Innervisions - January 2003
Hey! I made it! I managed to get through Christmas and
the New Year without too many mental scars. Are the pills working
or was my mood controlled by the memories of Christmas past. Or
perhaps it was the celebratory mood of those that surrounded me.
Whichever I had a calm and relaxed time. Shame it didn't last....
I was doing ok, I really was. No racing mind, no black
thoughts, no paranoia or panic. Then I went to be done Tuesday night
and by the time I had woken up the next morning all the symptoms
of depression were back. Damn! Why? Nothing changed in my life except
for the fact that night turned to day and yet my mood swing downwards
was so profound.
I have been contacted by a number of people ever since
I started this digital diary and every one of them was either suffering
from depression or had advice to offer.
One of the suggestions I received was that I should read a book
called You Can Feel Good Again by Richard Carlson Ph.D. (ISBN 0-452-27242-4).
As you will have probably read in previous pages I have read a number
of books on depression and, so far, they have generally been tales
of other individuals who have suffered the 'blues' and the treatment
they have had. This new book, which I bought via Amazon, actually
offered a cure!
Carlson advises the reader to read the book with an
open mind so that is what I did - to the best of my ability. His
very first words are "I respectfully ask that you try to forget
everything you have ever been told about unhappiness, pessimism
and depression - where these feelings come from, how serious they
are, and how difficult they are to overcome. Try to forget about
all the attempts you have made that have failed and all the approaches
that promised results but failed to deliver."
He then goes on to make observations and gives examples
of case histories that have proven successful.
I suddenly felt that this man could be on to something that could
release me from the bondage of depression. Let's go for it!
Carlson then asks the reader to decide to be happy and then make
a commitment to happiness. Ok, I thought, I would welcome happiness
with open arms so no problem there. He wrote that thoughts aren't
real and they are not the same thing as concrete 'reality'.
Now at this point I started to get doubts. My reality
revolves around my thoughts. I don't sit there and make myself think
unpleasant thoughts. I am not even conscious of where the thoughts
come from never mind stopping from fabricating them myself. Our
consciousness is surely made up of those thoughts, they are what
makes us who we are. WHo was it that said "I think therefore
I cleared my mind of negatives again and carried on
reading. Carlson went on to say that "The solution is to see
your own thoughts as thoughts, not as reality." Once again
I questioned this rationale as per the previous paragraph (above).
Although one can influence your thought paths to a degree you have
to have a start point and I believe the start point is the birth
of a thought either from outside influences or from one's subconscious.
The thoughts are not deliberately born out of an idle mind. We think
every conscious moment of our lives. We probably think when we are
asleep too - hence dreams.
But we are not in control of where or when the thoughts
are born, they just arrive. Perhaps it can be something as simple
as visiting a familiar place or seeing something that we subconsciously
recognize. Somehow I get the feeling that Mr Carlson is simplifying
a process that is still not fully understood by medical doctors,
psychologists, psychiatrists or philosophers.
I carried on reading.
"What most people who have never been depressed don't realize
is that when you are depressed you can no more think positively
than get in a spaceship and fly over the moon!"
We disagreed again. Some of the most positive thoughts I have ever
had have appeared while I have been depressed! Love is the main
one I can think of. Love for a child. That is what my depression
does to me. When I am in the depths of depression I can feel overwhelming
love, especially for those close to me. And it is that stark contrast
between depression and love that makes it all so hard to bear. If
I were just in a low mood all the time I would get used to it, it
would become the 'norm'. And yet those moments of love only last
a few short moments before the stormy sky of depressions overwhelms
them. Can you understand what I mean? I could give other examples
of positive emotions that I have felt whilst being gripped by a
depression but I don't want to ramble on for too long.
Read on Pete.
"Remember, the way you feel is determined by your thoughts"
So if you are physically ill it won't affect the way you think.
If you have a disability or an illness that is painful it will not
affect your thinking. I don't think so.
At this point I would like to leave the subject of Dr Carlson's
book because there are points that are relevant and I don't want
to totally dismiss the book thus deterring others from finding strength
and wisdom in his words. Give it a go and see if his theories work
for you. We are all individuals and we are all different.
In the Daily Telegraph of Friday, January 31, 2003,
there was an article in the Health and Wellbeing section written
by Oscar Humphries (son of the entertainer Barry Humphries) entitled
Depression Has Made Me The Man I Am.
Oscar makes a number of points, some of which I would like to share.
"My life became punctuated by sadness, but these
isolated moments of self-pity or melancholy did not constitute depression.
Sadness is normal."
"Varying emotions are essential: they are what
let us love - life without feelings isn't life at all."
"There is a difference between being depressed
and being unhappy. When you are unhappy, even when you grieve, you
can seek comfort from a friend and this compassion can lift you.
Someone who is depressed might be surrounded by loved ones and still
feel alone and unable to see a way out."
"A depressive lives in a world without love - at
times, I have found it to be an empty and desolate place."
"Some people never seek proper treatment - they
resign themselves to their bad lot and simply exist, without living."
"People often ask me how I can be unhappy when
there is so much in my life to be grateful for. But I am rarely
unhappy about something - I am simply unhappy.""My most
recent diagnosis is manic depression. This means that my depression
isn't constant, that there are highs as well as lows. But when I
am in a trough, time stops and days feel like years."
"I suspect that I will struggle with depression
all my life, but it is in coming to terms with this that I have
WHile I wouldn't wish depression on anyone, I believe
that it has helped to form my character, it is part of what gives
me depth and sensitivity."
"It is because I have seen the darkness that I
have seen and appreciated the light."
I could have written most of those sentiments - I wish
The full article can be read at www.health.telegraph.co.uk
- I believe one has to register before being able to access