rationality vs emotions (22)

1 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-03 21:11 ID:dCX2ZU0r

Me and my girlfriend have been together for about a year now. We're in our early 20's (I'm 3 years older). She has mental health problems due to childhood trauma and having lived with abusive parents and friends. She uses some presctiption drugs which help momentarily, but hasn't gotten any real help (=psychotherapy) yet, because her nurse says she's not ready for it yet. There's nothing wrong with our relationship (that's why I'm posting here) as most of the time we get along just fine. I think I have finally met that one rare woman for me. We have quite a lot in common and I can tell you I don't have that much in common with most people.
I can handle the fact that she has mental problems as she is also a very intelligent person when her emotions and paranoia don't take over. There are more good things in her than bad things and I'm willing to wait until her trauma gets cured completely or mostly and she can live an even better life. I'm a very rational person myself. Maybe even too straightforward sometimes when looking for "the truth" in things, as some people can have a lot of pride about something and they get hurt when I don't think in the same way. My girlfriend has some pride issues too. Sometimes she tells me she thinks she's just a piece of shit and worthless. Well, of course I tell her that's not true, but she keeps saying it's a fact and we can't really have a rational conversation about it. What should I say to her in such a situation? Or should I just cope with it and wait until she gets psychotherapy and they "fix her". I just hope I could give her more confidence in life. She doesn't need to worry even if others talk prejudiced shit of her, because those opinions aren't worth anything.

2 Name: 43 : 2008-08-03 21:43 ID:kOcna1Q+

Well, it depends on how intransigent she becomes in those moments but you could try listing her talents and virtues, also let her know what you like the most about her.

Practising a sport helps a lot with self-esteem. How old are both of you?

Captcha: sax

3 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-03 22:20 ID:dCX2ZU0r

I'm 23 and she's 20.
We practice sports, kinda. We go to raves every now and then to dance ^^. We both share a trauma of all these teamplay games we were forced to play at school's gym lessons. She does like jogging sometimes. At the moment she feels like she has no energy for that or any other sports though (maybe because of the medication and/or depression).
I try to tell her what I like about her, but sometimes I feel like my words sound too naive, because in a way she's very demanding about what comes out of the mouth. For example if I say "I love you." she's like "It's pretty obvious how we feel about each other.". I don't mind that really, but at times I gotta think carefully what I say, and that I don't sound like a naive machine. So in a way she's also rational and down-to-earth, but she can't explain certain things with logic, because "Things are as they are because they are like that.". I gotta think of this carefully...

4 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-04 07:36 ID:7wAuWdpV

You're girlfriend sounds a bit like me.
I'm pretty rational about most things, but some things are just beyong logic explanation.
I KNOW I'm not a worthless piece of shit,I know it with my brain and my mind, but not with my heart.

When I'm all down and crying, my boyfriend acts kind of helpless aswell (it was interessting to read your post, because I think my boyfriend could've written it just the same way).
Things like "But you're smart/great person/pretty" don't really help, since they are - as you stated - kind of general, naive compliments - things one would say in a situation like that, too easy to see through.

It helps much more when he takes a recent event as an example. I have really big iusses calling people by phone (yes, don't ask why), so he might remind me of an incident where I successfully called someone.
I won't cheer up immediately, but it really makes me feel better.

When you are depressed, you tend to forget all positive things, alls successes immediately after they happened. Every time you failed will be stuck in your head forever.
So it's nice when someone helps you to remember.
Don't swamp her with compliments or "I love you"s - that would be inflationary and in the end she won't believe you anymore.
I've been together with my boyfriend for almost three years now, "I love you" has been said maybe.. four or five times?
I like thatm because when he (or I) say it, we know it means much.

5 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-04 08:59 ID:MzOySJk1

>until she gets psychotherapy and they "fix her"

This will never happen.

6 Name: moral relative : 2008-08-04 15:06 ID:s1y58HNt

Okay, first of all you must realize she will be damaged for years. I've been through a lot of shit as well, and it took years to get to where I am now. Maybe you should just go on a few dates with the girl you like and just see how it feels. If you find out you really like her it could be time for you to move on to something better and part ways with your girlfriend. If you are happy with your girlfriend you should stay with her though, but don't stay with her to help her, or because you feel sorry for her. Only she can really help herself.

7 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-04 17:01 ID:dCX2ZU0r

Thanks for the advice!

