Author Topic: Struggling to turn the brain off  (Read 9491 times)

infromsea

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #50 on: July 26, 2017, 05:04:35 AM »
Uhh... I don't know about all those self-help books. I'd stay as far as possible from self-help if I were you, or fighting depression. Overthinking your depression is the last thing you want. Do long walks, exercise, social meetups, your own projects if you want challenge, etc. Self-help books will just bring you down, you don't want to have anyone "teach you" stuff, make up your own path.

I'd agree with this sentiment, that you have to "be careful" in trying to "think your way out of a mental funk".

I've found that I have "cycles" of depressive periods. When I get in a blue mood, I can't think my way out of it, I have to get more social interaction, change my diet up (sometimes I think the cycles are started by a lack of a key vitamin or mineral), spend lots of time with family or just ride it out. I've tried to think my way out by recognizing the funk and then deciding NOT to be in a mental funk, it didn't work.... I do think that recognizing it IS the first step, if only to learn the triggers and how to best cope.

infromsea

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #51 on: July 26, 2017, 07:11:29 AM »

I have not read anything even approaching philosophy since college. I suppose I'm not really all that certain of what I believe with respect to the ultimate end game. I guess my thoughts about needing to do something meaningful with my life imply that I don't believe it will simply continue in some fashion that retains my identity and cognitive function after I die. I will try to look into stoicism. Picking up a lot of reading material lately!


Could it be that all this free time has allowed you to consider this aspect of life? The whole "what's it all about anyway" side of it? We spend so much time and energy and mental cycles on/at work, maybe now that those cycles have been freed up, we have to really think about things that we get the "luxury" of ignoring when busy with work/life/raising kids etc.

As for stoic writings, the letters of Seneca and discourse of Epictetus are great places to start.

infromsea

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #52 on: July 26, 2017, 07:18:30 AM »
Have you tried podcasts?   I find them to be a really good way to stay mentally stimulated while being less isolating than reading.   

Tim Ferris is a big fan of the stoics, and interviews interesting "world class performers" in a variety of fields.  He was a bit too dude bro-ish when he first started, but has matured a lot in the last couple of years.

If you don't find his constant interruptions and self promotion annoying, James Altucher also interviews interesting people.

Malcolm Gladwell's newish podcast Revisionist History is also very though provoking.

Others I really enjoy:

Hidden Brain
Freakonomics
Planet Money
Happier

+1 for podcasts. I find my most enjoyable day to be one where I plug in my single earbud headphones, put on some ear muffs over to block noise and then spend a day doing manual labor like mowing/cleaning the yard or building a deck.

I use a cheap cell phone with a paid for APP (so much better than the free apps with adds!) and I que up several days worth of shows from various names like those above and I get to work.

I'd also recommend hard core history by Dan Carlin and This American Life (some deep stories on there).

Also, my local library lends audiobooks online, you don't have to go into the library, as long as you have an account you can download them from their electronic library website. The beauty of it is (and I'm not advocating piracy here) is that you can delete the auto generated playlist and the item won't expire (providing they are using the overdrive software, I usually just copy the folder to another partition, then delete the overdrive playlist and add it to my "to listen to" folder) that way you can "store up" a few for those long hikes, days in the yard, or long drives.

Kl285528

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #53 on: July 26, 2017, 07:48:13 AM »
Don't dismiss self-help books too quickly. I have found enormous value in "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. Read and think through the basic ideas without getting hung up on it being dated in parts. The basic concepts are solid. As well as The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz. Finally, Tim Ferriss is into stoicism, and his podcast is great, besides the over bro-ish nature of it at times! Good luck with this, I'm going through a little of this too right now.

zoltani

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #54 on: July 26, 2017, 11:10:35 AM »
Don't dismiss self-help books too quickly. I have found enormous value in "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. Read and think through the basic ideas without getting hung up on it being dated in parts. The basic concepts are solid. As well as The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz. Finally, Tim Ferriss is into stoicism, and his podcast is great, besides the over bro-ish nature of it at times! Good luck with this, I'm going through a little of this too right now.

Self-help, interesting concept. You are reading these self help books, but it's not self help, it is someone else's idea of what would be better for you. You are relying on the idea that they know what is better for you. How could I judge that when I don't even know what is better for myself?
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.”

Yvon Chouinard

Meadow Lark

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #55 on: July 26, 2017, 06:56:52 PM »
Re meditation - https://www.dhamma.org .  I did a 10 day silent meditation retreat (it's for beginners) and it was really good for me.  It is by donation only, with no suggested price.  That said, I really need to meditate more.

