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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm Struggling with Overwhelming Anxieties for the Past Four Hours

Dear A.B.,

Can you please kindly provide some words of encouragements? I'm really struggling with overwhelming anxieties for the past 4 hrs. I went into volunteer at N____that Ive been going in from this week, simple database entries and I've kept trying to REALLY focus on what I'm doing despite all the negative thoughts coming up such as... Am I really going to be ok going back to work like this?

Am I doomed for life with this? I keep just dismissing the thoughts and feelings saying "you don't have any power over me, I'm going to prevail" and trying really hard to ignore this and carry on with what I'm doing. But it's like a pain I feel in the chest area that is constantly there. I keep thinking of your story when you say you hit rock bottom and hung on to "green frog." If you could give me some encouragements to get through today, I would be so grateful. I'm going home (its 1pm here) and planning to read your book to see if any other exercises I can succeed with,then carry on with chores. Very grateful for the correspondence. Y___

Dear Y

You are the "Master of your fate and the Captain of your Soul." You are more than your brain. You are more than your mind. Let your depression alone and let it go by simply heading somewhere else, away from it. Yes, it is there. But you can go somewhere else. But to go somewhere else you have to INTEND to do it. Anxious worry or panic attacks can be alleviated by twenty minutes of concentrating on belly breathing. Put your hand on your belly and when you take a breath in watch the hand go up, when you let a breath out watch your hand go down. With each breath out let go a little more of your anxiety, just let it go. CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BREATH. When you feel this way at work use a mind exercise. CHOOSE one to use-- Hippity Hop, or Green Frog, or 1 ,2 3,4 over and over and then direct your mind to your task. Do not be the child of your mind. Be the adult of your mind. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.
Thank you so much for your encouragements! I'm so grateful and did much better for the rest of the day. I also love the phrase from Invictus. I will surely prevail. Y_________

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Computer will be down for three days

Neuroplasticity and Anti-depressants

Dear A.B.Curtiss,

Thank you very much for your reply. I'm so grateful for the insight and encouragement you continue to provide.

If I understand you well, staying on medication for now will not have any effect on the neuroplasticity of the brain, so new thought patterns and positive neuro path ways can still develop with or without medication. Is that correct?

If that is the case, I will wait until I feel more confident about my ability to get out of depression.

As I'm paying increasing attention to every thought I have, I am now noticing how for so long I have been engaged in negative thoughts even when not depressed and how it has become so dominant -- no wonder I've crumbled to such debilitating depression periodically.

Thank you very much for your encouragements--it touches me deeply as I struggle in the course of going in the right direction. I pray that the 'someday' will come very soon. Y_______

Dear Y________
Yes, your medication cannot prevent you from changing your thinking and behavior and thus your brain.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I've been on Effexor ER 100mg for Depression

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

I've been re-reading many past blog entries which have been helping me tremendously.I starting to really question myself being on Anti-depressants. I've been on Effexor ER 100mg(which is not a high amount)for the past 5 months and 35mg which is really a minimum dosage for the past two yrs after I recovered from my last bout of depression that lasted me a year. Prior to that I was on Zoloft for a while--so Ive pretty much been on anti-depressants for the past 10 yrs--just the dosage level changed depending on if depression was full blown or not. And yes, Ive been told by the medical community--from various ones in various countries that with my long history of debilitating depression,I need to always stay on them. But the more I read about your writings and teachings,the more I want to get off of them.

But I wonder if it's too soon to tamper with medication usage when I'm due to go back to work in a week,and I'm still suffering depression and anxiety--though making progress.

I know you don't usually comment on medication usage decisions,and that I would have to make my own decision for that.I was just reading a past blog entry where you share about the post-fire victim group of women that were all but one put on medication, and 5 yrs on, all those on meds were still not doing well.I need to weigh out the pros and cons of coming off the meds before my depression gets better.

If I'm currently working on brainswitching, does coming off of the meds now have an effect on the effectiveness of using brainswitching and ultimately getting over depression?I do ultimately want to get off the meds it's just the timing issue.I was just alerted to see hear that the post fire victim group people were worse off being on meds.If I use brainswitching and acknowledge that it is a self responsibility recovery,do staying on meds still make me worse off?I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on this. Y__________

Dear Y_______

The reason I can't comment on whether you should get off your medication is that I don't know anything about medication. Many people have just quit taking anti-depressants after reading my books and have done fine. But that doesn't mean I would recommend getting off your medication without conferring with your doctor.

However, that said, if you continue with the exercises and new thinking and behavior patterns you will be changing your brain with or without medication. Medication can't prevent you from doing better thinking and practicing better behavior. Someday you will feel more self-confident about your ability to get out of depression any time it comes over you. Then you will no longer fear depression. It will no longer be all that important to you whether you get depressed or not because, what difference does depression make when you can immediately get out of it.

Someday depression will not have any power over your life and what decisions you make. Just keep going in the right direction with Brainswitching and someday when you look back, depression will simply be unimportant in the context of how you live your life. You will be living your life and depression will be a small, temporary
bump in the road, of little significance, more like a splinter (Ouch! Better take care of this) than an overwhelming outside force controlling your whole existence. Notice that when people get a splinter they don't totally succumb to it and totally identify with it. They A splinter, they don't say I'm splintered, like they say MY depression and I'm depressed.

I just thought of something. I used to say all the time to myself "I feel so terrible, I'm so depressed." I never say that to myself anymore. When depression hits I say to myself "OUCH! This sucks. Better do an exercise and get busy with something right away." And I never give depression another thought. Depression can't exist unless you THINK IT. A. B.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Still More on Decision Making

I don’t know whether relating these two stories will be of any help to anybody, and they certainly don’t help my image as a wise person. But in the hopes that someone can profit from my mistakes, here goes.

Sometimes our decision-making fails when we are not clear about planning ahead. When we don’t spend enough time trying to find out what our dreams really are. We are not likely to make good decisions if our whole life is chaotic and we are constantly changing direction and second guessing ourselves. Often we can get a clue about where we should be directing our efforts from what our dreams were before we became teenagers. Were we interested in art? Music? Writing? Selling stuff? Fiddling with machines?

Sometimes we make foolish decisions because we don’t really know the difference between and plunge and a plan. I used to be a good example of this last one—plunging into something.

During those days when I was still not quite over my manic depression. I had pretty much figured out the depression, but was still not in touch with my mania. I didn’t really have a firm foundation for how I made decisions because my whole life was chaotic.

I remember one decision that had me going for days. I was very busy at the time. I had several booths in two antique malls. I was counseling 8 hours a day and was in charge of woman’s clinic. Someone told me about a store for rent in a nearby city, about half an hour away. Already I was stretched to the limit, time-wise.
I called the real estate agent and met at the store. It was lovely. And the real estate agent said the former owner was leaving a huge display case that ran along one of the side walls. I said okay, I want to rent it.

We agreed to meet in a week and I would sign the contract for the rental. The day arrived and I went to meet the agent and sign the contract. For the whole week I was really questioning myself as to what the heck I was doing. But I LOVED the idea of having my own store and not just some booths in a mall. This seemed like a great opportunity since it was all set up and I could just move my stuff in.

