Passing on the Tradition

mouth-pillWhat says love more than sharing? This year, the rest of the family has jumped into the anxiety and depression pool. It started with my wife who, quite out of the blue, starting having panic attacks. They are¬†so disruptive she has largely stopped driving, except for short distances and never on a freeway. Things got so bad, she finally went to a psychologist who she is working with weekly. The psychologist has her on some medicine that controls the panic attacks, but is not a full anti-depressant. She is working on transitioning her to one, but my wife is so sensitive to medication, finding one that doesn’t create a reaction has been challenging. We are now trying Lexapro! Oh yes, Lexapro, my old friend. My wife’s problems are different than mine as I never had panic attacks. I kind of understand what she is going through but not really. I don’t know what a full blown panic attack feels like.

More like what I went through is my teenage daughter. She is a teenage girl, so there is always drama, but we realized there is something more going on. She has general anxiety that has grown into depression. Hers is not as deep and profound as what I had, but we caught it early. She will soon start with a psychologist as well and possibly get some pharmaceutical help.

Not to be left out of the fun, my 8 year old daughter also has anxiety and what they are called selective mutism. She does not have any depression and no real panic attacks, but her general background anxiety is fairly high and certain situations can send her into a meltdown. She has been getting basic occupational therapy, but needs to move to a child psychologist.

Virtually the whole family is having psychological issues. At this time, I am the most stable among us. This whole period has been incredibly challenging and difficult for us all. The level of stress for me has been very high and I am proud of myself for keeping it together, for the most part. It’s always a running battle with anxiety and depression for me. Right now, I’m winning. Now, I need to shepherd my family through the dark passage.

I Hate Holiday Music

charlie christmasIt’s about time for my annual I Hate the Holidays post, and I still do, but this year, we’ll take a different turn on it.

It’s everywhere these days, especially when you are shopping, Christmas music. From the traditional to the modern takes on the traditional and the rock and roll versions. Do I need to hear Springstein do Santa Claus is Coming to Town, again? Not hardly. I guess the reason I don’t like the music is the same reason I don’t like the season, it’s all so hopeful and happy. By the way, Baby it’s Cold Outside is an incredibly sexist song about a guy trying to get laid. No, baby, it’s too cold out, better stay here for the night. Right.

I don’t think I would have such a big stick up my butt if Christmas wasn’t such a big fucking deal. It’s already so overblown, any little extra thing is just annoying. It’s a nice holiday, let’s all do our thing and thank you very much. If we could take Christmas down a notch, I would enjoy it much better.

Yeah, I’m an asshole. Sorry. What about next year? Do I hate the lights too? No, actually, I like the lights ūüôā

The Monster Lurks

It!TheTerror-SilhouetteI think I have said before that depression is like alcoholism, in that you are never fully cured. There is always that little seed left, waiting to be watered so it can bloom back into full life. People don’t fall of the wagon for no reason.

I haven’t felt any kind of depression close to what I felt when I was in my darkest time, but in the last week or so, I have had strong tinges of bad feelings. They don’t last very long, but they are the worst feelings I have felt in a long time and they remind me the monster lurks just in the shadows. I feel like I am strong enough to handle these feelings and that they will not overtake me as they did before, but I need to make some changes in my life to insure they don’t.

If you have been following along you know the issues, mostly my inability to move forward on several areas I need to make progress on and my general avoidance of so many things. I don’t feel strong or powerful and my overall self-confidence is shot. I am getting more frustrated with myself about these things and I can feel the coming calamity when these decisions or lack of decisions eventually catch up with me. It’s like watching myself in a slow motion car crash. Have you ever had that feeling? You can see it all happening and intellectually you know just what to do, but emotionally you can’t grab the wheel and steer clear of the crash.

Here’s the bottom line for me. I have a very strong limiting belief that I am a huge fraud. Everything you see that looks like I know what I am doing or am accomplished in any way is a big lie. The nice house I have and nice cars? I didn’t really earn them myself. Mostly that came from family money. There was a time, sure, when I was doing well for myself career and money-wise but there has been a much greater time when I haven’t done anything. I am the most underachieving person ever. So the fear of failure that most people have is much greater for me, because it is linked to being fully and completely exposed for the fraud that I am. I have been able to paper things over in my own mind and bury things, but any small failure, like not getting a new job I have applied for, brings the fraud truth¬†closer to the surface. Why risk that, so why apply for new jobs? Or do any of the other things I avoid. Better to hide. Hide and hope it all just goes away, which it won’t, of course.

I do think that is it. I have identified THE problem for me to solve. How to eliminate the limiting belief that I am a fraud. I have plenty of evidence to support the belief, unless you belief that evidence is false. It could hinge on the definition of “fraud”. To be a true fraud, you are representing something that you have no intention or capability to do. The key is capability to do. I have had little actual success to show for my life (the evidence), but it’s not because I don’t have the capability to have the success, but rather that I have allowed myself to be lazy and more recently, dominated by fear. If I truly wasn’t capable enough, that could be a significant problem, but being lazy can be fixed with hard work and moxy. Somewhere, intellectually, I believe I am capable, but emotionally, I have doubts. If I let myself believe I might not be capable, that will lead right back to fraud. This is the disconnection in myself between the intellectual and the emotion. Unfortunately, we are run by emotion, so I have to connect these two. Like I said, intellectually I know what to do but emotionally can’t grab the wheel.

