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I was ready to die and three weeks later I was free of my depression


Lufciferius

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With this post I share my journey into and out of my depression in the hope that I can help at least one person out of their depression.

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Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any person mentioned in this post nor do I get any benefits from promoting the things I talk about. I simply want to help people who are in the same place I was in.

My Story
February 2019 - my second child was born. Our first child was two years old at that time. Although she was what you call an "easy child", I had some experiences with her that left scars. Shortly after our second child was born my depression started. It was quite mild in the beginning. I was in a bad mood more than usual or at times even apathetic. From that point on it got progressively worse.

I was in spiral which goes like this: I am in a bad mood -> I hurt my children or my wife -> I feel bad about it -> I am more often in a bad mood. The only good thing was, that I was aware of the damage that I did. Still at the peak of the depression I had passive suicide thoughts (like "It would be nice if that truck on the other side of the road would roll over me). So after half a year I started searching for ways out of my depression. Never did I expect that the key would fall into my lap by coincidence.

I tried almost anything that did not cost too much. I tried Nootropics (plant based pills to enhance mood and cognitive functions)⚕️, cold showers (I lasted one week)🥶, intermitted fasting🤢, dopamine fasting (this actually helped, but I could not stick to it)🙅‍♀️, different meditation styles 👼 and talking about it. At this point I was looking into local supportive groups I can join. As I am not an outgoing person this was not my first choice. This was January 2020 - almost a year into the depression and also the month it ended.

While listening to a podcast about meditation there was something that piqued my interest. A coincidence that dissolved my depression in a matter of only three weeks. A coincidence that now after more than a year has given me an unprecedented emotional stability. Now I can say with certainty, that it is not possible for me to fall back into the depression. That coincidence is the bio-emotive framework from Dr. Douglas J. Tataryn. The rest of the post is about that technique.

The technique
At first it sounded like your typical "Give me your money and I make you happy" hoax. Fortunately, I found enough freely available information on podcasts, YouTube and reddit to piece together the technique of it. Here I will describe the technique I used to dissolve my depression and which I still use today.

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WARNING: This technique was NOT designed to treat depression. It is a technique to explore and understand emotions and emotional scars. For some people it might even worsen their problem. If you are in therapy, please consult your therapist first before trying this.

There are two ways to approach this. The first is doing it regularly at a specific set time ⏰ - I would recommend that for the beginning. I did it in the first two weeks 2-3 times per day. Still even 1 times per day is good enough. When doing it regularly I am doing it like this:

  1. Find a place where you feel safe. For me that is the sauna. It must be a place where can relax yourself. Where you can be yourself without fear. You will later see why that is important.
  2. Start by feeling your body. That means feeling the breath and movements that come with the breath. Feeling each body part. Whenever you feel a body part that is tense, try to relax it.
  3. For each trigger sentence (I give a list of them after the second way) do the following:
    1. Say the sentence out loud.
    2. Observe if there is a reaction in the body (this can range from a slight tension in the chest to outright sobbing). Wait for at least two breath for a reaction.
    3. When there is no reaction go back to saying the sentence until you have said it 5 times (when you do the practice for some time you will know when there is no reaction and 1-2 times is enough)
    4. When there is a reaction wait for it to pass or at least clam down a little and say it again. Do that until there is no reaction anymore (this can take a while - for me the longest time was about 30 minutes for a single sentence). Let your emotions guide you when the reactions are strong (crying or sobbing) - I will go into detail what I mean by that in the details section.
  4. Reframe each sentence that had a reaction either by inverting the sentence or by rewriting the memory/situations that accompanied the sentence. I will give a few examples of reframing after listing all trigger sentences.

The second way to approach this is when there is a strong emotion either suppressed or open. With open emotions I mean anger/rage 😡, fear/panic 😱, or sadness/grief 😭. I found that using open emotions is the easiest way to approach this technique, but it is not always possible to do the practice in these situations. With suppressed emotions I mean emotions you do not feel directly, but as body sensations. For example, when I am angry, but I must suppress it for any reason, my throat gets super tight. In extreme cases I cannot speak anymore as my jaw tightens up too 🤐. Most of the time it is far more subtle than that. To identify these situations a lot of awareness is necessary. That is why I said that the first approach is easier for the beginning. Of course, both can be used at the same time (having a regular time and doing it when strong emotions arrive). The second way is similar to the first, but it has usually a context.

