The last few weeks have had me in a state of catatonic depression. As a result, of course, I’ve not been writing on my ‘blog. It’s a tough thing to talk about, as one is disinclined to talk when ensconced in self-loathing and a sort of boredom that is more about a lack of interest in anything than not having anything to do. It’s awful.
Catatonic depression. The word, “catatonic” could mean a lot of things. In this case it means, “confused.” Endlessly searching for a way out. A way to respond to friends and family in an affable and affectionate manner. My wife is my everything and my all, my other self, yet how do I respond to her when I’m questioning the value of my life? My very existence, in my mind, is in question. My son-in-law is a good man, yet I don’t respond to his desire to talk about life and the things he finds interesting. When depressed, nothing is interesting. Nothing. There is a line from, “Lawrence of Arabia,” that goes like this, “There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing.”
There you go.
Depression deposits you in a land of nothing. No path takes you out. Time…one has to wait. Hunker down, lick your wounds, gauge the extent of the damage. And wait. It will lift eventually…but when?
One of the worst parts of being depressed and interacting with other people is the trite advice that not only doesn’t help, but it adds anger to the mix. Acrimony in bas relief against a blank wall. Why are you telling me to think positive? It’s not only irritating, but it antagonizes. It reduces my suffering, and my illness (it’s an illness, it is) to a state of mind that I put myself into. Such advice compels me to blame myself at a time when I need to be compassionate to myself.
What advice helps? None, really, except perhaps to say something like, “I hope you feel better soon,” or something like that. Yes, that’s something to say. But don’t imply, and certainly don’t explicitly tell me, that I can think my way out of an emotional state. It’s comforting for people who don’t suffer from depression to create a pleasant fiction in their mind.
Just think your way out of it.
I hate to break it to people who either think they suffer from depression or think they have it figured out, but here is a truth that goes against the tenets of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a religion among many therapists. Here is the truth…
Very many of us cannot think our way out of depression. It is, as I said, a pleasant fiction. The power of the mind and all that. Nope. Doesn’t work. Sorry. Not for lack of trying.
I understand the desire to believe that. Again, it’s comforting. Hey, if you’re depressed, just think happy thoughts. Head off negative thoughts, see them coming and avoid them. Identify the negative thoughts and avoid them, rob them of their power, empower the positive thoughts.
It doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work for, in my opinion, most people.
I quote an article entitled, Five Reasons Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Not Work for You…
“CBT promotes assumptions which may be faulty.
One of the basic tenets of CBT is that your faulty or irrational thought patterns and cognitions are responsible for maladaptive behavior and mental health problems. If one accepts this premise then some practitioners may dismiss the other factors which play a part in mental illness such as genetics and biology. It assumes that the thoughts precede emotions, which isn’t always true. It also usually labels any “negative” thoughts as pathological or dysfunctional and again, this is not true.
Another faulty assumption is that changing one’s thinking patterns can improve one’s mood or decrease the symptoms of a mental disorder. Unfortunately this does not always happen. One cannot always “think” themselves better.”
I’m trying not to be negative, to say that there is no way out if you’re depressed. There are ways, for people like me who do not respond to CBT. My advice? Find a therapist that speaks to you without an agenda, without a pre-packaged approach. You know, another human being who will listen to you and respond with realistic advice and a modicum of compassion.
I have that. A therapist like that. It helps. You know what doesn’t help, and hasn’t helped, ever? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
There, I got that off my chest.