TS 1: The reasons why I get depressed

I’m yet again in a bout of depression. Depression is such a broad term. It represents chaos, melancholy, feelings of hopelessness, and inability to change.

A first session with a therapist usually consists of niceties, getting to know each other, questions about sessions, about the methods a therapist uses, rules of conduct, etc.
I’ll skip it. Use your imagination.

Mos is the name of myself as a therapist. A ‘she’. You can read about the players in this game here.
My lines are in plain, non-italicised letters, Mos’ lines are italicised.

Hello Mos,
my life is chaos. I feel like drowning in everything I should be, should do, and, trying to do everything, I end up doing nothing properly.

I cannot focus, I feel overwhelmed by everything, by what I should do, all at once, I cannot prioritise. Everybody else is better off. I hate myself. At least when I’m depressed, I really deeply hate myself. When I’m not too low, I don’t hate myself, but I’m just low. I feel it’s hormonal – in my “normal” state I have my cognitive processes fully running, but feel chemicals do their (wrong) job so I feel unhappy. Or indifferent at best.

I don’t know whether I need a psychoanalysis, or CBT, or NLP, or just going out more. I just oscillate between ‘can’t-stand-it’ and ‘let’s-survive-another-day’.

Hi Anney,
we’ll sort it out. Let’s find a thread with which to start untangling these feelings.
You may just need to talk about it. To say it out loud. To give your thoughts structure, cohesion.

I don’t know where to start. I wish to have a beginning and a clear goal. Then I could tell you what’s wrong with me.  

That’s why we are here. We wouldn’t be here if you knew everything.
You are also at the beginning, so why put yourself under pressure for later problems?

I know myself quite well. I know everything how I should act, what to do to be better, but I don’t do it. I know my depression types and all.
I don’t do feelings. They’re complicated, so I just ignore them. I know I should tackle them now and then, but …
I came here to tackle them, but I don’t want to.

It’s only natural to feel the fear of unknown. If you’ve never dealt with feelings, you don’t know them. So you fear them. We’ll start small, and grow from there. All right?

I suppose.

Tell me of the things you feel sure about.

Uhm …

You feel depressed, you said you know your types. Do you mean major depressive disorder as opposed to dysthymia? *

Yes —. No. The types of depression are so confusing. I just say I have depression. It probably means major depressive disorder (MDD), or dysthymia, or melancholic depression. I would settle for minor depression, too. I can’t judge how severe my form is. And it doesn’t matter. If someone said I had major, or minor, would it change my feelings? No, I suffer as I suffer.
What I meant was, I know my symptoms, and I know what causes my depression.

Then you have a good starting point. There’s something you already know.

Yes. There are three types of my depression, I categorise them by possible causes. The first is the guilt induced. I feel guilty of something all the time.
The second is triggered by my low self-esteem, which mostly stems from my inability to do tasks which others do easily. Or by anything others can do which I can’t. Or by what I should / shouldn’t do. Here I might also put my constant underachievement. I don’t finish a task or a project, be it on a daily or long-term basis, and then I’m depressed.
And the third type is my fear of responsibility. I’m not afraid of admitting I’ve done something wrong. I’m afraid deciding, for fear the consequences of a decision might be devastating. 

These are your triggers? Usually, the triggers for depression episodes are a loss of a loved one, job, or a divorce, big changes. What you are saying is, your depression is triggered by daily events. How do you experience your episodes? How long they last?

Guilt for the past, low self-esteem for the present and fear of responsibility for the future. I’ve covered them all. [I can smile :)]
I don’t believe in episodes. I don’t know of a state without depression. Even if 
I am well, without depression, it’s usually of a short duration – a day or two. 

No, wait,– I know of an instance, a period without depression.
It was when I was pregnant with my first child. I felt ok. Not happy per se, but I said to myself, “Oh, so this is how it’s like to be without depression!”
This is how I know my depression is mostly hormonal. If I was in a different hormonal state then, then it’s the normal (depression-ist) state also hormonal. I must just figure out how to balance these hormones.
But I’m talking about the triggers, yes. Those that can’t be avoided. 

