There are a lot of people out there offering advice on how to cope with Depression. With all of the different techniques that you can try to relieve the symptoms of your Depression, how do you decide which ones to use?
The coping techniques that you should use are the ones that work for you. Kind of a no-brainer, right? What I mean is that just as each of our Depression experiences are unique, so too are the coping techniques that will work for us.
The majority of the advice out there pertaining to coping with Depression includes things like eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, and using relaxation and meditation techniques. In all honesty, when I was in the midst of one of my darkest episodes of Depression, none of the standard advice was helpful (or even do-able). Exercise, eat right, and sleep regularly? Yeah, right!
Now I’m not saying that this is bad advice. Some of the advice out there is great, and maybe it works for some people. But for me, it was as if the people giving this advice didn’t understand that when you’re spiralling out of control into a deep, dark place (called Depression), you can’t do any of the things that will make you happy.
So, here’s what I did: I did what I felt would make me feel better. I didn’t force myself to do the things that I was “supposed” to do to feel better. I did what I wanted to do.
Here is my go-to list of coping techniques that helped me through some severe episodes of Depression:
3. Eat comfort food
4. Watch Sex and the City re-runs (or Dexter, or Family Guy…)
5. Find yourself a helpful mantra or affirmation (mine is THIS TOO SHALL PASS)
6. Hug or pet your cat (or dog, or bird, or snake…)
7. If you don’t have a pet, get yourself a nice blankie (I have about 7)
8. Reach out to someone
9. Be kind to yourself
I did (and still do) all of these things. Yes, sometimes they only offer a second or two of relief, but it's enough to break up the constant pain and misery of being Depressed. These things work for me, and I hope they work for you too.
What are some of your coping techniques?
Don’t forget that someone you may know may be suffering from Depression or Mental Illness in silence. Share this post throughout your social media networks, because you just never know who may need to see it.
My name is Rain, and this is from my blog about Depression. My goal is to share my Depression Story so that others might learn from my mistakes and find inspiration in my success.
Connect with Rain:
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/depressioneverafter
Google+ Page: Link
Pinterest Board: Link
The Weight of the Ring
By Nancy Davies (@nancydavies55)
The backyard deck was a mess. It had dry rot and a collapsing framework. We were heading into summer and couldn’t ignore it any longer. After getting estimates on demolition and rebuilding, my husband Tom decided he would tear it down himself. It took a few weeks of knocking down, cutting up and hauling away for the old deck to be gone. What was left was a lot of rock-strewn dirt and yard debris that would soon be covered by a new structure. Being a man who likes things orderly, Tom decided to clean up the area and rake the ground into tidy symmetrical lines. As he was raking leaves and rocks and putting them into the yard debris can, a shiny object caught his eye. A bottle cap, he thought; evidence that our once teenage children and their friends had been drinking beer out there one night when we were gone. As he reached down to pick it up, he realized that it wasn’t a cap at all. It was a ring. It was my wedding ring that I had lost 23 years earlier. At the time, we tore the house apart looking for it. We never dreamed it was outside in the backyard.
What makes this story more amazing is that we didn’t even have a deck when I lost it. This area was all grass. So for about 5 years the ring sat in the grass with kids and dogs and sprinklers and lawn mowers. Then we pulled up the grass, brought in a small Bobcat bulldozer to level the ground, laid down a layer of gravel and built a deck. And there it sat for another 18 years. Just waiting.
Twenty three years ago our son Brett was just shy of 2 years old. He was going through a phase of grabbing things off the bathroom counter and flushing them down the toilet. We’d walk into the bathroom and find toothbrushes and underwear in the toilet. A scream was let out and I’d know that one of Brett’s sisters had come upon a floating My Little Pony. I would sometimes leave my wedding ring on the counter in our bathroom. After days of searching, we came to the conclusion that it had fallen victim to Brett’s flushing obsession. It was a story I told countless times when the subject of lost wedding rings came up.
