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Tag Archives: depression
I often meet parents whose adult children who are suffering from a mental illness such as anxiety, depression or anorexia, or who are suicidal. When I hear these parents talk about how they're dealing with this situation, they often appear very stoic. They say things like “I need to be strong in order to support my son”, or remark that “I've told them that they are very strong”.
At the same time, I often notice my own feelings of emotional disconnection around these same parents during our interactions. They often talk a lot about themselves in great analytical detail but without much real emotional engagement, and rarely ask me about my own life or how I feel.
I sense that they're avoiding something in our conversations: a sense of emotional connection.
Unfortunately these behaviors are exactly the opposite of what a person with a mental illness needs in order to feel the sense of emotional safety, love and support that could potentially heal their brain and help them through a time of deep crisis.
While all parents instinctively love their adult children, mentally ill people need to be surrounded by love and support that they can actually feel.… Continue reading…
I got a question via email last week about how to tell when therapy is working. Here it is, along with my answer:
I have been in psychoanalysis to treat emotional abuse for 4 years now, and am still in a really bad place. I exploded in anger and stopped talking to my mother, father, family and friends only writing to them to wish them dead in horrible ways. Then I burst into tears a few times realizing my friends do care and love me. But I am still feeling bad despite having been crying a lot in the past year and having a much better relationship with friends and family. I feel confused and lost. I wonder whether I should change therapists as after 4 years I still feel "like shit" and cannot work properly. Many thanks.
Thanks for your question; I'll do my best to give you an answer based just on the little bit that you've told me. I get that at the moment you feel "like shit" as you've had 4 years of psychoanalysis and still cannot work properly, so you're wondering if your therapy is going right or whether you should change therapists.
Rates of mental illness are rapidly increasing in the Western world. Depression and anxiety have become common place, and they're just the tip of the iceberg compared to more severe mental illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia and so-called personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.
So why has mental illness become such a problem in a society which offers more opportunity, longer life expectancies and greater possibility than ever before? What causes mental illness, and how can it be cured?
I'm not a psychiatrist or doctor so don't take what I say as medical advice, but my opinion is that virtually all mental illness is caused by a build-up of psychological pressure in the primitive emotional centres of our brains. The cure is to learn how to release this pressure in a safe environment with empathy from another human being.… Continue reading…
Time for some truth-telling: things haven't been entirely rosy here at Confident Man Headquarters in the last few months. Life has ups and downs, and I'm certainly not immune to the emotional roller-coaster effect they can cause. They say bad luck comes in threes and I don't know if it's just bad luck, bad karma or whatever, but I do know it hasn't felt all that great lately.
So what's been going on?
Well, firstly I started a new treatment program for Chronic Fatigue and although I'm cautiously optimistic of my health improving, one of the initial side-effects was being hit with a truckload of anxiety which left me feeling despondent, depressed and hopeless.
Around the same time I entered a Theatrical Improvisation (a.k.a. Improv) contest with some new friends of mine; only to withdraw before the contest had even begun because I was feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. Something I loved doing suddenly stopped being fun.
I also quit Toastmasters because I now know enough about public speaking and it doesn't make sense to pursue it any further until my health improves. This meant my social world was shrinking, right at the time I was feeling isolated, ill and anxious already.… Continue reading…
Ever had a girl break your heart so badly you thought you'd never recover? Couldn't get her off your mind? Desperate to get her back? Then you might find John's story helpful; and besides, I need to debrief to get this guy out of my system.
I met John in a youth hostel while on a winter road trip up the east coast of Australia in search of warmer weather. He seemed like a decent guy who was always cracking jokes, and before long the two of us were entertaining some of the other backpackers with our stories of adventure and comic irony.
John seemed intrigued when I mentioned that I was a recovering perfectionist, and asked me several times to elaborate about that. I told him the story of how I had a fulfilling engineering career up until the point where I decided I didn't enjoy it any more and decided to change direction. He could relate: John had studied law, and hated every minute of it. Then he'd joined the military, and he'd hated that too. He hated prosecuting people who hadn't done anything wrong, and in general his conscience bothered him a lot. He was from California, which he hated because it was being over-run with Mexicans.… Continue reading…
When you're feeling low, listening to music that describes exactly how you feel can help you get more deeply in touch with, and hence process, your raw emotions. So long as you avoid creating a story about why you feel bad that just reinforces the feeling, listening to music you can relate to can help you to move on from unpleasant feelings.
Here's a list of my favorite music for when I'm feeling sad, depressed or discouraged:
Soul Asylum: Misery
Misery loves company. Great for relating to frustration.
Linkin Park: Somewhere I Belong
If you're feeling lost and just don't seem to fit in, you'll relate to this one.
Evanescence: Going Under
For when you're feeling overwhelmed, like you're drowning.
Lily Allen: The Fear
Feeling anxious? You might as well acknowledge it... other people will be able to relate too.
Eminem: Lose Yourself
We all struggle with self-doubt from time to time. Just remember: success is my only motherfucking option, failure's not.
Gwen Steffani: What You Waiting For?
You've felt bad for long enough now; take some action to change it. What are you waiting for?
How about you? Do you have a favorite song for for when you're feeling low?… Continue reading…
I've been there myself, and I know how debilitating depression can be. It sucks the life out of you. There's a zoned-out feeling in your head, a blank look on your face, and an all-pervading sense of hopeless like you've never felt before. The light has gone out of your eyes. It's a different feeling to sadness, which tends to pass when you've cried it out. Depression hangs around like a dense fog, clouding your judgement and colouring everything a nasty shade of grey.
Psychiatrists will tell you that depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. They're right, but this doesn't say much; your brain is a complex biochemical system and pretty much any problem in there comes down to a “chemical imbalance” of some sort. The questions to ask are: what caused it, and what to do about it.
There's no instant fix for depression, and everyone gets down sometimes. It's part of being human. But small steps in the right direction add up. The following tips have worked for me, and will gradually get yourself feeling more hopeful and optimistic as the fog of depression clears and you get back to enjoying life again: