Trust your feelings?

10 Dec 2019
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Is the answer to everything to trust your senses and do what feels right?

I find the opposite. When I was first diagnosed as having a problem with my mental health, I was in denial. I was terrified of being handed over to the doctor chosen by my employers. I felt like a Jew in the hands of Nazi doctors! (In hindsight, the ready way these analogies came to my mind, as someone in modern Britain probably were further evidence that all was not well.) It was my brother who persuaded me the feelings were irrational and it made sense to have a consultation.

When I first went on medication, I remember the moment. Sitting in a café, carefully reading through all the disclaimers, wondering if this was a moment of no return as I popped my first pill. Would they make any difference?

Four years on, I still don't know. Each time I tell the doctor I want to come off them, he/she (there have been several) cautions me against it. Certainly, they say, do not try it in the run up to winter.

I am now much more open about my feelings. But trust them? Personally, I cannot let them have the final word. When I was considering getting married 20 years ago, I fought tooth and nail against the commitment. It was only friends who helped me see my irrationality.

Having proposed, and been accepted, I have never looked back and consider myself the luckiest man in the world. She is one in a million.

When I thought I should carry on with work and refuse help, friends gently said I was making a mistake.

When I thought I was not nearly well enough to return to work, the doctor gently said that it would be a key part of my rehabilitation, so long as it was a staged return. I trusted him and he was right.

So can I trust my feelings? Not entirely. I have learnt to be more open, but I have learnt it is not wise to base all my decisions on them alone.

Zenas

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Mortimer

Dec. 10, 2019, 6:30 a.m.

There's experts, and then there's experts - one lot have your best interests at heart, and one can learn to trust them to make a valued judgement based on their experience and knowledge, irrespective of their own feelings. The other lot try to live their lives vicariously through micromanaging other people. Wisdom, and thus knowing when to trust one's own feelings about who to trust comes with time, and you certainly seem to be on the right road - a great blog Zenas.

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Molly

Dec. 10, 2019, 7:06 a.m.

Good comment Mortimer. I find it strange when people think their doctors know better than they do. I know many people who say “my doctor said this and that” so it must be true!! It’s actually only one opinion!!

the room above the garage

Dec. 10, 2019, 9:57 a.m.

Agree Mortimer.

Molly

Dec. 10, 2019, 6:57 a.m.

Hi Zenas This is an interesting piece. Personally, whilst I learn more and more about others and particularly males (if that is ok to say) I do trust my feelings. I know many will agree with you, and you could call me stubborn (!) but I know better than any professional or any friend or family member. They only know what I tell them, so if I say “I’m fine” they would take it for what it was, even my husband. If I say I’m not fine they wouldn’t know what to do anyway, and husband would say “I can tell” and then get back to the football. lol. I am being unfair. But seriously I don’t know anyone in my life who would pick up on something I didn’t already know. Maybe you are lucky in that respect, that you have people who care enough to pick up on the things you don’t. I don’t trust doctors. They see you for ten minutes and either increase your medication or decrease it, or attempt to change it. They can say to me “well what about we do this or that”. If you want a sick note, you just ask for one, they will never say no. If they tell me I shouldn’t go back to work but I want to and know I’m ready, I will ignore them. I know me much better than anyone else. Gosh I am stubborn aren’t I. Hope this isn’t too harsh but I really believe people including professionals, only know what you tell them. I’m sure I will be picked up on this, because I know not everyone knows or are aware of certain behaviours within themselves. We need guidance sometimes...... But if I ask you whether I should buy the black top, or the white top, and you said, “buy the white one”, I would go and buy the black. Molly xx P.s, I would get home and wish I had bought the white, but that’s another story.

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Oli

Dec. 10, 2019, 7:04 a.m.

Great blog Zenas. For me the answer is pretty clear that often we cannot trust our feelings! When this happens it feels wrong and (by definition) counter-intuitive but I think it's always worth looking to the evidence, not feelings. The problem is that when we collect and interpret information in everyday life we are not always particularly thorough. It's not our "fault" - our cognitive biases are deep -- it's like living in a world of optical illusions but they are illusions of thinking. We cannot escape from this directly with "more thinking". I think the best bet is to be informed about cognitive biases, look at them, feel them, know they are real. And in a practical sense realise they will slant a huge amount of what you think whether you like it or not. And just cos it "feels real" doesn't necessarily amount to anything. Super quick example: recently had a conversation with someone telling me about a little girl with a serious medical condition who's life had been transformed by a controversial herbal supplement. Sincere belief in what was happening but absolutely no conception of confirmation bias and why stories like this are not, and *cannot* be science. Feeling right doesn't make it true.

