Mood & Depression: False Emotions

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The past few weeks have been just plain weird. My mind has been something like a rainforest – pouring rain one minute, sunny the next, then pouring again without warning. It is confusing when you’re not quite sure if what you are feeling is connected to who you are at the soul level and it is very difficult to identify those false emotions. For this season of depression, I’ve found an extra need to identify who I am as separate from feelings of depression.

Mark & I have this book that has helped thousands of people. We recommend it to quite a few of our friends. It’s called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, and it basically uses nutritional therapy in the form of basic amino acids to help restore the mood, come out of mind fog, and such. You can buy it here or on Amazon. I found it again the other day at the back of our bookshelf, so I started reading. The first three pages basically answered all the questions that had been rolling around in my mind.

So, I thought I’d share them right here:

Chapter One: Are Your Emotions True or False?

              If you’re often feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed, you’re not alone. We’re in a bad-mood epidemic, a hundred times more likely to have significant mood problems than people born a hundred years ago. And these problems are on the rise. Adult rates of depression and anxiety have tripled since 1990, and over 80 percent of those who consult medical doctors today complain of excessive stress. Even our children are in trouble, with at least one in ten suffering from significant mood disorders. Our mood problems are increasing so fast that, by 2020, they will outrank AIDS, accidents, and violence as the primary causes of early death and disability.

It’s clear that our moods are deteriorating at unprecedented rates. What isn’t so clear is why. What is this tidal wave of emotional malaise all about? Are our lives so much more unhappy than they were one hundred years ago, or even ten years ago? It’s true that we’re facing some unprecedented adversity in the twenty-first century. But even if it is the high pressure, or the absence of family support, or the terrorist threat, for example, why are we now so unresponsive to traditionally reliable remedies like long vacations, psychotherapy, and spiritual counsel? Why are we forced to turn more and more to medication for solace?

In this book, I’m proposing that much of our increasing emotional distress stems from easily correctable malfunctions in our brain and body chemistry – malfunctions that are primarily the result of critical, unmet nutritional needs. More important, I am proposing a complete yet easy-to-implement nutritional repair plan that can actually start to eliminate what I call our “false moods” in twenty-four hours.

 

True Emotions VS. False Moods

              Some negative feelings are unavoidable and even beneficial. They’re what I call “true emotions.” These true, genuine responses to the real difficulties we encounter in life can be hard to take. They can even be unbearable at times, depending on the kinds of ordeals we face. But they can also be vitally important. True grief moves us through our losses, true fear warns us of danger, true anger can defend us from abuse, and true shame can teach us to grow and change. These true emotions typically pass, or diminish naturally, and even when they get repressed or misdirected, they can usually be relieved through counseling. But when we suffer for no justifiable reason; when the pain of a broken heart doesn’t mend like a broken bone; when rest, psychotherapy, prayer, and meditation can make little impact – then we must suspect the emotional impostor, the meaningless biochemical error – the “false mood.”

Figuring out the difference between false moods and true emotions is the first step in your Mood Cure. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move on to eliminate the fraudulent feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, and irritability that are interfering with your natural capacity to enjoy life.

…You shouldn’t have to live with these kinds of distorted moods on a regular basis. It’s like having an engine that sputters, preventing you from having a smooth emotional ride. When your brain’s emotional equipment needs a tune-up, you get clues: you don’t sleep well, you worry too much, you start feeling overwhelmed, you lose your enthusiasm or your ability to concentrate. You might also start depending on chocolate, wine, or marijuana to get some relief. If you experience these minds of symptoms frequently, you may have just come to accept them, assuming them simply to be unfortunate features of your basic personality. But chances are you’re wrong. Now you have an opportunity to discover your true emotional nature.

