explain it to a pro
November 20, 2007 1:49 PM   Subscribe

So a 'ruinous indiscipline' issue (described here and here) isn't getting any better.

I keep getting extraordinary chances and 'rescues' through social connections but keep falling back into stagnation and crises. There's really no sort of requirement for school or work that I don't consistently fail. Now I'm thinking of getting help and I'm wondering, firstly, who would I need to see? (I don't have health insurance and the seriously low-end school I'm at doesn't really have health services, but money is not too much of an issue). Secondly, what would I tell them? I still have the feeling that "help: I can't do anything!" doesn't sound like a real problem and more just a personal-habits failure..
posted by raisons de coeur to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
go see a psychiatrist. you may have depression; you certainly seem like you would benefit from some counseling. an evaluation will help the shrink figure out what you need and help you come up with a plan.

even if you have nothing more serious than a deeply ingrained habit of inertia, a therapist can help you figure out how to break out of it. they are not going to say, "you're just lazy" and dismiss you.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2007

"Help, I can't do anything" is pretty close to what I started with when I started therapy a month or so ago. He didn't flinch.

Now, do you want to still be asking yourself what the problem is when you're almost 40, like me?
posted by rhizome at 2:03 PM on November 20, 2007

If "Help: I can't do anything!" feels like a real problem - and it always has to me - then it's a perfectly valid problem to talk to a professional about. In terms of who to talk to, if you have a general practice doctor you can get a referral for a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. Just keep getting referrals until you land with someone you feel comfortable with and who you feel like understands you particular issue. There is a whole branch of psychotherapy called behavior modification (b-mod) and I have been referred to b-mod specialists for exactly this problem. Whoever you work with will probably start out by trying to identify the thought process that leads you to ruinous indiscipline and then tackle the way that you think about tasks and your ability to complete them. I ended up going on a low dose of an antidepressant and I have to say that my motivation and follow-through improved markedly. It's possible to change your habits if you decide that you want to. Good luck.
posted by yogurtisgenocide at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2007

Not saying that you are depressed, but I agree that the "I can't seem to do anything" can be a sign of depression. There could also be underlying issues that you may not be aware of. So it's not like it's just your fault and a therapist will be unable to help you. Go see someone.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

raisons de coeur: I still have the feeling that "help: I can't do anything!" doesn't sound like a real problem and more just a personal-habits failure...

There is no difference between those things for a good psychiatrist.

I remember your questions from before, and let me repeat something I said there: I have felt precisely the way you do. Right now, I'm going through a pretty involved process to undo a significant amount of damage to my notion of who I am due to years upon years of unfulfilled expectations. I've let down everybody starting with my (very supportive) parents and all of my friends on all sorts of things. The combined regime of medication and talking with somebody that I'm going with now has helped me a great deal. It sounds, in short, to me as though you've got ADD.
posted by koeselitz at 2:22 PM on November 20, 2007

"Self-defeating behavior" is a fairly common term for what you describe. It's certainly common in depression, but I think it is one of those symptoms that benefits from talk therapy even if the root cause is chemical.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:23 PM on November 20, 2007

Ditto what everyone is saying. This is not normal behavior and a therapist can help you have a much more fullfilling and happy life. You cannot be very happy now so what have you got to lose? Nothing but your low sense of self and you have everything to gain.

I have had therapy on and off and I must say it has changed my life. I have not seen anyone in 5 years or so and do not think I will need to again. But if I feel I do need that help I would not hesitate to go see someone again.
posted by shaarog at 2:24 PM on November 20, 2007

Answer in you MeFi mail.
posted by baserunner73 at 2:50 PM on November 20, 2007

Therapy sounds good. You may be depressed.

But also -- are you trying to fit yourself into other's notions of success? Why try to do anything other than have a good time and make enough money to put food on your table and a roof over your head and the few hobbies you find pleasurable? Why not accept the fact that work is boring, and you just have to do enough to have the small amount of money you need to get by? Put in your eight hours at a menial job, then enjoy life. There's absolutely no shame to that.

Stop letting people "rescue" you by offering you jobs or schools or whatever. Their definitions of success may be irrelevant to what makes you happy.
posted by footnote at 3:35 PM on November 20, 2007

(In other words - slacking is no shame. Slacking and not enjoying it - now that, my friend, is a shame.)
posted by footnote at 3:41 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

Look for a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy or rational-emotive behavioral therapy (a similar variant).

For my money, that seems to be the therapeutic flavor with the best handle on the Gordian knot of distorted mental stories and maladaptive behaviors into which your panties are currently tied.

Don't worry right now about what you're going to tell them. (Hint: your story that you don't have a "real problem" is part of your problem.) Just go in there and tell them what you've told us. They will know what to do.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nobody can diagnose you as depressed over the internet. However, what I can say is that this is severely fucked up behaviour on your part, it is NOT normal, it is harmful to yourself and just plain rude to the people around you, and you need a psychiatric kick up the ass.

