but maybe they will provide a bit more clarity on what slumping regularly means.

    I think overall im going in a better directions. The last big slump which was around the time i first posted on tiny buddha i remember being able to reason with myself even in the hardest moments. I eventually was able to acknowledge that those thoughts and feelings i was having were symptoms of depression, they were not my thoughts. Depression feels very personal because it affects your thoughts. Thoughts always feel like they must be true, it’s your inner voice and we are taught to trust that inner voice. Now i understand that i can’t trust all those thoughts and feeling that come into my head. I don’t need to always engage in them. So i think in comparison to 5 years ago i am in a much better place. I think i just have to keep moving forwards and recognise the little improvements i make. My goal is no longer to be happy anymore, my goal is just to improve. Who knows where i will end up with that!

    Maybe you can tell that the tone of this message in more hopeful, well that is because i’m am not in a slump atm! But i know now that mood swings, however they present themselves can swing you from one state to an entire different mood in the next. Some people may experience emotions in a more linear way, some people’s emotions can swing drastically. For those people you may feel very extreme in one moment and completely different in the next. So next time i slump i might feel like completely giving up, i may feel completely different to the way i feel now. But i know that eventually i will return back to feeling normal again. In the meantime i’m just going to try to make my circumstances align as much as possible with what i need so that i have the best chance of succeeding. But honestly if i fail again, it will hurt but i can now see that trying hard to make your life better does work. Reaching out for support does help. doing all those little psychology activities and reflective exercises has payed off because i have definitely improved in the last five years.

    so there you go, that’s a little bit about me.

     

    #383513
    anita
    Participant

    Dear jess:

    Good to read your positive update: being in counseling for a couple of months, cutting your study and work load by half, and arranging for study help programs/ support networks for the next time you slump.

    You wrote in your recent July 26 post: “The last big slump which was around the time I first posted on tiny buddha I remember being able to reason with myself even in the hardest moments“- you first posted on tiny buddha a bit over 3 months ago, on April 21. As I re-read your April posts, I agree that indeed you reasoned well in those posts: your thinking was organized, clear, purposeful. You were not drowning in depression to the point of being disorganized, confused and aimless, nor did you express suicidal ideation, all which makes me hopeful (as a person who is not a health care professional of any kind), that you do not need to get on psychiatric medications.

    Here is how you described your “emotional/ physical slumps” back on April 21: “Unfortunately about every month and a half I slump/crash. literally for 2-3 weeks. I become incapable. I can’t study, I can’t focus, I become a recluse, all the purpose and enjoyment gets sucked out of my life… this deep empty feeling I have. It used to feel really physical. I was extremely fatigued, couldn’t get out of bed… over the years the slumps become less and less physically exhausting. They are mostly just emotionally draining. But it still interrupts my life, work, study..  feel a bit grey and empty.. 60 percent of the time its ok. Unfortunately the rest of the time is in these slow and emotionally draining slumps that happens somewhat regularly. it Really feels like out of my control. Often nothing much has set it off, or something very small“-

    – seems like there’s been much improvement over the years: the slumps have been improving, becoming “less and less physically exhausting” and “60 percent of the time it’s ok”, and the slumps are less frequent: they used to occur “about every month and a half”, but for 3 months now, you did not experience a slump, or at least not a significant one. The therapy and your actions as a result of the therapy in the last two months probably have a lot to do with the improvement.

    Back in April, you expressed your interest in understand the regular slumps, so to address them: “I’ve tried to look online to find something to explain this but I can’t find anything. There are a lot of articles written about slumps but I couldn’t find anything about experiencing slumps extremely regularly. Its still happens now every month or so and I just want to know what it is. I genuinely really want to address it but I just don’t know why it keep on happing all the time“.

    I (as a non-professional) will try to explain what you have been experiencing based not on knowing you personally, but on the little you shared here + my life experience and science:

    Key sentence in regard to your childhood: “I remember feeling a little bit more emotionally interdependent from my parents and less family orientated than a lot of peers“-

    -to me, “emotionally interdependent from my parents” means emotionally-separated-from-my-parents, aka Lonely, and “less family oriented” means again, Lonely in the context of your family.

