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Monday, October 31, 2011

How Do I Discover What my Fears are All About?

I would like to respond to the comment left on the last post.   Here is the comment:

You mention that we can become free from old habitual fear responses once we know what they are and stop believing in them.'

My question is; How do I discover / understand those fears? Your books have helped me immensely. I'm no longer troubled that 'Depression' will overcome me because I now know, that Depression is something I do to myself.
However I often drift into that zone of where I feel a sense of nothingness and helplessness. It's often some time till I recognize I'm there, and then once again I recognize I must use the 'tools' to begin my climb back out.
I have strong fears that have stayed with me from childhood. I'm afraid of people. Relatives have told me that at age 4, I was "a very well behaved boy." My recollections were that I was always scared of people and always needed permission to do things, which has carried through well into adulthood.
My parents were gentle people. So this has always perplexed me as to where these fears came from.

Here is my response:

If your parents were timid themselves they could have been kind without being able to teach you social skills that could have meant a smoother path in life.They could have been kind without understanding that they should have been proactive in telling you what a wonderful person you were from babyhood so that you would feel "worthy" because your parents felt you were worthy. Perhaps your parents thought it went without saying. When we are very young we believe everything our parents tell us. If they say "you're smart" we believe it. If they say, you're beautiful, we believe it. When we are older, if we don't feel smart and beautiful already, no matter how much people tell us how great we are, we simply don't believe it. The age of introjection has passed. 

If we don't feel "worthy," we are afraid of people because we fear they are judging us as being "less than." Nobody wants to feel "less than." If we can learn to recognize "I'm unworthy" as a foolish judgment about ourselves, we can learn to face that we are feeling and thinking of ourselves as "less than," we can accept the feeling and the thinking as erroneous and unnecessary and move ahead to a different place of attitude. We can tell ourselves a different story about ourselves like "I'm perfectly okay." Something different is always a bit scary until you get used to it. 

If you haven't read Wayne Dyers Your Erroneous Zones, this might help.

Some of us feel entitled to "take our space" in life and some of us feel we must somehow “earn” that entitlement for ourselves. My husband, for instance, has always pushed right ahead just as if everybody liked him. I suspect he cares somewhat whether or not people like him, but it is not necessary for him to "push ahead." I think he just expects people to like him, for he is pretty satisfied with himself.

Whereas I, like you, for most of my early life felt unsure to "push ahead" like I was feeling “already accepted. I needed to prove myself somehow. Some of us have mild social anxiety until we risk ourselves often enough and see that it doesn't "kill us." It is possible to get to the point of feeling comfortable in our own skin: "hey we're all just people here, aren't we, and I'm a people, too, so there!!

I'm much better at that now. I see other people move ahead without dwelling on their flaws. Good for them. And good for you that you have "tools." Our fears, for the most part, are "old childhood stuff," kind of an old story we don't have to keep telling ourselves. Remember that fear is our default mode. When we are not actively pursuing the positive in life, we gravitate toward the "nothingness and helplessness" that is always the opposite of positive.

I always suggest Toastmaster's International as a good way to learn how to feel comfortable in a group. It's a wonderful way to exercise our "social risk factor" by practicing public speaking. Generally speaking, we never suffer from an excess of nothingness so much as we suffer from a lack of fullness. I do love this quote so I'll put it here even though I've put it on my blog before. As long as we can connect with our fellow man, we can be okay. We are here to help each other.

“To complain that life has no joy as long as there is a single creature that we can relieve by our bounty, assist by our counsels, or enliven by our presence is to lament a loss of that which we possess, and just as irrational as to die of thirst with the cup in our hand.” Sir Thomas Fitzosborne

Friday, October 28, 2011

You Never Know What Will Be the Exact Moment of Insight

R has been struggling for years with anxiety and depression. My Brainswitch book helped R with his depression and helped his motivation. But anxiety and fear were still ruling his life. I suggested many things, nutrition, other books, a course in public speaking. Each pursuit helped a bit. And now this letter: Another insight from Dr. Abraham Low's book Mental Health Through Will Training.

Hi Ms Curtiss 

Yes, it was anxiety with fear for all this long. I spent long years in unreality life that causes me fear. Dr Abraham Low book helps me a lot. 

I could recognize whats going with me from the stories in the book. It is amazing book.

Thanks SO much Ms Curtiss 

Dear R.

You are welcome. We can become free from old habitual fear responses once we know what they are and stop believing in them as if they are reality. A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Your Book Title Changed my Life


I just wanted you to know that even though I've never read your book, it changed my life.  In 2002  I noticed a coworker reading your book "Depression is a Choice"  and that was the day my life changed forever.