Triggers cannot be avoided, no, but we can develop mechanisms to be less sensitive to them. Maybe we can even become immune to some (or all) triggers after the process. 

Well, I doubt I can do this. I fail at all the things. And I’m not able to meet deadlines. And I’m always late. We’ll have many problems before I can start dealing with depression. And I procrastinate. And I don’t want to do it myself because I’m lazy. I want someone to do it for me–

Please calm down. We have all the time in the world to tackle what’s stressing you. We’ll pick one and work on it. And after that, we’ll pick another. And so on.
I must point out it’s harmful to talk or think in absolutes like you did just now. Always do this, never do that … Because your self-image is then distorted. Because sometimes things are different. You can change. I’ll talk about this another time.
It’s been enough for one session.

I have a homework for you. We’ll go specific.
Take notice, make a list of all the triggers for your guilt-induced depression occurrences. You can do it in real time this week or remember past examples. Describe the fashion in which feelings of guilt lead to depression. We’ll probably see a common denominator and tackle that manifestation of depression there, at the root.

Uhm … I have homework?

Yes. You need to work on your issues every day. By homework, you do it, you don’t just mull over. 
Good luck. See you next week.

See you. [Disconcerted by the early end. Don’t all sessions end too soon?]

*We don’t do a diagnosis, we just assume there’s one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(differential_diagnoses)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mood_disorder#Depressive_disorders
https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/depressive-disorders
http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/depression-pictures/avoiding-common-depression-triggers 
https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-relapse-triggers-for-depression-how-to-prevent-them/
http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/major-depression#1 
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-central/201006/glee-club-results-oriented-vs-process-oriented-approaches
http://www.clinical-depression.co.uk/dlp/depression-information/causes-of-depression/ 

P.S. It’s hard to write of being depressed in a state when you aren’t. But then, this is what writers do. They write regardless of the mood. Some writers, at least.

P.P.S. This post is updated in a new post, ‘The flavours of my depression‘.

Dream analysis 1*

Today I’m not too creative, thus the descriptive, boring, uncharacteristic title.

A quick recap.
I dreamt about being in a lecture, something like the evening university class, while my children were gone sleeping for the night at home with my husband. The lecture ended (I don’t think its content was important) and we were trying to open some windows, for which I gave advice. Then I got a phone call that my baby daughter is bleeding and my husband is taking her to a hospital. He said not to worry, he got this, I asked what’s wrong with her, I learned she didn’t have a cornea, and how was this possible, she was ok at birth … (I know I invented the problem on the spot. It was like in a lucid dream, because it wasn’t initially disclosed. Only after I insisted the dream gives me an answer, I got an answer.)

I have recurring dreams about lectures. Sometimes I’m late to them, sometimes I just dream of my college building. In today’s case, I think it was about me being back to learning. In real life, or day life, I’m again enthusiastic about learning new things, gaining confidence in acquiring knowledge. For years I’ve neglected the learning process, being in a sort of hibernating state, feeling stupid, and stupefied. I lost all the knowledge (I remember very little of everything) and felt that I’ve lost even the intellect. If not gone, it was at least dulled. Now I’m happy again to employ my little grey cells.
And, relevantly, I’m doing it apart from my family, stealing moments from every member, thinking of nothing but my projects, and in a way neglecting my family. Duh! Henceforth, my dream, where I was on a lecture away from my family.

What was that with the windows, I do not know. I guess it said something about me not minding my own business, but giving advice for petty stuff, losing focus and time. It was dark outside, the windows were big, stretching over the whole wall, with old, light grey blinds. There were a few students, hustling with the windows, while I was commandeering from afar. I don’t know what should this mean. That I’m bossy?