Brett must be feeling pretty vindicated right now, you say, after years of carrying this misguided accusation. Well, yes and no. Brett struggled with anxiety for years and reached a point where he was no longer able to cope. At 15 years old, he tragically lost his life to suicide.
Tom found the ring on a Sunday afternoon when I was off running errands. He was so overcome with emotion that he was shaking. He wasn’t sure what to do next. In a moment of clarity, he remembered that our anniversary was coming up. He would have the ring cleaned up and give it to me as a surprise. Over the next couple of weeks, Tom began to feel the burden of being the ring bearer. He was having a hard time waiting and on several occasions he almost let it slip. He told people at his office about his plan and they had started a pool on whether he would crack and give it to me early or go the distance.
On a Saturday night, Tom & I went out to dinner to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary. He put the small, wrapped ring box on the table in front of me. Opening it, my confusion turned to complete amazement and then to tears. It was our own little miracle. What were the chances that this ring would ever be found after so long? What if he hadn’t stooped to pick up a bottle cap? What if he had raked the dirt in the opposite direction? What if we’d moved? Why wasn’t it found after a month or a year? Why now?
The next morning we were downstairs in the kitchen when we heard the toilet flush upstairs in our bathroom. We looked at each other; there was no one else in the house. It happened again a little later. We didn’t know what to think. Tom went up to investigate. He said there was a worn out part that was slowly leaking; he’d get a new part and fix it. No big deal. Except it is kind of a big deal. The timing to have a random flushing toilet the morning after he gives me the ring – that we thought had been flushed – seems much more than coincidental. I’m convinced it was Brett’s off-kilter sense of humor getting in the last laugh.
The other day I’m telling a friend the story and showing her how perfectly the ring survived it’s 23 years in the elements. She is amazed that everything is still intact. “It’s incredible,” I say. “The only thing that is missing is a very small gold pin that was anchoring the diamond to the band. There use to be four, one in each corner. One fell out and now there are only three.” Just as I say this, a jolt runs through my entire body and sits in my chest. There is a voice in my ear as clear as day that says, “Don’t you get it? There use to be four and now there are three.” I use to have four children and now I have three. One child is missing.
And now I am feeling the weight of the ring settling in unexpectedly on my shoulders. I have been given a gift of this beautiful little story and I’m not quite sure what to do with it. Is it a human interest story? Is it a metaphysical story? The ring was found right before our anniversary. Maybe it’s something about recommitment. Could it be a spiritual story along the lines of what was once lost is now found; the parable of digging for treasure just beneath the surface; or perhaps the prodigal son returning home after a long absence. Or is it a story about Brett, which is in part, a story about teenage suicide? And not the kind of suicide in young people that you mostly read about. He was not bullied or abused, neglected or gay. He grew up in a middle class family that adored him. He had close friends who loved him. He had a mental health issue in the form of anxiety that wore him down to where he was no longer able to survive. In a society that views depression and anxiety as a weakness, something to be embarrassed by, it’s a difficult thing to admit to. As a teenager, it’s downright brutal.
There is something inside of me that wonders if this hasn’t all fallen into place by some grand design. If the ring had been found after a week or a month or even a couple years, it wouldn’t be that unusual of a story to tell. If it had been found before Brett had died, the flushing toilet and the missing pin would mean nothing, and possibly wouldn’t have even happened. It wouldn’t be a story worth much discussion. I can’t help but think that in some roundabout way this story is meant to be a catalyst for starting a conversation about teenage suicide and the importance of open and honest conversations regarding mental health issues. What a gift to the next generation if we can open the door to talking about depression and how it’s managed as though we are talking about bed rest and fluids when we have the flu. By changing how we see mental health and taking away the stigma, I would hope that more people would seek help early on and more professionals would look into alternative ways to manage it.
I suppose my hope in putting this story out there is that in some roundabout way, there’s the chance that it might help to save a young life.
