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Three True Things

1. My garden is depressingly overgrown. I've had no spoons to maintain it, and now it's pretty out of control.

2. Although the week was treating me pretty well up until now, I feel pretty much unequal to the demands of being a grown-up today, and will have to lay low and hang in there.

3. However, in 30 hours, my weekend starts. I get to see my wonderful therapist, and then I get a whole weekend in which I don't have to be separated from E.

I'm going to tell you something about this Three Good Things practice I've been doing. It's kind of against the grain for me. I really don't tend to be a fan of the focus-on-the-positive school of thought, especially when it's used as an emotional band-aid over a bullet hole. I've spent too much time in my life trying to pretend I was OK for the comfort of others. But, see, at this point in my life, I know I need to work at finding the middle path and most importantly, staying mindfully aware of what is rather than what I wish were. If that parses.

I've come to the conclusion that when the depression isn't in control, I'm a cheerful person by nature. So, Three Good Things is an effort to maintain some contact with that part of me that is optimistic, and feels like things are going to be OK. I am trying to court that part of myself. Call it sympathetic magic.

But today, that part of me seems to be AWOL, so you get the whole truth rather than just the good. Hope that's OK.


( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
I tend to focus on the bad or the nonexistent too, which is why that exercise is so helpful for me! One of my favorite lines from Allen Ginsberg: "You own twice as much rug if you're twice as aware of the rug."
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
Your Three Things reworked, hope you don't mind!

1. The garden is out of control, which must mean that the soil is healthy! And there's been plenty of rain. It will be there when you're ready to work on it.

2. It's awesome that you know when you are in need of Down Time and can let yourself take it, instead of pushing yourself in a bad way. We all need to rest and regroup.

(no subject) - fenriss - Jul. 31st, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fenriss - Jul. 31st, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rednikki - Aug. 1st, 2008 04:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Have you seen this article?

But the success of Prozac hasn't simply transformed the treatment of depression: it has also transformed the science of depression. . . .Like many other antidepressants, Prozac increases the brain's supply of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. The drug's effectiveness inspired an elegant theory, known as the chemical hypothesis: Sadness is simply a lack of chemical happiness. The little blue pills cheer us up because they give the brain what it has been missing.

There's only one problem with this theory of depression: it's almost certainly wrong, or at the very least woefully incomplete. . . .

In recent years, scientists have developed a novel theory of what
falters in the depressed brain. Instead of seeing the disease as the result of a chemical imbalance, these researchers argue that the brain's cells are shrinking and dying. . . .The effectiveness of Prozac, these scientists say, has little to do with the amount of serotonin in the brain. Rather, the drug works because it helps heal our neurons, allowing them to grow and thrive again.

The article then talks about "exercising" the repaired neurons, but doing "happy" things and engaging in "happy people behavior."
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
(not "but doing 'happy' things. . . " but "BY doing 'happy' things")
(no subject) - fenriss - Jul. 31st, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minniethemoocha - Jul. 31st, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - duckmonster - Aug. 1st, 2008 03:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rednikki - Aug. 1st, 2008 04:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
But today, that part of me seems to be AWOL, so you get the whole truth rather than just the good. Hope that's OK.

It's fine, honey. We're here for ya; you don't have to be happy all the time. :)
Jul. 31st, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
thank you *clings to you*
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
"I really don't tend to be a fan of the focus-on-the-positive school of thought, especially when it's used as an emotional band-aid over a bullet hole."

I'm not good at this either. I'm always afraid I'll lose the half of the glass I have left.

Jul. 31st, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
that's an interesting way of looking at it.
(no subject) - eac - Jul. 31st, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
I thought your garden looked lush and natural and fabulous.
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Agreed! And even if it had seemed overgrown, I don't think "overgrown with delicious tomatoes" is necessarily a bad thing.

Conflict of interest disclosure: Since I am a direct beneficiary of this supposed garden neglect (both in terms of delicious tomatoes and in terms of reduced time for garden tending because you're making time for your friends), my opinion may not be the most impartial.

Ah, the constant struggle of the garden. It seems there's just never enough time to make them match up to the visions we hold in our heads!
(no subject) - fenriss - Jul. 31st, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
I've spent too much time in my life trying to pretend I was OK for the comfort of others. But, see, at this point in my life, I know I need to work at finding the middle path and most importantly, staying mindfully aware of what is rather than what I wish were.

Oh yeah, I know what that's like ;)

Hope you feel more posive soon - roll on the weekend.
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
positive, even...
(no subject) - fenriss - Jul. 31st, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
hmm. I can't speak to much of this because I really don't have any useful knowledge about depression and what it entails, but I can say about the True Things and the Good Things that these are equally important, I think. I don't think that seeking three good things is like becoming Pollyanna, singing happy songs while the world comes apart, and I'll tell you why (egad, at length, it seems. Sorry!):

I can so relate to that notion of being fine for everyone else (I call that the "I'm fine all the time girl") and I spent a good deal of my life being that person. But there's a difference between aping happiness and working to see happiness where you might otherwise neglect it or miss it--such as, for instance, in our own lives where we are feeling blue. I had a therapist tell me one time that part of the problem folks like me had was this kind of feedback loop, where a person can get caught up in their own heads where small things loom larger and larger and become more and more unmanageable, and often what is needed is another perspective, an outside voice to help point to a larger context. That was the best piece of advice I ever got. So, I go and be with people, not because they distract me from my real issues, or because I can pretend I'm fine for their benefit, but because they connect me to a greater reality.