To be continued …

… continued; I’m reluctant to analyse the last part of my dream. Probably there hides the biggest problem. So, I confess, the relationship with my husband is tense lately. He’s under great stress at work, I sleep in the children’s room (well, I have a week will when my son says “Come to our room”, and my husband says “It’s ok”). We are both very tired, and snappy. He often reminds me of my mistakes (being always late would be most relevant here), and I presume he silently judges my hobby (writing, which I take more seriously).
In the light of this strained relationship, “I got this” is in my mind a judgmental statement, really meaning, “Where are you when your daughter needs you – doing trivial things …” Or so it is in my guilty subconscious.
Like now when she is waking up from her morning nap and I try to squeeze a few words in before she wakes completely. What will she have for breakfast? I don’t know, I’ll think of something later. What I should and what I shouldn’t do, regarding motherhood and a mother’s leave? I’m torn between my wants and my family’s needs. Blech. I’m rushing through this confession like through a room of mirrors where I don’t like what I see.

Well, this is quite hard to read, but it’s mostly for myself, so don’t worry if you want to quit.
— [Jack says] — You’re changing the subject and employing your “forgetting” defence mechanism. —
— [Don stares his stern look at him] — Way to go, distracting her to keep from resolving the dream. —
— [Mos waits patiently, non-judgingly] — Go on … **

Can I continue some other time?

Sure, but you know you want to finish this story otherwise it’ll hunt you. How about a break? 

Okay. I’ll be right back. Maybe I’ll go throw some things away.***

The ‘right back’ turned out to be 8 days. Just to wrap up. The trail of thoughts is already cold. What you don’t do right away …
Our daughter had to go to the hospital, a day after she was born. She got a transfusion and all of her blood was replaced. It got to do something with my antibodies attacking her blood cells. Incompatible blood types. Do I think I am guilty? I may feel I reject her like my body (antibodies) rejected hers. Like I don’t love her. I think this feeling will stick with me forever. It doesn’t feel anguishing like some other type of guilt but it is insidious – I might be reserved towards her later in life. I might already have fear of hurting her again. And I might run away from such possibilities / run away from her.
I don’t feel much of this. Is it so deep or is it just speculation?
It is a possibility if it turned out in a dream. As for the invented “problem” – the missing cornea, I might have read about eyes or something, or it was a part of an eye that I think of first. It’s not important (in dreams everything has significance, but I am sure this particular notion is unimportant).

The hint of what is important was the blood, she was bleeding in the dream, and from her eye.
The blood means life, and if she bled (fast), she was dying (fast). And I was not there. I already analysed this. But there is also another feeling I get when remembering this part of the dream. I wanted to be there. I wanted to comfort and cuddle her. To be hers. To be completely devoted, no matter what. (Conflict of interests?)

And there are the eyes. A cornea might be dream-insignificant, but the eye! It’s one of the oldest symbols there is. There is even a hieroglyph of an eye (the Eye of Horus).
Eyes see, eyes take notice, eyes oversee, eyes are all-seeing. There are idioms, eye for an eye, an apple of her eye, etc. The eye is as strong and old a symbol as an apple, if not older and stronger.
Alright, what does this mean in my dream? If my daughter bled from eyes, does it mean she turned a blind eye? Blindness wasn’t mentioned. Crying blood? Bloody tears? Tears weren’t mentioned. She didn’t see me, and she bled? There it is again, not being there for her. But what with the eyes? Closing the eyes means dying. I don’t know, the answer eludes me. I’m sure there will be more opportunities to digest this issue if it is important, so I call it quits for now.

A comment. My daughter is extremely patient – in real life, as well as she was in the dream.

* How to analyse your dreams, a short post here (coming soon).

** You can learn about Jack, Don and Mos here.

*** I am a bit of a hoarder. It’s awful. So I’m now one week into a new habit of throwing away two things a day. Going well. I’ll tell a whole story some other day.

Optimistic … not

I feel quite optimistic today. Err, this morning (I don’t know what the future holds for me). I woke up at 4:30 am and decided it’s no use to go back to sleep if I intended to wake at 5. I checked some new blogs and my first likes of this blog and proceeded to my writing. I left my children sleeping peacefully and hoping for a little time off their radar. Oh-oh! As I write this, depression is creeping back into me.

Oh-oh! As I write this, depression is creeping back into me. I did feel rather uncomfortable when I woke. Constipation, I guess. Or a bad dream I had. But I also felt optimistic, and physical symptoms subsided quickly enough.

