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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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BEDiM 2013 : DAY 8

(A Blog Every Day in May 2013 Challenge Entry)

Time for a short entry. No time to get all elaborate tonight! I was kind of stumped when it came to the following prompt:

Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

Sounds easy. Don’t eat the yellow snow, don’t pee into the wind, don’t eat the yellow snow after peeing into the wind...

I Can Be Your Hero Baby

I suffer from what I and others have dubbed: White Knight Syndrome. I’m not sure if that's an official term, but it’s fitting and kind of sums itself up nicely; I like to help people. I’m very empathetic towards people and their emotions, whether positive or negative. Much like that positive/negative aspect, this attribute can be a gift or act as a curse.

I’m naturally drawn towards those that need help. Some would say “broken”, but I feel everyone is “broken” in some shape or form. I want to help them; people use the “fix” term. Many of those I’ve dated throughout my lifetime have suffered from some variety of depression. Not just the “blues”, but severe depression, are bipolar, etc.

There are a multitude of worries I’ve had as to why I attract these people (given I believe in like attracts like) into my life. It surely doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it naturally makes everything — almost every aspect of a relationship — more difficult. This depends on the severity of the affliction, but you get the idea. There is a very good chance a good handful of you know exactly what I’m talking about. This all would take a lengthy amount of time to delve into and, for purposes of this post, would act as a tangent.

What I want to say — the advice I have to give — for those who have a loved one (friend, family, lover) suffering from depression is: don't make yourself believe you can save them. You cannot save them. This statement still emotionally assaults me in a volatile fashion, because I don’t fully agree. I think any help you offer another is helping them. They may not accept it, but that isn’t on you. Though, helping isn't the same as saving.

More importantly, what I’m trying to explain is that a lot of times they don’t want/need you to save them. Sometimes it’s best to just be there for them. To support them through their hardships, to listen, to comfort, and to be compassionate. They don’t need you to be their doctor or their therapist; they have those (or really, really should) of a professional level. Though, I do feel I would make one hell of a therapist! Even if I were one, though, I wouldn’t want to be one to my significant other or loved one (even with the savings involved across the board).

It isn’t your job to fulfill these roles, and believe me when I say most individuals don’t want an “extra” playacting as one in their day to day. What they want is to be held. To be loved and know they have someone they can talk to, someone to share their feelings with, a shoulder to cry on. Someone to tell them everything is going to be okay and that they aren’t alone.

They don’t want you to be their superhero — a White Knight — tasked with fixing every perceived problem in their lives.

They just want your Love and Compassion. To simply be there.

Random Fun Fact #235: If you are able to balance and moderate helping someone — being there for them in their time of need — 9 times out of 10 you will end up being their hero.*

Do you, or anyone you know, suffer from a form of serious depression? Have you found yourself trying to help or “fix” someone you cared about?


*This fact is not backed by solid data or facts. Results may vary.

27 comments:

  1. Yup I am bipolar. I am still looking for love and compassion and someone to be there it is all I have ever truly wanted. I am almost a week after my surgery. I am enjoying being with my family and myself. Learning new things about me everyday. None of my 'friends" have come to see me. There is no one here, but me. I am not just bipolar, but borderline personality disorder Libra. Manipulation used to be my thing. My highs and lows were nuts. I am always trying to balance everything. My horoscope said today " Solo Libras are like cars with no brakes." All of this put into a blender and push blend that is me. My medications and therapy over these last months have truly made me feel much better. I really miss the people that once were truly there for me. My rollercoaster of carouseling emotions have pushed many away. I feel good and am finally comfortable on this ride. I would like some of these people back in my life they were my anchors and I miss them.

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    1. Hope the surgery went well and you are recovering, listening to the restrictions so you heal fast. It is great to hear that medication and therapy have been working! For some it can be a long road trying to find the right blend of medical help and therapy and self discovery before things seem to look positive.

      I guess I am a believer that once one's attitude because truly positive, that they will in turn attract those types of people into their life.

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    2. It is hard to bend the mind to positivity, but I am doing by focusing on the good. It is hard when the teacher and supporter of these changes wants nothing to do with you, yet still wants you to work on it. I want my guru near yet that guru insists on hiding away. When I need their inspiration and encouragement to be there for me. I do not wish to attract anyone new to my life at this time of self work. I need a friend. Someday I hope they can come and be that. Because doing this alone is a difficult mountain to climb. Even the greatest mountain climbers still need a guide. Although I have professionals, friends, and family and I appreciate them very much. I want my guru back.

