Sunday, December 21, 2008

Boy, is this ever a tough blog to keep up! When you're fully depressed, you don't want to right, and when you're fully well, you really can't explain much about how depression feels anymore. The best state of mind, it turns out, is that slightly annoyed and angry space.

Maybe this blog should be less about the disease and more about just letting sufferers rant? I'm not sure yet, but if you have an idea you'd like to share I'm certainly open to ways to keeping this running. I'll keep plugging along as best I can in the meantime, though.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Depression and Homeopathy

I didn't go to a homeopath to have depression treated. Homeopathy doesn't really work that way, despite what the labels on the remedies at the health food store may lead you to believe.
Homeopathy is based on the principle that like cures like, but the word "like" can be complicated here. Remedies are created out of substances that are known to have effects on healthy humans (ranging from mercury and arsenic to lion's milk and wind flower), diluting them down again and again until they're theoretically unable to do much of anything. However, homeopathic theory states that these dilute forms will trigger an immune response the same as if the actual symptoms are present, and kick start the body into healing the causes of those symptoms.
Remedies are "proven" by being given to healthy adults, who track what symptoms manifest after they take them. This is how a given remedy gets the little bullet points on the bottle, like "runny nose" and "arthritis." In fact, though, a remedy may effect quite a few symptoms, and a trained homeopath will identify the remedy that addresses the largest number of symptoms her or she can.
When a remedy is the correct one for a patient, it will even address symptoms you didn't talk about with the homeopath, or that have been suppressed. You can tell this is happening because you may experience little flare-ups ("aggravations,: in the homeopathic vernacular), generally not as strong as the actual symptom and lasting only a day or two. I had what appeared to be poison ivy show up on my knuckle - it was where I got a really bad case about ten years ago, one that spread all over my body.
So I didn't go to a homeopath for depression, but I discovered a couple weeks later that my remedy was addressing suppressed depression. It was a remedy I was taking daily, and after a couple of days of short temper, lack of focus, and mood swings, I consulted with her and she reduced the frequency. The symptoms went away (thankfully), and I know that the little kernel of depression inside me is being chipped away at by my own immune system.
The real point here is that homeopathy is a powerful medicine, and should not be used by people suffering from depression without professional supervision! Taking a remedy for headaches could lead to a lot of problems for a depressed person. On the other hand, undergoing treatment by a trained homeopath could be the solution after long years of suffering.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Dangerous Law of Attraction

If you've seen the widespread movie The Secret, or you're a practitioner of magic(k), or you have really optimistic friends, you've probably heard about the law of attraction. What you think about, it says, is what you draw into your life.

This tends to work really well for your optimistic friends, who constantly brood over their fulfilling relationships, dwell on their prosperity, and languish in their joy. Not so easy if there's a festering, stinking black cloud worming its way into your soul, though.

This law certainly must work, because it doesn't discriminate. It rewards the positive thinker and punishes the pessimist. Suffering from depression makes this one a real kick in the jimmy, too, since thought=pain already; just realizing that your own negative thoughts could be drawing to you things that reinforce and justify themselves can make a person sink even deeper into the hole - why bother trying?

Break the Blame Cycle
Teaching depressed people about the law of attraction is a great idea - when they're not depressed. It may make them less likely to slip back in, if they can master the thoughts that keep them from the pit. But that's not how it works when the disease is making headway. If you're depressed and dwelling on how negative thoughts create a negative life, it's going to balloon out of control faster than you can imagine.

Don't stop and dwell on how the universe punishes you for suffering - put the brakes on that runaway train right now. Won't do you any good. If the law of attraction is keeping you down, first thing to do is ignore the law of attraction.

Here's what you get if you are depressed and think about the law of attraction:
  • Blaming the Universe for your problems
  • Blaming God for your problems
  • Blaming yourself for your problems
None of the blame solves anything, and it really doesn't matter why depression is happening anyway. There will be time to think about attracting things into your life when you have some positive thoughts. For now, you need to shove that idea out of your mind the way New Yorkers ignore a homeless person on the street.

Time Enough for Attraction Later
It should be clear that I consider depression to be a crafty opponent, one that's inside your head and whispering things to you that make you sink deeper into the pit. Everyone has to judge for themselves, but at the darkest hour I don't think you'll see a lot of success trying to think positive thoughts. There will be time to use the law of attraction later, once you're out of the current hole.

It should be possible, though, to change the subject of that conversation in your head. Don't think about (fill in the bad idea here) right now. Make up a shopping list or walk up and down the stairs ten times. Make a phone call or pet the cat. Anything to distract yourself from that one thought, just for now.

Small Steps
A big part of depression is being overwhelmed by the big picture. No big picture allowed here! Just stop thinking one negative thought by thinking about something neutral. There will be time for more another day. For now, setting aside that shovel with which you're digging that hole, just for a moment, should be enough.