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Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Do You Make Any Decision?

Hi A. B.!

Hope things are fine with you these days. Would you be open to assisting me with a quandary I am in?

For many years I have wanted to go to graduate school. In the area I lived in previously, for 14 years, tuition rates were too high. I didn't go. I moved here 3.5 years ago. There were no master's degree programs in theology, the degree I was seeking. Now there are. Starting January 17, with the Spring semester, the program commences. The tuition is very reasonable, relatively speaking. The entire program will cost a little over $8,000.00 for the 2 years, plus books. It will be a blended program, 1/2 online & 1/2 on Saturdays in the classroom.

Trouble is, every 2 hours I change my mind about whether I should go or not. I felt elated when I first heard about it (a week ago) but since then have waffled like crazy. While the cost is reasonable for grad school, it's still a fair sum of money that I don't want to blow. I'm 46 yrs. old. I should be saving money right now. Also, I can't promise there will be a "return on my investment" so far as employment is concerned. If I go for it & graduate, I'll be at least 48 then, & looking for work in the field for the 1st time in my 50's. Currently I do volunteer work through my church, offering pastoral care in the hospital. I also have 2yrs. of training in hospital chaplaincy.

How do you make a decision like this? I feel like a "push-me, pull-me" from Dr. Doolittle's menagerie!

Thanks! G. O

Dear G. O.

You make this decision the way you make any decision. You make your decision from the love of something rather than fear of something. It is tricky, but nothing good comes from fear. It’s tricky because you have to separate things out that have nothing to do with love but have been kind of glomed onto love, like “winning” or “being safe,” or “impressing people.” A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Compared to Brainswitch out of Depression, Dale Carnegie's Books was just Bits and Pieces

Dear Ms. Curtiss,

Thank you for getting on paper and showing the world, the reality of Depression! To have the courage and fortitude to develop these ideas while under the influence of Depression is the strongest / best testimonial I can imagine.

In my teens, I began struggling with depression and all the associated nuances. I'm now fifty eight and have learned a lot and can now say that depression no longer has that dark foreboding hold that used to show up without notice. There have been two influential books in my life. Brainswitch out of Depression is one.

The first was Dale Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living". It happened into my life per chance. My spiritual travel began several months before discovering Carnegie's book. In my search, the religious path allowed me a confusing back and forth emotional tug that was difficult to grasp. "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" became my bible. I used and lived it passionately day to day. My growth was incredible. I went from a below average reader to a voracious reader,consuming all that I thought might help to improve my spiritual journey.

After a couple years, I fell into the biggest hole of depression ever for no particular reason I could discern. That became incredibly confusing. I bounced from God to self help books and back again. On three occasions I struggled back up out of the pit but eventually succumbed and settled for a life where I maintained a level of emotional security that gave me some power to come back from the lows of depression when they hit. I certainly believed that I had no power to interrupt those feeling of depression when they hit. I would just ride out the storm and wait for happier times.

Having now read your books and applying your well considered thoughts and practices, I'm again challenging each day with a new attitude. I can now see that Carnegie's book and many others, have offered bits and pieces of what you have put together so well in your books. 'Brainswitching' is 'the' Handbook on Depression.

I've been part of Emotions Anonymous, a self help group, for many years. It is certainly true that there is an embedded belief amongst depression sufferers that drugs are a requirement to treat depression and that it is a disease that one must suffer with. One of our rules / traditions within EA is to not introduce books outside of the basic tools of the program at a meeting. For obvious reasons the use of outside information on a continual basis would be confusing.

As I internalize the information in your books, I'm able to slowly pass this on to others at meetings by demonstrating how it has changed my life.I continue to read and re-read with pleasure, your books.

Thank You!
A. M.

Dear A. M.

Thank you for your letter. I often recommend Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." It was one of the most inspiring books I ever read. He was the pioneer of self-empowerment and I am proud to be linked to his work. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, February 26, 2010

Psychiatrists Don't Give Me Techniques, Just Pills

Dear A. B. Curtiss

I am writing to you because I read a couple chapters of Depression is a Choice, and it really describe me to a tee. I am currently in an intense situation. Society as a whole is rejecting me for having an abrasive attitude. I have seen many psychologists and psychiatrists. Their main focus was to drug me. Nor have I been given and techniques for restructuring my thought process. While I try to focus on thinking positively, my feelings of being rejected tend to take me to my “ primal thinking,” instead of being able to use my higher, rational mind.

Then I cannot seem to recover until I meditate at night and early morning. Do the positive thoughts strengthen over time? I am having problems finding specific techniques in your book. This is a really bad situation. Any direction that you could give would be appreciated. Thanks, T. S.

Dear Tom,

Being a human being is difficult. Most of us didn’t have wise counseling from parents as we grew up so we grew up kind of self-focused and crooked from bending ourselves in so many ways trying to get people’s love and respect because we felt unloved and therefore unworthy.

So what is the answer? We have to remake ourselves by becoming our own parent. First, we have to realize that self-focus is the road to ruin. Avoid self-focus as much as possible and concentrate on objective, outer-directed thinking.

To make something worthy out of your day, insist on thinking only those thoughts which are not destructive and self-focused. Even if thoughts aren’t destructive to start with, if you become self-focused in your thinking, your thoughts will, sooner or later, becomes judgmental and negative about yourself and your situation.

My book Brainswitch out of Depression describes more fully how to do this because it describes more fully how the brain works. Once you really understand how the brain works, you can get it to do what you want, instead of letting it drag you where old habits of self-focused and depressive thinking patterns want to take you. And yes, this pattern of productive thinking does become easier because you literally remake the neural patterns in your brain as you do the new thinking.

Trains of thought which you concentrate on become stronger over time. Just like depressive thinking became strong because you spent so much time thinking depressively. Remember that the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. You make a thought dominant by thinking it repetitively, over and over. Don't make your negative thoughts dominant by thinking them over and over. Feelings of rejection should be relabeled as self-focused thinking and simply abandoned in favor of more outer-directed thinking. The Brainswitch book will help you with this.

Also read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Make Friends and Influence People. It contains all those things a wise parent might have advised you. I gave it to my granddaughter as she went off to college and it helped her shyness and self-focus immensely. Call yourself a beginner and begin. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you have along the way. There’s a lot of good information on my website too, www.depressionisachoice.com A.B. Curtiss

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Just a short note of thanks for how quickly you responded to my message. I am getting a great deal out of Brainswitch. It is comforting to know that it is a matter of will to handle depression. I have got
plenty of that. Sincerely, T.S.

Dear T. S.

I'll be glad to answer any questions you have along the way. We should not allow ourselves to be the slave or our own brains. It is not necessary. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

If you have time, I do have a question. My panic button goes off usually when I am in a crowded area, whether it be standing in a grocery line or in a restaurant. I have used visualization and affirmations intensely to reason with this irrational behavior. I thought I had it under control when it unexpectedly when off yesterday. Do I just need to continue doing my current approach to strengthen the neurons or do you have another recommendation? Thanks, T. S.

Dear T. S.

What you are presently doing is called rational emotive therapy—using your reason to put the lie to your irrational thoughts. When this is not enough, you might want to try a total immersion technique which is to undergo the situation which causes your fear and fully accept your fear. I did this with claustrophobia once when my regular thinking control wasn’t enough.

Go to page #411 in the Depression is a Choice book. Or if that is not available for whatever reason, I’ll try and clip it on here

"I recently took a trip during which my regular method of handling claustrophobia utterly failed. I have been successful with short trips, but this was a six-hour flight to Hawaii and I was stuck in the center of five seats on a fully loaded plane. At first I concentrated on my book, but little doubts kept creeping into my concentration until I started to panic. Every atom of my body was screaming, I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!!! I forced myself to check that the seat-belt sign had been turned off, I excused myself by the other two passengers, and I BOLTED into the aisle. SAVED!

"I walked up and down for a while and did not have the courage to return to my seat. They served breakfast and though I was hungry, I still couldn’t do it. I was miserable. My back started to hurt and so I sat down on the floor in the only available space I could find, which was near the lavatories. But the smell was terrible and people started giving me odd and annoyed looks for which I could hardly blame them. There were dozens of people perfectly fine in their seats. I was the only nut-case sitting down on the dirty floor where people were having to step over me. I began to be ashamed to behave so ignominiously.

"When the aisles were cleared from breakfast, I walked up and down for a while longer and then I tried to sit in the pull-down stewardess seat but I was told it was against regulations. My back was starting to hurt again from standing and I started to think about my situation. I guessed I could stand up for another three hours. But what kind of a fake was I that I was writing a book about Directed Thinking and I couldn’t even control my own claustrophobia? I began to study my situation, earnestly, in terms of what was the fear about. Not why was I afraid but what, exactly, was I afraid of? I thought that I could control myself long enough to belt myself in for a landing, but I wanted to do better than that if I could. I didn’t want to be a phony. Was I going to put my money where my mouth was or what?

