Stick Your Positivity Up Your Effin’ Arse

Being positive or optimistic is, on the whole, not a bad thing. I mean, probably. So shut up. Of course, there are people out there who are overly positive. Delusionally positive. Too positive for their own good. Positive squared. Etc. But I’m not here to talk about them. They can eff off.


NB: I know there’s something to this. But not being very clever means I’m not sure I’ve conveyed my argument in clear terms. It’s clear to me. But it might not be to you. You can stick this whole thing up my effin’ arse if you prefer.

I wanna talk about the overly positive tone many things about mental health recovery adopt. And look, I get why they’re that way. I’m guilty of it too. After days/weeks/months/years of feeling shit, or not feeling anything, and thinking their hopelessness will last forever. The author suddenly feels good, actually good. Like its old self again. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. There’s sunlight over the hill. There’s a toilet bowl at the end of the stream of piss. End metaphors.

The author realises they might have been wrong. That it’s possible to feel okay. That if they can feel better. So can anyone else.  As it turns out, the author is not quite the horrible person they believe themselves to be. Great idea: They’ll tell other people that they can get better! They can make a difference! They want other people to feel better too.  And that sentiment is not a bad thing. No. Fuck off. It’s not a bad thing. Shh. So, our author better bloody tell everyone else that it’s possible to feel better.

It’s not a particularly good thing either. It’s an approach that lacks empathy. Plenty of sympathy, sure. But no empathy. You don’t understand, maaan.

Sometimes positivity is the wrong approach. When someone is down about something. Has a negative attitude about some event, or aspect of themself. And you try to argue with them – however calmly or reasonably – that they’re not going to fail or they’re not utterly worthless, or whatever. You’re basically shitting all over and denying the existence of what got them there.  In most cases, there’s a reason or reasons for why they’re in that place. Most people don’t just, on a whim, decide that life’s not worth living anymore. Or that they’re hopeless. Or useless. Or… you get the idea. Clever you. Well done.

Think about it. If you believe, not think, believe that everything is hopeless. That there’s no point. And then someone comes along. Says they used to be like you. Tells you that there is a point. Well, what good is that? I mean. Firstly, it sounds like a recruitment proposition that cults make. Secondly, for all intents and purposes, you’re telling them that what’s led them to this state is irrelevant.

Our hypothetical author seems to have forgotten that it felt that way not too long ago. Could they have been reasoned with into thinking that there was a point to anything? Maybe. No. Yes. Whatever. I know I can’t be reasoned with when I’m depressed. And I’m not a special case. This approach is a combination of; “you’ll feel better” and “what have you got to be depressed about“. Trying to force positivity on a depressed person based on your own experience, however sincerely you want them to feel it, is as futile as trying to make a brick float.

Of course, that’s not to say people experiencing mental health problems shouldn’t be supported, or have things written for them to read, or whatever. Because even I’m not so fucking horrible as to believe that. But there’s a right way and a wrong way.

There are about 3459345768349587 different people and consequently 57675465645364564536656 different right ways to help them. So, author. Remember how you felt. What you thought. And ask yourself, what would have actually helped? It’s okay if you don’t know. Or aren’t sure. That’s kinda my point. But there are loads of wrong ways to try and help someone. And one of them is definitely saying something that amounts to; “you’ll feel better“. Sometimes doing nothing might even be better than doing something.

But when you tell someone that they can get out of depression because you did. Then that person finds themself still devoid of hope. How much shittier are they gonna feel? What are they doing wrong? Why are they wrong? Why are they so fucking useless? What’s the point of even trying?

It’s great that people shit all over their depression, even temporarily. But it’s easy to forget how you actually felt in those moments. That the things you’re doing today to keep a toilet bowl under the hot stream of piss that is your life, aren’t even within the realms of possibility pissibility for many. NB: In that metaphor, “hot stream of piss” is a good thing. Erm. So, in short. Buy depressed people toilets. Oh fuck. I’m so lost.

