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Do you love life? Can you teach me?


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#1 seasection

Posted 12 February 2020 - 01:46 PM

I'm pretty sure this is a WDYT, I just hope there are a few of you out there that might be able to help me.  

Are you a person who loves life, or enjoys it for the most part?  Can you find enjoyment in most situations?  Do you ever pull yourself back up after life hits you with a hard stretch?

See, I'm trying to figure out where I keep going wrong.  And I'm hoping this is something I can train my brain to do, or at least try to.  I just feel, entirely hopeless, and that life is pointless.

I'm coming off the back of a 4th dip into extreme depression.  I'm back on my medication, I'm seeing my therapist, I'm looking after myself etc.  But this time round was tough, tougher than ever before and it really scared me.

I have all the usual things, support, great kids, great husband, good job.  Usual stressors of mid life, teenage child, young child, mortgage etc etc.

I do also have a strong history of depression in my family, of which I was an emotional support to my mother and sister for most of my youth.  

I'm also in good health, besides being overweight.

Sorry for rambling, what I'm asking is, can I learn to look on the bright side?  Have you?

Thanks for listening.

Edited by seasection, 12 February 2020 - 01:47 PM.


#2 james_c

Posted 12 February 2020 - 02:01 PM

I'm sorry you're going through a hard time, be kind to yourself, you're doing your best!

I often wonder if we can truly change this part of ourself and learn to live with it and be more content.

In many ways, I think I am one of these people who enjoy life and is mostly happy, I do worry about some things and feel stress, but I mostly go to bed every night thinking that I had a great day.
A friend of mine was commenting on it, and my answer was that I truly had an easy and nice life, and I don't know how I would react if facing difficulties, but she then pointed out a number of events that would be considered as true hardship and I just never saw them that way.
So maybe it's all about resilience, maybe it's about chemical/hormonal balance.
Maybe it's like asking someone with a genetic predisposition for athleticism to teach you how to run super fast when you have short bowed legs.
Maybe it's about doing your best with what you've got and not having too high expectations.

My personal way of dealing with difficulties is to take the time to reflect on them objectively and try to see what I could have done differently/better. If it's something I have no control over, such as a disease or loss, it's accepting that it will take time to recover from it and focusing on the other nice aspects of life. But a walk along the river or a coffee by myself with a good book is the epitome of "great" for me. Expectations...

#3 blimkybill

Posted 12 February 2020 - 02:20 PM

Sometimes I think it's largely the cards we were dealt through our genes and through early life experience. That does have a lot to do with it (unfortunately).
I know people who just decide that taking anti depressants makes their life better and they will do it forever. I am totally supportive of that. If your "natural" state is on the low side, and depression keeps returning, then maybe long term meds are the way to go.
On top of that, I think some form of brain training is possible. I trained myself to be less anxious about certain things, with some help from a professional. But I am lucky and was never highly anxious, I just had some bugbears.
I think gratitude practise can be good, and also meditation with a focus on acceptance, awareness and stillness. I am a huge believer on both of those things, I don't want to promise anything to anyone, but I do believe these things can train your brain and make you happier.

#4 AllyK81

Posted 12 February 2020 - 02:21 PM

I am interested in the question you post OP about learning to look on the bright side. My DS is 6 and very glass half empty.

I am a very up beat, happy and optimistic person and I find it so puzzling! He has such a wonderful life (as most kids do!!).

He will have a great day - the beach, the theatre, even at school - and then when we reflect on it at the end of the day all he can talk about is some minor negative part of the day.

'Great day at the beach, but you made me leave too early/I was cold when I got out/the waves were too big/you didn't buy me an icy pole'.

Always always always. We are working on a daily gratitude practice with him - making him write down 3 good things that happened to him every night in a journal before bed. I feel like it is shifting his attitude to focus less on the negatives.

There is something about writing it down that makes him reflect I think.

You are dealing with genuine mental health issues OP and you seem so brave. Just focus on small things that bring you joy. Little things make tough times bearable.

When I had PPD I would actively concentrate on the feeling of the sun on my face, the taste of a coffee etc. Trying to really be 'in' the pleasurable moments helped.

#5 Zippypeaks

Posted 12 February 2020 - 02:24 PM

Check out Mel Robbins (Facebook, YouTube, Insta etc) she's all about helping you identify your habits, how to rewire your brain to think differently and change your thought patterns. There's a few little tips and tricks of hers I've adapted and, whilst it's slow going, I'm certainly much more aware of old and new thought patterns.

Edited by Zippypeaks, 12 February 2020 - 02:24 PM.


