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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Need Ideas for a Day List of Positive Switches out of Depression

I have tried ordering on the www.depressionisachoice.com (will not accept orders from Australia) I have however after much travelling the web ordered a copy via Amazon in the US.  The only problem is that it will not arrive until Dec or January.
I have copied and downloaded some of the information on your blog, however I would be most grateful if you could send via email to me or put onto your blog a selection of the brainswitching exercises  ( I have the green frog etc) so anymore would be most helpful due to the delay in being able to access your book.  I am very grateful for whatever you can give me. PS I joined the blog, but cannot find a way to put on a question. Thank you
A Day List of Positive Switches to use is what I had in mind if possible.

Dear J,

As for positive switches any nonsence phrase or nursery rhyme like higgilty, piggolty....barber, barber shave a pig, how many hairs to make a wig....baaa baa blacksheep.....counting 5 6 7 8 over and over. ..any words like holly jolly...... oh by golly.....yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today (that's an old 1940s song I use all the time) ... 

One women said she changed her whole life after suffering from depression for years by saying "so what? so what? so what? rather than thinking that she felt bad every time she felt a dip down into depression.  Hope this helps. My book Brainswitch out of Depression actually has more exercises than Depression is a Choice. The publisher of Depression is a Choice did not want to use a bunch of exercises because they wanted the book to be taken more seriously than a normal how-to book.

For more exercises, go to my author website www.abcurtiss.com, click on the depression is a choice website and click on “Exercises” on the left menu

A. B. Curtiss

Many thanks once again have now copied some of the exercises from the below link and also from the other email. I now believe that I can cope using these and look forward to receiving your book. It will be a Christmas Present to myself. I may try and join your blog later.  You have been terrific and I believe in your work. Cheers



Monday, October 28, 2013

Negative People Bring me Down

Dear A. B.

Both replies yesterday were very helpful.  I am so grateful that you responded so quickly.  That was my concern with grief--crossing the line to biochemical imbalance/depression.  Your description of continuing the day's tasks while being gentle with oneself/others and the quote makes sense and feels doable.

SAD puzzles me more--I can see where I need to "catch my thinking"--yet I also feel a distinct physiological difference with shorter days.  Do you think that the full spectrum light makes a difference?  Yesterday when I was waiting for a Starbucks coffee--the person in front of me paid for it and told the young man waiting on me that she liked my dogs. In spite of the grief I felt on that dark day--my mood lifted immediately--giving me hope that it is possible to continue to shift my focus. 

Your choice of words--lost, abandoned and unsafe made sense to me.  As an "incest survivor"--I think that I may have a very strong association with the dark and those words.  I don't recall actually thinking I feel lost, abandoned and unsafe--but it does seem to trigger some strong associations. (neural pathways?)  

Another challenge I have encountered as a recovering person is how to keep myself from going "down" the path of depression when listening to the news (which I can limit) and social interactions.  Without the buffer of meds I have become quite aware of how negative most of my family sounds when they talk.  I have tried "shifting" the focus to different topics.  (I have been amazed that even "lighthearted" topics shift quickly to what's wrong or not "good enough.")  I even had a relative who was upset with me for not "listening" to her problems.  So the dilemma is how to be compassionate and respond in a thoughtful way while not going "down" internally.  

You have so many great techniques in the book--Brainswitch (which I am currently rereading) perhaps there is one that deals with this area. If not, perhaps you would consider writing a book that deals specifically with relationship/communication issues!  I have a friend who simply avoids all of her family!  

I understand if you don't have time to respond to this email.  Please know that I appreciated the time and thoughtful responses.(which I have copied to reread.)  Sometimes after reading a book I feel like continuing the "conversation" with an author.  How truly generous of you to be available to your readers.

Mahalo Nui Loa


Dear S,

I remember when I had a back injury and a friend came over to cheer me up. She had one story after another how somebody she knew or some relative had "something similar" and had died, or become paralyzed of ended up in some kind of dire straits or another. I could feel myself feeling worse and worse. I couldn't believe it and could hardly wait until she left. 