I think that the Three Good Things is kind of like that. Even if it's not an index of how you feel right now, it is an aspect of the greater context, and a way of connecting to those things that do make life good, even if today you're not in that space. Like when you think you're lost in the deep dark woods and suddenly you hear voices and realize there's a house just there on the other side of that thicket, and you're really not that far from home, after all.

Anyway, I do go on, and who am I to say. But really this is all by way of giving you a virtual hug and letting you know that I'm glad you're here, whether you're showing the Good Things or the True Things (and, sometimes the Good and the True can be the same).

Jul. 31st, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Wow, Sal words! Thanks so much. Yes, it seems like you grok my reasons. I do sort of worry that people will think the exercise is Pollyannaish, but I think most folks get it. I am fortunate to have lots of smart, intuitive friends.

I love the analogy of dark woods and the house behind the thicket. That's a great image to hold onto.

ETA: *points at icon*

Edited at 2008-07-31 06:00 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - rednikki - Aug. 1st, 2008 04:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
I love you.
Jul. 31st, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Love you too, darling girl.
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
the whole truth is always okay. especially if it avoids the "band-aid over a bullet hole" thing.
Jul. 31st, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
*hugs you tight*
Jul. 31st, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
If your garden is wildly overgrown, then it must look a lot like mine. I feel exasperated by my inability/unwillingness to properly maintain it, but at the same time in awe of the plants determination to grow and live without any assistance from me.
Jul. 31st, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's incredible how they do that. It's really a gardener's role just to keep plants in forms that are useful to humans, producing food we can eat and medicine and flowers we can use. It's not like they'd stop growing if we all disappeared.
Jul. 31st, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
"so you get the whole truth rather than just the good"
the whole truth must come out in order to make room for the good. it's a completely acceptable process, so it's more than ok.
Aug. 1st, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
Right you are, m'dear!
Jul. 31st, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
Prince Caspian at the Drunkhouse. Are you (and E) game?
Aug. 1st, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. I hope you didn't mean last night? I left work around 4:20 and didn't see this till now.
(no subject) - chadu - Aug. 1st, 2008 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fenriss - Aug. 1st, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC)
I like your posts, and I think you're pretty awesome.

There's a solar eclipse (I think?) coming up tomorrow. I am a space elf, and so I think it's a good thing to prepare for it by conserving energy and giving yourself some privacy and liberty to do and think as you please.
Aug. 1st, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC)
What an amazing coincidence! I think you're pretty awesome too.

Yeah, I'd heard. I think it's past at this point isn't it? At any rate, I'm in a significantly better mood today. Thanks for you concern.
Aug. 1st, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
Hopefully I'm not repeating what others have already said (I've been trying to do more writing of my own comments *before* possibly being influenced by others, because I'm easily distracted)...

Your entire last post seems to me to be an example of taking responsibility for your own personal happiness seriously, in the best way. It appears that you have a grasp on what you'd like to try in order to get yourself to where you feel you should be. That's HUGE. If I find myself in a pit of depression, I hope I have that insight too-- the insight to plot a course of action, that is.

Everyone knows people who struggle with depression...in fact, I think I know more who *do* than who *don't*. It's frustrating to be a friend to someone who is unable to look at options, or unable to look at new things to try. You seem to be doing the exact opposite. You seem to be in a much better place for a few reasons...

1. You're trying things-- and you' seem to be setting up the trial in ways you can check the results. (you have a record of yourself here on LJ).
2. You've been willing to share-- and been trusting of your LJ friends. By inviting us to give you feedback, you take a risk, but you hopefully open the doors to good suggestions and helpful commentary at the same time.
3. You recognize the (good time/bad time) pendulum, in the sense that you know there are going to be ups and downs... you don't seem stuck in a "down", in other words... You mentioned some demands getting to you, but then reminded yourself of the weekend... That's a great tool!

So, you know all that already...

I guess I just wanted to comment on how good it is to have this reminder of how to keep caring for your heart and mind like this. It's necessary.

I've been struggling with my mood some, since my friend's motorcycle accident--I've had days I never thought would end. Remembering that the bad periods have time limits kept me alive, I think.


Aug. 1st, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
It *is* very easy to get stuck in that pervasive feeling that everything has always been awful and will always be awful. It's a trick depression plays on you. So, yeah, I try to keep a record (here and in my private, paper journal) of when things are good. So I can remind myself when they get bad.

Hugs back.
Aug. 1st, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
It's been a rough week on multiple quarters, it seems. I had to do a couple of days of moping, myself. (Not accusing you of moping. But telling you it'd be OK if you were.) I'm through the worst, I think.

I voted in your thing, for "It's good to see positivity," but I didn't explain it. I didn't mean it in a "wah, wah, there's too much complaining" sense, but just as a statement of fact unto itself: seeing positivity is good and uplifting. The (it seems to me) implied "so negativity should be left out" isn't part of what I wanted to get across at all, because that's part of life too. I guess I just meant that going out of your way to share happy things is, you know, awesome.

Also, the three things meme, while not something I do out in the public of my own journal, is something I try to do at least a couple of times a week, in my own head. Your doing it in your journal reminds me to do it in my head. :)

I hope you already feel better by the time started writing this.
Aug. 1st, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)
Hey, you. I'm sorry to hear you've been having a tough week, but glad it's getting better.

I feel like a practice of gratitude for the good stuff is just a healthy way to balance that irritating tendency of the human mind to always linger on pain. And I do hope it's helpful to others. I try sometimes to include good things that are good in a local or global way too, so that maybe I can bring some cheer to people.

And I really am feeling a lot better! Yesterday must have been a fluke. Thanks so much for asking :)
( 43 comments — Leave a comment )