stephtronic you are right, meds may be needed and they can help people get their lives back, but for most people you need more than just the meds. You need to learn how to retrain your brain.
Let me tell you guys how things are going.
I have started a routine of meditating twice a day. I do five minutes in the morning or early afternoon, and five minutes before bed. This has been going on for a week, pretty much since I found those PDFs in the first post.
It's hard. It's really, really hard. Learning to push away thoughts, to concentrate only on your breathing, will feel impossible at first. Thoughts and daydreams and even random images will keep vying for your attention. Twice I googled 'unable to meditate' because I honestly thought I was doing it wrong. But the more I meditate, the easier it becomes to push those thoughts away and come back to my breath. In one week of meditating twice a day I have noticed a vast improvement.
Have I experienced anything profound? No, not really. I don't even find it relaxing. But I can tell that it's getting easier to clear my mind. And what this tells me is that, actually, I do have control over my thoughts.
I have tried other tasks from the PDFs, such as 'mundane task focusing'. The PDF says this is probably easier than meditation, but honestly, I find it harder. There's a reason we do most mundane tasks on auto-pilot - it's because they're boring. For those who haven't read the PDF, the point of the Mundane Task Focusing (MTF) is to keep you focused on the present by being aware of your senses during a task such as ironing or emptying the dishwasher, a time when your mind is usually kept occupied with thoughts or daydreams. It's true, actually. I have actively avoided many chores since my anxiety/depression, and it's not out of laziness. I hate being in a position where my mind is able to drift off into thinky land. I usually cope by wearing my headphones.
The problem is, thinking about how a plate feels and the sound it makes as I place it in the cupboard doesn't hold my attention for very long. Also, depression can I think 'stunt' the senses somewhat, which doesn't help matters. So it's hard, really, to stay 'in the present' for an MTF.
However - I can absolutely see the benefit of doing this
. I can see why it works - those of us with anxiety or depression are usually so focused on the past or the future that we don't feel like we're a part of the present. So I'm going to keep trying, because it will get easier the more I do it.
The biggest problem in the equation is me.
My brain tries to trip me up - no, wait. I
try to trip me up. A thought from The Voice of Doom (tm) will do what I call a 'drive by' every so often, reminding me of something that used to make me anxious, or trying to tell me that I can't do it or that it won't work. 'Drive by' thoughts last only a second, but they leave behind a whole ton of anxious feelings in their wake. And what's worse is I know these thoughts come from me! I make them myself. I am trying to trip myself up
. I have been so pessimistic and so miserable for so long that I don't believe I can be otherwise.
All that is changing.
I don't know if it's the meditation or the fact that I've started a thoughts diary (the PDFs suggest a thought and a worry diary, so I may diverge and start a second one soon), but I'm suddenly starting to see these things for what they are - just thoughts. And I'M the one controlling them.
Am I 'cured'? Oh god, no. I'm only a week in. Today started off as a great day, but as the day went on, I felt less of that. And now, if I had to describe how I felt, I'd say, 'okay'.
A week ago an okay day would have been awesome! Now I am getting used to feeling better and better, an okay day seems blah. I'm not sure why this happened - maybe it's the bad weather, or maybe the McDonalds I had (I will not eat there again). Still, I am calm and collected.
I am going to keep going with the meditation, MTF and diary. If I feel that I still need extra help, I will get some anti-depressants, as I know that my depression is greatly influenced by my menstrual cycle and CBT may not be enough to completely help me out when there are chemical/hormonal aspects at play. And I'm okay with that - if it happens, it happens.
But regardless of meds/no meds, this stuff all makes sense. I urge you to read through the PDFs. Check out the one for general anxiety too, as it has plenty of stuff that can relate to HA. Then I want you to read this:It is not easy. It is not a quick fix. It is hard.
You may see some results at the beginning like I did, or you may not see changes for a long time, but in order to change your life you will need to keep up with this every single day, for as long as it takes to retrain your thought processes.
Most of you who try will give up - the voice of doom (tm) will work its magic. But it doesn't have to be that way. I'm thinking of starting a blog to track my progress. If you think it's an interesting idea, let me know, and I'll link to it if I get around to making it.
I wish you all the best. If you're interested, here's a 5 minute meditation timer video. It chimes at the beginning and end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2xNEcJb540&list=PLUCWUtEWuelbl7NCAWn8yroeMYVNLntBh&index=6