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Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Worried Because My Child is Very Self-focused

Dear A.B Curtiss 

I notice my child is very self focused and he is three years and the only child I have. Because of the inherited genes do you think this is a problem coming from my self focus?. Do you think I better stop having kids??

I need an advice because I am expecting another one coming. R___________

Dear R__________

All children are self-focused. It is normal for a three year old to be self-focused. It is something we are supposed to grow out of as we grow up, and we are taught social skills, and taught that we are to share with others. You can teach your child to have nice manners, to say please and thank you and to share their toys after the age of 4 and when they are 5 to 7 you can help them with social skills such as going to birthday parties and saying hello to other children there, and being nice to other children. Some children will be braver and be more willing to risk themselves in play acting such as reading out loud or performing songs for people. This can be encouraged at home--have your child perform for the family-- sing songs for you or dance for you and you applaud and cheer them. Sometimes you can do short plays when have some close friends over so your child can get the idea being social and outgoing and practicing performing will give them a sense of self-confidence. . A. B. Curtiss-----

Dear Curtiss 

Do you think it will help to take my child to a kindergarten.

Thanks so much for advising   R_____________

Dear R____________

At the age of three the most important thing for your child is for YOU and YOUR WIFE  to spend a lot of time with them, and bond with them so that you forge a strong, loving relationship and they trust you.  You should show interest in the small things they can accomplish and applaud their efforts when they succeed in doing something that they try so they have a good feeling about themselves, ..  Then when they are 4 or 5 they can go to kindergarten feeling good about themselves and will be able to socialize with their peers and learn social skills.  A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm Starting to See the Difference Between Outer-focus and Self Focus

Dear A.B.,
Yes, something happened to make me  understand the different ways of thinking very much! I was so late, it was almost an emergency and I had to focus all my thoughts on getting to work asap that there was no space for self-focus.

I was grateful I had work to get me out of the despair I felt upon waking up.

Now, how can I apply this more and more to work?  I have some project planning that I have to do. These kinds of things cause me anxieties. Such as listening to people present their ideas(who will be leading corporate seminars )... or like last night when there was a work dinner.  I find it really hard to focus on what others are saying. There is so much self focus going on with me that for everything they say, I have an inner reaction.  I feel the contrast between us.  It's almost like I can feel the strong old wiring and the effort to derail, which results in a tension in the scalp.  It's the resistance to forming new neuropathways  

Last night, as I was talking and asking questions and focusing on the others ( usually when not depressed I can be very social ) I could feel my scalp tense up, as if my old brain system / wiring didn't want to derail and form new tracks.  I also found myself just not interested at all in others, and what they had to say.   Nonetheless, as I finished the evening and was alone, I  congratulated myself for going in to work, not giving up, putting on a brave face so as not to show to others, and attempting to make brainswitch work.  I was able to choose positive thoughts as I went to bed.  

My question is how can I make outer-directed thinking happen more and more in non emergency, situations? Y_________

Dear Y___________

The important thing is that you now know the difference between outer-directed thinking and depressive self-focus, and you know you have the power to choose between the two. You also know how to do it--brainswitch. Now it is a matter of practice. The more you switch into outer-directed, thinking the better outer-directed you will become.

As for not being interested in others, or feeling tension when they are speaking, this comes from your own repressed fear. When you feel coldly toward others it should be a clue to you to, at that moment, turn your focus on your feelings and you will then fear some fear which you can accept by relaxing your whole body. Look at some of the anti-stress exercises in Brainswitch out of Depression, especially anti-stress exercise #1 and #2 These are great for by yourself or in the company of others..

If you choose to focus on your feelings in order to accept them, it is different from accidental self-focusing on your feelings and hating them at the same time you are slipping into them and identifying with them as your whole reality.

You will need to get in touch with this repressed fear because it is having its effect on your being able to connect with other people. Instead of connecting with them, your are in opposition to them in some way. They annoy you, or you have disdain for them, or you fear them in some way. This is due to repressed fear. Remember that anger is fear turned outward toward others. Depression is fear turned inward.