>>5 and >>6
I know that it will take years for her to recover completely, or to the point that she can enjoy life as much as a normal person. I'm not in a hurry and I'm willing to wait even if it takes 10 or 20 years. It's not like I can't enjoy life with her as things are now. At times life is depressive, but it's not always like that and there are enough happy moments to make it worth it.
I didn't start going out with her, because I wanted to help her and feel sorry for her. There were other motives (including: we have a lot in common in values and other interests). I think this is that once in a lifetime opportunity. I have had experience with other women too, but they just weren't what I was looking for and they couldn't accept me for who I was.
I couldn't even consider going on a date with another girl.

8 Name: Been there : 2008-08-06 08:30 ID:eoi0mPRR

Other people are abused and some suffer mental illness while some who are abused do not. Some people suffer mental illness because someone owes them $5, and that is enough of a stressor to push the mental illness to the surface. My point is that the girl has a mental illness, and the abuse just brought it out in the open (something would have eventually), but she will never "recover completely" unless she has a brain transplant. Her "recovery" will be a lifelong parade of psychiatrists, mood swings, and a generalized sense of anxiety. Unless you have the patience of a saint, you should probably bail now before it wears you out.

9 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-06 09:21 ID:dCX2ZU0r

So what you are saying is that people are born with mental illness? I agree that some people have a better probability of getting it, but I still think if she had spent her life in a more stable environment she wouldn't have these issues. Besides, how can you say that if you don't even know what her diagnosis is? It's not like all mental illnesses can be put into same category. She is suffering of something that is, according to the various symptoms, definitely related to the trauma and only therapy can help it. (I don't want to go into any more detail with that in case she reads this) Therapy can also help to build survival techniques, which make life easier. When it can be treated correctly the mood swings can be minimized. Well, at least where I'm from.

10 Name: Been there : 2008-08-06 10:02 ID:eoi0mPRR

Some people are born with a predisposition to mental illness, which is why it tends to run in family histories. I once dated a girl with a family history of schizophrenia, and the stress that brought it out for her was when she moved away to college. Consider this: some other people are born with a predisposition to alcoholism, though it doesn't mean the person will be an alcoholic (they may never have a drink), but once they have some drinks and become alcoholics, they can never be "completely cured" but are always "recovering." Same thing with mental illness: once people cross the line, it is always a struggle for them to cope with anxiety without slipping away from rational thought. And childhood trauma is the worst kind of stressor because the strong emotions are burned into memory, (and get reactivated with stress), and the fact that she suffered abuse from her family means that certain types of "family activities" (like holidays, graduations, etc) will reawaken her feelings of dread. The poor girl is damaged goods, so like I wrote earlier, you will need the patience of a saint to make this work. I feel like Sean Connery in Highlander when he says "I would spare you the agony. You should leave her, brother."

11 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-06 14:09 ID:7wAuWdpV

>>10 Bullshit.

>>because the strong emotions are burned into memory, (and get reactivated with stress)

That is what a therapy is for. So you can learn to deal with stress and don't get triggered with memories and emotions. Of course our past and childhood influences our personality, but how can you she will suffer forever?
Just because the therapists fucked it up with your ex-girlfriend it doesn't mean that will happen to everyone else.
(Plus: schizophrenia is caused by a genetic defect, which is heritable, so it's more a physical illnes with psychic symptoms).

12 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-06 16:41 ID:dCX2ZU0r

I didn't come here to ask for advice whether or not I should dump her. I would have written this in the Love and Romance board if I did. I'm not a saint, but I'm a calm person and confident that I can handle life with her. Well, I have nothing else to say what hasn't been said already...

13 Name: Been there : 2008-08-06 18:44 ID:eoi0mPRR

Sorry #11, but therapy teaches you to reason with a mind that gets hijacked by emotions when it gets tweaked with anxiety. A good movie that shows this is "A Beautiful Mind," when even though the guy reasons out that some of his friends are imaginary, yet he still continues to see them. And you acknowledge that schizophrenia is hereditary, well read the first post. He says "when her emotions and PARANOIA take over." That means she probably is a paranoid schizophrenic, and they almost always get worse and sometimes dangerous. I am not blaming them, and I don't think they should all be dumped, but I think they require special care and effort to maintain a relationship. If someone posted, "my girlfriend has HIV" I would write "you are going to have to take some extra precautions to make this work, and it going to go well so you might consider bailing before getting even more involved"

14 Name: Been there : 2008-08-06 21:02 ID:eoi0mPRR

I just noticed in my last post (#13), the last sentence was incomplete. It should read "you are going to have to take some extra precautions to make this work, and it's PROBABLY NOT going to go well so you might consider bailing before getting even more involved"

There is no cure for most mental illness, there is only treatment that helps to manage the symptoms in-between bouts. I think this is important for you to realize, #1, since they are not going to ever "fix her." You will either have to accept it as part of your lifestyle, or move on to something else.

