Posted blogs, worksheets, workbooks are intended for educational purposes and for people who are in treatment with a mental health professional. None of these tools is designed to help you solve mental health problems on your own. Please consult a trained professional if you are experiencing difficulties with your moods, behaviors, or thinking patterns. This information is not to be used as a substitute for therapy, and/or addressing a life-threatening crisis. If you are facing a mental health emergency, please go to your nearest Emergency Room or call 911.
March 26th, 2011 –
SOME REAL THINKING REASONS for DEPRESSION, ANXIETY
Logotherapy “…tries to make the patient fully aware of his own responsibilities…” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 114.
History & Stories: We all have them. Where we grew up, what our parents were like, if we did or didn’t have enough food to eat, if we were beaten at times, degraded, cherished, honored, kicked out, abused, neglected, left to our own raising, etc.
Science: You may come across those who insist on “empirical research” before they will entertain a notion or theory; you may know someone whose sole purpose in life is to identify a neurotransmitter’s function (or a lack of); you may read some new research that substantiates a gene (or mutated gene) that is responsible for “mental illness”; and, you may come across a speaker who has unmovable conviction in her beliefs that “positive” behavioral changes are the elixir to dire thinking patterns. And - they all contribute extensively to the progress of understanding the complexities of mental illness, pervasive mood disorders and non-productive/destructive thinking.
Beliefs (and negative thinking) carved into the synapses of the mind~
Thinking patterns, beliefs, self-concepts, all sneak up on us throughout the day. I know who I am better when I am by myself. When I get with others, I often allow self-consciousness to wither into my thinking “…I shouldn’t have said that…” leads to, “…why are you so sensitive…” which can lead to “….just be quiet and listen for awhile…” and on and on. My thoughts used to spiral down to self-loathing. This type of thinking leads to depression, anxiety, social phobias, anger, and more.
A Parent’s Story:
I was told that my father didn’t finish the 8th grade. I heard bits and pieces of stories that described a troubled young man who ran away at age 13, joined the US Navy at 16, and fought (trauma) in WWII. I did the math. He was born in 1924. at age 16 – that would have been the year of 1940. Most history captures the war lasting from 1939 until 1945. The math appears to works out, so at least, I can begin to believe that there is some “objectiveness” to my father’s history – some continuity to the way he “expressed” his recollection of events.
Although my father didn’t go into much detail regarding battles, death, etc., he did talk a little about his older brother dying on the USS Twiggs (which was sunk by a Japanese kamikaze plane just after Comdr. George Phillip was told the war was over -and to bring the USS Twiggs in).
And, that was my dad’s “secondary story” (World War II) until his death on May 19th, 1992. His primary identification with information and who he was was connected to the fact that he was a quadriplegic. I won’t go into the details of that here. Although my father didn’t communicate to any of us that he was depressed, the signs were there. I believe he had untreated PTSD related to WWII. I believe he was extremely depressed about not being able to move, to walk, to feed himself. His coping mechanism: Keep busy. He was involved in a CB club-network, we had honey bees in our orchard…his next dose of dopamine was a project. Oh, and his other one….coffee.
A Cultures Story –the World’s Story:
As my mind moves from my father’s story and its details, to current day - the Japanese people are still on my mind but in a different context. They have a new, tragic story that will shape generations to come. Some lost their entire family, village, life’s work. Some are still looking for a loved one. Some are wondering “why” and, “why now.” Most are deeply frightened that a radioactive isotope (iodine (I-131)) is now in their water supply. Are any of us “untouched,” by this devastation? The March 11, 2011 Japanese earthquake is a story for the world – for it unfolded in the media as it occurred, and the horror, helplessness, and sheer awe of what a seawater-wall rushing inland can do – . [Mental note: Where was I on March 11th when I first heard about the earthquake and tsunami to come? Was I at work, at home, writing up a document? Was I in shock, disbelief, addicted to looking for footage regarding the myriad of multimedia images digitally streaming at me?] Chemicals in my brain were stirring. Thoughts in my mind were racing. However, I was vigilant in my awareness about those thoughts.
