[Papabear Note: This is a special column that is, I feel, relevant to many furries, including myself. As I have noted before on this website, yours truly has struggled a lot with depression and negativity. I have sought ways to alleviate this to mixed success. A notion started to form in my head that has been supported by some articles I have written in psychology journals that being unhappy and feeling sorry for oneself can actually create a feedback loop that becomes addictive. This feedback is bolstered by social media, where we post about how sad we are and poor me and we get reinforcement from friends, family, and acquaintances that actually make us feel better about being sad. We get attention. We get validation. Now, of course emotional support from our friends and family is important and helpful in a crisis, but sometimes it can lead to a state in which one actually prefers feeling sad and negative than happy and positive because it gains them attention, easing loneliness. This can backfire, too, when it becomes off-putting to your social circle. It is, to say the least, a complicated issue. The following is an excerpt of a conversation I've been having with a furry (who shall remain anonymous). I'm only publishing this small part of it to make my point.]
I just take rejection very hardly. It gets me really painful. VERY PAINFUL. It's not like I never was rejected, it's that I was rejected a lot, as much that even a single acceptance would be insignificant for me. I used to be bullied when I was in elementary school, as well as I was bullying others myself, after that I got sent to a mental hospital... where I was diagnosed with autism and later rediagnosed with schizophrenia... All because I faked having hallucinations which were merely intrusive thoughts about a guy who used to bully me... I didn't tell my psychiatrist that I was bullied because if I would tell there will be problems, and I didn't want them... I ignore positive things in my life and focus on negatives a lot. Because the pain I feel from negativity is bigger than the pleasure from positivity. No wonder why I get hurt when people block me, and tell me that I'm a stalker and that I should leave them alone.
I have actually a lot of online friends but very few offline friends. Even they aren't that significant to me because I'm insensitive to positive emotions, but very sensitive to negative...
If I only could have a magic wand, I wish I could feel positive emotions just like a cat would taste sweet after it... Focusing on positive emotions is very important for friendship maintaining... If I only were able to feel positive emotions which is necessary to focusing on them, nobody would ever block me... (cries)
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It seems pretty clear to me that you have an unhappiness addiction, especially when you say you get more stimulation from negative emotions than from positive ones. This is compounded, obviously, by your autism. You are also doing yourself no favors by not telling your therapist everything that is going on with you, which indicates you are sabotaging your own therapy in order to get off on feeling bad.
Yes, sadness addiction is a thing. Here are some possible reasons as written about Dr. David Sack in Psychology Today:
There are a number of possible explanations for this “addiction” to unhappiness:
There are two methods for overcoming your addiction: 1) seek professional help (and be HONEST with your therapist--otherwise they can't help you), and 2) seek ways to change your behavior yourself. You can do a few things to help yourself: 1) work on living in the moment, appreciating good things you have now and little things you experience that bring happiness; 2) keep a gratitude journal, writing down the things you appreciate and know you should recognize; 3) do not burden yourself with the problems of the world (I am guilty of this myself); you are just one person; instead, try to act locally and do things positive in your local community, for your friends, or for your family; 4) when you do something good, give yourself a little reward; eat a piece of cake or go do something fun like see a movie or go to a water park or the beach or the mountains; 5) practice mindfulness, yoga, meditation, connect to your spirit and to Nature; 6) redefine the values in your life; don't define "success" as having money, material things, job promotions; rather, foster friendships and love in your life.
The more you nurture the love and friendship and goodness in your life, the healthier these aspects will become and the weaker your addiction to unhappiness. You might have heard the old Native American story about the wise man who tells his son that there are two wolves fighting in each of us. One is evil and one is good. Which one will win? the son asks. The one you feed, answers the wise father.
Stop feeding your bitterness and unhappiness and begin feeding love, charity, hope, and friendship.
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