Writing Away Depression…My Very First Blog Post

This is my first blog post, ever, published May last year. I have since moved my blog here to this domain and my other blog, although now private, remains a reminder as to why I started blogging in the first place.

Photo Credit: sabeth718

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I was prompted to begin this blog after reading two articles yesterday. The first appeared in the online edition of Scientific American Mind. The article, titled Mother’s Depression Can Go Well Beyond Child’s Infancy, struck a cord. I have been finding myself so easily angered and frustrated lately that it scared me. My youngest is in the thick of the terrible twos and I just assumed my feelings and behaviour were a result of dealing with her daily tantrums and screaming fits. This article reminded me that postpartum depression (PPD) is not restricted to new mothers and made me do some serious thinking. The article also referred to negative thinking as an indicator of PPD. Lately I have been engaging in overly negative thinking was starting to feel like I was just a miserable person.

I started looking up PPD and found a great article for identifying, examining and combating negative thinking. Overcoming Negative Thinking, written by Chris Woolston, outlines the findings of Dr. David Burns who posits negative thinking is a major contributor to depression and can be overcome.

Burns says the first part of overcoming depression is identifying negative thinking. Taken from the website, here are the ten major ways our way of thinking open us up to depression:

1. All-or-nothing thinking. In this type of thinking, you’re either a hero or a failure. Any small misstep marks you as a failure. This kind of thinking can lead to crippling perfectionism.

2. Overgeneralization. Whenever something bad happens, it’s bound to happen again and again. If somebody you’ve idealized turns you down for a date, for example, you feel certain that the next person will, too.

3. The mental filter. You dwell on the downside of any situation while overlooking anything positive. If you’re an editor, you may become obsessed with a typo that escaped into print rather than congratulating yourself for getting out a great issue.

4. Diminishing the positive. In this kind of thinking, you tend to twist positive events into negative ones. If you just got a raise, for example, you may put yourself down for not getting a bigger raise.

5. Jumping to conclusions. You become either a mind reader or a fortune teller — whatever it takes to see trouble on the horizon. If a friend doesn’t return a call, he secretly dislikes you. If you like your job, you’ll probably lose it soon.

6. The binocular trick. It’s as if you’re wearing a special lenses that lets you see everything blown out of proportion. Little problems become monstrous; major victories, trifling.

7. Emotional reasoning. You believe mood reflects your true identity: You feel lousy because you are lousy.

8. ‘Should’ and ‘must’ thoughts. You constantly remind yourself of things you should or must do. (One expert calls this “musterbation.”) At the end of the day, you feel buried in guilt and shame. You may also dwell on things that other people should or must do, setting yourself up for frustration and bitterness.

9. Labeling and mislabeling. You tend to equate your ‘self’ with what you do, and since everyone makes mistakes, over time you develop a negative self-image based on errors you’ve made. If you invested in a high-tech stock deal that blew up in your face, for example, you view yourself as a failure. Failure, loser, dummy: The labels stick. If you tend to label other people as well, you’ll reap a lot of hostility.

10. Personalization. You assume responsibility for anything that goes wrong, even when it’s not your fault. Burns calls this line of thinking “the mother of guilt.”

Burns suggests one method of combating negative thinking is “writing away depression.” He suggests taking 15 minutes everyday to explore your thoughts and feelings. This blog is going to be my diary of my attempts to exorcise the negative thoughts that have been plaguing my life and my happiness.

I remember having similar feelings right after my second daughter was born. I had taken anti-anxiety drugs in the past for anxiety and panic attacks and my doctor suggested trying them again to deal with depression and anger I was feeling. The second day I was on them I had a panic attack. I figured medication wasn’t for me and just tried to talk myself out of feeling the way I did.

I find these feelings of anger and negative thinking come in waves, a feature of PPD noted by researchers. It doesn’t have to be all of nothing, it can come in waves and then retreat back out to sea. I feel today optimistic and happy, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

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About Theresa

Writer, sister, mother, human.