I FIRED 7 weeks ago and it's a little rough.  My anxiety has definitely gone up.  A lot.  Right now trying to work through it.  It's frustrating - I want to be having the time of my life, but I am not.  I am holding onto the idea that I will feel different in 6 months and a year. 

tyort1

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #56 on: July 26, 2017, 07:02:24 PM »

I have not read anything even approaching philosophy since college. I suppose I'm not really all that certain of what I believe with respect to the ultimate end game. I guess my thoughts about needing to do something meaningful with my life imply that I don't believe it will simply continue in some fashion that retains my identity and cognitive function after I die. I will try to look into stoicism. Picking up a lot of reading material lately!


Could it be that all this free time has allowed you to consider this aspect of life? The whole "what's it all about anyway" side of it? We spend so much time and energy and mental cycles on/at work, maybe now that those cycles have been freed up, we have to really think about things that we get the "luxury" of ignoring when busy with work/life/raising kids etc.

As for stoic writings, the letters of Seneca and discourse of Epictetus are great places to start.

I found that Thoreau, followed by Whitman, followed by the Bhagavad Gita had a profound impact on my philosophical outlook.  Prior to these 3 I'd say my outlook was profoundly self centered and selfish.  Now it's expanded to be much more benevolent and greater generosity of spirit.  Whitman, in particular, was influential here.
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Mr. Green

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #57 on: July 26, 2017, 08:29:38 PM »
The book on fear that I picked up really speaks to me. It was written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen master and Buddhist monk. Naturally, it's concepts pull heavily from Buddhism but the words really hit home with regard to my specific experience of a form of the fear of dying as I go to sleep at night. A passage that hit me particularly hard was "The present is free from fear," which is true. Fear is always about something that has yet to happen. And since we really can't live anywhere but in the present, we can really live without fear. I don't know anything about Buddhism but I would assume based on what I've read so far that it is very big on meditation and mindfulness. I may have to read a little more about Buddhism.
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koshtra

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #58 on: July 26, 2017, 11:16:05 PM »
Thich Nhat Hanh is wonderful. The best summary of classical Buddhism I know is "What the Buddha Taught," by Walpola Rahula.

I think actually you've got at least three things going on: simple boredom (you don't really have quite enough to do) -- and a psychological predisposition to anxiety (guessing from your history) -- and really running up against "what am I living for in the first place?" -- which is really the same question as "what will my death mean?" They all kind of converge on you when the lights go out.

A good meditation teacher and a group to sit with can be really valuable. There's a lot of ways to get muddled up about meditation, and a good teacher can save you a lot of time and distress. I tend to look to the old established traditions -- Japanese Zen or Tibetan -- they're simultaneously a lot more relaxed and a lot more rigorous. One of the things that will surprise you, if you're used to Western religions, is that nobody will give a damn whether you believe anything or not: no one's going to ask you to swear to anything or promise allegiance to anything.

I don't know if I'm a Buddhist any more -- I would have called myself one ten years ago. Maybe I am. But anyway, I know that learning to meditate was the biggest favor I ever did myself. It had a huge impact on my life, and totally for the good.

Kl285528

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #59 on: July 27, 2017, 07:06:22 AM »
Don't dismiss self-help books too quickly. I have found enormous value in "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. Read and think through the basic ideas without getting hung up on it being dated in parts. The basic concepts are solid. As well as The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz. Finally, Tim Ferriss is into stoicism, and his podcast is great, besides the over bro-ish nature of it at times! Good luck with this, I'm going through a little of this too right now.

Self-help, interesting concept. You are reading these self help books, but it's not self help, it is someone else's idea of what would be better for you. You are relying on the idea that they know what is better for you. How could I judge that when I don't even know what is better for myself?
Perhaps think of these books as helpers for you to live a better, happier life. Keep an open mind about these. MMM had this to say about one of them http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/28/weekend-edition-the-magic-of-thinking-big/

FIREby35

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #60 on: July 27, 2017, 07:11:06 AM »
If you like the Bhuddism stuff, I suggest you read The Dhammapadda : http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/scrndhamma.pdf

The Dhammapadda is a collection of proverbs that you can meditate on for a looooong time. I think I've been going back to it for nearly a decade! Let me tell you this, what I understood the first time I read it was exactly what I needed. What I understood when I read it last week, it was exactly what I needed. Somehow these quotes speak to a beginner and a more advanced meditator all at the same time. It's kind of incredible, actually.