Some people don't really communicate with you, they just verbalize what's going on in their own heads and use you as an audience for their monologue. You have to be very proactive to keep the conversation half-way reasonable or tune-out and hope they go away soon. Some people are never going to learn how to "share" stories. That's really how human beings communicate, isn't it, we tell each other our stories. And some people, sadly, are only interested in their own stories, or in how they are going to critique your story. For this problem, I refer you to what I think is the highest wisdom: The Desiderata

Here is first paragraph again although it appears elsewhere on my blog, I'm sure:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, 
     and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender 
     be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, 
     even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, 
     you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Does Brainswitch work for SAD?

Dear A. B. Curtiss

I am sure that you receive thousands of phone calls and emails.  I can only hope that we will connect.  I have been fighting depression for over 30 years.  I was a positive, active person in my teens and early 20's.  When my late husband went into the hospital for the second time due to his alcoholism--I started having panic attacks.  At one time I was an excellent runner--and that was my "go to" place to regain calm and focus. Unfortunately, I had been in a serious car accident and could no longer run. Yadayada.  But, you get the picture of the beginning of a downward spiral.

At that time I was put on antidepressants/antianxiety meds. which did very little to alleviate the problem--in fact I became quite dependent on the Lorazepam.  I eventually lost my career as a teacher of young children and literally "hit bottom" last January.
I finally found a doctor to help me get off of the psychotropic drugs.  I used the techniques describes in your book--but still experienced suicidal thoughts--which I fought with Brainswitch and walking.

 I am finally off of all drugs--and thought I was making progress.  I walk (a lot!) care for an elderly man and help with care of our grandson. I feel a bit "foggy" on a lot of days but still hope to become more functional and mentally sharp.  Thought I was making progress until the days began to get dark again.  It literally feels like a windowshade in my brain has been pulled down.  I have read about SAD and use full spectrum lights but this is the first time in years I have faced the dark days of winter without drugs. 

My question is very simple--Does Brainswitch work for SAD?  Is there anything in addition you would suggest?  Thank you so much for letting people know there's hope.  

Mahalo Nui Loa (thank you from the heart)


Dear S

Yes, Brainswitch does work for SAD. SAD is just like any other downer shift of thinking that antecedes downer shift of feeling. The earlier you can catch yourself falling, the easier it is to distract yourself and move in another, more positive, direction. In addition to mere distraction from SAD, you can always do something to cozy up your home with a  crackling fire, or colors that are bright such as reds and yellows. or comfy quilts to snuggle up in. We are sensitive to our environment and we can also do much to change our immediate environs.

The trick is to invest these things we have used to cozy up our environment with the idea of feeling cozy and safe and identify with and introject them. And withdraw and distract ourself from investing the dark day with ideas that we are lost, abandoned and unsafe. SAD happens because we attribute to the dark day things that are not true about them and then we react to the things we have attributed to the dark day, not to what it really is, but what we have habitually attritubed to it.

SAD happens when we start to identify with and introject the immense grey skies, incessant rain, dreary sidewalks and roadways as if they are us. They are not us. We can make a small space of our own within this darkening world and learn to bring to it our own sense of comfort and coziness. When we go out into the dark day, we can learn to enjoy it more by reminding ourselves that it isn't us and it isn't endless and there is no rational reason to attribute those things to it and then react to our own attribution. We can begin to think of the dark day as a contrast to what we have waiting for us, as a measure of comfort when we go into a brighly lit store, or a movie, or our business or our home where cozy things welcome us. Seeing both our comfy nearby environment and the dark day as contrasts but not that one is hurting us, we can more easily move through the dark day.

SAD is faulty thinking just like other forms of depression. When we drop the thinking and replace it with different and more productive thinking, the SADness or depression lifts, and we can move forward with our day.

If you want to you could get yourself a talisman. Some object, piece of jewelry, that you always have with you and whenever you feel you are over-identifying with the dark of the day you could grab on that talisman and remind yourself that you can choose other thinking, other things to identify with.

Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B. Curtiss

I asked earlier about dealing with depression in the winter.

Same ? --for  the "big stuff"

loved ones dying

Mahalo Nui Loa

Dear S,

Yes, we all must mourn our losses but we must not let that appropriate mourning turn into the chemical imbalance of depression. We must be able to accept the pain and hurt of loss as all human beings are, sooner or later, forced to do. We all must simply surrender to the pain of loss, and let the pain make its way through us. Like the old saying, “Say yes to the pain.” Then, after a suitable time,  it is our duty to pick ourselves up and gently move ourselves forward with our day. We are never alone in our sorrow over some loss. We never know what great sorrow fills the hearts of some stranger walking next to us down the street.