Note: The picture above is of the actual ring.
You live your life feeling as though every waking moment is spent walking around in a bubble. You feel completely detached from everything and everyone around you. You hear your voice when you talk but struggle connect it as your own. You see your reflection in the mirror, it is familiar but it does not feel truly yours. Everything around you appears unreal and somewhat distorted. You feel a passenger to someone else’s life story, watching it play out through someone else’s eyes.
You experience beautiful and sacred moments but are robbed of the ability to truly and entirely enjoy them, as a part of you is nearly always distracted by the nagging voice of doubt asking you is this really happening? Is this all real?
You become aware of how difficult it is to hold a conversation with others. Your attention span is practically non-existent due to the existential thoughts continually buzzing around your mind… why do I feel like I’m not really here? Is any of this real? Why do I feel like I don’t really exist?
You are in a constant battle with your own mind to assure yourself that, yes, this is really you and your life. Even though everything you touch, hear, see and feel points to the absolute contrary. You just have to believe that this is your reality and this really and truly is your life. It is an unrelenting 24/7 battle of wills. Welcome to life with Depersonalisation/Derealisation Disorder (DPDR). The third most common psychological disorder - yet it is barely understood or supported.
I knew there was something wrong with my mental health many years ago. It is hard to truly quantify time when you live your life in a bubble but I would estimate that I started to feel “not right” around 10 years ago. I visited my GP and tried to explain my symptoms. “I feel as though I am not really here... I feel very detached, as if I am no longer living in reality to everything around me”.
I can clearly remember the look of scepticism he gave me. It was as if he had never heard anything like it before. I had hoped that he would rationalise my symptoms and his inability to do so cemented my rising fears – I was losing my mind. That was the only rational explanation.
I was referred for a CAT scan and everything came back “normal”. I was then referred for blood tests. They also came back as “normal”. My blood pressure and basic motor skills were assessed. Again, all “normal”. I asked what we could do next to determine the cause of my detachment. He told me in no uncertain terms “all avenues have been exhausted” and there was nothing else we could do. I just had to get on with it. As a last ditch attempt of trying to solve the mystery he tried to pin my symptoms onto depression. “Absolutely not”, I said. I am paraphrasing here, but am sure his response at this point was along the lines of, “You probably just need a good night’s sleep then….”
Faced with battling my invisible enemy alone was both daunting and intimidating.
I am proud to say that, given the circumstances, I have lived, what society would deem to be a “normal” life. Even though my illness has become increasingly debilitating of late, I work a demanding full-time job, have a good circle of friends and social life, stable and loving family and the best boyfriend, Liam, that one could hope for. I have been on holidays and had some wonderful life experiences. Even though my DPDR has remained a constant presence in my life all these years, I have expressed and felt a plethora of emotions; I have smiled, laughed, cried and truly loved.
I have also been proud to maintain my confident, positive and bubbly persona over all these years – even when I have felt a million miles away from being my extroverted self. Lately though, it is upsetting to admit this is changing and slowly being replaced by a withdrawn and anxious, empty shell of a person. My laughter feels hollow and my smile feels fake more often than not these days. It is an effort to source these emotions now at times.
The anxiety attacks have become more regular and even more intense. The worst part has been the suicidal thoughts and the awful feeling that I am a complete burden to everyone around me. The feeling that my loved ones would be so much better off without me has been unrelenting these past few months and have taken me to some very dark places.
I’m not sure exactly what has happened in the past year. My symptoms have suddenly – and rather cruelly – worsened quite drastically. I have recently been at the point where I have felt I am on the verge of losing the battle completely. The time spent “in my head” questioning my mere existence, than in the moment, regardless of where I am and who I am with, has increased to a nearly-uncontrollable level.
I was loathe to seek professional intervention. This was not only due to the total let down all those years ago. I was also ashamed with how others would view me. Somehow, I felt less of a person but knew I could not go on alone any longer. I was feeling desolate.