You can get in touch with your repressed fear in the company of others by turning your focus on your feelings when your thoughts are mean or angry or annoyed. You can also get in touch with your repressed fear even when you are alone--read Chapter 10 in Depression is a Choice." A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Breakthrough in Understanding Depression

Dear A. B.
But but, I am using my will to get up and go to work and prevail this morning despite how hard it is.  I know that this hell has to pass eventually with my earnest efforts. I keep telling myself there is no other option.  Please I ask for encouragements to get through today. Thank you so much. Y_______

Dear Y_____

I think the real trick is to continually refuse to think about feeling bad. Do a brainswitching exercise to break the neural pattern of concentrating on how you are feeling, and then immediately, as you are refusing to consider how your feel, start to put all your brain energy into some task and THINK ABOUT THE TASK. You can do it. And, little by little, try and build up a life which has some involvement with other people--get interested in what they are thinking and doing and feeling. A. B.

Dear A. B.

Yes, I realized that once I got out of bed and starting rushing to work ( since I was late ), I was already not thinking about my feelings.  I'll be focusing on tasks with all my effort.  Thank you very much for your correspondence.  Y________

Dear Y________

This was a wonderful thing to have happen. You were late, and since you were preoccupied with rushing around to be on time, you were concentrating on rushing around and not on how your were feeling. You see how the brain works? Your brain can only really concentrate on one thing at a time—rushing or depression. 

Try to remember this because when you are working and still feeling bad you can see that you are not really concentrating on your work. You are concentrating on how you feel, and doing your work without really thinking about it. There are a lot of routine tasks that we can do on automatic pilot, without giving it too much thought, which gives us the opportunity to concentrate on our feelings.

But when you were late, this was different. This was not routine. You couldn’t do it on automatic pilot. You had to concentrate on your rushing so you wouldn’t be late.  And when you were concentrating on your rushing, you could not, at the same time, tihnk about your feelings. And if you do not think about how your are feeling, you cannot be depressed. 

This shows you the difference between outer-directed thinking and self-focused thinking. All the rushing around had you using outer-directed thinking. If you can keep your thinking outer-directed you will not be living the depressed life.
A. B. Curtiss

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Have so Much Catching Up to do with the Normal World

Dear A.B.,

I've made it through three full weeks at work full time and to be honest, it's been extremely hard.  I thought it would get easier but I seem to be struggling more.   I do give my best shot at earnestly applying brainswitch or mind exercises and try to focus on work, but those damn old patterns always make a way in.  Now certain project deadlines are approaching and it is causing a lot of anxieties.  I intellectually understand everything you teach, and that I should have the power to choose every thought or choose not to follow downer thoughts: not to give them any power over me.  Yet, I cannot seem to brainswitch most of the time. 

I come home completely shattered ( and yes, I refrain from thinking I'm tired ) and cannot do anything but lie in bed like a zombie.  Still, I know this is better than not working, staying in bed and ruminating in depressive thoughts, but I just wish or pray that it would get easier, that I would succeed in brainswitching,succeed in getting off that depression track.   I feel like I have so much catching up to do with the so called non-depressed "normal world".  I realize how much I was stuck in a dark hole for a while.  I do have moments where I feel the switch work, and feel the bliss and relief of "normalcy" but most of the times, despite the effort to brainswitch, it feels like Im just pushing through or forcing through the day in a very depressed state, hence its terribly exhausting and nerve wrecking. 

Would you have any advice to make brainswitch work better or more often?

I so want to make this work and alleviate the pain, and follow through with my commmitments.
Regards, Y___________

Dear Y________

It is a start to brainswitch by choosing nonsense exercises so you can escape the depressive thoughts and feelings for short spaces of time. It is good that you have learned you can escape the agony as an act of will. It is a first step to be able to escape those thoughts for a few minutes to interrupt the depressive patterns. You have started to build a neural pattern that you can count on. It will always be there, even though you do have to do the work of activating it, over and over. Yes, it is hard work for awhile. But remember how many years you have spent in depression?

You can learn brainswitching in a short space of time but it takes a while to build yourself a new life to take the place of the old depressive life.  In addition to just switching out of depression you have to start building more extensive nourishing life, focusing on some work or community activity or creative project or some normal entertainment like a book or a movie for longer and longer periods of time. Depression has been your life for so long that it is a good part of your brain's make up. 

Remember the story about the lawyer who started selling newspapers?I wrote about him in the book Depression is a Choice:

A Kansas lawyer says he healed his depression with “the power of work,” after being on a steady regimen of antidepressants “from Prozac to Serzone” for almost five years. He now sells newspapers  for a living and says, “the truth is, this job is saving my life.”13 Except for some side effects, he said, drugs “have been my safety net, stopping my free fall into madness.” But no more.  Not since a friend “threw him a life-line” after he had lost his law practice and offered him a job delivering newspapers.  To his surprise the lawyer found the hard physical work cheering. When he left the warehouse to deliver the papers to vending machines, gas stations and supermarkets he began to “catch glimpses of small joys.”
“With friendly greetings and idle conversation,” says the lawyer, “these people (customers) whose names I still don’t know began to draw me out of my darkness...For all the insight and help I’ve received from drug therapy and psychotherapy, I still have feelings of worthlessness.” But with this new hands-on, physical work that hard grounds him in the routine workaday world with his fellows, day by day, little by little, the lawyer-turned-paperboy begins to feel more and more “confident.”
You can do it too. 

A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review of Brainswitch out of Depression

Breaking the Cycle of Despair

By Cindy Bevington
Monday, 08 June 2009 11:30

If ever you wanted to read a book or talk to someone about a way to address sad feelings or depressive thoughts without feeding the coffers of the pharmaceutical companies, Brainswitch out of Depression is it. “Depression is like living in a room of pain; you can learn how to leave the room,” Curtiss says on the book’s cover.

Then, in 23 carefully laid-out chapters , Curtiss takes you on a step-by-step walk through the definition of depression, what causes it, and brain exercises you can use to help you walk right out of the room of depression. As a board-certified cognitive behavior therapist, licensed marriage/family therapist, certified hypnotist and a lecturer on self-awareness, Curtiss is up-front about her own struggle with manic depression.

“They call it bipolar now, but I still prefer the older term for its more graphic description,” Curtiss says. “The book shows the progress of my ability to handle the difficulties brought on by my condition.”

She says she still retains the manic depressive personality, but no longer suffers from either depression or mania.

Using her study of neuroscience to explain the process of switching your brain out of depression, Curtiss says, “We need to understand that depression is more than an incomplete gestalt of self-reported symptoms. We need to understand and treat depression neuroscientifically for the biochemical event that it is.”

Sample chapters: What You’ve Always Needed to Know About Depression; What Actually Causes Depression; Directed Thinking and Passive Thinking; Brainswitching in a Nutshell: Some Don’t Get Depressed; Brainswitching Exercises; Self-Awareness Exercises; Self-Improvement Exercises and Exercises for Insomnia.

This book is easy to read and understand.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Suffer from Depression, Migraines, Sinus, Severe Stomach Pain

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

But now I don’t have much physical problem, but mentally I am very depressed  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 , pranayam , meditation, reiki energy healing but no relief.

I have joined Art of living, sahej yoga, Rajayoga but no relief. My all medical reports are normal as per doctors. They say I don’t have problem except anxiety & depression , but for that I am taking antidepressent from last 2 years. But they give no relief even  when I get so many side effects. I have asked to so 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 regularl. I think now conditions are very worse so think I’m thinking will quit 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 dettached from my family. Also I dont like any family members even 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 condtion 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.

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 and they are stuck in depression, anxiety and lack of self-confidence.

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 and letters from others who have suffered as you sufferthere.http://www.abcurtiss.com   . You can also go to my blog http://mobyjane.blogspot.com and read even more letters from people like yourself who are struggling and learn 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.

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.
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

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Not Our Fault that We GET Depressed--It's Our Fault that we STAY Depressed

Every now and then I try to check out the Internet for articles written about my work, or reviews on my books. I did that the other night and I'll be posting some things I found the next couple of days that I thought might prove helpful in some way. It's always good to see things from different angles. Who knows, maybe the way someone else describes some idea of mine might resonate even better with someone than the way I said it in the first place.

Depression is a Choice
by Patricia Aiken

Personal economic crises, rise of the militaristic police state, mandatory vaccination threats, IRS audits, FEMA camps 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%.