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Molly

Dec. 10, 2019, 7:20 a.m.

As for getting married, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have doubts about such a commitment. Wedding nerves of course, wouldn’t be right if you didn’t have them. When I got married, it was very low key, and I didn’t tell anyone. I knew if I did that it would become such a big thing in my head that I would want to run a mile. My husband drove to the registry office with our two witnesses and I’m sure he thought I was going to back out. I couldn’t speak to him, or anything. I just wanted it over with. Ha ha, how romantic!! One in a million Zenas, your wife, I hope you have told her that, how lovely. Lucky woman. My husband is going on the dustcart next week, if they will take him. Molly xx

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Orangeblossom

Dec. 10, 2019, 8:31 a.m.

Hi Zenas, many thanks for the great blog. I think the key word that permeates through this blog is “gently”. It is invaluable to know that those who made the suggestions did not bludgeon you or bully you into a decision they thought you should take.

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Sally

Dec. 10, 2019, 8:57 a.m.

Hi Zenas. I lost my first comment ( frustrating!) ,it seems I hadn’t signed in. I agree with you, and as Orangeblossom has said, you were fortunate to have gentle suggestions from amazing- sounding people. Would that we all had those! Nothing is achieved by harsh words and bluntness i feel. I’ve made irrational and impulsive judgements. I recognise this more and more. Fear is the driver when I’m depressed, and so I attribute a negative interpretation to someone’s comment or action . Subsequently find this to be “in my mind” Interesting what someone says about 75% of our thoughts going straight to the negative ...but I can’t find that reference now...maybe it was in yesterday’s blog. I’m sure it’s true, especially when in an anxious state . Hey, Zenas! Your name spells “sane + Z “ backwards! Smiley face.

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Sally

Dec. 10, 2019, 8:58 a.m.

Hi Zenas. I lost my first comment ( frustrating!) ,it seems I hadn’t signed in. I agree with you, and as Orangeblossom has said, you were fortunate to have gentle suggestions from amazing- sounding people. Would that we all had those! Nothing is achieved by harsh words and bluntness i feel. I’ve made irrational and impulsive judgements. I recognise this more and more. Fear is the driver when I’m depressed, and so I attribute a negative interpretation to someone’s comment or action . Subsequently find this to be “in my mind” Interesting what someone says about 75% of our thoughts going straight to the negative ...but I can’t find that reference now...maybe it was in yesterday’s blog. I’m sure it’s true, especially when in an anxious state . Hey, Zenas! Your name spells “sane + Z “ backwards! Smiley face.

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the room above the garage

Dec. 10, 2019, 9:59 a.m.

Super blog Zenas. You sound like you have good people around you who are helping guide. And you know that ultimately it’s your choice. Sounds like you have balance. The holy grail!! And I agree, consider medication changes after winter. Loved reading today. It helped bring me a sense of calm. Love room x

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the room above the garage

Dec. 10, 2019, 10 a.m.

Super blog Zenas. You sound like you have good people around you who are helping guide. And you know that ultimately it’s your choice. Sounds like you have balance. The holy grail!! And I agree, consider medication changes after winter. Loved reading today. It helped bring me a sense of calm. Love room x

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Tutti Frutti

Dec. 10, 2019, 11:11 a.m.

Hi Zenas I like your blog and agree that sometimes we don't have insight and have to rely on people we trust. I certainly didn't understand why I needed to go to hospital after I had my daughter but luckily my husband convinced me that I was ill before the psychiatrist arrived and so I went in as a voluntary patient. It's good that you have reliable people around you and have worked out when you need to trust them. Love TF x

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silvia

Dec. 10, 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I totally agree with you Zenas. How many mistakes I have made in my life by trusting my feelings! Truth is, I am easily deceived by them.

