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Old 03-09-2012, 03:20 PM
Lariel Lariel is offline
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Question Am I Poly or just Depressed?

Hi everyone,

I've been reading through the vast swathes of advice and newbie threads, and while there is a lot of helpful stuff I can't seem to find anything specific enough to me to help sort my head out.

I'm a straight guy in my mid-twenties, in a mono relationship of 3 years with an amazing girl who I love dearly, but after dicovering polyamory last year (our housemate became a unicorn with another couple we knew) it seemed to explain some of the way my head works. I seem to be able to love everyone, or at least large numbers of people - I don't feel as close to anyone else as I do my partner, but there are plenty of people I feel close to and would be happy to have a relationship with.

My main problem is trying to figure out how typical this is. Some people seem to just know if they are poly or mono - my partner for example knows she would not want to be involved with anyone else while with me, but is (with some difficulty) trying to be okay with my possibly being poly. The worst part right now for me is not being sure!

So, how normal is it to feel affectionate for friends of the sex(es) you are attracted to, and to what degree? I'm fairly sure it is an attraction thing rather than just friendship because it's stronger for some female friends than the baseline friendship closeness I feel for other female friends and all male friends.

My other main problem is a long-term case of depression that has been amplified by various stresses in the last year, and my over-analysis of my own thoughts - trying to figure out why I am unhappy, if I even am unhappy, and if this whole thing is just me trying to sabotage my current relationship.

Any help people could give me would be great, and any insight from people who have been in similar situations
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:48 PM
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Shannanigan Shannanigan is offline
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What's typical/normal for you won't necessarily be typical/normal for others. My friends have learned that it's quite normal for me to be very affectionate and even tell them that I love them, but they themselves may not be so freely "generous" with their affection. When it comes down to it, I'd say you should focus on the feelings you're having and rather than asking if they're "normal," to instead acknowledge that you have them and decide what you are going to do with them.

I feel like we have something in common in terms of the depression and not being sure if you are unhappy and figuring out why. When I began exploring polyamory, the dark clouds parted little by little, and I realized that I was unhappy because I was trying too hard to fit a mold that wasn't for me. Ever since tossing that mold aside and discovering myself and my wants and needs, I've been a much happier person. There were relapses, don't get me wrong; it was tough. But I'm happier and stronger now for it.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:59 PM
Lariel Lariel is offline
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Yeah, I figured this might be the answer, but I'd still like to see if there is anyone else who was in the same position and what it was that helped them. In an ideal situation I would continue to see the mental health people and they would figure out what was causing it, but I have a suspicion it is a myriad of things that can't easily be solved (I can't actually remember not being depressed in my life), while the doctors are treating it like it'll go away if I keep thinking of rainbows and kittens .

But anyway, that's a different matter. I need to figure out what to do about this, but there don't seem to be any way out without hurting people. Even if I ignore the 'would I be happier being poly' thing, I feel terrible when I'm around these friends with these feelings in my head, especially when my partner is also there. But I don't feel that I can allow myself to try and see if it helps - no matter how much my partner reassures me, I can see how much this whole business is hurting her even without anything actually happening
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Old 03-11-2012, 05:59 AM
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NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
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Just my two cents on depression:
I not only didn't remember ever not being depressed, I did not even know I was depressed. I did know my life was pretty fucked, but I didn't know I was depressed. I was prescribed antidepressants for a not-mental condition (my diagnosis was fibromyalgia). A side effect of tricyclics is sleep, and that is why they give them to some chronic pain patients.

I was overcome with a feeling I had never felt before. Kind of overcome. I was so peaceful and serene that I could not get overly worked up about it! I was concerned, because I could not identify it. It took around two weeks to figure out that what I felt was lack of depression.!

At that time, I was not in therapy. I decided to stop the meds. Some time later, I had my doc, a psychiatrist, and a therapist. They all talked to each other, and I once again tried meds. Again, I was able to have the lack of depression.

I asked the shrink, 'how long do I have to take this stuff?' (a few side effects, like anorgasmia, were unacceptable). She said some folks take them for awhile and never need them again. Some have to take them periodically through their lives, and some have to stay on them always.