And let me tell you how it will play out if you think she can be "fixed." Over the years you will think she is not putting in the effort to "fix herself," and you will start resenting her. Soon after you will start blaming her for something that is not her fault.

Whether you learn from other peoples experiences or go through the hard knocks yourself is up to you, but the pattern is almost always the same.

15 Name: Been there : 2008-08-06 21:06 ID:eoi0mPRR

As for you #11, the therapists did not fuck up my ex-girlfriend, they tried to help. You sound like a jackass to anyone who has ever been through a situation similar to this one.

16 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-07 04:41 ID:kXRG3xQE

If any of you would care to take notice, he has already said there is no way he's bailing. He didn't ask for advice on how to deal with having a "broken" girlfriend, he asked for advice on what to say to her when she's talking about being a worthless piece of shit. (Viewing herself as such is part of her greater mental issues, but not the entirety thereof--he wants help with an aspect of her illness, not all of it.)

And my advice OP, would be to say something along the lines of "I love you, and I don't love worthless pieces of shit. You're being stupid." (or silly or something, if telling her she's being stupid would make her upset.) Something along the lines of this insinuates that she is insulting you (and your taste in women/her) by calling herself worthless; her desire not to degrade you might help her overcome her desire to degrade herself. It's worked with several of my friends. I had another suggestion, but I am tired and have forgotten it >.< I'll post it when I remember.

17 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-07 10:31 ID:7wAuWdpV

@Been there:

>>but I think they require special care and effort to maintain a relationship

Every realtionship needs care and effort. If someone is shy or jealous - would you say they should be dumped because it would be too difficult to deal with? Or would you say it's part of their personality and when you love this person you can deal with it?
Not every emotional flaw has to be "fixed", as you call it. Maybe OP is one the great persons who can love someone even if this person isn't the norm.

And for me sounding like a jackass: I've been through a lot of therapies, my childhood was kinda traumatic and yes, I still have to deal with it nowadays (see >>4 ). But I don't have to take medication anymore, I feel good and my boyfriend accepts me and even the more difficult parts of my personality.
I don't fell ill and that's why I say I'm not ill anymore.


>>her desire not to degrade you might help her overcome her desire to degrade herself.

I wouldn't recommend that. She will feel like shit and hating herself for "insulting" you even more. (At least that's how I would feel).

18 Name: Been there : 2008-08-07 11:42 ID:eoi0mPRR

Not every emotional flaw has to be "fixed", as I call it???? As I call it????? Well #17, look at the first post of this thread, and you will see he writes the following:

"Or should I just cope with it and wait until she gets psychotherapy and they 'fix her'"

Those are his words, and I was pointing out that this probably will not happen.

As for your situation, the fact that you don't feel ill anymore is great, but that does NOT necessarily mean you are not ill anymore. Now I realize that meds vary, and if you had a prescription for something mild like valium then I would say it might not be a big deal. But if the drugs were for psychosis or a chronic condition, then you should take them whether you feel good or not. Many people stop taking their meds because they feel like they no longer need them, and then they find out that things can come apart fast.

Also, it is very disingenous of you to compare being shy or jealous as the same as being on medication for mental illness. The fact that this guy's girlfriend is on prescription medication indicates that there is probably a problem that goes beyond average traits like shyness or jealousy.

This is why I like anonymous forums, since they give us the opportunity to be honest. If this guy was my friend, I would have to give him the "it will probably work out" pitch, because if I told him to consider dumping her then that might end the friendship. But here I don't know him or his girlfriend, so I'm just giving my honest opinion. I wish someone had warned me about the baggage that comes with dating a mentally ill person, and how it can totally consume both people's energy. I am just glad I was able to get away from such a relationship, and looking back, I realize how damaging the situation was to me (with feeling guilt for getting worn out and frustrated, etc).

Well, I have to get ready for work now, so good luck with whatever you decide to do.