That’s not to say it isn’t interesting to read about other people’s recovery, what helped them, and their experiences in general. But don’t assume that everyone can do what you can do, you utter cunt! Oh wait. No. Probably shouldn’t have called you a cunt. I’m sorry. Lots of love to you. Kiss. Kiss. Lick.

Positivity isn’t bad. But it should be applied thoughtfully to people who fancy a bath with a toaster. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Fuck off and choke on your yoga mat. No! Be nice, Other Alex. Think positive thoughts. Oh for fucks sake. Fuck. Bye!

Hail Satan.

2 thoughts on “Stick Your Positivity Up Your Effin’ Arse

  1. I think I see your point, people come out of depression and feel good, they relay that it’s possible for you, as a depression sufferer to also feel good eventually. However, as a depressed person, you don’t believe its possible to do so, it feels like an empty promise. Condescending almost.

    As someone who also suffers as well I appear to be past it, I spent years near paralysed to inaction, isolating myself. I’m much more functional now, though I don’t feel good in myself, I have no magic formula of vegan fuckery and self-help books to prescribe, there was no choir of angels coming down to give me a purpose to live and a reason for all my suffering.

    The reason I am now more functional than despairing is crushingly mundane. Probability.

    The safety bubble I created to try make myself feel better, to try a protect others from myself, was a stasis, after 4-5years of living in it, things had a baseline, good days and bad days passed, but baseline miserable. The factors of me, the environment were variable and despite flux nothing changed because I neither changed myself, or my environment. To try the same the thing and expect a different result is madness? No, it’s hopeless.

    The thing is everything is hopeless and there is no point. Probably. No way to know for sure, feels that way, but then it also feels like the earth is flat, but that’s a ridiculous assumption. That’s the problem really, it’s an irrational mindset to believe there’s no hope or point. Irrational thoughts can’t be reasoned with. Irrational hatred even less so.

    So is there a strategy to tackle the Irrational? No, not really. Sorry. There’s not actually a positive and a negative me, there’s just a succession of present me. Present me could either eat healthy, work out, or have a cheeto-dusted cry-wank in my own filth. There’s no point to anything so why does it the choice matter? I mean, yes I can clearly identify which I should choose, which is technically better for me, so why isn’t that the choice I make? Clearly the bad choice is my nature, I’m a piece of shit for doing what I know it worse. Well Socrates would be proud of you. That’s his position. Socrates was a very smart arsehole. But the thing everyone ignores is Socrates KNOWS NOTHING, he says it himself, and we say how clever he is for realising it.

    So we are in a situation where we choose the worst choice for ourselves, in spite of knowing what’s better. Are we a terrible piece of shit? Is there any other creature in the world that acts like this? Well, yes, actually – addicts. The poison doesn’t matter, heroin, drink, gambling, destructive thinking. How do addicts stop being a piece of shit? They have to stop indulging their habit.

    How do you stop indulging in a poison that is in your mind? In unlimited quantities available at any time? Well, it’s not gunna happen quickly, it’s not going to be smooth. It’s just a case of doing something different as often as you can. What’s the point when you’re already trying to do that and failing? Well what’s the point in that question?

    What’s the point in wondering why everything, yourself included is pointless, horrible and shit? There isn’t, so why keep doing it? Addiction. Why am I addicted to this madness hopelessness? No fucking clue. How to I feel good about me and my life? By not looking for the point.

    For me I realised looking for a reason, a point, context to my hell, drawing lazy conclusions like blaming my behaviour on a deficiency of character were my childish mind. These are not questions that need answering, answering them will not take me to a new level or satisfy me. I do the work. Not every time, I fail, I get weak. I fuck up what I want to do with myself just about every day, but that doesn’t matter. I do the work I do. I am not happy in this work, but I am not miserable. I was not happy in my depression, but I was miserable. Do I get flashes of being great? Sure, I got them both in depression and in doing the work. But it doesn’t matter. I do the work. That is what I do.