Here is a quote that I find helpful for this:

The English theologian Richard Cecil (1748-1777) says: “Duties are ours, events are God’s. This removes an infinite burden from the shoulders of a miserable, tempted, dying creature. On this consideration only can he securely lay down his head and close his eyes.”

A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Feel Nothing

Dear AB

I've had depression since I was 16. I'm in my 20s now. I don’t think sad thoughts. I dont think anything. If you could read my mind with superpowers or technology, you would hear silence. I think in images and videos. It actually takes me mental effort to think in words. I would have to force myself to think in verbal phrases/sentences.

When I was 17, I lifted weights for months on end. I structured ny exercises into sets and reps. I followed my workout religiously. 2 hours straight every 2 days. I didn't do lower body weight lifting because those exercises kept cramping me up every time (but I did play football for 30 minutes every school day at lunch, for fun).

The workouts didn't help. I couldn't feel fear, anxiety, happiness or pleasure. Orgasms became almost non-existent when I turned 17, despite having high testosterone (checked by blood tests). That same year, after months of lifting, I became physically 50% stronger, but exactly the same mentally/emotionally.

I can't bring happy thoughts into existence any more than I can force myself to feel love for someone that I don't (like how couples grow out of loving each other and can't mentally force the love back into existence).

Today, music has no effect on me anymore (it used to be orgasmic), I haven’t felt love in 7 years, video games/action movies give zero excitement. Comedy has no impact on me at all anymore (I used to love it more than any other film/TV genre).

Drugs like weed, caffeine, opiates, and stimulants don't help (and I've only ever had a weed habit and caffeine habit, when they used to help). Half the time amphetamines and opiates do nothing at all (I just sit there as if I just took homeopathic meds), and the other half they put me on an emotional roller coaster (without the happiness/pleasure). That’s right, I got sad and violent from a shot of morphine in the ER, and

I've also gotten sleepy from adderall and meth before. Ritalin made me incapable of feeling pleasure or emotion, and that was at age 13, when I was still normal.
Alcohol kind of works for 30 minutes, but I get a hangover after 2 drinks, and 1 drink lasts 1 hour tops. Anti anxiety meds make my body sore and weak, and make me grouchy (always did, even before the depression).


I often laugh at jokes or pretend to be enjoying a movie when I'm with friends or at a party, but its just a mask/face I'm putting up; there is never any emotion behind it. Until I turned 16, things weren't this way. In fact, suppressing negative emotions is part of how I became like this: I supressed the bad ones, and now I don't need to supress anymore; I have nothing left to supress, good or bad.  P

Dear P

Your situation is one of the problems with the over-medication of children and adults with mind-altering drugs. After a while, nothing works, your adrenals are dry, your endocrine system out of whack, and you have depleted the brain of the neurotransmitters that you need for the neurons to talk to one another. I would suggest that you seek a Dr of Chinese Medicine or some kind of homeopathic nutritionist. Sounds like you might need some kind of de-toxification. A place like The Optimum Health Institute in La Mesa, CA might help. There are similar organizations throughout the country.

I would also suggest that self-hypnosis might help or the services of a hypno-therapist. Perhaps Alcoholics Anonymous might be a step in the right direction. It sounds like you have already self-medicated yourself most of your life and might need more professional direction. You could even start with a psychiatrist for a diagnosis. But this is a problem because most psychiatrists depend upon prescribing pills based on a list of your own self-analysis of your symptoms.

How do you support yourself?

As a life goal, trying to feel good is never successful. Feeling good is a by-product of a human being's good physical health (when the cells get what they need), their sense of purpose (for what reason might they be here in this world?) and their ability to maintain an intimate connection with others.

Although you will immediately brush off the idea, still, volunteering for some worthy cause to help others would get you moving in the right direction on two of the necessities of life, a sense of purpose, and a  healthy connection with others. Beware of self-focus when you do volunteer. Self-focus is the road to ruin in any situation.. For instance, self-focus means analyzing your feelings constantly while you are volunteering and thinking to yourself "Why should I bother doing this, this isn't making me feel any better."

