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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


Ginger said...

A.B., love your analogy of the bank!

Could Y's staying on the meds be thwarting her efforts?

Also, Y said, "my brain is wired to pick up & associate negative, depressive thoughts from practically anything and everything."

I used to be that way. Sometimes I still am, but increasingly, from studying your work, I finally get it that the world is not here, nor do its inhabitants exist, to entertain or bolster me. It's really up to me to get something out of life. (Still learning this in the context of my marriage. That's the last frontier!)

Dropping a lot of notions & expectations about how things "should" be at any given moment, really has made a huge difference for me. I spent years resisting reality! Now, even when things are "bad" can eventually accept that there is a reason behind everything that I may not readily see, but can trust that things are unfolding as they should.

My religious beliefs help too, but your teachings, A.B., have allowed me to understand & absorb many of the major tenets of my faith.

Faith, for me, means that we don't demand that circumstances bend to our will, and trust that the world is infused with a benevolent force.

It seems that *resistance* to life as it presents is what creates stress, pain, and suffering, not particular circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ginger,
thank you for your comment. It's really encouraging that you are really progressing through her works. As I was saying, my dominant thoughts have been so negative for such a long time, I feel my brain is wired to autogenerate negative and depressive thoughts at everything, anything and everone I encounter. This is even when I attempt to do the tasks she mentions. Focusing on something, someone else has been very challenging. You said you use to be that way. Does this mean I have to continuously repetitively do brainswitching practically 24/7? If you haae any insight or advice I would grately appreciate it. Thank you and best regards. Y

Ginger said...

Hello Y! It's so nice to hear from you.

A.B.'s books & this blog have helped me tremendously, but as I also indicated, I have much work to do, primarily in the area of my marriage & with fears that limit my driving.

A.B.'s first book was really pivotal for me, & I regard it as the most helpful book ever written about depression. I'm glad you will be reading it soon.

The notion that thoughts lead to feelings & we can control our thoughts, & not passively be held hostage by them, was life changing. I have a bumper sticker on my car that reads, "Don't Believe Everything You Think" inspired by this concept.

I now question my thinking whenever it is negative, instead of assuming that the negative thoughts in my head are the ultimate voice of wisdom & reason. I used to think that my negative thoughts were actually more trustworthy than positive ones! I guess I built much of my identity around being negative and depressed, choosing to believe that I was realistic, pragmatic, and grounded in reality for finding and focusing on what was wrong at any given moment. But, A.B. teaches, if we can CHOOSE our thoughts, why not choose positive ones? Subsequently, we will experience positive emotions. Isn't that wiser & saner than wallowing in misery?

Our brains may be wired to look for trouble and to "go negative," but WE our in control of our brains. I just find that really liberating & the opposite of what I imagined was true much of my life.

Yes, for years, I too from "practically anything & everything" could find something negative. Now I make an effort to find something positive from practically anything & everything!

Believe me, Y, I was a master of negativity. I just want to emphasize that I really was entrenched in negative thinking for years. I have changed.

As you question and change your way of thinking about circumstances, you will find yourself less often depressed, stressed out, and more at peace. Furthermore, I have found that life has more meaning & "makes more sense" than when I lived in a sea of negativity.

I am excited for you. You are beginning a new journey. If you ever would like to ask me anything else, I'd be happy to discuss my experiences with you further. I'm not a professional of course, I can only share my own experiences.

Best wishes!


Ginger said...

Dear Y, it's so nice to hear from you!

Yes, A.B.'s books & this blog have been tremendously helpful. Her first book was pivotal for me, & I regard it as the most helpful book ever written about depression. I'm so glad you will soon be reading it.

The notion that thoughts lead to feelings and we can choose our thoughts, was life-changing. Most of us assume that we must be held hostage by whatever random thoughts enter our heads. It is liberating to understand that while we may be "wired" to "go negative" & to be on the lookout for what's wrong in any given moment, we can choose to do otherwise.

I used to be entrenched in negative thinking, & saw what was wrong with "practically anything & everything." Now, I am committed to finding what's right with practically anything & everything.

I have changed due to this shift in perspective. I am less often depressed, less stressed out, & am more at peace. Life has more meaning.

I have a bumper sticker on my car that reads, "Don't Believe Everything You Think" inspired by A.B.'s teachings.

I still have much work to do, especially in the context of my marriage, & with fears that get in the way of driving certain places. I am hopeful that I will learn other ways of being that will help me in these areas.

I'm excited for you as you begin this new journey. If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.

Best wishes!


Anonymous said...

Dear Ginger,

Thank you so much for your reply, sharing your experience and the encouragements. I'm really touched by your kindness and generosity, and very encouraging to hear about your progress. I know I'm new at this so it may take time to get better and better, but it's been very difficult and extremely painful to deal with the situation, despite the brain switching attempts. At least I keep telling myself and know that no matter how powerful the thoughts and feelings are, it's not reality. It's just the old system of
negative neuro- pathways. I wish you all the best for progressing further with your current issues you mentioned.
Thank you so much again! Y