How do I get this sadness/anger meld to stop?
October 17, 2012 12:10 PM   Subscribe

[emotional blathering filter] YANAT, but I need a little help untangling my jumbled feelings. How to deal with deep feelings of resentment and sadness and get back to focusing on what's really important to me?

This week has been hard. Coming home with headaches pretty much every day. Woke up this morning and the first thing I did is cry. I was just so, so, SO tired and angry. I am doing a lot (working full time, taking a grad-level class, writing a novel) but I LIKE doing a lot, actually I much prefer it to doing too little, in which case I become prone to depression and stagnation. So I don't think it's the "stress of doing a lot" that's getting me down.

Someone very close to me recently confided that they are really depressed. They are seeing a therapist and taking meds, but so far it's still biting. Likewise my mother (who has suffered suicidal depression and probably borderline personality disorder...and has ms to boot) texted me that she was feeling like "a mess" and we ended up chatting online and she admitting to feeling depressed and she's going to go see her doctor again. I've only recently gotten my own depression (mostly) under control (with Wellbutrin) after many many years of struggle.

I think part of my anger is feeling like everyone gets to confide in everyone, but I don't have anyone to talk to. I saw a therapist for many years but felt like we were stalling out and besides there was some insurance bs, so I stopped. I could easily start up seeing him again (parted on good terms) but obviously that option doesn't sound very appealing to me, or I would have done it by now. I could get a new T, and maybe I will, but I keep hoping this feeling will pass or that there's something I can do that will make it pass.

I have a lovely bf (of five years) but his schedule is pretty much opposite mine, and even if it wasn't I wouldn't feel comfortable dumping on him as he has his own trouble going through a career shift. (so I just dump my feelings on the internet, haha)

My mother used to dump her feelings on me a lot because she had no friends and no one else to confide in. I think this is where the undertone of resentment is coming from. But this is not what I want. I REALLY want to be a supportive person to the person who told me about their depression. If a friend confides me, I want to feel closer and empathetic, not get this immediate "Oh, shut up! Deal with your own damn problems" knee-jerk response. I know this comes from my mother/childhood issues, but knowing that doesn't help me feel any different.

I have a great job right now, but I wake up feeling resentful that I have to go. I want to work on my novel, but my head hurts and I feel sick of working on it.

TL;DR Basically, how do I release feelings of resentment when people need my support, and how do I learn to feel better asking for (and HOW do I ask for) support from other people?
posted by Calicatt to Human Relations (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Rather, "everyone gets to confide in me," not "everyone gets to confide in everyone"
posted by Calicatt at 12:12 PM on October 17, 2012

Listen, you gotta confide in people. It makes them not feel as bad about confiding in you. They want to hear about your problems and they won't get frustrated the way that you are with theirs, because they have an outlet.

Seriously. This is a tough one to learn, I'm still struggling with it. But you and they will be better off if you talk. You can pick a friend who regularly dumps on you and say: "Look, I really need to talk to someone about the problems I'm having. Can I vent?". Then have at it. Make sure they understand that you don't need solutions, you just need to talk. If they turn out to be shitty at filling this role for you, try someone else. Keep trying. It's worth it.
posted by windykites at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you have been conditioned to think your "role" is to always be the supportive, undemanding, need-free person. You are allowed to have needs. And a legitimate need is to not always be available on other people's schedules. Just because your mum or friend indicates they want you to reach out to them and be their sounding board does not mean you have to. You can say "I care about you but I am busy right now (even if "busy" means surfing the Internet mindlessly to unwind)."

Nobody needs your support, they want your support but nothing, including birthing you entitles them to support you are not in an emotional place to give.
posted by saucysault at 12:44 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's no wonder you feel resentment if you aren't getting the support you need, it's something we all need from time to time. Since your mom was/is depressed, she wasn't likely providing you with much more than the basics. Some people's parents, mine included, behave like they are the children and make a lot of demands on their kids to take care of them from an early age. This is a situation I am very familiar with, and like you, I carry a lot of resentment seeing other people get support from their friends and family, while I get very little. It's feels so unfair that some people get so much while others get so little. I think that if you are like me, you really have no idea how to even ask for help, to tell someone your frustrations and worries. You mention that you don't want to tell your bf because he has his own worries. Well, I say that is what he is for, to listen to you. There is nothing more important to him than you. Same with your friends, that is what they are for. You need to learn how to ask and talk without worrying so much that you are putting people out. I doubt you will be bothering the people who care about you, and in fact, i would venture to guess that they think you don't want to talk about yourself, or you would. So, TL;DR find people who get a lot of support and take notes, watch them, talk to them, and learn how to feel okay about talking to others about your problems. Then you can be more supportive of others with genuine interest and compassion.
posted by waving at 12:48 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's okay to be grumpy and rant to your friends. That's what I do with my friends and my partner when I'm having a bad day.

(1) It's much better than holding it in.
(2) It's much better than having that anger/upset spill out in other ways where they think you're mad at them when you're just mad.
(3) People who love you want to know that you're willing to rely on them, especially emotionally.
(4) Sometimes it's nice to focus on other people's sh*t for a while instead of your own.

