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#73729 - 09/02/05 06:08 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada

One of the most difficult symptoms of depression that I struggle with is “mangled thinking”. Do you know what I mean? “Mangled thinking” is when my thought processes become tangled up in dark negativity. Mangled thinking distorts my perspective on EVERYTHING…people, relationships, work, social situations, family life, but most of all, my own self.

Mangled thinking is insidious. It begins with a few whispers of old voices “See, your mother was right, you ARE wearing out the welcome mat. You’re a nuisance. Better back off.” Then it escalates to variations of “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me.” Sounds like a pity party, but unfortunately for people who are spiralling into depression, these whispers devolve into deep despair.

Mangled thinking eventually permeates our entire interpretation process. Everything filters through this mangled perception that “I’m no good”, “I’m a failure”, “I’m crazy”. Until we are so sucked into these lies that we become blinded to any other possibility, and are deaf to any other voices. We literally become mired in the quicksand of our own mangled thinking, a place that is virtually impossible to get out of by ourselves.

The way out? I’m an adamant advocate of good therapy and medication to take the edge off of that never-ending cacophony of negativity that’s ringing in our minds, and the sadness and despair that we feel because it feels like we’ll never get out of this dark place. The meds and therapy will help to stabilize us.

But I also believe we can learn how to “map” ourselves out of that quicksand, and that is by what I call “rewiring the attic”. It’s another way of saying “rewriting our inner dialogues”. It’s essentially replacing those lies (and that’s what they usually are), that we are unloveable and worthless, with the truth. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because without evidence to the contrary, we just simply aren’t always able to see the lies for what they are. We WANT to believe the truth, but that’s what mangled thinking does, convinces us that lies are the truth and truths are lies.

When we’re aware that this mangled thinking is one of the SYMPTOMS of depression, and not the underlying truth or cause of depression, then we can begin to treat that particular symptom with the medication it needs: the truth. We can arm ourselves with the truth that we are worthwhile, we are loved, we are more than this depression, we are valid, we are an important part of the fabric of life around us, we do have an important unique niche that only we can fill. Even if we can’t feel all those things while in the depths of depression, we can keep replacing the mantra of negative lies with the mantra of positive truths. Eventually light will break through the darkness, and literally map us out of the quicksand of that mangled thinking.

Does any of that sound familiar? I invite you to share your own experience of mangled thinking, and how it affects you when you are struggling with depression. Can you see it for what it is? Is it as debilitating a symptom for you as it is for me? Are you able to talk yourself out of those lies?

It’s imperative that you hear me say that we can’t always do it alone, and shouldn’t expect ourselves (or anyone we know who’s depressed) to be able to do this alone. We DO need help from therapists, medications and loved ones. I would never have made it out of my first major bout of depression with the network of friends and medical help that stood by me. They literally loved me back to life. But now I’m able to do a lot of that “rewiring of my attic” by myself and throw the truth at those lies when they begin to haunt me again.

[ September 02, 2005, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: Eagle Heart ]

#73730 - 09/02/05 06:32 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
Thanks Lynn, if anything I say here can help even one person on their own journey through depression, it will be worthwhile.

Smile, interesting choice of question this morning. As you can see, I've brought up the issue of "mangled thinking" for discussion.

Depression is such a complicated illness. I still don't know what comes first, the chemical imbalance or other triggers, or the mangled thinking (the mind connection). What makes it difficult to determine for me is that I struggle with mangled thinking in normal times, when I'm not depressed. But I've become quite adept now at talking myself through the negativity, and the mangled thinking does not drag me down into depression or despair...which makes me think that chemical imbalance is my major CAUSE of depression, and the worsening of the mangled thinking is a SYMPTOM of that imbalance/depression.

But the work that I do on rewiring my attic when I'm NOT depressed helps me when I am depressed, because I'm in the practice of hurling truths at the lies. So now it's an automatic reflex, and it really does minimize the mental and emotional anguish of depression to be able to at least manage that symptom.

