... and DEPRESSION too
Depression, Suicide, and... What else?
(as if these weren't enough)
These things I speak of are not set in stone.
Never is seldom, and always is never.
We grow, we evolve.
Life is change.
DEFINE: Chronic Depression - Ongoing or reoccurring depression which is extremely resistive to treatment.
Are you new to being depressed?
Are you old to being depressed? And chronically depressed too, just for the fun of it?
And don’t resist me! Let your hair down and listen...
Dealing with chronic depression is by nature confrontational. We are trying to reverse the addictions of the unconscious mind and the unconscious will for certain, resist our efforts.
I have, time and again, been e-mailed by someone who has stated that they have been depressed for 10 to 30 years and that they are sure that I am an idiot. They think that whatever and whenever I write on this is simplistic and that I do not understand the complexities of depression.
I do, I do. Believe you me.
I’m depressed. Expertly depressed!
But WHY then, do I voluntarily subject myself to such abuse?
It is because of the slim chance that a few chronically depressed people might be able to overcome their anger and rise above their despair just long enough for them to read further and gain benefit from my blabberings.
Not one of us sat down one day and said ‘I think that I want to be depressed, this is what I’ll do to reach that goal.’ Depression is a process that happens, we do not willingly cause it to happen, nor do we actively want it to continue. Those who have never been depressed many times think otherwise. To them it is crystal clear what we are doing wrong to cause and perpetuate our own depression. Yet they do not truly understand the workings of the unconscious mind, nor do we.
Genetics and chemical imbalances aside, chronic depression is the result of our inadvertently allowing the depression itself to determine and dictate both the cause and the cure of our depression. In other words, we are relying on the depressed mind to come up with the answers needed to end the depression.
But, truth be known, THE DEPRESSED MIND is a hack!
Our depressed mind does not have an innate knowledge of the cause of our depression nor does it understand or have direct control of the unconscious mind. Even so, our depressed mind would have us think otherwise.
Unfortunately and characteristically, those afflicted by chronic depression are many times the first to affirm that they are beyond help. But, in their support, many do have a preponderance of evidence to sustain their claim.
Some have been prescribed up to 10 or more different medications in a guinea pig approach to psychiatry. Many have met with inept therapists who sometimes have more problems than the patients they are trying to ‘cure’. We are led astray by a plethora of choices, each a subliminal promise of cure. There are over 200 differing talking and curative therapies, there are herbs, angels, aliens, gurus, white buffalo, bleeding statues, ‘experts’ and miracle drugs. Each with promise to ease our pain. Yet the pain remains.
In addition to these outside forces, our own depressed mind sabotages our efforts to find the true cause and cure of our depression. As the depression progresses our problem solving sessions digress from time spent trying to solve undue and unresolved stress, into a time spent worrying that there is no solution. We begin to devise solutions aimed at relieving the pain and the symptoms of depression rather finding solutions to the underlying cause of that depression.
I have identified certain behaviours and thought processes which place depressed people at risk of becoming chronically depressed:
- The Quick Fix
- Intermittent Therapies
- The Cause and the Cure of Depression
- Dysfunctional and Maladaptive Thinking
- Ghost From The Past
- The Illusion Of A Solution
- Luck of the Draw.
1. THE QUICK FIX
“Shut up with all the words, already. I am too depressed to read all these long articles. Why can’t you just help me?” Why? Wish as I may, I do not possess a magic wand that I can use to instantly wave away your depression and make it all better with a few choice words. That is the promise of the mystical guru, and the cultist, a power which I choose not to have at my disposal.
There are millions of depressed people world-wide who jump from website to website, from therapist to therapist, from drug to drug, continually seeking that most illusive ‘quick fix’. Instant gratification is what we are programmed to expect. Our unconscious mind needs to reduce stress at the time of origin, it does not have the luxury of being able to wait on a long drawn out plan of resolve. The chemistry of our emotions will destroy us if we do not keep the level of stress within the bounds of our genetic tolerance.
So we see countless numbers of people on a never ending search to find that illusive instant cure which is sure to be around the next corner, on the next page, in the soon-to-be discovered miracle drug. All the while the depression worsens and the addictions increase their grip on our minds.
