Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Symptom of Thinking Remix

Prester John
March 28, 2008 at 7:52 pm

(dear) etta - Sometimes I feel like my personality, my addictions, and my depression have somehow colluded to ruin my little life. Other times I think I’m really just a maladjusted-dysfunctional goof-ball. The few times my depression has really been beaten back (in the last eight years or so) I immediately begin to doubt that I was ever sick and that I was just somehow allowing life to kick my ass. Before I can make any real progress though, it comes creeping back and becomes the thing that defines me.

etta
March 29, 2008 at 3:52 pm
(dear) Prester John- Ain’t depression GRAND?! What other illness could screw a normal, hey-I’m-feeling-better day (or moment) into another reason to worry rather than celebrate? Gotta love it. I know exactly what you are talking about. Fortunately, I have a wonderful therapist who was able to teach me, finally, after seven years of this fun, that negative thinking is actually one of the symptoms of depression! Rather than a cause, as most well-meaning friends will tell you, negative thinking is actually a part of or a result of the illness–--not the other way around. That gives me some relief on those “good” days when my mind starts trying to F it up.

Prester John
March 30, 2008 at 7:29 am
(dear) etta - “negative thinking is actually one of the symptoms of depression...!"
I’ve never heard that before. In fact, the joke of a therapist I had several years ago once noted how negative my thinking was. Mind you my life was disintegrating around me. Even if I hadn’t been depressed I’d have certainly been under a lot of stress.
Thanks…

This brief conversation over on crackedheadblog led to Prester John checking out my February post titled, The symptom of thinking. He then gave me one of the nicest compliments any writer could receive, which you may read for yourself, as I am going to rerun that original post today. After re-reading the post myself, I also thanked my psychologist. She was the person responsible for the revelation that negative thinking is a symptom, not a cause, of depression. So simple...but so counter to everything we learn and hear. This IS a big deal. Thank you, Deb. Keep spreading the news!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The symptom of thinking
No resolution yet to this most recent mind-numbing, purposeless rut. But maybe a reprieve... Yesterday, I swam. Today, I ran. Two consecutive days of exercise, and yet I still feel bad. That's the mind-numbing part. Even when I take positive steps to take care of myself, the satisfaction which would normally follow is stolen quickly away. I'm left in a blank stare thinking, "and what was the purpose of that?"
Depression is a clever demon. It steals the meaning from the meaningful. Strips the purpose from the purposeful. Life becomes a slow series of steps, literal steps, one foot in front of the other, with no reason for the journey nor reward at the end. So I ask again, "What's the point?"
Intellectually, I know exactly the point. My brain knows there is purpose even where I feel none. My mind is numb, but my brain knows. My brain, as if detached and looking in on the scene, answers the question as I methodically remove my sweaty running gear. "This is helpful," it says, "even though your body won't let you know. You have to keep moving forward. You'll only feel worse if you stop." That's been one of the few times my brain has been able to squeeze a word in lately.
Depression is clever and consuming. It normally boxes out those rational thoughts. I assume, after swimming, or running, or cleaning that I will feel the satisfaction of my accomplishment. A sliver of pride, maybe? Not so when depression is running the show. No matter how positive the steps I take, depression bombards me with unrelenting disparaging, derogatory, and demoralizing thoughts. There is no room for rationality nor emotion when depression's thoughts consume me.
It took me a long time to learn and trust that these horrible, put-down thoughts are actually a symptom of this illness. Sneaky depression! The thoughts are mine, aren't they? If we listen to most people, depression is the result of our negative thinking--our own character defect. (Hence, the popular fallacy that we can cure depression by smiling and thinking happy thoughts!) But it's not true! Finally, after 6+ years of illness, thousands of hours of therapy, multiple hospitalizations, and countless treatment regimens, I learned that these all-consuming, horrid thoughts are a symptom not a personality flaw.
A symptom, not a personality flaw...now that's a thought!

Copyright to me: etta - 2/13/2008 05:19:00 PM 2 comments

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