The Beginning: Self Observation
As CNN, CBS, etc. ran the events over and over again, I observed myself, I observed the tv, and, I was also mesmerized when I took a step back and observed those who were visually locked onto the screen of their ipod, iphone, ipad, or tv --or listening to the events unfold on the radio.
Note: There was a worse earthquake in 1923, the year before my father was born. It is now called “The Great Kanto Earthquake (which resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people.) There was another earthquake back in January of 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake. It reportedly killed 6,000 people, injuring over 400,000.
The Story Becomes ?Memory: I can label these events my “stories,” “my history,” and/or “my experiences.” I caution calling them memories-for memory doesn’t often coincide with “fact.” Emotion – fear, sadness, anger…all get tangled up in the smells, images, sounds, and touch. These combinations sometimes get “stored” fragmentally. What I mean is, our brains – “archive” these sensations, sometimes (often) in different areas of the cortex (an exceptional fact about the smell process is that the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system – possibly circumventing the cortex in many cases).
After writing the previous paragraph- still thinking about the village that was destroyed….almost, in my mind, being there - I am aware that my heart is beating faster – so much so, that I sometimes pause, freeze, and a memory-image “recorded in my mind” from the television flashes in my consciousness -as a wave crushes an entire village, the buildings, the streets, the people.
FEAR is what I believe I am feeling. What would I have done? is a question that I “replay.” How would I have gotten out of the way? Etc. Now, adrenaline is kicking in. My pupils are probably dilated. My brain doesn’t realize that I am not ~there~ it only knows that my “flight” response is highly activated…but….but…I am sitting here writing….
Okay, distract myself for a moment, change my “thoughts” to something more peaceful…more serene…and, I feel my heart slowing down. Breathe…. “watch” my breathe…saying to myself… “God in……….God out….”
What just happened is what some professionals call a Cognitive Behavioralstrategy (Cognitive (thinking), Behavioral (sympathetic system being activated then, the parasympathetic system counters (calm kicks in)). I am often not aware of these processes going on, unless….I am. And that’s where “mindfulness” comes into play. Mindfulness is not a difficult concept to understand, but (for me) a complex one to implement, to practice, to make part of my day.
After I experience the above mention wave of adrenaline, another stress related hormone (called Cortisol) still lingers. Cortisol levels rising is normal when I exercise, incur stress, etc. However, prolonged cortisol levels have been shown in some studies to adversely affect one’s health (thyroid, immune, etc.). Many studies and information can be found at the NIMH (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/) web site.
There are some who dedicate their life trying to unravel the mysteries of the brain, how it accesses (a memory-event), where it accesses it, etc. Specialists don’t even know exactly how a memory is stored. Thus far, there are no individual “cells” that contain “an event.” And even more complex of a conversation begs to ask…“why is a particular feeling triggered by the access (re-creation) of that memory?”
I will continue these thoughts another day. My main point thus far is that, I have a choice…regarding ~what~ I think about. If I was in one of those Japanese villages, I would have had few choices…mainly….to run….run to higher ground. My heart beat jumps up a bit again thinking that thought. So, in choosing my thoughts, I now know that they will either trigger the fight/flight chemicals, or the blissful ones. (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, adrenaline, acetylcholine, phenylethylamine, and more).
Thoughts lead to emotions which lead to behaviors.
Please refer to this link….to improve the very moment you are in…
February 4, 2011.
The study of one's thoughts, of one's situation in their world, is a choice. Some choose to look while others simply find it too painful to remember, hope, confront, and try again. Jung would talk about the lifespan, how, in our early years, we live in our "morning." He believed that when a person "woke" from the illusionary dream, that they had moved into the "afternoon" of their life. Some children, due to many reasons, bask in the late afternoon sun, some older folks, for other reasons, remain in the morn....in the dew....in the dawn. All are good - they are perspectives-places in one's psyche. I believe the only difference is the ability to know that one has a choice to suffer-or, to let what is...become. Truly, I have my days, often weeks, where I sit at my porch and wait for the sun to come up. And, there are the rare, gifted moments where I realize that you, me, and others, are more the same....than different. We share in this experience, journey - mission, whatever you might call it...and, are really.....together as a "verse," -----one song, one mind.