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On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:07 am
by Vaikeasti
I've come to wonder if it is "fair" to dream of ERE when you have mental health issues.

When you're not selfsufficient on the will to live can you really be self-sufficient on anything?
If you need to incorporate safety measures for almost everything?

How would you incorporate the restrictions and requirements (prescription drugs, high social capital for a safety net and years of therapy, higher probability of not being able to follow longer plans etc.) to you plan and excecution of ERE?

EDIT: Had a moment of sanity and revised the question to focus on excecution of theory and not on myself. I apologize for earlier rant and thank chenda for replying.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:41 pm
by chenda
I see ERE not so much as the state of being retired but rather a set of principles which can be adapted to a given situation, specifically by more efficient spending and resource consumption. So if anything it's more relevant to someone like you who may struggle to work in the future and may require expensive medical care.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:30 pm
by suomalainen
Well, first things first. I can't remember where it was, but there was a thread where @jp included a Maslow's hierarchy of needs and it fit within the ERE-ish conversation and was super good and thoughtful and stuff. @jp - do you remember? And mental health is about as basic as you can get on that pyramid. I think applied to your question, I would first suggest that you clarify what you think the word "ERE" means to you.
How would you incorporate the restrictions and requirements (prescription drugs, high social capital for a safety net and years of therapy, higher probability of not being able to follow longer plans etc.) to you plan and execution of ERE?
If you're thinking of ERE as a destination, then...well, you're fucked (I tried to think of a nicer way to put it, but it's late and I've got a sailor's mouth anyhow. sorry.). It's very hard to make it to a destination if you can't make a plan for it and/or execute (and improvise) on that plan. My advice to you is to abandon thinking of ERE as a destination.

If you look at ERE as a journey and/or a toolkit and/or an inter-related set of life processes, then I think it fits very well. Tying in to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it sounds like you already understand that making allowances for mental health is foundational. So, what that means is that although you may not be able to have the same dreams as others (top of the pyramid), you are being practical about addressing the base of your specific pyramid (whether or not it's "fair" is basically irrelevant. It's not "fair" that I wasn't born with a trust fund when so many schmucks were. CLEARLY I DESERVE ONE.). Anyway, the second step is to figure out what parts of your mental health you need money for (drug costs, therapy costs, what-if preparation), what parts you need skills for (learning from therapy and applying the skills to manage the challenges) and what parts you need friends for (safety net and what you can reasonably expect from them). And then, just like any human, you do your best.

An ERE-approach gives you the mindset to approach your specific set of problems in a systemic manner and therefore in a more robust manner. That way you are not solely reliant on your job, or on the government or on any one source. You are more resilient. If you've made a good plan (i.e., you try to save money, develop skills and develop relationships), then you've built some flex into that plan so that if/when you stumble in one area, you have a safety net via the other areas. If you haven't made a good plan or the stumble is severe enough to overwhelm your entire system...well, those with severe mental health challenges typically have much poorer outcomes than others, at least here in the US (see, e.g., homelessness and associated health challenges). My understanding is the Finnish system has a much better safety net than in the US, but...look, you already know having health issues - be they mental or cancer or anything else, just plain sucks. The only thing you can do is decide how you're going to think of it and how you're going to approach it.

I don't know if that addresses your questions, but those were my thoughts and reactions.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:10 am
by jennypenny
@Suo -- Do you mean this post in the Personal Mission thread? Or this post from the thread about creating a meaningful life? Or something else?

To the OP -- Absolutely. I'd argue that an ERE lifestyle -- if constructed thoughtfully and carefully to meet your needs* -- would be a great way to guarantee you don't accidentally sabotage yourself during difficult periods.

