Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is Self-Help Even Possible for a Depressive?

I don't know if that question can be accurately answered as a general rule, but I'm starting to come to the conclusion that, at least for this depressive, the answer is no.

The last few months have been a bad time for me. I want to say the worst ever but its hard to compare a current period with those of the past. I tend to lie to myself and can usually convince myself that things were better than they were. So, it could be that things now are just as bad as they ever have been but just now, down here in this pit, I can't imagine that they were ever worse.

One thing's for certain. I'm self-medicating with alcohol a lot more than usual. Comes with the territory, I suppose, of being a work at home writer. To a certain degree it doesn't matter if I drink, professionally speaking. Nevertheless, I need to slow down in that regard. I have no specific plans as to how I'll slow down but I need to. Maybe I'll cut out spirits at home. That should probably put me back where I need to be. Okay, I'm saying this now. No more distilled alcohol at home. Beer and wine will continue to be okay; booze by the bottle is out. Hold me to that.

But that doesn't address the larger problem. These days I really, really hate myself. I don't know if low self-esteem and self-loathing naturally come with depression but in my case they are part of the same lovely package. And these days the self-hate is very strong within me. Some days I wake up and am instantly overwhelmed with a grand, undefined disappointment in myself. By mid-morning it festers into a real, seething hatred that leaves me shuffling around the house, grumbling to myself about how horrible I am.

And my marriage isn't doing great either. No surprise there, I suppose. How lovable can I be, slurping down booze and grumbling about how much I suck? My wife remains mostly upbeat about life - more about that later - but she can't seem to stand to touch me. I don't really need to say more than that, do I?

Professionally, things continue to improve, which is kind of a surprise. Being a freelancer takes a certain amount of self-sales. It doesn't track that I could sell something which I so totally loathe but I do. Gigs continue to roll in and, I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, I got a book deal a few months back. I know how annoying this must be if there are any aspiring writers that read this blog - how can I have a book deal but spend my time whining? Well, I think that's part of the problem.

I've discussed this before; the more responsibility I have, the more incapable I feel. Trust me, being under contract to write a whole book is a heaping helping of responsibility. Even though I'm working on it apace, more or less, I still feel panicky the closer I get to the deadline. That's partially why I'm up blogging at 2:30 in the morning instead of sleeping - I woke up worrying about the book. So, the more incapable I feel, the more I hate myself and the more I hate myself the more depressed I get.

But there's one possible bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Like many writers, I'm on my spouse's health insurance. She recently started a new job so we get new health insurance in June. I haven't seen the policy yet but I'm hoping that it will cover mental health - something we've never had before. If it does, I think its time I seek professional help.

Typing that out loud for the first time made me cry just a little. Pathetic.

Anyway, yes, I'm ready to give up on self-help. DIY solutions take a certain amount of motivation and depression is a great killer of motivation. Self-help depression therapy seems like a self-defeating proposition. At least, I think it is for me.

So, here's hoping the new insurance policy will cover my brain. I'm not sure what I'll do if it doesn't.


The Pursuit of Happiness said...

I have a rule about this blog. I rarely read previous posts and I never look back when writing a new post. So, when I got done writing this one, I was weeding out some spam from the comments on the previous post. I realize that I have mentioned the book. It's a big deal for me and I'm sorry if I seem to be banging on about it. I hope I don't seem boasty about it; I am proud to have gotten the deal but that's not why I bring it up. It's just that it's the biggest thing I'm working on right now so naturally it's part of my state of mind.

Anyway, just felt like I needed to say that. Thanks for reading and thanks for all the kind words and encouragement you all send me.


Daisy said...

I sincerely hope you are covered for therapy through your wife's insurance. If you feel you can't help yourself anymore, maybe it is time for some professional help.

I've never commented on your blog before, and I don't want to come over all preachy-like, but I'd like to throw in some encouragement for your decision to cut back on the alcohol. I am (was) a self-medicating depressive also, however my self-medicating kind of got out of hand and I've now had to put myself into recovery (of the non-AA kind).

Not that I am implying that you are in this same position. Just that I know from experience how good alcohol is at making all the bad stuff go away. Until you wake up with a hangover, or being tired from staying up too late the night before, and discover the bad stuff is back and not only that it seems to be even worse, and then you pile a heap of self-disgust that you had been drinking the night before on top of it all.

So yeah - definitely cut back on the drinking.

Oh, and congratulations on the book deal. And don't worry about seeming boasty - you should be boasty!

4-Lorn said...

I don't know if you'll actually read this comment but I wanted to share with you how much your post about self-help falling short rang true for me. We depressives all feel alone in our "pits" but I assure you I related to your thoughts as if I formulated them myself. I especially commiserate with the effects depression has on marriage. My wife and I are miles apart because of this malady and I see no changes on the horizon. I have started my own blog. I have linked yours to mine if that's ok. If not, let me know. If you're interested please read and comment:

Take care and thank you for opening up to us.

Anonymous said...

1. Google "Attacking Anxiety and Depression" or Lucinda Bassett. The price is hefty at close to $500, yes but you can try working it around your new health insurance.
2. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Don't know where to start, try yoga. You'll learn to love you (something you might need)
3. Who do you cry out to? What are your views on religion? Its my first time here today, first blog read so I know nothing of you...explore Hinduism, seek out what your intuition tells you.

Hannah said...

This is Hannah Bevills, I am an editor with We are a medical publication whose focus is geared towards promoting awareness on hospitals, including information, news, and reviews on them. Given the relevance of what you are offering from your site and what our mission is, I feel we may be able to collaborate in some way or another, I look forward to your response regarding the matter. Thanks!