Call a shrink already. Enough.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:53 PM on November 20, 2007

Response by poster: footnote.. well, I've mostly given up on the school thing, just hanging in there to get a bachelor's.

I had a "menial" job for like 18 months where I got in and did stuff and got out and it was a quick ticket to existential tedium.. because you did the same thing over and over again, there wasn't any money (you waited on random promotions to make a handful more dollars an hour), oh god it was the same thing day in and day out. I guess I'm sounding spoilt here because a lot of people do these kind of service industry jobs without despairing but again I just suck at life

The current work I do is contracting for a small company whose owner supports me wildly but is beginning to say things like "you're getting really expensive", "flake on me one more time and I'm not going to touch the flame again", and so on.. if I can hang in there with them (they're in the industry I want to spend my career in, an industry where money tends to be thrown around easily) it would turn my life around.

So yeah, I either want to just give in (get shot? arrested? committed for insanity? I dunno) or step up to the plate and be intelligent, effective, financially comfortable.. not somewhere in between..
posted by raisons de coeur at 4:08 PM on November 20, 2007

Definitely therapy. It seems like you're being both irresponsible and responsible for the wrong reasons. You stick with school and the job "in your field" and take the opportunities offered to you by your connections out of a sense of obligation and responsibility. But then you fail to follow through out of irresponsibility. Instead, you need to become irresponsibly dedicated to responsibly doing what you actually like to do!
posted by footnote at 4:45 PM on November 20, 2007

Good God man, go into therapy!

I've been in your situation. Hell, I'm still in your situation. But you know what doesn't help? Sitting around wailing "But what can I dooooooo?" while waving your hands, and then when people give you answers arguing their solutions are just impossible and then going through the cycle all over again.

You've already asked this question twice. Look, nothing has changed in the intervening months. There's no pill or method that has suddenly cropped up that will cure you in that time. There are no magic solutions to this shit. If the answers you liked haven't worked, then you need to try the answers you don't like, and that means therapy.

Are these questions just another way of procrastinating? "I will get off my ass and make it happen . . . um, tomorrow, after I get an answer on AskMetafilter that will be like a magical sprinkling of pixie dust and turn me into the person I've always wanted to be."

It doesn't work like that. It will never work like that. This is a psychological issue and those always take lots of hard work on your part and a willingness to try things you didn't want to try.

Tomorrow, start calling therapists. Get your ass off and do it. Don't wait another week so you can get recommendations. Talk to your doctor. Talk to friends and family members. Try RateMDs.com. Seriously. You really want to fix this? Other people aren't going to give you all the solutions. You have to find some yourself. This is the hardest thing you will ever learn--I know it is for me.
posted by schroedinger at 6:39 PM on November 20, 2007 [5 favorites]

Try applying the suggestions in Other People's Habits to yourself. Worked like gangbusters for me.
posted by Coventry at 7:49 PM on November 20, 2007

First, from your comments in this thread, it sounds like money is a big motivator for you, and in my experience, having lots of money is pretty damn hard work.

Second, I'd like to know what it is that you are doing when you aren't doing what it is that you are supposed to be doing. Perhaps the problem is some sort of disconnect between doing those things that you think will bring you the money (and approbation of your family and peer group, hot sex, etc.) and what you would really like to be doing.

When you're blowing something off, what are you doing instead, Reasons of the Heart?
posted by thebrokedown at 12:10 AM on November 21, 2007

Response by poster: Strangely enough, some combination of surfing the web or walking aimlessly around town, listening to music, and overeating.
posted by raisons de coeur at 3:01 AM on November 21, 2007

Let me try another angle. Don't be so caught up in yourself. Go do something for other people. Volunteer for a cause you care about, or drive elderly people to the supermarket one day a week, or anything in between.

You need a purpose in life to be motivated to get out of bed in the morning. You certainly need one to feel like your life matters. When you have one, work is not work any more. It's just what you do because you want to do it. Now a shrink or a counselor or a minister may be able to help you come to terms with this, but the best way to grasp this truth is simply to throw yourself into doing something good for other people. The rewards feed back on themselves.

I'm serious. If you don't have any love for the world or other people, no amount of therapy is going to make you love yourself.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:46 AM on November 22, 2007

(Which is not to say you should not be screened for depression and treat whatever emotional condition you have the usual ways; but it is my view of the matter that biochemical mood problems can't be solved with biochemistry alone.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:48 AM on November 22, 2007

Response by poster: You're correct that I'm very distant from the world around me, fourcheesemac--I wouldn't have thought that was related, but I guess it is.

Okay, boss-dude just followed his "touching the flame" metaphor with "I have no expectations from you anymore.. it's like Russian Roulette, I never know what's going to happen." ha. Okay so this loaded pistol is going to therapy and/or on meds. Thanks for clarifying things, all.
posted by raisons de coeur at 5:58 AM on November 23, 2007

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