I didn’t try to search for anything rational. I knew that my terror was totally irrational. My former success with claustrophobia, I now realized, was limited. I could handle short flights in a three-seat flying situation. In a crowded auto I learned that I could control my panic if I could sit on the very edge of the seat or someone’s lap, where my arms and legs were not confined, and lean into the space between the two front seats. Luckily I am not a large person, so I could usually maneuver a workable position. But this was the middle seat of five, in a totally full airplane and I was terrified. Over the years I had just naturally avoided situations which were this uncomfortable. I was able to get aisle seats in airplanes. But not this time. I had received my comeuppance.

"I was thinking about all these things while I was studying my situation on the plane. What exactly was I afraid would happen if I sat back down in the middle of those crowded seats? That I would flail my arms around and scream! Well, I thought, that is just behavior, isn’t it, and I’m sure I can control my behavior so that I do not do that. Yes, I decided, I could depend upon my earnest commitment to not flail my arms around or scream. So what did that leave? The terror. Yes, I could do nothing to prevent the terror. I would feel like I was dying. I would feel like I couldn’t breathe. Well, I thought, that is all just feeling, isn’t it? I just have to stand the physical pain of that terror. I have to control my behavior and just feel the terror, just sit there quietly, even if I pass out, or die if that is my fate. I decided I could do that.

"I sat back down, buckled myself in and prepared to feel the most absolute terror of my life. I opened myself up to whatever pain would come. I was absolutely determined to bear the most unimaginably painful feelings, whatever they were. The most amazing thing happened. No terror came. Not even the smallest tinge of it. I completed the rest of the flight in complete comfort. Now and then I invited the pain and terror if it wanted to come. But it never did.

"I think the whole key was to separate the gestalt of panic into its plain, more user-friendly concomitants of behavior and feeling. Looking at the separate parts of my panic gave me a clue as to how to proceed. I saw the panic in terms of tasks to accomplish, rather than fear to succumb to. I could see that, although it might be difficult and painful, it was possible for me to control my behavior and keep myself from screaming or flailing my arms around. And it was possible to bear any pain that my feelings were going to inflict upon me. After all, they were my feelings, weren’t they? What could my own feelings do to me, really? I know I can do that again. In two weeks, I would have to return from Hawaii. I determined to seek out the terror again and see what more work I had to do, or what new tortures my terror would teach me.

"On my return trip, I found I had been given an aisle seat and I was tempted to let it go at that. But because I felt obligated to finish this story for my book, however it turned out, I told the clerk I was working on my claustrophobia so would she please give me the worst crowded-up inside seat she could. Again I settled down quite prepared to feel the terror NO MATTER WHAT! In the beginning I got just a few tendrils of panic and again I opened myself up to whatever horror would be visited upon me. The tendrils of panic just faded out to nothing. I felt perfectly comfortable the whole trip.

Ms. Curtiss

In the past month I have made remarkable strides in controlling my depression, and anger. However, I become self conscious when having a conversation as part of a group. It is though I consciously come up with the thought “here we go again” and there it goes again!!!! I have tried to focus before hand on erasing the thought but I have not been able to control it. Any suggestions?

Also, if I wanted more info on self hypnosis, where would I go? My meditative state is unreal, and I would like to discover ways to use it as a useful tool. Your tools are making a difference, which is what life is all about. Thank you for your contribution. T.S.

Dear T. S.

Remember that your brain works by learned association. So if you think "there it goes again," and continue to focus on that thought, it is instructions to your brain (always your most obedient servant) to put you in touch with all the other downer thoughts of that kind in your memory bank. So drop that thought immediately, as soon as it pops up. Decide, in advance, what thought you are going to use instead of that negative thoughts. And whenever the negative thought pops up, use instead the thought you have chosen.

You may go back for forth for a while until your brain sees that you are serious about wanting to reject that thought. Remember that the mind always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought so that you can get your brain to think what you want to think by thinking productive, on purpose thoughts, rather than be carried along where old brain habits would want to force you to go.
A. B.Curtiss

Ms. Curtiss,

While I have improved over the past couple of months, currently I am experiencing hell. I am outcast by society for my angry facial appearances. I can be going along fine, and suddenly my face is transformed into an angry glaring look for no good reason. Many times I am not even feeling angry at the time. Usually it snowballs. If I have received some negative reactions over the course of the day, odds are it will happen again until I am safely back in my apartment.

This is a very organized effort on my part to monitor and admonish signs of inappropriate behavior. This is not sheer paranoia. Ironically, I am a God believing, college educated, personable man who has many successful, responsible friends(as far as I know). I sell appliances at a retail store which makes me very open to the public eye. I thought about taking off work but feel I need to face my fears. Right now I am emotionally drained and feeling hopeless. I even thought of the possibility of coming to see you for a week, if possible. Or should I just keep up with the exercises, tolerate the catcalls until I clear up the issue. I could do that if I knew it would clear things up. Any thoughts? T. S.

Dear T. S.

I don’t know what do you mean by catcalls. Just remember that anger is fear turned outward. Read chapter ten in my book Depression is a Choice, how to get in touch with repressed fear.

Fear does make your countenance look angry. When I was young, before I learned how to get rid of my depression, my children used to ask me all the time "Mommy, are you mad?" I was just suffering. I didn't know it was my great supply of repressed fear that made me look so angry all the time. I finally got in touch with it all. You can too. It is very painful, but doable. And after a while if you are very accepting of the pain, it is becomes almost fun, like a difficult exercise.

You are right. Don't get off work. You need to face your fears. Work is thevery therapy you need to get in touch with your fear. When you receive negative reactions, treat them as a sacred meditation to get in touch with your fear. You don't have to do anything but ACCEPT THE FEAR, FEEL THE FEAR. It should be very painful to feel it if you are really doing it.

Getting in touch with your fear is so painful, it really feels like you are dying but it is not you that is dying but your fear. You have probably been steeling yourself against negative reactions, protecting yourself by being defensive. Your attitude is probably: I'm okay, you are negative. Quit all that. Make the negative okay as well. Embrace all negative reactions as they are the very cure for your fear. You'll get the hang of it after a while. Don't worry about messing up the first couple of times. Existence gives you all the time you need. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Ms. Curtiss

When people see any anger in my face, they will cough. Suddenly I hear coughs from all over the store. Many times I do not notice any change of attitude, so my approach has been It is just a cough. So I do not necessarily feel the fear. The depression that it is happening overcomes me. So when I feel the situation occurring should I just focus on fear? The depression and fear are interwined. Why would not focusing on the depression then bring peace?

Also, I have tried two approaches while at work. One is to be very vigilant, focusing on my behavior. Sometimes I feel this does not work because it actually creates fear. So I tell myself to let go, and while I am happier I find myself more prone to old established behavior. I can not find a niche
that works.

I have read chapter 10 a couple of times. I have a difficult time visualizing the difference between just feeling or acting on the fear. If I consciously see myself just watching my feelings as a witness, it works. If I am caught off guard, feeling and acting seem to be one and the same.

Thanks for your quick responses.

Dear T. S.

I think it is safe to assume that a cough is just a cough and try and catch sight of yourself from time to time in the mirror and notice when you look fearful or angry so that you can then, on purpose, relax yourself. Sometimes focusing on depression brings peace because any kind of on-purpose thinking, like the thought that you are accepting depression, stimulates neurons in the neocortex and withdraws neural activity from the subcortex, where depression is produced. But for me it is easier to do the simple "green frog" kind of exercises to get out of depression. Yes, watching feelings as a witness and accepting them almost always works to lessen fear.

Another suggestion is to outer focus more. When you find yourself self-focusing and worrying about how people are perceiving you, refocus on other people and what they are doing in a way that you are interested in them for their own sake, not interested in them for what effect they may be having on you. They are human beings, too, with their own problems and fears that you can have some compassion for your fellow man. Every person is fighting their own battle within their hearts.

Remember that getting out of depression is one thing. But then you have to have something going on in your regular life that you find fulfilling, some work, some hobby, or some talent or mission that you have decided to focus your interest on. Get out of depression and get into something else productive. It is not enough just to get out of depression. A human being needs some creative activity or they will end up in self-focus again. Have you tried joining Toastmasters, International? Public speaking is a great way to get in touch with your own fear and connect with people who are also trying to improve themselves by learning to speak up before other people. Volunteer work at a hospital or soup kitchen can also refocus your attention away from self focus and connect you with your fellow man. A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Use Your Book for Depression, Anxiety, and OCD


Just wanted to thank you for writing this wonderful book. It has helped a lot with my depression and anxiety. Such a simple way of dealing with so much pain. I use it for my OCD. I have harm obsessions. Most of them are suicidal obsessions. It's awfully scary to have these, when it's the last thing you'd ever do. It really helps to switch off when I need to. It's gets me thru the worst of these.

I developed OCD after having Post Partum Depression. I just wonder if I'm doing the exercises correctly. When I am hit with the obsession, I thoughtjam just like you say. I keep extremely busy. I never sit still because I'm always afraid I'll start to feel this way again.

Is there any way to thoughtjam the fear of the depression and anxiety returning and does this dread feeling keep returning , or is thoughtjamming a good way to stop this as well? I realize it takes a while to form those new pathways, and it's different for everyone. I just need to know that what I am doing will eventually stop this fear of depression and anxiety returning.

Dear S.P.

The fear of your depression and anxiety returning is just another negative, fearful, anxious thought like all the others and should be treated just the same as any negative, anxious thought. Accept the thought, brush it aside and do more productive thinking.

