Category Archives: Anxiety

Neuroplasticity

I read Ruby Wax’s ‘Sane New World’ recently.  On television she unnerves me, but I’ve always found  her writing on depression to be heart-crunchingly direct and sort-of-painful to read.  Which is the only way to write about it, isn’t it?

In order to write this book  she developed expert scholarly knowledge of the brain.  She then set about explaining all sorts of complicated stuff in ways that made it seem simple.  Phew.

My interpretation of some of this stuff is extremely basic; the more we do a thing the better we become at it.  Ergo, depression makes us good at being depressed.  You practise playing the piano to become a better pianist, the only difference with depression is that we’re not choosing to play, depression is playing us.   There’s a bind.

Neuroplasticity means that we can make physical changes to the brain (Ha, think happy thoughts and you can fly! )  If we can make an intervention in our brains and pause one depressive thought whilst we evaluate its’ actual truth we can find ourselves getting better at not-being-depressed.  Knowing that is the simple bit of course, doing it is another thing altogether.  I like this little ray of hope though.  That’s where the Mindfulness part comes into play in ‘Sane New World’ but call it whatever you like there are plenty of methods of dealing with our ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) if we can be in a good enough place to make a start.

Years ago I had sessions with a therapist who pointed out to me (ouch) various coping strategies I employed when discussing anything emotional.   Mostly by responding to my hilarious little asides by not laughing and saying something like ‘I just want to point out to you something I’ve noticed…you’re making a *crack about (whatever) when we are talking about (whatever)… why do you think you’re doing that?’  He didn’t label it, he just did it.   *hilarious and sophisticated comment

Aaargh.  I hated that.  But he was right.  And now I have a tiny Jiminy Cricket- esque echo of his voice whenever I’m about to derail a serious & uncomfortable conversation or situation.  It doesn’t always stop me, but I know I do it and so it’s less automatic.   It also happens when I begin to have catastrophic thoughts ‘It’s the end of everything, I have forgotten to do something at work  and I will lose my job…then my home…then I will be cast out by society and have to live on a leper colony and the lepers will ignore me because I don’t have leprosy…waaah.’ Jiminy Cricket Pause.  Check the facts.  For example – Do leper colonies even exist now?

Again, I can’t say it always works, this time last year I was floored by a depression that has really only just lifted.  But I will say that it maybe wasn’t as dark  as it could have been.  It has worked best for me in dealing with anxiety rather than depression.

Some people use the ‘grateful thoughts’ technique  to train their brains Neuroplasticity-style.  Or there’s good old CBT for ANTs

One side-effect of all of these methods though is that I sometimes find myself staring off into space or tuning out whilst I do a brain intervention.  This probably looks pretty weird.  But I am pretty weird, so it’s ok.

Peace x

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Has anyone seen my mojo? *mopes*

It's brilliant! Isn't it? Hmm.  No, it's terrible.  Or is it?

It’s brilliant! Isn’t it? Hmm. No, it’s terrible. Or is it?

I’ve been holding off writing anything for a few days.  Life got in the way of art last week so I’ve nothing to offer…yet.    To be honest I’m not at my best, not depressed as such, just a bit downhearted and sort-of- twitchy n’ anxious.  Yes, pity me.

On a positive note, the fact that I haven’t been able to spend any time doing some of the good stuff has given me the final nudge I need to make some changes, or at least begin the process of making some changes.

Being creative isn’t just about ‘creating’ – there’s a contradiction, but stay with me – it’s to do with how we think, how we see and approach things.  I used to put an awful lot of creative thought into my job, it’s the thing I loved best about it; finding new ways to do things, to make a-not-so-exciting thing interesting or fun… I felt that being able to do that maybe went some way to making up for the things I’m not so good at.   Like doing exactly as I’m told all the time.  *hangs head in shame*

It’s not that I don’t still put creative effort in to what I do, it’s more that the value of creativity  has diminished and it makes me feel, well, sad.  Trying to adapt has left me in a bit of a no-man’s land and I have all but lost my mojo.  Whatever a mojo is.

This is not necessarily news to me, I’ve just been hand-wringing about what to do for the best.

What- to- do- for- the- best is likely to be a thing involving a bit of courage.  Erk.   Having spent a good deal of my life tidying up the mess of impulse-driven choices, I don’t always trust my own judgement.  I have trouble with big decisions (and little ones…Carrot cake or chocolate cake?  Coffee or tea? Argh!  I don’t know! Why is the universe  making me decide such a thing – what if I choose wrong?!).  Now is probably the time to stop procrastinating.  *Wibble*  Perhaps I shall express my  anxieties about the whole thing through the medium of interpretive dance as my creative effort this week.

Just kidding.

Peace x