Firstly, I took the decision to let Liam in and explain what was happening with me. We only see each other at weekends due to our distance and I was aware that our time together was becoming progressively more strained and difficult due to my withdrawn behaviour. It took an enormous amount of courage to tell Liam but with hindsight my greatest regret is that I did not tell him sooner. His reaction was fantastic and he immediately urged me to seek professional help. He has been at my side, as an unwavering source of strength and comfort, ever since.
Mid-2014 was the start of the steady decline. By mid-August I was experiencing regular intense and devastating anxiety attacks. Looking back on those moments, I can remember feeling so out of control of my actions, I was hysterical and honestly thought I was going to die. I find it is the realisation of complete detachment, unreality and derealisation that is a massive trigger to my anxiety attacks. The “derealised” sensation is overwhelming.
One evening, out of sheer post-anxiety attack desperation, I took to the internet and searched “why do I feel like I’m not really here?”. After scrolling through a few nonsensical results, it lead me to the fantastic DPDR forum, dpselfhelp.com. As I sat reading the forums and explanations, it felt as though I had been struck by lightning. I nearly dropped my phone in shock. Suddenly, after all the years of uncertainty and doubt, it was a moment of such distinct clarity. The relentless questions were finally being answered.
I then searched DPDR and read as much as I could on the subject. The information at hand, even on the internet, was extremely potted and limited. Even so, I could not believe what I was seeing and struggled take the words in properly… my mind was buzzing. My symptoms have a name. It is a real thing…I’m not going mad.
I went to bed very late that night. Although it was hard to find many medic-based documents on the condition, just reading the stories of other sufferers provided so much comfort. Reading their own stories of frustration and isolation made me want to reach out to them and say I feel like that too! You are not alone! I knew in those moments, as well, that I was no longer alone. After all the years of feeling so very different to everyone around me here was a group of people fighting the same battle as I. suddenly I was a part of something and everything made sense.
I went to my GP armed to the teeth with information on DPDR. Even though my discovery had shone a positive light into my world, I was in a terrible place at this time. I had to complete a written assessment on how my symptoms were impacting on me and the result was “critical”. I told my GP in that meeting I was feeling suicidal and was seriously concerned I might do something stupid. I had to wait two long, desperate weeks for the initial assessment with the local mental health crisis team. I was offered anti-depressants but duly declined. I am not depressed!
The screening nurse informed me that due to DPDR being “so rare” I would be seeing their most senior psychiatrist. Again, I told the nurse I was frightened with where I was at mentally. I was told I would have to wait for an appointment. They would write to me.
It took four long, increasingly hysterical weeksbut finally, I was given an appointment with the psychiatrist. This was only due to my finally giving up on waiting for them to contact me. Instead I called them and begged to be seen urgently. By this point, even though I was just about still at work, I was finding it so hard to get through each day. I had to call on the support of those around me on a regular basis. Some close friends, family, colleagues, my beloved sister and of course Liam have been my dream team of support.
I was diagnosed by the senior psychiatrist as a “chronic” sufferer of DPDR. “Chronic” due to the fact I live in my bubble – or limboland as I to call it – 24/7 without a break. I think some people struggle to believe this could be true, as I am a functioning adult but trust me, it is. I felt a twinge of disappointment when I asked the psychiatrist if he was well versed in DPDR and he replied his experiences had been “very limited”. He felt the best plan of action was medication and for me to continue with the CBT I was paying for privately.
I was initially prescribed a daily dose of 25mg of Sertraline which was steadily increased to 150mg. It was a torrid few months. Initially the tablets made me feel nauseous, dizzy and even zombie-like. Sadly it has continued to deteriorate from there. I allowed myself to be dragged to some kind of mental hell in the sheer hope of the meds living up to their “wonder drug” billing. Sadly not.
