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jeffreyd

Hello again, struggling lately, I'd really love to hear from you!

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Hello everyone, I really hope you are doing well today, and are getting stronger. I have posted before, but it has been a long time. 

This year has really been a test. I have come to the realization that currents meds do not help anymore with my depression and anxiety. I have tried so many, including the new methods out there, and no positive results. Its hard to come to this conclusion, but I am working 100% now on cognitive based therapy. Reading some books, articles, anything that can help me heal.

Recently our youngest moved out, so the house is more empty and quiet. I really miss having the kids home, we are so close. My wife is a teacher and goes to her classroom everyday. I just got laid off last week too. My self esteem is broken now, it is very difficult not to continually obsess over my situation, that I will not find a job, and I am letting people down. I feel like I have failed. I feel alone, like everybody's else's life if moving forward, and I am left behind. Feeling isolated, rejected. 

The depression side makes me not want to do anything. I know how important keeping busy is with anxiety, to get focused on something else, but I have a negative outlook on everything I think of doing. Which makes me just lay around, trying to escape my feelings. Of course I cannot sleep, so this leads to rumination, until I cannot stand it anymore and force myself to get up.

I was on Paxil for about 12 years, and it really worked for making my mind stop ruminating. I could just deflect certain feelings, they did not stick. I was more motivated and enjoyed things. Without it my thoughts seem to take control. A constant barrage of self sabotage, negative outlooks, self pity and anger, feeling stuck in this pattern. Everyday seems like the last, a struggle to do things. Can I just enjoy life sometimes? How? There are moments when I do feel a bit better, usually when I am out of the house, like if we go somewhere for the weekend. 

Really trying to find some way to feel good about myself. Get some strength to keep moving forward. Keeping busy, doing things I enjoy, even if I think I won't enjoy them. I have things I can focus on, like learning new skills so I can find a job. Really worried about this as my motivation is low, and my outlook is negative. Like "will learning this really help me, or is it just a waste of time?"  In fact, I think of most things this way. But life is the little things, I used to enjoy them more, now I belittle them, and say "this is mundane".  

And the worry creeps in, worried about my kids, parents (as they age, dad diagnosed with dementia too). I cannot control everything. I know gratitude is supposed to help. I need to practice more. I realize this is about practice. Its so hard! But I have to do it! Neurons that fire together, wire together, as my therapist says. Form new habits, new patterns... A day at time, change will come slowly, but it should come.

So, has anyone felt like this?  Has anyone improved using cognitive therapy alone? I'd love to hear peoples experiences, and what has helped, what has not helped. I feel alone in this, and maybe just sharing things with all you brave souls out there can help us both. Strength in numbers!  I think just connecting with some people would help so much.

I hope to hear from some of you, and we can keep in touch and help each other through these times. Why should be go thru this alone?

Thank you all, be brave, one day at a time, we can do this 🙂 

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Hi jeffreyd,

I remember you from when you used to post here.  I am sorry that things are difficult for you these days.  I can definitely identify with that!

You are a real fighter and I so admire that.  That is just so heroic in my eyes. 

I was definitely helped by cognitive therapy although I have noticed that there is a kind of superficial cognitive therapy and one that is very deep.  Personally speaking, I have been helped most by the very deep form.

The really deep form of cognitive therapy is based on two fundamental attitudes that tend to be default attitudes in people.  The first attitude is a way of looking at things, a way of looking at oneself and others from the point of view of "could be better but isn't better."  It is possible of course to look at anything from this perspective.  This way of looking at things tends to engender typical feelings and moods:  frustration, aggravation, guilt, anger, disappointment, sadness and sometimes hopelessness.  It is would be odd if that point of view did not generate these kinds of moods.

Sometimes people "stuck" in this attitude of "could be better, but isn't better" are unable to see that there is another way of looking at things:  "could be worse, but isn't worse."  If I look at myself or others or things and events in the world from this point of view, my default mood tends towards feeling lucky or blessed, feeling grateful and appreciative, feeling at peace and being able to experience joy of living rather than joyless striving.

Pioneers in the field of cognitive psychology noticed that often there was a discontinuity between life circumstances and mood.  People from Third World Countries, people in very difficult and unhappy circumstances could be very joyful while those in much better circumstances could be weighed down by profound unhappiness.  The pioneers of cognitive psychology found that what distinguished the two groups was often an attitude.  Often those living in horrible conditions in Third World countries had as a basic default attitude:  "could be worse, but thank goodness it isn't worse."

They also found that an attitude of perfectionism "could be better, but isn't better" caused people in much better circumstances to feel miserable, guilty, angry and unhappy.   From this deep insight, many of the other insights of cognitive therapy were engendered.

Changing one's default attitude is no easy thing.  It is not like moving a switch from "on" to "off".  It can take years to change, even decades sometimes.

I grew up to be a perfectionist.  I saw myself and others, things and events and always tended to think:  "could be better but isn't better."  To become a happier person I had to fight hard to restore some balance in my life.  I remember at one point putting little post-its all over my house and car that read "could be worse, but isn't worse, thank goodness."  I had to do that to constantly remind myself that my default attitude wasn't the only way of looking at things. 

Perfectionism as a philosophy tends to reduce all goodness to a single point: perfection.  What isn't perfect isn't really good.  Perfectionism also makes anything less that perfect, bad.   This sort of distorts perspective because it reduces the true range of things and values.  Pushed to extremes, if only the perfect is good then all bad acts are equal:  not getting straight A's in school can be seen as meriting the same kind of guilt that genocidal dictators could experience at the thought of destroying the lives of tens of millions of men, women and children.   Perfectionism tends to the destroy concepts of "better" or "worse" and "more" or "less."  And this can do an injustice to the full range of values in life.  Being a genocidal dictator and causing the destruction of tens of millions of people is much, much, much worse than failing to get straight A's in school.

Some cognitive therapy does not get to the deep level, however, for whatever reason.  I found myself helped most by deep cognitive therapy. 

These are just my personal reflections.  I am not sage or authority on these things and I could be quite wrong.  I am quite wrong about things to be quite honest.  I hope you will get many responses to your post.  I really admire your endurance and motivation.  Those not struggling against mental health issues will never understand how heroic that is.   I hope your time here will be helpful to you.  Sorry if I was unable to be helpful.  Sometimes one can not be very helpful even when one tries.  I wish you only the best!

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Thank you so much Epictetus, for the kind words, support, and motivation. It means a lot to hear from others, their experiences, ups, downs... What you said makes sense. Most of my childhood was "not doing things right", or "not doing them well enough". To be fair, I was not a good student. I had the aptitude, just hated school and acted out, mostly to get attention. I am an only child. I never felt like I measured up to my peers. It is easy to slip into the perfectionism trap, especially in our culture. Achievement is rewarded, celebrities and billionaires are admired. But life for most of us is not this. And we need to know that is just fine. As you said, it could be worse. Its been a tough road, and there are many bumps still ahead, but at least its a road!  Got to keep going...  thanks again. 

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