* You might find you aren't able to 'retire' completely because you need certain routines and boundaries in your life. However, ERE would allow you to choose more desirable and better-suited activities instead of having to grind it out in an unhappy situation. Setting up ERE's web of goals is kind of like CBT-ing your life -- learning how to deal with situations and putting the mechanics in place so that 'dealing' becomes automatic, therefore much less stress-inducing.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:23 am
by Jean
I don't know if daily suicidal thoughts count as dépression, but ERE was a great way out of it. Freedom from work and peer pressure, coupled with freedom to be outside and with friends and family cured it in a matter of months. I really think dépression is a lifestyle disease. It's only genetic to thé extend of wich lifestyles makes you depressiv.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:55 am
by suomalainen
@jp - “well, suo, I have sooo many great posts, it’s hard to know to which you are referring.” :lol: ;) it was the personal mission one.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:56 am
by jennypenny

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:57 pm
by ZAFCorrection
Having extra requirements related to mental illness can be thought of in the same terms as needing to breath, eat, and sleep. You would just need to design your lifestyle around them.

As for not being great at following through on long term planning, try to use engineering controls and negative attributes to force you into the direction you want to go. For instance, when I wanted to go car free, I just didn't get a car when I had the time after moving to a new place. I also moved to a place relatively close to work that had a pleasant walk. The result is even though I am super lazy about physical activity, I am too busy to get a car and too lazy generally to bother with keeping to bus schedules, so I walk every day. Basically, present, capable you needs to understand and manipulate future, mentally ill you, and mentally ill you should work on strategies for just not tearing things down too much until you get back to feeling better.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:15 pm
by daylen
Jean wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:23 am
I really think dépression is a lifestyle disease. It's only genetic to thé extend of wich lifestyles makes you depressiv.
I am not so sure.. ... 9lA/videos

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:41 am
by horsewoman
It probably depends on the severity of your mental health issues. My family is a high-functioning ADHD-Aspergers hodgepodge and choosing an "alternative lifestyle" has been a lifesaver for us. (we're not pursuing ERE but living a semi-ER part-time-working lifestyle).
I pretty soon realized that my then new boyfriend (now husband of 11 years and partner of 16) would drive my up the walls with his hyperactivity in an apartment or even a small house. So getting a farm with lots of room and very few neighbors was ideal for us. We can be as weird and hyper as we please without most people noticing it - which makes "masking" (i.e. acting like a neurotypical person) that much easier for the few hours we're out in the world. We have also enough room to get out of each others way easily - very important in our family!

My husband suffered a severe bout of depression a few years ago because of a live threatening illness. I'm convinced that it was a huge motivation for him to get better as to not see our lives work (the farm) go to rack and ruin. I held the fort for a year on my own but it would not have been possible much longer! It gave him purpose and a reason to get up again.

That being said, I realize that our mental health issues are pretty mild. Some things are solved by trowing money on them (like taking the Asperger kid out of public school into an private one who is more inclusive), others are simply easier because we don't join the rat race. Less stress, more time to decompress (hey, that even rhymes!). It is worth it to forgo rampant consumerism to have this luxury, IMO. Working full time is by now unimaginable to both of us, the pay-off in happiness & contentment is huge.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:44 am
by Nuuka
What I have found out is that if you regularly sleep well and long enough then your brain works in more balanced and coherent manner, and brain is more likely to be able to process new events (setbacks) rather than switching on to low energy depression mode. It may take a few weeks of sleeping better to notice the difference.

To be able to sleep well might involve controlling your intake of coffee, tea, nicotine, alcohol, phys excercise etc.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:46 pm
by Jean
Yes! I once wanted to start a religion whose suprem value would be one's quality of sleep.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:15 pm
by Vaikeasti
So many good points on the topic! Thank you for tolerating me.

I read Depression – Its causes and How to Overcome It by Caroline Shreeve. (Simply because we happened to have this one in our bookshelf. There are most likely better ones out there. At least I hope so. I think the part about babies sexually dreaming of their parents was tad disturbing.)