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  2. As one as of these people you describe yourself as, it is difficult to try to do the right thing (to help/comfort, not save) and offer yourself in that capacity, and feel like it falls flat. Instead, you (meaning I) revert to saving tactics, which then turn you (meaning I) into the asshole enemy, and then everything's just a galldern mess you don't know how to fix.

    As one of these people you describe as suffering from severe depression. I am miserable/happy to report that in the middle of the raging shitstorm that has been the last week, I managed to get to a doctor during a moment of lucidity. After 17+ years of this galldern mess I don't know how to fix, I've decided to throw some pills at it and see what happens. And then I'll go talk to someone and see what they say.

    If my recent endeavors in trying to fix others have proven anything to me, it's that whatever I'm doing isn't working, and fixing is for people who know what they're doing.

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    1. That said, I also wouldn't have sought help if it weren't for the push of those who didn't just sit back and pat my head, but rather pushed me gently toward that help, not to fix me or be the hero, but because they care what happens to me.

      And when that happens, when they push and I follow, it is not a single one of them but I who am the goddamn hero, because the journey doesn't belong to the mentor or the threshold guardian--it belongs to me.

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    2. "Hero" is in reference as a student may view their teacher as a hero, or a son views his father, or client a therapist or like I with my grandmother. Figuratively or otherwise. Appreciative of their help/guidance/whatever. There is no discrediting/undermining any of said individuals work/progress in my statements.

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    3. Do you know how difficult it was, keeping in mind everything I said in the previous post, for me to write the sentence you're referencing? To take that kind of ownership over something that has terrified and eluded me for the majority of my life? I wrote that second comment because I was still sitting here thinking about your blog post, and what I said in response. I followed the thought process of the first comment through and had more to say. Invite a mentally injured person to talkback on your blog and she might talk through her feelings and find a way to pat herself on the back. I didn't come here to shame you for your use of the word hero.

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    4. I took the tone of your second comment (more so the second half) both in word use and knowing it may be a sensitive topic, as being offended that I was somehow stripping one's ownership of personal growth.

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    5. I speak sharply. It's kind of what I do.

      And I took the tone of your questions about others' experiences to mean you wanted to have a conversation about them. Sorry if I was mistaken.

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    6. One does not preclude the other.

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  3. * and this is where the snake begins to eat his own tail.

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    1. I don't understand this comment unless you are implying I'm stating that the main importance of what was said above was to be viewed as a "hero" which I am not.

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    2. I don't think you were stating that, but the sentiment does sort of emerge when you describe things that way. However, this isn't a criticism of you, personally, but just a comment on this particular flavor of the need to help/save/fix. I don't know if this applies to you or not, since you didn't really mention any of your underlying motivations for this need.

      I have this need as well, though it it comes from a different place than what I was referring to—which is, I feel the need to point out, no better or worse than any other.

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  4. I understand about the depression part, I had two close house mates with depression, you can't help them. They need to help themselves I find, they need to want it and then they just need someone to be there for them...listening or praise them ...i don't know we got through it in the end. Well, they also got professional help...but I'd like to think the cheering on the sideline helped them too.

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    1. I am glad you worked through it. I think any/all encouragement and help from the "sideline" is beneficial and positive for anyone/everyone.

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  5. Good post. I've also spent a lot of my life "rooting for the underdog" as my mother likes to say. Even as a small child I stuck up for the smaller kid, helped teach a peer a particular math concept.
    It's hard for that innocent, pure child-like giving to translate to adult life. We become harder as we grow older - both as givers and as takers. We unconsciously grow adult motives for helping.
    It has been hard for me to really examine lately what my motives for helping are in any given situation, with the understanding that I cannot (should not, will not)save, only share my own experiential learning. That shift has been a hard lesson for me.

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    1. Well said, and it are these factors or what motivates (on my end) that I wasn't able to really delve into, and I feel are still being defined in some ways. The understanding that you can't save is important, but I view it contradictory because one's help CAN save an individual, whether they eventually begin to better understand themselves or some other self-discovery/growth that sometimes we (ALL of us) can't see of ourselves for any multitude of reasons. It is how one views "saving" and the motivation that plays a large role.

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  6. Oh, the joys of writing on a topic some people find to be a touchy subject... I liked this post. I am not the savior type, but my brother is. (I go for the confident alpha male type). He attracts problems oozing drama time and time again (which he then marries). Will he ever learn?

    My question is, are the people doing the helping/saving doing it because the genuinely want to help the person, or are the motives more selfish? I have often wondered that about my brother. Do these women make him feel better about himself? Does he feel superior to them or something? Is it actually more about how it makes him feel when he assumes he is saving them?

