Archives for posts with tag: depression

We all move forward through time because that is the nature of time; it progresses. Due to our brain structure, we are also able to travel back in time through memory. And based on our memories, whether they are biased, fading, or correct, we think about them as well as our current experience to make predictions about the future. These predictions often inform our current behavior.

Thus, we live in the past, the present, and the future. This makes life rich, but it also makes it complicated. We get all kinds of messages about which time is the best. “Live in the moment!” “Keep your eye on the prize!”

Getting stuck in any one time can cause a lot of problems, though. For example, depressed thoughts and feelings, for example, come in part from viewing today’s misery as being a constant. The past was always bad and the future will be bad. Past joys and the possibility of joy in the future are buried under the weight of today’s despair. Impulsive behavior comes from living too much in the moment. I want this now. I feel this now. The past doesn’t matter and the future only matters in like of getting the goal I want right now, accomplished.Later, after the negative consequences come crashing down, impulsive behaviors result in regret and guilt about the past. And anxiety often comes from living in the future of “what-if’s” and “what might be”.

One of the things I have noticed in my mindfulness practice, is that I am better able to integrate my past, present, and future. I observe the present and recollect the past. I use information from both of these times to inform the plans for my future. Being able to travel through the time of my own life is a fascination to me. I don’t always travel at the right time or to the right place. But I think I am getting better at it, more frequently feeling in more of some kind of balance.

Memory makes life complicated. But without it, we would always live in the present moment. And that, my friends, would be although a simple way to live, a very dependent, sometimes incredibly distressing way to live. There’s no sophisticated learning without memory. There are no moments of beautiful nostalgia. No dreams for the future and no appreciation for the way that people and their relationships unfold over time. I could go on and on.

A life with just one time is like a story without a beginning or an end, just the middle. And the middle is the crisis, as I recall, the problem that needs to be solved. I want to continue understanding the grand narrative of my life. It has many beginnings, middles, and ends. My life has many stories, some unfolding as we speak, and they are all part of who I am and how I connect with the rest of life.

APA-BlogDayBadge-2014

Today is the American Psychological Association’s Mental Health Blog Day. Since I am a clinical psychologist, not to mention a member of APA, I am republishing a post I wrote last fall, “I can deal. As I’ve disclosed in the past, I have a history of major depression. I have not had a depressive episode in over ten years. I attribute my years of good health even with enormous life stress to a combination of treatment (ongoing medication and psychotherapy, as needed), exercise, mindfulness meditation, good coping skills, and wonderful friends and family. One of the reasons I write about my own history of mental illness is that so many people fear it so much that they avoid getting support or even admitting that they have challenges. As a mental healthcare provider, I also know that people in my own field tend to either embrace the support that our field offers or to avoid using services or even the support of friends. If you are suffering from mental illness or even just unhappiness, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you sought out support? And what’s the best thing that could happen? You could get a lot better or at the very least, you would no longer have to suffer alone.

 

Today, my brain feels pretty functional and I feel calm despite the fact that I still have a number of unknowns in my life including the results of my MRI from last Friday. I spent a good 2-3 weeks up until last Friday on a roller coaster of anxiety. I can’t remember if it was Wednesday or Thursday of last week but on one of those days I was a mess for a few hours. I was so worried about my MRI and the prospect of going through cancer treatment all over again. I have had plenty of sadness and fear. This was different than in times past. As I have written, I have felt storms of emotion at different times during the past 1 1/2 years. But at my core there was a sense of peace and calm.

How was my core different this time? In addition to the stress around the MRI being scheduled, then cancelled, then rescheduled (I hate that kind of stuff), about a week or two into that whole mess, my energy dipped precipitously. I was really really fatigued. Like everyone else, I have a low energy day every once in awhile. But I had several in a row. And the fatigue felt different to me, it was the kind that can pull me down into very sad places. This scared me. Anxiety followed by prolonged fatigue is how my depression has started in the past. And I have had periods of time, especially in the winter when I experience this fatigue and although I can never be certain, it feels like the start of a depressive episode that never happens because I am able to fight it off with my medication and cognitive therapy techniques.

I have not had clinical depression in over 10 years but it has been a strong concern of mine that I would have a recurrence due to the stress of being a cancer patient. So I was really scared last week and although I talked to a few people about the fears I had about cancer recurrence, I told no one, not even my husband, about my fear of being depressed again. I felt isolated, lonely and guilty about being a very needy person. I was still able to work and behave with a semblance of normalcy when it was very important that I did so.

By Thursday night, I started feeling significantly less stressed. I had gotten the core of peace and serenity back even though I was still distressed. But I wasn’t entirely back to whatever “normal” is these days. My emotional states change so much more frequently and intensely than they used to and I understand why they do. I can live with the “normal crazy” of cancer treatment. I am still myself but in technicolor. When I am depressed I am not myself. There are some people who have persistent depression, which tends to be a steady, low level misery.