When struggling through depression, anti-depressants are essential for me, as well as therapy. I'm not as likely to be motivated to exercise, or eat healthy foods, but again, I know now that practicing healthy habits in my non-depressive times helps me to maintain those habits when I am depressed. I'm determined to maintain some measure of steely-grit discipline when I struggle through my bouts of depression now, even when all I want to do is stay in bed under the covers...which I do allow myself once in a blue moon.

[ September 02, 2005, 11:34 AM: Message edited by: Eagle Heart ]

#73731 - 09/03/05 07:05 AM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
smilinize Offline

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
Eagle, Thank you for such an insightful answer. I believe the self-talk that you used to defeat the lies of the depression are also a part of the mind body connection.

For example the endorphins that make you feel good come from a smile, but they also lead to a smile. If you smile even when you don't feel like it, those same endorphins will fill you and you will begin to feel like smiling. I personally think you have to smile AT someone even if it's yourself, but I've not read that anywhere. I just made it up. Hey it works for me.

I believe the same may be true for self affirmations. If you say affirming things to yourself even when you don't feel them they may lead you to feel them. ??


#73732 - 09/02/05 09:25 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Dotsie Offline

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
mangled thinking...the first thing that comes to mind is all the coverage of Katrina. I am not the kind of person who can go to bed and wake up listening to this type of information, but I have the last couple of nights and days. NOT TONIGHT! It distorts my thinking. It's depressing. I can only take so much. It's not that I don't care, it's simply drags me down.

Television is one of the reasons I think many elderly are depressed.

Eagle, this may not be exactly what you were looking for, but it's the first thing that came to mind because my thinking has been mangled and too focused on the terror and horror.

I chose to focus on it during my prayer time this morning and handed it over to God, but I'm also known for taking things back from Him too.

#73733 - 09/02/05 10:13 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
Dotsie, Your point is VERY relevant to the topic of mangled thinking. I speak in my book, and will speak here later in the month, about how I've had to become just as diligent about not allowing toxins into my mind as I am about not allowing them into my body or environment.

I've learned the hard way that I have to be extremely careful what images are allowed into my brain, especially before going to bed. It's not that I want to bury my head in the sand, and in fact it's because I DO care TOO MUCH. Those images haunt me, keep me awake in tears and anxiety all night, depress me and threaten to throw me into a deeper despair because the situations seem so desparate and any attempts to help seem futile. I cannot allow too much of that dark, depressing imagery into my brain or I become overwhelmed and literally succumb to the darkness and futility.

Dotsie, you'll be interested in this. Lately I've been following your encouragement to "hunker down with God". Over and over again, I hear Him "suggesting" that I NOT start my day off by reading the newspaper over breakfast, which has been my habit for many years. It took awhile to take Him seriously, and also to wean myself off that habit. But gradually I've been changing my morning routine. I start, while still stretching and relaxing in my bed, with "gratitude chit-chat" with Him, then sit up and read inspirational daily meditation stuff that I bought a few months ago, and prayer; then I go downstairs and have my breakfast - with Him instead of the newspaper...chatting about the day to come, praying for loved ones (including Boomer sisters) and thanking Him for the wonderful life I now have (especially as compared to before!) Then, after I've finished eating and praying, I read the paper, prayerfully, praying for all the various situations and people I read about there.

It's making a difference. It's a much gentler, more hopeful beginning compared to the dark, seemingly endless focus on the war and devastation that fills the newspapers.

[ September 02, 2005, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: Eagle Heart ]

#73734 - 09/02/05 10:33 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Fiftyandfine Offline

Registered: 08/02/05
Posts: 154
Loc: FL
Originally posted by Eagle Heart:
about how I've had to become just as diligent about not allowing toxins into my mind as I am about not allowing them into my body or environment

I swear Eagle, every time you open your mouth you say something that strikes at the very core of me!!!
It makes perfect sense of course, I guess I just needed to hear it from an "expert." I'm off to ponder about those televison toxins, thanking you all the way...

#73735 - 09/02/05 11:13 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Evie Offline

Registered: 08/27/03
Posts: 791
Loc: Nipigon, Ontario Canada
Welcome Eagle - I think you are going to offer much to learn and understand this month!