With your four words as my motto, I was able to transform a lifetime of self loathing and negativity and give myself permission to be happy.  It was all up to me...

Thank You,

Dear L.

Thank you for your letter. For many years I have regretted my publisher's choice of title because so many people told me they felt "insulted" by it. As far as sales ere concerned it was not the title, therefore, that people felt comfortable recommending to a friend for fear of offending them. Because of you letter, well, maybe the title was perfect after all.

If you ever have any specific questions, I will be glad to answer them. A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What does it mean to be Self-responsible?

In order to be self-responsible, you first have to come to the intellectual understanding that your behavior is not being done to you, you are doing it. This may seem like it goes without saying but don't toss it out, think about it. What or whom do you blame for behavior which is now causing problems for you? The answer will show you in what direction you are headed. Don't forget, you can always turn around.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I've had my own Struggles with Depression and Victimhood


I want to thank you for your book Depression is a Choice.  I have had my own struggles with depression and victim hood, and as a result, I did some research and wrote a book of my own called Strategies for Happiness (www.S4HTheBook.com). I am in the process of developing a workshop - I am calling it a playshop - which is based on my book, and in the process of doing more research for concepts and ideas I can use for the playshop, I came across your book - and I am loving it.  Not only does is resonate with many of the ideas I talk about in my book, but it takes the ideas to the next level.

I am writing to ask you for permission to use your book and information on your website in the development of my workshop.  I would of course give you credit, and also promote your book as well.

The basic theme of my workshop is what I call Ownership - that we must own all aspects of our life in order to break free - in other words, personal responsibility. That is the basic premise I get from your works.  The way you have worded things have made so much sense to me, and I know is going to help me in my own life, as well as - if you will allow me to - help all that I share through my workshop. 

Although I primarily wrote my book for my own learning experience, I am happy to have published it and let people take from it what they will.  I am not out to fix people, just share some ideas that I have come across that have helped me, and let them decide if it is of use to them.  I have found that I have sometimes just overheard a conversation or a speech and maybe just one line they said spoke to me and I got an idea and went in a different direction then I was going, and because of that I am living a happier life. 

As I read your book, I am constantly being hit with concepts that either really enforces what I have come to believe, or opened my mind even further to understanding.  For example, you mentioned in your book that even after all you learned, you still wake up depressed, but that you now recognize it and take action, quickly snapping out of it.  This small concept really hit home with me.  Lately, I have been experiencing a mild depression when I get up in the morning.  When this happens, I get worried that I am doing something wrong and there is something wrong with me.  Sometimes I snap out of it, other times I let it colour my day.  But when I read your experience, I thought to myself, I am OK, I just need to be aware and take the proper action and I will overcome this.  That has lifted such a weight from my shoulders.

I especially love the chapter on blame.  That really opened my eyes.  I have not yet finished the book, but I could not wait to connect with you.

So, let me know if I can use your material and what would the parameters be.

Thanks again for a great read.


Donna Hedley

Dear Donna,

Good for you that you are taking control of your own life. It is a scary thing to accept the fact that no one is going to save us. We try, in vain, to pretend that we are not afraid. Once we accept the fear, however, we start to see that there are like-minded people struggling by our side as we go about our daily lives. The fact that we can turn to each other on the journey, and help each other, makes it all worthwhile.

You have my permission to use any material from my books (Depression is a Choice and Brainswitch out of Depression and my blog) as long as you give me credit and a link to my author website http://www.abcurtiss.com

A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You are a Free Person

Dear A. B.

I had picked up a copy of your book in the used book bin at our library. I had been diagnosed bipolar when about 19, as I understand is common. I was hospitalized involuntarily by my father. I continued to proceed through life and had several mania type cycles years apart. I am in my sixties now. After reading your book I took Lithium less and less. I had reduced my intake by half and had been very stable. I found I could think more clearly about everything including clutter in the basement and shed and what to do about it all.

My relationship with my wife is now under stress. We have a teen-aged daughter who in eight months will graduate and go to college so we will be empty nesters. She is a honor student and marching band member.

I was a landscaping gardener for many years and then went into wildlife managemet. I retired and became a house husband so that we could take our daughter out of day care and be there for her when she came home. I found myself unhappy and going to a therapist who said do something you like not for the money. I studied sharpening and started sharpening hair scissors and kitchen knives. I now operate a sharpening service at various locations.