 

The Primary Cause of Your False Moods

          s-1    Your brain is responsible for most of your feelings, both true and false. In concert with some surprisingly brainlike areas of your heart and guy, it transmits your feelings through four highly specialized and potent kinds of mood molecules. If it has plenty of all four, it keeps you as happy as you can possibly be, given your particular life circumstances. But if your brain runs low on these mood transmitters – whether because of a minor genetic miscue, because it’s used them up coping with too much stress, or because you aren’t eating the specific foods it needs – it stops producing normal emotions on a consistent basis. Instead, it starts hitting false emotional notes, like a piano out of tune.

After more than thirty years of intensive, worldwide investigation, most of the false moods and their causes have been identified by one of the fastest-growing fields of science – neuroscience, the field that studies the workings and effects of the brain. Drug companies have been using this information to create products that give our emotional equipment a quick charge. But that’s not the same thing as a real repair job. Fortunately, the emotional tune-up that we need so badly now is readily available. In fact, the repair tools we need for this crucial effort are shockingly simple. They’re specific foods and nutrient supplements that are so exactly what the brain needs that they can begin to correct emotion malfunction in just twenty-four hours…

I hope that this first section of the book help you. The amino acids she talks about in the book have made a difference for everyone I know that has tried them, and no one is paying me to say so. She says you can feel better in twenty-four hours, but honestly, it’s a matter of seconds sometimes for me.

Anyway, it is good to know that some of the negative feelings we allow to speak into our hearts aren’t who we are. They do not define us. Sometimes, it is just our brain not functioning as it can, and this is something that can change.

Friday’s Lies: I can’t control my emotions.

Lie: I can’t control my emotions.

Truth: I have the power to change my thinking; therefore, I am in control of my emotions.

I’ve been digging around trying to find something, ANYTHING, that tells me that I have little (or even no) I'm Too ___. (1)control over my emotions! I like having that excuse – that it’s not my fault when I burst into tears and yell sometimes. But, I just can’t find that article, journal, blog, book, or anything. There is absolutely no research suggesting that men and women (with a fully functioning brain) can’t control their emotions.

Thus, we present to you this lie: “I can’t control my emotions”.

I didn’t even know it was a lie until today. I was going to tell you about the exceptions, but it seems that there are none for the average person. Many factors contribute to making it difficult, and even seemingly impossible, for us to overcome emotions. These can include brain-related trauma and illness, mood disorders, autism, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, deep-rooted anger issues, hormones and the like. But, the answer to coping with and controlling our emotions, across the board, is simple:

We train and retrain our mind to think differently. We think positively and logically. We stop and capture our thoughts. We get in control.

Our thoughts and emotions “aren’t fixed facts; they’re flexible” (Sherman). In his article in Psychology Today, Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D.  tells us that in every scenario, you can, essentially, be your own author. You just need to “tell a different story” in order to “automatically generate a different emotionally response”. Imagine that your sibling has been poking you and you’ve been asking him/her to, pretty please, stop poking me for the past ten minutes. Your frustration is boiling. You are getting anxious and stressed. Your face is turning red and you are getting hot with the type of anger that can’t be described. You’re annoyed. Your story is that you have had a bad day already and your sibling is making it worse. You don’t need this kind of crap.

Change your story. Your sibling is poking you because they love you. This is the only time of day that you get to spend with them. They just want your attention for a minute. After all, you love them as well. Remember when they were born and you felt on top of the world? You take a deep breath and decide that instead of screaming at them, you will poke them back and play with them for the next ten minutes, then tell your mom that you really need to do your homework. Would they please occupy your brother/sister while you work on it?

There is a choice.

Here is an excerpt from a study conducted over a full year and a half, recorded in Neuro Image:

“Aversive feelings such as anger, sadness, and anxiety often disrupt individuals’ attempts at self-control, resulting in impulsive behaviors and decisions. It remains uncertain how this happens. Common sense suggests that people who act rashly when they are upset fail to successfully inhibit their impulses because they are unmotivated or unable to do so. Yet just the opposite may be true: people may fail at self-control while they experience negative emotions because they excessively recruit inhibitory processes” (Chester).