In contrast, when I’ve gotten depressed, it has been acute and more severe. I fell into a very scary, powerless, and hopeless chasm, into a world where I could act like myself for some periods of time but it was acting. And I didn’t feel like myself at all. The first time it happened, I kept thinking that if I just kept problem solving, it would go away. So I let my untreated depression go on for some time. The second time it happened, I recognized it within a week or two and thought, “Oh no, we’re not doing this again” and got myself back to see a psychologist and my internist within a week and my symptoms started subsiding very quickly, within a couple of weeks.

Now that I’m writing this, I am realizing that I handled that last episode pretty well. And I am also still seeing a psychologist every month, not to mention all of the healthy things I do that are good for both physical and mental health. Depression, you are not welcome, but if you come anyway, I can deal with you, too.

(Update: The results of the MRI showed “no evidence of disease” and that is my current breast cancer health status.)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Today, my brain feels pretty functional and I feel calm despite the fact that I still have a number of unknowns in my life including the results of my MRI from last Friday. I spent a good 2-3 weeks up until last Friday on a roller coaster of anxiety. I can’t remember if it was Wednesday or Thursday of last week but on one of those days I was a mess for a few hours. I was so worried about my MRI and the prospect of going through cancer treatment all over again. I have had plenty of sadness and fear. This was different than in times past. As I have written, I have felt storms of emotion at different times during the past 1 1/2 years. But at my core there was a sense of peace and calm.

How was my core different this time? In addition to the stress around the MRI being scheduled, then cancelled, then rescheduled (I hate that kind of stuff), about a week or two into that whole mess, my energy dipped precipitously. I was really really fatigued. Like everyone else, I have a low energy day every once in awhile. But I had several in a row. And the fatigue felt different to me, it was the kind that can pull me down into very sad places. This scared me. Anxiety followed by prolonged fatigue is how my depression has started in the past. And I have had periods of time, especially in the winter when I experience this fatigue and although I can never be certain, it feels like the start of a depressive episode that never happens because I am able to fight it off with my medication and cognitive therapy techniques.

I have not had clinical depression in over 10 years but it has been a strong concern of mine that I would have a recurrence due to the stress of being a cancer patient. So I was really scared last week and although I talked to a few people about the fears I had about cancer recurrence, I told no one, not even my husband, about my fear of being depressed again. I felt isolated, lonely and guilty about being a very needy person. I was still able to work and behave with a semblance of normalcy when it was very important that I did so.

By Thursday night, I started feeling significantly less stressed. I had gotten the core of peace and serenity back even though I was still distressed. But I wasn’t entirely back to whatever “normal” is these days. My emotional states change so much more frequently and intensely than they used to and I understand why they do. I can live with the “normal crazy” of cancer treatment. I am still myself but in technicolor. When I am depressed I am not myself. There are some people who have persistent depression, which tends to be a steady, low level misery.

In contrast, when I’ve gotten depressed, it has been acute and more severe. I fell into a very scary, powerless, and hopeless chasm, into a world where I could act like myself for some periods of time but it was acting. And I didn’t feel like myself at all. The first time it happened, I kept thinking that if I just kept problem solving, it would go away. So I let my untreated depression go on for some time. The second time it happened, I recognized it within a week or two and thought, “Oh no, we’re not doing this again” and got myself back to see a psychologist and my internist within a week and my symptoms started subsiding very quickly, within a couple of weeks.

Now that I’m writing this, I am realizing that I handled that last episode pretty well. And I am also still seeing a psychologist every month, not to mention all of the healthy things I do that are good for both physical and mental health. Depression, you are not welcome, but if you come anyway, I can deal with you, too.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Heart Sisters

For women living with heart disease

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

KomenWatch

Keeping our eyes and ears open.....

Life in a Wheelchair

You never think it could happen to you!

4 Times and Counting

Confessions Of A 4 Time Breast Cancer Survivor

After Twenty Years Cancer Research Blog

Exploring progress in cancer research from the patient perspective.

My Eyes Are Up Here

My life is not just about my chest, despite rumblings to the contrary.

Woman in the Hat

Cancer to Wellness in 1,038,769 Easy Steps!

Dglassme's Blog

Wouldn't Wish This On My Worst Enemy

SeasonedSistah2

Today is Better Than Yesterday

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

The Pink Underbelly

A day in the life of a sassy Texas girl dealing with breast cancer and its messy aftermath

The Asymmetry of Matter

Qui vivra verra.

Fab 4th and 5th Grade

Teaching readers, writers, and thinkers

Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

making sense of the breast cancer experience together

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

Entering a World of Pink

a male breast cancer blog

Luminous Blue

a mother's and daughter's journey with transformation, cancer, death and LOVE

Fierce is the New Pink

Run to the Bear!

The Sarcastic Boob

Determined to Manage Breast Cancer with the Same Level of Sarcasm with which I Manage Everything Else

FEC-THis

Life after a tango with death & its best friend cancer