A Time To Celebrate

The new Stephen is a year old now. Let’s back up a few years.

Since about the year 2000 I have beens struggling with some form of depression. It started out as SAD. Almost like clockwork, I would fall into a depressive state about the time of coming off of Daylight Savings. My life would start picking back up about the same time as light returned to our world, about the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.

One year, I missed the cycle. By the time January came around, The depressive cycle had cleared. I felt “cured”! I celebrated!

Unfortunately, the celebration turned out to be short lived. By the time August rolled around, I found myself right smack dap in the beginning of another depressive cycle. So much for the short term freedom That I had felt. With that, my depressions had gone from seasonly related to episodic, meaning my depressive cycles now came from time to time.

Through the years, I had tried almost everything. I started out with OTC’s like St. John’s and Sam-e, switched to prescriptive concoctions, some not working, other some what, still others working turning to not working, years of talking about my problems with licensed counselors. I felt like being on a full on roller coaster ride.

As you can probably imagine, years and years of this became tiring. I had to try something new.

In the fall of 2010, I started to see a psychologist. After some initial getting to know each other sessions, he introduced me to David D. Burns, a world renowned author/doctor on Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. David’s work with CBT predates the work on the new age of anti-depressants. Additionally, his studies have shown that CBT is a more effective treatment than antidepressants, both in the short term and long term in regards to depression.

The idea behind CBT is that the thought process is broken. Too often people like me are ruled by our negative thought processes. In encountering a positive thought about myself, it would take me seconds to countered that positive thought in multiple ways before I ever had a chance to get comfortable with that thought.

I started working the program “around the edges” and immediately started to see results. It seemed too easy and too good to be true. I crashed a couple a months later after the basic method began to fail me.

Little did I know i had only began to scratch the surface of CBT. In the book, When Panic Attacks, Dr. Burns outlines forty different methods to counter the wrong thinking that many of us encounter in our lives. (Side note: in researching the book, I found a succinct review,”Great book. Bad Title.” I whole heartedly agree with that review. )

The book explores how methods work great for some people and may not work at all for another person. Also, no method is to work for every situation. Good thing there are forty methods to try. One is bound to work. Dr. Burns gives methodologies of what methods work for what situations. His studies show a directed use of 5 methods are usually enough to counter most broken thought processes.

By the time May rolled around, I had done enough work with CBT to handle life on my own, without the assistance of my psychologist. For the first time in a very long time, I felt hope about life in general.

Okay, I admit, I’m a crazy scientist at heart. Things have got to be measured to have a better understanding of them. That’s why I have a weather station at my house, to better track my little neck of the woods. Additionally from 2009, I have been doing a daily track on how I thought my day went.

Since employing CBT, the results have been astounding for me. What use to be my highs reached a handful of times throughout the years of my tracking are now how I feel on an average day!

Dr.  Burns talks about getting better versus being better. Getting better is the point where the negative thoughts no longer rule the mind. Reaching the point of being better is when one feels capable to handle whatever comes their way. I am so thankful that I have reached the point of not only getting better, but also the point of being better.

Do, I follow perfectly using CBT? Not even close. Though, my slips are shorter because I am better able to calm the broken voices in my head. And if need be, I can fall back to the forty methods that Dr. David D. Burns has outlined in his book.

So, In closing, do you feel negative thoughts rule your mind? Tried everything and nothing seems to help? Take a look at Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It has made a world of difference for me.