On Seeking Help

Mbeacom, frequent commentor and occasional contributor to The Gamecrafters’ Guild (and also blogger), had this to say in response to my last post. I thought I’d share it, rather than just leaving it in the comments thread, because it’s good advice. My response comes after it.

Just do it Brian.

If your wife is telling you to consider it, it’s officially real. My wife has similar issues with happiness. She was looking for fulfillment in her job. Not finding it was hard on her and caused lots of problems. Now that she stays home with the kids she’s much better but still has moments of struggle.
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Because you mention jobs and happiness, I’ll relate some information I got from my dad. It may or may not be appropriate to your situation. But I think its useful.
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My abrasive and crotchety old dad told me a long time ago that the sooner we stop trying to find happiness in a job, hell in anything outside ourselves, the sooner we’ll be happy. I’ve also read very good stuff about looking for happiness being the worst way to find it. In my experience, happiness comes from one place. Inside each of us. You either find it there are are miserable looking someplace else. Money makes life easier. A good job makes life easier. But neither will make you happy. The interesting corollary to this is that in learning this we gain a lot of control. Control is important. Once you have control, things get easier. If you realize that your job won’t “grant” happiness you take control of a job that makes you unhappy. You realize its not the job, its how you deal with it. I used to struggle with happiness myself. But I’ve finally learned my answer. I could honestly be happy digging ditches now I think. Afterall, I truly do not like my job, but I’m happy. I don’t like my job but I like myself. I love my wife. I love my family. I like the fact that my job provides the income necessary to provide for my family. Thats all I NEED from a job. I would LOVE to walk out the door after a hard days work and feel like I’ve accomplished something significant or worthwhile. I would love to take the advice from my high school guidance councilor and find a job that pays me to do something I would do for free but thats bad advice and if I could I’d slap him in the face right now. I live in the real world. A world with toilets that need cleaned and houses that need roofs on them. Nobody I know does those things for a hobby and I don’t think people doing those jobs are destined to hate their lives so there must be something else in the equation. I think that something else is inside each one of us.(/unsolicited advice)

The problem really isn’t the job. The job is great; I’m the happiest I’ve ever been at work. The money’s good, good benefits, room for advancement, I like the work, I like the people I work with, I can bring my dog to work, and the company seems to have a social conscience. Short of actually designing games for a living, I’m not sure I could ask for much more.

The problem, I think, is something in my brain. It may be some form of clinical depression, but that description doesn’t feel right to me. It’s more like I’m not entirely in control of my emotions (I know, who is?), and they get the better of me more often than I’d like.

I already know that I have neurological issues; I have a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome. My neurologists frequently ask me if I ever have obsessive thoughts, and the more I think about it, the more I think that that’s what this is. Something bad happens, even something relatively minor, and it just sits there in my brain, and I can’t get past it. A relatively minor thing can ruin my day, and I don’t think it has anything to do with my overall happiness and satisfaction with job, family, and life in general.

That’s why I’m going to seek help. There is clearly something chemically or neurologically wrong with my brain, and while I’m on medication for the Tourette’s, I may need something more, and learning to employ psychological tools to get past the little things that ruin my day couldn’t hurt, either.

3 thoughts on “On Seeking Help

  1. The Great Seamus

    It’s entirely possible you may have an imbalance. I encourage you to seek the help. I have, and while I haven’t exactly found the perfect balance of harmony & medication, the process is ongoing. I personally think that the journey to find help is sometimes what winds up helping the most – there is a great deal of self-discovery done. I’ve gone and am going through a lot of the same things you are now, so I empathize with your pain. Keep your head up, and keep Rook alive.

  2. Joachim Boggs

    As the others have said, if you have the feeling like you need to talk to someone, it’s probably a good idea to do it. A couple of my friends went through therapy and it has helped them a great deal. I, myself, went through a rough patch some time ago. Feeling some of the things you do, like the unhappiness. I went to therapy for awhile, and while it was a good first step, it wasn’t a for me.

    Like Mbeacom, I believe you’ll find the answer to your question by looking within. External things, like jobs, etc can bring happiness, but its fleeting. True happiness is learning about yourself, and even finding love for yourself, even though you know all the bad things about you.

    Have you tried some basic mediation techniques…these are good for calming the mind and are a good first step in the inward journey. Mediation really helped me when therapy wasn’t able to…this is why I mention it here…it’s good to try a few things to see what works best for you. If you’re interested, a good book, one that really helped me turn a corner is The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh.

  3. Brian

    Thanks for the suggestion, Joachim! I’m not averse to trying meditation, though I feel like I’d need someone to teach me how to calm my mind. Tourette’s Syndrome is, I believe, on the same continuum as things like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or at least it shares some commonalities. Because of this, my mind tends to naturally latch onto things and not let go, and when there’s something I really don’t want to be thinking about, it’s really hard for me not to. In the past, I’ve actually fainted because of thoughts I couldn’t get out of my head. Quieting my mind is not something that comes naturally to me, though I feel like I could benefit from it.

    As far as therapy goes, I’ve done talk therapy in the past, and it helped a little bit; it made an intolerable situation a little bit better for a little while. What I’m looking into now is actuall Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which is designed to give you tools you can use to deal with your issues in the moment.

    At the moment, I think that my issues are twofold. First, I’m pretty sure I inherited my father’s short temper. I’m very similar to him in a lot of ways, and I think that’s one of them. The other component is, I think, neurological, and related to my Tourette’s. It serves to amplify things in my mind that someone else would simply deal with and get past. This, when combined with my short temper, can cause me considerable emotional distress when things go awry.

    Talk therapy was not for me, and I think the main reason for that is that my issues are likely not due to any deep-seated emotional problems that I have to work through. I’ve had a pretty good life. I had a happy childhood, with parents who were loving and supportive. I had a lot of great friends, some of whom I’m still friends with. Aside from some crappy jobs (which, as we’ve said, is sort of a transitory thing), my life has been pretty good. And right now, things are better than they’ve ever been for me in many ways. I just need a little extra help dealing with things not going my way.

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