On the appointed day I went to meet the agent at the new shop. Well, I opened the door and the first thing I noticed was that the room was completely empty. There was no large display case along one wall. I didn’t realize that I was kind of mesmerized by the other person’s store. It looked so easy when it was all done. But that’s not what I was renting. I wasn’t renting a store. I was renting four bare walls and a floor.

“I thought the display case was included,” I said to the agent.

“No, the last renter decided to take it after all.”

“Oh, I said. Then I am not interested in signing a lease. Thanks anyway.”

That was it. There was no agonizing about getting my own display case. No “should I or should I not.” That missing display case was perhaps not important in the whole scheme of things. But it was just enough to give me a good HIT on the head to question myself as to the reasonableness of what I was about to do. I drove home a most relieved ex-antique store owner.

Of course I still didn’t learn my lesson and shortly thereafter actually rented a store in my own town. I painted and plastered, bought display cases, hired two workers, put an ad in the paper. Two weeks after opening I received a 2 inch thick bunch of papers that I had to fill out—all about taxes for employees, business taxes, city taxes, state taxes, federal taxes. I sat down on the floor in a state of shock.

I didn’t envision all this work, all this responsibility. I just saw myself smiling and greeting people coming into the store where I would grandly show them around. I could see that I wanted the image and glamor of owning a store rather than the hard work of operating a store. This was quite different from my writing, for instance. Being an author to me is nice. But the real joy is in the actual writing down of the words.

Funny thing about that store, too. I had called the real estate agent several times to sign the contract and she never showed up, so although I had opened, I still hadn’t signed the contract. Again. the stack of forms was rather small in the whole scheme of things but enough to throw cold water on my pipe dream so I could at last question what the heck was I doing. Sometimes reality will send us little clues like that. We should not ignore them. Rather than another obstacle to overcome, they are really a life raft for us to save ourselves from the sure disaster of a terrible decision.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Should I Read Your Books as Well to Support My Wife?

Dear A. B.Curtiss

Thank you for responding so quickly. Currently my wife is undergoing therapy sessions and has tried different medications. The current medication has had an effect positively but it is not enough for her to feel the change but I am able to see it.

We have not read any of your books, she is not doing any mind exercises and I stumbled upon your site by doing a google search. We have ordered the books on Amazon though and anticipate it arriving this week.

The reason I am emailing instead of my wife is because I have done the search and just happened to email you. However, I did read your response to her and she is willing to read the book. I have always felt that the body is a "self healer" and that diet, exercise and meditation of some sorts could heal anything in the body. Thank you for offering coaching tips for the book and for being willing to help people overcome something as serious as depression. I look forward to being in touch in the near future and I "bless" you for all that you are doing.
By the way, which book do you suggest that my wife reads first, of your two on depression and do you suggest that I read them as well to help support her. Thanks again! J________

Dear J_______

The major use of these medications that psychiatry mandates for supposedly "mentally ill" patients is to blunt their emotional affect and behavior so they are less trouble for other people. These drugs don't do the patients that much good. This is why you see a difference and your wife does not.

Several years ago I was contacted to help organize the training of patients who have been languishing in mental hospitals for years, heavily medicated, but the insurance finally ran out and the hospitals are trying to get rid of them. In a last ditch effort to do something worthwhile they wanted me to give them a crash six-week course in coping mechanisms so they could "make it" in the real world. Why didn't the hospitals teach these coping mechanisms? Was it that they didn't know how or was it just easier and more cost effective to hand out medication? I felt bad for the patients about to be let go, but I felt that cleaning up after the hospitals wasn’t a good way to change the system.

As for which book to start with, it depends upon your wife's personality. Let me explain. If she is a book person and reads a lot, perhaps Depression is a Choice might appeal to her as it is the philosophy of how to get out of depression. It is a psychological autobiography of my journey out of manic depression. My early foolishness and suffering, my slow learning and educating myself, and my ultimate victory. On my website is a review translating my philosophical terms into Christian terms. The article is called "Biblical Exegesis."

Brainswitch out of Depression is a synthesis of the information in the first book in a more user-friendly how-to kind of fashion and I label it the neuroscience of how to get out of depression.

I recommend that you read the books as well in order to support your wife. A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Knowledge of How Our Own Brain Works Can Get us Out of Depression

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Good afternoon to you. My wife and I live in ____________ and have currently been undergoing sessions to treat her depression. I was wondering if there are sessions available with you to be taught the practices mentioned in your book. Please be in touch to let me know. I look forward to hearing from you. J________________

Dear J_______________

I don't take private patients anymore. However I answer any questions via email as people are struggling to put to practice the ideas in the two books, Depression is a Choice and Brainswitch out of Depression. I do not charge for this. Once you know how your brain works, and start putting the ideas based on neuroplasticity and the process of pain perception into practice you should be able to do this on your own with some coaching on the sidelines via email when you run into a snag. It is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of courage and perseverance, but it can be done no other way.

What is your wife currently doing to get out of depression?

What mind exercises is she using?

Has she read the letters in my blog http:/MobyJane.blogspot.com/ These might prove helpful.

Has she read both books and feels she understands where her depression is produced and how she can do mind exercises to block the acknowledgment in the neocortex that depression is being produced in the subcortex long enough for the chemical balance to right itself? Have you read both books yourself so you know how to support her efforts? Do you have any questions about any of the information in the books?

No one can do this for your wife. The depression is produced in her brain, by her own thinking, and it is her brain and her new thinking only that can get her out of it. Drugs generally have not proved to be much help because they provide no coping mechanism whereby you can use the brain's natural plasticity to change your brain. Drugs may even make it worse and many people have committed suicide while on such medication. The cover story in Newsweek Magazine earlier this year showed how the latest research proves that anti-depressants are no more helpful than placebos.

Your wife can email me anytime. I'm also wondering how come you are emailing me instead of your wife? We all need help and compassion now and then when we come to a stopping point in our lives, but if you have depression, it is not the time to hang back, hide under the covers, and do nothing. It is time to get about the business of getting out of depression.

Of course you won't feel like doing anything to help yourself. Depression deprives us of all motivation, but it does not deprive us of our will, nor our duty to ourselves and to our family to learn how to be cheerful, and how to re-engage with life, whether we are depressed or not. So, we must provide the missing motivation by our earnest commitment to moving forward and doing something about the way we have been using our brain. Usually what is the case is that we are letting our brain just go its own way with no management or proper direction on our part.

I have found that counseling sessions are basically a waste of time with the psychologist doing all the work, having all the good lines, and the patient learning how to be even more dependent and continuing to be encouraged in the belief that they are the helpless and unwitting victim of their own brain .

Telling the same old stories over and over are not helpful. Listening to the same advice over and over is not helpful either. There is nothing more useless than the answer to a question we have not yet asked. We need new stories of what we are currently doing to help ourselves, not a running inventory on how desperate we feel. We need new thinking and actual practice in getting out of depression since we have had all the practice we need in getting into depression.