Given the maniacal march to totalitarianism we face, it’s not difficult to understand why aware individuals would manifest one of the classic symptoms of depression- a feeling of hopelessness about the future. 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. Curtiss explains depression:

It is a biochemically-based physiological reality that exists in the body. 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 chemicallybased 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 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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Does Watching the News Everyday Cause Depression?

Dear AB Curtiss 

I always read the news for the Middle East. Do you think this affect my ability in treating my  depression???

I am sending gratitudes to you from me and my wife because of your help has strongly affect  positively our life. 

Regards,  R________

Dear R________

I’m not sure if I understand your question. Are you telling me that listening to news from the Middle East is causing anxiety for you because the news is not good that you are hearing, and it causes you to worry? And that this worry about the news in the Middle East is causing you to have more depression? A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Yes, you are right. Does watching or reading the news about the recent conflicts in the Middle East help increasing depression? R________

Dear R___________

Like everything else, it depends upon your attitude. If your attitude is to keep up with current events in the Middle East, and keep yourself informed so that you can fulfill your civic responsibilities to vote, support those politicians that will carry out your wishes, and protect your own family and your community, that is one thing. But if you dwell on all the negative possibilities to the point of becoming anxious, and never take any positive action as a result of the information you have, that is something else again. That would be concentrating on the negative to no purpose and like all negative, anxious thinking can, indeed, lead back into depression..    A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When a Doctor Says "You're Sick," You Lie Down

To rely on the psychiatrists' disease theory of depression causes people become the passive victim to the vagaries of the changing chemistry in their own brains. I would go so far as to make an analogy between your brain and your muscles. If you give up trying to exercise your brain to get it to quit focusing on neural paths that are causing you stress, pain, depression and anxiety and follow the neural paths that are more productive and anxiety free, it's the same as not exercising and wondering why you can't lift up a fifty pound bag of dogfood at the grocery store. When a doctor says you're sick it's just human nature to believe it, and feel like lying down. Whole crowds of people have been documented as going to hospital with vomiting and cramps and other symptoms of food poisoning only to find out that they were not physically ill but were, instead, suffering from mass hysteria.

Psychiatrists who insist on the “disease theory” of depression often cite findings of "chemical imbalances" in those who suffer from depression.  The problem with these claims isn’t that psychiatrists can find a connection between brain chemistry and behavior.  The problem is that "chemical imbalance" is a more of a social judgment than a medical one.  Psychiatrists could find any segment of society that might have a brain chemistry different from those not identified with that segment of society. If they found that marathon runners had a brain chemistry verifiably different from non-marathon runners, by the same logic, psychiatrists could therefore infer that being a long distance marathon runner is a mental illness. 

And then for these same psychiatrists to say that anti-depressants are the only answer to depression because they can change brain chemistry, and thereby behavior, is not actually any reliable evidence that that the initial behavior was "a disease" in the first place. For instance, if alcohol makes people less shy and inhibited, is that medical evidence that shyness, therefore, is a medical disease? A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't Stay in Bed with the Blahs

If you have the blahs or the blues or the vague icky not good feelings that have sapped your energy and your zest for life, don't stay in bed. Get up and make your bed and get dressed. Do some exercise--even a walk around the block. Or with your arms straight down at your sides, wiggle your hands from side to side and shake your arms good and hard to the count of 100. Keep some nonsense rhyme kind of going on whenever you can remember to do it. Or sing some dumb little song in your mind because this will keep the gray clouds from completely engulfing you. If you're alone, you can sing the song right out loud. Go ahead. Do it.

If you're alone, you can laugh out loud. Oh, you won't want to do it. Your brain will absolutely balk but you can do it anyway. Laugh at least ten times out loud. Not because anything is funny but just because this is the thing that depression hates you to do the most. Don't do what your downer thoughts want you to do. Do something that will shake you up and get you going toward something productive.

Do one small chore. Like the dishes, or put away some clothes. Look around and put something back in its place. Then put something else away. Move ahead into your day.  If you don't have anything planned, now is the time to plan something. Go to your public library and check out a biography of some great man or woman. Take it to some small cafe and treat yourself to some breakfast. The world is all around you. You are a part of all you see. You are not alone.  A. B. Curtiss

Monday, September 20, 2010

"The Blahs" are Dangerous and Deceptive

Dear Curtiss 

Thanks so much for this info and I understand the point. I need to practice till I overcome the fear of depression and I promise I am able to achieve it. 