You never really stop the fears, anxiety, or obsessions from returning now and then. They are a normal part of human existence. However, what is not normal is for these thoughts to intrude on your life rather than just pop up. When they pop up, you ignore them in favor of more productive thinking or use your nonsense exercises. So treat the fear of them returning the same way as any other fear or anxiety.

As you form new brain pathways that are more fulfilling and creative, these old fears and obsessions retreat to the background. They come up, now and then, forever, but what is different is that you no longer fear them. You just brush them off, and get on with your day. There may even be some beginnings of depression which should also be accepted, brushed aside, and then ignored

There is no one who does not have, on occasion, really self-destructive, bizarre, or downright weird thoughts. Maybe people don't even realize that they have them, if you ask them, because they are so fleeting that they make little impression. For those of us who have made the mistake of paying attention to these destructive thoughts, they are more imprinted. Not to worry. They need not ever intrude upon your life once you have got their number. A. B. Curtiss


Thank you again!!!!I just read your book this am. Trying desperately to overcome my negative thought processes. I can go straight to my old thoughts in 2 seconds. It's very disheartening some days. Since my post partum depression struck me, I have never been the same. It's been 11 years. I am an upbeat person with a positive outlook and can't believe that I think this way. To top it all off, I have OCD too (which came with the PPD). So, it's really hard to let go of everything. I am trying to focus on what I'm doing instead of what I'm feeling. It's a constant battle for me. Even when I'm having a good day, I can be worrying about the bad feelings coming back. I also have "crap" from my past that keeps rearing its ugly head. OCD just won't let me let it go. No meds as they make me "numb."

Thank you for following up. You are obviously someone who cares and not just writing a book. I have told a lot of people about your book and even bought a copy for my sister. I will read your blog and try to find healing thru it.

Kindest regards, S.P.

Dear S. P.

Please read Chap 10 in Depression is a Choice. If you don't have that book, I can email the chapter to you. You need to get in touch with your repressed fear which is the basis of all OCD. The compulsive thinking and behavior is a strategy of the mind to avoid the pain of your own fear by focusing away from it to some other object of fear rather than the fear itself.


If you could forward that chapter, that would be great. I need to go and buy that book as well. You should see my Brainswitch book. I've only had it for a year and it looks like it's been thru a war!!! Thanks for taking the time to do this!!! S.P.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Depressed Because I Felt Betrayed--Can You Help?

Ms. Curtiss

I am looking for help for my daughter in the way of therapy. I feet that she needs cognitive behavioral therapy. She wants help, but due to her disorder (or disorders) seems to be virtually "helpless" in helping herself. She has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and at the time (3 years ago), depression (her father had died).

I believe, due to the type of personality she has, that she has bouts of depression that come and go. She has been talking about how she wants to find a therapist for two years, but has not acted on it. I was just wondering if you still run a psychiatric practice or not. I am interested to know if there is anyone you might recommend for cognitive behavioral therapy whose outlook on depression is similar to yours. That is what inspired me to contact you.

Also, that my daughter is a similarly highly intelligent and creative mind (poetry/ writing/ love for young children). She sees the world in detail, yet with the wonder of a child, and an awe for all that the world holds (also great respect for the creator) She is a personality that draws people to her like a magnet, but also can incense and anger people greatly as she descends into the other side of her personality. Even so, some people that she has hurt seem incapable of disengaging from her, while others have treated her simply awful, and she becomes greatly hurt (and I believe depressed) when this happens. She does have this air of vulnerability about her, I guess.

I admired a lot of what I was able to read on your depression site and the excerpts from your books. I am an elementary school teacher on the East coast, who has recently been trying to work my way out of a very unexpected and very severe depression related to uncharacteristically sharing my emotions with another human being and basically being blindsided.

I am a Christian, and the lost love who lied to me is a Christian so(mind you it was nothing underhanded - actually he was not emotionally healthy and he just very unexpectedly aborted our whole relationship and stopped talking to me (only e-mails) after having talked love and marriage for months. I guess the fact that I've waited so long (till my daughters were grown), and am a bit on the cautious side (have broken up with men who did not live up to my standards and after a while just stopped dating).

I finally judged this person a safe person to let my guard down with...but having it backfire - well it kind of did me in. (I've forgiven the man - I know that is necessary) But I've just been down on myself because a Christian should have "the joy of the Lord" and not be so self absorbed as to be stuck in a depression, right? Well, I will be purchasing your book, because your "Daily Dozen for Depression" seems to be just what I was looking for and need, in order to get back to (well probably become an even better version of ) my former self.

So any help you could give toward recommending anyone in the NY/NJ metro or Phoenix metro area would be helpful. Either would probably do for my daughter because I believe that she would come home if we found a suitable therapist whom she trusted. Thank you. V.T.

Dear V.T.

Thank you for your letter. I do not take private patients anymore and I don't know any therapists whom I could recommend to you. I am sorry to disappoint you. It is a very sad thing that so many otherwise intelligent people live limited lives because they are so emotionally dependent.

People who get stuck in depression, or in dramatic up-and-down relationships have a dependent relationship to their emotional thoughts in that they cannot think or behave independently of them.

As for depression, it seems to them, when they get depressed, that they have been attacked by a force over which they have no control. Once a person understands how it is possible, by changing their thinking, to switch their neural activity from their emotional brain (subcortex) to their thinking brain (neocortex), their relationship to their depression changes.

When they realize their own thinking has caused their depression, they’re no longer doomed to emotional dependence. They can think and behave independently of raging feelings. They can think and behave independently of both depression and anxiety. They can access their rational faculties even when their emotions are raging.

When they can do this they will also find their relationships with other people change as well. Most people have poor relationships because they are unwittingly using the other person to fill self-satisfaction or happiness needs that they aren't aware of, needs that they should be filling themselves. Emotional maturity eludes many adults, but with the right education, knowledge, and earnest endeavor, anyone can achieve it.

My book Depression is a Choice is about the philosophy of getting out of depression and becoming self-responsible. Brainswitch out of Depression is about the neuroscience of how you get out of depression and become self-responsible.

Although I don't take private patients I am always willing to answer questions via email. I do not charge for this.

As for forgiving someone for their wrongdoing, I see no common-sense reason to do so unless they have asked for forgiveness. Most forgiveness is shallow because people are still into unconscious blaming the other person for wrongdoing even though they think they have forgiven them. Once you realize that blame is the way we avoid fear, forgiveness becomes unnecessary because we never blame anybody in the first place.

If the person who betrayed you is not a good-hearted person, then why should you forgive selfish and inconsiderate behavior? We are supposed to recognize bad behavior, condemn it, and turn from it, not forgive it.

Be sure and read the review of my book Depression is a Choice by Bibliogenesis on the website for it translates many of my terms into Christian terms. A. B.Curtiss

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Son is Now Depressed after being Diagnosed Schizophrenic

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

I am currently working through issues with my son's depression and have urged my son to adopt many of the thinking patterns you have described. He was diagnosed "schizophrenic" a few years ago and had never appeared depressed. He has been off medication for almost a year, receiving psychotherapy, vitamin supplements and other interesting holistic interventions. He now seems "depressed" and emotional. I consider this a tremendous improvement! We are in the middle of all this right now and sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When this happens, I turn to the web for inspiration. Today I found it at your website. I have ordered your book from Amazon.

Best regards,

Dear R.A.

Thank you for your letter. My book Depression is a Choice is the philosophy of how you get out of depression. My book Brainswitch out of Depression is the neuroscience of how you get out of depression and it is a bit more user friendly to read, more self-helpy, if you will. It continues to amaze me how doctors and psychiatrists imagine that people can get out of depression who have no idea how their own brains work, how they get from one thought to another. As far as I know I am the first person to connect the process of pain perception with getting out of depression. I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A.B.

Thanks for the extra tip. I'll also order the Brainswitch book for my son. He is trying hard and coming at in in different ways is very helpful. He is also doing the Alexander Technique, which seems like it is about choices and actions.
I will be excited to read your books and should I have any questions, I will ask. One very good point you made on your website is about how your brain reacts when you think of a lemon. I was so discouraged by seeing pictures of supposedly damaged schizophrenic brains, until I thought, for heaven's sake - If I thought about sex, my brain image would look at certain way. Nobody is trying to make sex a brain disease.
A. B. Curtiss

Dear R. A.

Yes, it is a shame that people are being made ill just because people say they're ill. Slowly people are starting to see they have been ill served, pardon the pun, by the psychiatric community who deal with things from a pathological view when they don't have to.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Was Just Diagnosed with BiPolar


I’ve been reading your book Depression is a Choice. I am sure that you hear from many people so I will try and keep this email short. I was just diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder with mixed episodes in June and was deciding on whether or not to take medication. In the same week that I decided to start taking medication a friend of mine gave me your book to read. I really appreciated it because it is the only material out there that says people do not need the medication.

I was hoping that you could tell me if there are any other resources out there that discuss training your mind, rather than using medication. Also, I think it would be interesting and very encouraging and educational for others if there were some CD or DVD versions based on the ideas in your book. I really think it would be beneficial to a lot of people.

