It’s been a while since I’ve been written here. That’s not a bad thing, since my priorities has been elsewhere. In October I started writing a book, concentrating on writing for half an hour each day. It’s been a new experience to finally knit a story together, seeing it becoming a book by taking one step at a time. The next weeks will be devoted to check for spelling mistakes and correct things, and then I finally will have a book created by me.
Other than that I’ve read a lot, and work has been more relaxed since I have been in a process of changing who I work with. I will work with psychosis and will be a group therapist, so I’m currently reading and learning a lot. I still have some trauma-patients, and like that. In my heart I never want to quit working with trauma, and I think that will be achievable. Patients who have been psychotic often have been traumatized as well.
That will be all for now! Hope all my readers are doing well, and I would love to hear from you!
This year I`ve read a lot. Some psychology books, but also fiction. One of the psychology books I`ve read, that I want to review here, is “Uncommon therapy” by Jay Hayley. The book is from my favorite therapist, who I wish I was. I have written about him before, and try to remember that nothing is impossible every time I have a client myself.
Milton H. Erickson, M.D. is generally acknowledged to have been the world’s leading practitioner of medical hypnosis. His “strategic therapy,” using hypnotic techniques with or without actually inducing trance, allows him to get directly to the core of a problem and prescribe a course of action that can lead to rapid recovery.
Milton Erickson was an interesting therapist and scientist: With creativity he tailored therapy to each client so that it fitted perfectly. He was the perfect “mirror” for others, so much that he actually could “talk” exactly like the client in front of him. He strongly believed in the unconscious, and in letting people find their own insights. He could tell little anecdotes that were completely right for the client. An example was an alcoholic that lived in a family where everyone drank (even his own wife) and drunk for several years. He was considered a hopeless case. Milton gave him a task: He should go to a park and sit down to watch a cactus for several minutes. Erickson told him this cactus could live without water for three years. 5 years later his sister called Erickson and told him both he and his wife had stopped drinking. He also used Reframing, mirroring and the paradox intervention. And example of the first, is when he sent a rootless client to Flagstaff so that she created new positive associated to a place that just seemed negative before. An example of the second is when he met a patient that tore things apart. She tore and threw everything she saw: Clothes, curtains, wallpaper. Generally, she was acting out. Erickson stood beside her and did the same thing, he tore up pieces of the wallpapers and threw things here and there. He exclaimed: “This was fun! Let`s go somewhere else and do more of it”. They came to a hospital, where he ripped the clothes off a nurse.
After this event, the girl became an angel, not knowing that the nurse in on the whole thing. An example of the paradox intervention was telling a woman who had severe problems with her weight. Erickson told her to try a new method where she first would gain a certain weight before she started with dieting. When she no longer had to restrain herself, she suddenly lost the weight she needed.
The book “uncommon therapy” provides a comprehensive look at Dr. Erickson’s theories in practice, through a series of case studies covering the kinds of problems that are likely to occur at various stages of the human life cycle. The results Dr. Erickson achieves sometimes seem to border on the miraculous, but they are brought about by a finely honed technique used by a wise, intuitive, highly trained psychiatrist-hypnotist whose work is recognized as a major contribution to the field.
I loved the book, even when I was somewhat shock at how brutally honest he could be at times. But it seems like it works, since he always wants the best for his clients. Even if Erickson`s dead, his legacy lives on.
At the moment I`m reading The Mummy at the Dining Room Table.
In the book well known practitioners recount the most memorable case histories of their illustrious careers. Engaging and surprising stories of human behavior are dramatically and often humorously portrayed. Each chapter gives a behind-the-scenes look at how therapists work with clients whose problems and behaviors aren’t found in standard psychology textbooks. The book also shows how these eminent therapists often cure these apparently intractable problems and learn something about themselves in the process. I was especially moved By Robert A. Neimeyer`s case history “Reconstructing the Jigsaw Puzzle of a Meter Man`s Memory”, and wanted to learn more about this fascinating therapist. I found this interview, where he talks about grief. What follow is the interview, and a description of him and his thoughts about grief.
Even though grief and grieving are a natural aspect of life, it can be overwhelming physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D. has dedicated his life to the field of thanatology through his extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention.
Dr. Neimeyer is a professor and director of psychotherapy research in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Additionally, he is the editor of two respected international journals, Death Studies and the Journal of Constructivist Psychology. He has published 24 books and over 300 articles and book chapters. The Art of Longing, a book of contemporary poetry is his latest creative endeavor.
This interview is the first segment in a two part interview. In this introduction, Dr. Neimeyer portrays how grief rocks the foundation of our world and how through a newer model of grief therapy called “Meaning Reconstruction”, we can explore and integrate our loss into our life. Meaning Reconstruction is a process of healing grief through the telling and re-telling of our life stories; seeking new meanings to re-affirm and re-build our life in a world without our loved one. Dr. Neimeyer is advancing this model of grief in his research, counseling practice and life’s work.