  1. Find a place where you feel safe. For me that is the sauna. It must be a place where can relax yourself. Where you can be yourself without fear. You will later see why that is important.
  2. Remember the situation that caused the strong emotion (if you know it). Try to resist the urge to release the strong emotions by crying - at least I have developed that tendency over time. Wait to find the correct trigger sentence
  3. For each trigger sentence (I give a list of them down below) do the following:
    1. Say the sentence out loud while picturing the situation.
    2. Observe if there is a reaction in the body (this can range from a slight tension in the chest to outright sobbing). Wait for at least two breath for a reaction.
    3. When there is no reaction go to the next trigger sentence. When a string emotion is ready to usually does not take more than one time saying the sentence to have a reaction.
    4. When there is a reaction wait for it to pass or at least clam down a little and say it again. Do that until there is no reaction anymore (this can take a while - for me the longest time was about 30 minutes for a single sentence). Let your emotions guide you when the reactions are strong (crying or sobbing) - I will go into detail what I mean by that in the details section.
  4. Reframe each sentence that had a reaction either by inverting the sentence or by reframing the memory/situations that accompanied the sentence. I will give a few examples of reframing after listing all trigger sentences.

Here is the list for the trigger sentences as well as the inverted sentence:

  1. Trigger: I am helpless
    Opposite: I am potent/powerful
  2. Trigger: I am hopeless
    Opposite: I am optimistic
  3. Trigger: I am worthless
    Opposite: I am valued
  4. Trigger: I am insignificant
    Opposite: I am significant
  5. Trigger: I am inadequate
    Opposite: I am adequate
  6. Trigger: I am a bad person/parent/...
    Opposite: I am a good person/parent/...
  7. Trigger: I am alone
    Opposite: I am connected/cared for
  8. Trigger: I am lost/disoriented
    Opposite: I have a vision
  9. Trigger: I am empty
    Opposite: I am full

Reframing step in detail
This is the most transforming step of the practice. Only with this step do long lasting changes occur. As explained later in the section "What happens and why does it work?" this technique basically resolves feeling believes. In short because for traumatic or many smaller experiences where one of the trigger sentences is felt a believe is formed, that "I am [..]". This is part of our character, of who we are. The reframing step tries to dissolve the believes from their root. This might sound a bit too good to be true, but you will see that is quite logical shortly.

Especially in intensive sessions it is often the case for me that I remember something from the past. Either an especially traumatic memory or many smaller occurrences of this feeling believe. It does not necessarily have to be a memory of my childhood. It can also be a memory from a few minutes ago. While being in the third step I will play these memories over and over again together with saying the trigger sentences until all emotions of that memory are released 😭. I know that I am at that point is simply that I have no bodily reaction to the memory nor to the trigger sentence. And now the interesting part starts.

At this point my head is extremely clear as there are no emotions that cloud my mind. So, my logical brain can now look at these memories objectively 🧐. It is easy to see why that feeling occurred, but also why it most likely does not have any relevance in my life anymore. That realization alone is enough to color that memory in a different emotional color, so that it does not trigger anymore. And now I will give some examples how I resolved some of my feeling believes.

Example - Going through my regrets in life 😟
The trigger sentence here was "I am worthless". I remembered while releasing the emotions many memories of wrong decisions. These ranged from buying a useless toy as a child to not perusing my dream career with more vigor. After releasing the emotions, I could look at each memory individually and see what I learned from that regret and how I applied that knowledge. Even now after many weeks after that session I can still look at these memories without feeling troubled.