Caroline Shreeves personal depression treatment method consisted of:
  • waking up the brain (drugs if very deep down, otherwise indulging the senses),
  • therapy (breaking free of the negative thought patterns, detaching yourself from the disease and not identifying with it),
  • healthy lifestyle (physical positive routines, healthy food etc.) and
  • learning positive ways to control stress, fears and anxiety.
She theorized that you can kick start your neural network by bombarding it with sensations. So, activating your senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch) activates your brain. She suggested:
  • taking cold showers,
  • intensive exercise,
  • listening to music,
  • burning incense,
  • eating (healthy and diverse) and
  • looking at objects in your surrounding and trying to precisely imagine them after that.
Shreeves also stated that depression works in phases meaning that you have better days and worse days. And that you could learn to notice the early symptoms of your depression going to the worse phase and prepare for it.
I found this to be very encouraging. Detaching yourself from depression and treating depression like any other disease (like migraine) instead of identifying with it is a really big change in attitude.
Like some of the earlier replies already said: think of your depression like eating or sleeping and just plan accordingly.

These are all things that you can’t probably take in and implement when your in the worse stage of your depression. These things you incorporate when feeling more normal.

In the deeper phases of depression you need to find some thoughts to carry yourself through them. Anything that delays you from making drastic negative changes when you're in the valley of despair is useful.
I’ll list some of the thoughts that have helped me. (Successful ERE’s shouldn’t read for these are “loser talk” to you. :P )

While you feel that you don’t deserve anything good and in particular that you don’t deserve to optimize your life for the better or be FI, remind yourself that it is only the sickness speaking. And that this feeling is temporary.
If you like people it might be helpful to tell yourself that it benefits everyone else also the more independent you are.
If you fear people think that the more things you can do with out or do yourself the less you have to annoy anyone else.
Or if you hate people it might help you to think that you are also free of people if you’re more skilled in the ways of ERE.

I also found comfort in the notion from Better than yesterdays video that you can be productive and advance on things even when you're not doing the things you were supposed to do. Even when depressed there is probably something that you can do that’s beneficial towards your goals. Steps in the right direction are steps no matter the size.

I think that Youtube channel explained really well also the idea behind 2 minute habits. Especially when you feel you’re not able to do anything it might make all the difference when you only sign up for doing a minimal task.
(In Finnish we call this the gateway theory but in English that seems to be only applied to drugs. In Finnish the gateway theory is also the theory of loss leaders meaning while you’re at it you end up having/doing more than originally planned.)
If you’re depressed then only signing up for something minuscule (like only watering your toothbrush) might lead to you doing more positive things (actually washing your teeth and maybe your face too and combing your hair to boot!).
You don’t need to be perfect. Even slightly less bad is improvement! So just check the direction and start walking. Or only take a step. Either way that’s better than nothing.

And lastly some possible “benefits” of depression to ERE that I’ve come up with so far, no science to back these up whatsoever.

Being depressed is in it’s “best” like being in the jacob-Plato's cave and being able to see almost everything clearly. You can see the chains, you can see the people in the background messing with everyone, you can see the people leaving the cave. The difficulty is that depression makes you believe that it is your fault for being chained and that you deserve only the chains.

It might be easier to understand different frames of mind when thing in your own life look vastly different from time to time. It’s maybe easier to understand that someone thinks differently when you have so many differing thoughts yourself.

If current me is shitty it is easier to sign up for change.
When you feel really bad about your current situation it means that at least that part of the cost of change equation is pretty low. When depressed you typically contemplate on the things that are wrong in you and in your life. You should write these thoughts down. And then on the better days you can invent productive ways to change these things. So that when the next bad phase comes and you’re fed up with everything and want to give up on everything you have a plan and can “give up” and change those planned things instead of doing something with negative consequence.