The Quick Fix reminds me of the relentless pursuit of get rich schemes such as winning the lotto or making a killing in the stock market. The odds are against us, but there is a thrill in the promise of hitting it big and having enough money to fix all of our problems and ills. Since the vast majority of us do not win, we would be better advised to save the money spent on the get rich scheme. Over time the benefit of compound interest would assure us of more money than we could spend in our later years. But where is the thrill in that?
Some will win the psychiatric lotto of the Quick Fix, most will not. It is the mundane, the day to day directed and informed efforts that will make tomorrow a little better. It is for sure that the odds are better. In retrospect the mundane is transformed into a satisfaction that you were able to make your life better without the need to rely on the illusive luck of the quick fix.
2. INTERMITTENT THERAPIES
Much of the failure of traditional self-help programs and talking therapies is their lack of intensity and their intermittent nature. If we find a beneficial procedure in a self-help book or during a therapy session, we possibly feel better for a short period of time, but the nature of our depression soon overwhelms this feeling and we are back where we started. One hour of help once or twice a week, even with possible home work assignments, allows ample time for our negative ruminations and suicidal urges to return and plague us once again.
This may cause a constant state where we are forever on the brink of cure, but we never really get there. It could go on for years, this constant up and down. Over time the prospects of cure become more and more dim and the depression becomes worse. We end with just maintaining and never getting well.
From this one might think that all therapy should begin with an intensive one week stay in the hospital. But this is not practical and may not be that beneficial. Few of us could afford a prolonged hospital stay and although a hospital does protect us from the outside world for a time, it also allows us ample time to lie around and think ourselves into an even more depressed state.
3. THE CAUSE AND THE CURE OF DEPRESSION
Our depressed mind deals with depression as if those forces outside ourselves cause our depression and that the cure is also other enabled. “It is they who cause my pain, they are the reason I am depressed, it never ends. Why won’t they help me, they don’t care, who will help me? Will I never find the answers?”
They do cause us pain, and many of them do promise cure. But, let me assure you that the cause, and the cure of depression comes from within. I have already shown the cause of depression, it is something that happens, we are not at fault.
The cure for depression comes when you change YOU, not when you change them. Is this fair? Of course not! Is this easy? Certainly not! Is it possible? Yes it is!
4. DYSFUNCTIONAL & MALADAPTIVE THINKING
This is by far the most difficult concept to address and for many it is also the most important. It is relatively easy to identify those ‘solutions’ which are causing us further stress when those solutions are blatant, such as intense suicidal thoughts, or cutting oneself. Yet there lurks, in many of us, a pattern of thought which is dysfunctional, maladaptive and almost impossible to self-diagnose. It is the result of learned and reactional responses which help us to cope with stress as we are growing up, but it is possible that these responses put us at odds with our environment in later years as life circumstances change.
It is unfair and maybe even hurtful when I use the words dysfunctional and maladaptive to describe behaviour and thought patterns which are a normal response to abnormal stress. One of the first reactions I see when I use these words is one of intense anger. “It is society that is screwed up, they cause my pain, why the hell do I have to be the one to change?” The simple answer is, because you do not posses the power to change society, or even another individual, you only have within you the power to change yourself.
You have no other options.
This does not mean that you must change your basic belief system, you are not the cause of what has happened to you. Nor do you have to forgive those who have done you harm. The change comes when you free yourself of the anger and the despairing thoughts which continue to exercise control over your present behaviour and emotions.
These patterns of thought cause us to narrow our perception of reality and to prejudge people and situations in life according to those narrow views.
They might include:
-All or Nothing Thinking. “I always”, “They never”.
-Self Pity or Self Guilt. “I am worthless”, “I am evil”.
-Feeling Alone. “They don’t understand”, “No one cares”.
-Feeling Unique. “I am the only one with this pain”.
-Unrealistic Expectations of Self, Others and of Life.
-Prejudging and Stereotyping People without evidence.
-And last, but not least is the ‘yes, but’ syndrome.