As you probably already know, I am a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist, diplomate of the board--psychology. I have found that very few psychologists have ever heard of the process of pain perception and what is has to do with getting out of depression. Your wife needs knowledge about how her brain works, and practice in using this knowledge to manage her thinking, not more counseling sessions. I'm afraid I'm sounding harsh. But depression is such serious business. Not to be fooled around with. I know how painful it is to be depressed but it is self-caused pain and we don't have to do it because we can learn how not to do it anymore.

I'm going to post this letter on my blog, editing for privacy because it may help someone else as well. Certainly if your wife begins on a journey to get out of depression her own experiences and subsequent insights may be a guide for others as well. I will be glad to answer any questions you have. A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Have Shared Great Wisdom to Live By

Dear Ms. Curtiss:

I had the great pleasure of meeting you and I purchased two of your books: In the Company of Bears and Time of the Wild, which you graciously autographed for me. I have since read both the books a few times and wanted to express to you just how enjoyable I found them to be. I am especially fond of Time of the Wild! You have shared great wisdom to live by in both books and done so in absolutely beautiful prose. I will cherish these books and share your great insights with my friends and family. Thank you!

Constance Knapp

Dear Ms. Knapp,

Thank you so much for your letter I really appreciate it so much. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, August 20, 2010

More on Decision Making

Someone left a comment yesterday about decision making--how hard it was to decide between two options on the basis of which option was based on fear and which option was based on love of something because they could usually make a case for either side being out of love for something.

Like the question about should I leave my abusive boyfriend because I really love him even though he beats me up occasionally. Do you really love him, or are you afraid to be alone, and fear there is no one else who will be attracted to you.

It is difficult. One thing to remember is that there is a difference between wisdom and truth. Truth is an absolute, infinite. It cannot be reached through the reasoning process as Joel Goldsmith warned in his book "The Infinite Way." Why? Because the mind is finite. Wisdom however may be attained by judgment and reasoning. At some point I think it is probably true that when one is wise enough, and has struggled hard enough to do what is best, truth will reveal itself in the way of some small guidepost to indicate the way we should go.

I was waiting in the post office line and wondering if I should continue to wait or proceed to my booksigning. I was concerned I was going to be late. Should I stay in the line out of love of getting the package mailed or leave the line out of fear of being late for my booksigning. I reasoned that uppermost was fear of being late, so I should stay. Then I looked again at my watch, judged the line and noticed how involved the transactions were at the counter, and the number of packages, and thought, this is ridiculous, if I insist on mailing this package I can be REALLY late and I can mail the package afterwards. Love of being on time intruded and took precedence over love of getting the package mailed. I left for booksigning. At some point reality intrudes (truth reveals itself) and points us forward out of our philosophical quandary.

It may seem that two wise things may contradict each other. For instance, in the "Desiderata," which I think is a very profound piece, back to back are these two things which seem to be opposites--"listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story" and "Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit." How can you both avoid people and listen to them.

They are not really opposites. They are two different principles, two different lenses through which we can see the human condition. A case certainly can be made that we should avoid people that cause us stress because they are hard to be with. On the other hand, listening to people that cause us stress may help us understand some small truth that we otherwise would not come across. Sometimes one principle (for the love of which you are basing your decision) may be more appropriate to apply to a situation than another principle. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Anatomy of a Decision

I had a couple of small incidents while booksigning that I thought might make a simple illustration of what I mean by making a decision out of love for something and not out of fear of something. Very often it is not such an easy thing to figure out if you are doing something out of love or fear. These two incidents were so small that it was easy to see the difference but, being so simple, perhaps it illustrates the process of decision making better than a more complicated situation
The first incident was that my daughter and her four daughters were coming on Saturday night. I was babysitting while my daughter met with some old schoolmates. Although I had a booksigning scheduled for Sunday I thought about coming in late so we could have a nice leisurely breakfast.

Should I come in late or not?. I asked myself, “would coming in early be out of love of booksigning? No, not really. Spending the time with my daughter and my grandchildren was much more inviting to me than booksigning. And I had no real obligation to the bookstore as the time was to be “sometime that day.” So staying home and having a leisurely breakfast would be out of love for my family, and coming in at the earlier time to the store would be out of fear I wouldn’t sign enough books for the day. So that decision was clear-cut.

At another booksigning I parked my car and was approaching the bookstore when I realized I had left my cell phone in the car. Without really thinking too hard I quickly decided I didn’t want to take time out and go back since I had parked about ten minutes away and I had walked already half way and I didn’t want to lose the time. So without thinking too hard I made a decision totally out of fear of something. Fear I would lose too much time. And of course, like any decision made out of fear, it didn’t go well.

About an hour later, after I started booksigning, I thought that my cell phone might be damaged by the heat. And this time I did the little exercise. If I were to go back now it would take me twice as long and I would lose 20 minutes of booksigning. Was I going back to get the cell phone out of fear it would be damaged? Or was I NOT going back for the cell phone for fear I would not sign enough books? Any decision made out of fear of something, remember, never turns out to be appropriate in some way.

So where did the love of something come in as concerns going back for my cell phone?
I decided that fear of property damage was a legitimate fear that called for a sense of responsibility. Therefore going back for my cell phone was an action based on the love of my cell phone, or love of responsibility for my cell phone, either one works. And not going back for my cell phone was based on the fear that I would lose too much time signing books A. B. Curtiss.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Should I Avoid Going Back to Work if I'm Still Depressed?

Dear A.B.

I have been working on brainswitching and also filling my days with activities and not staying in bed since I last wrote to you - except for a few days I was out with food poisoning. Some few days I feel okay, but many days are still very challenging and I even think of death- though I catch myself right away and say "not an option", so I am prevailing. I'm due to go back to work in two weeks - which would make it 3 months off work.

I know there was a similar question on your blog recently, but I wonder if I'm well enough to go back to work when I'm still unstable and haven't mastered brainswitching yet. On one hand, it will give me something to do, feel connected to society and I feel that it will help away from the self-focus and aid in my recovery. On the other hand, I fear if I'll be able to sustain the work pressure and fear that my condition may worsen. I really cannot afford to have another breakdown and not be able to work once i go back. It's happenned too many times in the past with work, and i feel this is my ladt chance. But the thought of more time off and too much time on hand is also a frightening thought. I would be grateful for your advise.
Kindest regards, Y

Dear A.B.

I have been working on brainswitching and also filling my days with activities and not staying in bed since I last wrote to you - except for a many days are still very challenging and I even think of death- though I catch myself right away and say "not an option", so I am prevailing. I'm due to go back to work in a few weeks - which would make it several months off work. Y________

Dear Y_____

The decision to go back to work is yours to make. I have only a few comments other than the fact that perhaps it is time to rejoin the workaday world and it would give you a ongoing healthy schedule and routine that would leave less time for self-focus.

Whenever you decide to go back to work, concentrate on what you are doing, avoid all thinking about how you are feeling. Everytime you start questioning how you feel, immediately stop, and refocus on what you are doing.

Any decision should be made on the basis of the love of something rather than the fear of something. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Y_____

Thank you very much for your reply and advice. I, too, think that it's probably better to go back for the healthy schedule and routine that work will provide. So I'm glad to hear your views as well. Well noted on the concetration factor on anything I'm doing at work. I really feel it will air dramatically in my recovery. Thank you again!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bragging About Being Humble Again?