Thank you for your time and your book

T. S.
Ph.D. Candidate
Psychology Department
University of California

Dear T. S.
Thank you for your letter. If you are reading Depression is a Choice you may also find that Brainswitch out of Depression is a further help. Depression is a Choice, my first book, is the philosophy of how you get out of depression. Brainswitch out of Depression is the neuroscience of how you get out of depression and contains a lot of helpful mind exercises. As per your suggestion about a CD, I agree with you and have been thinking about doing a video shortly and put it on youtube. I hope to finish it before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, if you have any personal questions about your journey getting out of depression, I will be glad to answer them. I no longer take private patients, but I answer anyone's email and I do not charge for this.

There are a lot of people writing books on the benefits of positive thinking and all of them are helpful. However my work is slightly different because as far as I know I am the first person to connect the neurobiological process of pain perception with a method to getting out of a depressive episode. Here's a except from my second book:

"Now here's the truly remarkable neuroscientific finding that I have never seen mentioned in all the psychiatric literature about depression. It is one of the most important reasons that Brainswitching works for depression.

"We all feel our emotions very deeply and the effect of the environment upon us. But in order to feel any emotion, or the pain of some bodily injury (which are all produced in the subcortex) we must make a cognitive judgment in the neocortex about the thing we are feeling! Signals from the nerve endings in our arm if we cut our skin, or signals from the subcortex that emotion is going on must move upward to the neocortex and be received and acknowledged there before we can feel them!

"This is the reason cases have been recorded of athletes who actually break a bone during the heat of a game and don't experience any pain until after the competition is over. Their neocortical thought concentration on the game blocked the pain signals being sent to the neocortex that should have alerted them to the pain of their injury.

"We must make a judgment about pain before we can feel it? Does this sound like a theory? It isn't. It is a neuroscientific fact also proved by neuroimaging people who have experienced brain damage in the neocortex.

"Some people have no damage in the subcortex but have sustained severe damage in the neocortex in the place that receives the signals from the subcortex. These people, with neocortical damage, will not be able to feel or experience the emotion or pain they produce in the subcortex anymore than those aforementioned victims of subcortical damage who can't produce the subcortical feelings in the first place.

"The other proof of the fact that we must acknowledge our feelings in the neocortex before we can feel them is this: hypnosis can substitute for general anesthetic in major surgery. People do not feel pain when their neocortex is convinced (hypnotized) that pain is not happening, even though their flesh is being cut by the surgeon's knife and impacting the subcortex.

"You don't have to remember all of this information about judging feelings in the neocortex. What it means, practically speaking for depression, is that we can manage our pain and emotion in the subcortex by controlling our thinking in the neocortex.

"This is nothing new. Successful people have always lived their lives by reason rather than emotion. However, this kind of mind-management has not been applied specifically and forcefully to depression as it should be.

"The medical profession has come around in other areas. Doctors are curing ADD and Irritable Bowel Syndrome with hypnosis and guided imagery. (Sandra Blakeslee, "Hypnosis Gains Respect, Helps to see Brain Work," The New York Times, 11/23/05) It is important to mention here that in the organization of the nerve cells that carry sensory information, there are ten times more nerve fibers carrying information from the top down than from the bottom up; from the neocortex to the subcortex rather than the other way around. This indicates the amount of power available to us to get the cognitive part of our brain, once we learn how to access it, to manage the emotional part.

"When we earnestly apply this top-down idea to depression, we can see that it is possible to make the personal decision that self-abusive thinking, such as the anxious worry that leads to depression, is simply no longer an option for us. Whenever we notice this painful thinking occurring to us, we can immediately choose specific thoughts which stimulate the neurons in the neocortex. This will draw neuronal energy from the subcortex and then the painful emotions in the subcortex slowly power down. It also accomplishes "thought-jamming" of problem thoughts so they don't continue.

"Our thinking determines our emotions. As our thinking moves to anxious, our feelings become anxious. As our thinking changes out of anxious and moves to calm, our feelings change from anxious and move to calm. Our mind knows we are in charge of our feelings even if we don't. Because thoughts trump feelings, reason always trumps emotion. The top-down sensory information channels of the brain are set that way. But for a trump card to win you must play it. We have to call upon our reason, upon our neocortex when our subcortex is rampaging.

"By the way, this is the neuroscientific explanation for Freedom of the Will: We are not forced to function from instinct, we may choose to function from reason. How we make this choice, neurologically speaking, is to choose those thoughts that will spark neuronal activity in the part of the brain from which we wish to function: the intellect of the neocortex or the emotions of the subcortex. This is also the neuroscientific explanation for Spinoza's claim that "Will and intellect are one and the same thing."

A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Love Your Analysis of Psychology

I am 25 years old and frequently get quite depressed. I find it hard to function in my very busy life as I often want to hide and cry, scream my lungs out in public, kick inanimate objects over (such as garbage cans) and hurt myself by smashing my head against things.

I read parts of your book in the library today and am applying the concepts. I love your writing style, your analysis of psychology, etc. My dad was a psychiatrist, and was not only a very abusive and controlling man, but he would medicate himself with leftover medications in an attempt to control his mood. Maybe not someone who should be in charge of people's brains.

I hold down two jobs, am finishing a degree and train very hard every day to meet my goal of becoming a professional dancer. I also have nowhere to live so I stay in an overcrowded household with my boyfriend and 8 of his relatives. There is very little money coming into this house which makes it a very stressful environment. Thank you, Lydia

My three questions are:

1. I am working on not blaming my circumstances and not letting myself get depressed. But I have trouble with a very strange phobia that interferes with my life. I can’t stand being around people when they are chewing gum. I’ve been like this for years. I want to run away from them or punch them out. The louder they chew the worse it is. I read in your book that you learned to manage your claustrophobia merely by exposure. Well, I am exposed to gum every day. On the train, at work, in class. Do you have any mind tricks that will help me with this?

2. I am quite sure I have hypoglycemia and I try to eat well although it’s hard with my budget and time constraints. I was wondering if the mood swings that come with my blood sugar lows could be contributing to my depression and, if so, will being stricter with my diet help? I have researched hypoglycemia and I know what and when I should be eating.

3. What do I do about my acting out my depression and frustration by physically attacking things in the environment, even my own body.

To Answer you questions:

Question #1. Remember that hate and blame are the same in that they are the methods we use to avoid fear. You can make any annoying (I hate it) thing, even attacking mosquitoes, a meditation to get in touch with repressed fear by standing your annoyance, your pain, and accepting it completely rather than wanting it not to be. This way you will be grateful for the chewing gum for putting you in touch with your repressed fear. As long as you hate the gum, you know that you have more fear to deal with. Believe me, most people are chock full of repressed fear. It wasn't just the exposure that cured my claustrophobia, it was the complete acceptance of my terror of it, while being willing to undergo the situation rather than wanting it not to be.. I ceased wanting what I wanted, and wanted what was, in fact, the situation of my terror.

Question #2. Your diet is important. Your body knows when it is being ill served, and sometimes it is ill served enough to trigger the flight or fight response and dump stress chemicals in the body which can later turn into anxiety (which we try to alleviate by phobias: blaming something in our environment) or depression.

Question #3: Physically expressing fear (in the form of frustration or depression) is good because fear is repressed in the very cells of the body. However, this should be a private affair rather than acted out in public, unless you join a group which does this as an agreed upon meditation. You should not put this acting out on your fellow creatures as it is disruptive of the shared environment. Acting out fear in physical exercises of rolling around on the floor, screaming, crying, hitting the wall, etc should be scheduled and done in complete privacy. I used to scream under the water when I swam in my pool and I got very good at hugging myself and rolling around on the floor moaning and groaning.

A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Brainswitching Works!!!

Hi Ms Curtiss,

I'm writing just to let you know that I appreciate the ideas that you have put forth in your book. Your concepts work!! I have shared the ideas with other people, who have benefited as well. I practice brainswitching DAILY now!! I have suffered from PTSD (from years of brainwashing in an abusive situation), and that has resulted in suffering from years of OCD, and Depression. About 4 months ago I sought professional help for about the tenth time and was finally willing to admit that I suffered from ongoing depression. I began taking Zoloft but I promised myself I would learn more about depression (of course previously I thought I already knew all about it).

That is when I found your book in the library and it struck a chord with an independent streak in me, and I wanted to know more. After two weeks of medication and reading your book 'Depression Is A Choice' I stopped taking the medication. I also had an ongoing hyperthyroid problem, and I decided to stop taking that medicine as well since hyperthyroid is basically aggravated by stress. After reading your book I wanted to test your theory that thoughts are the biggest contributor and regulator to how one processes stress, so I decided to see how I could affect a positive change in my health problems simply by choosing my thoughts.

I am due for another blood test to check my thyroid, but I can say I feel the test will show the Graves Disease to be in remission and I feel it was significantly affected by changing my thoughts. I agree with your observation that we can't get rid of depression or keep it from coming back, but we can choose not to think about it when it comes.

I also want to share with you a personal experience that seems to parallel the theory that depression will always be there and the only thing we can do is decide not to think about it. I have a step son whose mother suffers from symptoms of Paranoid Delusions. Because of her choices in the last couple of years, my husband has been given sole custody of his son who was living in another state as the time of this award.