In the second segment of the interview Dr. Neimeyer explains a deeper understanding of meaning reconstruction grief theory and shares more of his personal and professional insights. The second segment concludes with a reading of his poem entitled, The Art of Longing.
The man in an inspiration for therapists and clients who need to find meaning in their work and life.
Today I have started to organize things that have been collecting for over a year. When I moved into a new apartment one year ago, I had to prioritize which things to move and what I simply should store away. It took me ages to move it all, as I only had a small car and had to drive back and forth a lot of times. This meant that I didn’t exactly put my things neatly into boxes, and the task of starting to sort through it all has been daunting. But today, my head is clear and I want to make the most of that. Sometimes I need to organize things around me to unclutter my mind too. To be honest, this need doesn’t manifest itself very often, so I have to make the most of it when it happens. My mother once told me that since I am so comfortable with mess around me, I need to untangle others lives. That I need to make sense of the psychological mess people find themselves in. I have thought about that, and even if I don’t think it’s that easy, there might be some truth to it. Recently it’s been quite calm at work, so I haven’t really had many challenges there. Maybe that’s why I need to fix things around me? No matter why, it’s fun to finally go through boxes with books, clothes and dvd’s. I have collected so many things over the years, as I’m incapable of throwing anything away without mental suffering, but the plan is now to actually sell some of the things that I know I won’t need. It will still be like watching my baby grow up without me; separation from my loved belongings is like severing bonds between me and cherished memories. But, throwing away old things leaves place for something new, and I can’t get stuck in the past.
I’m looking forward to clean up the mess and know I will feel satisfied once I’m done.
It has been a wonderful day. It started far too early, when I went to work to attend the first meeting in the morning. I had one conversation with a patient, and then two other meetings and a long lunch with my collages. In between meetings I did some writing that needed to be done, and then I was finally ready for the weekend. 15:30 I drove to a friend who wanted to borrow some clothes, and talked with her for a bit. I then went home for a quick dinner and some relaxation.
I enjoyed myself with “the body keeps the score”, a brilliant book that I probably will reread many times since it`s packed with tips and knowledge.It is like a coffin filled with gold.
Feeling richer from listening to the audiobook, I drove to one of my best friends to watch “The voice”. We talked before the show, and under it. After a while another friend came, and her boyfriend, and we all had a good evening. We tried to plan what we should do together tomorrow, as there will be a big party with events during the day too. I will go to the library, pick up the new bike I have bought, and then go to the city centre for free concerts. Later I will prepare for the night and meet one of the girls who will join me in the show choir “surround”. She is a mother of two, and needs to do something else for a change. Like me, she works with trauma, and has a hectic life. We will drink some wine, sing and then join my other friends afterwards.
It has been a really good week, and I know tomorrow will be great, too. I feel so lucky, and struggle with not feeling bad about it. Like always, I wonder if I deserve it. I have so many fantastic people around me, the best job in the world, and the chance to do whatever I want. I have finally started taking singing and piano lessons, and can now dedicate myself to music like I always wanted. My heart reaches out to all the people out there who have so little in comparison. Why did I win the lottery by being born in one of the riches countries in the world, where we have every opportunity, while others are born into countries with war and poverty? I try to remember that I have suffered, too, and that I will help others for as long as I live. That relieves some of the guilt, but it`s still there.
To all my readers: I hope you have the same chance to lead a meaningful life as me. And if you aren`t quite there yet, that you can somehow change your circumstances and fight for the life you want.
The bees make a buzzing sound that you either run away from in fear, or simply enjoy because it reminds you of lazy summer days when nature feels like a part of you. Right now my thoughts are buzzing around in a hectic tempo. Almost like they are in a frenzy because there is so much that needs to be done. The queen bee, who organizes it all, is my prefrontal cortex. My writing tries to create an overview of the disconnected thoughts so they can work harmoniously together. I haven`t written for some time, so I needed to do so now. The need is like a crawling insect, it itches until I sit down and take my time to get it all down on paper. The bees have a need to get the honey in and I need to collect my experiences and bring them home.
