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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Undoing DepressionMost depressed people are perfectionists.  We feel that if we don’t do a job perfectly, our entire self-esteem is endangered.  Often this leads to procrastination.  The job is never really begun; outright failure is avoided, but the depressive knows he’s let himself down.  Then again, depressed people want to make themselves over from the ground up: we want to lose thirty pounds, run five miles a day, quit smoking and drinking, get our work completely reorganized, and have time for relaxation and meditation.  It seems like there is so much to do that we never start...”        We have to learn that attaining more limited, realistic goals is much more satisfying than building castles in the air.” “Undoing Depression; What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You,” by Richard O’Connor, Ph.D. 

I’m not naïve enough to think that observing thoughts alone (how, what, when we think) can manage depression/bipolar disorder. 

What we need more than anything is a foundation.  We need to create a sense of stability that exists for most people, but rarely for the bipolar person.  There is no consistency in our thinking, in our way of being in the world or the way we react or respond to it.  We are more often than not, out of control.  Or more accurately, we feel out of control.  No one can “control” their emotions, but for the majority, that’s not a problem.  For the majority, there is a sort of equilibrium to their moods, usually some sense of cause and effect, at least where extremes are concerned.  But for the person with bipolar disorder, we are often dealing with extremes that seem to be out of our control, unpredictable, random and irrespective of existing circumstances. 

But how does one build a foundation when, as Dr. O’Connor suggests, we want to do everything at once? 

Personally, I can’t think of just one step.  I’m a perfectionist.  I’m impatient.  I want to start an exercise program, design and implement a new diet/meal plan, revamp my budget, write down my goals and priorities (along with deliverables,) find a new job, start a support group, locate an acupuncturist, practice yoga at least five times a week, start meditating daily…. 

The list of things goes on and on.  And yes, I get so overwhelmed with what I want to accomplish that I never start anything.  Just doing one of those things never seems to be enough, and doing all of them, “perfectly,” well, of course, that’s just impossible. 

And then there’s the track record hanging over my head.  Every time I want snap myself out of a depression I fall into that same thought pattern.  The idea of it, the mere thought that I CAN recreate myself, sends me into a manic phase.  But then reality hits and I realize that it can’t all be done at once, not everything implemented by tomorrow.  And then I remember that I have been down this road before and failed, miserably.  Why bother? 

Because I must.  Because there are no alternatives. 

First commitment: No self-medicating.  No more drinking and no more Ben & Jerry’s.

Second Commitment:  Get to the gym.  Even if I only do ten minutes on the treadmill.

Third Commitment: Diet.  Start eating regularly.  I often skip meals and then binge on junk food.  The result being mood shifts induced by dips in blood sugar.  (Like I need help with my mood shifts?) 

That’s it.  That’s all I have to do.  I don’t need to plan out an exercise program in detail, working my upper body one day and lower the next.  I don’t need to have a weekly menu laid out and scheduled that incorporates the perfect balance of fat/carbs/protein for each and every meal.  I just need to do something.  To be proactive.  To shift my thought process from victim to steward.  And, more importantly, I am not to attach failure or success to any of the outcomes.  I just need to begin living life more consciously and to take more responsibility for my complicity with the impact of this disease.

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