We were told to read a book 'The Sociopath Next Door' to get a better picture of what was going on in this mother’s mind, and more importantly how we can respond appropriately. I have also been able to find a plausible reason for her behavior after reading your descriptions of people who lost their ability to feel after they went through a physically traumatic accident.

Recently she had a scheduled weekend visit with her son. That same weekend the judge signed the final order for us to have sole custody. In retaliation, she kept her son by refusing to take him to the airport and canceling his return flight. Four days later she took him to Child Protective Services where she told them her son had been abandoned by his father. CPS called us at that point and then my stepson was soon reunited with us.

Now, his mom is facing the probability of losing her parental rights. The interesting thing is the process that we have gone through with all the upset. Since I am inclined to obsessive compulsive thinking, and depression, this has been the perfect challenge to try out your theories. And I want you to know that even though the progress seems slow, I can tell it is effective and is making a big difference in my ability to process the stress from this situation.

As I was originally trying to point out, this mother and her problems are not gong to diminish with time, in fact they will probably get worse, but my ability to think about something else (after we do all we can do) is immensely strengthening. And that is Great news!!

Writing to you has helped secure these feelings and my determination to stay on track! Thanks for listening. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with others. Your efforts have tremendously blessed my life. Sincerely, E. M.

Dear E.M.

Thank you so much for your letter. I do know what you mean. In writing for others I cement the ideas further in my own brain so they are there when I need them for myself. I still get hit by depression all the time since I spent so many years as a manic depressive those neural patterns are pretty well hard-wired in my brain. By helping other people, I strengthen my own skills.
You might be interested in my new book Brainswitch out of Depression. If I could compare the two books I would say that my first book
is more philosophical and the second one is more self-help--half of the book being mind exercises.

One thing that might help with your stepson's mom. I had counseled a teenager through a particularly horrible case of bullying in her high school. She is fine now and much stronger for the experience. But I learned so much from those interactions that goes far beyond the bullying situation itself. The bully is trying to get love and attention. That's all anybody is trying to get. Some people go about getting noticed by destructive acts. Your stepson’s mom seems to be like this.

Your stepson's mom has become a bully. She is trying to control you by these destructive acts. They are a game. You play her game by believing yourself to be her victim, in which case you feel personally affronted by what she is doing. You also try to fix her, and get her to stop doing what she is doing, and saying what she is saying.

You don’t have to change her, you simply have to change the game. You have to defend yourself physically and legally, of course, but beyond that, you do not have to interact with her within the confines of her game. You can interact with her in a loving way in a new game, your game. She insults. You let it bounce off and simply say something positive to her. You will have a limited relationship of course, but it will not be her game, but yours.

In another case, a woman has a mother who is really crazy in many ways. Whenever they talked the mother would play her game of insults and subversive remarks to make her daughter seem unimportant. But the daughter has recently learned to play her own game of ignoring the destructive things her mother says, and simply being pleasant and disarming, telling her Mother good things about herself, “Oh, Mom, you know so much about that kind of thing,” and kind of jollying her out of her own darkness. The daughter no longer gets insulted and angry. She realizes that her mother is being a bully to get love and respect by playing her “mother” game which never worked. Now her daughter gives her love and respect by playing her own “daughter” game which works every time.

Here's another example from the teenager’s experience She told me that two of her former friends would no longer speak to her in school and yet because of the seating arrangement, they sat right next to her in class. I told her that just because they didn't speak to her was no reason that she couldn't be her regular friendly self. "But I'll feel weird when they don't answer me," she said. "Not," I said, "if you realize what the game is. Their game is they are trying to make you uncomfortable and afraid by not speaking to you. If they can't make you uncomfortable and unafraid, they will get very frustrated. “

“You are going to change the rules of the game on them, and then they are the ones who will not know what to do. The new game is that you are going to be friendly no matter what they do and you will know in advance that they are not going to respond, so don’t expect it. Try it and see what happens.”

So for a couple of days she was friendly as usual, and greeted her former friends as if nothing was wrong. "Hi, how's it going?" And they would just glare at her. She would smile back as if they were not frowning at her. Since she knew the game, she did not expect them to answer, and so was not thrown off base. I told her that they would be getting very annoyed that they could have no effect on her. One day her friend yelled at her and said in a loud angry voice that everybody in the class heard, “You know I hate you, why are you talking to me?” The teenager just smiled sweetly and said, "Well, I guess I'm just a naturally friendly person that likes everybody."

When I asked the teenager how her friend looked to the rest of the class by yelling at her the way she did, the teenager said, “she really looked like a jerk. " And how did you look." And she smiled and said, "like a naturally friendly person." It was a great triumph and done with friendliness and inclusion, just the opposite of what she was getting. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Idaho Observer Would Like to Quote from Your Website

Hello Ms. Curtiss,

I am a volunteer editor with the Idaho Observer. Our editor-in-chief Don Harkins has recently been on life support in ICU for acute leukemia. So a group of veteran editors/ writers and some newer folks such as myself, are putting out the September edition.

I'm writing Ingri Cassel's column and I'm featuring your two books. Would you be willing to give me permission to use some of the copy from your website? The column is only 2000 words. However, I'd perhaps like to include The Don't List.

The word "deadline" has taken on new meaning this month. We're grateful that Don is on the slow road to recovery but making tremendous progress.

Look forward to hearing from you. Great insights into depression!

Thanks for your consideration,
Patricia Aiken

Dear Patricia,

You may use any of the material on my website that you wish. Please credit the material to my name. Thanks, A. B. Curtiss

Here's a shortened version of the longer article that appeared in the Idaho Observer

by Patricia Aiken

Personal economic crises...IRS audits... and hundreds of other realities assault our mental well being daily. Some feel depression is the normal reaction to the increasingly hostile world we find ourselves facing. In addition to the economic depression we have entered, one psychologist has termed our culture The Great (Clinical) Depression. Even in financially more prosperous times, depression has been rampant.

It’s been estimated that during World War I only 1% of women ever experienced severe depression. With every generation that percentage has expanded. Women born in the 1970’s are experiencing serious depression at 12-15%... Behavioral therapist A.B. Curtiss and others agree that it’s not our fault that we get depressed. However, Curtiss points out that as painful and debilitating as depression can be, there are simple, drug free choices to overcome it. A memoir of her journey out of manic depression, often called bipolar disorder, is her first book, Depression is a Choice - Winning the Battle Without Drugs. It chronicles Curtiss being the third in her family to suffer from debilitating depression.

Thirty years of one psychiatric visit after another to find a solution proved fruitless. Drug treatment was out of the question since she had watched her father and brother being horribly diminished by them. Entering the field of psychology, as many do, seeking help for herself, she became a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist and certified hypnotist. She found in her study of neuroscience, brain mapping and ancient wisdom the answer to her depression.

"It is a biochemically-based physiological reality that exists in the body, says Curtiss. Salivation is also biochemically-based physiological reality that exists in the body. We don’t have to cut out our tongue or take Prozac to stop salivating. We just have to stop thinking the thought lemon. The way we stop thinking the thought lemon is to think some other thought. Thoughts cause the chemically-based physiological reality of salivation and thoughts can uncause it. Thoughts cause the chemically-based physiological reality of depression and thoughts can uncause it. Since we can choose what thoughts we think, that makes depression a choice.

"All thoughts are bio-electrical," says Curtiss,"but they cause bio-chemical consequences in the brain. Stressful thoughts of which we may or may not be aware trigger the fight-or-flight response which is supposed to lead us to forward action but ends, instead, in itself, a negative feedback-loop of escalating panic, fear and depression. But these feelings only exist in one part of our two part brain, the sub-cortex, the seat of all our instincts and feelings. In the neo-cortex, the area of our cognitive faculties, reason, language and math, there is no depression because the neo-cortex doesn’t have the capacity for any feelings, good or bad.

"Historically, people have survived with brain injuries to the sub-cortex and have totally lost the capacity for any feeling. We can temporarily brain switch out of our depression by functioning from the neo-cortex instead of the sub-cortex and leave our painful feelings of depression behind."

In my own life, my upbeat, sunny disposition was naturally adequate to overcome life’s pressures. The death of parents within 47 days of each other, a painful romantic break up, a major move, and an unfair job loss all cascaded together to turn my usual overriding happiness into a stormy depression. Never having experienced any depression that a quick nap or at most, a night’s sleep didn’t alleviate, I sought conversations with friends, counseling, chocolate, and group therapy to no avail.

A life long book worm, I stumbled on a book in a public library entitled, The Self-Talk Solution, by Shad Helmstetter. Contained within the pages were the same type of exercises Curtiss recommends. I was shocked that it had never entered my awareness that I could have control over depression. Already in my mid-thirties and up until that time, I just went where my usually happy thoughts took me. What a relief to know I had a choice on what I thought that gave me control over how I felt. It was like crossing from the shady side of the street to the sunny side and took about as long. The only person in my therapy group not happy about my new insights was the therapist; especially when I said sayonara.