~ How is it possible that we might spend our whole lives searching for a quick fix, when in truth the answer lies in a relatively short term directed and informed plan of action?
~ Why do we only intermittently work on a problem which has the potential to ruin our lives or maybe even prematurely end our life?
~ Why do we fixate on, and blame others, when in our heart we know that the answers lie within?
~ How is it possible that we acquire behaviours and thought patterns which do us more harm than good?
The answers to all these questions is that we do not understand the workings of the unconscious mind and that we rely on the depressed mind to determine both the cause and the cure of our depressed state. The depressed mind does not have the knowledge needed to end the depression and it is more influenced by the addictions of the unconscious mind than it is by logic and reason.
You can ‘explore your emotions’, vent your anger, and think of solutions to your problems until the cows come home to roost. But if your problem solving sessions end with no realistic plan to stop depression and at the end of the day you are demoralized and not looking forward to the coming day, then what have you accomplished? Nothing! You have reinforced your anger and your despair. The next time these emotions are triggered they will likely be more intense. Many who are clinically depressed never come to the realization of this basic truth.
That is because they take their counsel from their DEPRESSED MIND.
5. GHOSTS FROM THE PAST
There are certain events and circumstances which should never be allowed to take place in our society. But they do happen, at an alarming rate.
Physical, mental and sexual abuse are a travesty against our youth and our women, an affront to the essence of that which is human. The victim must not only somehow endure the pain and humiliation of the incident, but if they are to lead a normal life, are also forced to somehow exorcise the ghosts from the past which are adversely affecting their present lives.
There is no doubt that physical abuse is wrong, it sickens and angers us when we witness the bruises and scars. If we, as a society, do not intervene the result may well be the death of the victim of physical abuse. We should be no less appalled and protective of the victims of mental abuse. The additional problem with mental abuse is that the bruises and scars are left on the mind of the victim and we may not be aware of the problem until long after the actual abuse.
Those who abuse are most times trying to exercise control over another human being, a control that they are unable to gain over their own life and emotions, a life which is terribly out of control. They are many times victims of abuse themselves, a fact that in no way absolves them of their crimes, but it does explain the continued cycle of abuse present in some families.
An additional travesty concerning abuse is that the abuser and the abusive act continue to exercise control over the victim well after the abuse ends. This is manifest and reinforced in the pain, blame, anger, hate and despair which continue to plague the victim, even if the abuser is now in their grave. But if the victim is to ever gain control of their life and their emotions, the blame, anger and hate must not be reinforced, it must be stopped.
Does this mean that we must feel sorry for or forgive someone which we have just cause to be angry with or to even hate? No, we do not. At some point in time your abuser stood at a crossroads much like the one you are faced with at the present time. For whatever reason, at that time, they allowed the ghosts of anger and hate control of their life and of their emotions, resulting in their lack of control and their abuse of you. What will you do? The difference is that they did not have this manuscript to help guide them, but you do.
If you let go of and not reinforce your anger, despair, hate and thoughts of retribution the abuser, in time, becomes inconsequential, maybe a little pathetic in the passing. Their control of your emotions and of your life is stopped.
You assume control!
Something which at long last, is fair and just.
6. THE ILLUSION OF SOLUTION
The depressed mind has a limited number of treatments available. They only include that which makes us feel better in the here and now, and that which gives us the illusion of control. In the Doctor’s bag of therapies are such diverse ‘remedies’ as:
* Angels and Unicorns, aliens and other worlds.
* The death fantasy and suicidal ideation.
* The preoccupation with medications when the drugs are not working.
* Self mutilation, or blocking mental pain with physical pain.
* Over dependence on others who are depressed.
* Over dependence on one’s therapist.
* Preoccupation with one’s body image to block the pain and exercise ‘control’.
* Trying to control other people or events when self control is lost.
* Hiding from the pain by forming ‘protected’ personalities.
* Giving up on attempts at self control because depression is a genetic ‘disease’.
Remember the definition of ‘THE DEPRESSED MIND’? It is when we allow our depressed mind to determine the cause and the cure of our depression even though the depressed mind has no experience in such matters. Our depressed mind does not know how to end depression and it has no innate knowledge of the workings of the unconscious mind.