Hannah Bevills

Joel Peter said...

I appreciate your honesty in sharing the things that you are going through right now.

emotional problems like depression can be solved in various ways depending on the degree or the extent of the effect on your life. In your case, professional help is definitely needed since personal efforts to cut down on drinking seem to not work and you continue to be more depressed everyday.

There are a lot of great psychologists that can help you like Dr. Robert A Moss, if you're in Carolina. There can also be one in your state. There's nothing wrong if you would consult professionals to help you. They might just be the people that can help you save your marriage and give you a deeper understanding of your personality.

Anonymous said...

Hi, first time reader of "any" blog. My Dr. recommended it. I, too, suffer from depression... situational and possibly biPolar. Because I tend to try to "think" my way into solutions, and out of depression, etc.. I read a lot about depression.. Something of interest written by Dr Perry (boy who was raised as a dog), he said that for reasons still unknown, when we are depressed we tend to think about our past a LOT, and we tend to remember this past "incorrectly" and this incorrect or edited memory does get embedded in some part of our brain.. so that the next time we look back on this "edited" memory.. it is usually worse and thereby feeding incorrect info into our already depressed state. Basically, we ARE our thoughts. Most documented, successful "self-help" techniques suggest that we need to start each day with positive and accurate thoughts.. even if we have to write them down and read them... as a writer I would think you just might have a better chance of making this work... but, having written this, I know how hard it is to have any positive thoughts at all, esp in the depths that we depressives drop to. The one time and only one time that a medication that I was prescribed actually worked... I had NONE of those bad thoughts, I did not feel I needed "talk therapy" and life was grand... I felt normal, or what I think normal feels like. Once the drug quit working, I dropped back way down in a bad low, dark place. Exercise is suppose to help with the natural chemicals we produce,. but once again, when I am in the pits.. I can barely walk a mile in my neighborhood. If your depression is situational, I think self help has a chance, but a true chemical deficiency or imbalance is a harder call. I hope I have not added to your current low.. just wanted to share a little of my journey and hope and pray for the answers or solutions to what seems to be taking over our society!

The Hopeless Guide to Living with Depression said...

I totally agree. I've been reading a book called "End Procrastination Now". It's a self help book for working on procrastination habits.

The book gets me as far as an awareness and evaluation of my current situation, but i can't move beyond that.

Furthermore, i think one of the major reasons for my depression is a feeling that i can't sort it out myself. boo hoo to self help - the only helpful thing i've found is to get someone close to you to read it and help you instead.

The Depressed Reader said...

June has rolled around (and is almost finished) so I hope you discovered that mental health is covered under your wife's insurance.

From my own experience, therapy is far from a cure-all, but it can provide a place for us to vent and try to work out some issues, try and identify some of our unhelpful thinking patterns and take stock of things.

We depressives have a tendency to lapse into circular negative thinking - getting in contact with a therapist can be useful for breaking the cycle we build up ourselves.

Jenn said...

I have to disagree; I think self-help can help anybody who wishes to harness all it has to offer.

This is my personal theory: self-help- or any kind of help for that matter- is not possible if you do not want it, or are not ready for it. Like the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink it". The same goes for self help. You can visit a thousand different doctors, take dozens of pills, and read hundreds of books. But the simple fact remains- if you're not ready to overcome your depression, then you won't overcome it. There were so many time I *thought* I was ready, but in reality, I just wasn't. If I was ready, I wouldn't have relapsed so many times. I wouldn't have had to spend 14 years visiting a dozen different therapists. In the end, all it took was one, ten-minute phone call to one person to say three little words. This was something I had to do myself, for myself. And the same goes for everybody. Things will never get better unless you deep-down, truly want them to get better. You can't just say it.. you have to mean it. You have to believe that it can get better. If you don't believe things can better, then they never will.

misssrobin said...

Okay, I totally didn't read the whole post. My vision is kind of fuzzy right now and it's just too much work.

I did watch the video. It kind of nailed the stupidity of people, didn't it?

I've been to Lonely Island.

illuzian said...

If you are feeling that worthless sometimes you simply can't help yourself. It's such a catch 22. If you can though see a GP or Psych. Can't really comment too much since I haven't read all of your blog... but depression and anxiety suck. Mirtazapine(Avanza) might be a good drug to be prescribed, it's great for both ailments.

Harry said...

Maybe how you feel is just the effect of your hormonal issues. People who have low self-esteem always whine about their entire being. I understand your wife as I understand mine. She has PPD since she was 15, and it got worse when she had our first child. Self-help I think, is not bad at all. She actually tries to do more fun stuffs and she's taking a natural remedy for anxiety which helps lighten her mood at most times. I talk to her all the time, just to know how she feels and I listen. I hope your wife would do the same.

Jordan LeClair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


My friends made a funny mini-series for the web about depression, called Man Vs. Himself. As someone who’s dealt with depression and very much appreciates your site, I thought you and your readers might like it too.

Here are the first two of six episodes:

Thanks for the great site!


Depression Anxiety Panic Attacks said...

I think self help is the best option that you can acquire for! There is nothing that you cannot do by yourself. It is just the matter of time, which will help you to recover soon.

Weight loss hypnosis said...

Only self help can make you more strong and can make your life more smooth. One can definitely go for hypnotherapy but one should not loss the self trust.

Daniella Martin said...

First of all, thanks for this great blog. I really liked the video you embedded -- perfect material.
Second, research has come out recently that suggests that online counseling might be as good (or even better) for those dealing with depression than in-person visits. One researcher had studied therapeutically-supported IMing, and found that to be particularly helpful. Do you think this is true, and if so, why?
Daniella Martin

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