On www.depressionisachoice.com in the article entitled, Don’t Go Gentle Into Depression, Curtis writes:

"Don’t give in so easily to your first feelings of depression. When forcefully encountered, onset feelings of despair and helplessness can be alleviated. Then full-fledged depression will let you alone. In a very real way, bully though it is, depression is like living in a room of pain. And you can learn how to leave the room.
Depression only happens in the subcortex, the feeling part of the brain. There is never any depression in the neocortex, the thinking part of the brain. You can brainswitch out of your subcortex into the neocortex by using simple mind exercises. Doing the exercises repetitively can actually form neural patterns in the brain that you can use on purpose, instead of remaining stuck in the painful habitual neural patterns of your depression.

"You can actually build a neural bridge from your feeling brain to your thinking brain thanks to the brain’s neuroplasticity.

"A new book, Train The Mind, Change The Brain, by Sharon Begley, the science editor of Time Magazine, gives a wide over-view of the latest research in the ability of the brain to modify its cellular connections as a result of new thinking and new behavior.

"The book, The Mind And The Brain: Neuroplasticity And The Power Of Mental Force, by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, shows plasticity as a long-recognized key component to learning and memory. Now neuroplasticity is seen an as important adjunct to cognitive behavioral therapy that can bring an end to depression.

"Depression is like the bully who terrifies you as long as you are afraid, but fades at any real resistance. When you focus your attention on painful feelings, your fear keeps triggering the fight-or-flight response which continues to pump stress chemicals like adrenalin (epinephrine) and norepinephrine into your brain, causing the chemical imbalance feeding your depression.

"Simple mind exercises like singing a nursery rhyme, or repeating some mantra like yes, yes, yes, yes, yes for five or ten minutes immediately starts to lessen pain in the subcortex by enhancing cognitive focus in the neocortex. Even though the exercises are simple, even dumb, in the beginning it is hard to do them. That’s because it is difficult to withdraw your attention from your pain and actually do something else other than thinking the thought, “I am depressed.”

"Simple mind tricks seem so lame compared to the immense pain of depression. But if you persevere and do the thinking techniques, you will immediately brainswitch neuronal activity from the subcortex to the neocortex and give yourself some immediate relief from the pain.

"Any neutral distraction helps to lessen your habitual reaction to the first downward spiral that plunges you into depression and despair. Having a few mind exercises “at the ready” for when depression hits is a great deterrent to simply rolling over and giving in to those first downward tendrils of despair."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hope and Help for Depression

I am 25 years old. I am suffering for many years from depression, anxiety , unknown fear. And day by day my problems are getting worse. Actually my health condition has not been good from early age. Always I had health problems--severe stomach pain, headache, migraine, sinus, allergy problems. But my all blood tests were normal. No medication I have been given have brought any relief. Because of all this I have very low energy & low self esteem. Whenever I go out my problems are increased. I could not study good because of all these problems, so I have done just simple graduation with points marks.

Now I don’t have so many physical problems, but mentally I am very depressed. I Always have anxiety & some unknown fear in my mind. I am trying to find out the reason of my fear & depression but could not find out the reason. I have tried so many things like yoga , Pranayama , meditation, Reiki energy healing, but no relief.

I have joined Art of living, Sahej yoga, Raja yoga but no relief. All my medical reports are normal as per doctors. They say I don’t have problem except anxiety & depression, but for that I am taking antidepressants from last 2 years. But they give no relief even when I get so many side effects. I have asked many astrologers also, but their predictions are wrong for me. These days I don’t have much physical problems, but mentally I am in very bad condition.

I suddenly start feeling very irritated & feeling crazy as if I am going mad. I even don’t remember when last I was in good condition. Currently I am doing some contractual job & I’ m not going regularly. I think now conditions are very worse so I’m thinking to quit my job but I cannot sit at home also.

So I am really very disturbed. I have lost control of my mind, and I have seen slowly I am getting detached from my family. Also I don't like any family members even when they are worried about me. Some time I have feeling that I can’t live without my family & some time I feel that I am in this condition because of my family. I don’t know why I don’t like anything. Some astrologer told me that I should stay away from family, only then you will feel better but that is not possible.

Please see if any way you can help me.

Waiting for your reply. Thanks in advance.

N. O.

Dear N. O.

I just realized that you initials are N. O. which is very wonderful, since it’s almost like you are saying no to everything in your life. So in a way, this may be your path in life, the life lesson you have come here to learn. It’s quite beautiful really, because once you understand why you are saying no, then you have a choice, and yes can happen to you. If you have someone who reads the I Ching, that might have a helpful word for you.

However, not to worry. You are not alone. Many people who have been in your situation have educated themselves about how their brain works, and realized that they have been giving their brain the wrong messages and no wonder their brain isn’t working for them.

You are also struggling with a lot of repressed fear. (We all do until we start getting in touch with our own fear—for this read Chapter 10 in my book Depression is a Choice), or if you can’t get the book let me know and I can email you the chapter.
Also you mention problems with feeling crazy, withdrawn, stomach aches, migraines, etc. These are symptoms of the body’s natural reaction to stress and stress chemicals. Once you learn how to de-stress, and deal properly with normal anxiety, it will not escalate and you will not be so much bothered by these symptoms.

The main thing is to learn how your brain works so you can make it work for you instead of against you. You can read my book Brainswitch out of Depression, if you can get the book from amazon.com where you live, I don’t think you live in USA, do you? If you can’t get the book, no problem, you can go on my website and read a lot of helpful information there. www.depressionisachoice.com and letters from others who have suffered as you suffer.

You can also go to my blog http://mobyjane.blogspot.com and read letters from people like yourself who are struggling and how many of them have been able to turn it all around. Once you have looked at this information, and read these letters, and tried a few exercises to lessen stress and depression you can email me again with more specific questions. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Sir,

Thanks for your reply. I am from India & if possible please send me the Chapter 10 from your book Depression is a Choice. N. O.

Dear N. O.

Here is the Chapter. Have you read the blog and website? There is much information there and especially read the letters from other people. They will help you see that many stuggle as yourself, you are not alone. And many will inspire you with hope and help for your own situation. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Negativity is the "Default" Position of the Mind

Hi Mrs. Curtiss,

My name is D----- G------. A few years ago I read your book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE. It is the first book about depression that I have read that gave me hope. I resonated with your family history of depression. I recently got your book BRAIN SWIITCH. I have been doing the directed thinking. However, I have a few questions.

Did you relapse along the way before you were able to stay in that place of 'I am"? I call it 'I am' and I also wonder if when one gets identified with the place of 'I am' if it has an energy of its own? I experience low energy and high energy. But, does the place of 'I am' have an energy place of its own, that is a constant supply of energy without the energy being either high or low?? I hope I am making my questions clear.

I have been using the directed thinking. I have been moving my attention to the upper part of my brain (the thinking part, the neocortex) and then speaking to myself that "I am space and healing conciousness" or sometimes I just continually speak the name of Jesus over and over. I also sometimes use hippity-hop (I just love that HA!).

I seem to be just speaking about “I am” rather than moving into the place of “I am.” Did it take awhile for you to actually dis-identify from the depression identity to living in the “I am” identity???

I grew up in a family where my dad did all the ruling and I just obeyed. Now my will seems to be stuck in "I don't want to" to my detriment. Well, really I want to thank you for your books. They are excellent and mean much to me. My copy of DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE is well worn so much so it is now falling apart. I have high-lighted , colored, and written many notes in it. Well, thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, D. G.

Dear D. G.

I will try and answer your questions. I realize that, as an academic description, all these answers are not terribly helpful. But when you actually do the exercises, and become more observant about your emotions, then these answers will be more connected to some actual experience of your own and therefore may be of some help.

YOU ASKED: Did you relapse along the way before you were able to stay in that place of 'I am"? I call it 'I am' and I also wonder if when one gets identified with the place of 'I am' if it has an energy of its own?

MY ANSWER: Yes, at first I went back and forth from anxiety and depression to okayness like a see-saw. As I became more practiced with the exercises and formed new neural patterns in my brain that were more productive than the old depressive patterns, I was able to stay out of old habitual depressive and anxious patterns for longer and longer times as the new patterns became the “new norm.”

I never really thought of the place of essential okayness (which is what I call it) being the same as the place “I am.” But I can see where you might choose the “I am” place as being the place where you feel you are “finally okay.”

YOU ASKED: Does the “I am” place have an energy of its own?

MY ANSWER: Since you are using the “I am” place to describe your grounded center, as your arriving at your place of essential okayness, it would therefore have a pure energy that was not clouded over by fear. Usually our various states of being in anxiety or under stress have a more chaotic energy. There is a lot of energy but rather than us using the energy, the energy of these more anxious states are actually “using” us in that we head in emotional directions we really don’t want to go. The “I am” has an energy that is calm and tranquil, rather than either high or low energy that you experience in mania or depression. That’s why I call it, essential okayness.”

As you learn to insist upon turning away from depression and anxiety, the "I am" reveals itself more and more readily. I would say, rather than the “I am” having just an energy of its own, it also reveals itself as having an intention of its own which can help over-ride the mind's intention to think negatively.

YOU ASKED: Did it take awhile for you to actually dis-identify from the depression identity to living in the “I am” identity???

