I have made no secret of the fact I have experienced episodes of depression over many years. I have found lots of strategies to assist me to deal with life on a day to day basis – most recently, Stoicism and other philosophical ideas. Alongside these strategies I have been taking prescribed medication (tricyclic antidepressants) for around three decades. I noticed over the last 12 months that they were having a negative impact on my memory and mental functioning. I decided it was time to get off them!
I sought medical advice and am pleased to say that I am no longer taking the tricyclics but it was really tough coming off them – it took about 4-5 months. As part of the transition I met a doctor who is studying to be a psychiatrist. I was asked if I would be willing to take part in psychodynamic psychotherapy with him over 40 weeks (once a week). He is required to do this work as part of his studies.
This was an interesting proposition as:
I didn’t believe I needed therapy
I wasn’t too keen on Freudian ideas but was more inclined toward Positive Psychology
I was concerned it may unravel my relatively peaceful and happy life.
However, I agreed to go ahead and we have had 7 sessions so far. By the way, it is provided free due to it being part of his study requirements. So far it has raised some significant issues from the past but I feel I have the strength, wisdom and experience of a longish life to be able to handle it.
So, what would you do if you were in my situation? I am interested to hear what people’s thoughts are on psychotherapy today.
I promised I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the sessions as they are very personal but hopefully I can share a little about the overall experience.
We recently enjoyed four nights staying at Jurien Bay (around 440km north of Busselton where we live) on the West coast of Australia. The weather was good as was the company. It took us about six hours with coffee breaks and going around Perth rather than through it!
Cervantes is close to Jurien and is well known for The Lobster Shack so a visit there was essential.
The view from the Shack was pretty good too!
Some other pics of our stay. These are from Green Head; a short drive north of Jurien.
I have wanted a new dining setting for a long time. We ordered one and were pleased it arrived after only one week when told it would be two. I enjoy the task of putting the pieces of the puzzle together; having tackled a few Ikea projects in the past. I really do enjoy the challenge of focusing on what is in front of me and being lost in the task. At times I was more lost than others! The table package came with no instructions so it took a bit of figuring out.
First the boxes
The table top box was EXTRA large and heavy.
The four chairs were in two boxes – they took me about 20 minutes each.
And then the biggest challenge: putting the legs on the table (without the instructions!)
We are just back from a couple of days away in Bridgetown – just over 100km to the east of where we live. I took some photos of flowers from the garden where we stayed and one of the view from the back verandah. It was very quiet and peaceful. Just what I was seeking!
My Mum loved poems and seemed to have a great memory for the lines. Much better than me! She used to encourage me with the words “if you can’t be a tree, be the best little bush” or something like that. I decided today to search for the words and found it online in no time. It must be better known than I thought. Here it is:
Sometimes I find life overwhelming. I don’t think I am alone in that experience! Just thought I would put together a list of some easy things to remember when feeling stressed/depressed etc.
Remember there are some things in my control and others are not (inspired by the Stoics)
Remember that it is not things that upset us but our beliefs/judgements about them (Stoics)
Be grateful for life, health and the many good things in my life
Be in the moment, as in “when doing the dishes, just do the dishes”
I sometimes break the day down to hours or minutes e.g. “for the next hour I will shower and make my bed” I can do more if I want to but the goal is to just get one or two things done. (works for me).
I try to remember that others are fighting their own internal battles (we don’t know what it is like to be them) so try to be compassionate and try to see where they are coming from.
I find something to do that lightens my mood – I love taking photos of flowers or editing photos so I can set up a small project (go out to the garden and snap away and them come inside and edit the photos) and it can help me lift my mood.
Listen to a podcast. I am currently into learning about Stoicism and there are heaps of podcasts and YouTube video to watch or listen to.
If every thought in my head is coming out bleak I need to consider it might be my thinking that is out of kilter and not the rest of the universe!
Sometimes I write in my journal and maybe do a mind map (in my journal) to get a more objective picture of where my life and thoughts are at the moment. See what I can change and what I can’t.
I try to resist making big decisions when stressed. I sometimes want to do something straight away but encourage myself to review the idea at a later date – maybe three months, depending on the issue.
If all else fails, I go and have a rest for a while. Often I feel better afterwards!
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.” ― Epictetus, Enchiridion and Selections from the Discourses
I thought it would be worthwhile to look more closely at what things are, and are not, in my control. Have I missed any biggies?
Things in my control
Things not in my control
Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Such as: My perspective and opinions; How I treat other people; How I respond to how other people treat me; What hobbies and interests I choose to pursue; How much exercise I do; What I eat and drink; How I wear my hair, makeup, and clothes; How I spend and/or invest my savings and my time; What I study, read, watch or listen to; What I choose to plant in my garden; How generous or not I am with my possessions and time; Who I choose to spend my time with; What values I have.
Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. Such as: Getting older; Other people and their opinions of me; Whether other people agree with me or not; Whether other people listen to me or not; Whether other people understand me or not; Actions by other people; The weather; My genetic code; The stock markets; Other peoples’ actions; Death and illness; Disasters such as pandemics, bush fires, floods etc. Wars; The past and the future.
Today I took a leap of faith (of great risk more likely) and decided to merge two of my blogs together. That is this one and “It’s a Small World”. It seems the posts are now spread throughout my allaboutwordswa posts. The only way I could be sure that the merge worked was to find some images from the other site. This one below is a flower from a chilli plant. It is not taken with a conventional camera but a tool that can be used in the field for enthusiasts – it actually magnifies the image up to 500 times. The image above is of a blueberry.
I can see how we can use this idea in our present lives, however it occurred to me today that perhaps it could help us deal with the past as well. I am inclined to believe that we have all had some bad/difficult moments or experiences throughout our childhood, teenage years and beyond. We didn’t have much say over some things and as children may not have had the capacity to reason to the same degree as we do today.
If you are like me, the past can still impact on us today by robbing us of our self-confidence and self-esteem – if we let it. What if we were able to look back with wisdom and realise that our judgements (of ourselves and others) at the time were incorrect or at least inaccurate?
Maybe this would help restore some peace of mind and liberate our thinking about who we are today.
Something worth giving some more thought to, I think!
Epictetus teaches us that each individual is responsible for their own good or their own evil; their own fortune or their own misfortune; their own happiness or their own own anguish. There is no such thing as being the ‘victim.’ Suffering is self-inflicted and can be cured through a discipling of the mind. It is not things that upset us, but our judgements about those things. “When we are frustrated, angry or unhappy,” Epictetus explains, “never hold anyone except ourselves – that is, our judgments – accountable.”
Several people told me that they would like to have a copy of my book but postage from the U.S. to their countries was too expensive. So………..
I have been trying to make a “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” flip book but no luck. They either cannot make a good flipbook from a PDF, or they want thousands of dollars and several months to re-format my book to fit their requirements. Nope.
I do have a very nice PDF that works on Windows, iPad, and Mac, now in my Etsy shop with my printed book. Print book is $35 with free shipping to U.S. locations, and the PDF is $15 as an instant download. Both will make great Christmas gifts!