My pre-med symptoms have exacerbated since taking this medication. I have had even more frequent break downs, ranging from a quick cry in the back office at work, right through to a total anxiety attack. Whereas it used to mainly be when I was at home by myself, it has become much more public affair, even when I am surrounded my some of my most dear loved ones.
I am sad to report the suicidal feelings have, at times, also intensified. I had a terrible break down at work last month. I sat sobbing in my car and all I could think of was driving away somewhere far and doing something stupid. In sheer desperation I called the psychiatrist for advice. His assistant informed me he was unavailable. I pleaded for him to “please call me back as quickly as possible. I am worried I am going to do something stupid”. I did not get a call back at all that afternoon. The psychiatrist did try to call me back once, the following day when I was fast asleep. I tried calling him 4 times in the space of 24 hours, only to be told each time he was unavailable. I was beyond desperate by this point. I had phoned in sick and spent the day feeling completely unattached from the world. I was so close to giving up. I felt history was brutally repeating itself from 10 years earlier. In my last try of calling him I resorted to making an “urgent” appointment to see him. It was organised for Monday 9th February – around 3 weeks after those desperate phone calls. I could hardly believe it. I was terrified I would not make it through the weekend, let alone the following three weeks. I did not get a call back that day, nor have I ever since.
So here I am, on the cusp of the next batch of treatment. I am trying my hardest to get through each day as best I can. The first thing I am aware of when I wake is my detachment and every night I lay in bed praying it will be gone the following morning. I know I need to accept and ignore it but it's too overwhelming to do that right now.
I am in touch with many other DPDR sufferers and am open to as much coping advice as possible. I have used the very limited available resources on DPDR to heed their advice too; I have cut both caffeine and alcohol from my diet. I try my hardest to sleep well each night and exercise to release good endorphins.
One of my key findings is the importance of keeping busy and distracted. As much as I would like to lock myself away from the world, I make sure I go to work every day (with the exception of that one unbearable day). I keep my social life as active as possible and surround myself with my loved ones doing the things I truly enjoy.
I have found a couple of brilliant personal therapies. Music and film have always been a huge passion of mine since I was a child and I utilise both to their fullest. I manage to get lost in both, plus they manage to evoke differing emotions in me and I cling to those with all of my might to remind me I can feel and I am here.
I have always loved to write since I was a child and started my blog as, not only a means of therapy, but also to reach as many others who are suffering with mental illness as possible. I also set up a twitter account. The number of people fellow DPDR sufferers who have contacted me over this relatively short period of time has been pretty substantial. I have also had many people suffering with other challenging mental illnesses contact me. I feel a natural affinity to everyone I speak with under these circumstances, regardless of condition. The label might be different but we are all fighting the same fight.
Their stories all share pretty much the same frustrating running themes as my own – not being taken seriously, misdiagnosis, months if not years of isolation, limited and unhelpful professional intervention, GPs refusing to refer to a mental health team, or waiting weeks upon weeks to be seen if they are lucky enough to be referred, medication not working, being fobbed off with anti-depressants, being wrongly diagnosed as being depressed… the list is endless and the longer it gets the more frustrating it makes me feel.
My “urgent” appointment with the psychiatrist is on Monday. It is finally here. I feel so much pressure to get everything said and sorted that I am taking my sister with me to ensure I am provided what I truly deserve. Liam has recently found a specialist DPDR clinic operating in London. Due to very limited funding, they are only open ONE DAY A WEEK. They can only see a maximum of THREE CLIENTS A DAY. This is the one and only specialist DPDR clinic operating in the UK. It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so upsetting. I will not be leaving his office until my referral to them is under way. Monday is a huge day and I feel nervous about it.
One clear and consistent message I am receiving loud and clear since becoming so active in this wonderful community is so many people are not getting the help they need. We are not listened to properly. Nor are we taken seriously. We are made to feel a nuisance, or even worse, a hypochondriac. This leaves many of us feeling weak, shameful and worthless. We feel a failure to those who love us. I feel many of us are one unreturned call or misdiagnosis away from doing the irreversible through sheer and absolute desperation.