Yesteday I was at a book launch where one of my friends presented his book together with another local author. My heart swells with pride, as he is a dear friend who I have known since I was 17. We have so many memories together, and many of them were reactivated today. I remember visiting him at a writing school when he struggled to produce a text for review. He was so nervous, afraid that his piece wasn´t good enough. I was flabbergasted, as I never would have been able to write anything like that myself. But he was so critical of his own work, and didn`t feel it was good enough. Funny how we compare ourselves to unreasonable standards. This can be harmful when the people we compare ourselves with, are brilliant themselves. That`s when we lose sight of our own talents, that`s when we forget that we actually are up there ourselves. I read Malcom Gladwell`s book “David and Goliat” where he discussed this phenomena. What struck me, was that students who go to Harvard or other prestigious universities, struggle more later in life, than those who choose other universities. One of the reasons, was that only a few make it to the top even if every student are really talented. But they forget that when they start competing. They start to doubt themselves, and their self-esteem are easily attacked when they don´t reach the top three percent where they found themselves in high school. Now my friend has made it, he has written a book that got published, and it proves that he has talent. I think he still doesn`t quite believe it, and I know he is not completely satisfied with some parts of the book. I can understand that, because we are all perfectionists. I am so happy for my friend the busy bee, because after all his hard work, he really deserves it.
We all have our stories. Right now I’m sitting in mine. It’s quiet around me, except the music I’ve put on. Music is such a good way to remember the past. You float back, letting the sound waves transport you back in time. There is so much in our emotional briefcases, everything from dreams that flew away and guilt that chained us. We also have drawers filled with all the things we should have said and done, but never managed to do. I recently read ‘the illegal gardener’, a lovely book where regret and guilt was one of the red threads weaving the plot together.
I read a quote that really touched me:
she could only do what she had the knowledge and power to do at the time.
Some people are courageous. They struggle every day to get out of bed, and find it hard to take another breath. Living is agony, and still they do. Some even find the strength to write about it, and inspire others in the process. Danny Baker from Australia, is one of them. I am impressed and sad at the same time. Sad because he has lived with one of the deadliest health problems, but impressed that he has managed to get through it at the same time as he has chosen to give hope to others with depression. I have included one of his personal posts, and do also recommend the book “I will not kill myself, Olivia”
Depression is a Liar. It IS possible to recover and be happy again – even if you don’t believe it right now
Posted by Danny in Recovery From Depression on January 7, 2015
One of the cruelest traits of clinical depression is that it can often make you feel as if there’s no way out. It can convince you that your despair is eternal, and destined to oppress you for the rest of your days. And it’s when you’re in that horrifically black place, staring down the barrel of what you truly believe can only be a lifetime of wretched agony, that your thoughts turn to suicide.
In that moment, it seems as if it’s the only way out.
I’m so glad I didn’t kill myself
Unfortunately, I know that place well. I’ve been to that place where all hope is lost, where death seems to be the only salvation. Below is an excerpt from my memoir where I write about what that was like. It was April 2010, and at the time I was a 21-year-old university student and aspiring author.
The days dragged along. This was the worst I’d ever felt. Period. There was no relief from the ceaseless dread. I could barely function. Paying attention in class was almost impossible. Studying was too overwhelming. I’d fallen absurdly behind. I hadn’t touched my book [that I was writing] in days. I’d quit my [part-time] job at the law firm, too – needed all my free time to try and catch up on uni. But there was never enough time. I was constantly exhausted. Drained of life. Depression sucked at my soul. My spirit withered. My goal for the day got broken down even further: “just survive the next six hours,” I’d tell myself, “the next four hours. Hold off killing yourself until then.” [At which point I’d tell myself the same thing over again.]
I’d previously thought I’d get better. I’d always thought it true that hope and depression were bitter rivals until one inevitably defeated the other, and I’d always thought that hope would win out in the end. But for the first time in my life, I was void of hope. I honestly believed that being depressed was just the way I was, and that being depressed was just the way I’d be, for the rest of my life. And because I was so convinced that I’d never get better, there seemed no point in fighting my illness. Instead of willing myself to “hang in there” because I believed that my suffering was temporary and that everything would be better one day, I comforted myself with the knowledge that human beings are not immortal. That I would die, one day. One special, glorious day. Then I could spend the rest of eternity moulding in a grave, free from pain. You might be wondering why I didn’t just kill myself if I wholeheartedly believed that my future consisted of nothing more than excruciating misery. Well, first of all, I still was not a quitter. But more importantly, I didn’t want to hurt the people that loved me.
“It’s not fair to commit suicide and ruin their lives,” I thought. “So I have to hold on. No matter how much it hurts me I have to hold on.”
Hence why I drew comfort from the thought that one day I’d die and finally be free.
When you’re that depressed, that insanely and utterly depressed that you genuinely believe you’ll suffer that acutely for the rest of your days, life seems to lack all purpose.
“After all,” I remember thinking, “what’s the point in working, fighting, striving for a better life if I’m sentenced to one of chronic anguish and despair? There is no better life. There is no life outside of pain. So what’s the point in doing anything but waiting until death finally arrives on my doorstep and whisks me away to the Promised Land?”
