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In fact, it's kind of my specialty. It's something I've been practicing all my life. And, no, I'm not being sarcastic. I mean that I am (have been for decades) learning to manage depressive episodes with remarkable competence.

The first skill you need is to observe and recognize it. It's not the same thing as disappointment, grief, or frustration. Those things are always reactive to some stimulus. Depression can be reactive or not, but it invariably brings certain mental and physical symptoms that identify it. All possible solutions that arise are rejected as hopeless. My whole mental process regresses to simple pain avoidance and comfort seeking. I feel a dull heaviness around my solar plexus, and often a tightening of my throat. It becomes very difficult to make decisions, and tasks to which I felt more than equal yesterday (or even an hour ago) seem suddenly impossible.

But I have a process, and I keep refining it.

Breath. Keep breathing, and if possible, counting breaths until I feel more still and rational.

Disengage all non-essential muscle tension. Jaw, forehead, shoulders, back, fists, hips, legs, toes. Let it go.

Check environmental conditions. Am I in physical pain? Very cold or very hot? Extremely hungry or thirsty? Am I under some kind of attack? No? Good.

Fact check. My momentary circumstances aren't the same as my Lot in Life Forever. Even though I feel this way now, I won't feel this way forever. I'm just one little person standing here on one little planet at one moment in an (as far as we can tell) infinite Universe. This painful experience is tiny, and irrelevant. This is not minimizing my needs or personal value. This is gaining perspective, and there's some serious magic in it.

Now act. Exactly what task is before me? I do not look beyond the very next step that needs to be taken. I usually think that task is impossible, and I am always wrong. If I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I can usually accomplish what needs to be done, and find myself back in my safe, comfortable home with my loving mate and my cats before I know it.

This is the method I've developed. So far, I have never been hospitalized for mood disorders, and I continue to be a Productive Member of Society ™. Maybe I should write a book.


Jan. 16th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Write the book, but make the 2nd half about what to do when these techinques aren't enough. It's great when they work, and you have to learn them anyway (to combine with whatever treatment the docs come up with) but by themselves they're not enough for everybody.
Jan. 16th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Preaching to the choir here. These are the techniques I use to get me through from one appointment to the pshrink or therapist to the next.
Jan. 17th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
It sounds like we're on the same page. :)

I think those techniques are valuable or essential, even for someone who is getting treatment. I don't think most treatments magically fix the problem so much as improve things enough that those coping mechanisms *are* enough to do the rest of the job, so in my mind they're still important. Sorry if I sounded abrasive; I just know too many people who won't seek treatment *precisely because* they believe they should be able to think themselves out of depression, without any help or other treatment. *sigh*. I'm sure you've seen how sad that is too.
Jan. 17th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
Sorry if I sounded abrasive

No worries.

I'm sure you've seen how sad that is too.

Oh, gods, yes. It's miserable. Should a diabetic be able to *think* their blood sugar down to a healthy level? I grind my teeth daily over the way society won't accept that mental conditions are as real and serious are physical ones. In fact, they *are* physical! Neurochemistry, dude!

So, yeah. We're on the same page.



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