I have been quite aware , early on into my depression experience, that I would continually attempt to find out why I was feeling so alone, depressed and hollow inside. The anxiety that I felt was overwhelming. It was present wherever I would go. I couldn’t shake it. I later learned that this, ruminating, is a big part of many people’s depression experience. It was definitely my experience. If you are feeling depressed it Is most likely a part of your thinking life as well. So, let’s check out what others believe rumination is about. We will want to examine how it works and for my own life, the negative thoughts wouldn’t stop coming. They cycled me down in that vast sea of darkness and hopelessness. Nothing could keep me from this compulsive and obsession of trying to figure out (ruminate) why I was depressed.
So, I looked up the definition of ruminating.
Wikipedia tells us that ” rumination is the focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states; however, its measures have not been unified. In the Response Styles Theory proposed by Nolen-Hoeksema (1998), rumination is defined as the “compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on it’s possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions.” Because the Response styles Theory has been empirically supported, this model of rumination is the most widely used conceptualization. Other theories, however, have posed different definitions for rumination. For example, in the Goal Progress Theory, rumination is conceptualized not as a reaction to a mood state, but as a ” response to failure to progress satisfactorily towards a goal.”
Rumination is the obsessive dwelling on negative factors and thoughts such as shame, guilt anger, and worry. Also, rumination can produce a cycling of thinking where we gradually paralyze ourselves within the framework of hopelessness and helplessness. Ruminating, we have discovered does not give us answers nor is it a solution to our unhappiness and addictive thinking. We do not have a respite or that our feelings are changed.
This can be put more simply: Wikipedia states that when a person ruminates, he or she aims to answer questions such as:
How do I feel about this event?
How can I change my thoughts and feeling about the event?
How can I prevent disturbing thoughts and feelings in the future?
Wikipedia goes on to state that “The tendency to negatively ruminate is a stable constant over time and serves as a significant risk factor for clinical depression. Not only are habitual ruminators more like to become depressed, but experimental studies have demonstrated that people who are induced to ruminate experience great depressed mood. (Count me in on that. Editor). There is also evidence that rumination is linked to general anxiety, ptsd, binge drinking, eating disorders, and self-injurious behavior. ”
” Although rumnination is generally unhealthy and associated with depression, thinking and talking about one’s feelings can be beneficial under the right conditions. Healthy self-disclosure can reduce stress and rumination when it leads to great insight and understanding about the source of one’s problems. Thus, when people share their feelings with others in the context of supportive relationships, they are likely to experience growth. In contrast , when people repetitively ruminate and dwell on the same problem without making progress, they are likely to experience depression. Co-rumination is a process defined as “excessively discussing personal problems within a dyadic relationship.
(I find that the Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group, plus the sponsorship of another member of the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous can produce a respite and healing from the negativity thinking which we call depression. Also, and just as important, positive goals are established within the group fellowship at all DA meetings. Goals for recovery are also established with sponsorship. The relationship with another is not only productive of healing but serves to provide the tools for personal recovery. In other words, by being part of a group fellowship there is a gradual breaking apart the cycling and spiraling downward that keeps us ruminating and depressed. This is where hope breaks into the circle of hopelessness.
Another important tool to limit the negativity in one’s thinking is to distract oneself, focusing on the solution, through daily journaling about hopeful goals, working on a set program as discovered in the HOME STUDY PROGRAM, and exercising extra care by being mindful of one’s surroundings, especially by daily walking in a natural setting. Just to distract oneself from all the negative messages which come automatically to our mind can be short-circuited by distracting oneself with new pleasant thoughts and thinking. In the Depressed Anonymous manual, (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition) it speaks of SUNSPOTS– these are those pleasant memories from our past, which, like photos in our family album. conjure up not only pleasant scenes from our past but also pleasant feelings are likewise conjured up with those positive emotions which most often accompany graphic illustrations of a more happier period in our lives.
This program takes one’s own negative feelings and thinking and begins clarifying one’s thoughts beginning the work of focusing on solutions and not the problems of shame, guilt and fear. It is a process. According to Pennebaker, quoted in Wikipedia, “healthy self-disclosure can reduce stress and rumination when it leads to great insight and understanding about the source of one’s problems.”
By disrupting one’s negative ruminating by distracting oneself, it is not uncommon that when the fog begins to lift slowly, the first thing we can think of is the negative thought, “it won’t last.” I know it happened to me. Just that thought puts us right back into depression and we feel mentally paralyzed once again. But, the point here is to keep on doing those activities, such as go to meetings, get a guide or sponsor, work the DA Workbook and read positive material on how certain Steps, like we practice in Depressed Anonymous, will gradually give you the freedom you desire. It works for me. And, it will work for you. Do this everyday, and you will find that it works.
PS All comments about this article will be appreciated. Tell yourself, ” I am no longer going to be a negative ruminator!