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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Use All the Tricks you Have

Thanks so much, A.B.

My problem is: There are some times when I simply cannot get out of a depressive rut. My recent setback was due to an old friend that I used to work with; finding out she committed suicide. I believe she had been suffering from depression for many years before she finally took her own life. When I hear things like this, I begin to think: Could this happen to me? What makes this person different than I? Now, I'm rational and I know there may have been different circumstances in her life compared to mine (I'm married with kids, she was a loner that lived with her parents), but the obsessive part of my mind needs answers. Why is this? I've discussed this with many therapists, all of which tell me, "why does it matter? Let it go". I have a very difficult time "letting go" of this for some odd reason.

One therapist suggested that because my own father attempted suicide while in a drunken rage may have something to do with it. Once Dad sobered up, he lived to the ripe old age of 86, full of life to his last breath. So in that respect, I can see his alcoholism as being the reason for his suicide attempt.

Anyway, I was wondering if I could get your take on this. I've had to break out "Depression is a Choice" and go over my high lighted points to help me through this recent funk. Any additional advice from the author herself would definitely help.

Dear TL,

Your problem, as I see it, is that you have self-hypnotised yourself to be afraid, now you have to self-hypnotise yourself out of it. Every time you think of it say to yourself,  "I can do this, I can free myself from this constant fear/depression, I can do it and I am going to do it. I have the power and I will use my mind to redirect my imagination.

 As I pointed out in an earlier blog, in a fight between your will and imagination, imagination will win everytime. Due to my recent illness I have struggled for several weeks with unreasonable fear brought about by my imagination, "suppose this gets worse," suppose I never get better," "will I always be in pain," etc and etc. One time it escalated into a panic attack and rather than admit defeat I took myself in hand and did deep breathing exercises for about twenty minutes and got myself out of it. I do recommend belly breathing for panic attacks. You can look it up in the Brainswitch book

It isn't easy to get ourselves out of fear, the emotion is so high. After all, fear is our only psychological defense mechanism. However we can do it.

Use all the tricks you have:

Use cognitive behavior when the fear isn't too bad and reframe your fear by telling yourself that the fear is irrational and you are going to do everything in your power to free yourself from it. Repetitively insisting that the fear is irrational will ultimately have a good effect.

 Use hypnosis by way of repetition: Hypnosis is the way we force our imagination to imagine what we want rather than what we fear. There are basically three ways to immediately get your Imagination or Your Unconscious or Subconscious mind to accept an idea. Once your Subconscious (or you could call it your other-than-conscious mind) accepts an idea, it becomes your new reality.

Here are the three ways to immediately get the Unconscious to accept an idea:

1. High emotion, fear, (you have already self-hypnotised yourself to fear your depression by allowing the news about your friend to shock you). This is why faith healers push the person backwards (stationing someone behind the patient to catch them) and says "You are healed."

2. Repetition--over and over again thinking the thought, saying it to others, saying it to yourself. I am getting better thoughts all the times, etc. I am freeing myself from this irrational fear, etc.

3. Lower your brainwaves from beta to alpha and tell yourself the problem is solving itself and soon you will be free from the fear of your depression overwhelming you.. Read my blog about Will and Imagination and the last couple of blogs about Emile Coue.

You can go to a hypnotist and learn how to do this, you can read Emile Coue's method, which is excellent, you can take a course in transcendental meditation or a Silva Mind Control Course. Coue calls his method autosuggestion .  I would suggest the book by C. Harry Brooks, The Practice of Autosuggestion: by the Method of Emile Coue published by Dodd, Mead and Co in 1922 or a recent imprint since this book is now in public domain.

You can't insist, as an act of will, to think a good thought if  your body fear and tension are already high. When you are not too bad you can look for things to be grateful about, small things, think about other people and wish them well mentally, and so get in the habit of harboring good and loving thoughts. Above all notice how you judge other people because any thought you have that is pessimistic or negative about someone else will weaken you to the exact extent that you think it about others.