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Jul

Dec. 10, 2019, 11:40 a.m.

Hello Zenas. An interesting blog. I often think that because I know myself better than anyone else, my feelings are the ones ultimately to trust. However I can be a bit paranoid and am often wrong about people, what they said and how they have been thinking or acting in relation to me. My OH will always take our Dr's advice whereas I won't and am often put off for example by the warning leaflets on medication. My OH doesn't worry or harbour doubts like I do and the advice he's accepted without question from the Dr has helped him enormously. I'm not sure which way is best but I did like your blog very much and have taken some very positive things from it. Jul xx

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Seabird

Dec. 10, 2019, 12:19 p.m.

Hi Zenas, Thanks for your post. Emotions are a normal, natural part of our being. There are times I struggle to recognise, acknowledge and accept my emotions. Often it’s the thinking which gets in the way, perhaps over complicating the outcome of just letting be and accepting emotions as an important part of being human (and to some extent ‘animal’). Trust your emotions? Accept your emotions. Trust the thinking? Well that’s another question. No one can know how you’re feeling, they’re yours and their thinking is not your thinking. Believe, trust and honour yourself. X

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Jul

Dec. 10, 2019, 2:19 p.m.

Hello Zenas. An interesting blog. I often think that because I know myself better than anyone else, my feelings are the ones ultimately to trust. However I can be a bit paranoid and am often wrong about people, what they said and how they have been thinking or acting in relation to me. My OH will always take our Dr's advice whereas I won't and am often put off for example by the warning leaflets on medication. My OH doesn't worry or harbour doubts like I do and the advice he's accepted without question from the Dr has helped him enormously. I'm not sure which way is best but I did like your blog very much and have taken some very positive things from it. Jul xx

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Bailey

Dec. 10, 2019, 3:25 p.m.

Feelings are of some valor but not the be all end all. Trapped gas is a feeling...but I would hate to make a decision based on it.

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Molly

Dec. 10, 2019, 4:41 p.m.

You just fart don’t you Bailey?

The Gardener

Dec. 10, 2019, 6:33 p.m.

Spending whole life in a state of puzzlement at the moment. Doctors? All I hear is that getting an appointment is very difficult, then people do not like what the doctor says. My years on here have shown that treatment of any mental illness is a long and arduous business, and getting the 'right' drugs and their dosage a near impossibility.As Jul says, the notes accompanying drugs are crackers - frequently warning that they might provoke what you are being treated for. Zenas, super blog, but a 'can of worms' as well.

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Jul

Dec. 11, 2019, 8:28 a.m.

Exactly Gardener. I have some medication for insomnia and guess what one of the side effects is. You guessed it..Insomnia! Crackers. Julxx

Johio

Dec. 12, 2019, 12:13 a.m.

Zenas, thanks for sharing! It is good to trust our thoughts and feelings to a few close friends and especially to those who might be acting in a role as counselor. For a time I had been on two different medications for depression. But about two years ago decided that I just needed to be on one and that I was monitor my mood. As this winter season approaches, I have noticed that my mood has been consistently lower then normal. I just watched for a while to see if it was going to be two longer thng. And it looks like it is. So I went ahead and ordered the prescription as it is still on my list to meds. I am waiting for it to come and then start taking it again after being off of it for a couple of years. Then, after this winter season and perhaps in spring I might go back off that medication. For now, I realized that I need additional help. Thanks again for sharing your story.

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Johio

Dec. 12, 2019, 12:15 a.m.

Zenas, thanks for sharing! It is good to trust our thoughts and feelings to a few close friends and especially to those who might be acting in a role as counselor. For a time I had been on two different medications for depression. But about two years ago decided that I just needed to be on one and that I was monitor my mood. As this winter season approaches, I have noticed that my mood has been consistently lower then normal. I just watched for a while to see if it was going to be two longer thng. And it looks like it is. So I went ahead and ordered the prescription as it is still on my list to meds. I am waiting for it to come and then start taking it again after being off of it for a couple of years. Then, after this winter season and perhaps in spring I might go back off that medication. For now, I realized that I need additional help. Thanks again for sharing your story.

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Johio

Dec. 12, 2019, 12:16 a.m.

Sorry about sharing twice. I'll try to remove the duplicate post.

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