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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.
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Andrew Greenberg

December 2012

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