Continuing yesterday's idea about rededicating to principles that we have decided to live by. The reason I thought about rededicating myself is that I disappointed myself in my interaction with somebody. When the conversation was over I wanted to take back one or two things I had said, and wished I had said something else. They not only weren't terribly generous. I realized I said things that made me look good. I hate that. I hate it when I say things that obviously make me look good. Why do I do that? I'll probably still be trying to prove myself when I'm 90.

So instead of continuing to beat myself up, I hung out with the idea that well, at least I caught myself "after the fact." Maybe next time I'll catch myself "in the act" of trying to look good and pull back. Wouldn't it be nice if I were more humble and compassionate. But then, even if I achieve more humility, I'll probably have to let somebody know about it. Sometimes I really could just kick myself. It is really hard to be a good human being. There just isn't any way to do it all right. There's always something more to learn. Oh, well.

Speaking of the phrase "Oh, well" reminds me of something that happened four of five years ago. I had the most interesting encounter with a perfect stranger on a hiking trail once. A man asked if he could take my picture. I said sure. And later on, down the path, while I was waiting for my husband ( he took the longer route and I turned back earlier) the same man happened by and he was waiting for his wife. We started talking and, you know me, sooner or later we got into a discussion about depression.

He said his wife had struggled with depression for years, medication didn't work. And finally, she stopped all her therapy and medication and every time depression started up, she said to herself, "So, what." (This happened several years ago and sometimes I forget if the phrase was "So what" or "Oh well," but it doesn't matter the idea is the same) The man couldn't understand that such a simple thing cured his wife's depression and he said he was always waiting "for the other shoe to drop" worrying it would come back. When I explained brainswitching to him he was very grateful. He said he had no idea why he took my picture (I was in my grubby hiking clothes and old black hat an nobody would ever mistake me for a model) but something told him to do it. And now he knew it was so he could show the picture to his wife and tell her about our conversation. Isn't that strange? Life surely is a mystery. A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Depression is an Every Day Matter of Rededication

I realized today that I must rededicate myself, every single day, to those human qualities that I prize. I'm never going to be "finished" in that I never will be completely honest, rational, humble, gracious, "right," loving, spiritual, self-understanding, mature, patient, grateful, emotionally secure. My efforts to keep myself moving in the right direction of these psychological and spiritual qualities are the same as my efforts to keep myself physically fit by exercising and eating properly. I can't ever consider myself "done" with exercising my physical body. I don't know why I never thought before that I'm not done working on those other things as well.

Sometimes it's downright discouraging to think you'll never finish. But then, what would we do as a "finished" person. Who the heck would want to hang out with us?

It reminds me of an old story I read somewhere about perfect grammar. We all know it's correct to say "It is I" rather than "It's me." But someone once said, If I heard a knock on my door and asked, "Who is it?" and they answered, "It's I" instead of "It's me," I wouldn't let them in. Intimating that who the heck wants to spend time with somebody so perfect. At some point I guess perfect becomes boring.

Depression is the same. Would you really like to be close friends with someone who was 100% happy all the time? Yuk, how boring. We're never going to be "finished" with depression. It wouldn't be natural. We have to make the choices every day that lead us away from it. But the possibility that it exists adds value and depth to our lives. It's another thing that reminds us that we need each other.

That doesn't mean we should be content with being in agony with depression. We want to get out of the pain of depression as soon as we can. But being emotionally balanced is like being physically fit. We're never finished balancing. Just like physical exercise of our body, mental exercise of our mind needs to be a continuing effort if we are to be emotionally fit.
A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brain's Neurplasticity Capabilities

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Today I googled cyclic depression as I was rallying from a most depressive week, and I found your website. I have forwarded it to my psychotherapist and psychiatrist. I am in my fifties and was diagnosed as having mild bipolar spectrum disorder. I have chosen not to take any psycho-trophic pharmaceuticals. I do take about 3,500mg of fatty acids daily. In January I plan to start a nutritional supplement .

I think your ideas are quite intriguing. I am grateful that our brain has neuroplasticity capabilities. I am now ready to work on ways to help myself the next time the despairing darkness of depression clouds my mind.

Thank you for your good efforts. D__________

Dear D___________

Thanks for your letter. Many psychotherapists and psychiatrists recommend both my books for their patients to help with self recovery. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Am Interested in Knowledge of the Human Mind

My name is G_________, and for a good while I struggled with the realities and threats that were around me. After a while I came to a decision, that it was foolish to wallow in depression and that the human mind was not meant to be wasted on thought like that. Unlike how you described your ascent from depression, mine started as an epiphany that I had to build on to find answers.

The answers that I came to, through much intensive thought and analysis of myself, other people, and general reaction, are written almost verbatim in your texts, and thus I am highly interested in any other knowledge/theories at all relating to the human mind that you would be willing to send to me.

Just from what I have read, I hold strong respect for your intelligence, and I almost feel like I'm supposed to contact you to learn the things I could not figure out on my own (yet at least). Read and respond if you have time, thank you.

Dear G_____

Thank you so much for your letter. I don't really know how to respond to your request for knowledge/theories relating to the human mind. If you have any questions I'll be glad to answer them.A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Well, I've thought about the best way to narrow down what I've been wondering about, and here is what I have come up with:

Depression can be caused by chemical imbalances, various stimuli and threats around people, and their own mind (mainly combinations thereof). I was wondering about the limits of the human mind regarding the creation of a "false" state (like how you would use routine to fall asleep, and to take your mind off of your past depression). I know that I can control what I dream about by focusing my last conscious thought (this took a year for me to do consistently), and I also know the fact that my better dreams are in color while my nightmares are in black or white. I don't see a problem with myself really, I've just wondered for the longest time how powerfully the mind can induce a state that is, well, purely mental.

I've also come to the assumption that the human mind naturally thinks methodically outside of volatile situations, thus relating routine to causing mental changes otherwise unrelated except through routine. I'm wondering how key the routine is in all of this, or if someone theoretically could fully believe something as truth (while knowing it was not), just by changing a mind state without a subconscious trigger. I'm not even sure if all of this makes sense or not from a reading standpoint, anything unclear I would be more than happy to reword later. Thank you for your time, once again.

P.S. I have many ideas of the human mind, but I have no college or high school classes specifically trained in psychology so I don't have all the terminology at my disposal, thus making explaniations of my more complicated queries somewhat tougher. G__________

Dear G__________

Thank you for your letter. Have you read my book Brainswitch out of Depression. In it I discuss at length how the brain gets from one thought to another. How thought patterns are formed. You can fall asleep even though depressed because the pain of depression is all produced in the subcortex but you can't feel the pain until the signals go up the brain to the neocortex where they must be not only received but acknowledged. This process is called the process of pain perception. This is why some players can break a bone during a football game and never feel any pain until the game is over because the neocortical concentration on the game blocks the signals from the subcortex that pain is being produced there and thus they are not alerted to the pain of their injury. This is how hypnosis works.