If you’ve been really down it is easier to see what is actually necessary in life. If you’re too depressed to eat every day or maintain basic hygiene at least you gain a new tool against consumerism. Whenever a commercial says something is “essential” or “everyone needs this”, you know better. Even eating every day is optional.
Many of the things considered parts of the minimum of human life are actually not parts of the minimum of human existence (like wearing clothes in prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures). Some are things considered to be normal human decency towards others (like not smelling too bad in company). Some of them are only required by current social norms (like dressing certain way in certain situations).
When you’re not up to anything you can really get to the bottom of the question of what do you want and what is imposed to you from the outside.

Sometimes it is difficult to do anything because you think you’re going to fail anyway. But failing is important too. The only certain way to fail is not start at all. It is usually not necessary to be perfect or to be an expert to be able to do something.
In Finnish I’ve encountered a term called “turmaraja” (could be translated as Disaster threshold). The idea is that there is a scale for every action or performance. At the bottom is doing nothing and at the top is perfection. Disaster threshold is a line on that scale. That’s the line that when you do less it would be obvious to everyone that this is badly done. The line that when you cross it then you’ve really messed up. And when you just barely go over it you can get a way with it and no-one suffers. (So it’s like Pareto suboptimal or something? I’m sure there is a scientific term for it but I just couldn’t find it.)
And most of the time it is enough to just barely go above this line. Most of the time it actually is not worth it strive for perfection. No-one cares as long as you’re somewhere above the line.
So if you feel that you cannot succeed, remember to check if it really means that you cannot get over this line or whether that means that you cannot get over your own higher line. And if you can get over this line but not your own, just do it anyway. It’s usually better to get things done in time than to do them perfectly in some distant future scenario. And in many cases just doing it is vital to getting better at it. Having depression is as good excuse as any to only operate just above the line. Getting over turmaraja while having a bad time with depression is a success.

Under promise and over deliver. Having depression makes you acutely aware that a possibility of failure exists. So you can turn this in to a strength and promise others a bit less than you think you'll likely achieve. Everyone else is happy you’ve delivered more when you’ve just met your own quota. Enjoy the feeling of achievement.

You might also find you have more compassion towards others. Remember how well you’re hiding your own skeletons in the closet? Everyone has some kind of spook there. So people that are not meeting expectations might just be having a harder time with their own monsters at the moment. Having first hand experience on what it’s like to lose a fight with your own demons might help you go easy on others.

Being depressed is not who you are. It is a sickness that has it’s ups and downs. Use the ups to prepare for the downs. If you feel like shit, use it figure out in what way are you shit and then how be less so. Check your direction and sign up only for a step at a time. Every single step towards ERE makes you less a baggage to other people, less dependent. It is okay to not be perfect. Perfect is usually overkill anyway. Just take the one step.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:48 am
by Nuuka
I have often thought that modern life is too simple in daily activities sense but at the same time mentally challenging in bombardment of all kind of role model advertisement and deeply conflicting news. We have running water, shower, electricity, heating, cooling, transport, ice box, vacuum cleaner, dish wasker, toilet, waste disposal, etc. in our homes so life is easy. Just hundred years ago people had to do all kind of activities and that kept busy doing routines, and that filled days. There was no time for dwelling in circular thougths of misery.

So my approach is to block mainstream media newsflow and exposure to advertisement as much as possible and spend time at cabin close to nature doing all kinds of daily activities such as wood cutting, carrying water in and out, etc. My recommendation is also stay out of social media.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:28 pm
by Jason
Nuuka wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:48 am
spend time at cabin close to nature doing all kinds of daily activities such as wood cutting, carrying water in and out, etc.
"I am at two with nature."

Woody Allen

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:24 pm
by Nuuka
English not being my first language I struggled with the quote, but I found interpretations in the internet.

My interpretation of mild depression is from human evolution point of view to be warning signal from subconscious mind declaring that either earlier assumptions (beliefs) and/or decisions (commitments) have been partly wrong or the situation has radically changed so that there is need to reconsider earlier assumptions and decisions and to form a new set of assumptions, and to form new goals and action plan, and to collect physical and mental energy for implementation.

