Again, today we want to show how by entering any one of the six portals into the closed system of depression and connecting with the other five entry points, can gradually produce positive results.
The physiological symptoms of depression are insomnia, decrease in sexual drive, low or non existent energy level, hard time concentrating, memory problems, tired all the time, weight loss, gain, continually irritable. By trying to understand and employ other portals of entry, such as getting ourselves motivated, we know that daily exercise of some sort, can in time help reduce one or the other of the physiological depression symptoms. This portal is connected powerfully with the behavior, thinking, feeling, motivation and spirituality portals. Starting to focus on just one of the closed system’s symptoms, will have a positive effect on all the rest of the system. We might even get motivated to go to a 12 Step meeting of persons like ourselves. For me personally, it was the behavior portal (going to meetings/ refusing to stay isolated ) plus motivating myself to believe In a God of my understanding (spirituality) that began the process of getting a ‘leg up’ on my sadness. My thinking was also changing. I began to feel and think that there was hope for me too.
As we continue to chip away at each area of depression symptoms, and clarify our thinking, we see that an improvement of mood in one area can effect all the others as well! Til next time, reflect on the physiological symptoms mentioned above and pick one or two symptoms and then choose a positive alternative to replace them. Tomorrow we will want to discuss some of the characteristics of the behavior portal. Hope to see you tomorrow. “God give me ‘the courage to change the things I can…’ “
Just what does it mean to “open up the closed system of depression symptoms? ” Basically, it means that we have determined that there are 6 major portals, with their own unique and negative characteristics. The strategy is to develop a number of positive and opposing procedures for the characteristics of each portal, which can in turn do just the opposite of those which continue to keep us in the pit of desolation and helplessness. In a sense we will be opening up that closed system, which like the bars of a prison cell, keep us locked down and isolated. By learning something about each of the six gateways to our personal lives, we will possess the tools that can open up and break down the walls of each of these portals.
Let’s talk a bit of what these portals look like. Together we are aware how they form a massive obstacle to our moving out of the closed and deadly system. But taken each alone, we have a chance to break down their individual negative components and replace them with small positive steps of motivating ourselves toward change.
QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One bit at a time. And the same holds true for what we are proposing to you today. Let’s consider the following categories which make up the essential attributes of the human person. By entering any one of them and making changes in their unique characteristics we are indirectly affecting for good all the other five categories. These portals with their unique identities are all inter related and what affects one affects all. By the same token, the symptoms of depression affect all the other portals and together promote a tightly closed system which is highly impregnable.
The six portals that open us to the closed system of depression are the following: (1)THINKING (2) FEELING (3) BEHAVIOR (4) MOTIVATIONAL (5) PHYSIOLOGICAL (6) SPIRITUALITY.
For today, let’s take a look at the first portal: the thinking gateway. Here are the characteristics of this portal: mistaken beliefs, worthless, guilt, self-accusations, self-dislike, failures, self -hatred, suicidal thinking, hopeless and helpless thinking. Now, with these characteristics staring us in the face, we can choose to look at each of the above and decide which one or ones can I muster up the energy to defeat and turn around? For starters, how can I change any beliefs about myself? I can give you one solution and that is to get into a fellowship of folks like yourself who will mirror to you the strengths that you really possess. In other words, by taking a more solution focused approach to oneself rather than concentrating on the negative, this continues that gradual diminution of all that keeps us imprisoned. And just to show connections between portals, the Behavior portal discusses social withdrawal. If I think that I am worthless and inferior I surely won’t want to move around in social environments. We gradually with time and work open the tight grip of the closed system of depression on our lives. We now have the toolkit whereby we can dismantle those old beliefs that undermined our best selves. We now are at the beginning of a new system filled with hope and the courage to let go of the past! More tomorrow.
Clarification of thought
One of the areas of my life affected by my experience with melancholia was my thinking, or rather lack of ability to think. I remember vividly how I was no longer able to concentrate or focus on any material that I tried to read. When I did try and focus on a more complex thought such as a couple of paragraphs, it seemed fruitless. The thought was like a vapor, in that it disappeared as rapidly as it came. I was only aware that the fog was beginning to lift when my mood gradually lifted. It was like the sun coming up in the East, burning off the fog, layer by layer. And that leads me to the next point in my recovery. With the fog disappearing, and my concentration slowly reappearing, I was able to have a thought and hold on to it. I noticed that when I read something it managed to stay in my memory.
One of the laws of recovery, which works for me, is the saying, “Move the body and the mind will follow.” I found this to be true. It also confirmed for me how the mind will work more efficiently when the body is moving. That is why I personally put so much stock in walking or any other physical exercise which has a direct effect on the brain.
I also have learned how reading and writing down one’s reflections helps to clarify one’s thinking. You see in black and white your thoughts–now before you on paper or on the computer screen. In other words they are not flowing out there unattended in cyber space but instead are sitting right there in front of you. That is why in our recovery program of the 12 Steps it is recommended that one begin writing down various issues that have surrounded you in your life. By doing so you can determine how these items have influenced you positively or negatively. And since we are speaking of depression here, this is a process in which writing down gives us a degree of clarification as we examine one issue after another. Many times the issues or events are interlinked and hold the key to understanding our thinking and behavior. Reflection or as it says in the Steps that through prayer and meditation (clarification of thought) we sought to improve our contact with God.
Hopefully, soon, I will post some questions about one’s own recovery and you can answer them at home, in your own time and space. You too can make time, by reading, writing and find for yourself a greater purpose in life through a continued clarification of thought.