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Monday, March 19, 2018

Mourning my Husband

Hi Ms. Curtiss,    

I purchased your book, “Depression Is a Choice” when it first came out and found it a breath of fresh air.  Lately, however, I have not been completely convinced about the choice part because I am feeling that my current depression is bigger than I am.

A few months ago, my husband of 35 years died of throat cancer.  He is a man who is irreplaceable, especially at my ripe old age of 68.  I have been going to a grief group, dealing with my depression over this with a therapist, but do not seem to be able to pull myself out of this one.  What is your take of the grief process and how it relates to depression?  The general wisdom is you have to go through it, and everyone has their own time table.  However, this happened over 4 months ago, and I feel worse now, so I am questioning my handling of things.

Anything you could offer me would be greatly appreciated as I find you very well spoken and very well thought out.  BTW, I just purchased your 2nd book from Amazon, and looking forward to more of your wisdom within its covers.

Thank you,

Dear Friend

Mourning is one of the sacred ceremonies of life. But we must not let the ceremony of honoring what we have lost slide into the mere chemical imbalance of depression wherein we merely suffer and have lost sight of what we have lost and are mourning. Remember that we don't live our lives by the year, or  even by the day. We live life by the instant. Look for what can uplift you in nature, a small flower, a friendly tree, a beautiful cloud. In connecting with your fellow man, even just a friendly remark to the person ahead of you in the grocery line is reconnecting with life.. Instant by instant we must find something to love, to honor or respect for in that instant we are connected with all life and bit by bit we string together these precious moments to find peace. May God bless you.   A. B. Curtiss

Dear Ms. Curtiss

Thank you for your lovely words and being so generous with your time.  I will hold those words close and abide by them.  I will definitely use the tools in your second depression book, when I receive it, as I see I have let grief slip me into the depression abyss.  My goal is to find a way to live “around” the grief, and am sure your book will help.

A thousand thank you’s,

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I've Never Felt Truly Happy

Dear AB
I am almost 16 and have never truly felt happy. I do not fear depression, I only fear of letting it win. I have had very traumatic experiences ever since I can remember. It just has never gotten better.

Dear Never Truly Happy,
You are not alone. The new generations of Americans are known for their rootlessness and a feeling of not belonging and flat out unhappiness. Our whole society has become less connected. People are connecting to the Internet, to virtual connections like facebook or twitter instead of connecting with each other. People move all the time and the lifestyle of knowing most of the people in our small town is long gone. The only help for us humans is to somehow figure out how to connect with like-minded people. It takes some effort on your part but…

The trick is to use the Internet not as an end in itself but to use it to connect to real people in some way. If you like to hike, you will find a list of where to meet other hikers on Meetup.com for your area. There might be one or two other groups meeting that you might find interesting. 

It is always possible to make some small connection with our fellow man even if it's just to say "nice day, isn't it" to the next person in the grocery checkout line. Or waiting in line at the Post Office or for movie tickets. It takes a little courage to be the first to make a friendly remark to a stranger, but let me en-courage you to do it.  A.B. Curtiss

Friday, December 8, 2017

Your Book Helps Me a Lot

Hi Curtis,

My name is ____________ I bought your book at your booksigning.  We were there and you signed it too.  I have been reading it because I was or I am  interested in knowing how our brain works when going through depression.  I had an episode of depression several years ago.  Because my culture super huge stigma of this type of disease I was clueless about when I was experimenting it.  So, this lasted for about two years; it was awful.  Recently, well let me tell you, to compensate for what I was thinking the first time I tried to go off that thinking comparing it to something else just to help me to stop thinking about that specific thought.   Time passed and everything was going great but  until recently my mind unconsciously started bringing up a lot of the thinking I used to compensate for the first thought. That sparked a lot of guilt and condemnation again.   I started to read your book and it's so refreshing to know more of how my brain works and how I am not my thinking and so many more you wrote in your book.  However, I still feel like I am dragging but slowly coming up of this second episode.

I am a christian, and unfortunately, there are not many literature about depression also  I think because of the stigma in the christian community.  But now I am convince that is not only spiritual.   We are a fallen human race and somehow we have been busted in every area since the fall.  Of course, I know I am forgiven by God if I just repent of my sins but I still have to manage my life here on earth.  Now more than ever I am sure that God uses people like you who have invested  time doing lot of research about this topic and who also has experience the same situation in your own life. 

I am very thankful that people like you write books so other can benefit from your best input in your own experience. I feel I can Identify with you a lot, that is why you are the only one I can confide this situation with. My son, who is also in the field of psychology  knows about the first episode but not about this one.  He has also helped me a lot.  But of course I do feel that you have more experience and definitely more knowledge to help me just getting through this stage.  Even though I have been reading your book and believe me it has benefited me greatly, I still have this longing to talk to someone like you.  but I would really like if I can give you a call to have that connection with someone professional.  I don't have any health insurance so I don't have anyone to talk to in the professional arena.   I will provide my phone number if you could please reach to me and I would greatly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.  