Just a thing, I'm Catholic but the Bhuddism stuff spoke to me in a way all the Catholic stuff did not. Maybe it had to do with all the cultural baggage attached to being Catholic. Anyway, I say that because getting caught in "which religion" is a side trap that is best ignored. Take the wisdom where you can get it!

Another thing to check out, although it might be a little advanced is Ram Dass. Here is a lecture that I bet speaks to you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orb8cGSqS-A


Mr. Green

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #61 on: July 27, 2017, 10:11:22 AM »
If you like the Bhuddism stuff, I suggest you read The Dhammapadda : http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/scrndhamma.pdf

The Dhammapadda is a collection of proverbs that you can meditate on for a looooong time. I think I've been going back to it for nearly a decade! Let me tell you this, what I understood the first time I read it was exactly what I needed. What I understood when I read it last week, it was exactly what I needed. Somehow these quotes speak to a beginner and a more advanced meditator all at the same time. It's kind of incredible, actually.

Just a thing, I'm Catholic but the Bhuddism stuff spoke to me in a way all the Catholic stuff did not. Maybe it had to do with all the cultural baggage attached to being Catholic. Anyway, I say that because getting caught in "which religion" is a side trap that is best ignored. Take the wisdom where you can get it!

Another thing to check out, although it might be a little advanced is Ram Dass. Here is a lecture that I bet speaks to you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orb8cGSqS-A
I was also surprised at how strongly the words spoke to me, which I've never really felt with Christian texts (raised Christian). It felt like faith by logic, as opposed to Christian texts which to me feel more like faith by faith. As an analytical person explanations that are more based on logic strike more of a chord with me. I will definitely take the wisdom where I can get it, and if a spiritual journey occurs some time later that's okay too.
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infromsea

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #62 on: July 28, 2017, 08:09:42 AM »
I came across this today:

“There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need only do inner work…that a man is entirely responsible for his own problems; and that to cure himself, he need only change himself…The fact is, a person is so formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings.”

-- Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building

I have found truth in this, getting out of the house and interacting with others at least once a week keeps me in a much more positive mental place.

zoltani

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #63 on: July 28, 2017, 10:26:43 AM »
Don't dismiss self-help books too quickly. I have found enormous value in "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. Read and think through the basic ideas without getting hung up on it being dated in parts. The basic concepts are solid. As well as The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz. Finally, Tim Ferriss is into stoicism, and his podcast is great, besides the over bro-ish nature of it at times! Good luck with this, I'm going through a little of this too right now.

Self-help, interesting concept. You are reading these self help books, but it's not self help, it is someone else's idea of what would be better for you. You are relying on the idea that they know what is better for you. How could I judge that when I don't even know what is better for myself?
Perhaps think of these books as helpers for you to live a better, happier life. Keep an open mind about these. MMM had this to say about one of them http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/28/weekend-edition-the-magic-of-thinking-big/

I am familiar with the book and of MMM's recommendation of it. As soon as you have the idea that you want to better yourself you're simply falling into another game, as you are telling yourself that there is something to be better about, but you are the one judging that. If you knew what is better then you would be it already. If there is something wrong with you that needs bettering you are the one doing the bettering, do you see the game? It's still you, the ego. When you want to better yourself and choose some teacher, guru, MMM, book, or whatever you are still the one judging that that person knows what is better, it is a kind of trap. The reason why you want to be better is the reason why you aren't.

There is the old story of Buddha telling people that the reason for suffering is that they desire. So the people did everything the could to rid themselves of desire, but no matter what they did they couldn't. So they went back to Buddha and said they did everything they could to get rid of desire but they can't. And the Buddha said, oh but now you are desiring not to desire.

You can't get rid of desire because as soon as you try you are desiring to not desire. Just like as soon as you try to better yourself you can't because you are the one doing the bettering.

“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.”

Yvon Chouinard

infromsea

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #64 on: July 30, 2017, 05:13:56 AM »


You can't get rid of desire because as soon as you try you are desiring to not desire. Just like as soon as you try to better yourself you can't because you are the one doing the bettering.

I find meditation very helpful with this quandary.

When I first started, it was tough to quiet the mind. The more you try not to think, the more random and "out of left field" ideas pop into the stream of consciousness. I used the calm app to "learn" how to meditate and I follow it's method, to simply recognize that I'm thinking and to say to to myself "thinking" and shut it down and "push" the thought out of my mind without judging or "keeping score" or otherwise beating myself up.

