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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Ms.Curtiss,

I would like to tell you about myself. I am feeling rather good. A few days ago I faced some crisis, but now  I am ok. As you know, I do not use medicine, because I believe in your method of treatment for depression. I think this is most important thing. I gave a promise to my children - never give up and I can not break it. I became interested in affirmation. Now, several times per day I repeat - I am not the mind and thoughts lord – I can choose what to think  and the most important thing is - I believe in these words..I have successfully been using your advice, just have a problem with sleep. I do different exercises, but they do not always work. Could you give me some advice, please. Forgive my English. L

Dear L.

Try this one. My neighbor was having trouble sleeping and she said it worked great for her. It is simple. The trick it to keep thinking it and concentrating on it when other thoughts creep in that have been keeping you awake. Just return to the simple exercise every time your mind wanders to some other thought. Keep repeating until you fall asleep. Maybe the first time you’ll take 20 minutes, the next time it will take less time. Each time you do it, it will take less time to get to sleep.

Here it is.

Just say over and over in your mind 1   2   3   4   ( pause, breathe in, then breathe out while you say)   5   6   7   8 . Breathe in while you say  1   2   3   4  , breathe out while you say   5   6   7  8.  As you get into a rhythm you will find that you easily fall into taking an in-breath with one set of the 4 numbers and an out-breath with the next 4 numbers.

That's all. As you do it more and more it forms a strong neural pattern that becomes linked, through learned association, with your normal going-to-sleep pattern.

Let me know how you do.  A. B.  Curtiss

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Trying to Figure Out a Happy Future

Dear A. B.

I have a question about hope. I find that I frequently am trying to figure out how to live as a single person. I am trying to figure out a future alone. I guess I figure that if I can come up with a really
happy future as a single person and work towards that, then I won't be dependent on meeting someone for happiness. Anyway, this puts me into a total tailspin because I can't come up with an answer!

I talked to my sister about this last night and she says this is just depression talking and that I should ignore it. That it’s like a person with a treatable malignancy preparing for death or something...worst
case scenario. She says that I should never give up hope...but also don't look for love.

I guess I have been single for so long and am really working on building myself up as a person and when I meet someone and am disappointed...it just gets me upset and the cycle is hard. I really just want out. And really, what’s the point of hoping and being out there when there is so much disappointment? I think I am trying to escape the whole thing (even though I don't think I can...I think I will hope my whole life).

Do you have any thoughts about this?

Thank you,

Dear T,

In a way your sister is right that trying to organize a happy future for yourself alone is rather self-defeating in that you would like a partner. It's the figuring out a future alone, I think, that is the problem. For instance I would like a future as a successful author, and have my books sell better than they have been selling. But I don't spend any time thinking about the future. I just keep on writing, every day. I concentrate my figuring on how to fix a sentence, or plan the next scene. But I don't spend anytime figuring out how to have a happy future if my books don't sell any better.

If I desired a partner, and was alone, I think I would decide (not think about) that I would, from now on, every day, engage with the world at large to maximize my chances of meeting someone. Every new day is an opportunity for something new happening.

Remember that the brain works by learned association. Trying to figure out how to be happy in the future generally leads the brain to thoughts that the present is not so hot. Thinking about being alone, when you want to be with someone, can't be all that happy a thought. Unhappy thoughts are not productive and generally lead to depression

For you I would suggest figuring out what to do every day that is here, rather than thinking about what to do tomorrow, which never comes. How about deciding to look in the local newspaper, every day, for events at museums or clubs that might interest you and attend one of them.  There might not be something each time that interests you. But every day  brings a new opportunity. Tuesday's paper might be a bust, but Wednesday's paper might have something.  Concentrate on aspects of your regular life that are more interesting than others and pursue those aspects. Seeing an event you want to attend and marking the date on your calendar is the kind of figuring out your future that I would recommend. The other kind of figuring out a future that your sister refers to, I think, is simply subjective self-focusing and subjective self-focusing is always the pathway to depression. The opposite of subjective self-focusing like figuring out a future is focusing on objective activities like making the bed, reading the newspaper, deciding on which movie to see.

Subjective self-focusing  usually leads to passive thinking rather than on- purpose thinking. Passive thinking always leads to negative thinking because the mind is, essentially, a defense mechanism, always looking for problems that “might” occur.

Here’s a quote from my book Brainswitch out of Depression

This evolutionary, negative and paranoid bent of our mind is not all a bad thing. We need a strong psychological defense mechanism. A tough guardian is supposed to be paranoid. You don’t see the secret service men who guard the president of the United States all laid back, joyful, and positive. No. When they are working, they are in a constant state of uneasy vigilance. They are frowning, squinting their eyes looking for trouble, looking for problems, looking for that one-in-a-million something that might go wrong.
To our own mind we are the president that must be protected at all cost. To protect us, our mind is always looking for trouble, chasing down the negative, peering into every dusty, dark neuronal corner. That is its job. And it is always on duty, even when we are asleep, or not paying any attention to what we are thinking.
So what does this have to do with depression? When our mind gets too paranoid and anxious, there is a chemical reaction in the brain to this kind of thinking that can skew the chemical balance which is the precursor of depression.

A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Brainswitching Works

I received this comment from humanjoke
i've got the all time most pathetic case of depression. 19 years i have dealt with this with the last 10 on meds. it involves a time in my life when my wife (who was my girlfriend then) and I made some mistakes. I never fully trusted that i got the truth but i found a way to cope and move on with life. but after my first child was about to be born the depression resurfaced like a freight train and has been on and off. the fact that my wife still says she loves me and hasn’t left me is a freaking miracle. 100,000 would have gotten a divorce and another 100,000 would have committed suicide by now if they had my brain. 19 years PATHETIC! I feel there is no help for me and not only am i suffering but so is my family by not having me healthy. so if u think that a couple of years of depression is bad remember and learn from this. do everything u can to fight it or end up like me. a walking shell of a person
Dear humanjoke

I do understand the pathetics of depression. I spent 30 years, off an on, depressed and causing my family a lot of stress and pain. One day it was so bad I thought I would die from the pain. Which is why I didn't kill myself. I felt like I was already dying. I was screaming, groaning, crawling on the floor, knocking my head against the wall and insisting that "someone has to help me."