All the best, R___________
Dear R_____________

Yes, you are right, you need to practice brainswitching as often as necessary in order to overcome your fear of depression, and certainly any person who is earnest about it can accomplish this.  It is very important to remember to refuse to think those low-key gray and sad thoughts that aren't really depression. Some people call them "the blahs." The blahs are dangerous and deceptive. They are not reality and yet they masquerade as your real life--nothing exciting going on, no great progress being made, nothing to write home about, etc. etc. These downer thoughts will turn into depression if you let them get a foot in the door. If you are feeling down and the world seems dull and uninteresting, immediately you need to grab onto some exercise and go somewhere else. The exercise will help lift you out of doldrums and then you will have a little more energy to direct your attention to something more productive than being bored and stale. A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is My Depression Going to End Completely One Day?

Dear Curtiss 

Thanks so much for the comments 

I feel frustrated sometimes because, every time, I have to work  for my depression to disappear 
My question is: is this type of depression going to end completely one day? R_______

Dear R_______________
As you use brainswitching, the nature of your struggle with depression will change. Since you’ve spent a lot of time being depressed, those neural patterns are strong in your brain. They are never going to go away. The depressive neural patterns are forever in the memory banks of your brain. And they can be triggered off by any number of things. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that you know how to get out of depression whenever it’s triggered off.

Medication won’t ever get rid of depression for good either, so you have two options. You can be on medication, and not like the side effects, and become more and more afraid of depression and get weaker and weaker in your control over depression because you’re developing no coping skills. Or you can get rid of depression whenever it shows up by using mind exercises. It’s your choice. There’s no way to get rid of depression for good. But when you’re actively engaged in controlling it, and getting rid of it when it comes, you get better at it. You also become less afraid that depression has the power to take you over. I’m at that point. I no longer have any fear of Depression.

"It’s still plenty painful when it hits me. I sometimes even say to myself, OMG, this is terrible no wonder people kill themselves. But then that other neural pattern that I have built over the years the one that says "You better do a mind exercise right now" reminds me to get busy with an exercise. And I do. And then depression is gone until the next time.

Your depression will change over the years like mine did. I have learned to get out of depression so easily that the fact that it shows up a couple of time a week isn’t significant in my life. My depression gets triggered off. And at the same time the neural pattern that I have built over the years gets triggered off, the one reminding me to do an exercise. I do. The depression goes away in a few minutes.

And don't forget.  Everybody gets depressed. It’s just that some people have learned from childhood to distract their minds from downer, negative, fearful and depressive thoughts. It’s so second-nature and automatic to them to do it that they don’t notice the depression because it never advances beyond the very beginning stages.

My husband used to say that he was never depressed and that I just saw myself as a tragic person. But after he attended one of my seminars, he changed his mind. After that lecture he said to me that although he had always thought of himself as someone who was never depressed, when he heard me talking about the brainswitching exercises, he remembered something.

From the time he was a very little boy, he explained, whenever he had felt sad, had that painful misery that he guessed people meant when they said depression, he would imagine some football or basketball play in which he carried the ball. He would concentrate on that until the painful feelings went away. He’s like other people I’ve met who say they are never depressed. But they all will admit to all kinds of interesting distractions, if they really give it some thought, that they learned from childhood to rid themselves of misery and painful anxiety. Your depression will never disappear. But your relationship to it will change as you get better and better at getting rid of it whenever it hits.
A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I "Fall" at Parties. Takes me a Week to Get Back Up Again.

Dear Curtiss

I discovered that once my brain chemistry is restored, I do not have any negative symptoms. I feel the free soul and enjoy the real life and get excited and want to do many things I should have done.

Once I go to a party, I start to fall and then I need at least a week to restore the brain chemistry to as it was before. 

Is there a way to restore the brain chemistry sooner??

Thanks so much, R______

Dear R_______

The reason you "fall" is fear. Fear dumps all those stress chemicals in your brain. You are afraid you are not good enough for people to be interested in you. You are afraid to "show yourself" and "take your space." You have to learn some social skills, that is all. Once you have some social tools to use, you will not be so afraid and you will not "fall."  