I still get pulled into the depressive thinking. But I no longer believe in it as some kind of reality so therefore, lacking a real belief in it, it is hard for me to self-identify with it as “my life” or “me” as I used to. I no longer succumb to it. When it occurs, I acknowledge it, and turn away from it to an exercise, or more productive thinking and behavior, concentrating on what I am doing or thinking and ignoring what I am feeling.

YOU ASKED: I seem to be just speaking about “I am” rather than moving into the place of “I am.”

MY ANSWER: I think this is because the “I am” is always there. You never lose your essential okayness, it’s just that your fear covers it over so that, concentrating on your fear, anxiety or depression, you are no longer “in touch” with the “I am.” When you turn away from your fear and anxiety, use some dumb exercise to stimulate the neural activity in the neocortex, you are able to reconnect with present reality. In a way the “I am” is an action, an ultimate intention, it is you connecting again with present reality where you are “essentially okay.”

YOU ASKED: Now my will seems to be stuck in "I don't want to" to my detriment.

MY ANSWER: Negativity is the “default” position of the mind because it is your psychological defense mechanism, always looking for problems. Also your psychological defense mechanism is an instinct, it triggers on its own. You don’t have to work at getting your subcortex to produce anger, or depression or fear. Any self-focus sooner or later triggers the fight or flight response and there you are, plunged into the emotional subcortex. It’s easy to be depressed.

The neocortex is different in that it is a later development of the brain, not an instinct, it is your higher reasoning faculty and doesn’t necessarily trigger on its own. It MAY trigger due to learned association (the way we automatically move from one thought to another), but to be sure it gets activated, you have to “will” your functioning from your neocortex. So it takes more effort. The easiest way to activate your neocortex is to give it some task (an exercise) or do any kind of non-emotional, objective thinking. This will get you out of the emotional, subjectivity of the subcortex, where all the anxiety is being produced. Then, situated from the neo-cortex, you have the opportunity to connect with present reality again. A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I've Been on Celexa for Depression--Can You Help Me?


My name is A---- and I somehow stumbled onto your website and I read just a few sentences and became extremely interested in your books. You sound like you really know what you are talking about, and it seems like sort of a relief because a lot of people now a days seem to just make stuff up as they go along, especially when it comes to anxiety and depression.

Anyways, I am going through a very difficult time in my life, I feel like my life has suddenly stopped and there is a wall in front of me that I can't seem to get rid of. I feel out of touch with reality and every day is a major obstacle for me to get through. It doesn't make sense to me because, before this "Wall" seemed to enter into my life, my life seemed somewhat a breeze and I actually enjoyed it.

Now I’m often thinking of death and feeling like my life is pointless and I would much rather give up then anything. I try to tell myself things will get better and this is just a phase and I will enjoy life again. But when I tell myself that, it seems like I'm lying to myself. It really just doesn't make sense to me. It's like my brain is telling me to not be happy, and I'm supposed to feel this way when, in "reality," I know it's all in my head or something. I really don't know.

My mother died in March 2007 she was 51 and it was very unexpected. She was my best friend. So my LIFE has literally been taken away from me, because she was my LIFE. In July 2007 my dad then passed away and the other part of my life was taken from me. I have been feeling symptoms of anxiety, (if that’s what they really are) ever since. Shortness of breath, dizzyness, hands sweating, heart pounding, head tingling, loss of concentration, being very forgetful, mind going blank, shaking and trembling...etc. I have been to the ER twice and had an evaluation at a psychiatric hospital, but they told me I didn't need hospitalization because I wasn't in danger of killing myself. I do have thoughts of it but I think I would be too scared to act on them.

I am now seeing a therapist 3 times a week, and I'm going to start seeing a psychiatrist for medication. My family doctor has prescribed me the anti-depressant generic of celexa and I have been on that for exactly one month today, and have noticed no change in my feelings or thoughts. I feel hopeless, and feel like I have nothing left to look forward to. I am nineteen, and feel as though my life is over. It's not fair. I used to love life. The constant thoughts I have in my head seem like a never ending circle and it exhausts me. I am desperate to find something to relieve me from this anxious, horrible nightmare that really feels like I'm living in a bad dream.

Well, I guess I am writing you my life story to try to see if you have any ideas that would work for me. Your thinking strategies really seem to make sense, but I'm not sure I quite know how to change my mindset, it seems really hard. I try to but it feels like it's never going to work, as much as I try, I still have the thought stuck in me that THIS WILL NEVER END. I also am curious where I can find your books. I would love to get them. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, A. M.

PS. I noticed you are in California. I was wondering if you do therapy and have any information on that you could give me...I reside in CA as well.
Dear A. M.

Dear A. M.

It seems you are going through a traumatic life phase. You could profit from knowing how your brain works stress-wise, and the chemistry of anxiety so that you won't be frightened by your body's natural reactions to stress chemicals—which are all the symptoms you have mentioned that you are now experiencing: shortness of breath, dizzyness, hands sweating, heart pounding, head tingling, loss of concentration, being very forgetful, mind going blank, shaking and trembling.

You are also going through the stress of losing your parents which is traumatic at any age. You might check out some bereavement groups, and not only receive some support from others who are experiencing loss of their loved ones, but you may be able to help others as well.

You can get my book “Brainswitch out of Depression” on amazon.com. Read this one first, although it's my second book. My first book “Depression is a Choice” is harder to read and although it is much cheaper on amazon.com it seems you may be too stressed at the moment for the philosophy of how you get out of anxiety, and are in more need of mind exercises and more reader-friendly info.

Later you can read “Depression is a Choice” when you have better learned how to stabilize your emotions so they won't be so distressing to you. This book is very good for making philosophical changes in the way you view your life. It is also good for getting in touch with repressed fear (especially chapter 10) and you can probably benefit from some info on repressed fear. Repressed fear is the raw materials of depression.

But right away you can get some immediate relief with simple mind exercises from the website to lessen your anxiety and depression Another book that might help you is: “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” by Claire Weeks which deals specifically with stress issues.

Millions of people have gone through similar traumatic life changes. Don't give up on yourself. You just need a little support and a lot of education about how your brain works so you won’t be frightened by disturbing thoughts that pop up and by your body's natural reaction to stress chemicals. I don't take private patients but I answer anybody's questions via email and I don't charge for this. You can write me anytime. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Thank you for the quick response. I will definitely get the books you have mentioned and will let you know how they work out for me. I am looking forward to reading them. Thanks again,
A. M.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I learned How to Get out of Depression and Shyness from Your Book

Dear Curtiss

I do not know how to thank you for the book I am reading--Brain Switch out of Depression. My life has changed since I started reading the book four years ago.

I understand now what depression is and why I felt depressed.

I used to be shy whole my life, and self focused among people when there were meeting or conversation with many people at once

Now I can talk and participate with people without self focus for most of the time.

I was feeling depressed for almost 15 years before I read your book. The best thing for me is the ways in the book to recognize depression.

My brother suffers the same symptoms and is also self focused. I am Arabic native speaker and I want to ask you if there is an Arabic translated book

All the best, F. K.

Dear F. K.

Thank you for your letter. I’m glad my book has been helpful to you. I’m sorry but there is no Arabic translation of the book. It is translated now in Russia, Japan, Lithuania, and Estonia, and my book Depression is a Choice is translated in Portugal. If you have any questions I will be glad to answer them. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Curtiss:

I was feeling great and smart in school and can remember everything easily when I started reading the book for about one to two months. But in later time I felt bad from time to another and hard to focus.

I think the more new exercises I read, the better. Maybe I need to read more new exercises. I do not know should I apply for graduate school because of this situation or not.

I have a child two years old seems have the same symptoms. what should I do in this case?

All the best

Dear F. K.

Just because you know how to do something isn't the same thing as doing it, over and over, until you make new neural patterns in your brain that you can count on. Just because you know how to exercise isn't the same thing as exercising every day. Now that you know some mind exercises which are good for depression you must use them over and over every time you get that little downer hint of depression until it becomes second nature. You don't wait to use the little exercises until you feel really depressed. You use the little exercises when you have just the smallest passing anxious thoughts, when you start worrying about little things, when you find yourself feeling annoyed or bored, or any negative thinking whatsoever. If you do this, and get better and better at catching yourself in the negative, then depression won't have a chance to get going.

Start being more aware of negative moods and use the exercises then. They work for heavy depression too, but catching depression earlier and earlier means you don't spend most of your life in the "grey" area, where you aren't horribly depressed but you don't feel real good about yourself either. You want to use the exercises to move you from "grey" to more productive thinking and activity which promotes good feelings of achievement and connection where you feel strong and capable instead of weak and incompetent.

A child of two isn't supposed to be able to concentrate on things. They develop habits of concentration over the next few years. If they seem unhappy, that means that they are being ignored and left to themselves too much without one one one inter-action with another adult. They should be distracted out of moods by you engaging with them in fun activities for them.

Two-year olds should be constantly in touch with a loving adult who is paying attention to them. Too much television time will rewire their brains and make them passive and uninterested in real life because they don't know how to interact, they have become passive. Passivity leads to "gray" area kinds of thinking. Even two-year olds need active, engaging, stimulating play ("work") which they can prove to themselves they know something, or can do something so they feel good about themselves and start to feel strong and capable. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Curtiss

My child two years old child I noticed him easily respond to negative words like when I say "NO," he gets upset. Also, he can easily repeat it.

