Archive for September, 2014

Taking Self-Talk from Lethal to Life-Affirming: Part 2

by Cynthia Evans, ECNV Director of Community Services

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Prompted by the passing of comedian Robin Williams, this is the 2nd of a two-part blog on the effects of depression on an ECNV employee, Cynthia Evans. Click here to read Part 1.

Part 2

Humor is an effective weapon against depression and despair. It’s usually not obvious to me when I’m blowing things out of proportion or beating up on myself. I may be ruminating over an especially traumatic event from long ago. The emotions may be as raw as when the incident occurred and daily functioning stops. After explaining how this event has convinced me that I really should just end it all, again, the sage wisdom of friends come to the rescue.

Friend: So what I hear you saying is that the pain of __[the incident]__ is making you feel so _[the feelings]_ that life just doesn’t seem to worth living any more. It’s just too much. Is that right?

Me: Yes, I just don’t think I can handle another day.

Friend: Okay, well let’s look at this. This event happened in your 30s, right?

Me: Yes, 33.

Friend: So this event happened 10 years ago. Now, I’m not trying to downplay how devastating this was, because I was there. I remember what you went through. But let me ask you something. You weren’t this depressed just a couple of days ago over this incident. Why do you think it’s so present for you now, today?

Me: I don’t know…I guess I hadn’t really been thinking about it until today.

Friend: I see. So when you weren’t thinking about it, you were able to go on with life. But now that you’ve been spending time thinking about it, you feel emotionally paralyzed. Does that seem accurate?

Me: [cracking a smile because I know where this is leading]…well, I guess you’re right.

Friend: Okay then. Let’s see if we find some other thing for you to think about so that you can get to work and not lose your job, your house, and your car. Because I’m pretty sure if that happens, you really will be suicidal. Fair enough?

Me: [chuckling] Fair enough. I’m open to suggestions…

Sarcasm is not a medically advised treatment for clinical depression. I have found, however, that sometimes it takes a friend willing to “speak the truth in love” to help me focus on what’s important.

These and many other tools have kept me together for many years. I have been hospitalized for suicidal ideation and depression seven times. But not once since 1991. I was saddened to hear about the passing of Robin Williams and to learn that he also had depression. He was a celebrity. I didn’t know his situation and to presume to would be wrong. I just felt the need to bring attention to the dangers of self-talk. And to encourage those who struggle with it to seek the support of others. I wouldn’t be alive had I listened to the lies of my own mind and I’m extremely grateful for the tools I’ve learned over the years.

If you’re interested in developing such tools for yourself, consider talking to a therapist, good friend, peer counselor, or loved one. Also check out WRAP (Wellness Recovery and Action Plan). It’s described as “a personalized wellness and recovery system born out of and rooted in the principle of self-determination. WRAP® is a wellness and recovery approach that helps people to:

1) decrease and prevent intrusive or troubling feelings and behaviors;

2) increase personal empowerment;

3) improve quality of life; and

4) achieve their own life goals and dreams.”

They don’t always work — or, more accurately, I don’t always work them. But having them at my disposal has helped me out of many difficult times.

How about you? Even if you don’t have clinical depression, are there coping techniques that have helped you through difficult times? Please feel free to share anonymously if that would be more comfortable. We’d love to hear what’s working for you.

Thanks for reading…

Cynthia

To respond, please leave a reply in the comments section below. 

ECNV’s blogs are the personal experiences of individual contributors and should not be seen as endorsing a specific program or service.

September 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment


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