This acknowledgment is usually beneath one's level of awareness but regardless, since a human being can only think one thought at a time, you can block the thought in the neocortex that pain signals are being received from the depression in the subcortex and thus separate the idea that you are depressed from one part of the brain to another. If you think nonsense or non-emotional thoughts which stimulate the neurons in the neocortex and withdraw neural activity from the subcortex you can bore your neocortex with repetition and thus fall asleep. Better than Ambien. As far as state of mind.

There are two modes for the body to be in, the sympathetic or the parasympathetic mode. The sympathetic mode is the body in a state of alarm where the fight or flight response has been triggered and stress chemicals flood the body to prepare the body for immediate action. The parasympathetic is the body’s unstressed state, where the body is at rest.A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

I have not yet read your book, which for the record I have complete intention of buying and reading from what I have seen so far. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and if I come up with any others I will ask you when I think of them.

Today, me and my friends were roughhousing (as you would expect when you pin 3 18 year olds in a room) Then, things simply got stupid as I was slammed in the hand with a wooden sword (a rectangular surface on all sides, but the corner slammed my hand). Honestly, it was a very very painful injury, to the point that I am typing this with one hand. I still believe that it is worth it, though, because I was able to combine both the things I knew and some of the techniques you described to reduce the pain, or at the very least the focus I would have spent on it. That is something I think is worth mentioning. G________

Dear G________
Good for you. It is a test of strength of character when you can access your rational mind while in pain or distress. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Here's what I meant in my initial E-mail, I guess, in the best possible wording I have:

I would think that there are things that you are still uncertain about in the field of psychology and the human mind, and though I don't have a degree or anything like that I still feel that I have knowledge beyond the average human in regards to how people behave generally. I was wondering about theories in general to see if they coincided with my own, and because even if they disagree with what I think, it's good to have diverging opinions. And just MAYBE I can help you find a hard to find answer that you could only theorize toward (which I would only be theorizing in return but still). Honestly it's like I want to know what you don't, if that makes sense. It may not be possible to answer something so ambiguous but this is one thing that was meant in my first email. G__________

Dear G.

It seems to me that every person, at some level, knows the answer to life. Every person is born with the capacity to know the truth even though they may not be able to communicate it to others. And often, too many things distract our attention and get in the way of that truth, so it is a matter of fate or Grace when we can look through our "stuff" to the truth of things. But whether we see the truth on Tuesday or Wednesday, the important thing is that, ultimately, all human beings get to the truth. It's not a race. It's a path. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

I agree with what you said. The only way, however, to understand your own answers (in my opinion) is to have other answers to compare them to. Everyone can find their own answers and accept them, its something I devote a lot of time to. However, I think the only way to understand things better is to understand the differences in understanding instead of leaving them out of the equation. This is one of the major reasons I always try to compare notes with everyone else. Having a lot of different opinions helps me to clarify my own thoughts, and sometimes I think someone else's answer is more correct than mine. I trust in what I think, more than maybe is even good for me, but sometimes other answers just make more sense to me than even my own. This is why I keep my ears open, and sometimes actively seek others' input. G________

Dear G________

What you are saying sounds like a good idea. A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Overcoming this Scourge of My Life

Greetings Ms. Curtiss-

As a long time sufferer of high anxiety and depression, I sit on my Lazy-Boy on a cold Michigan Sunday afternoon with a twinge of hope that your work may be among the keys to getting out of this latest round of depression and anxiety. I stumbled upon your work on the internet and began to read chapter 1 among other points from the website. I am going to buy and read your book starting tomorrow and look forward to the insights that I will garner to help me to get this thing back into proper perspective.

I will keep you posted on progress.

Thanking you in advance for what I feel will be very helpful in overcoming this scourge of life

All the best-M

Dear M_________

I'll be glad to answer any specific questions you have as you read the book. You are not alone, as you know. A.B. Curtiss

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Isn't It All Right to Stay in Bed Once a Week If you are Depleted?

This is a continuation of correspondence from Sunday August 8

Dear A.B.

I'm not sure exactly how your classmate felt, but to me it did feel like "survival of the fittest" type response, that if I don't get my act together, I won't ever get out of depression and "make" it in life - that life is a tough place -- which was quite frightening when you find yourself often debilitated somehow by this chemical imbalance and struggling to make the switches work.

Every depression and symptoms are different, some can function and be productive on the surface like you seem to do ( marriage, family, career ), and some , like me, just don’t have the strength to fight the forces of depression to even have a life outside of depression --at the moment. But as your professor said, "And that can change.". And that was very powerful to hear.

What I’m finding that my energy level gets depleted with keeping active, attempts at brainswitching, that maybe once a week, I just need to stay in bed and do nothing. The more I push myself, which I do currently have to do, the more fatigue : physical and mental gets to me. Is this okay to relax In bed - although inactivity does breed negative thoughts. Y__________

Dear Y_______

It is my personal opinion that if you get a good night's sleep then you should get up and get going when morning comes and stick to some regular schedule of morning chores like making your bed, doing some exercises, getting groomed and dressed for the day, and bringing some order to your environment, etc.

If you don't feel real peppy, you can move slowly through the day and cut yourself some slack as to what you actually accomplish. But "taking to one's bed" can become a place to hide from oneself and what is really going on, and can become a bad habit. It's better to live as normal a life as possible, in step with the rest of humanity, and this doesn't usually include staying in bed once a week. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A.B.

It makes a lot of sense that it does become a bad habit, and that it's important to go along with the rest of society/humanity. Thank you always for your precious time and advice of wisdom.

With infinite gratitude, Y_______

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Should I Wait to Start Work Until my Social Skills Improve?

Dear A. B.

In fact , I found a job meeting customers, but I am not willing to go ahead and work. All this because meeting people will causes me lots of stress and then imbalance brain chemistry. I do not know what to do in this case. Please advise me. Should I start work or should I wait more time till I feel very good and then start working? R_________
Dear R_____________

You should start working and use your courage to meet people. When you feel nervous, say to yourself, "I am doing the best I can at the moment, even though I shake and stumble around. I must have courage and continue and accept the fact that I am a beginner and here I am beginning." Each time meeting a customer will be easier. You will begin to see each customer as a gift to help you learn social skills.

Allow yourself some failures. Say to yourself I may mess up with a customer and that is all right. It is like baseball. You will hit some outs but you will also hit some home runs. You might even confide to some customer that you have difficulty in meeting people and you will see how kind people are to help you out of your difficulty. If you accept the challenge, then the stress factor will be less because you will be using up the stress chemicals in meeting the challenge. And anyway, if your chemistry gets unbalanced, you can always brainswitch and restore the balance. A. B. Curtiss

Monday, August 9, 2010

Will I Someday have no Problem Gathering with Friends and People?

Dear Curtiss

Thanks so much for the advice and I wanted to tell you I can feel the change and the progress for the last seven days. My issue is that I can feel the brain chemistry my self.

Something is moving in my head. Is this normal???? When I gather with people I can feel this moving because of stress I think, and then I need to do brainswitching exercises again to restore the brain chemistry.

Do you think by the time I can have no problems gathering with friends and people???

I also wanted to tell you my child is three years old and very dependent on his feelings and cries a lot.