"NO" is the first word he said. I started to avoid saying NO or any negative word to him because it stimulates his negative emotions easily.

And I noticed him that it’s hard for him to repeat "I love you" or any strong positive words.

I am starting to let him repeat and say "I love you," and I told his babysitter to start avoid saying any negative words to him. She said my baby is very sensitive sometimes, and anxious.

I think saying positive words will help him a lot by saying reasons of why he should avoid mistakes instead of saying "NO" or "STOP"

All the best.

Dear F. K.

Yes, the way to raise a fearful child is to constantly tell him STOP or NO. A child this young should be gently distracted from dangerous things and dangerous behavior. And you are right to change all the negatives into positives. Nothing good comes from the negative. The negative is just the absence of the positive. A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anti-depressants are no more Effective than Placebos says Newsweek (2/8/2010)

Here’s a quote from the cover article by Sharon Begley that states, in effect, that anti-depressants are no better than placebos. She bases most of her article on the work of researchers Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein. “The research had shown that antidepressants help about three quarters of people with depression who take them, a consistent finding that serves as the basis for the oft-repeated mantra "There is no question that the safety and efficacy of antidepressants rest on solid scientific evidence," as psychiatry professor Richard Friedman of Weill Cornell Medical College recently wrote in The New York Times. But ever since a seminal study in 1998, whose findings were reinforced by landmark research in The Journal of the American Medical Association last month, that evidence has come with a big asterisk. Yes, the drugs are effective, in that they lift depression in most patients. But that benefit is hardly more than what patients get when they, unknowingly and as part of a study, take a dummy pill—a placebo. As more and more scientists who study depression and the drugs that treat it are concluding, that suggests that antidepressants are basically expensive Tic Tacs…”

“The authors, psychology researchers Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein of the University of Connecticut, saw—as everyone else had—that patients did improve, often substantially, on SSRIs, tricyclics, and even MAO inhibitors, a class of antidepressants that dates from the 1950s. This improvement, demonstrated in scores of clinical trials, is the basis for the ubiquitous claim that antidepressants work. But when Kirsch compared the improvement in patients taking the drugs with the improvement in those taking dummy pills—clinical trials typically compare an experimental drug with a placebo—he saw that the difference was minuscule. Patients on a placebo improved about 75 percent as much as those on drugs. Put another way, three quarters of the benefit from antidepressants seems to be a placebo effect. "We wondered, what's going on?" recalls Kirsch, who is now at the University of Hull in England. "These are supposed to be wonder drugs and have huge effects."

Here’s the link to the full article:


I promptly fired off a Letter to the Editor of Newsweek with my opinion of the anti-depressant situation:

Here’s my letter:

Letter to the Editor: Newsweek Magazine

I’m a licensed, board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist who’s been crying in the wilderness for years over the lack of accurate information about depression. Neuroscience has all the answers for getting out of depression without drugs for anybody willing to look. Depression is not a brain disease. It’s an agonizing neural pattern formed in the brain by chronic over-reaction to stress. The pattern can be replaced, through the brain’s neuroplasticity, by a healthier pattern.

The key to change is: the process of pain perception. All pain and depression is produced in the subcortex. There’s no pain/depression in the neocortex. Signals, that pain/depression are being produced subcortically, must go up the brain, and not only be received, but be acknowledged in the neocortex before a human being can feel any pain/depression.

That’s why hypnosis works. And why football players can even break a bone and feel no pain when concentration on their game thoughtjams acknowledgment, in their neocortex, that pain’s being produced in their subcortex. One can “brainswitch” out of depression the same way.

Depression diagnoses are being more and more discredited. Drug companies, doctors, and maybe even the new DSM V will one day go on trial like tobacco companies, and be forced to defend their diagnoses with actual medical evidence. These diagnoses have never been based upon medical evidence. As far as I’m concerned, let the lawsuits begin!

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm Having These Panic Attacks


The reason that I'm writing you today is because I'm having these panic attacks, like the world closes in front of me, my vision goes down and I'll almost pass out, and my mind goes blank and it’s like I'm dreaming. Physically I'm home, but mentally I'm not. My mind is thinking about going crazy or dying. It takes a lot of time to recover from it. I know that there is a lot of anxiety but the problem is that I don't have the power to fight it. I feel so weak mentally, although physically I feel fine. And there is not that much pain like it was before. So what do you suggest? E. D.

Dear E. D.

The first thing to realize is that you are reacting to a bunch of stress chemicals that you have been generating in your brain because of the anxious thinking you have been doing. All human beings have the same body reaction to stress chemicals caused by anxious thinking: dizzyness, hard to breathe, head shaking, body shaking, sweating, and as breathing becomes more difficult you feel like you are dying because you are afraid you are losing the power to get your breath. And you feel like you're going crazy.

You are not going crazy. These are the normal human body’s reaction to stress chemicals and shallow breathing where you are not getting enough oxygen as tension causes your body to freeze making it harder and harder to breathe. The best way to get out of a panic attack is to do "belly breathing" for about 20 minutes. Lie down, put your hand on your belly and make sure that when you breathe in, the belly goes up and when you breathe out, the belly goes down. It helps sometimes if on the “out” breath, you force it to go out more. This makes the next intake of breath easier and helps to ease the panic that you're not getting enough air. Don’t think about anything else. If stressful thoughts pop up, just turn away from them and return to concentrating only on your breathing, in and out, in and out, watch your hand go up and down on your belly. This should help. Stress chemicals are very hard on the metabolic processes of the body and that is why you feel mentally weak. A. B. Curtiss

Hi again,

This whole thing started just in the middle of class one day. A bad feeling came over me, with the thought that why should I fight this much to achieve so many things. What's the point? And I felt that something went way from me, and there is no warmth in my heart for what ever I do. Some times I do get a good feeling for doing things, but it is just for a few seconds. Can you please give me an answer? Thank you. E. D.

Dear E. D.

The trouble for most human beings who are not feeling good, who are depressed, is that they have a lot of repressed fear that covers over their essential feelings of good will and energy to engage with life. If people could allow themselves to face their fear, allow it to surface, and let it finish, then they would recover their essential okayness. If you read Chapter ten of my book Depression is a Choice, this will explain this more fully. I think I remember that you have the book. But if not, it is only $2 or $3 on amazon.com

A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm Amazed at How you "Get it"

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Again, I'd like to thank you for such an uplifting book. I have gone through a few more chapters and I am simply amazed at how you "get it" when it comes to depression. If you don't mind, what’s your take on the Tom Cruise debate that occurred a while ago? I don't agree with his Scientology beliefs, yet I am glad to see someone finally speak out against Big Pharma. Also, have you ever read Andrew Solomon's "Noonday Demon"?

I have nearly every Tony Robbins book and CD out there, and to see him mentioned in your book is uplifting. Many people, I know, dismiss him as a showman, the informercial king, somewhere between the Flowbee and Carleton Sheets. Yet I've found some positive and great information in his stuff. Made me break it back out and go through it again.

Thanks for sharing your personal stories as well in the book. I've found similar parallels in my life, and having them explained by you has helped shed light on how I feel. To be honest, I'm actually looking forward to my next depressive episode so I can apply some of your techniques. Unfortunately, it looks like depression doesn't like to be "welcome," so it may be a while before I can give it a try. Tom

Dear Tom

Tony Robbins stuff is wonderful. He isn't that much of a creative thinker but has his own inspiring slant in the way he recycles ancient wisdom and the work of Emile Coue and Jose Silva, creator of Silva Mind Control. But that's the usual thing. Most creative thinkers are not great promoters and the ideas need to get out there in the line of sight where they can be helpful so we need the hucksters like Tony
Robbins who add their own inspiring message. We each have our own unique work to do in the world.

I agree with Tom Cruise although he doesn’t help the cause by jumping on sofas. L. Ron Hubbard was a genius and his “clear” technique is simply a further elaboration of Emile Coue’s work in hypnosis. Coue’s work goes way back to Mesmer in 18th C France, the creator of hypnosis, though they didn't call it that back then. Coue’s work is also the basis of Freud’s work as well, but Freud was too neurotic himself to really understand it, and he took it in another direction—psychoanalysis, which has never been successful although it became a real money maker. But of course Hubbard’s excellent techniques also have been corrupted into a money maker. Too Bad. Anybody can use the “clear” techniques, however, without having to resort to Scientology per se. All these ideas have been around for a long time and they continue to be picked up and carried on, each of us adding our unique perception to what has gone before.

I have read Noonday Demon. My opinion? A bit whiny with another big bow to anti-depressants. Of course his family comes from Big Pharma so there was a lot of money behind his book to promote the pharmaceutical industry. His book is much like Kay Redfield Jamison's work. Same whine, same savior. Of course, the writing in both these books is excellent. And they describe the agony of depression in a profound way. But they don't seem to know a thing about how their own brain works and both basically have decided to surrender helplessly to their own minds. I would rather see mediocre writing describing the joy of how you get out of depression instead Pulitzer Prize poetry about the agony of how you have to live with it. A. B. Curtiss

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