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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nothing Works for My Depression, not Medication, not Exercise, Nothing

Dear A. B Curtiss,

I have enjoyed Brainswitch. As a life-long sufferer of anxiety/stress and depression, I have found your approach intriguing. I do have a couple of comments/questions.

First, I get really annoyed by all the people who claim to have depression but at the same time lead fairly successful lives. Winston Churchill and Mike Wallace come to mind. It annoys me because as far as I'm concerned the depression and medication have ruined my life. I have wanted to teach since I was in high school and I have pursued advance degrees to do so - currently I am in a disastrous doctoral program which has taken way too long due to this disease or whatever it is.

It's very limiting and I don't understand how people who claim that they can't get out of bed for weeks at a time or even days for that matter succeed at anything. How do they keep a job? How do they explain their absences to others? How do they make any progress? I'm quite frankly tired of the struggle.

Secondly, I understand the thought jamming process. I understand the directed thinking rather than passive thinking. I find that even the direct thinking about problems brings on the stress response. So it becomes impossible to deal with a problem logically or thoughtfully because as I said it causes the stress response. So how does one deal with this?

I have done everything recommended to deal with my stress/anxiety - I exercise daily; I take the recommended supplements - Vit D, B, fish oil (high quality fish oil), I try to get sleep - but for whatever reason I can't sleep a solid eight hours, I do yoga, I pray, I go to church, I take my medications - but yet the anxiety and stress tendencies remain as pronounced as ever. I been to therapy - CBT, psychoanalysis etc, to the point that I hate retelling my story and have found them ineffectual. Of course I hate to think what I might be like if I didn't do these things.

Sorry I just read so much and have tried so much - I just don't find much very helpful any more. A___________

Dear A____________

There is a big difference in thinking rationally about problems and thinking rationally about solutions to problems. In the first, you are still prone to think about what you are feeling because you are not actually doing any specific work to get out of your problems. You are just collapsing your whole self into your problems, giving up to them, surrendering to them, disappearing into them.

If your thinking is engaged in specific action problem solving, it is possible to think about what you are doing and to avoid thinking about how bad you are feeling about your problems, in which case the stress factor would be much less.

If you are stressed, then do the dumb little exercises and get your mind moving away from stressful thinking. Then, as soon as possible, get about your business, your craft, your work and think about that instead of thinking you are anxious.

You cannot be anxious if you refuse to think your anxiety, your feelings, and turn your thinking to objective work, or objective thinking about others. You cannot be depressed if you refuse to think your depression and think something else instead of thinking your depression. The brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. You can make any thought dominant by thinking it repetitively.

It is a simple solution but not easy to do because most people can't tear themselves away from thinking about their depression in order to think about something else.

I was one of those who could do my work and still be terribly depressed for days at a time. I would be dutiful Mon thru Fri and take to my bed and be depressed Fri night until Mon morning. I didn't act depressed when in public no matter how bad I felt. I didn't use the sad, depressed voice, I didn't do the sigh, I didn't do the shrug. I just suffered the agony of it. And as soon as I found out how my brain worked I refused to suffer that agony anymore. Depression leaps upon me all the time. I move away from it immediately (I refuse to think it) and get busy somewhere else and the depression cannot maintain itself without my dedicated interest. I put my dedicated interest in other things. A. B. Curtiss

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear A. B Curtiss,

I find your approach to depression very considering. I'm shaking if I order your books. I don't speak very well English, so it's a little bit difficult for me to understand a book in English. But I suffer so much, that I will give a try. I am uncertain if your method not thinking about depressive feelings is really the right one for me, because I made myself familiar with an other method -but also didn't practiced yet-, named Focusing, and Ann Weiser Cornell, a Focusing teacher (http://www.focusingresources.com/irf/how_this_works.htm) says the opposite than you say: we should a feeling give a space (also for negative feelings)because they have to tell us something and they have an evolution, and if we ignore a feeling and try to repress a bad feeling, it will come back and even stronger. If we get the same feelings over the years, that means this feeling have to say something about us, and we can transform the feeling in a better one by giving attention this feeling. A feeling is not a furniture that we can throw out. I think this opinion is different from yours about ignoring the feeling and think something else. Please give me some more explanations because I want to decide which way to follow, or how to reconcile the two methods.


Marianna from Hungary