I think the same can be done with desires. As someone who has tried to reduce desires for material possessions and earning more money just to have big numbers on a website (online bank account, we don't even strive for big numbers on a piece of paper anymore ((bank statement)) now it's just a game to see who can put up the largest numbers on a screenshot, just like most viggie games) I still find myself appreciating finer homes and a nicely maintained classic car etc. I don't beat myself up for appreciating those things, sometimes even desiring them, I just recognize/acknowledge the desire/thought and push it along and move on with my life. I think that process can be used for many situations.

MenopauseMustache

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #65 on: July 30, 2017, 06:20:27 AM »
I hope your nights are getting calmer, Mr. Green. Mine is not a logical engineer brain, but a creative one and I see your thoughts and anxiety about 'death' as being not about the end of life, but the end of a career. Death in dreams is usually about change. I think you are struggling with a transition, that's all. Anxiety sucks, I get it too, and always at night, but this tumultuous time is also an immeasurably positive one. Yes, the 'engineer who works 80 hours a week and builds things and earns a salary' part of you has died a natural death. You didn't kill him. He can be resurrected at any time. But there's another Mr. Green emerging. I think you're in a bit of a gestation and possibly painful birthing period as you start to shape this new life. I don't want to give advice, all I can suggest is you stop overthinking it. Relax, accept that some nights you'll have anxiety and for some reason it's part of the process. You will come through to something new and it will be amazing. Have faith in yourself.

o2bfree

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #66 on: July 31, 2017, 10:08:03 AM »
Regarding problem solving, the ultimate goal of meditation is to solve the source of all of humanity’s problems, our most intractable problem: the problem of life and death. Humanity is stuck on solving so many other problems related to comfort, convenience, and knowledge, but if you think about it, even the greatest comfort or convenience is based on conditions that are bound to change, and the most esoteric knowledge or cool, advanced technology is just a minuscule bit of the infinite picture. And it seems that no matter how much comfort, convenience, knowledge, or technology we have, there’s still a sense of anxiety because the basic problem of life and death remains.

A good meditation teacher and a group to sit with can be really valuable. There's a lot of ways to get muddled up about meditation, and a good teacher can save you a lot of time and distress. I tend to look to the old established traditions -- Japanese Zen or Tibetan -- they're simultaneously a lot more relaxed and a lot more rigorous. One of the things that will surprise you, if you're used to Western religions, is that nobody will give a damn whether you believe anything or not: no one's going to ask you to swear to anything or promise allegiance to anything.

+1

Most people get bored with meditation because they don't sit long enough, intently enough, or with an effective enough technique to get a taste of what it’s ultimately about. It’s more than just learning to relax to feel better, though that’s certainly a benefit. But wait…there’s more! and doing enough meditation to begin to see that can be difficult and quite uncomfortable, mentally and physically. Working with a teacher and sitting for extended periods of time with a group may be necessary to advance in meditation, as the formal setting keeps you on your cushion far longer that you’d stay on it at home. At home it’s just too easy to stop when you feel bored, sleepy, or your legs start hurting!
« Last Edit: July 31, 2017, 10:35:11 AM by o2bfree »

AnnS

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #67 on: August 02, 2017, 04:03:20 AM »
I think humans have to work because meaning comes from service to others and from creativity. The beauty of FI is the freedom to do exactly the work you want to do in a way that suits you according to your skills, inclinations and temperament. A wonderful, wonderful gift. Take it and use it or face the void!
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 06:06:48 AM by AnnS »

o2bfree

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #68 on: August 02, 2017, 10:14:26 AM »
I think humans have to work because meaning comes for service to others and creativity. The beauty of FI is the freedom to do exactly the work you want to do in a way that suits you according to your skills, inclinations and temperament. A wonderful, wonderful gift. Take it and use it or face the void!

This seems true in many respects; however, as a counterpoint, note that people who work to serve others can also struggle with depression and other mental ailments. Mother Theresa, for example:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/augustweb-only/135-43.0.html


Ten years after her death, a new book of Mother Teresa's personal letters illustrates a profound and private spiritual struggle— much of it unknown to the world that would come to embrace her as a living saint.

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, to be released Sept. 4, is a collection of Teresa's personal letters to her spiritual advisers. For the most part, they are letters she never intended to become public and, in fact, had asked to be destroyed.

In one letter from 1962, Teresa even mused about how her sense of spiritual desolation might impact the bid—now under way at the Vatican—to make her a saint.

"If I ever become a Saint—I will surely be one of 'darkness,'" she wrote. "I will continually be absent from Heaven—to (light) the light of those in darkness on earth."

