Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Negative self talk and trying to counter it.

I'm wondering how many times I've written about this. I could call it "stigmatism" issues. Only the spell checker doesn't like the word and is suggesting I write about my eyes and the problem one of them has (an astigmatism). I could call it "scrupulosity," which might not be quite accurate, but then again might be a little accurate. I could call it... I could forget a title, and just write about it (brilliant!).

I was just reading http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/03/they-just-dont-get-it.html and http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/03/depression-its-spiritually-incorrect.html, and reading some of the comments. People say things to people with depression, and people with depression feel hurt. Simple. Then there is the battle that goes on in my brain. I care what "people" say, but why? Why do I feel hurt inside when I'm told things like, "everybody feels that way," or, "if you really trust God and obey Him, you wouldn't still have this depression"? The "everybody feels that way" issue boils down to, if everybody feels this way, why can't I just pull it together and live my life! I mean, if the whole world is moderately depressed, why can't I handle feeling this way better? Why do I need medications and a counselor? It must be because I am weak. The thought that actually hurts is the thought that I'm weak. Other people thinking I'm weak shouldn't be too much of a problem, unless I suspect it's true but don't want it to be true. The same thing goes for the whole, "if you were a better follower of God, you wouldn't be this depressed" issue. It is annoying if my pastor tells me in the psych. ward that I should be able to hit the delete button on my disturbing OCD thoughts. It is heartbreaking to believe that I should be able to simply delete my OCD thoughts. It is annoying to be told that depression is actually a sin issue and not a mental illness, but it is heartbreaking to believe that depression is actually a sin issue and not a mental illness. So why do I read about Christianity and mental disorders? Why do I read about stigma and people's misperceptions (spellcheck doesn't like "misperceptions" either, instead endorsing "misconceptions")? I read it because I hope that the information given to explain to people why other people are wrong in certain ideas will finally convince my own brain that I am wrong in those certain ideas. I think, well, maybe if my mom and my sisters and my pastors and my friends all really understand what mental illness is and don't lay false blame, maybe then I'll really be able to discredit the fears inside of myself that the false blame may actually be true. So the person I most want to convince about all of this is... myself. Yup. And I have OCD, so we all know how easy it can be for me to convince myself that something I fear doesn't need to be feared. :) Hmmm, how do you do an exposure on that? "Take the risk" that I am an extra lazy, extra weak, extra disobedient-to-God person? Go ahead and see my counselor regularly and take the medications the Dr prescribes? I.e., continue what I've been doing, but maybe cut out some of the self judgements and cut myself more slack? Maybe.

On the judgement issue, we could talk about me and Seroquel. I was talking to the psychiatrist yesterday, and he was trying to remember why we had pulled back from 300 to 150 mgs. Did it make me too tired? Umm, no. I mean, sure, it maybe made me extra tired, but I'm pretty positive that could be overcome with time. I've gotten over the 150 mg tiredness, after all (well, most days?). No, the issue was that I didn't want to be on Seroquel. Because it's an antipsychotic. And I've heard of "people" (vague rumor that I could easily have gotten mixed up or even made up myself in response to some comment) who don't want to or wont take Seroquel or it's relatives because they don't want to be on an antipsychotic. I, of course, look down on "them" for being so... so... proud? Then I look at myself and realize, I am one of them. So I look down on myself, just like they said would happen when discussing hierarchies in therapy in the psych unit. Really, I dislike that I need Seroquel. I start questioning (after all, I have OCD; I'm good at finding problems). Maybe I don't need Seroquel. Maybe I'm just taking it because I am weak and foolish and am bringing up issues that I shouldn't, resulting in Drs prescribing medication that I don't need. Clearly, if I wasn't thinking about depression, I wouldn't even be depressed! (No magical thinking in my world; how about magical not-thinking.) Hah! Back to the starting issue.

Coping Method #81 (this is on topic, by the way): If you can't be nice to yourself, be nice to your friend's friend. So its largely word play, but it sure made my Monday evening more livable. I didn't want to be nice to myself. My friend Rebecca reminded me that there are people who care about me. So I decided to treat myself like I would treat a friend of Rebecca's (hmm, that's the way I would say it, but written down, the grammar is not right). It worked pretty well. Instead of making nasty comments to myself, I had to make sure Rebecca's friend got food for supper and all that she would need from me if I was her host. I told her not to worry about making some social mistake by saying something wrong - hey, we all do that all the time. Funny how nice I can be to Rebecca's friend.

And then the next day... Another friend quoted a friend of hers, "Never say something to yourself that you wouldn't say to someone else."

And another moment of self-condemnation,... A well meaning friend says she doesn't think I'm as different from "normal" people as I think I am. Maybe that is supposed to be a complement to make me feel better. Maybe it should make me feel "not alone." Maybe it's supposed to, ...? I'm sure it was a nice comment. But here is what I quickly deduced; you don't have any more mental illness that a "normal" person, which means that you are weak or lazy or both - and add in sinful, there, too - and because of your inferior abilities (or character), you feel sorry for yourself, can't handle "normal" as well as a "normal" person, and/or, oh, I don't know, insert some other offensive remark here, because I need three statements to round it out nicely. (And good job, OCD, for making the "and" an "and/or" just in case I'm accidentally but subconsciously intentionally lying.)

Now what was I saying about speaking nicely to myself? Oh, that was what my friend said. I guess I'd better be nice to my friend's friend if I can't be nice to myself. Only, if I keep that up, will I qualify for some other mental/personality disorder? Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want whatever title it would get me.

Silly saying time. I have amused myself once again. Sorry if the joke is non-transferable. My depressed thoughts were going on as usual. The conversational style was present. "Blah, blah, blah, [depressed statement]." Then I have to respond to it. I've got numerous responses, one of my favorite being, "Oh, hello, Depression." (The depression doesn't seem to like that one because it discredits what the depression just said.) But this time, my brain replied, "Yeah, and if I believe that, you'll tell me another one." Then I laughed because it was so true. Of course, depression isn't too hindered by unbelief; it keeps chatting either way, but it can get worse if I believe it.

1 comment:

  1. Abigail,

    I hear you when you wonder why you care what "people" think. I have gotten better, but sometimes I still place way too much value on what "people" think. And that goes for family and friends too.

    You are not depressed because you are weak, lazy or sinful. You do not have OCD because you are weak, lazy or sinful.

    Believe me, I have told myself many, many times that I am weak and lazy and sinful. And it didn't make me a better person. It didn't cure me. It didn't do anything positive for me or anyone else.

    Depression and OCD are illnesses. Many people don't understand that. It's important that you remember it, though, and not beat up on yourself. I like the idea of being as nice to yourself as you would to a friend's friend. My goodness, Jesus said to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    I get upset at people who put down others for suffering, especially when they do so in the name of religion or God. It is so arrogant and ignorant. And I think there's some fear there. I think people fear that if YOU are ill with a devestating illness like depression or OCD, then THEY could become ill with one or another mental illness. And I wouldn't doubt that some of the people saying "buck up" to those who are depressed are suffering from depression themselves and feel ashamed. It's easier to attack someone else than to deal with your own problems.

    Well, I have ranted enough. I just want you to know that I have been in your shoes and sometimes still am. Keep on taking care of yourself. And though we can't delete our thoughts, we have a choice about which ones to pay attention to. Just knowing I have that choice is making a big difference to me.

    And I was on Seroquel at one time. I didn't like the term "antipsychotic" either. The medication didn't end up working for me, but the important thing I learned is that if it did work for me, I would be taking it. If it helps, I don't care what it's called. :-)

    Take care.

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