The depressed mind only knows how to give us short term relief from the pain of depression and the pain of life (stress). The unconscious mind becomes an unwitting accomplice because these thoughts and behaviours are reinforced (They do relieve pain and stress in the short term). But these thoughts and behaviours do not end depression and they do not solve our life problems, instead they become addictions and compulsions. The unconscious mind begins to ‘think’ that these thoughts and behaviours are germane to our very survival because they are the only ‘solution’ available.
But let me be very clear. Once more. THE DEPRESSED MIND IS A F***ING HACK!!
By allowing our depressed mind to dictate what is the best concerning the treatment of our depression we actually reinforce that which is most harmful in the long term.
7. LUCK OF THE DRAW
For many of us, whether we become depressed or not, has in some ways been the luck of the draw. We cannot change our genetic heritage, nor can we change our past. Our society is so complex that much of what happens to us is outside our ability to influence or to control. Yet, these things are not set in stone. Humans have the capacity for change.
Luck is a function of random possibilities, we cannot control our luck. But we can change that which is possible, by directing our actions and thoughts in the present, thereby alleviating our need to rely on luck. We have the capacity to give direction to the randomness of that which is possible.
Genetics, in regard to human behaviour and the depressive response, patterns and directs environmental input, they become one and indistinguishable. If the environmental input is changed the whole can change.
Our evidence of the past is contained in the conscious and the unconscious memory of our emotional response to that past, our present reaction to the emotions of those memories is subject to change.
The patterns, habits, addictions and compulsions of the unconscious mind need reinforcement in order to remain a driving force in our lives. If, by our conscious actions and thoughts, we do not continue to reinforce these conditioned responses, they will over time, change.
Life is not as it seems.
What is true and real are merely a function of our perception of that truth and reality.
What we perceive is subject to change.
We grow, we evolve, life is change.
Without change there is no life.
Change has an infinite number of possibilities.
What is possible can be given direction.
We have the ability to change and give direction to that which is real, true and possible in our life.
We have the ability to take control of our life, if - WE - choose!
Depression And Understanding Thoughts of Suicide
Depression results from the inability of the conscious mind to provide solutions which relieve undue and unresolved stress. The unconscious mind must resolve stress at the time of inception, otherwise the chemistry of our emotions if left unabated would destroy us, or at least do us irrepealable harm. The unconscious uses psychological pain in an attempt to motivate the conscious mind to provide solutions. The conscious mind begins to think that there are no solutions, and that the pain will never end. We lose positive expectation. Many times from the conscious mind there emerges a solution of last resort, that being suicide.
Suicidal ideation provides relief from the psychological pain of depression and provides solutions in matters of undue and unresolved stress. If we are dead, the pain ends. If we are dead, the antagonists can no longer control our lives or cause us further pain. The suicidal fantasy does provide temporary relief and if used extensively it becomes a conditioned response which is automatically triggered when stress becomes intense and unmanageable.
RATIONALIZATION AND JUSTIFICATION
We are unlikely to act on any fantasy until we have completed a process of rationalization and justification. We take the elements of the fantasy and make them workable in the real world. This is a normal method of problem solving, where the conscious mind envisions possible solutions to problems and then judges whether the solutions fit within the bounds of social morals and personal guilt restrictions.
The rationalization and justification of the act of suicide may take differing forms:
- The inability of the conscious mind to solve matters of undue and unresolved stress leads to the conclusion that there are no other options left. Although we do not want to end our life and we continue to hope for a last minute reprieve, we are convinced that it will not arrive in time. Therefore we have no choice, suicide is the only option left to us, it is the only solution.
- The fact that suicidal thoughts may be the only relief from the stress of life and the pain of depression that we have had in months or maybe even years, is a powerful and compelling force. Our suicide will possibly hurt our family and friends, but in the long run they will be better off to be rid of such a wretched and worthless person.
- The Bible does have restrictions on the act of suicide, but mine is a special case. God has already abandoned me, he doesn't answer my prayers and he sends my way nothing but pain and continual problems. I am already in hell, what matter if I am alive or dead?