I myself have stared suicide in the face a number of times in recent years and let me tell you now, I have never actually wanted to do that but when everything feels lost, I felt it was my only option. It has made me realise that suicide IS avoidable and the fact it is still happening on a regular basis downright intolerable.
Ten years ago I was scared and intimidated by all of this. Even though I am weakened and battered, I refuse to be beaten this time around. The treatment of such a vulnerable community actually makes my blood boil. The distinct lack of funding for mental health makes me feel so angry. I am unwavering in my determination to not only get DPDR out into the public consciousness. I also want to highlight the struggles someone with mental illness goes through just to have any kind of basic professional care – and I use that term in the loosest sense.
I will keep on writing my blog in the hope that someone out there who is struggling with their own battles can find comfort from reading about mine. We are not alone and we deserve to be heard. Something needs to change.
About Lauren: 34 year old female, based in the UK and battling a barely documented dissociative condition called Depersonalisation-derealisation Disorder. On a mission to increase awareness of the illness and reach out to support others who are locked in a battle of their own.
Follow Lauren on Twitter: @lblimboland
Lauren's Blog: lblimboland.wordpress.com
Additional information from the Mayo Clinic Website: "Depersonalization-derealization disorder occurs when you persistently or repeatedly have the feeling that you're observing yourself from outside your body or you have a sense that things around you aren't real, or both. Feelings of depersonalization and derealization can be very disturbing and may feel like you're living in a dream.
Many people have a passing experience of depersonalization or derealization at some point. But when these feelings keep occurring or never completely go away, it's considered depersonalization-derealization disorder. This disorder is more common in people who've had traumatic experiences."
For more information from the Mayo Clinic, click this Link.
This morning I went in to my therapists’ office in a state-of-mind I haven’t really found myself in before when meeting with her- content and without agenda. Typically when I go in I go in ready to talk about something that made me depressed or particularly anxious during the preceding week. We’ll talk through the situation, usually focusing on the thought patterns leading up to it, talk about a mindful approach, and ultimately, what if anything I can do differently next time. That can range from learning to accept things I cannot change to taking some of my Clonidine to help manage situations that make me anxious. But today wasn’t like that.
Today there wasn’t any particular issue or problem I wanted to go over. That’s not to say that the week went by without incident- anxiety and depression continue to be struggles, but lately I’m doing better and better when it comes to managing them. So what’d we talk about?
Well, it was the first time I asked about recovery within the context of our weekly sessions. She had mentioned last week that she had discharged a patient which freed up her schedule a bit so that we could meet every Thursday morning instead of alternating Wednesdays and Thursdays. Between that and the broader view I’m starting to take of what recovery means, I was curious, when would I be in a position to end our therapy sessions? I was quick to clarify that I’m in no rush to, but she just as quickly reassured me that it’s a normal question.
In her words, she basically gets paid to put herself out of a job, on a patient by patient basis. Therapy isn’t something that everyone needs once a week for the rest of their lives, because the goal of course is for people to get better. Not better in the sense of being cured of depression or anxiety, but better in the sense that they can successfully recognize it and manage it without it having too great of an impact on their ability to live comfortably, securely and happy. In fact, we talked about how while there’s not a hard and fast rule, her clinical experience is that it’s roughly about a year of weekly sessions when patients begin to ask. I’ve been seeing her for just about ten months.
We talked about the skills I have been learning and practicing, about the medication and how I feel on it, and about the different factors that could impact my ongoing recovery (my living situation, my work, relationships, etc.). Discharging a patient isn’t something that just happens one day, it’s a mutual decision and gradual process that takes place between the therapist and the patient. Weekly schedules become biweekly, biweekly sessions become monthly, etc. After discussing it, we decided we’re going to cut back on my sessions and start meeting every two weeks.
