The Bipolar Bum

Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.

#CheerUp #Depression

#Depression #Bipolar #Support

Got Diabetes? Asthma? Just be positive!

Got Diabetes? Asthma? Just be positive!

 

I’d like to confront the cult of ‘positive thinking’.  Even knowing what we do about neuroplasticity, we don’t yet understand the mechanics of depression, bipolarity or mood for any thinking adult to present “Think happy thoughts!” as a panacea.  Telling someone who is depressed and overwhelmed to ‘Think positive’ or ‘Cheer up’ is like telling a drowning man to ‘Think oxygen’.

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17 comments on “#CheerUp #Depression

  1. DysthymiaBree
    29/05/2014

    So true. In fact, Dr Russ Harris and some others point out the problems with trying to “think positive” – far better, instead, to do what I call “act positive”: choose the most constructive option you can, even if you’re feeling (and thinking) crap.

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      29/05/2014

      See, I don’t know if the ‘Think positive’, self-CBT, self-help stuff can mean a consistent improvement in mood, but what it did for me the last time I really got into reading T.Robins and a few others was lock my mood in a rocket without enough fuel to exit orbit.

      It piggy-backed onto my mania and:

      UP I WENT

      then

      down I came… hard.

      The self-help literature is actually DANGEROUS for someone with Bipolar disorder in my opinion.

      You’re right – it is far better to accept that your illness is casting a shadow and make decisions knowingly, rather than try to ignore the situation and make mistakes.

      H&J

      Like

  2. Noise Pollution
    30/05/2014

    I feel exactly the same way.The number of times I’ve been confronted about my depression and told to “cheer up” can not even be counted.

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      30/05/2014

      I haven’t met many people who have enough raw empathy to understand depression without going through it, so I’m not surprised to read your comment. It seems to be where most healthy people’s minds end up and it takes a great deal of patience to not be irritated by it.

      For the most part, the ‘norms’ aren’t at fault for trying to help. I only wish that we could educate people quickly and painlessly enough that they start to ACTUALLY help, instead of trying to help and making things worse a lot of the time. They don’t know, for instance, that they might be the thirteenth person to tell you to cheer up that morning.

      Ultimately it becomes a reason to want to isolate yourself, but that is by far the worst possible course of action when depressed.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  3. I think I’m going to copy and paste this somewhere, but I’m not sure where:
    “it is far better to accept that your illness is casting a shadow and make decisions knowingly, rather than try to ignore the situation and make mistakes.” Definitely.
    I guess ‘acting positively’ may work a bit like the principle of taking ‘opposite action’ to what you _actually_ feel like doing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      30/05/2014

      Absolutely.

      It is so often the case that the most counter-intuitive course of action is the right one. I began trying to think of my depression as a sentient entity that was wilfully TRYING to destroy me, or trick me into destroying myself – This helps me to avoid acting on a bad impulse. I KNOW that when I’m depressed and overwhelmed, my illness starts throwing bad advice at me from all angles. You’ve got to remain suspicious of your thoughts when you enter that dangerous time.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  4. glenn2point0
    30/05/2014

    Yep. Those who say “cheer up:” lack the understanding that’s what is going on in our brains is what is preventing us from being cheerful.
    As if anyone would choose to be sad and depressed rather than happy?

    Like

  5. aeramoure
    30/05/2014

    Reblogged this on Not So Crazy Talk and commented:
    No really: “happy thoughts” as a cure is not that simple.

    Like

  6. Deuphoria
    30/05/2014

    People who say “cheer up” although, trying to be helpful, are assuming you can do this. I do think it falls on us. For example the way the cheer myself up is through meditation. Meditation is our way of taking control of our thoughts and allowing the stillness to put you in the present. The mind/body connection is real and pills are not the only answer, with the horrible side effects they cause in some patients. 🙂

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      30/05/2014

      They might not be the only answer, but they’re the largest part of what the answer has been for me. 🙂 Without the mental space that Seroquel has given me I dread to think where I would be right now.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  7. Kitt O'Malley
    31/05/2014

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have, though, found cognitive restructuring (not think happy thoughts) useful when in the midst of suicidal or extremely self-defeating thoughts. Recognizing those thoughts, stopping yourself, and rewriting a more rational (not necessarily rosy) thought is helpful and helps to restructure the brain. To some extent (not entirely), we can take an active role in retraining our brains. But I see it as one of many skills we can develop to cope with our mental illness. Exploring and safely expressing negative feelings and thoughts is useful, too. We must be able to tolerate our feelings and thoughts, as well. Who would want to live only in the light? Especially those of us prone to mania or hypomania. We seek balance and relief. For those of us with artistic temperaments (many artists are mood disordered), our extreme experiences fuel creativity and productivity. The flip side of happiness is sadness. When we love and then lose that love, we feel pain. Love is worth pain. Happiness is worth sadness. Life is not all light, nor is it all dark.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. stockdalewolfe
    03/06/2014

    True! Thank you! Not just true of depression. Positive thinking accuses the victim of depression, cancer, you fill in the blank. However, having said all that, if one is properly medicated PERHAPS there is merit to focusing on positives. For the first time in my life, I have had a little success with that but only because I am on a higher dose of medication. This is my beef with cognitive therapy as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      03/06/2014

      Absolutely. Once you’re medicated and the very real, front-line fight against your own thoughts has died down a little, THEN you can start making inroads into challenging and changing your thoughts. I meant that to be told ‘Think positive’ in the absence of anything else is just a bit cruel and insensitive to say to someone dealing with one of these illnesses.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

      • stockdalewolfe
        06/06/2014

        I totally agree with you. It is cruel and insensitive to be told “Think positive” when one is in the throes of depression. It comes out of ignorance but has a superior attitude attached to it as well. I guess we have to forgive those who do not understand. Hard though!

        Like

        • drheckleandmrjibe
          06/06/2014

          It’s not always easy to remember but I seriously believe that unless you’ve experienced these states first hand then there it is almost impossible to understand the depth and scale of the emotions involved. That might sound like entitled, grandiose thinking but if someone says ‘Cheer up’ they obviously have no idea what is happening.

          All the best,
          H&J

          Like

          • stockdalewolfe
            07/06/2014

            No, it doesn’t sound grandiose. I think you’re right. But therapists seem to understand and not sure it is from personal experience although it certainly could be. My husband, a clinical social worker, often tells me my mental illness helps him understand some of his clients. Plus he has and/or has had his own depression and anxiety. I find it hard to understand how people can live without anxiety or depression all their lives. Perhaps, and I am saying this to myself as well as you, our role is to educate those who do not understand rather than feel hurt by them and resentful. I have tried to do this with my book and my blog but my blog is very eclectic. Perhaps thus should be my focus. I admire your focus on these issues and learn from you.

            Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on 29/05/2014 by in Toon and tagged , , .
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