When volunteering keep turning your focus away from how you are feeling and concentrate, instead, on what you are doing or what somebody else is saying.The way you make other people important to you is to make an investment in them, to listen to what they are saying, to see how you can join them in some endeavor or help them in some small way  to make their lives better for that moment. 

Look around you and see what small task continually presents itself for you to concentrate on instead of concentrating on yourself. There is always some small next thing to do. Do the first thing near you, the second task will present itself. Most depression comes not from emptiness but from lack of fulness.

I'm sorry that you are in such a bad place right now. That can change. 

A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm Trying So Many Things but Am Discouraged

Dear A.B.

Again, thank you for individually replying to me. I continue to incorporate much Pilates to my exercise program which I started ages ago. Yes, it has helped a lot with my back pain. I cut out dairy and gluten long ago also. I took a supplement, tremadone that is supposed to help but not sure it does. Also recent improvement with probiotics and citracel which I used before.

All not sure if helping, but I keep trying anyway. This morning my mantra was "you are blessed by god, you need not be afraid" for I am afraid of every move I make whether it is the right wrong. My history involves a lot of the same things but I have not been able to put my faith in Chinese medicine or supplements either.

 Food is a big thing but because of trying so much on that score I've become afraid of eating. I know you are trying to help me with all your suggestions but in truth it just adds to my confusion of right and wrong to do. What I take from all this is there are people trying to help people but we are all like the blind leading the blind. R

Dear R,

Yes, nobody knows "the answer." We all try to help each other based on what has worked for us. Sometimes some small thing will click, and make a difference.Seems like you are going in the right direction. Have faith in the way you have taken authority over your life. A. B Curtiss

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There is Only One Pain Caused by Fear but Many Different things that Cause it to Trigger

Dear R,

I didn't hear from you after my last email so I thought maybe I hadn't focused my answer enough that I posted just previous to this post. Maybe I had broadened the answer too much. So I have tried to refocus my answer to your question by making a more direct comparison between the two kinds of pain, the pain of depression and the pain caused by regular fear of something in current reality.There is only one fear, one flight-or-or fight response that triggers. The difference in our approach to handling that one fear and the pain it causes is altered by the situation in which it occurs

"The way we dissociate ourselves from our painful feelings is by switching to thinking about something else rather than what is happening in our present reality. But dissociating from painful feelings isn’t escaping from painful feelings. These repressed feelings hang around and drag us down in many ways, including depression."

What is brain switching but dissociating from our painful feelings?  Depression causes physical pain in current time.
When you dissociate from the pain of depression you are dissociating from a chronic neural pattern that triggers automatically whether there is something in current reality to be legitimately afraid of or not; you are not dissociating from the pain of regular fear caused by something in the current day that has frightened you. And by dissociating from these reality-based fears (we are not considering here whether or not you should be afraid of speaking in public or social snubs) the fear is repressed and you suffer the fear anyway as you become less sure of yourself and avoid situations in the future similar to the one where you first experienced fear.
You then start projecting the original fear on other things. A child who is not coached through his perfectly normal fear of going to his first birthday party (there is always some fear associated with our doing anything new and different and should be accepted as part of life) may spend his whole life avoiding parties. Someone's fear might have stemmed at first from a social snub. Then, not dealing with this fear, accepting it and letting it finish, that person might become afraid of all social situations. (We call this social anxiety) This can escalate into such a boatload of repressed  and projected fears that some people are afraid to even walk out of their house. We call that agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is quite different from depression but they both stem from fear and the pain caused by fear.

Monday, October 14, 2013

One of your Paragraphs Wiped out my Hope

Dear A. B. Curtiss

"The way we dissociate ourselves from our painful feelings is by switching to thinking about something else rather than what is happening in our present reality. But dissociating from painful feelings isn’t escaping from painful feelings. These repressed feelings hang around and drag us down in many ways, including depression."

What is brain switching but dissociating from our painful feelings?  Depression causes physical pain in current time.

I read your books a while back and just revisited  many of your ideas in an Internet article. After reading through the whole thing and being convinced, I came to the end to have you state the exact opposite in the above paragraph.