    About your parents, you wrote: “They are their own people, they have their own lives, jobs, my other siblings to take care of. So I’m not resentful for that at all“-

    – to me,  your parents having-their-own-lives means that they had their lives and you had yours, and your life was separate from theirs. Again, the theme is your Lonely experience in the context of your family. You added that you are not at all resentful for that. To me- it means that you no longer feel resentment or anger about them having their own lives that do not include much of you, but you used to. I assume that the anger you no longer feel has turned into the depression that you experience during the slumps.

    You shared the following: “when I was 12 I went overseas for a couple of weeks without my direct family. I went to visit some extended family. When I came back my friends didn’t ask a lot about my trip. I was really disappointed but it also made me realise that unlike me, their lives hadn’t changed for the space of a couple weeks… I guess that experience made me..  feel like the people who were supposed to care (my friends) didn’t… realising how everyone around your is living their own life… it made an impact on me“-

    – I boldfaced “their own life” which you wrote regarding your friends, as well as “their own lives” which you wrote regarding your parents. Seems to me that at 12, before returning from overseas, you trusted that your friends’ lives and your life were connected. After your return, you realized that their lives (like your parents’) are separate from yours, and the feeling of being Lonely is what impacted you.

    In your original post in April, you wrote: “I’ve been feeling pretty shitty since I was 12. Nothing particularly happened“- seems to me that something particular did happen when you were 12: you returned from your overseas trip, and upon your return, you realized that you are Lonely: not only in the context of your family, but also in the context of your friends.

    Science Daily. com has an February 2009 article titled “Loneliness Affects How The Brain Operates”. The Summary portion reads: “Social isolation affects how people behave as well as how their brains operate.. The research is the first to use fMRI scans to study connections between perceived social isolation (or loneliness) and activity in the brain. Combining fMRI scans with data relevant to social behavior is part of an emerging field examining brain mechanisms”-

    fMRI stands for Functional magnetic resonance imaging. This technique detects changes in the blood flow in the brain. Increased blood flow in the brain happens when there is a neural activation. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases. This technique then, detects what part of brain is activated and what part is not activated at a particular time.

    Notice that the article defines Loneliness as Perceived Social Isolation (boldfaced, below), which means you can be with people but perceive yourself to be isolated/ alone.

    Part of the article: “The research, presented February 15 at a symposium, ‘Social Emotion and the Brain,’ at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the first to use fMRI scans to study the connections between perceived social isolation (or loneliness) and activity in the brain… Researchers found that the ventral striatum—a region of the brain associated with rewards—is much more activated in non-lonely people than in the lonely when they view pictures of people in pleasant settings”.

    – When we are lonely, part of the brain called “ventral striatum” gets de-activated (it gets less blood flow, less blood flow= less neural activation.  Wikipedia: “Functionally, the striatum coordinates multiple aspects of cognition, including both motor and action, planning, decision making, motivation, reinforcement, and reward perception”.

    Back to your description of your slumps back in April: “I become incapable. I can’t study, I can’t focus, I become a recluse, all the purpose and enjoyment gets sucked out of my life”- this reads to me (a non-professional) like the deactivation of your ventral striatum: less blood flows into it, and as a result, the functions listed above in the Wikipedia’s entry diminish, including the motivation and ability to study  and to socialize, as well as the ability to feel pleasure (=reward).

    anita

    #383615
    jess
    Participant

    Hi Anita

    Thankyou for the reply. It’s amazing I feel like I’ve learned some much more from you than I have from counseling in three months haha. I know your not a professional but I do feel like what you are saying is very accurate. I think health care professionals are very slow to make claims because they don’t want to get anything wrong but it makes the whole process much longer. Also the person I’m seeing is only a counsellor so they can’t really make any medical claims or diagnosis. I do accept the idea that I may be lonely. Even though it’s not a link I would’ve made between less interactions and depression, it definitely makes sense. The question is how to overcome this. I feel like I have done plenty of journaling over the years and unloading my feeling. I don’t feel like I have anything left to unlock. So I guess I don’t completely  know how to reverse this pattern of slumping besides just having a good healthy lifestyle, like socialising, healthy eating, exercise , having goals etc. I don’t know maybe it’s just a matter of time for my body to heal. I have looked up on the internet so much about attachment styles and the effect of uninvolved parenting etc. But I can never find anything on how to fix it. Ok, so maybe I was a bit lonely when I was little. So how do I reverse that now? That’s what I want to know, is it different for everyone or is there some techniques people use specifically to reverse this potentially unhealthy attachments. Anyways those r my thought .

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