As I started thinking more clearly I started doing things around the house. Getting things done is a constant mantra from my wife,

We don't make love physically much to my disappointment except maybe once a year. I had at times been at my wits end what to do with this lack of lovemaking. I have some how clung to the hope that she would start making love more again. Once going to work was the great joy of her life. Now she just has a few years when she can retire. Things have gotten tense at work and she often comes home and yells at me about things like making a "mess in the kitchen". I might make lunch and being I guess more  of a slob leave a dish on the counter or a onion skin will fall to the floor and not get picked up. She is very severe at yelling. I am sensitive and it really hurts me.

 I like to cook. but I don't like the way she keeps the spices on plastic see thru shoe boxes. I have to dig them all out and then she again accuses me of making a mess. I wanted to build some shelves but she won't let me. I thought a solution would be for me to buils a little kitchen in the basement where she rarely went and I could cook without her being disturbed about Mess making. I started locking my Man cave up but she broke through the door with an ax.

She says I drink which I do. She doesn't want to have anyone over because the house is in such a mess.

As I go ahead and try to fix up things around the house she is getting more and more frightened that I am in the mania stage.

She's off with my daugther looking at a college. I had a festival to go to where I sharpened. She called and  has been very unhappy with me and our declining marriag. She told me I better go to a doctor and start taking my lithium again. I have gone to our family physician and told all of this stuff to him. He had been prescribing the Lithium. He did not think I was in the mania state.

I have been spending money but I am working harder and earning more too.

I want her to go to a doctor because she seems unhappy, not exercising and sleepless when she yells at me If I am up late which I have been a lot lately. I try to keep quiet.

Tonight she said I better do what she says or I will be very unhappy. she will divorce me.

I could add more I guess but maybe I said enough.

I am in an election here in town planning a trip where I will attend a church convention. Then a few weeks later I will go to a sharpening convention and want to expand my business.

Do you have any advice? I'm planning now to consult a lawyer and go back and see my therapist.


Dear R.

I don't have any real advice for you. I will tell you what comes to mind. 

If your house is messy just put away one thing at a time until it is tidy again. Your environment should be nourishing your spirit, and when it is a mess, it saps the energy from your spirit. You are a free person. You are free to be messy and you are free to be neat and tidy. There are consequences for which of these you choose.

You are free to feel perfectly okay if your wife yells at you and is unkind and mean. You are free to be hurt by her meanness. There are consequences for which of these you choose.

You are free to leave your wife and you are free to stay. There are difficulties and consequences for which of these you choose. You are free to allow your wife to make you unhappy and you are free to be happy and okay while your wife struggles with her own demons. You are free to be kind and caring to your wife even though she is unkind and uncaring to you. Or, you are free to be as unkind and uncaring to your wife as she is to you.

Ultimately you are free to make choices. If you make a choice out of fear (anger is the same as fear) of something, it will end up being in some way inappropriate to your life. If you make a choice based on love of something (love of doing the right thing, love of being tidy, love of the world in which you are now living and adding your own energy to it daily) it will ultimately be appropriate in some way to your life, win or lose any particular battle. No one has the answer for what we should do. No one is going to save us. But at every point in our life, we can always reach out to one another in hope and friendship. There is always some person that can profit, in some small way, for our being in the world. I had a quote about this very thing once that I loved. If I can find it on my blog, I'll send it to you. A. B. Curtiss
Dear A. B.

Thank you.

Dear R.

You are welcome. I found the quote
 I have found this quotation comforting. 

“To complain that life has no joy as long as there is a single creature that we can relieve by our bounty, assist by our counsels, or enliven by our presence is to lament a loss of that which we possess, and just as irrational as to die of thirst with the cup in our hand.” Sir Thomas Fitzosborne

Remember that at every moment we can choose to do something positive, or something negative. If we find ourselves negative, we can always insist on some kind of a "do over." We always have that choice. A. B. Curtiss

Monday, October 10, 2011

Could I Post your Letter and Pix or Would you Rather not?

Dear Tom,

Thank you so much for your letter. I laughed out loud when I saw the green frog. I still use all the little mind tricks myself. That quick downshift is a bummer. However, for me it's not as sharp as it used to be. I just don't get the bad hits anymore, just the little mood shifts which are easy to knock
off with green frogs. I had a bad reaction this year to oxycodene which Kaiser prescribed for a back problem. I took it for four weeks. 

My brain was fried (horrible anxiety and muscle spasms) for about 6 months. Swimming, yoga and massage therapy fixed the back problem and muscle spasms, but nothing helped the anxiety except hypnosis which kept wearing off. I knew if I went back to Kaiser all they had to offer me was Paxil or the like. 

