I’m rather too familiar with the inner workings of vicious circles of doom, so skipped on to the bit in the book, Overcoming Depression, about what to do about them.

On this, Prof Gilbert has to say: “Another way you might break the circle is to say, ‘Even though I’m not achieving much right now, this doesn’t make me a worthless human being’”.

Meh. The upside is that within the same paragraph, he writes:  “Now if you are depressed, don’t be surprised if these arguments don’t impress you”.

Good we might yet be in the same solar system.

I didn’t have much luck the last time I tried thought diaries. But this book gives quite good explanations, so maybe it would be worth tracking and challenging my thoughts. Also, I’ve noticed that, while earlier last year my mind felt like a mix of festering soup stains or sticky spagetti, as I think I variously tried described it, now my thoughts are more like piercing icy gusts through my mind. I suppose the clarity is a bit of an improvement at least.

Still, looking at my written down list of thoughts that have upset me the past couple of days, (all in the context of people asking me, probably innocently, how work it going, or else when I’ve been in a group of people, at work or at the rowing club, but not feeling comfortable enough to talk), no wonder I was feeling mentally exhausted this weekend!

I’m going to see if avoiding writing down the ‘evidence for’ these thoughts helps me – I know from experience that the more things I think up as ‘proof’, the more things I give myself to worry about! I’m trying my best at shielding myself from new worries on top of what I’m already thinking about!

I’ll also try to accept my thought and not try to trash them altogether, which wouldn’t be believable to me.

Here are some of them, and alternative kinder thoughts and things to change:

I can’t cope, look after myself, organise things, without help

Alternatives:

  • it’s ok to need help.
  • Second opinions are always good, not a weakness that I ask for someone else’s thoughts on something big like what house or flat would suit me best.
  • Most people would involve their partners in decisions, and make a joint decisions. Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I have to, or should, do everything single handedly.
  • People who live closer to home would naturally pop home once in a while for a meal see friends, family. Just because I’m living 1,000’s miles from home doesn’t mean it’s weak to wish I could do that too.
  • People are willing to help because they can, not because I’m useless and couldn’t do it myself. Other people might be better at certain things, like arguing over the phone with internet companies. If someone’s offering to deal with them for me, I should accept gratefully and not see it as yet more proof I couldn’t do it myself. If I were good at something and they asked me to do it, I’d be chuffed they asked and not see it as a weakness on their part. So I should think the same towards me.

I don’t know how to ask for help with a question.

Alternative: That is true. But could be solved by being more aware of how I ask for help. Try not to make it sound like a comment to myself that I’m expecting to be ignored. Try to make a specific question to a specific person, so that they can’t shrug it off.

I am so slow with work

Alternative: I haven’t got much experience yet, and everyone around me knows that. I won’t have any possibility to get faster if I give up now, so might as well keep practicing.

I am incompetent, but saying so, with the expectation of help, only confirms that I am.

Alternative: that’s just a negative assumption. I won’t get anywhere without at least trying something myself first and then asking for help if I’m still stuck. I could ask for help on something and test out what their reactions are. I could also follow my notes I’ve already written for myself here.

I’m not a fun person to be around, I don’t contribute to company

Blah. Still a major sticking point for me. Smile, (pretend) eye contact. Worrying isn’t helping me be a better person either. Try to move conversation on to something else or onto the person I’m talking too. Except…

I don’t know what to say to people, how to break into a conversation or start one

Make up lists of easy things to ask people about themselves or what they’ve done recently. Ask others who I’m comfortable with on conversation topic ideas, which could be a topic of conversation in itself.

I don’t have anything interesting to say. I don’t know how to show I’m interested in people. I don’t know how or what to say or write to people

Alternatives: 

  • Blah again. Make list of conversation topics to refer to, as above.
  • Actually I haven’t been totally mute. I can think of a couple of things I’ve chatted to people about. (eg about a co-worker’s prize guinea pigs, another co-worker’s son’s A-level choices, and today I asked after another’s baby who’s been ill, also talked about the type of stone Bermuda is made of,  and found out where the local running club meets)
  • Although mostly that was in December and I can probably count the number of conversations I’ve had my fingers I have been able to chat to people, so I can do it.
  • At least I’ve got myself into the situation where I could be talking to people. That must be better than sitting in my room totally alone.

Well jury’s out if that exercise will have helped me, and I probably have the wrong end of the stick over all it this, but I guess I should keep it up and not ignore it as a one-off.

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