All the best, R____________

Dear R________

It is normal for a three-year old child to be dependent on their emotions. Their cognitive functions are not yet as fully developed as their emotional instincts. You must deal with their outbursts with calm of your own. You don't want to get angry and yell at a 3 year old for just being a normal 3 year old. If their behavior is extreme then use a kindly attitude and introduce play or toy distractions to get them interested in other things other than their tantrums.

Stress can make you feel all kinds of craziness. It is the body's normal reaction to stress chemicals to have your head shake, or your whole body shake, feel dizzy, get the sweats, have a difficult time breathing or talking straight. Brainswitching can alleviate stress and depression, but in order to alleviate social anxiety you must get in touch with your repressed fear, and you must have some practice in developing social skills. For this reason I suggested reading Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Chapter 10 in Depression is a Choice, and to take a course in public speaking with Toastmaster's International which is in every small town and which are very inexpensive. A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Have a Very Small Expertise

Thank you so much for your reply and encouragement. I know it may take time and that it will get easier. I pray that it will soon, and I’m committed as I want to choose happiness, I do choose happiness over this hell.

But right now it's so painful that my head feels like it's exploding. I keep telling myself, at least I got out of bed this am, went to th gym and trying to occupy my day and keep my focus elsewhere. But it really really is painful today for some reason....Y_________


I suggested before that you read Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning. Taylor Caldwell's book Growing Up Tough is also a good one. You need to start thinking about other people, even if you don't know them. Or, you might start writing your own book. A journal. Or even some fiction of your own. You need to discover what is your talent, your craft. Maybe you are a painter. Have you ever tried to do oil painting? Many people read detective stories for a distraction, or biographies, and find them good company.

You are limiting yourself to keeping company with very little other than your depression. You are still not convinced that you don't have to suffer the pain that your brain is digging up for you. You can refuse to suffer by turning your brain onto some other line of thinking. No matter what you do, yoga, volunteer work, reading, or whatever, nothing works if you are not thinking about what you are doing and, instead, are constantly turning to self-focus in a deadly fascination with what you are feeling. It is not necessary to be so fascinated by what you are feeling. It is a terribly destructive bad habit. You should start ignoring what you are feeling.

The pain is all self-generated even though it feels like an overwhelming force. It is not an overwhelming force. You are more than your brain. You are you. And your brain is your brain. And your brain is supposed to be your obedient servant, not your master. You are continuing to give your brain the wrong directions. But don't get discouraged, either. You have made a stand and sooner or later, if you are earnest about it, you will prevail. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

I feel like I've been slapped in the face by you. I am really giving all my effort at this the past few days. I'm just not there yet, and haven't been successful at "snapping out" like some have. And I have started to look at distractions and good company activities. Ive read VF s book before but will reread it and the other book you suggest. I will prevail, for sure! Y______

Dear Y________

I'm sorry if I was too rough. I don't want to discourage you by pushing too hard. I am on your side and want the best for you. I do know how painful it is and I want you out of it as fast as possible. If you stick to it you will be successful. I remember someone saying once, "It doesn't matter how long it takes you to learn a song, It matters how beautifully you sing it."A. B.

Dear A. B.

I knew your intentions are only to help but I was just about to write that I felt you were being too harsh. Thank you for this last email, it deeply touches me that you want the best for me and am on my side, and know the pain. I will prevail and get out if this! Thank you for all your advise and wisdom always.

With gratitude and love, Y_________

Dear Y________

I must not forget that I have a very small expertise to help people out of depression I do not know everything about them. So the best I can do since my expertise is limited, is to accompany you on your journey (which I have already taken) and point out the small obstacles, rather than rudely drag you over to my path. We each have our own unique journey to take and we all must be careful how we come to one another's aid. But your letter did remind me of something that happened in graduate school many years ago.

I fellow classmate said she went in to talk to her professor. When she went in for her conference, the first thing he said to her was "Someone has hurt you very badly and you better get over it quick." She said she was totally shocked.

So I guess I was kind prepared for my own conference with the same professor. He said to me "You are a very afraid person." My answer was "Yes, I know. And he responded very kindly, "And that can change.

Now, after all these years, I wonder if my classmate felt a little bit like you did after my last email. A.B.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Does Depression Heal Itself Naturally?

Dear A. B.

I have a question reading your book, you say that depression is a cycle and that all episodes don't last anyway - but brainswitching can shorten it. Does this mean that depression does heal itself naturally? The chemical imbalance does correct itself?

Thank you ever so much for your time you've spent on writing to me. I'm so grateful. Y_____

Dear Y________

No the chemical balance does not correct itself permanently. The reason depression is cyclical, and episodes end and start up again, is that the brain works by learned association. Even if the brain is on a dedicated neural track of depression, some maverick learned association could temporarily interrupt the track and the brain could get going in another direction away from depression.

Remember, the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. Interruption of the depressive cycle can happen naturally and accidentally due to learned association, but it could take a long time. Brainswitch interrupts the depressive pattern on purpose rather than accidentally. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brainswitching does Get Easier Because of the Neuroplasticity of the Brain

Dear A. B.

Thank you very much for your replies.

It's true that I don't have much of a life that contents me at the moment, or I'm not sure if it's the depression that makes it seem like that, as I’ve suffered from this for so long. I feel that I've been quite a depressive and very insecure, and never had a lot of interest in things, though I’ve kept myself quite busy, active and social -- even when I haven't had serious bouts of depression.

And I've always had an unease with people, a strong sense of inferiority, though I've always faked being cheery and social. But your book and these correspondences have given me a lot of strengths.

What's been challenging at the moment is to focus on anything outside my head. I'm watching TV and trying to focus on the content but my mind keeps wandering to depressive thoughts, despite the attempts at mind switching.

I'm already doing better than a few days ago so I'll keep telling myself that I'm getting better and better; mind switching is getting easier and easier!

Warmest regards, Y______

Dear Y_______

You are new at this. IT WILL GET EASIER. Your brain needs to make new neurons that are more positive. Now you have too many negative neurons and not enough positive one in your brain so the negative neurons are always popping up. When you have more positive neurons they will start popping up instead of the negative ones and you will be able to have more positive trains of thinking happening. Also as you get going and making a life for yourself, more neural pathways will be formed. This is the process of neuroplasticity of the brain. It changes with new thinking and new experiences. When you say it changes, what you mean is that more neural patterns develop A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Should I be Constantly Fighting Negative Thoughts?

Dear A. B.
Thank you for your sweet and warm encouragement, it put a big smile on my face :). Yes, I'm determined to go on the path of self-responsibility, and you are my inspiration !

I just got back from an evening session of yoga - an activity I use to enjoy a lot -- however I found that I was having negative thoughts all the time. The more I relaxed, the more it came that was anxiety building. Of course, I practiced brainswitching, or trying to focus on the breath or anything else, also telling myself " it's just a chemical thing, it's not reality" or " it's not an option to think downer thoughts !!! I refuse !! ".

This would work for a split second and I feel the relief, but right away boom! another negative thought would arise. Beneath the relaxation composure, I was in a constant fight, or shall I say chase -- to combat the negative thoughts that seemed to just auto-generate. I feel exhausted with a headache now from the "fight" but at least I don't feel as depressed as if I was not putting up a fight and letting the negative thoughts take me down further. Is "fighting" like this the right attitude, that I must do for every single negative thought?

