When I was in grade school, I remember how my mother used to cry during lunchtime (or every meal time). I used to pick so much on my food, it took me hours to finish a small portion and I just don’t eat well. She would often try to make me eat more and better by lamenting how hard my father worked to provide for us and how much time and effort it took her to go to the market and prepare and cook our meals.
Talk about what goes around comes around! Last week, I told my daughter the exact same sentiments I memorized as a child. I advised her to use the power of her mind. Sophia is a bit familiar with the law of attraction and mindfullness etc. I told her I did not like eating vegetables when I was her age too (up until recently, to be honest) and tried to think that they are delicious. Eventually, they grew on me, and they really do not taste bad, I was just not used to them.
While I was lecturing my daughter about the power of her mind, I felt ashamed. Or even a bit hypocritical. What I am feeling (and thinking) is probably a little bit more complicated than her aversion to vegetables (oh what I would not give to be a child again) but I should be able to harness the power of my mind, too right?
I have been feeling down in the dumps again this weekend, and today it took every thing I got just to get out of bed. Mental health is not big (frowned upon and not taken seriously) here in the Philippines, and only gaining traction lately. When someone hints at feeling depressed, the usual reaction here is either discounting (oh that’s nothing, cheer up, you’ll get over it, tomorrow is going to be better) or outright contradicting (you cannot be depressed, you have got so much going on and you definitely do not look the part).
I have always tried to be emphatic and I know that I meant well, but I am afraid I am also guilty of not taking mental health gravely. I have always been cheerful and relatively positive (before COVID-19, at least) so I guess I did not understand the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that comes with mental illness. I hit rock bottom last year, but I am not sure if I was (“clinically”) depressed or still experiencing “normal” sadness. One thing is for certain, I definitely did not see myself even wondering whether I was depressed or not.
I decided to read the book “Feeling Good” for the second time and take the Burns Depression Checklist to self-diagnose.
Cognitive therapy is a fast-acting technology of mood modification that you can learn to apply on your own. It can help you eliminate the symptoms and experience personal growth so you can minimize future upsets and cope with depression more effectively in the future.
The simple, effective mood-control techniques of cognitive therapy provide:
1. Rapid Symptomatic Improvement. In milder depressions, relief from your symptoms can often be observed in as short a time as twelve weeks.
2. Understanding: A clear explanation of why you get moody and what you can do to change your moods. You will learn what causes your powerful feelings; how to distinguish “normal” from “abnormal” emotions; and how to diagnose and assess the severity of your upsets.
3. Self-control: You will learn how to apply safe and effective coping strategies that will make you feel better whenever you are upset.
4. Prevention and Personal Growth: Genuine and long-lasting prophylaxis (prevention) of future mood swings can effectively be based on a reassessment of some basic values and attitudes which lie at the core of your tendency toward painful depressions.
This first principle of cognitive therapy is that all your moods are created by your “cognitions,” or thoughts. A cognition refers to the way you look at things – your perceptions, mental attitudes, and beliefs. It includes the way you interpret things – what you say about something or someone to yourself. You feel the way you do right now because of the thoughts you are thinking at this moment.
The second principle is that when you are feeling depressed, your thoughts are dominated by a pervasive negativity. You perceive not only yourself but the entire world in the dark, gloomy terms. What is even worse – you’ll come to believe things really are as bad as you imagine them to be. If you are substantially depressed, you will even begin to believe that things always have been and always will be negative.
The third principle is of substantial philosophical and therapeutic importance. Our research has documented that the negative thoughts which cause your emotional turmoil nearly always contain gross distortions. Although these thoughts appear valid, you will learn that they are irrational or just plain wrong, and that twisted thinking is a major cause of your suffering.
The implications are important. Your depression is probably not based on accurate perceptions of reality but is often the product of mental slippage.David D. Burns, M.D. – Feeling Good (The New Mood Therapy)
The concepts in the book helped me a lot last year. But like all the other useful ideas I read about and did not practice consistently, it slipped my mind and I slipped back to not feeling good. The past year has taught me that I can only rely on myself, no matter how many people send their love and support, until I have made up my mind to intentionally will myself to get past what I am experiencing and feel better, I will not feel better.
There are days when I consider my intelligence more of a bane than a boon, and today is one of them. I have tried meditation to try and quiet my mind, but sometimes it feels like it has got a mind (pun intended) of its own. Rather than letting it make or break my day, I will try to control it, and run my show.
How is your mental health today? I encourage you to take the BDS to see.
#ToABetterSarah #RaisingSophia #OneOfThoseDays #FromZeroToHero