Bad and good decisions, not wrong and right. Or is it the other way around? I’m sleepy, tired, not focused. Why on earth would I come from being elated to being miserable so soon? The depression mechanism is strong. The Dark side is strooong. (I just hear Darth Sidious saying it.)

Let’s analyse. This post should be just a fill-in post since I haven’t posted a long time, not a true MOS session. But then … we should be adaptable.

1. First noticed depression trigger: Physical. I didn’t feel well, but I discarded the feeling. It got better so it might not be a part of the depression coming.

2. Second: A bad dream, trying to be forgotten or trying to be acknowledged – both needs in a clash. I dreamt about being in a lecture, something like the evening university class, while my children were gone sleeping for the night at home with my husband. The lecture ended (I don’t think its content was important) and we were trying to open some windows, for which I gave advice. Then I got a phone call that my baby daughter is bleeding and my husband is taking her to a hospital. He said not to worry, he got this, I asked what’s wrong with her, I learned she didn’t have a cornea, and how was this possible, she was ok at birth … (I know I invented the problem on the spot. It was like in a lucid dream, because it wasn’t initially disclosed. Only after I insisted the dream gives me an answer, I got an answer.) The dream analysis is a bit off course, so … here.

3. Third: Guilt. I slept relatively soundly through the night, only waking briefly. During this brief waking, I noticed I didn’t cover my son with a blanket. He always kicks them off of him and I cover him back a few times a night. This night I didn’t. Therefore, feelings of guilt. And we know how they trigger depression, right?

4. Fourth trigger: Indecision. I have trouble deciding. And when I do, I doubt my decision to the point of great anxiety.
I am lately sleep deprived. Starting a day at 4:30 or 5:30 am are two interchangeable, bad options. Pursuing a habit of writing every day (and doing other chores that I wouldn’t do later in the day) or going back to sleep?
I decided upon remaining awake sooner. And, inevitably, I regretted the decision. It would be the same if I chose the other option.

5. Going back and forth, wavering. Back to the trigger no. 1. I lack sleep, another physical trigger. Back to no. 3 and 4. I browsed the web, enjoyed losing myself in fruitless pursuits, whereas I should have done something productive with my time. Guilt over not sleeping more.

Probably all those feelings, fragments of thoughts (who knows how to name them) were silently working at the back of my mind, while I was relatively happy. Eventually, they won over and I reverted to my usual depressed version.

I feel better now that I explained it to myself. I’m posting it now, before editing, because I need to stop procrastinating and be active.

My next post will be the first (official) MOS therapy. If I don’t announce it, I may never post it. I may never be ready. It’s now or never. I can’t help hearing Elvis.

Stay well!

Make my day quote

30 May 2017

I wouldn’t be going to school if I already knew what they taught there. This is applicable to the school of life as well.
I am where I am, not because of my capabilities, but because of my deficiencies which I’m learning to overcome. 

 

15 May 2017

Once in a while, you have a good day.

You don’t need every day to be a good day. Just try to shift from ‘once in a while’ to ‘many times’.
For the advanced players, try to shift from ‘many times’ to ‘most times’.
Who’s the winner? 

 

13 May 2017

Freeze!
Evaluate your current posture! How do you feel?

Now. Stand taller, straighter!
Shoulders back. Stomach in. How do you feel?

See? Better, no?

OMG, I have OCD

How our assumptions work!

One day we develop an idea of what we are, of what our faults and advantages are, and then we stick to it. We seldom reevaluate.

And this brings me to the shock I’ve just had about me. A few days earlier I was researching depression on Wikipedia (a nifty pre-resource). I was spending time following various links on depression, causes, treatments, etc., when I started to read about obsessive compulsive disorder. I put two and two together and then came my shattering moment. I had it, I had OCD! If I hadn’t been already sitting, I’d have to sit down.

I knew about various disorders but never gave them much thought, since, you know, I never thought they were relevant to me. Sure, I have depression, I overuse defence mechanisms, I have trouble with memory and I’m prone to procrastination, but I never thought I had anything serious.