Example - Finding my purpose 💪
The trigger sentences were "I am disoriented." and "I am worthless.". This time more general memories were occurring , that I always did what I was told instead of choosing myself. Choosing my profession, choosing my school, choosing my hobbies, ... This time it was not enough to look at the memories objectively. Sometimes it is necessary to go into action. For this session I felt that I needed to find a purpose which reflects me and which is not decided by others. And just like that I knew it. For me being in the reframing step this happens quite often, that I have a sudden inspiration about the problem.

Example - Accepting helplessness 😨
The trigger sentences were "I am helpless." and "I am hopeless." In this session it did not need to go to my childhood. I remembered a night with my daughter where I was alone with her and she did not take the feeding bottle from me. She cried herself to sleep because she wanted milk and I sat helpless beside her bed and could do nothing. Here there was no reframing at all. It simply had to accept that I was helpless and that something like that will happen again, because that is life. It took me a couple of sessions to work that one out.

When there is no clear memory involved with the session, I will at least say the opposite sentence out loud. For example, "I am bad." -> "I am good." or "I want to be good". Sometimes this gives me another emotional release. In the reframing examples above I had additional emotional releases as well. Other times when inverting the sentence I suddenly remember something and can work with that. There are even times when nothing happens. In that case the same sentence will come up again in the future. The last case where nothing happens usually occurs, when the "emotional pressure" was not enough.

Other fine details
Here I will go into a few fine points about the technique, that I found out during the course of this year of using it.

What is meant with "let your emotions guide you"?
First of all being emotionally charged liked that, triggers some memories from the recent but also from the distant past. Do not resist the memory. Do not analyze the memory. Simply let the memory play 🎥. Once you remembered it you can use the memory in addition to the trigger sentence by consciously playing the memory while saying the trigger sentence. Sometimes it is helpful to articulate the memory. For example in the third reframing example above I articulated "I don't know what to do. I am so sorry. I don't want to hurt you." while playing the memory of me sitting beside the bed. These were things I could not say back then. A little trick to invoke memories, when there is no memory is to ask in my thoughts "Where have I felt these feelings before? Was there a similar situation in the past like the one that triggered these feelings?". Another thing I mean by "let your emotions guide you" is to let your emotional brain change the trigger sentence. Sometimes I feel like the trigger sentence is not the cause, but only an effect. For example, I can switch from "I am a bad parent" because I yelled at my children to "I am alone" because I remember a situation where I had to much responsibility in the past. For me that also means that I sometimes go from "I am worthless." to another sentence, which is not a trigger sentence like "I am not needed.", because the reaction is bigger.

How to start with this practice?
As mentioned before, I would recommend doing it at least daily or even more than once per day until you had a couple of strong reactions (crying, sobbing) 😭. For me it was difficult to let go of my control. It was difficult to let the tears flow. I needed two weeks of daily practice and small reactions until I got my first big release. After it becomes easy to let go, to release the emotions and to recognize suppressed emotions, it is usually enough the do the second approach, that I talked about above.

How to handle strong emotions?
With that I not only mean crying and sobbing. For me that means rocking back and forth. Having the feeling, that there is too much. That if I continue, I will burst or go crazy 🤯. For me it also means that I feel like I must flee or destroy something or someone (including myself). For me it also means that I have the feeling of millions of ants crawling over me. In the beginning I had stopped and would tell my wife about it. She would than clam me down and I would cry "more comfortably". Now I know that this is not necessary (which is probably a blessing if you do not have someone to turn to). Now I ensure myself that I am safe. That nothing can hurt me in the place where I do the practice. After that it is always a combination of patience and relaxation that pulls me through the reaction. Patience to wait until it is over, even when it feels like it will never stop. I have learned that for me it is often a sudden and unpredictable stop. Especially when I want to flee or hurt myself or others it helps tremendously to relax my body. The whole practice should be done with a relaxed body - as far as possible. Only then will the reactions be "safer".

Why do I keep yawning during the practice?
It took me a while to figure that one out. At first, I thought, that yawning is a way for me to suppress crying. Later I accepted, that yawning is simply a weak reaction like tearing up. Nonetheless, I am still annoyed by it from time to time.

