Saturday, January 09, 2016

Getting Angry.

I just put a couple of posts to Facebooks, and since someone sent me a message thanking me for them, I thought it would be an idea to expand on them here...

I can see now a disparity between the aim and the final target of meditating, or taking pills, or using anything else outside of yourself in the fight against depression, anxiety and panic attacks. To hit the final target of being without them, using measures outside of yourself, requires an acceptance of something being wrong. It is accepting that you are weak, ill, needy, crying for help, being a baby. I see now that maybe the real route out is to grow a pair. You must start out by telling yourself no, nothing wrong with me. I am damned fine! It is to look at a malady that is simply in the mind and tell it to fuck off.

It's about the internal or external sense of control (as I have been reading). External and you think your problems come from outside you, and think they require something external to fix them. Internal, and you believe that it is you that has the power over your problems, not something or someone extraneous. Internal and you work at it, external and you cry for someone to fix you.

I will, however, continue with my 8 week mindfulness course because maybe it, as well as some other recent events, has helped me to gain this clarity. Maybe for others it takes the pills to lift them far enough out of the pit that they can start fighting for themselves. But in the end the battle is their own, and internal. 
My changed attitude to depression, anxiety and panic attacks stems from a lot of sources. I started out by accepting that it was chemical imbalances in the brain and tried to correct that with pills. I didn't like the side effects of the pills and tried meditation. I then discovered that meditation has been proven to be as effective as the pills which, in essence, proves it is NOT about chemical imbalances. My reading of various self-help books has brought home to me that your thoughts are no more you than the turd you put out of your body each day. You can control and alter your mind using methods similar to those you use to change your body. You exercise it, you stop the unhelpful stuff, you emphasize the positive and you stop letting your mind butt fuck you.

The sources I mentioned above in order... The meditations started with Headspace, led on to various apps I downloaded to my Ipad and a free one from Paul McKenna, this last led me on to his various self-help books along with their hypnotic meditation CDs. By this time I had heard of mindfulness and bought a book on that containing an eight-week course. A hypnotherapist I went to see put me onto the 'Thrive' program by Rob Kelly – a book you work through doing various exercises, some of which produce painful revelations.

In Thrive I learned that it is not even about your past. It is about the you now: unhelpful thinking styles leading to catastrophising, hypervigilance, low self-esteem and other crap. I started by blaming my problems on the death of my wife. Yes, this put me on that road, but it was me that kept walking. I have also blamed pressures of a new relationship, inability to assimilate a different culture, stopping smoking, drinking, also stopping drinking ... but do you see the pattern: all external shit. If you have a problem with the way you think then it is the way you think that you must change. It's difficult, but it is not rocket science.

It has to be corrected at its roots. And this brings me back round to the start of this post. You have to do it yourself. You don’t say ‘I’m depressed’ and wait for pills, you say ‘I am allowing myself to have depression today, but I will stop it’. Like I said, at the roots of the very way you think. ‘I’m depressed’ are the words of a victim.

And that too is a point. I now believe one has to decide, firmly and finally: fuck off, I am not going to be this person any more. No more being weak, no more whimpering and telling myself I'm not well. It can all get the fucking hell out of my head. In the end getting angry helps, too.

Stop being a victim.


Christian Fairhurst said...

Speaking as someone with depression, I think the first thing is to admit that there's something wrong and that you might need help. There's nothing wrong with this.
Then one happy day there comes a time where you realise you're coming out the other side and that you don't need any more external help and you can manage to improve on your own.
I tried mindfulness and found it a load of hippy bullshit to be honest, Buddhism with the religion taken out, but it did lead me to a couple of philosophical quotations which really hit home. One, I think attributed to Buddha (I know, I know) is "A man who wants nothing has everything." The other is by Epicurus, "Don't fear death, don't fear the gods, good things are easy to find, bad things are easy to endure." I found this inner calm then, where I chose to accept things as they were and not to be dissatisfied with life but celebrate it. I.e., I don't have a steak but I do have a cheese sandwich. Yay! I have a cheese sandwich. And the same in all walks of life. I gave myself a metaphorical shake by the neck and now I don't wake up in the morning looking for something to be depressed about anymore.

Mylock said...

Well done Neal, it looks like you're at the end of this journey and have found your own personal solution which is all there is at the end of the day. I envy those people who can just hand it all over to the magic imaginary man in the sky to deal with, but not much.
Having read your posts over the months, I refrained from commenting and giving my opinions as it wouldn't have helped. However, now that you've finished searching I'll throw in a couple of things that came to my mind as I read.
I was an active alcoholic for 20-25 years, finally reaching the point where there was no where further to fall in about 2008. I sought help and eventually found myself in farmhouse with 15 others in recovery and with excellent staff to support us. For six months I did all the self analysis and learnt how to live another way, mostly based around the AA & NA 12 step programmes and I haven't drunk since. :)
The most enduring thing I learnt in that time was 'The Serenity Prayer', which if you don't know it is:

I still utter that to myself when I get stressed, I'm amazed how it works.
Secondly, I recently started using this app out of interest and it seems pretty good. I just forget to use it every day or two.
and this ted talk tells you all, TED talk by Jane McGonigal
Hope they are of some interest.
Finally, Haven't read your FB posts so won't say thank you, however I do owe you a big thanks for inspiring me to stop smoking. This week is two years now since I got my first kit after we followed you're progress and it's the best thing I've achieved in years.

Byte said...

WOW, thanks again. That was perfect.

freegnu said...

Letting go of anger is even more helpful.

NebulaBooks said...

All very insightful. I'm still in the phase of retraining my negative thoughts of 'anger'or 'entitlement' into healthy thoughts of 'disappointment'. It's certainly wonderful having someone vocalize their process so publicly like this :) Thank you so much, as always.

Dan said...

One thing to realise is that a human mind is a relatively new thing, evolutionarily speaking, and hasn't really had all the kinks worked out of it yet. Similarly human culture also hasn't had all the kinks worked out of it quite yet. The net result is that there are a hell of a lot of failure modes out there, into which a human mind can fall.

Our minds are pattern-spotting systems par excellence. Most of the time, that works just fine; we learn to associate when a very low tide is coming, letting us get at those normally out-of-reach shellfish, for instance. Problem is, we tell each other and ourselves stories, and spot patterns in random shit, weave these into stories and worry ourselves unnecessarily (see also religions, all of 'em).

A useful example of weird-ass pattern spotting leading to failure modes is the story of the music group the KLF. They ended up literally burning a million pounds of bank notes; they cannot really explain why, save that they had embarked on a project which failed, so they wanted to destroy everything associated with the failure.

The lesson is, there are a lot of failure modes, and there are lots and lots of toolkits meant to get people out of these modes. Most of the toolkits start with a phase of getting a person to a set point to begin fixing a set, known series of problems.