I was still studying, and I still planned on finishing my novel and trying to get it published, but it was more out of force of habit than anything else. My passion had been drained. My zest for life asphyxiated. I was like a ghost, just drifting through the ghastly days.
“Shit! What’s wrong, mate?” an old friend once said when I ran into him at uni. “Perk up, brother!”
I was shocked. One of the most well-known attributes of depression is that it is entirely possible – and very common – to suffer horrifically without anybody knowing. But somehow without realising it, I’d crossed the line from a place where I was able to put on a front and fool people into thinking I wasn’t depressed to a place where I was so sick that it was obvious to people I hadn’t even seen for a year. When I got home I looked in the bathroom mirror, and realised that I was staring back at a man whose eyes were exhausted slits, whose whole face shrieked of agonising misery. I was staring back at a man whose spirit had been broken, whose soul had been destroyed. I was staring back at a man who, for all intents and purposes, was already dead.
As you can see, I was so convinced that I’d never get better. I was 100% sure of it. But after a while, one of the multiple medications I’d tried started to work. I started benefiting immensely from therapy. I committed myself to eating well, sleeping well and exercising frequently. And over time, I began to recover. Towards the end of that year and throughout 2011, I also made a number of positive lifestyle changes, and by early 2012, I’d kicked my depression for good. Ever since then, I’ve been feeling great.
And I’m hardly the only person who’s recovered from depression. I’m just one of thousands – 10s of thousands – probably millions.
Depression is a maestro at suffocated your hope, but countless people have proved that Depression is a liar. It IS possible to recover and be happy again – even if you don’t believe it right now.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you’d probably also like my memoir Depression Is A Liar: It IS possible to recover and be happy again – even if you don’t believe it right now. Recounting my struggle and eventual triumph over depression, I wrote it so that sufferers of the illness could realise that they’re not alone – that there are other people out there who have been through the same excruciating misery, and who have made it through to the other side. I also wrote it so that I could impart the lessons I learned on the long, rocky, winding road that eventually led to recovery – so that people could learn from my mistakes as well as my victories – particularly with regards to relationships; substance abuse; choosing a fulfilling career path; being a perfectionist; seeking professional help; and perhaps most importantly, having a healthy and positive attitude towards depression that enables recovery. Lastly, I wrote it to give sufferers hope, and to show them that no matter how much they’re struggling, that recovery is always, always possible.
Grab your copy here.*
*When you purchase a copy of my memoir, you’ll also be invited to join the Depression Is Not Destiny Private Facebook Support Group. Additionally, I will donate 10% of my royalties from the book to my charity, The Depression Is Not Destiny Foundation, which helps people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it to crowdfund the cost of their therapy.
It was dark outside. She could see the lights inside the house, and she started knocking on the door. She knew that light was just part of the deal she would get if the door opened, but she did, anyway. Her knuckles hit the wooden surface, again and again. No one opened. She cried. She panicked. She screamed. But nothing helped. It was like dropping something in the sea, hoping that it would find its way back. It was a locked door, and even if the owners heard her, they had no interest of opening it for her. They had shut it for good, as they said they would if she didn`t behave better. She tried. She really tried, but in the end she failed. Now she stood alone in the darkness, sobbing and wanting to die. How could she know that there were other doors right next to this one? When you really want something, you don`t see what`s right in front of you, not before you let go of the past.
We all have our stories, our closed doors that we desperately want to open again. We want to feel the warmth of something that was, even if the embers have long died out. Ironically, it`s not always the good memories and experiences we want back. Sometimes we are haunted by a past that was full of sorrow, because it is familiar to us. We want the happy endings that never came. We want to turn back time and fix everything. I wish changing the past was possible, but it simply can`t be done. We can never change the past, but we can always change the future. We can knock on different doors, we can walk into a different house with real warmth, with light not stained by darkness. We can start new lives, and let the past rest.
Better in the end, surely, to distance yourself than to bloody your knuckles hammering on a door that would never open.
Poverty. We know this word means suffering. We know it means a life of lost opportunities. But do we know the extent of this suffering ? How terrible it is to live under two dollars pr day? When I walk around in new clothes everyday, have an apartment I can sell and eat whatever I want, I feel guilty. I know guilt helps no one, so I try to use these feelings. By knowing about the state of things, I transform guilt to more productive energy. This is exactly the goal of the book ‘the locust effect’ by Gary A. Haugen. The author travels to all corners of the world to study and write about poverty and violence. He unveils the terrors of slavery, trafficking and general abuse that poor people endure. It’s a heartbreaking tale, but an important one too. By describing the life of millions through nightmarishly examples, the readers are forced to open their eyes. You can’t ignore the reality of so much suffering. There is no room for denial, no room for ignorance.