Re: Your mother... I have a similar relationship with my mother, minus the MS. I don't confide in her, because my problems are never "real" problems and I don't have "real" responsibilities. Whatever. If that's the kind of mother yours is, don't confide in her. But you should be able to confide in your partner and your friends--people you chose to let in your life.
posted by ethidda at 12:49 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh God, I totally know where you're coming from as the daughter of a borderline mother. As a child, I was always expected to listen to her and understand her and be as supportive as possible. This continued into adulthood (and still does), and for a long time, I subconsciously created those kinds of relationships with friends. I'm always the one who listens and cares and helps.

You need to realize that you are perfectly within your rights to bitch/complain/vent to your friends about things that are going on in your life. Other people do it to you, right? So why aren't you allowed to do it to them? The more that you let yourself think that you're somehow not able or allowed to be supported by family and friends, the more stressed and resentful and angry you will become.

I've had a similar experience as ethidda as far as confiding to my mother - most of the time, my problems aren't "real" and everything that is going on in her life is about 1,000 times worse than what's going on in mine, ergo my life is unimportant. So I wouldn't suggest starting on getting comfortable with discussing your issues with her, but with a close friend or your boyfriend.

Reaching out for help in your time of need is okay and normal.
posted by anotheraccount at 12:59 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh hey. Welcome to my life. But I got to a point recently where that had to stop. I have family members that feel allowed to call me and tell me that I disgust them (I hope that is quite different from your situation) but when I politely email that a thing they said has been weighing on me and could they please reframe the way they think about an issue, I am told that if a person doesn't intend to hurt my feelings I have to just let it go and not complain about it.

This sets the groundwork for being unwilling/afraid to vent or complain or ask for help. I have a tendency to pretend that I am AOK, honky dory until I am most definitely so far past ok that I am falling apart. Even now, allowing other people to help, spilling the details of what worries me, confiding my fears...this is all immensely difficult.

My advice? Fake it. Pretend that it is ok for you to share your fears. Leak one small stressor. "I can't make it perfectly on time to let the dog out for a walk today and I am worried that she will pee on the carpet." Or "I was stuck in traffic and couldn't get to the dog in time and she peed on the carpet. I feel like such a horrible dog owner."

Admitting that we feel these things is the first step to letting go of the feelings. Sometimes the dog pees on the carpet. That doesn't make us horrible people.

If the first person you try to share with blocks you, make a mental note and try again with someone else. Some friends are more receptive about some topics than others. Some friends aren't really friends because they never want to hear any of your stuff but always demand that you be the ear for theirs. Some friends only want to hear your stuff after they've had a glass of champagne and a pedicure. With practice, you'll figure it out.

In the meantime? Go back to therapy. Start again with a new practitioner, and spend the first session or two talking about what your idea of success looks like. Be aware that the goal may change. But if you don't have one, you won't have anything to measure your work by, which is how we get stuck in therapy talking about the same stuff but not making progress. It sounds like one goal for you might be "feeling comfortable asking my friends to listen to me" or "being comfortable setting boundaries about what my friends can vent to me about."

A goal that I think might be unhealthy would be something like "getting to a place in my life where I never have stress to share with other people" because you know, everybody has reports due, pipes that burst, planes that don't take off on time. Stress.

(also, all my usual advice. Volunteer, go for long walks, take a bath, treat yourself well, and most importantly, get all of your yearly health stuff checked out. If you are a woman, don't just focus on the lady parts, but get all the annual lab work done. Having mine might have saved me quite a bit of run around chasing down depression that wasn't "just" depression.)
posted by bilabial at 1:18 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. It's oddly so comforting even just to hear "i know what you're feeling and I've been there too"
posted by Calicatt at 4:54 PM on October 17, 2012

When my two special needs sons were little, I learned that the difference between "I can't take anymore!!" and "The sun will come out tomorrow..." could be as little as a tall glass of water, a snack, and/or a short nap. I still find that taking care of my physical needs does a lot for my resilience. If I am sick or exhausted, I am prone to resenting friends and other people instead of feeling supportive.

Another thing that can help is to stop and "count your blessings". People tend to focus on bad news. It pretty much doesn't make the evening news if it isn't negative. But, hey, a lovely sunny afternoon perfect for a picnic is not likely to kill you. A hurricane, tornado or flash flood might. So I think we focus on the negative for a good reason -- it helps us survive -- but it can really take a toll psychologically and emotionally. I still try to catalog "what is going right?" when I feel really overwhelmed, depressed, angry, crapped on by life, etc.

I hope that helps.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 6:42 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

How long have you been on wellbutrin and are you being good about your doses? One of its side effects is anger if you are taking too much or miss a doese or two
posted by spunweb at 1:11 AM on October 18, 2012

nthing back to therapy. In my view, the human psyche is like an onion. you peel off a layer, then theres another. It can take time and distance for the next layer to pop up, but it still needs to be dealt with. I think you have a good deal to work on- boundaries with mom, issues from and about mom, possible lonelyness re: bf, etc. So all in all, I think its good for more therapy.

Oh, and like Michele said, take care of yourself!!! food and exercise and yes, even sleep, are VITAL.

Also also, depending on where you are, SAD (seasonal depression) might be an issue.
posted by Jacen at 9:50 AM on October 18, 2012

Write a list of ten things you want to talk about. Pick one at a time: start a conversation with someone, causally and in a context where there's room for privacy and support, and stay in the conversation until you've talked about the one thing from your list. Don't let the conversation end without discussing it. When you're done, cross it off. Then repeat.
posted by ead at 10:24 PM on October 18, 2012

« Older NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GLOM OF NIT   |   Why do some types of people tend to work in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.