I turned out to be periodic until I wasn't anymore. I took many rounds of different things. I would be wealthy woman had I invested all the money I've spent on therapy. And I'm living proof that depression does not have to be forever. It does not have to be crippling.

Just because it is not easily solved does not mean it's impossible. I invite and encourage you to invest the time and money you can into solving it now. It will be worth it. It doesn't matter how long, on the day you realize you're no longer depressed, it's worth it.

For me? Totally normal to have loving feelings for friends.

Also, what Shannagin said.

I'm sorry you're hurting, and I encourage you to keep on.
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:58 PM
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Shannanigan Shannanigan is offline
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I'm going to be honest; discovering polyamory didn't "cure" me of depression. I don't think anything ever will. Depression runs in my family and I've had therapists since childhood, and I've accepted that it's a part of my life that must be managed.

However, acknowledging my feelings, exploring them, and being more open and honest with my friends and lovers has immensely helped that management process. I used to get depressed and think, "Nobody understands me. I'm so weird. Why don't I fit?" Now I think, "I might be different, but the people in my life 'get it'," and that's a huge help in letting me know that I have people I can go to, talk to, and be honest about my depression with since I'm also honest about everything else with them.

All in all, your feelings aren't going to suddenly change, and rather than sitting around feeling guilty about them, I would encourage exploring the feelings and talking about them with someone rather than letting them bubble inside.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:54 AM
Lariel Lariel is offline
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I'm glad you're being honest, because I'm not looking for easy answers, I want to find the right ones. I don't expect trying polyamory will instantly cure everything, I'm just trying to figure out if not trying it is making me worse, and I guess I'm on here posting instead of actually trying it because I'm scared that it is.

I've been completely open with my partner about all this, and she has tried to be accepting about the possiblity, but since we had our first major talk about it last week she was in a really bad emotional state. Yesterday I calmed her down and said it was okay and we can carry on like before, that it didn't mean so much to me, and now she is a lot better, but I feel worse. At the time I didn't think it did mean a lot, especially compared to seeing how much she was hurting, but having said that to her I feel worse again
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:34 AM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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From reading your original post, it seems like you have often felt attractions to other people and kept them at bay because you've been monogamous. Then, suddenly, you discover polyamory through this roommate of yours who is now involved with a couple, and it's got your mind going over all these attractions you've felt. So now, you're thinking you have to figure out whether you're polyamorous or not, because, well, if you weren't, would you feel attractions to other people?! Somehow you think feeling attracted to people who are not your partner must mean something!

I don't think you really need to get all twisted up in knots about it. Thing is, human beings naturally feel attractions to different people, and that in and of itself doesn't mean anything. We have brain chemistry, hormones, pheromones, etc., and it's all beyond any cultural categorization we could try to use to explain it. Attractions are just our chemicals responding to someone else's chemicals. We aren't slaves to our chemistry, so we don't have to act on our attractions. But we can just let ourselves enjoy how we feel around those people. Even if we're happily monogamous. So, relax.

Don't think that because you feel attracted to other people that you must "be poly" and can't be in monogamous relationships anymore. What works for your roommate might not work for you or your girlfriend. Now, whether or not you feel open to, able to, and ready for having polyamorous relationships is up to you. Your personality, cultural and familial influences, relationship experience, willingness to step out of societal norms, personal feelings/expectations/attitudes about love, agreements with your SO, ability to handle stress, and how well you can multitask and manage your time, will all influence your ability to "do poly." Many people manage multiple relationships without the need to identify themselves as polyamorous. We are simply making choices in how we approach our relationships.

If you are stressed by life and managing your depression, I would think the best course for you would be to attend to that and try to find some equilibrium in your life, before experimenting with multiple relationships. Perhaps you really would like to live polyamorously down the road someday and could manage it successfully, OR perhaps you're preoccupying yourself with the idea now just to distract yourself from other things that need your attention but you don't really want to look at. Go slowly.