- The rationale which is common and easiest to accept is that somehow we are going to a better place when we die, a place free of pain and stress. What this does is take the negative expectation which has permeated and controlled our lives from the time the depression started, and change it into a positive expectation that there is a brighter future ahead.
The power of this positive expectation, in the mist of emotions and a life out of control, is compelling. It is so powerful that it is possible for the depressive response to be reversed as a result of these misdirected 'solutions'. This calm pseudo-rationalization was observed just before the members of Heaven’s Gate left for their meeting with aliens on the other side of a comet passing close to Earth.
What has just happened here? How is it possible for the conscious mind to rationalize and justify an act which is irrational and destructive? The solution of suicide is conceived by a depressed conscious mind. This is a mind state which has no innate realization as to the cause or the cure of depression, but seeks only to find solutions which will relieve undue and unresolved stress and end the pain of depression in the short term.
How is it possible for the unconscious mind to become a party in the conspiracy to end the existence of our being, an act which is totally counter to it's mandate of the protection, control and procreation of that being?
First, the conscious mind has fulfilled its obligation of problem solving in order to provide relief of undue and unresolved stress. Suicidal ideation allows relief which in turn gives the unconscious control of the emotional response within the bounds set by our genetic history.
Secondly, the conscious rationalization and justification of the act of suicide relieves us from our guilt and fulfils the basic need of positive expectation in the future.
HOW DO WE END THIS CYCLE OF CONDITIONED RESPONSES AND BREAK THE CONSPIRACY OF THE DEPRESSED CONSCIOUS MIND AND THE ADDICTED UNCONSCIOUS MIND, TOWARDS OUR ULTIMATE DEMISE?
We must first realize that it is possible to reverse the depressive response and stop suicidal ideation without the need to solve all of our life problems, and even though we have a strong genetic propensity to depress.
Further, it is possible to desensitize the impact of our emotional memory. We separate the emotional response to an event, from the memory of the event itself. It is only necessary to change our perception of how our life problems and our emotional memory affect us now and in the future. We then regain a positive expectation in our future.
Secondly, the conscious mind must do and think those things which stop the reinforcement of the depressive response and suicidal ideation to the unconscious mind. We stop the negative, angry, disparaging and suicidal thoughts which are presented by the unconscious mind so that these emotional responses are not reinforced. The unconscious mind will present these emotions less often and with less intensity than before, allowing the conscious mind more control. Also, our negative 'problem solving' sessions are stopped and replaced with the therapeutic process. (alternative therapies, medications and the talking therapies)
We must then offer the unconscious mind alternative solutions in order to fill the void left by our stopping the negative, angry, disparaging and suicidal thoughts.
The unconscious mind must keep our level of stress within the bounds of our genetic tolerance of that stress. It must do so at the time of incidence in order to adjust the chemistry of our emotions. If we take away the depressed minds, traditional methods of moderating stress, i.e. suicidal thoughts, self mutilation, despair, or anger, then we must offer other options which relieve stress. Those options should not be just another form of short term relief, they must include a plan to end depression (give us positive future expectation - the placebo effect) and they must include immediate relief of stress (the therapeutic process).
Now we are able to realize that the depressive response can be reversed or controlled independent of past emotional trauma or genetic propensities and in spite of our present life situation. We are not reinforcing the negative forces in our lives and our conscious mind is fulfilling its mandate of providing solutions to undue and unresolved stress. Now when stress becomes intense and unmanageable the unconscious mind presents our new solutions of the therapeutic process, instead of the old standbys of suicidal thoughts, self mutilation or an almost infinite number of other dysfunctional 'solutions'.
The unconscious mind will resist our efforts. We will feel as though we are doing something wrong, that we are violating something which is essential to our very survival. The unconscious mind will, at first, continue to present these old 'solutions', they may even be intensified for a while. It is at this point where many depressed people hit a block wall and the chronically depressed never get past this unconscious resistance to the therapeutic process. This is also the time when it is best to have a competent and caring therapist in order to help us through this difficult time.