My interpretation of burnout is result if self has not been able or willing to react and process the signal from subconscious mind in due timeframe, and the situation gets more difficult because there are less and less assumptions and decisions that can be trusted so it is no more possible to determine what to change and there can be circular dependencies (doubts) between assumptions and outcomes. Due to modern hectic lifestyle and not enough sleep, it is possible to fall into this situation. To overcome burnout self needs time to purge circular dependencies and forget details so that complexity of the assumptions and decisions wrt goals and plans becomes again feasible to process.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:22 pm
by daylen
Alternatively, existence is a loop and depression=enlightenment.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:48 pm
by Ego
Vaikeasti wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:15 pm

Being depressed is not who you are. It is a sickness that has it’s ups and downs.
Over the past few months a member of the forums has been posting unusual health questions. The last one was something about a heart condition he was experiencing. I cannot link to it because the thread was quickly deleted after someone correctly pointed out that it was inappropriate to post medical questions.

If depression is a sickness, as you say, then why do we have so many threads dealing with it? Is it a medical condition? Is it not a medical condition?

Why do we feel okay about non-professionals giving advice about depression and anxiety but not about a heart condition? We've had a few people here mention suicide so the stakes seem comparable. What makes depression and anxiety different?

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:14 pm
by ZAFCorrection
I don't know if this has already been considered from a moderation standpoint, but one argument I would make is that the heart is a tinker toy compared to brain + subjective feelings of well-being and it shows in the medical progress being made. Doctors, for the most part, have a pretty good handle on heart issues, even if that means they are saying "there isn't much we can do for you," but psychology/psychiatry is often stuck at the level of making educated guesses based on research that often doesn't pass reevaluation.

A particular case is people suffering from depression often have to go through a whole series of treatment plans, often including home remedies and off-label medication usage, before they arrive at something approaching a cure. Given that baseline, it probably doesn't hurt much if randos supply some tips which worked for them.

Re: On ERE and Mental Health issues

Posted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:47 pm
by sumac
My experience somewhat aligns with ZAFCorrection's and horsewoman's, esp. regarding the necessity of designing lifestyle around limitations. Reducing masking (by at least an order of magnitude from what a typical office job and roommate situation would look like) and heavily guarding baseline sleep, food, movement, social habits are two major components of my being able to have a decent quality of life despite a long history of depression, suicidal thinking, and various sensory/executive function issues associated with being on the autism spectrum.

The other major component was spending several years putting mental stability above other aspects of my work, which I know is a tough sell when work is often so tied up in identity. I lucked into getting two years of free therapy,* and spent probably 10-15 hours a week practicing new thought patterns and retraining old ones. Then moving on to how those thoughts turn into actions turn into habits turn into perspectives and identity. I view this set of things as something that's easy to take for granted when they're in good shape, but seem to be a crucial prerequisite/complement to the more commonly discussed components of the ERE toolbox.

Also it's worth noting that some things can be changed over time, and others may only be manageable. Preventing downward spirals and bad feedback loops are 80% of the battle for me, at least with depression, relationships, and executive function. This feels much more achievable than aiming toward feeling happy most of the time. As a side effect, managing those things often has allowed in more joy or improved baseline contentment.

So after 5-7 years it now feels like I'm at what for many other people was a starting point. But I don't mind, because I might never have gotten there otherwise. Or I might've singlemindedly pursued a career path and then blown up spectacularly, unable to enjoy my life because I'd achieved financial gains without the mental ability to use it well, or worse.

*Funny story about this - my insurance never went through with my provider, but he didn't notice until a year in, so he extremely graciously allowed me to continue with him on a pro bono basis until I was ready to move on. There are other options for accessing low-cost mental health care, and not all of them are formal. My time in therapy was most helpful as an ongoing catalyst for mental shifts, rather than for improving immediate coping methods. Your mileage may vary, but I'm happy to elaborate on my experiences with any of this.