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    1. The answer to your question is different for each and every person. You may have some better insight being he is your brother and have grown up with him, therefore knowing what may motivate him more so than others (maybe even himself?)

      Sometimes the motivation is selfish. They get... hmm "high" on the feeling of helping someone. But, it should make you feel good. I mean... helping someone, or accomplishing anything has a positive payoff of sorts, in general. This is also hit or miss, though, given the "intent" behind it. Sadly there are people that help others, only so that they can have it repaid for something else (I feel this is where a co-worker stands with me). Something ends up being attached to their "generosity" and to me it isn't genuine so much. Help, I believe, should be given without expectations. Love and Compassion.

      I don't know anyone that helps because they feel superior, though. It exists in many other scenarios, so it is very likely to exist. I am just unfamiliar.

      There is the chance he just genuinely likes to help people. I can only speak for myself, but that is where I feel I fall. The motives, as mentioned above I was unable to address, may even give contradictory sentiments to this belief. I feel I know myself, though, and hopefully I can work on another post going into all of that. I skipped it during my A to Z (and likely will for BEDiM).

      The other end of things, I was unable to talk about, was how to know when to let go. Even if meaning you aren't going to physically be able to be around said individual for your own sanity/health/etc.

      Have you ever simply asked your brother?

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    2. No, but I have pointed out the types of girls he tends to attract. I'm really not sure asking him why he does it would change anything. He is who he is. Of course, maybe he has never sat down and thought about why. I had one experience in high school where I befriended a young man because I knew he had issues and needed someone; anyone. He was very depressed and (I eventually found out) unstable and violent. He latched onto me and insisted we start a relationship. When I told him I didn't see him that way, he did not take it well. It lead to violent threats and stalking. It was super scary! Shortly after I finally broke all contact with him, he "accidentally" shot someone. That pretty much cured me of wanting to save people. I actually haven't thought about that in a long time...

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    3. If it is a constant thing, there may be something to it. If random (or even amongst the "constant" for that matter) the factor could just be Love. I can't ever deny that sometimes, for whatever reasons, certain people are pulled together by connections they can't fully explain.

      Wow that sounds like a scary situation. Not everyone with mental illness is unstable/violent, mind you, but I am glad you were able to pick up on it and avoid it. Getting involved in that relationship could have been disastrous.

      Wonder if her ever got help after that. Did he end up in jail?

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  7. Ahhh empathy. I, too, possess a great deal of empathy - but it is my strength. It is a HUGE part of who I am and how I have become such a compassionate person.

    Let me use the definition from "Strengths Finder 2.0", those who possess the strength of "empathy" means: "You can sense the emotions of those around you; you can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person's perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person's predicament -- this would be sympathy, not empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings -- to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons other people are drawn to you."

    As someone who has a strength of empathy, I understand. And therefore, those who need empathy are attracted to me as well. But I am careful to note that empathy does not mean I "fix" them. I am just there when others turn their back or when others have had enough.

    My best friend suffers from extreme anxiety and depression. And while it can be stressful AND draining to always have empathy, I also know he brings other things to our friendship --- things that oftentimes go unseen, especially by those who do not carry empathy as a strength. And I don't feel the need to explain that day in and day out. All I know is that he is my friend and I am his. I do not want to change or fix him, nor can I. It's a tough thing to master, but as long as you can identify and separate empathy from trying to change someone, then you are on the right path.

    In in case my words or tone does not come across as I intended, let me end with: I understand. :)

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    1. With all of this, and what I will get to eventually, is that there is a point to where it is important to let go and step away, removing yourself from a situation. This is for your own health and safety and is important, regardless of how the individual is connected to you.

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  8. My cousin habitually chooses guys that are very messed up to date. He(my cousin is gay) loves to try to help them, but it is very frustrating as someone who loves him to watch him struggle in these relationships that ineveitably don't work out. This last time I told you that he deserves to have someone who's fun and nice and kind to him, not having to put up with all kinds of crap and drama. I just don't get why he doesn't seem to be attracted to healthy people. But I know it's not simple answer.

    It doesn't surprise me about you that you are a hero type :) Just make sure that if you choose someone that you can help, that they also treat you well, like you deserve to be treated.

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    1. I feel it is possible that both his compassion for people, and to help people plays a role, but also possibly how he feels about himself. Perhaps he feels he doesn't deserve someone like that, for whatever reason.

      That self-love/respect factor is a big one.

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