19 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-07 14:08 ID:7wAuWdpV

>>As for your situation, the fact that you don't feel ill anymore is great, but that does NOT necessarily mean you are not ill anymore.

We're entering the sphere of philosophy. I guess we could discuss about Nosology now, but maybe that would go too far.
I define illness by the occurrence of psychological strain. If it doesn't disable me (psychologically or physically), I'm not ill.
Which doesn't mean I'm healthy either, as the WHO puts it:
"The abscence of illness is an essential, but not a sufficient condition for being healthy".
So I wonder who's healthy anyway...

>>The fact that this guy's girlfriend is on prescription medication indicates that there is probably a problem that goes beyond average traits like shyness or jealousy.

That's true, I guess it couldn't quite express what I was trying to say with this comparison (English is not my first language, as you might have already realized).
I try again:
You say, she will never get cured and even when she went through therapy, she will be complicated and suffering and will ruin OP's life just as bad as her own, because she is ill and will be ill forever.
I say, she can get over it and after therapy, she MIGHT still be a complicated person - maybe not! , but then just because she is a complicated person, because that's her personality, that is what life has made her and not because she is ill. Some people can deal with it, some can't, there will be ups and downs, but that's how life is, right.

It's terrible to get that "Out of order"-label slapped on your forehead forever, just because ones past might not be what's called "ordinary".
Like you are a child for the rest of your life, too dumb to be responsible for your own behaviour.
I guess that's why I was so angry when writing my first post here, I took your words very personally.
Oh and I didn't just stopped taking the meds, I found a therapist willing to make my life a "life" and not a constant treatment.

20 Name: Been there : 2008-08-07 15:32 ID:eoi0mPRR

If a mental illness is chronic, #19, then it is tied to chemical imbalances in the brain. Medication corrects the imbalance when the brain doesn't make the right combination of neurotransmitters. This is similar to a diabetic who takes insulin because their pancreas doesn't produce any -- whether or not the diabetic person feels good after a meal doesn't change the fact that they have to check their blood sugar and take insulin.

You are clearly empathizing with the guy's girlfriend, because you are in a role similar to hers in your relationship. I am empathizing with the guy, because I was once in the same role he is in now: which is basically the role of a care-giver. It is very stressful to be constantly tending to someone's needs when you care about them and they have problems you cannot solve. And few people empathize with the care-giver, since everyone's focus is on helping the person with problems, but the stress can give the care-giver in the relationship health problems of his own.

Anyway, I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist. The reason I am posting on this thread is to let this guy know that other people have been in his situation, and it does not make him a monster if he decides to bail out. His life will go on either way. The fact that this girl is like this while still dating (which is usually when people are on their best behavior) makes me wonder if she will get progressively worse as the years tick by.

My current girlfriend has never been on psych meds, and has a relatively healthy relationship with her family. Sure we have faults and sometimes fight, but thinking back to the time with my ex, there is no comparison: things are much better now. Yes, people made me feel guilty when I left my ex, but not having to deal with the constant drama now makes me realize it was worth it to move on.

21 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-07 15:58 ID:7wAuWdpV

>>Medication corrects the imbalance when the brain doesn't make the right combination of neurotransmitters.

That's true, but meds aren't the only possible solution. A pancreas cannot "learn" to produce enough insulin, but the brain can be trained. Every emotion is based on chemical reactions, you can fake them via meds or you can trigger them trough external impulses, until the brain has "learned" how they work and can perform them without external initiation. It's called conditioning, at least that's the literal translation, not sure about the specific term in English.
You can't make it in a day or two, but it can be done.

I'm not trying to make you feel guitly about leaving your ex - when you weren't happy it was the right decision.
But I deeply disagree with your "Mental illness can't be cured"-statement.
But - I guess we're not getting anywhere. It was nice discussing with you, nonetheless. Good luck with your girlfriend, hopefully you both will stay sane and healthy ;)

22 Name: Anonymous : 2008-08-07 22:58 ID:HGQ/ODWl


>>>>her desire not to degrade you might help her overcome her desire to degrade herself.
>>I wouldn't recommend that. She will feel like shit and hating herself for "insulting" you even more. (At least that's how I would feel).

Exactly. When someone tells me that my complaining about myself is effectively an insult to that person, all I'm obligated to do is to make sure that that person never hears my self-deprecation. Doesn't change the fact that I still feel like a worthless sack of shit.

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