How long does it take to get to a less painful place, where the thoughts don't have power over me? I know you say it's more qualitative than quantitative, but I remember reading somewhere that it took you 2-3 yrs.

Did you have to battle / fight constantly at the beginning?

Kindest regards and thank you deeply for this support, Y_______

Dear Y_________

Well, actually no. That's not exactly right. We shouldn't be fighting thoughts. Fighting thoughts just keeps them alive. Thoughts are very quick, they are over almost as soon as they pop up, unless you choose to think them again and again. You don’t really kill thoughts, you just don’t think them.

What you are doing is not fighting thoughts but choosing not to think them when they pop up. The best way to choose not to think any particular thought is to choose to think some OTHER thought instead of the thought that popped up. Thus substituting “green frog” or hippoty-hop” for the thought "I feel depressed." Remember that depression is first and foremost a thought.

As for how long it will take. It took 2 to 3 years until I was able to perfect the process for myself. But I was creating it as I went along. You have the whole process before you, laid out in the book. It should not take you as long. Some people say that, once they got the idea of blocking the acknowledgment in the neocortex with some nonsense word, they never suffered any more pain from depression. They used the word, got out of the pain, and then went on with the regular chores or work of the day.

One man wrote me that "green frog" totally changed his life. Another that "hippity-hop" was all he needed and his life was totally changed as well. But both these people already had good lives they had built and the depression was a side step out of their lives. Knowledge of how their brain worked allowed them to side step back out of depression and into their regular lives.

For you, it may be that you have more life-building to do so that once out of depression you have something viable to jump into. If you don't have much going on, where do you go when you get out of depression? You have to re-engage with life, but you have to have an ongoing life to re-engage with.

You certainly seem to have fragments of a life, family, work, etc. But there is not yet a serious investment on your part in these fragments to build into a more coherent whole life. But the mind exercise should always be able to get you out of the extreme agony of depression, even though you are not all that "happy." Remember though, that you can always be cheerful even if your heart may be a little heavy. And cheerfulness can become happiness in due time. It's that old psychological cliche--fake it until you make it. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Got Out of Bed Today

Dearest A.B Curtiss,

Thank you ever so much for your replies. It's certainly encouraging to learn that our very nature is joy and once the despair and fear removed, it will resurface.

I believe I have a lot of repressed fear as I witnessed some traumatic things as a child. Sure, I have had numerous therapies over the years and at peace with the trauma. But I have overwhelming fear that I cannot look after myself, be an independent adult and eventually have a family when I can't even look after myself. I think often of just quitting and giving up, but I just cannot do that to the rest of my family.

Is there a way I can buy that chapter 10 part on line?

I'm almost done reading the Brainswitch book, and reading your replies and blogs...

Yet I still cannot will myself to get out of bed and do something, except for going to the bathroom. You keep mentioning we all have the will to do it, yet I cannot find this WILL and courage that you mention. Is this really a choice I'm making.... when I'm really fed up with depression and just want normalcy and joy back in my life? Y

Thank you ever so much for and for sending chapter 10, which I look forward to reading.

Do you have any comments/advice on how I can conjure up will and strength to get out of bed?

Thank you infinitely. Y

Dear Y_______

Check your self-talk to see if you are telling yourself you can't get out of bed and kind of self-hypnotizing yourself that it is impossible. Then start telling yourself over and over that you CAN get out of bed. Repetition is one way to self-hypnotize ourselves on purpose to get our brain to do things we want it to do for us.

Visualize a wave that is helping you and just float out of bed. This is a great visualization that Nurse Claire Weekes uses for Agoraphobics to help them go out their front door. Isn't it a shame what we do to ourselves? The good news is that what we have the power to do to ourselves negatively, we CAN also do positively. We have the power. We just have to use it better. Yes, it is our choice to stay in bed to get up and move forward with our day. Who else, or what else can you blame it on when, as you said, you get up to go to the bathroom, right? . A. B. Curtiss

Dear AB Curtiss,

Please allow me to ask another question, as I'm reading Brainswitch for the second round. Is the neocortex the same as what we call the "left brain"?

Besides the brainswitching exercises you suggest in your book, will doing some math or logical thinking exercises help with the chemical inbalance that depression causes? Will it help to strengthen this part of the brain, even when you are well - meaning - not having any negative / downer thoughts?

Thank you in advance for all your generous help since yesterday.

PS: I'm still in bed and it's already early evening, but don't feel bad at all for some reason -- perhaps some laziness for staying in bed the past 2 days, but not any negative / downer thoughts and able to focus more on your book that arrived yesterday.


Dear Y_____

No the neocortex is not the same as the left brain. There are many ways to divide up the brain architecturally to study it, one way is right/ left, the other way is top/ bottom. The neocortex is the top of the brain and the subcortex is the bottom, generally speaking. For the purposes of getting out of depression, we are mainly interested in the brain functionally rather than architecturally. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

Thank you very much for your reply and the clarification. I was able to get out of bed and go about my day, and I feel a lot better to be productive.

I look forward to practicing the exercises and getting better and better each day. I may have more questions along the way as I digest the materials more in-depth.

Thank you ever so much for your generous support, I think you are truly amazing to be really helping people!

With infinite gratitude, Y_____

Dear Y____________

Good for you and congratulations on your new life of self-responsibility.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Will My Joy Eventually Return?

Dear A. B.

Thank you very much for your quick and thorough reply.

I will order your first book, as you have cited this Chapter 10 to me but also to many many people on your blog.

If I'm wired to practically autogenerate negative thinking 24/7 ( actually strangely, in my dreams I have positive thoughts and am joyful -- that's why I love to escape to sleep ), mind switching replacement thoughts will certainly take a lot of effort. It's the continual auto generation of thoughts that are so hard to tackle each time.

Also I have a question: why would you not replace a positive thought ( instead of neutral ) to the negative thought? I could not find that explanation.

From my first email : will joy eventually return?

Thank you very much for this correspondance. Y__________

Dear Y____________

There is a place for positive affirmation. However getting out of a depressive episode is not the time to use positive thinking. That's because the brain works by learned association (think salt and the neuron for pepper pops up). So a positive thought could just as easily generate a negative one. You might think "I will be positive," and your learned assocation thought "but it won't do any good" might pop up thus agitating the emotional subcortex even more.

The point of brainswitching is to use a non-emotional thought which will stimulate neural activity in the neocortex, withdrawing neural activity from the agitated subcortex. Thinking "hippity-hop" over and over generates no emotional response and not only helps to stimulate activity in the neocortex but perhaps more importantly, it blocks the acknowledgement in the neocortex that depression is being produced in the subcortex.

In order for a human being to feel any pain or emotion which is all produced in the subcortex, the signals must go up the brain and not only be received but acknowledged in the neocortex. This is why hypnosis works.And why a player can actually break a bone in a football game and feel no pain until the play is over. The neocortical concentration on the game prevents the acknowledgment in the neocortex that pain is being produced in the subcortex.