Maybe we simply don’t want to change our emotions so we hide behind them. Our friend did something wrong and we believe we have the right to hold that against them. We inhibit ourselves, not allowing our brain to respond in a better way. The Chester study goes on to show that the more we practice positive emotions and positive thinking, the better we get at it. But, it can seem impossible if we have a habit of inhibiting our positive responders. All in all, “our beliefs and expectations about a person or event or situation directly influence …our feelings (Grohol). Other people may contribute to them, but they don’t cause our feelings. We get that responsible.

Even at the worst of my anxiety disorder, I learned that if I took control and told myself that I was going to be okay on the onset of a panic attack, it was less overwhelming. I could function afterward. And the more that I engaged in this positive self-talk, this self-encouragement, the more I was in control of my anxiety. It didn’t go away for a while, but the more and more I practiced this, the more it went away. It gave me my life back. Why don’t I apply this idea to my other emotions?

My friend and I were just talking about how women are defined by the stereotype that we can’t control ourselves – that we are crazy human beings that can go off at any moment. And all women are, at some point, viewed this way. I know that I am and, I see now, that taking on that stereotype is my own fault. I’m reminded of when I was in high school and all the girls were talking about how their hormones controlled them and there was nothing they could do about how they acted toward others. I remember thinking, I don’t have the urge to treat other people badly just because I’m PMS-ing. And I’m ashamed that I forgot that. Our hormones don’t control our thoughts. Our thoughts are what control our hormones.

We don’t have to yell at our spouses or our families, our roommates or our computer – we don’t have to act annoyed at them – every time we don’t feel well. We CAN control our emotions, so we CAN control how we treat others. It’s something to remember. Something true.

And now that we know the truth, we can be open to a whole new range of possible responses to others and to ourselves (Sherman). And I think that is rather exciting! We can get our lives back – our friendships, our marriages, our relationships with our siblings, with our kids, with our parents. It’s a positive thought, and I for one, think I might hold on to it. 🙂 Let’s write a different story and live better lives.

 

Resources

Sherman, Jeremy E., Ph.D. “Total Control vs. No Control Theory of Emotions: Can You Control Your Emotions or Not?” Psychology Today. N.p., 13 June 2010. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.

 

Chester, David S. “How Do Negative Emotions Impair Self-control? A Neural Model of Negative Urgency.” NeuroImage 132 (2016): 43-50. Science Direct. Web. 11 Aug. 2016

 

Grohol, John M., Psy.D. “We Are Responsible for Our Own Feelings | World of Psychology.” World of Psychology. Psych Central, 30 Aug. 2008. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.

Loneliness: It’s All of Us

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 My husband is from New Zealand, but I am from Texas. We got married at my grandparents’ house last Thanksgiving, and now we have been living in Auckland for a few months. I cannot work because we don’t have immigration consent as I am writing this post, so I have had little to do while my husband is in his last semester of nursing study.

Loneliness.

I feel like I say that word a lot lately. Yet, somehow, even the word doesn’t carry the weight of the emotions conjoined into those three simple syllables.

We all feel lonely. And that is part of why this site exists – so that we know that we are never really alone. Thanks for that.

Part of my coping with this new time of my life – starting off in a new country with new people and foods and ways of joking and teasing – is by writing. Writing this blog, for example.

But in the last few weeks, loneliness has integrated itself into worthlessness and a lack of purpose. I had purpose when I was teaching English literature to teenagers. I had purpose when I was helping youth at my church community back home. I had purpose when I was planning a wedding. I had purpose when it was only me and I could dream of travelling and wandering and going wherever I wanted – whenever I wanted.

I’m learning something new. Life changes and sometimes purpose changes with it.

So how do I cope with this?

How do I get back to a life of purpose in the middle of so much change?

Through life, I have learned that when negativity floods in – whether it’s self-doubt, being fired from an easy job, or just someone looking at you the wrong way – immediate action is required. If not dealt with and changed to a positive, the negative thought or feeling seems to compound itself and leads to other negative thoughts and feelings.

EUGENE (1)My theory in working through loneliness is, at the present, largely based on the same skills we learn in counseling to combat depression. Both loneliness and depression can be debilitating, and one can lead into the other if the dice lands a certain way on the table of brain chemistry.