    If you would like to open up a dialogue so you can mock and disparage my philosophy, to judge my motivations and tell me why it will never work for you,I would be willing. I will smile, do the work, agree there’s no point and do the work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, you pretty much nailed it when surmising what I wrote in this post. I think a lot of people forget how they feel and think when they’re depressed and consequently forget to empathise with other depressed people. Of course, everyone’s depression takes its own form. But I’d say there’s a general commonality throughout. And it’s so easy to forget, and want to forget, their thought patterns from the days of depression that are behind them. For the time being or not.

      I’m currently in that stasis you described. Though my environment never changes. I’ve tried and failed a few times to get out of it. I’m in the process of trying again at the moment. I always think of myself as going round in circles. I had definitely considered it to be madness. I almost always feel hopeless. But I’ve never put those two thoughts together. It makes a lot of sense. A hopeless madness, if you will? Or vice versa.

      I don’t think it’s irrational to believe there’s no point to life in general. I firmly believe it. Life is arbitrary. That being said. I also believe one can find a point to his or her own life. And it doesn’t have to be anything grand or spectacular. As you say, you do the work. It doesn’t make you happy, but it stops you being miserable. That’s a self-created point to life, right?

      I presume when you say there’s “no positive me or negative me”, you’re referring to another piece I recently published? Again, I agree with what you say. There’s only a succession of present mes. But I can identify and label those successive mes. Which is why I chose to. Their behaviours are predictable. They rarely differ in any meaningful way from how I describe them. The choices they make are made to either make me feel bad about myself, or good about myself. It doesn’t change my general outlook on life if I make “good” choices. But it helps me feel not miserable and sometimes good. And I’m okay with that.

      I don’t know how I feel about your idea that negative thoughts are addictive. I certainly think they’re compulsive and one usually leads to more. I rarely go in search of them. Though I generally maintain an attitude of skepticism. I imagine I approach things more negatively than other people.

      I think you’ve missed the point of Socrates’ quote about knowing nothing. I mean, I could totally be wrong. But I’ve always seen it to mean one ought to be open minded. Know that things you think you know can change. Believe things, accept them as knowledge, but be willing to change your beliefs based on what you learn.

      I don’t know if there is a point to wondering whether everything is pointless, horrible and shit. But if it’s a question that bothers you. You should search for answers. Even if you don’t like the answer. So that”s what I did. It took me a long time to get over and accept that everything’s pointless. That we’re tiny specks of carbon in an ever expanding, uncaring void. What finally did it was this Virginia Woolf quote:

      “As we are a doomed race, chained to a sinking ship, as the whole thing is a bad joke, let us, at any rate, do our part; mitigate the suffering of our fellow-prisoners; decorate the dungeon with flowers and air-cushions; be as decent as we possibly can.”

      I read that as: We’re all here in this shite. Short of killing ourselves, there’s nothing we can do to change that until death inevitably comes. So we might as well try and make life better for other people.

      And that doesn’t have to mean you ought to go be a doctor or a social worker or something. It just means be nice to people. Don’t expect anything back, because some people will treat you badly no matter what. Fuck ’em. Be nice to them anyway. And when someone does something kind to you, be grateful. Even if it’s just holding a door open for you or something menial. Make the world a less shitty place, even if it’s only for a moment.

      I do believe that it’s worth the time finding out why we believe ourselves to be worthless or shitty. Because we weren’t born with those beliefs. They might be true. They might not be. Chances are, it’s a mixture of the two. I don’t think I’m quite as shitty as I used to. I can’t change the bad things I’ve done. But I can learn to accept that bad things done to me, weren’t necessarily my fault. That I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. That they’re a large part of why my worldview and sense of self is the way it is.

      So, while I disagree with some of what you say. I disagree with how it applies to me. You and me are different people. So, who am I to tell you how to live or figure shit out? It’d be pretty hypocritical given this post’s theme! I don’t think anything you’ve written is worthy of mockery. That’s how you’ve chosen to get by. And if it works for you. That’s good. Or fine. Whatever. We’re all just figuring shit out.


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