OCD means Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This “is a mental disorder where people feel the need to check things repeatedly, perform certain routines repeatedly (called “rituals”), or have certain thoughts repeatedly. People are unable to control either the thoughts or the activities for more than a short period of time. Common activities include hand washing, counting of things, and checking to see if a door is locked. Some may have difficulty throwing things out. These activities occur to such a degree that the person’s daily life is negatively affected.” (From Wikipedia, 4/6/2017)

Now, I quite dislike the term disorder. Depression is just named depression (well, major depressive disorder, but I never say it). Disorder sounds serious illness to me. Yuck!

You can read more about OCD here.

What got my attention was, the obsession part of OCD features intrusive thoughts. I’ve had intrusive thoughts for a while now. I thought they were part of the stress of having little children, of exhaustion from breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. You know, when you lay down in bed and then fear, every moment now, a meteorite will fall just over your building and wiped out everything, and you won’t be able to do a dime. Who ever thinks of things like this?!

I know it’s a fat chance of a decent size meteorite to struck directly here, but who can help thoughts from coming? What’s more, I then picture various scenarios where I have more than zero chance of survival. Of protecting my children with my body and stuff. But many times, the control goes away, like, I’d be able to protect one, but not another. Really, really, bothersome thoughts. Just the opposite from my dreams. When I dream of something bad happening, I always come out victorious.

Then there are other intrusive thoughts. Thoughts that have truly made me worried.

I sometimes picture myself on a precipice, like a dam. At first, when I had these thoughts I thought of jumping. But later these thoughts became much more awful. I pictured pushing or throwing over my helpless children. These thoughts are awful. I think them, I know I shouldn’t, but can’t help myself. I feel terrible all the while because I wouldn’t do it in the real world. Or would I? This is maddening. Would I do something like this, because my thoughts betrayed me? Just to see what happens?

When I’m not ready for this answer, I shut down my mind, my defence mechanism no.1. I tell myself to breathe, to calm.

I will tackle this as well. But not today. I shall meet my enemy on a familiar territory, where, and when, I choose.

It keeps nagging at me. When I was about 7-9 years old, I held a small, heavy object over my sister’s head, thought about dropping it … and dropped it. It fell on her lip and gave her quite a swell. Luckily, nothing permanent. But the point is, I did it. I acted on impulse, even if I knew better. This is one of my few early memories. It must be significant.
But this subject is too much for me now. It will have to wait a bit longer. I must deal with other things first. Like, go to an MOS therapy.

Let’s move to the Compulsion part. Did you think I just had obsessions? No such luck.

I read about compulsions, I’ve known about them but still, I had to read about them at the right time to connect them with my symptoms.

I wash my hands more than necessary. Probably. I always thought I need to wash them after anything got on them. Dirt, food, cough, … It sounds logical. But my husband washes his hands half as much (and is still alive). Also, I pack my baby’s clothes in a clean bag before putting them in a suitcase for travel. Maybe I exaggerate. I don’t know, but it sounds like OCD.

I have (had it worse) the need to hang clothes for drying in colour scheme. I had sometimes “corrected” my husband’s hanging order. He was furious. I don’t see anything wrong with putting clothes in a closet by colour, but what is the practical point in putting them like that on the laundry stand? It’s just something that bothers me, not something I see as objectively right.

I like symmetry more than usual. I want the structure where there is flow.

They say skin picking can be a symptom of OCD. I do it. I always thought I was addicted to the habit. It gives me high. This may then fall into the addiction category. It’s different than nose picking which just gives me relief. The latter seems more OCD-ish.

Oh, sh…! Did I just confess I pick my nose? Gross, but true. I intend to stop someday.

Whatever. The bottom line is, I have a few OCD symptoms. It shook me because I never thought of myself as having a mental illness. I never regarded depression as an illness. I thought about it as an imbalance that I could someday balance. I thought of all my compulsions as bad habits, as some byproduct of depression and unchecked indulgence. But, let’s face it, poor self-control is typical for OCD.

What now?!! Is it an illness if I still mostly function?
I pack this for another thinking session. Share your thoughts below. Is perfectionism an OCD form?