As someone who believes in Jesus, I have the ever-present peace of knowing that my faith is giving me purpose. That is more helpful than anything. I daily thank my God for the purpose and plans that he has for all of his children. That is my number one.

And so, here, I write my list of what I do (or try to do) to refocus and balance:

  • Be in the light – both physically and spiritually.
    • The sun not only gives us Vitamin D, it boosts serotonin, increasing mood. On cloudy days, my husband whips out this handy “lightbox” and turns it on right in front of my face. It helps me.
    • The son of God is the light of the world. Without this source of light going into the deepest parts of my soul, I am empty. He fills voids created by loneliness. And I’m not even just saying that.
  • Draw. Or Colour.
    • Get an adult colouring book. Or a kid’s one. Create your own. Colours can be oddly therapeutic. So is colouring.
    • Sometimes, I draw myself how I want to be – happy, peaceful, thinking good thoughts.
  • Go to school. Any school. (Today, I’m sitting in a university library. I don’t attend here. 😉 )
    • This may not be useful for many people, but I freakin’ love to learn. So I sit and I learn whatever I want to learn.
    • Research your interests. I’m very interested in the subject and science of “loneliness” right now, as you can see. So I spent three months finding everything I could on the subject. I’ve also been studying pet therapy… because I want a dog. 🙂
  • Teach.
    • This is something I enjoy, partly because I learn so much myself through teaching.. So I’ve created a blog where I can do something like teaching while I’m unemployed!
  • Socialize. Find the “Other” Person.
    • Join a club, a church group, a gym. Be with other people. I joined a gym, and even though I don’t talk to anyone there, it’s nice just to be with people. The same goes for the library or a café!
    • Our landlord has an 18 year old deaf cat at our house. I pet it when my husband is studying or at his clinicals. It’s just an animal, but being with something else that is alive and breathing is comforting. If you have an animal, cuddle it. If not, hamsters are cheap in the States. 🙂
    • Be with your family, if you can. I can skype my parents. I can go to my in-laws’ house. I, personally, always “leave” feeling better.
    • Tell your best friend, your husband, your wife, your kid – whoever – that you want to spend time with them. Make a plan, set a day, and enjoy every moment. One day when I was at my loneliest, Mark stayed home with me and took me to the wharf. A week later, I was still looking back to that day, feeling the good feelings over and over. Count the blessings of those days as hope during the bad days.
  • Write.
    • Writing has always been my favourite thing to do, even though I’ve been shy and embarrassed to do it as much as I like. It’s therapeutic to write in a journal. It feels good to write a card to people I am thankful for.

What is your list? How do you deal with your lonely times? If you can’t think of anything, try to concentrate on what has always made you happy. Most of the things on my list fit into everything I wanted to be when I was a child: an author, an artist, and an adventurer. Look back at your childhood self. Where do you find joy? We all find joy in being with people on some level. How can that help you in your loneliness?

If you don’t have an answer, yet, then I hope and pray that by the end of this series, you will have one. Or two. Or many.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of, what I believe, will be useful articles on the problem of loneliness, solutions to help you through the loneliest times, and the hope that you can have within yourself to make it. Stay tuned for:

 

24 June       Loneliness: It’s All of Us

 

27 June       Loneliness: The Problem, the Paradoxical Virus, and a Cure

19 June       Loneliness: Finding the “Inner” Person

1 July          Loneliness: Finding the “Other” Person

 

4 July         Loneliness: Finding Meaning in What you Do

6 July         Loneliness: For the In-Between

8 July         Loneliness: Understanding Loneliness in All People

 

11 July        Loneliness: Helping Others, Helping Yourself

13 July       Loneliness: Finding the “Upper” Person

15 July       Final Thoughts on an Un-Final Topic

Loneliness is not something you alone feel. Everyone feels lonely. Many people feel chronically lonely. You are not alone in the fight to be with others and feel whole. It’s not just you. It’s all of us. Let’s take it head on – together.