But no help came and I was all by myself. I had been reading all these self-help books about positive thinking. Why couldn’t I help myself? I’d never thought of that before. I always thought I needed to find the perfect therapist who would give me the magic solution and the reason I was so pitiful was that I hadn’t found the right person yet to cure me. It never occurred to me before that the only person who could cure me was me.

For some reason I finally decided no one was going to help me and if I was going to be saved I better do something myself. But I didn’t know what I could do to help myself. What? I had no idea. I decided to think a positive thought like all those self-help books said.  I couldn't think of a positive thought. The only thought that came to me was "green frog" so I decided to think that. What could I lose? I could always fall back and continue and pick up my screaming and crying. and crawling on the floor anytime I wanted.

But, just for a minute, I would think of "green frog." I kept thinking it and thinking it and thinking it and I kept putting off the depression for just a bit more while I thought "green frog." It was the first time I had ever stood up to my depression and challenged it. After about 20 minutes I really felt okay. No pills, no shock treatments no therapy. I just fought back, all by myself. I was totally surprised. I had never "come out of" a depression before as a result of some action I took. Before, depression had lasted for days, or weeks or months, then it kind of faded on its own, then it hit again.

From this day on I devised a whole new way of thinking for myself. Depression might come upon me, but I found I could always hold it at bay for a while with new thinking and new behavior. I no longer cringed before my depression. I learned to ignore it while I engaged with life in some small positive or productive way and always, after a while, minutes sometimes, hours other times, my depression faded back into my brain from the "devil's corner" in my brain where it always lays curled.

I know it is there. I can never kill it. But it no longer runs my life. Like a mad dog, I turn away from it and it seems to have an invisible chain that it cannot follow me any longer where I go. The darkness cannot intrude itself on the light. We need to keep our light turned on.

The principle behind the chain on my depression is that the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. My current dominant thought used to be how depressed I was. I learned to make other thoughts dominant by repetitively thinking them over and over until the brain turned away from its following depressive thinking and became engaged in more productive thinking, at which time the "mad dog" holed up again in its cage, waiting for another opportunity to take me over.

The depression dog can try, and it still does, now and then leap on me and bring me down. But my thinking is so automatically geared to making another thought dominant that the dog’s lunges are usually short-lived. The dog has its own chain because of the principles by which the brain functions. One is that the brain works by learned association. There is a new learned association in my brain between depression and my thinking another thought so that depression never appears without the idea to think something else.

Here is another principle. Depression is only produced and is limited to the subcortex of the brain. It is never in the area of the neocortex. You can learn to brainswitch from the subcortex to the neocortex by thinking a different non-emotional cognitive, or funny or nonsense thought.

The other principle is the process of pain perception. The signals that depression, or any other psychic or physical pain, is being produced in the subcortex must travel up the brain and not only be received but be acknowledged in the neo-cortex. The acknowledgment is beneath our normal awareness but if you know it happens you can prevent the acknowledgement that depression is going on in the subcortex by thoughtjamming it with another thought in the neocortex, like "green frog."

The other principle is that the human being can only think one thought at a time. This is why hypnosis workd for heart surgery and transcendental meditation works for depression and anxiety.

Don't give up. First go to a good Chinese nutritionist to make sure you don't need to take some hormones or nutrients that are missing in your brain that could bring on depression or anxiety. Then start to plan some mind techniques, some nonsense thoughts, nursery rhymes that you are going to concentrate on instead of your depression.

No longer do the behaviors of depression. This is easier even than doing the mind techniques. Don't talk in a weak, sad voice. Don't look unhappy. Don't lie sulking on the couch. Smile. Look at the sky and thank your lucky stars that you don't see a mushroom cloud outside your window. Get up, do some exercise, do some small chores and be cheerful and helpful to those around you. and stop thinking so much about how you feel. Self-focus breeds depression. When your behavior changes a lot of your feeling does too. 

Believe me. If someone were sawing off one of your arms you would immediately cease to be depressed. You would be thinking about how you were being tortured. But you don't have to get that drastic. You can think something like "green frog" or "hippoty hop" instead of the thought I am depressed. Hope this helps. It's hard to do at first, but you get better at it.  A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Small Exercise for Big Problem

My neighbor came over for tea two days ago. During the conversation she complained that she has been so worried about the economy and all the politics in the news that she thinks about it and can't get to sleep at night.

I suggested a very simple exercise that I use all the time myself.

Simply count 1  2   3   4   pause and then 5   6   7   8 . Do this over and over until you get to sleep. The mind can only concentrate on one thought at a time. If you simply insist on counting, which has no emotional connotations, your mind is soon turning away from anxious thinking and is lulled by the boredom of the repetitive counting.

The brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. You make any thought dominant by insisting upon thinking it, repetitively.

She called me yesterday and said the technique worked. She did get to sleep much more quickly.

Another great thing about this dumb little exercise is that the more you use it, since the brain works by learned association, you actually create a neural connection with the exercise and the going to sleep pattern in your brain and the technique works more and more quickly the more you use it.

Another thing I do when my mind starts racing with thoughts when I should be sleeping. I ask myself "Do you want to think or do you want to sleep."

Then I do the counting exercise.