#6 chicken_bits

Posted 12 February 2020 - 02:58 PM

I have a chronic illness and have also experienced depression in the past. The real game changer for me (along with medication and therapy) was back in 2010/2011 when I did the 365 day project. The original premise was to take a picture a day for 365 days but I decided to take a picture of something positive I did every single day. This was before smart phones with cameras too so I had to be really intentional about it.

It really helped me to change my thinking around positivity. Rather than everything having to 'go right' or 'feel good' in order to have a good day, I was able to search for (and find) something that I could say was good even on the sh*ttiest of days. It gave me hope that not EVERYTHING was terrible. Because with depression/MI, catastrophising is real and it can be destructive.

Just look for 1 thing each day, no matter how little (some days it was that I got dressed or had a shower) and over time, your entire mindset may shift. Now, I can see some sort of silver lining to most situations. Even if overall they are still sh*t.

#7 newmumandexcited

Posted 12 February 2020 - 03:13 PM

View PostAllyK81, on 12 February 2020 - 02:21 PM, said:

I am interested in the question you post OP about learning to look on the bright side. My DS is 6 and very glass half empty.

I am a very up beat, happy and optimistic person and I find it so puzzling! He has such a wonderful life (as most kids do!!).

He will have a great day - the beach, the theatre, even at school - and then when we reflect on it at the end of the day all he can talk about is some minor negative part of the day.

'Great day at the beach, but you made me leave too early/I was cold when I got out/the waves were too big/you didn't buy me an icy pole'.

Always always always. We are working on a daily gratitude practice with him - making him write down 3 good things that happened to him every night in a journal before bed. I feel like it is shifting his attitude to focus less on the negatives.

There is something about writing it down that makes him reflect I think.

You are dealing with genuine mental health issues OP and you seem so brave. Just focus on small things that bring you joy. Little things make tough times bearable.

When I had PPD I would actively concentrate on the feeling of the sun on my face, the taste of a coffee etc. Trying to really be 'in' the pleasurable moments helped.

Look up meloncholic personality types in kids. Describes my and perhaps your son and it mad me see that it wasn’t really his attitude, really maybe who he was.

#8 Chchgirl

Posted 12 February 2020 - 03:25 PM

Yes, I'm a glass half full person and love life, I've been through some absolute sh*te over the years but pick myself up, dust myself off and get on with it.

But I've also never suffered from depression ,my health is great  so it would be different for me and the next person.

Edited by Chchgirl, 12 February 2020 - 03:26 PM.


#9 Soontobegran

Posted 12 February 2020 - 03:31 PM

For me life has been peaks and troughs. I can very easily slip but now I can pull myself out so much better than earlier with a whole lot of help and support.

I am all about the 'Pollyanna' mindset which sounds rather pathetic and probably dismissive to some people but it is how I have dealt with stuff.

Good luck OP. When you are in the thick of it it is hard to see a way out.


efs

Edited by Soontobegran, 12 February 2020 - 03:36 PM.


#10 Freddie'sMum

Posted 12 February 2020 - 03:36 PM

I've always suffered from depression and anxiety and feel so guilty that both our DDs have inherited my anxiety:(

I personally believe your outlook on life is a combination of genetics, your upbringing, different life events and how you react to all of the above.

I think I am by nature an anxious person who masks my anxiety by trying to be cheerful and funny.  You know, the tears of a clown type thing.  I find life very hard.  I feel things very deeply and emotionally.  

The movie "Inside Out" - I am the sadness character at heart.

#11 Let-it-go

Posted 12 February 2020 - 03:41 PM

I’m a happy person.

I’m lucky enough to have the combination of the right genetics (I’ve never suffered depression, anxiety etc) and a great stable upbringing.

Lucky.  So much is down to luck.

#12 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 12 February 2020 - 03:47 PM

yes much of it is down to luck i think. i’m generally happy although anxiety is creeping up on me (could be another charming offering from perimenopause (? dunno...maybe parenthood does it to you) - aspects of my childhood weren’t so great, but like STBG i tended to have a Pollyanna attitude (in fact i read pollyanna many many times as a tween/teen) - when i’m feeling blue i find exercise really helps me, but i think that is all connected with hormonal stuff, a bit of Polycystic ovary stuff, if my blood sugars get out of whack then that has a knock on effect.

ETA - sorry OP i just re-read that and it sound like i meant “just read Pollyanna and do some exercise and you’ll be fine”. i didn’t mean that! i don’t think that will help. well, exercise might, but pollyanna definitely won’t. i think Blinky Bill has good advice (the poster ^ in their post above, not blinky bill the book...)

Edited by Lucrezia Bauble, 12 February 2020 - 03:53 PM.