PS.  I really hope you understand my writing.

Dear Sincerely,

Thank you so much for your emaiI. Receiving feedback such as yours is inspiring to me in my work. As for a telephone conversation, I have found over the years that telephone calls are not as successful as emails. In emails one has to coalesce their thinking into some kind of question or statement and that is most of the work already done.  People often answer their own questions just as well as I could. I will be glad to correspond with you by email. This way anytime you feel shaky, night or day., you can email me and I will answer you right away. This way you can count on my friendship as one human being to another. In one area I know more than you but there are some areas in which you probably know more than I do. A.B. Curtiss

Thank you Curtis!  It is nice to know that I can learn from you about this matter.  

God bless you 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Everyone Should Understand "Projection."

Everyone should know about the psychological defense mechanism called "projection." I used to be socially fearful and immature, they call it social anxiety now and proscribe Paxil for it. 

But the real problem with social anxiety or any feeling of social alienation is a psychological defense mechanism known as “projection.” It took me a long time to realize that I was projecting my own sense of coldness on others when I walked into any party or even a small gathering of my peer group. They weren’t cold and rejecting, I was cold and rejecting to protect myself from possible hurt from their coldness and rejection. 

When I understood this I found I could always find someone to become interested in. I might start slow with a waiter in a big party and make a few friendly comments to loosen up and get out of my focus on myself. I found most people were not rejecting and cold. 

The cure for social anxiety is the courage to risk hurt and reach out to interest yourself in and love other people. Everybody wants love and respect and we are on the Earth to give it to one another. Wise men say that every person is fighting a great battle and we never know what secret and heavy burdens the person next to us is carrying. Let us lighten their burden with showing that we care about them. Let us be each others’s angels on Earth. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

All I Feel is Empty Sadness



I had emailed you a few months ago about me starting college and realizing that I wanted to become a therapist. I started school in august. And it's been going pretty well. I had better control over my depression and anxiety. I have been seeing someone for the past year. It's long distance. She lives 5 hours away. But we haven't been official for the past month. Just slowly trying and seeing how things naturally grow.

The other day she told me about a girl she met who is in an open relationship and that they have a mutual interest. So she wanted to know if I still wanted to keep things the way they were for now with us. Free and open but still involved and letting things grow.

 I love her like no one else I've loved. And so I said yes that's fine. I'll talk to other people too. But I feel stuck. I can't pull out of this empty sadness and then I start to overthink and become almost manic about losing her to this other girl. I try to talk to other people but I have no interest in anyone but her. We've been best friends for 2 years. She's younger than me and still trying to figure herself out.

This has made me lose my ambition with my social life and it's starting to affect my schooling. I've tried reading the brain switch book but I can't give it my full attention. I need help rebalancing my brain basically. And stay focused on what I need to do in my life. But I do not know where to start.


The first thing to do when you are in a negative space in life is to head toward something positive. Every thought you think is either negative or positive. Everybody has great battles to fight. No one knows when they are going to be thrust on a new and desperate battlefield of life. It could happen in an instant.

So never feel resentful of your own battle by comparing your battle with someone else's life who seems more fortunate.

If your friendships are unrewarding or shaky, it is logical to believe that there is someone else out there who might make a good friend for you.  It is possible to have an uplift from a conversation with a passing stranger. That is a positive thought. Look forward to meeting someone that you don't even yet know. That is a positive thought.

Think not that life is your enemy but your friend and if you are brave and courageous, you will approach your own skirmishes by thinking that it may be hard but you will be the stronger for them. If you have work to do, then do it without waiting for your life to "get better". Our life only gets better when we become better persons.

Empty sadness means that you are concentrating on the negative in your life. If you are sad thinking about yourself, think about someone else. Wish someone else well. I am now wishing you well and it expands my own life and sends me in a positive direction.

There is always some "next thing" that you can do to improve your life. Some small task that needs to be done. Look around and find one small positive thing to do. The second thing will then present itself. There is always some "next thing" you can to and this is always a good way to start when you feel stuck. Don't hold up your life waiting for some "big problem" to be solves.

Problems are never really solved. If they can be solved, they are not problems but work. We tend to park ourselves in what we think are overwhelming problems because do not want to exercise our courage and take on the day. When we take on our life with a good attitude, we just grow bigger than our problems and thus transcend them to the point where they are no longer problems because we have something more positive on which to focus our attention. Hope this helps.

A. B. Curtiss


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'm Anxious About Upcoming Test

My Question Is:

Shortly I will have final exam for becoming a tourist guide. It is my second time attending because first time I failed. It can be difficult exam, because as a guide I will lead small group of people ( including committee professors) either on the bus or outside.