Please read Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People. This will give you some social tools. And Plan ahead before you go to a party that you will look around the room and find someone who seems alone and go over, and talk to them. Introduce yourself if you don't know them. Ask for their name and concentrate on remembering it. If you forget two minutes later, ask again. Nobody minds giving their name again for everybody has some difficulty in a crowd. You don't know that because nobody wants to let on that they have any little fears. 

If everybody's fears were listed on their forehead, you would see that almost everybody in the room had many doubts and anxieties. Even if they don't seem like it, people are flattered to be spoken to, and happy that someone has made it easy for them to be socially "up" at a party. Try it. Let me know what happens. Even if you shake in your boots, go ahead and risk yourself. Make someone else look good. They will be grateful. Don't expect to succeed perfectly the first time you put yourself out.

Let me know how you did. We'll go from there. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why We Don't Like People Who Always Interrupt Us?

I saw a graphic example of interrupting someone's energy the other day. At a booksigning I had handed a flier to a small child (with his father's permission) and the child started reading the poems on the back of the flier. As soon as they walked away from my table, I saw the father immediately snatch the flier out of the child's hands to read it for himself. It seemed so rude. And I have seen that happen many, many times. How can you teach children to be polite when you are rude to them?

Nobody likes their energy stopped. It's upsetting. That's why we don't like backseat drivers and people who interrupt what we are saying. I don't like to watch a one particular news program because the host always cuts people off. It's annoying when you are tying to listen to one person and someone starts talking on top of what they're saying and you can't hear either person.

I try so hard not to interrupt someone when they're talking. Sometimes you do it by accident but we should all be aware how easy it is to do it, and how people hate us for it.

Some old friends had a great comeback for each other whenever either one of them said "Do such and such" and they were already doing it. "You mean do what I'm doing?"

It's a great line. We don't even like to be interrupted by someone telling us to do what we are already doing. It's just human nature.

A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Now that You're Sane, What Do you Think was Your Diagnosis?

A fellow therapist and long-time friend asked me at a high-school reunion recently, "You have done such a great job on yourself. Now that you are sane, as a therapist, what would you say your diagnosis was.

"I was suffering from ignorance."

"No, seriously. What would you say your "real" diagnosis was, looking back."

People still insist that these so called "real" DSM diagnoses, such as  manic depression (now called bipolar) have some kind of credibility. My friend knew that I suffered for years with depression and crazy manic behavior. She also knows how hard I have worked to "get sane." And I am a sane, sober, cheerful, happy person after being, what my husband called "someone who sees herself as a tragic figure," for so many years.

But my friend and fellow therapist dismissed out of hand my explanation that I suffered from ignorance and, even worse, that I suffered from misinformation. However, I do think that was always the problem. That certainly was the problem with my father and brother who were also diagnosed with manic depression. They believed the psychiatrists and entered into decades of various types and combinations of anti-depressants that, as far as I could see over the years, never helped them in any way. The medication only helped the people around them who were happy to see them "calmed down."

I began to distrust psychiatry after a decade or so. And I never got a decent enough explanation for why I should take the anti-depressants when no one could explain to me what, exactly, they did to my brain. They frankly said nobody knew exactly how they worked. And then they always mumbled something about low levels of serotonin. So I refused, during all my years of suffering, to take any medication. Now, of course decades later, they are starting to see antidepressants don't really work any better than placebos. (See Newsweek Jan 6, 2010 cover story.)

No, I suffered depression because I didn't know what my options were. I didn't know how my own brain worked. I didn't know the real function of serotonin in the brain. I didn't know depression only existed in the subcortex of the brain and there was never any depression in the neocortex and I could function from the neocortex rather than be stuck down in the depression of the subcortex and all it took was a simple mind exercise to make the switch. I didn't know about the process of pain perception. I didn't know I suffered from a boatload of repressed fear. I didn't know that blame is the way we avoid the pain of our own fear (my apologies to my poor husband.) And no one ever told me that it was not necessary to be depressed, that I could choose to think something else and the depression would disappear and fade away in a few minutes. I was crazy for all those years because I was ignorant and misinformed. That was my real "diagnosis."