The truth is that the 20s can be a very tumultuous time in one's life because it's all about discovering who you are and your place in society, fucking up and learning from mistakes, and it tends to be a rollercoaster of a decade in most people's lives. The best thing you can do is try to take care of yourself, not let yourself get sucked into dramas, and find ways to feel grounded within yourself. Polyamory is not for the faint of heart, and people who have a sense of self, a strong foundation (psychologically, emotionally, physically, environmentally) in their lives, and healthy self-esteem do much better with polyamory (or any kind of relationship, for that matter) than people who are not willing to look inward at who they are and are all shaky and all over the place about love and sex and treating themselves well. To borrow a phrase from another member here, you want to bring your best self into relationships, so do all you can to cultivate your own wellness in body, mind, and spirit while also being good to the people around you. Good luck with everything.
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Last edited by nycindie; 03-12-2012 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:44 AM
Lariel Lariel is offline
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Thanks NYCindie, I appreciate the reply, and the first half was really useful to hear. Unfortunately, the second half read like something my therapists have been saying for years, and while I understand some people need to hear this kind of thing, I've already heard it before.

I feel like I might be latching onto polyamory, but only because it's the first new idea I've had for some time. There is nothing else I can find within my life that is bothering me, and yet the depression stays, as it always has. My current relationship is better than anything I've ever experienced before (I found someone who actually believes that total and open communication is the answer, rather than just saying it), the stress at my job has settled now the company has grown and for the first time in my life I have enough money to not worry about how I'm going to afford to eat at the end of the month. My 20s have actually been the most stable decade of my life so far, but my depression is still here and nothing seems to be able to shake it.

I've seen the 'bring your best self to a relationship' phrase around on here, it's a good phrase. Sadly, I just don't think I know how to.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lariel View Post
Unfortunately, the second half read like something my therapists have been saying for years, and while I understand some people need to hear this kind of thing, I've already heard it before.
Oh, what second half? Therapists have told you that polyamory is not for the fainthearted, and made suggestions on how to ground yourself to prepare for it? I wasn't giving you rote feel-good talk. I was sharing my opinion reached by experience and observation. If I look back at my 20s, even the most stable periods would feel like too much drama for me now. I was talking about an internal tumult.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lariel View Post
I feel like I might be latching onto polyamory, but only because it's the first new idea I've had for some time. There is nothing else I can find within my life that is bothering me, and yet the depression stays, as it always has... My 20s have actually been the most stable decade of my life so far, but my depression is still here and nothing seems to be able to shake it.
It sounds like dysthymia, a chronic, low-grade form of depression. I've been told I have that by one doctor. It can be very difficult not to feel negative or discouraged.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lariel View Post
I've seen the 'bring your best self to a relationship' phrase around on here, it's a good phrase. Sadly, I just don't think I know how to.
Well, maybe by doing some of those things your therapists have suggested, heh-heh. Let love and loving yourself be the guiding factor in your relationships. Seriously, exercise helps. Volunteer. Do something creative. Look at and talk about your feelings. Find a group to belong to. Work on esteem issues. They say if you want self-esteem, do esteemable things. There's so much we can do to bring ourselves up out of a funk and feel better even if it never goes away, and to not drain the people we love with neediness or whatever.
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Last edited by nycindie; 03-12-2012 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:21 PM
Lariel Lariel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Oh, what second half? Therapists have told you that polyamory is not for the fainthearted, and made suggestions on how to ground yourself to prepare for it?
No, what I meant was that I've heard this before:

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Well, maybe by doing some of those things your therapists have suggested, heh-heh. Let love and loving yourself be the guiding factor in your relationships. Seriously, exercise helps. Volunteer. Do something creative. Look at and talk about your feelings. Find a group to belong to. Work on esteem issues. They say if you want self-esteem, do esteemable things. There's so much we can do to bring ourselves up out of a funk and feel better even if it never goes away, and to not drain the people we love with neediness or whatever.
You assume I haven't tried all of these things before, never mind continuing to do them now, with little result. Just like they do. You assume that obviously I can't have done these things because I'm still depressed, and if I did then I'd be fine. Please don't assume these things, because when you are wrong it is quite insulting - it's always better to ask instead.

Again, I appreciate that you are trying to help, so thank you for that. I will probably try to work on not feeling bad around my friends, although I still don't feel I can tell them without making them uncomfortable.
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