My last experience was not so good, because I was so self-focused and I disliked feeling the stress before my turn. Thanks to you, I understand that it is mind’s survival mechanism and I know very well to direct my mind into different direction, using non-emotional and neutral thought.
Anyway, I am afraid that emotions will prevail again and that I will lose clarity of mind. Last time on the exam my brain was really excited to perform, I was maybe too confident and I made some big mistakes. 

For instance, I knew the right name for mountains ahead of us, but brain told me wrong names and it was only at the end that somebody told me I made a mistake with names of the mountains. I was really puzzled, because I was sure I was correct during the performance. 

To make it short, how can I focus my brain and keep calm before my performance starts. Usually it gets very wild minutes before I will perform. My heart starts racing and lots of heat goes in the head. 
The second question is, how to avoid depression that hits afterward, when such events are finished? Usually I need 2 days to recover and rest. 

I thank you again for this great work you do. Thank you for reply. 

My Answer:

Most people have social anxiety about speaking in public. Many have test anxiety. Both can be helped by a deep breath, relaxing the shoulder muscles and focusing on the task ahead rather than self-focusing on your fear.  

For public speaking, substitute a pat on the back for yourself instead of frightening yourself. “You studied, the words will come to you. It’s all right to hesitate and collect your wits. You can actually pause and look around at the crowd or the person you are addressing or even say out loud something like, I’m really happy to be here or some such innocuous phrase.

For tests, always use the self-falk “I know this, the answer is coming to me now.” Or any positive or neutral thought to replace the panic thought—“I don’t know this, I’m going to fail,” which are not helpful. Hope this helps.

As for depression, fear dumps adrenalin into the brain which is very hard on the metabolic processes and causes the down shift in energy. But fear accepted and the adrenalin used up in thinking or speaking activity does not have the same downshift effect. Remember that depression is a thought. It cannot think itself when you direct your thought process in another direction and refuse to think the depression. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Lost the Feeling of Love for my Husband

Unknown has left a new comment on your post "My Husband is Mean and Yells at Me. I'm being Bull...":

Hi,,, I am 10 years married now to my husband, and it's starting to get really hard for me to endure my husband's attitude,, I have left my family behind to be with him, and now after 7 years of not seeing them is getting to me.. Anything that I try to do in a good way for him never satisfies him, instead its always mean words do degrade me and call me names while screaming so loud the neighbors hear him.. when he does yell at me he spits because he is talking so loud.. I forgive him for the way he does things but now I think I am falling in depression,,

We never do anything any more and I have lost the feeling of making love, it’s like I am dead inside... tears are starting to build up in my eyes talking about it.. I don't know what to do, I am afraid alone,, no help... it is hard I just feel like leaving, but my heart still clings to him... I just don't know what to do,, I give him everything and anything he wants but it’s not enough. His aggression is horrible!!!

Dear Friend,

You are living in a constant state of fear. But that is not your husband’s fault. At least in this country you can count on your personal freedom so if your husband is physically abusive, you can call 911. Meanwhile you are totally responsible once you reach adulthood to take care of yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually.

One clue is that blaming others is the way we avoid the pain of our own fear. Your husband has the same problem. His own fear is causing him to blame you for whatever is going wrong or whatever failure he senses about his own life.

 One of you has to wake up to the fact that no one is here on earth to take care of you and everyone on the planet is doing the best that he can at the moment. There is always the possibility of redemption. You are supposed to take care of yourself and share your life with others.

Most of us suffer from repressed fear left over from our childhood. Fear is painful. To avoid the pain of our own fear we, instead, focus our attention on what others are doing wrong. And we can always find it in the people around us. Especially in our own family.

Anything you do out of fear is not going to be inappropriate to your own life in some way. So all our action should be, as much as possible, out of love. Since you love your husband you are probably confusing the issue by thinking that if you give in to him, it is an act of love when it may, instead, be an act of fear and therefore have a totally inappropriate outcome.

Anything you do out of love is bound to be appropriate to your life in some way. So you must take care of yourself in these adverse situations with your husband out of your love of doing the right. you won’t be able to do that unless you can call upon your courage by acknowledging your fear first. I had the same problem many years ago and my marriage at that time was very unhappy. I finally got the message and when he would raise his voice to bully me, or silence me, or criticize me I would say to myself “How can I take care of myself in this adverse situation.”  My typical response had been to slink away and get depressed.

After a while when my husband could no longer bully me because I was no longer impressed with the inappropriate way he handled his own fear, he was left with his own outrageous and bullying behavior and I could either walk away, perfectly happy with myself, or point out to him that I was not impressed that he was so out of control.

It is hard work to be a human being sometimes. But we can’t blame others for our failure to take care of ourselves. And you can visit your family whenever you want.

A lot of information on this topic is on my depression website or on my blog (you are not the only one  who is struggling) or in my book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE.

I’ll be glad answer any other questions you have.  A. B. Curtiss