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[personal profile] hdiandrew
As my peer group and I age, one thing I notice more is the growth and impact of disorders, psychoses, neuroses (love that term, even though I don't think anyone uses it any more), and other negative mental states (by negative mental states I mean ones that do not serve the conscious desires we have for our lives). Some of this comes from me knowing and being close to more people. I am also more aware of these issues, having seen them in action (and I think we also become more aware of others as we age). However, there is one cause related to us aging that I rarely see mentioned, but which I feel plays a greater and greater role through our lives

When we were younger, we heard and believed that we could do anything. As we aged and chose our paths, certain of those paths closed to us. Often we closed these paths consciously and other times we were unaware that our actions would make others impossible. However, that constant loss of options stays with us. Yes, at one point we could do anything. Now we have made our choices, and to many, these new limits become a weight pressing upon them.

While I used to think complaints about this weight were sometimes a symptom, I now feel the loss of these options is often a cause of these disorders. When young we really do take to heart (as a core personal belief) that we can do anything, but we don't quite comprehend that at some point our choices lessen, usually based on the choices we have made before (not that I am saying life is a Choose Your Own Adventure book), As that comprehension begins to dawn, I think it often has a detrimental impact on our mental health.

This is different from the midlife crisis, which I think often has its roots in this internal conflict. My understanding of midlife crises is that they are dramatic events brought about by this (often unconscious) realization. I also differentiate this from the ennui and angst that we sometimes enjoy and sometimes make fun of. Instead I am talking about the slow, often barely noticeable and only rarely debilitating mental states that continue to grow and shape our lives year after year. I often see it behind odd outbursts of anger, melancholy and the like. It often seems to be linked to a feeling of helplessness, but more often seems to be the cause of that feeling.

Please note that this post is most assuredly NOT directed at anyone on my friends list. Just something that struck me as interesting earlier today.

Date: 2011-11-09 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luckygirl74.livejournal.com
totally agree.

Date: 2011-11-09 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arma-padawan.livejournal.com
it is definitely interesting, and worth thinking about.

Date: 2011-11-09 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redwitch.livejournal.com
I totally get what you're talking about, and I think you put into very precise words. And I agree, and definitely feel that movement in my life for sure.

Date: 2011-11-10 01:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aquaknot.livejournal.com
Just as a point of discussion, that slow reduction in options is often imposed by the growing realization (and hopefully fact) that you have something to lose. Hard to walk away from seniority, from tenure, from the house you bought/fixed up, etc. While these are nice to have, we expend effort to nurture and protect them too. The negative side is that these things also become burdens, or worse, traps. How many people have worked through years of unchallenging, uninteresting jobs just to keep that retirement pie in the sky? And while the security is valuable, what does it do to our brains, our sense of power and our sense of self?

Date: 2011-11-10 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fringekitty.livejournal.com
This sounds like something I might find in Gestalt or developmental psychology; although I don't remember seeing such a presentation. There is a reference that is stuck somewhere in my brain, trying to itch it's way to the top.

I think it's natural to mourn what we can no longer have as a result of the life path we are walking. However, people aren't encouraged to acknowledge their grief because society is forever saying the car, the house and the 2.5 kids is the grand prize and everyone should be happy to have it.

If a person is successful in balancing what is lost with what is gained, hopefully he or she will find contentment. And IMO, contentment cannot be achieved without fully acknowledging and honoring the grief.

Date: 2011-11-10 10:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aquaknot.livejournal.com
Darnit, wish I had a "like" button for that comment, fringekitty!


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Andrew Greenberg

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