So I opted for Chinese medicine instead. Best thing I ever did for myself. I'm now on 8 different vitamins and supplements and never felt better. My nutritionist expert in Chinese medicine (Bret Moser, Poway, CA) said that my hormones were probably out of balance all my life and that's what positioned me for the big hits. Plus I learned depressive behavior from my father. Make sure your
nutrition is spot on. We're especially needing vitamin D and B complex as we age. Can I post your pix and letter on my blog or would you rather not.?
A. B. Curtiss

Dear A.B.,

What is this?  A renowned  author responding to my little note?  If you were trying to influence my serotonin levels it worked!  Ha!  Thanks for sharing your hormone/vitamin experience, and yes,  please post my pix and letter!  After all,  my health insurer can't drop me for reading a book about depression, right?

Tom Queally

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Green Frog

Hi A.B. Curtiss,

I am a photographer and was photographing a house for a realtor this week when I finally came across "the" green frog.

Paxil and Celexa were prescribed to me on different occasions years apart and years ago.  They were semi-adequate, but each time I came off them, things got way worse.  So I read your book, Depression is a choice.  I tried to green frog it and it worked great.  It was so effective I had no symptoms for over a year.  When the symptoms returned, I green frogged it again. Again it worked.  The bummer is depression onset never goes away, but I don't stress because for me green frogging always extinguishes the symptoms.

Thanks for writing a great book!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Good Health Comes from being Self-responsible for it

Dear Ms Curtiss

I am reading a book its name is Treating Depression Naturally with Chinese Medicine. 

I found Chinese have a different opinion about the causes of depression. They relate depression to the weak functions from the Spleen, Kidney and the liver and their stagnant.

I think this is very different from the western medicine which say the main cause is the brain and the serotonin deficiency in the brain.

Dear R.

Yes, they both may be right. Remember that depression can be caused by any nutritional deficiency. I also want to give a response to another of your emails. I’m not sure I answered it.

Dear Ms Curtiss

After one month from feeling super active and high level of interest in joyful activity I came again to where I was before this month. 

I have good control of depression today but still I have a question about the low interest in joining life activities. 

Three days a go within maybe one hour only I felt the big change from a super active person and having high self esteem to suddenly different person.  

I am trying to find out what causes chemistry imbalance within one hour after one month from being active. I can say I really physically  felt the brain chemistry changing at that moment but no control. 

I think there must be an answer for this moment why this happened  R.

Dear R.

Of course there is a definitive answer for the extreme change in mood but I cannot give it to you. I do not know your emotional balance or your nutritional balance at the moment nor how effectively you are maintaining these balances. The only thing I can do is point out possibilities for you to investigate.

In the light of this, since I have already suggested Chinese medicine, homeopathic medicine and acupuncture, let me introduce another idea. This comes from the work of Abraham Low and Claire Weekes and I always suggest anyone might find reading both their book profitable as far as self-responsibility for one's own health is concerned. Claire Weekes book is called Hope and Help for Your Nerves, Low’s book is called Mental Health Through Will Training.

Both doctors suggest that many ailments that plague us with great pain and urgency can be mitigated by not paying attention to them. Symptoms like anxiety and sleeplessness and your description of your head sweating “from the inside, for instance” are distressing but may not, indeed, be at all dangerous.  This is similar to my work in depression where I found much depression can be mitigated by simply ignoring it. But, as Low goes on to say in his book, “people treat such suggestions with great hostility until they have trained themselves to follow such a program of “will training” “They rebel against the ‘indignity’ of being treated with a too simple method for such long term, debilitating problems. And yet, in his clinics, he showed success after success of such training.

Low goes on to say that the body (as well as the mind) is always registering sensations which we notice in passing, such as an itch, a need to cough, headache, fear of crowds, fear of people looking at us, fear of jumping off high places, sweaty hands, stomach ache etc. Many of these sensations come and go and we simple pay little attention to them. However if we concentrate on them due to some fear that they are the start of something dangerous or indicative of some health problem, these small sensations can build in importance until they can literally control us. He trained people to see that they could control the build up such life-spoiling body ills like obsessive compulsion, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and headaches with training themselves not to respond to the early sensations that led to them.

This type of self-responsibility is not in fashion these days. People are very insistent that they deserve health care for diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure, cancer, and depression no matter how costly, and yet the last thing many people want to hear is what they are doing that has been causing their problem and what life-style changes they can make to cure their own ailments. Take sodas  as just one example. You see overweight people walking down the street with diet sodas all the time and yet there is hardly anything that promotes weight gain more than diet sodas. A. B. Curtiss

Thanks so much Ms Curtiss for the great info