Also about foods. All this fear of food is part of our current paranoia and fear-based culture.

You advocate replacing painful thoughts (which create physical pain) with a neutral or nonsense or positive thought pattern to escape depression so how is this different from "dissociating" from our physical and mental pain and thus causing ourselves more depression.

My depression as you state is that nothing will work and with one paragraph you wiped out any hope I had that your method would work either.

From experience I have come to fear psychotropic drugs. I can no longer take them. I keep trying your method, mindfulness meditation, tai chai, positive affirmations and a plethora of self-help stuff trying to find the common thread. Self-help, except 12-step, seems to leave out God or a higher power which in itself scares me. I am constantly suspicious that all this "new age" stuff is just the wicked one saying "you can fix yourself, you don't need God." I'm so tired of looking for answers.

Sent from my iPhone. R.

Dear R,

Thank you so much for your letter. I would never be one to say you can get rid of depression without God. I consider my own reliance on a higher power, call it what you will, to be an ever-present mainstay. There is always help for anyone, believe what they will, who falls on their knees in a state of true supplication and humility and asks for help. To be sure they can add "by the Grace of God and for the good of humanity" to guard against dark powers. People who took courses in Silva Mind Control always included this phrase when they went to "alpha level."

I think I understand your quandary about depression being current reality. Just because you are, at any particular present moment, experiencing the pain being produced in the subcortex as a result of the triggering of the fight-or-flight response which has, in turn, triggered the neural pattern response we call depression, that doesn't mean that depression is present reality (your upon-the-instant interaction with your surround.) Depression masquerades as present reality because it is so painful it immediately gets our full attention. But depression is, in fact, not true present reality. Depression and the pain caused by depression is a state of alarm from which you need to recover as soon as possible. Depression actually blocks out the true reality which is that, (as other people can plainly see) you are reallyperfectly all right and not in any real present danger.

I have found that the quickest way to recover is to use some (already chosen so as to have it at the ready) brainswitch exercise which prevents the present acknowledgment in the neocortex that depression is being produced in the subcortex. Remember that present reality includes our connected with our fellow human being. Depression alienates us from our fellow human beings and the regular workaday world and hurls us into a painful world which we continue to self-create all by our selves. Also remember that the processof pain perception means that all pain is produced in the subcortex but those signals have to go up the brain to be not only received but acknowledged in the neocortex before a human being can feel any pain.

This is important to remember. The fight-or-flight system does not trigger because we are in a dangerous situation. It triggers because we think we are in danger. It is our THOUGHTS that cause our emotions, NOT REALITY. In real estate you need to fully understand three words-- location, location and location. In depression you need to fully understand three words--  perception, perception and perception. We could be in a real life-and-death situation and not realize it, and our fight-or-flight system will not activate. Or, we could be perfectly safe and start feeling anxious, and off it will go!

So it is no surprise that depression can occur in the absence of any reality-based concrete problems. Depression is a psychological “This is the house that Jack built.” This is the anxious thought, that connected with the terrible thought, that sparked up the fearful thought, that branched into two terrible memories, that triggered the fight-or-flight response, that caused the chemical imbalance, that caused the depression.

If you are confident enough to "hang" with the pain of depression in a state of calm acceptance of it, that calm acceptance is neocortical activity and neocortical activity beefs up the neural activity in the neocortex and lesses neural activity in the subcortex. However it is more difficult to "get" how to be in a state of calm acceptance (instead ofthinking "Oh no, not again) than it is to use the help of a small mind exercise that
dissociates you from the acknowledgement that you are experiencing the pain of depression, until, no longer agitated and producing more stress chemicals because you are experiening the pain of stress chemicals already produced, the stress chemicals will dissipate and the depressive neural pattern will calm down and ceased to "jangle." Only then can you be in true present reality, the world and surround you share with other people.

This acceptance of anxiety is extremely difficult but necessary to learn in order to recover from PTSD cause by drug use which has over-sensitised your nerves. This is slightly different from depression. When I was prescribed too much oxycodene I had to learn this. The book, Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes is invaluable help for this.

Don't give up hope. If you still have a question, please don't hesitate to ask.

A. B. Curtiss