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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Am Intrigued by Your Approach to Depression

Hello Ms Curtiss

I wanted to thank you for the inspirational web page which I came across on the internet one evening. As someone who experiences fairly regular visits from "the black dog", I am intrigued by your approach and I wondered if you could tell me whether over time, by using these techniques, the number of episodes will diminish? Of course I hope so, but I prefer to have a straight answer from a fellow sufferer.

Very best wishes G. G.

Dear G. G.

I'm not sure that the frequency, how often the depression is triggered off, has changed. However, saying that, the severity of those triggerings has changed immensely. And because the severity of the triggering of depression is often so slight, the frequency is almost a moot point. Sometimes I just get that little downer "warning" that suddenly "washes over me." I used to fear this downdraft so much because I knew it would be followed shortly by a painful and maybe long-term "incident."

These little bummer "warnings" I now quickly dispense with in a few seconds, so the depression never gets a chance to even begin. Using the analogy of fire, it used to be that I would fear a little flame of depression because I knew the big blaze had announced that it was "on the way," and I would shortly be undone and lost.

Now, immediately when the "heaviness" appears, I do a small exercise, it's almost second nature with me now to sing a little song, or go over a little nursery rhyme like hey, diddle, diddle, or turn immediately to some chore and start thinking about what I am doing, and turn completely away from what I am feeling. Because I do this so automatically now, it's almost like I put out that little flame of depression with my thumb and forefinger. "Take that, you little snit."

Sometimes when I wake in the morning I get hit with the "full boat load" at once. I used to just give up to the despair, turn over, put the covers over my head, and get ready to begin my suffering for the next week. But now, although the pain is sometimes considerable (OMG this is horrible!!), I do some dumb little exercises, and keep turning away from my feelings to mind exercises, or more objective thoughts.

These full onslought episodes are excruciating, but they last just a few minutes. Maybe once or twice a year I may not be full-throttle blissful for an hour or so, I may be kind of sober, quiet, kind of treading water feeling-wise, but by afternoon I notice I am my own exhuberant self again.

And off and on, even in the treading water period, that new neural pattern I have built that always triggers off when the depression triggers off keeps reminding me--"this is just a little chemistry here, this is not reality, I need to do my exercises, that's all, okay, you're okay, just get busy and don't worry."

Depression just isn't the "big deal" it used to be. It is never in my way of doing anything I want to do except feel blissful. And even I can't feel blissful all the time, I'm only human like everybody else. Except for my work helping other people I probably wouldn't think about depression very much at all.

Another thing that I have given some thought to lately is this. People who carry around a lot of repressed fear (and most people do if they haven't done anything proactive to address it) set themselves up for an anxious kind of life, as well as anxious kinds of relationships.

This is because fear is so painful that we want to avoid it. And the way we avoid it is to blame. Therefore, you are not afraid, the other person is an asshole, or stupid, or not good enough for you, or not respecting you, or not giving you your full measure of regard in some way, or in some way not doing the relationship "right." Getting in touch with repressed fear is covered in Chapter ten of my book Depression is a Choice, but there is a lot of info on that on the website if you don't have the book. You can ask me questions anytime.
A.B. Curtiss

Ms Curtiss

Many thanks for this... you really understand the problem and nobody else I have ever talked to has been able to relate to how I feel. I have started doing some of the exercises and they really do work so I am adding them to my repertoire. I am glad that I am not the only person to experience transient episodes (which doctors just don't understand - you either are or are not depressed and if you are, you have to take medication).

Sometimes weeks go by and I feel great and then - oh dear - "It" is back again and I can feel utterly pole-axed in a matter of days and back to square one. However, I have hope now, that I will be able to deal with these episodes better and better and as I no longer take medication and am out of the medical 'loop' and have been for years.

I feel a greater sense of agency. I really appreciate what you do and the fact that you took time out to reply. It means a lot to me because I respect your opinion.

Good luck with all that you do.

G. G.

Dear G.G.

I’ll be glad to answer any questions as you advance. A. B. Curtiss

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