Saturday, October 29, 2011


One of the things we talked about at Living Room yesterday was our tendency to become self-centered when we're depressed or when we're high. How can we try to start thinking of others at times like that? Is it possible to become other-centered by thinking of how we can help others with their needs?

I know I've tried many times. But the success has been short-lived. Sometimes I'm able to help my depression improve a bit by trying to do things for other people - by trying to put myself in their shoes and seeing their needs. But the better feelings are usually only temporary. Of course, much depends on the depth of depression I'm experiencing. When depression is only starting to descend, I may well pull right out by turning my attention to the needs of others.

One person present, a person who does not have a mood disorder himself, suggested that having a good friend show us how we're thinking too much of ourselves might be the best kind of support we could have.

But, I responded, "You have to be very careful how you tell a person that. I've been told that by a number of people in the past and it made me feel awful. It made me feel even worse about myself than I did before and deepened the depression." I believe it could even drive a person to take his life, especially if he's told so in a way that he might consider uncaring or critical. After all, self-centered thinking is not something a person with depression can easily control. It is one of the symptoms of this illness.

My best support comes from a close friend who does not in so many words tell me that I'm thinking too much about myself. Instead she helps me search for things that I could do to bring me out of myself - get me out of my negative thinking pattern. Play a game with my husband, do a Sudoku puzzle, go for a walk with a friend, work on a creative activity.

It takes a very special person to know how to help a depressed person, especially if this person has himself never experienced depression. How hard it must be to understand if you've never been there yourself!!

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