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Pema Chodron: Abandon hope


Rhiannon

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http://onedharmanashville.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/pema-chodron-on-the-benefits-of-hopelessness/

 

"If we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death."

 

I have found this incredibly helpful today. Amazing. 

 

Actually really awesome, but I have a computer headache so I will have to come back and write the rest later. But wanted to share with anyone who might need to hear it like I did today.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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The question of hope is a difficult one.  Needless to say, the Buddhists don't think too highly of it generally.  They seem to conceive of hope as a desire for change, elevated to a spiritual principle.  And maybe it is, I'm not sure. 

 

Pema's suggestion that we put "Abandon Hope" on our refrigerator is funny, and must be a reference to the famous inscription above Dante's hell, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."  The main feature of limbo in Dante's inferno is hopelessness ("without hope we live in longing").  So for Dante to live without hope is to live in hell, and I suspect many Christians would agree with him.  I'm not a Christian myself, but I think, as Paul Goodman says, we owe our spirit of 'crazy hope' to them and their two thousand years of influence, so it's worth trying to understand some of their ideas.  

 

I was waiting for Pema to define hope somewhere, it doesn't look like she does.  She does say that hope robs us of the present moment, that it tells us that death and suffering can be removed from life.  I'm not sure that hope has to blot out the present, or that it necessarily promises to override death and suffering.  I think of hope like Paul Tillich describes Providence, as the sense that "there is a creative and saving possibility implied in every situation, which cannot be destroyed by any event."  So hope is a way of attending to whatever is 'creative' or 'saving' in a given moment, to what is 'good', that is, not what banishes suffering, but what proves to be more powerful than it.  I think Tillich would say that hope rests on the idea that the unifying forces in the world are stronger than the forces of separation, or in Christian terms, that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound". And I'm not sure this has anything to do with the future or god or theism.  

 

Anyway, there are different kinds of hope.  I'm not sure I can reject it wholesale.  The Buddhists don't like hope because they see it as a distortion as 'what is'.  But I wonder if it isn't actually a part of things as they are, a major component of life itself.  You might say that all purposeful activity is hopeful, and all life is purposeful.  If hopelessness is a 'fact' like Pema says then hope is also a fact.

 

Anyway, thanks for the article.  It stirred my mind and I appreciate a lot of what she's trying to say.

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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I was talking to a friend about this last night and I agree with you--I said, my personality is inherently optimistic (which it is) and I always see possibilities, and I don't think the take-away message is that any of that is wrong or should change. But I can get so into focusing on the things I want to change about my life that it takes me away from actually experiencing my life. I think I understand what she's saying.

 

I think it's more easily understood in the context of the book that it came from and of her other work and the way she presents these sort of mind-opening or mind-blowing paradoxes. I think it's about acceptance (Gia has a lot of stuff about that on her blog) and being in the present and surrender and not resisting. 

 

We live in a society that's so focused on happy shiny Disney (smile, don't be sad, etc.) and let's hide, cover up, and deny the ugliness of life. I think a lot of that comes from the consumer mode, from commercials, because if people can be convinced that everyone else is happier than they are (because they use/buy this or that product or thing) then they can be manipulated to want things and spend money. That commercial aspect of society pulls us away from the deeper and richer things that life is about. It also can be manipulated to make us not see how we're being used and oppressed by the oligarchy, in my opinion.

 

I know that's getting away from Pema, but it's all part of the same thing to me--the fantasy that we can have a happy life, that we can eliminate suffering, if we just do it right. For me, with the reality of my life, I find it much more beneficial to accept that my life has been full of suffering and that suffering will continue to be part of my life, but I can sit with it and be with it and flow through it, and it passes, like the windows and the waves.

 

So I don't think it's wrong to hope. But I think focusing on what is not (if we are hoping for something that is not what is, right now) can take us away from the full experience of the present moment, of what is real. And sometimes maybe we need that, but I feel like for me I've spent most of my life escaping from the pain of my life in one way or another, and I'm starting to feel/think that with the time I have left I want to work more on just being in my life, pain and all.

 

And, nice to see you, Narcissus, I was just thinking of you the other day, have missed you!

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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Maintaining an appropriate degree of hope would seem to be the challenge - too little and we find ourselves stuck only in what is and probably being very fatalistic about the permanence of that 'now'.  Too much hope and we flee to a future utopia which takes us away from our experience of the now but also gives us a perfect other/future state against which we can compare our current state - a recipe for suffering.  The challenge of mindfulness then is to help us see where we are in relation to those extremes and allow us to let go of our attachments to those positions - allowing for the prospect of change/impermanence without investing heavily in an ideal of what that should look like.

Please note - I am not a medical practitioner and I do not give medical advice. I offer an opinion based on my own experiences, reading and discussion with others.On Effexor for 2 months at the start of 2005. Had extreme insomnia as an adverse reaction. Changed to mirtazapine. Have been trying to get off since mid 2008 with numerous failures including CTs and slow (but not slow enough tapers)Have slow tapered at 10 per cent or less for years. I have liquid mirtazapine made at a compounding chemist.

Was on 1.6 ml as at 19 March 2014.

Dropped to 1.5 ml 7 June 2014. Dropped to 1.4 in about September.

Dropped to 1.3 on 20 December 2014. Dropped to 1.2 in mid Jan 2015.

Dropped to 1 ml in late Feb 2015. I think my old medication had run out of puff so I tried 1ml when I got the new stuff and it seems to be going ok. Sleep has been good over the last week (as of 13/3/15).

Dropped to 1/2 ml 14/11/15 Fatigue still there as are memory and cognition problems. Sleep is patchy but liveable compared to what it has been in the past.

 

DRUG FREE - as at 1st May 2017

 

>My intro post is here - http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2250-dalsaan

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Well, everytime I had hope I was going to have a good night of sleep on my pap machine, I would have one of my worst nights.   So maybe that is a hint for me.

 

I agree it is about keeping a balance of not being too phony but also being realistic about the situation.

Drug cocktail 1995 - 2010
Started taper of Adderall, Wellbutrin XL, Remeron, and Doxepin in 2006
Finished taper on June 10, 2010

Temazepam on a PRN basis approximately twice a month - 2014 to 2016

Beginning in 2017 - Consumption increased to about two times per week

April 2017 - Increased to taking it full time for insomnia

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Maintaining an appropriate degree of hope would seem to be the challenge - too little and we find ourselves stuck only in what is and probably being very fatalistic about the permanence of that 'now'.  Too much hope and we flee to a future utopia which takes us away from our experience of the now but also gives us a perfect other/future state against which we can compare our current state - a recipe for suffering.  The challenge of mindfulness then is to help us see where we are in relation to those extremes and allow us to let go of our attachments to those positions - allowing for the prospect of change/impermanence without investing heavily in an ideal of what that should look like.

 

Thanks, I hadn't really gotten that part about "perfect/other future state against which we can compare our current state--a recipe for suffering." Doh, of course! Thank you.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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