What happens and why does it work?
In this section I will go into the theory behind it 📔. Both from the sources I used as well as my own understanding. When I have any experience, the brain stores the memory together with the feeling. When the feeling is strong the memory is strong too. That much is common knowledge. Some of you might even know the next part. When I have an experience, where the feeling is especially strong or suppressed - suppressing seems to strengthen the impression -, my brain will remember that I must avoid these experiences. The process to do that is a bit of a double-edged sword.

When I am in a similar situation, I will subconsciously feel the same feeling I felt in the first experience. This is valuable, as I will not make the same mistake again. But if the remembered feeling is strong, the new memory will be stored with the same feeling even when nothing happened. To go with an example here, let's imagine a small child not remembering something when it was asked about it in front of an audience (for example school). The feeling might be: I feel stupid -> I feel inadequate. Later when faced with a similar situation the child will be nervous as it subconsciously remembers the feeling 😖. Because it is nervous it makes a mistake again and again. Now comes the part which was new to me.

For each new memory a so-called feeling believe is strengthened. In the first experience the child simply felt inadequacy. But after many instances the child will develop the believe: I am inadequate. It becomes a part of their being, of their character. Later in life when as an adult he/she needs to give a presentation 👩‍💼, he/she might trigger this feeling believe and in worst case avoid the presentation at all cost. How does the technique help in this case? This is what was hard for me to believe, but in this one year I confirmed it over and over again.

When doing the practice, I remember all or at least some of the situations. I feel very strongly the accumulated feeling believe. I release all the emotions safely through cry, sobbing and so on 😭. After that the memories are still in my head, but the feeling is not. Now the logical brain can look at the memories and reframe them. Basically, I am reprogramming the memory. I do not change the feeling I remember in that situation, but the feeling that this memory is giving me.

For the example above she/he could reframe like that. She/he could summaries that she/he felt inadequate because the teacher was ridiculing her/him. But she/he simply had not learned that fact yet. Later he/she was simply nervous and could not remember the facts he/she had already learned. Now he/she is very knowledgeable in her/his field. So, there is no reason to feel inadequate. Later when remembering the first experience he/she remembers, that as a child he/she felt inadequate, but the feeling he/she now feels when remembering is a feeling of sympathy and acceptance 👼.

With that the feeling believes are dissolved. I assume that all of us have many feeling believes we are not aware of. With this practice we can dissolve them one by one and become free of the burden of our past. And now I will take about why that is helpful for depression.

Why does it work for depression?
Unfortunately, I do not remember the talk in which Dr. Douglas J. Tataryn talked about depression. But I remember that it resonated with my experience. The following is only a hypothesis based on my own experiences. It is not scientific accurate.

When I was in a depression, I was most of the time apathetic and exploded easily 🤯. The hypothesis is, that when there is too much suppressed emotions, the emotional brain is cut off. Because we cannot work being "emotional" 24/7 or because there is no time - because you cannot punch anyone in the face for no apparent reason. Being triggered 24/7 happens most likely because there are many strong feeling believes which get triggered throughout the day.

Being in a depression means that most experiences are colored in negative feelings, so the feeling believes accumulate faster -> the depression gets worse. The way out is the way through these feelings. Processing them safely, reframing the feeling believes and finally returning to a "normal" state of mind 👼.

Further resources

The first podcast, that helped me understand the basic concepts

The second podcast, that helped me understand the basic concepts

This reddit post describes the basic technique

Here are many more informative talks and videos

When you subscribe to the newsletter you get a short e-book about "Healthy Crying" - at the time of writing this

Here is the shop, if you want to spend money - you should be able to start without spending money

Conclusion
This technique can potentially get you out of the depression. But it is not the safest way. It is a good practice for explorers and anyone who does not know what to do anymore - seriously before doing something more extreme, there is not more harm in trying this. Again, if there is even one person that I can help with this post all the effort was worth it.

Please feel free to ask me anything. I will always try to answer as fast as possible. Just keep in mind that I am German so there might be a delay because I must sleep 😉

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