Tagged: Counseling

Your Relationship With Your Depression

I often ask people what their relationship is with their depression and they usually look at me like my head is on fire. I explain that, when my depression was at its worst, I looked at it like a comfortable old slipper. If I got into an argument with my boyfriend at the time, I would throw my hands in the air, retire to my bedroom, dim all the lights, put The Cure’s “Disintegration” on repeat, and lay in bed, possibly for a whole weekend which “freed” me from having to deal with his nonsense. If I had a project due for school, forget about it. I now had a valid excuse to not have to go out to parties and be social. I looked at my depression like a long, lost friend coming into town for the night. You know shenanigans will ensue. It will be fun while it lasts, but there will be hell to pay later with the consequences.

At some point, though, I realized that I wanted to have a good relationship. I wanted to have friends and enjoy my time with them. I wanted to do well in school and get my degree. My depression was actually robbing me of all those things I claimed to want. That’s when I learned that I had to change my relationship status with my depression from “It’s Complicated” to “Divorced.

Whether you realize it or not, you have an actual relationship with your depression. Is it part of your identity? Are you comfortable with it? In love with it? If so, that’s a huge part of the problem.

I used to look at it as an ugly head that popped out of my shoulder saying things like “You’ll never be good enough,” “You can’t do that,” etc. The ugly head is still there but now it more comes out of the ground and I stifle somewhat effortlessly with my foot. Depression usually doesn’t go away or get “cured.” Mine hasn’t. But instead of EMBRACING it, I MANAGE it.

You have to be very careful with how you identify with your diagnoses. I talk to a lot of people who feel like it’s just their burden to carry and it’s never going away. If that’s your perspective, then that will be your reality.

Getting to a point where you are managing it is possible, but not easy. It requires work. A lot of people don’t want to do that work and get stuck in their diagnosis. They feel like it will never get better. Two things are required from the beginning to get through it: Hope and Belief.  You have to allow yourself to hope to get better and then believe that you can.

My journey started with changing my “relationship status,” working diligently on positive thinking and changing my mindset. I used to be a very pessimistic person and considered the glass “half empty.” I would have told you that I was just being realistic, but now I am optimistic. Your “reality” is what you choose to FOCUS on.

Hope this helps!

The Powers of Positive Thinking

I know a lot of you think of this topic as a two day old pizza with extra ham and cheese, but I am here to tell you all that IT WORKS. And that it makes a difference. Before I started graduate school, I was a hard-core Negative Nancy. Back then, I would have told you I was “merely realistic”. No. I was downright cynical, complained all the time and, most likely, got on my friends’ last ever-loving nerves.

Once in school, a teacher “made” us watch “The Secret”. I vaguely knew about this as it had been popular once upon a time and was probably on Oprah’s book list – yada yada yada. I thought the whole thing was such rubbish that I found myself, in sheer boredom, practicing the philosophies of the Laws of Attraction, just so I could go back to my class and snidely report on its’ failings.

Boy, was I wrong!

This is how it works, these “Laws of Attraction”: This has NOTHING to do with religion, folks. It’s about asking the universe for what you want and, in turn, getting it.

Sound crazy? I can assure you, it’s not.

Let me put it to you like this: Everything you see is what you’re noticing. Everything you’re attracting to your life is what you’re accepting as your expectations of it. Everyone in your life is who you choose to be a part of it.

If all you ever do is look around and pine over the closed doors in your life, you’ll miss out on all the ones that are open. If you are in constant anticipation of that overdue bill or overdrawn credit card statement that’s coming in the mail today, you’ll miss out on the invitation to your best friend’s baby shower or that notification about the super cheap health insurance that you need. If all of your friends and family members are energy-sucking vampires and you focus all of your time on trying to “fix” them, you’ll completely neglect that awesome person that was trying to make small talk with you in line at the coffee shop.

THINK about it. All of our lives, we’ve been TRAINED to think negatively. Whether it’s guilt, the constant self-doubt given to us by our parents, the nagging partner who tells us we’ll never do better… You have to, first, be aware of those negative thoughts. Then you have to punch them in the throat, so to speak. It takes THREE positive thoughts to counter ONE negative. Think I’m wrong?

Have you ever gone to lunch/dinner/drinks with a friend who, for a full two hours, PRAISED you for how you handled that situation with your partner, told you how fabulous your new haircut looks, and how your personality is such a stellar fit for that job for which you just applied? “By the way,” this person says, nonchalantly, “have you noticed your face is kind of flushed? I worry you might have high blood pressure?” And then back to another hour of how awesome you are.

What is the one thing you remember about that conversation? (I don’t need you to answer, you KNOW the answer. And you know it, because it’s happened to you!)
Here’s how to put a STOP to the shenanigans:

1. Start by taking the time, every day, when you look in the mirror (brushing your teeth, combing your hair, washing your face, singing into your hairbrush, etc.) and MAKE YOURSELF AWARE of the negative things you are telling yourself.
2. Get pissed off at those negative thoughts! If your boyfriend/girlfriend/BFF/Mom were to say it to you, wouldn’t you be pissed? Have the same reaction when you say it to yourself!
3. Counter it with 3 positive thoughts: “I am a good person”, “I’m good at what I do”, “I treat others with respect”, “I have good hair”. This is for YOU to figure out! YOU know better than me how awesome you are!
4. Ask yourself: Is this something I would say to my daughter/best friend/partner/BANK TELLER?!?! If the answer is no, don’t you DARE say it to yourself!
5. ASK for what you want. Worst case scenario is that you get “no” for an answer. Last I heard, no one has ever died from being told “no”.
6. Use visualization. If you want that promotion, picture yourself being in that position. As you sit in that chair in that office, what 5 things do you see, hear, smell, touch, taste? VISUALIZE it. BECOME it. GO GET it!

I know I make it sound simple and it’s not, at first. And there are days when I still have to struggle with it. But let me tell you this, IT IS WORTH THE STRUGGLE. If you were trying to be a body builder and came to me for help and we sat around playing video games and watching reruns of The Golden Girls, are we going to accomplish that goal? NO. If you came to me to learn how to play guitar, but I never had one handy or taught you the chords, would you learn? NO. (By the way, don’t come to me if you want to be a body builder or learn to play guitar…I’m not equipped to teach you either, lol.)

But if you want to “train your brain” to get rid of that stinking thinking and bring some simplicity, peace, comfort, contentment, and enlightenment to your life, look no further. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Orlando area, give us a call and set up an appointment. If you don’t live in the Orlando area but have access to the internet, set up a Skype appointment. If you can’t be bothered with any of that, look into Mental Health Boot Camp – an 8 week intensive course life coaching program designed by Dr. Dave to empower and educate people to live their best lives.
Questions? Comments? No problem! Contact the lovely Sherrie at 407-963-5664 or visit us at http://drdavidbakerhargrove.com/index.php. We look forward to hearing from you!