I’m feeling good about the decision. Recovery isn’t about a big significant end goal, it’s about being able to make progress towards more manageable goals, being able to look back and know that you’re doing better compared to a month ago, six months ago, or a year ago. It’s about understanding that feelings aren’t facts, and that I can make positive decisions when I don’t allow negativity to dominate my thoughts. It’s about practicing the techniques that make that understanding easier. I suppose what I’m saying, is that the progress itself is recovery.
This post originally appeared at PaulsLetters.com, the exciting and mundane account of living with and treating anxiety, depression and alcoholism as an aspiring gentleman, part time rogue, and an inquiring mind. After years of struggling with mental health issues Paul Banuski began seeking treatment in the spring of 2014 and began blogging about his experiences shortly thereafter. Follow Paul on Twitter at @paulslttrs.
If the cause of your worry is a real out in the world issue or problem, that is, something that has already happened; maybe you didn’t pass the exam, or you didn’t get the promotion or you got a negative appraisal at work. The first question that you need to ask yourself and this is a very important question “Is worrying about the problem helping or hindering me?” Most people when asked this question say “it’s definitely not helping – it dominates my every waking moment – I can’t think straight and I’m not sleeping.”
Why does this kind of worry hinder rather than help us?
It hinders, because repeatedly going over a problem makes the problem seem bigger and even harder to deal with and the reason for this, is that when we dwell on a problem we lose perspective on it; having perspective means that we are able to see the problem in context - we are able to see the bigger picture. By focusing solely on the problem, we exclude other, often more positive aspects of the situation. For example, by focussing on the negative features of a work appraisal, you may be failing to acknowledge the more positive things that were said about you. This type of ‘selective’ thinking has been identified as “Filtering” and has been categorised as a “Distorted Thinking Style”. When we filter in this way, we fail to see reality as it is, instead, we put a ‘spin’ on it that distorts and changes what we see. Distorting and changing reality is the root cause of much of the stress and anxiety that we experience in our lives. For example if you continuously focus on the work that has yet to be done on your project, while ignoring the aspects of it that you have already completed, it is very likely that you will feel stressed and anxious about getting your project finished on time.
An antidote to this kind of thinking and one that has been shown by research to work is to keep a “Positivity Journal”. At the end of each day, you make a list of three things that went well that day and why they went well. The good things could be anything. For example: three things that went well on your project, a positive comment from someone at work, or something simple like the smell of the freshly roasted coffee that you had for lunch. Research showed that at the one month follow-up, participants in this exercise were happier and less depressed than they had been at baseline and they stayed happier and less depressed at the three month and six month follow-ups.
Martin Selligman, the founding father of Positive Psychology says “We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives …. This focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savouring what went well……. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the (positive) events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote.”
How Focussing on the Positives has Helped Others
The following is a technique that I learned from one of my clients – an alcoholic in recovery. It is similar to the one described above. “When something negative happens, the first thing to do is to look for the positives in it.” As I worked with my client, I was able to see the many ways that he turned the negative events in his life into positives.
For example when he had to give up his own home and move back with his parents. He chose not to dwell on the negatives - his loss of freedom etc. Instead he focussed on what was positive about the situation and said “For one thing, I don’t have to worry about money for heat. My mom’s dinners are great. Plus, I have time and space to sort myself out.” When he had to sell his car, he again concentrated on the positives; he said “I really enjoy taking the bus, you can see so much more because you don’t have to keep your eyes on the road all the time.” Focussing on the negatives would have made him feel depressed and anxious about his future and would probably have sent him straight back to the bottle. Putting into practice the habit of seeking the positives in even the most difficult situations, helped him cope and kept him on the straight and narrow.
What do you think? Would this approach work for you?
Bernadette is a CBT Practitioner and Coach Psychologist in Dublin, Ireland.
Video: How to Overcome your Sleep Problems.
Author: How to End the Worry Habit
Follow Bernadette on Twitter: @bernfarrell
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