Will joy eventually return? Your very nature is joy. You are never without it. However repressed fear and anxious worry covers up your essential joy so you are separated from your original awareness, and therefore separated from your essential joy. It is there, but you are not aware of it. You are only aware of your despair. It's like a one-way mirror. You don't see beyond the despair to your essential okayness hidden behind the mirror of your despair.

Despair is extremely seductive. You are programmed to focus on it because it is an instinct built into your original subcortex defense mechanism. This defense mechanism is the human being's default position. When you are not actively engaged in on-purpose, directed or productive thinking, your brain automatically reverts to its defensive position. A. B Curtiss

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Bout of Depression. Meds Don't Seem to Help

Dear A.B Curtiss,

I've found your site, blogs and books by recommendation last week. Since then I've spent a lot of time reading your materials -- I've read every blog entry since you started, and the Brainswitching book arrived today which I've been reading. I'm very impressed about your work on answering emails and really helping people.

Everything you say makes sense, and if anything I'm made aware that I've had depressive negative thinking as my dominant thought for a very very long time. I'm currently experiencing another bout of debilitating depression, I'm nearly 40, and off work for a couple months. Since I'm off work and don't have a routine, it's very hard to motivate myself to do anything but stay in bed everyday. I've read what you have to say about the importance to just push yourself and get out of self-focus.

I have absolute zero interest in anything and just the minimum self care is what I'm able to do every day -- even this with a lot of effort. Even if I will and force myself to get out of bed and do something, since I have zero interest in anything, I'm at a loss what to do. Will interest and eventually joy in things come back? What kind of activities, tasks do you recommend when I really have zero interest in anything at the moment?

My first debilitating depression was in college. And ever since then, for the last 20 yrs, every 2-3 yrs I'll get hit really badly, where it takes I wish I didn't have to live. I'm on Effexor XR right now, but not sure if it's really helping. I've done numerous therapies for the past 20 yrs more or less, but still in this state, and at this point the only thing that resonates is your explanation on how the brain works.

Everything you advocate makes sense 100% and the little I experienced with mind switching this weekend -- some did provide a little relief.

However my brain is wired to pick up & associate negative, depressive thoughts from practically anything and everything I look at, or anyone and everyone I speak to. So the mind switching exercises effects don't last long at all. You say, get on with your tasks, but even the few task I've tried from house work to physical exercise will bring back up the old system thoughts. Socializing with others was challenging, as I'll have negative thoughts as I'm engaged in the conversation and feel like I can't exactly do mind switching exercises.

I would gratefully appreciate if you could comment on my situation and if you had any advice.

Kindest regards, Y_________

Dear Y____________

You have to make new neural patterns in your brain of productive thinking and objective thinking rather than self-focused and subjective thinking (about how you feel). If you have not done this before, naturally it will take some effort. But you will never have to be helpless again because now you know that you CAN get up, you CAN make your bed, you CAN brush your teeth, you CAN volunteer to help at some institution (public library, hospital, childrens' home, public school) you CAN clean up your space and organize your life.

Every time your brain slides back into thinking about what you are feeling you can force it to think about something objective, someone else, look at some tree and think about the tree.

You can always pray for someone who is ill, suffering, even someone in the news who has suffered a tragedy, someone you don't even know.

You can always sing nursery rhymes to yourself to get going. And, of course, you have to make a life for yourself that does not include depression. Isn't it a tragedy that doctors keep you from doing that by teaching you learned helplesness.

You have zero interest in anything because you have not invested yourself in anything. It's like a bank. You have no money in the bank because you haven't put any in. You have zero interest in anything because you are not doing anything.

And you have a lot of repressed fear because for many years you have used chemicals instead of courage to face the day ahead. I would also suggest you read Depression is a Choice, especially chapter ten. This first book of mine is the psychological autobiography of how I got out of the manic depressive mind set.

I will be glad to answer any questions as you move forward with your day.

A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Intelligence Can be Defeated by Ignorance Every Time

I heard from a man recently whose wife is suffering from depression. She is on medication and is quite convinced by her doctor that she needs it to remain comfortable. She just wanted a suggestion for some meditation or hypnosis tapes so she could relax better.

The man said that his wife was helped by my website but had never read either of my two books, and was not interested in reading any more information about depression.

He asked my advice and I said to just get her some meditation or hypnosis tapes as she had obviously (to me) decided to be emotionally dependent rather than be a free person who was in charge of her own mind, as evidenced by the fact that she was not interested in any more information.

Perhaps that was a little harsh on my part (maybe I was miffed that she had dismissed my books), for the man quickly responded that she was a very intelligent woman who had a professional career.

I think he said that to convince me that her position about the necessity of her struggle with depression and being on medication had to be legitimate, and must be respected, because she was so smart, and therefore didn't need any more information.

Being depressed is not a matter of intelligence. It is a matter of education and mind set. If you are ignorant about how your own brain works, you will unwittingly be giving it wrong instructions when you are in the throes of a deep depression or under great stress. That's because if you don't know how the brain works, you will be convinced that you have to BE depressed, or stressed and you will keep on thinking about your depression and your stress.

You will not believe that you can simply direct your brain to think some other thoughts besides depression and anxiety, and if you think some other non-emotional thoughts, both depression and stress will go away. This is because the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. And by changing your thoughts, the brain will stop following the depressive or stressful neural patterns, and start following the new more productive neural patterns you have chosen. Then depression and stress will stop.

It is a fact of life that a lot of intelligent people are depressed. Similarly, a lot of smart doctors and surgeons, before a doctor's assistant named Semmelweiss tried to change their minds in 1847, did not believe they should wash their hands between operations.

Semmelweiss tried to convince the doctors and surgeons in his hospital to wash their hands and maintain antiseptic conditions during surgical procedures. Although he never saw any microbes himself, Semmelweiss deduced, from mere personal observation, that blood seemed to be a carrier of disease. Semmelweiss used to yell at the doctors parading in their bloody aprons from patient to patient "You are killing the patients."

What did the doctors do about this upstart? They had him committed to an insane asylum where he subsequently died.

These doctors were not stupid. They were uninformed, ignorant, (ignorant is not the same thing as unintelligent) and convinced in their minds that bloody aprons were not dangerous, but rather a badge of honor for their profession. They were the authority of medical knowledge, and coming from their great position of authority as chief surgeons, etc., they also came from a position of certainty.

When people come from a mind set of certainty, they do not bother with any information to the contrary of that position of certainty. This is the case of people that are convinced they cannot control their own depression, anxiety, panic attacks, claustrophobia, mania, etc. And most medical doctors,psychologists, and psychiatrists feed this belief. Indeed, one has to assume that they believe it themselves rather than they are just trying to make money from other people's agony.

I don't know why some people are open to new information and other people are not. It is a complete mystery to me. Those who educate themselves can learn how to get out of depression, anxiety, insomnia and a host of other things that people who think they have enough knowledge already, thank you very much, will be taking medication for for the rest of their lives. Perhaps this is a harsh thing to say, but there is nothing more harsh than suffering helplessly from depression when you can educate yourself how to get out of that helplessness by learning how your own brain works.