Question - if you think a friend might be suffering from depression - how can you best help them and suport them? Is there a balance between trying to be supportive and knowing you have to let go - you can't do anything anymore?

#73736 - 09/02/05 11:48 PM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
Thanks Evie. That's a difficult question, especially about figuring out the balance between being supportive and knowing when it's time to let go. Again, I'm not an expert and don't pretend to know the best answers here. But I'll share what I know from my own experience.

When you think a friend might be suffering from depression, the most important thing to do first is to make sure they're safe. If there's any inkling whatsoever that they might be suicidal, get them to a hospital. If they won't go voluntarily, call 911 or someone you know can help. Let the professionals determine if the person needs professional intervention or if the suicide threat is just their way of "looking for attention". I wouldn't suggest that you take that decision on yourself.

But many depressed people don't become suicidal, so let's talk about how to help those ones. I would say that as a friend or loved one, the best way to support someone who's depressed is three-fold:

1. Accept that this is an illness and they will NOT be able to "snap out of it" on their own. It may take a long time (3 years for me the first time around) and may be a long, slow, arduous climb out of that darkness. So if you really want to help, be clear that you may become a long-term "companion-along-the-way" for them.

2. Listen, care, and commiserate - but also dare to challenge their negative self-talk with the truth that they ARE loved and worthwhile. This might seem futile, that they can't hear it, and terribly frustrating at times, but trust me, I YEARNED to hear those words, and they did sink in to the core of my being. They might not have seemed to help at the time, but when I was ready to start climbing out of that hellhole, those words came back to be a light in my darkness and helped me pull myself out.

3. Don't let yourself get dragged into the darkness. Know your limitations, and balance the time you spend with that person against time spent in uplifting, happier situations with fun-to-be-with people, people you can relax with.

It was ALWAYS one of my greatest fears that I would drag somebody down with me. The people who helped me the most were the ones I KNEW would pull back when they needed to, because I knew they would not let me drag them into the quicksand with me. I knew they were pulling back so that they would have more care and resources to help me later.

You can compare someone who's profoundly depressed to someone who's drowning...the desperation to feel better can make the depressed person cling to their lifelines for dear was my temptation to do so. But as sick as I was, I was still aware of the danger of taking someone down with me. In some ways that hampered me...I wouldn't allow people to help me because of that fear. Thus the relief of having people around me who knew when to let me go and pull back to catch their own breath.

You have to know your limits and draw the line. And you have to be aware that there is some responsibility on the depressed person's part to help themselves, specifically by seeking professional help (therapy) and medications. As time progresses and you see no effort on their part to accept help and you feel your own self beginning to drown, you must pull yourself out of that situation for awhile and take care of yourself. That might not always be possible, but do as much as you can to protect your own health. That's hard for caring people to hear, but it's essential that you not let yourself get so dragged into the darkness that you can't get yourself out.

#73737 - 09/03/05 12:00 AM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
One thing I'd like to suggest here is that people who have never been depressed feel free to ask the kind of questions about depression that they've always wanted to ask, but were always afraid to for fear of appearing to be uncaring or "ignorant", (excuse the word, but it's probably the one that fits the best here).

There is a lot of honest confusion and misinformation out there about depression. Now's your chance to ask your "why's" without worrying about appearances. You can PM them to me if that's more comfortable, and I'll try to answer them here (without revealing any identities for the PM'd questions) from the perspective of someone who's lived those "why's".

Remember though, that I'm not a doctor and will not be able to answer specific medical questions. My approach will be from an "inside perspective" of personal experience.

[ September 02, 2005, 05:06 PM: Message edited by: Eagle Heart ]

#73738 - 09/03/05 12:37 AM Re: Eagle Born To Fly, Sharon Matthies
smilinize Offline

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
Here's a couple of questions:

What do you think brought on your initial depression?

Was the onset sudden or over time?

Were you clinically depressed (meaning you were depressed regardless of the situation) or were you situationally depressed, (meaning you were depressed as a result of a bad situation)

How did you know you were depressed as opposed to blue?

How long did it last?

How did you know you were recovering?

Was there a specific incident that started the recovery?

That should keep you busy typing for a while. [Smile]


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