The book will likely challenge the characterization many people had of Teresa as a simple, pious woman, said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who wrote the best-selling My Life With the Saints.

"I think that this is a real treasure for not only believers, but even doubters and skeptics," Martin said. "I think it also makes her much more accessible to the everyday believer. It shows that even the saints struggle in their spiritual lives and that they don't have it easier than we do. They sometimes have it harder than we do."


Creative people have problems, too:

http://unisoultheory.com/index.php/2016/07/29/depression-anxiety-creativity/

We are all familiar with the stereotype of the moody teenage artist. She wears all black, feels tremendous amounts of angst, and, while very bright, struggles to find joy in a world full of tragedies. While many creative people find this stereotype to be offensive, there is growing scientific evidence that it may, in fact, have some merit. Modern research suggests that highly creative minds are at an increased risk for depression due to their insightful and highly empathetic worldview.

Nancy Andreasen, author of The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius, believes that creative minds are less likely to easily adapt when confronted with new situations. This is because they are more skeptical of the information given to them by authority figures. They would rather make up their own minds. This is not only much more difficult to do, but much more time-intensive when trying to adjust to a new environment. They are creating their own ideas rather than blindly adopting the ones put forth by society.


AnnS

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #69 on: August 03, 2017, 08:13:30 AM »
Well, let's steer away from extreme service a la Mother Teresa, and extreme creativity too!

Mr. Green

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #70 on: August 03, 2017, 03:05:18 PM »
I haven't had any problems for the last week. We've been in North Carolina staying with friends. Even though I'm home all day while my wife is working, the daily socialization with other adults and children helps. While we're here the days feel more structured because we help make dinner and other things that just help pass the time better since I'm unable to make any long term commitments for now. Back in Maryland it's just me and me wife and we don't really cool like our friends do so the days just feel emptier while my wife works. I think this problem will be self-correcting as we expect to move permanently in a couple weeks but I will continue to focus on meditation and other activities that improve my overall health.
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ponyboy

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #71 on: August 04, 2017, 09:31:25 AM »
Ponyboy doesnt have any issues turning his brain off after work.  He doesnt do much at work to begin with.  Makes the day much more enjoyable not having many responsibilities. 

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #72 on: August 04, 2017, 03:27:41 PM »
Any chance you have considered dropping the Rx meds, and trying CBD therapy or even MJ to see the results?

tyort1

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #73 on: August 04, 2017, 03:29:50 PM »
Getting off caffeine was enormously helpful for me and my 'falling asleep' problems.
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Mr. Green

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #74 on: August 04, 2017, 06:25:50 PM »
Any chance you have considered dropping the Rx meds, and trying CBD therapy or even MJ to see the results?
I dropped the Lunesta and am completely off sleeping pills now because I thought it might be causing my back problems. I'm hesitant to go off the Wellbutrin because the last time I tapered off an SSRI I had a return of anxiety symptoms.
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Holyoak

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #75 on: August 04, 2017, 07:56:27 PM »
Any chance you have considered dropping the Rx meds, and trying CBD therapy or even MJ to see the results?
I dropped the Lunesta and am completely off sleeping pills now because I thought it might be causing my back problems. I'm hesitant to go off the Wellbutrin because the last time I tapered off an SSRI I had a return of anxiety symptoms.

I understand your concern/s about weaning off of the SSRI's, and you have my best wishes toward you finding relief from your anxiety.  If by chance someday you are not taking any SSRI's, sleep medications, etc, perhaps giving the CBD's a try may be very helpful.  St John's Wort may also prove beneficial for you for anxiety and sleep issues, and perhaps Valerian root used for better sleep.   I'll second the recommend to reduce or eliminate caffeine if you can, if you partake.

Lastly, Cannabis.  When used properly, it can have a very profound, positive effect for sleeplessness and helping to quell anxiety.  I know this may seem counter-productive, and I'm sure I'm not explaining anything you don't already know, just the same it can be very effective.

Anxiety is so insidious, and perhaps some of your back pain is directly related to this anxiety?  I wish you sincere best of luck, in overcoming your challenging situation. 

respond2u

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Re: Struggling to turn the brain off
« Reply #76 on: August 04, 2017, 10:55:50 PM »
...We're back and forth between two states, which has prohibited any attempts at an activity that is longer than two weeks. ...

Any chance you can change this?

That much travel can be really stressful. It can be hard to "have a life" when you're moving back and forth--even if it's to the same places.