Anonymous asked: So what would you recommend for those struggling with a disorder? For context, I've dealt with major depressive disorder for the past 10 years or so.
I am terribly sorry to hear about your struggles. My brother has similarly struggled with MDD for about 12 years now, and I can say I understand [on paper] the suffering attached to this disorder, though I cannot begin to understand what it must feel like.
Realize I would need much more information to give any sort of input. However, if I could summarize my approach it would be as follows:
- Identify things that have worked for you long-term, and engage in those activities daily. These are often existential issues, such as fulfilling some sense of purpose or meaning, or more benign tasks such as exercising.
- Identify things that have not worked and only serve as immediate alleviation, and stop doing them.
I can elaborate a little further and say that, often, the activities associated with #1 include engaging in things that bring BOTH HAPPINESS AND SADNESS! Some people value education, and that requires receiving grades or scrutiny that is below our hopes and expectations; without accepting the sad feelings associated with this, it would be impossible to fulfill our value of education. Some people value a loving relationship, and that requires enduring potential rejection or embarrassment; without accepting those sad feelings, it would be impossible to find love.
Conversely, the activities associated with #2 often involve engaging in things that only intend to bring happiness by replacing sadness. These are your typical avoidant techniques: avoiding [meaningful] situations solely because they provoke anxiety, not attempting to accomplish our goals for fear of failure (behavioral helplessness), zoning out in front of the TV, getting drunk on a regular basis, etc.
And so I might ask you the following:
- What does your depression look like exactly?
- If your depression were gone, what would you do with your life? And I don’t mean like, “well I would be happier and I would not feel as sad” - right, got that, but NOW WHAT!
- What have you done to deal with your depression so far? Think of everything throughout time.
- What have been the effects/consequences for each of the items in question #3?
This is a good starting place because it often illustrates the following simple fact: attempts to control or manipulate internal states do not work. And if they “work,” it is only because they must be continually employed to sustain the effects, which simply means that they are in fact not working (“band-aid for cancer” expression comes to mind here).