#13 Moukmouk

Posted 12 February 2020 - 04:12 PM

STBG and LB I was going to mention Pollyanna as well. I know it’s a bit twee, but that book gave me so much strength as a child/adolescent. I didn’t like the movie though....
my parents are the most negative people ever. There is no joy in their life. Anything remotely nice is always brought down by them. I think that’s why I made such a conscious effort not to be like them. The Glad game sounds silly but in some ways it really helps. It’s about reframing. Eg my mother will say “oh isn’t it awful DS needed another surgery”. I say “aren’t we lucky to live in an amazing country where he can get it”. My anxiety flares and comes and goes, but in general I am very grateful for my life. I think I am happy not to be perfect as well.
OP, I can’t imagine what severe depression is like though. I have a sibling who finds long term medication the answer.

Edited by Moukmouk, 12 February 2020 - 04:13 PM.


#14 CallMeFeral

Posted 12 February 2020 - 04:18 PM

I was going to write some stuff and then found it was all in this post.

View Postblimkybill, on 12 February 2020 - 02:20 PM, said:

Sometimes I think it's largely the cards we were dealt through our genes and through early life experience. That does have a lot to do with it (unfortunately).
I know people who just decide that taking anti depressants makes their life better and they will do it forever. I am totally supportive of that. If your "natural" state is on the low side, and depression keeps returning, then maybe long term meds are the way to go.
On top of that, I think some form of brain training is possible. I trained myself to be less anxious about certain things, with some help from a professional. But I am lucky and was never highly anxious, I just had some bugbears.
I think gratitude practise can be good, and also meditation with a focus on acceptance, awareness and stillness. I am a huge believer on both of those things, I don't want to promise anything to anyone, but I do believe these things can train your brain and make you happier.

What sort of things have you worked on with your therapist? Have they done anything that sounds like this stuff?
https://www.booktopi...BBoCDzwQAvD_BwE

#15 Caribou

Posted 12 February 2020 - 04:51 PM

There are times in my life where I’ve dipped into depression. Counselling helped, but what helped me the most, was being selfish. By doing things for ME. I took up going to the gym on pysch’s advice, it was an hour for ME. An hour a day and I relished it. From there my mind set improved, and while I don’t exercise on a daily basis anymore, I’ve found new activities that are for me solely that give me happiness. It seems so silly, but that’s what it is, I had to do an activity for me that wasn’t interrupted by family.

#16 kyrrie

Posted 12 February 2020 - 05:21 PM

It’s really hard to identify what you do isn’t it. I love life. It astounds me and amazes me. I’ve always worked on the idea that bad things will come and that I will survive them and they will pass or I will learn to live with them. I get so much pleasure in the little things. How green The leaves are and how blue the sky is, the feel of my daughter's skin, the sound of my son's voice, the shapes formed by the bubbles in the bath etc etc. I find these naturally, but looking for them and appreciating the moment is really important if you don’t.

But, and it’s a big but, I don’t love me. So even though I love life and I love the changes it brings and I cope with the big things and I am absolutely an optimist, depression has not left me alone.

And of course no one loves life all the time. Life, work kids, relationships can feel like they’re grinding you into the ground. That’s why I like to try and find something like the feeling of getting into a warm bath or getting into bed with clean sheets to focus on even if it’s just for a few seconds.

#17 spr_maiden

Posted 12 February 2020 - 06:01 PM

I think it's important to separate the illness from the person.

I'm secretly an optimist at heart.  Irl, when well, I'm pretty rational, friendly and laugh easily.  When well,  I cry over movies, am affectionate and love deeply.
When depressed or anxious,  I am not. I am all the bad things. I actually cry less because I'm consumed with a black cloud in my brain and deadweight in my body that prevents me from feeling the full spectrum of emotions.  I can only tap into the negative and the absolute numbness.

Sure, overall outlook does come into it to a degree,  as does pessimism, resilience, realistic expectations,  blah blah.  But my brain has been changed before I was aware it was even possible, there are hormone receptors in my brain that are exceptionally sensitive and my automatic habits need to be tweaked constantly to adjust.

It has taken me many years to understand that my illness is not me. And I think it is sometimes difficult for people who experience depression to comprehend that,  let alone people who have never even been close to it . Yes, there are things I can do to manage mood and safeguard but unfortunately some of us get the kick of low mood even when we do all the things.
If you have survived 4 bouts of depression OP, you are resilient.

Accept yourself with kindness,  mindfulness does help me, as did learning how to set boundaries more effectively.  Actively look for the good around you. Argue with the part of your mind that tells you you're worthless and hold that part of you to account in the way you would hold someone who hurt your child to account. Medicate if you need to. Exercise if you can. And if you're scared, that's ok, your mind betraying you is scary.