Even if highly agitated, you can learn to relax your body as an act of will, lower your brainwaves and in this way directly impact your imagination (which is accessible to suggestion at the alpha level) to do what you want. Read the entries in my blog since March 12 about Coue and hypnosis. Also there are people who do biofeedback and have the neuroimaging machines that you can learn to lower your brainwaves and learn how to RELAX.

We are all vulnerable to the negativity and bad experiences of others. It is best to know this so we can arm and protect ourselves with good, healthy thoughts when we are being bombarded by negative, unhealthy ones.
A. B. Curtiss

Thanks so much for your reply, A.B.

I'm into old school psychology, and I'm surprised I missed out on Emile Coue. I especially liked the book by Harry Brooks - it was free domain and I took to reading it during my lunch break. Regarding my friends suicide, a phrase in the book stood out: "We human beings have a certain resemblance to sheep, and involuntarily we are irresistibly compelled to follow other peoples' examples, imagining that we cannot do otherwise".

So, by habit, (or self hypnosis), I have crystallized this fear of suicide. Fear fuels the depression, the depression fuels the fear.

The simple answer is to not fear the thought. Unfortunately, as you mention in Depression Is A Choice, it may sound simple, but it is not easy. If you need to lose weight, you must diet and exercise. Sounds simple, but it is not easy to do.

This is where you are right: You have to use all the tricks you have in your arsenal. I have several books that I read from that offer great advice.

1. Anything written by Claire Weekes. Her books state you must face the fear, accept those feelings, float through those feelings (while trying your best to be as fearless as possible), and simply letting time pass in order for your frayed nerves to heal.

2. Abraham Low wrote a book called "Mental Health Through Will Training" - its also written in the 40's jargon of that day, but its an amazing book. There is no talk of "depression" - this term is translated into "lowered feelings" - sounds less scary. Also, if panicking, it is simply the "harmless outpouring of a nervous imbalance". Harmless...imagine that? But its true. Scary obsessive thoughts are rephrased as "have the thought, but don't make an issue out of it". And the biggest one of all - "movement of the muscles retrains the brain". Basically get moving and DO something. But do it not to avoid the fear - this only adds to the fear if you go about it in a hectic pace.

3. Dale Carnegie wrote a book called "How To Stop Worrying And Start Living" - he dedicates an entire chapter to crowding worry out of your mind by becoming preoccupied doing lots of physical or mental work - or doing your "duty", meaning responsibility for others instead of for yourself.

4. Of course, Depression Is A Choice. (Its nice to study my depression/anxiety, but sometimes I get a little too obsessed with it).

In hindsight, my depression disappeared for a long time a while ago. This coincided with a new job - the new situation, the new people, the new customers, the new-ness of it all. My mind was so distracted away from itself that I literally forgot about being depressed. My identification with it was severed. Green frog x infinity you might say.

I actually had an interesting experience today. For many years I drove a truck in the big city. I knew the ins and outs of miles of roads, small side streets, avenues, etc. Those roads were firmly ingrained in my head. I have since moved out to the country and my route has changed. I haven't been in the city for 10 years. Today I got the opportunity to run a route in the city. I thought, "wow, this will be a nice change". But when there, it "looked" familiar, but it wasn't. Time had passed and the old memories have faded. My point is: This is similar to depression. We may think we can't forget it - and maybe we can't at the time - but over time, we actually can change our thought patterns enough so new memories replace old ones. I believe Jeffrey Schwartz wrote about this in his book "Brain Lock" - about the neuroplasticity of the brain and how new neuron paths can be created - not through medication, but through behavior modification.

I've been practicing some meditation the last few nights and I can already feel the black cloud lifting. That glimpse relieves the anxiety and fear, thus bringing back hope, which in turn leads to more motivation to improve my mental health.

Many thanks for your books and advice - and now your blog. I'm sure it helps many more people than you think.

Dear TL
You are most welcome and thank you for the overview of your “arsenal” which I’m sure will be helpful to many. A. B.

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