Where we are: Remove the limiting belief of being a fraud by emotionally believing I am capable by connecting intellect to emotion.

No problem.


avoidanceHow have I been doing lately, you might ask. Same shit, different day.

The post depression funk I have been in persists. Yes, it has been a long time. I still struggle with self confidence and self worth issues daily. Limiting beliefs, still there. I have not made any progress of much of anything. In fact, I have a new dynamic to add to it all, Avoidance.

I have always had avoidance issues, but they have gone in to overdrive lately. Avoid paying bills, making decisions, and taking action on important things. The avoidance, of course, puts me even more behind the 8-ball. Avoidance makes things better in the short term as you get to escape the pain or discomfort but in the long run, everything stacks up and usually comes back at you all at once. I have been wanting to not deal with anything lately. It feels like I am shutting it all down. Should be looking for a better job, which will lead to a positive outcome, but I don’t want to deal with the pain and rejection it takes to get there. I almost feel paralyzed in my actions. I don’t need an anti-depressant but is there a courage pill out there?

At the root of all this is my self confidence. It something I have wrote about before, but I have not been able to improve it. You can read all the books and advice you want, it’s just words. I get no real support from my family, not that I have shared the depth of what I am going through and get zero from my wife, who is going through her own thing now. I think I¬†need some kind of outside support because I cannot generate anything for myself, at least not right away. Is there an on-line support group for self confidence?


Limiting Beliefs

Free-YourselfAs I work to pull myself back to a productive life after a severe depression, I am coming to realize how much limiting beliefs play in all this. It’s something you hear from every “success” speaker you will ever hear and it has become tangibly real for me now. When you’re current situation is not good, one of the only things you can do is envision a better future. If that vision is powerful enough, you can achieve it. Sound simple enough, except there are certain limiting beliefs that will come down and smash that vision. I also believe the limiting beliefs contribute to the overall general anxiety I often feel.

I have a vision of what I would like my future to look like and I have been trying to come up with ways to make that vision more powerful. I have been trying to get myself to feel the feelings I would feel when that vision is a reality, but feel those feelings now. This is a technique derived from Tony Robbins. I realized today, one of the reasons I am getting stuck is my limiting beliefs about myself are crushing the process. I like my vision and believe at an intellectual¬†level I can make it happen, but deep down I know that’s never going to happen. I’m not that good and I don’t have the strength or will or commitment to actually do it. This is the difference between what you know and feel intellectually vs. physically in your gut. I am great intellectually but am terrible at the gut level.

You can’t think your way out of limiting beliefs, you have to attack at the gut level. I can’t tell you I have any specific techniques to win this fight as I will be learning as I go. What I can say is there is a lazy, weak and scared version of me inside myself I have to kill. I have to murder the lazy, weak, scared me. Easier said then done, as this version of me has become dominant in recent years. Often, you won’t be able to remember what it was like to be the better version of you.

I don’t know how this will go, but I think it will involve dynamic and physical actions because the playing field is in the gut. There will be yelling, screaming and physical gestures. Of course, I will let you know how it goes and what I have learned. Hopefully, I can pass that on and you can have your own liberation.

Long Term Damage/After Effects of Depression

uphillIt was a great relief to come out of the deep depression I went through. I have been trying to put¬†things back together and have noticed that just because you’re out of your depression doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing. In fact, while you were in the midst of the depression, you likely have done damage to yourself, your career and/or family that is going to have lasting after effects.

It’s one thing to not be depressed, but it’s another thing to be gung ho and full of life. When I came out of my depression, I was grateful to not feel those horrible feelings, but I was hardly ready to take on the world. I have been adrift ever since.

My depression took a toll on my self confidence and self worth. That, along with floundering in my self-employment dream, has made is harder to get back to the¬†level of employment I need. Wen you feel like you’re behind the 8-ball already, career building in a still¬†tough economy is scary.

I guess my message is, congratulations, you made it out of your depression, now the real works begins.

Robin Williams and Depression

Robin_WilliamsOne of my favorite comedians of all time has died. RIP Robin Williams.

Immediately upon the reporting of is death, we knew it was a suicide and it was widely reported he was suffering from depression. Today, one day later, all the experts and psychologists are out and talking. I suppose that’s fine, we need to talk about it. But it all feels so typical. We’ve been though this before. Dr. Drew is back on again.

I know about depression and I know about suicidal thoughts. I’ve been in that deep, dark hole before. I won’t purport to know exactly what Robin Williams was going through, but I have an inkling. So much trite advice and speculation is being bandied about in the media by people who have no idea what it’s like to feel those feelings. It’s easy to think what you should do from the outside, but when you’re deep inside the hole, it’s not so easy or clear. Don’t assume someone needing help will ask for it. If you see someone who looks like they are in trouble, ask them if you can help. Yes, people hide their depression but usually there are signs, cracks. Maybe you can be that one last glimmer of hope that keeps them going.

