Negative Thinking

Hello, all! It’s been so long! I’m afraid I haven’t been in much a writing mood lately, but I figured I should check in and let people know I’m still alive. 🙂


I wouldn’t call myself an optimist. I like to think of myself as a realist. But, let’s be honest, that’s just a fancy marketing-type term for pessimist, isn’t it?

In the past, I have frequently and compulsively let myself mope and ruminate about all the awful things in life. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing with the depression; do I feel depressed because of the negative thoughts, or do I think negative thoughts because of the depression?

When I began treating my depression and anxiety, I had to confront my own thinking patterns. The negative thoughts were not helping me. If I wanted to be happy, I had to learn to think more positively, or, at the very least, realistically about things. Instead of telling myself ‘Today is going to be hellish,’ I had to begin telling myself ‘Today might be a good day; I won’t know until I get on with it.’

The change in perspective has helped a little, though it’s not a pancea. There’s a bit of a learning curve to it, but eventually it starts to feel natural to challenge the negative thoughts. I assume the eventual goal is that you don’t have all the negative thoughts to challenge, but that seems like a distant goal at this point.

Now, here’s my confession: sometimes I still let myself mope and ruminate and relish in those terribly negative thoughts. I do this for two reasons.

The first reason is that it allows for a cathartic release. Once in a while, I curl up in bed and think awful things and have a cry. Sometimes I feel better after. Not always. Sometimes I feel worse. But the times that I feel better allow me to justify it in my own mind.

The second reason is to combat anhedonia. I spend a lot time comfortably – or uncomfortably – numb. Sometimes it seems like I don’t feel much of anything. Letting myself think negative thoughts and feel bad for a while serves as a reminder that I do have feelings, no matter how well I manage to push them down most of the time. I wonder if this doesn’t make me a bit like an addict. Perhaps I’m addicted to feeling bad. I’ve spent so much of my life feeling miserable that there’s a certain amount of comfort in it. Still, I know this won’t help me to get better, so I try not to do this too often.

But let’s look on the bright side since that’s what we ought to do: at least I don’t mope all the time anymore. Any progress is good.

depressives, or at least “neurotic” depressives, are likely to perceive their parents as having provided an insufficiency of care and/or as having been overprotective.

from “Parental ‘Affectionless Control’ as an Antecedent to Adult Depression: A Risk Factor Delineated” (Parker, G. 1983 Arch Gen Psychiatry)

This is terribly interesting to me, since it reflects me as a neurotic depressive and my view of my parents.

Of course, the Parental Bonding Instrument used to determine parenting style is self-reported, and therefore it is difficult to say if “affectionless control” actually came from the parent(s) or if it was simply perceived that way. As well, it does not make parenting style a causal factor of dysthymia/neurotic depression, but rather, points out a correlation one might want to take note of.

Nearly half of …

Nearly half of people with dysthymia have a symptom that also occurs in major depression, shortened REM latency — that is, they start rapid eye movement (vivid dreaming) sleep unusually early in the night.

from the February 2005 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter

When I read this, I laughed as I said to myself ‘Not me! I don’t go to sleep early enough for this!’. Then I laughed some more because only I would tell myself a joke that bad.

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