Ed. Sorry OP, I got carried away then. Ahem...

If you're feeling up to it,  a nice easy read that I enjoyed is called "Curveballs: how to hold it together when life tries to tear you a new one" by Emma Markezic.
You'll probably find you already do a bunch of what's suggested in it. But it's a funny book.

Edited by spr_maiden, 12 February 2020 - 06:25 PM.


#18 seasection

Posted 12 February 2020 - 06:20 PM

I am so moved by all your responses. Thank you for helping me. From the outside you would see me as a privileged middles class woman. But from very young age I was exposed to my mother’s demise because of MI, and I’ve been through so much more with other family issues. All related to MI. My therapist suspects that I have deep triggers, that mean I’m programmed to think the worst is coming. Because it’s what I know to be true. Medication helps, it almost makes me an optimistic person.
I need to look more at this Pollyanna thing. I’m not sure what that looks like in real life.
I have lived so many lives already, and my friends tell me what you have, that I’m resilient, that I’m strong etc. but I honestly do not feel that. I don’t think a strong person walks around wanting to not exist.

#19 chicken_bits

Posted 12 February 2020 - 06:25 PM

View Postseasection, on 12 February 2020 - 06:20 PM, said:

I don’t think a strong person walks around wanting to not exist.

A strong person keeps walking even when they don't want to exist. Sometimes it's just taking one step at a time. I'm sorry you're having a hard time right now.

#20 Ozquoll

Posted 12 February 2020 - 07:44 PM

Quote

Quote removed by Mod by request
I think OP was just self-flagellating, rather than having a go at anyone else.

Incidentally, your post 99% described my own feelings about life. It is ****ing hard to keep on walking around when you don't feel like you belong in this world at all.

Edited by Chelli, 12 February 2020 - 09:09 PM.


#21 lizzzard

Posted 12 February 2020 - 08:08 PM

Firstly depression is a chemical issue, not a strength of will issue.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Would you say you are weak because you have cancer????

As for whether it’s possible to learn some coping strategies to help manage the symptoms of depression I think it is. CBT is largely about reframing your interpretation of life events in a more constructive way. As an example, the idea that happiness comes from having ‘great kids, a great marriage, etc’ is attaching ‘happiness’ to an apparently objective external measure. External things per se don’t make us happy - it’s how we interpret them that makes us happy so changing the external variable won’t necessarily make any different if our interpretation doesn’t change....this is the kind of thing CBT can help with.

Good luck OP. I really do think it’s possible to learn how to cope with depression but please don’t judge yourself for struggling.

#22 Chamomile

Posted 12 February 2020 - 08:32 PM

View Postseasection, on 12 February 2020 - 01:46 PM, said:

Iwhat I'm asking is, can I learn to look on the bright side?  Have you?

Yes, I’ve done this. I call it, “Live a beautiful life” LABL. Because I hope one day, someone will say about me, that “she lived a beautiful life”.

It involves changing my thinking. I used to be the most factual, down to earth person. (And negative to be honest). But there’s no award for being the most realistic person on earth. And it’s no fun. And friends don’t like it.

So instead of seeing a scented candle and thinking “fire hazard”, I think “what a nice luxury”.

It’s having my head in the clouds (just a little). It’s seeing the good in all people. It’s doing housework to music and dancing. It’s taking funny photos.

Overall, I’m happy that I changed my thinking. I’m still a realistic person, but it’s nice to dabble on the lighter, brighter side.

I realise others are talking about much heavier topics here. But when I saw your post OP, this is what I thought to share.

#23 CallMeFeral

Posted 12 February 2020 - 08:47 PM

Quote

quote removed by Mod by request

I think it's worth taking into account the context of this thread when deciding whether to rebuke the OP for her wording.

Apart from which, it's pretty clear that what she's saying is that she doesn't think of herself as strong because of the fact that she is walking around wishing she didn't exist. She's really not saying anything about you or anybody else at all.

Edited by Chelli, 12 February 2020 - 09:08 PM.


#24 JRA

Posted 12 February 2020 - 09:10 PM

Quote

Firstly depression is a chemical issue, not a strength of will issue.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Would you say you are weak because you have cancer????

Exactly

Quote

I have all the usual things, support, great kids, great husband, good job.  Usual stressors of mid life, teenage child, young child, mortgage etc etc.

Having or not having these things are not what leads to depression.

As for seeing the bight side of life, I do think there is work that perhaps sometimes can help.

Quote


On top of that, I think some form of brain training is possible. I


#25 ekbaby

Posted 12 February 2020 - 09:18 PM

One word - medication !




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