Stuck in a Rut

stuck-in-a-rutI’ve been stuck in a rut lately, not being able to get many things done that I think I want to do. My motivation for anything but the most mundane is completely gone. I do alright at work, but I wouldn’t say I am killing it. At home, I haven’t had the inclination to do what I need to do to push my career forward. With where I am at now, I cannot afford to sit back and relax. I’m not where the family needs me to be to provide. That’s really all financial, emotionally I’m as strong as I have ever been. I still have not mastered self-confidence as I spoke of before, but I think that’s only part of it. I think I have shut down also because I have stopped believing something good will come from all the effort. I have lost the spark, the fire for what I used to love. It’s not like I am depressed about it, I just don’t feel anything about it. Do I love something else? Is it time to move on? No, nothing else catches my fancy and because of other life circumstances, I have deadened most everything in my life and most of my feelings for anything. Certain people in my life find my excitement and passion weird, loud and sometimes obnoxious. It’s complicated but yes, I have subjugated a part of myself. I think I am duller than I used to be and that is making is hard for me to light the fire and get pumped about kicking my life back into high gear. That and the real doubt it’s going to happen.

Does all the self reflecting naval gazing help anything? I have no idea. Intellectual knowledge doesn’t count for much when you need the rubber to hit the road.

The Flip Side of Self Perception – Self Confidence

self-confidenceIn my previous post, Breakthrough, I talked about the most significant revelation I have had since I have been battling depression and anxiety. That was the realization of how much self perception had to to with how I was feeling and my current track in life. In the past six months, I have made great progress in improving my self image and that has had a big effect on my overall outlook on life and how I feel on a daily basis. But there is still something missing. There is a drag keeping me from being my best self and achieving what I want.

This drag is self confidence. It’s one thing to have a positive perception of yourself, but quite another to have confidence. Perception or image is how you see yourself overall but confidence is a more tangible day to day measure of what you believe you are capable of. As the old adage goes, if you can believe it, you can do it. My challenge this next six months is to improve my self confidence. Somehow I feel like this might be harder than improving my self image, but if I can do it, I will truly be off and running to the life I want to live.

What I know about self confidence is one of the best ways to improve it is to get yourself small wins that are easy to accomplish and built on that to larger wins. It’s often not enough to do all the work in your mind. I think the real key here, though, is to celebrate the wins in a big way to yourself. Over exaggerate the outcome to flood your mind with goodness. You’re trying to overcome a lot of negative mojo, so it takes overwhelming force to do it. That and positive imagining of a future that you want and that is so exciting to even think about. I am also going to try some positive self talk, telling myself verbally as much as possible that I am capable of being the person I want to be, of having the future I am envisioning. As with everything things will not always go as planned, there will be setbacks. Perseverance is key. During the time when I was working on my self perception, there were days and moments when I had to stop and tell myself, this is one of those times when you’re going to have to weather the storm and stay strong. Acknowledging I was in the middle of a challenge and reminding myself to stay strong helped so much.

I have said this battle against depression and anxiety will be a long haul. Welcome to the next phase.

I Hate The Holidays

image I was going to start this post talking about how I thought I had already written a post about this topic. In fact I had, last October, but it never got out of draft status. Reading it now reminds me of how bitter and angry I was last year. It’s a little shocking to read because I am such a different person this year.

I still don’t like the holidays and for much of the same reasons as last year but this year I’ll take some of the sting out of it.

I am a traditionalist in that I don’t like to see or hear anything about Christmas before Thanksgiving. But already, friends on Facebook and the like are talking about taking out their Christmas music, before halloween! Poor Thanksgiving, always getting the shaft. Really, though, it’s a more a matter that I hate the entire holiday season.

It’s not uncommon for people to dislike the holiday season. The is even a term¬† for it, Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. Cute, right? For me it centers around all the forced happiness. Oh, isn’t it wonderful, the holiday season, so full of joy and wonderment? Its the happiest time of the year it is said and yet not so much for everyone. Some people struggle mightily, myself included many years,¬† and no amount of snow or fat guys or candy is going to make that better. Let alone Christmas has become mostly a consumer holiday with only a tangential link to is religious origins. It’s easy to be cynical. The root of the problem with the forced happiness is the implication that if you don’t love the holidays there is something wrong with you. Yes, in fact there is. I am suffering from depression or anxiety or any number of other things. Thanks for reminding me and making me feel bad about it.

Outside of the forced happiness is the gift giving pressure. What did you get? More importantly, what did you give? Was it enough? Did they like it? Was it the “perfect” gift? All the marketing just sets us up to be disappointed because everyone in the ads gets the perfect gift and their so so happy. Why aren’t the people I give gifts to that happy? It’s the thought that counts though. Nobody is going to judge you based on your gift giving, right? Right. Of course I have this gift giving thing all ass backward. I understand the positive side of gifting. It’s just so overblown around Christmas, I think the meaning gets warped. It’s the over-hyped, out of control marketing that does the warping. I don’t think I am alone in wishing we could go back to simpler times. It could be my Jewish side that gets in the way. We weren’t so strict as to not celebrate Christmas, but as Jews, we always took it with a grain of salt.