Re: Drowning out the Negative Thoughts
Many thanks for taking the time to let me know what works for you, but I have a different kind of problem and I should have given more details.
Before lithium, many years ago, I was very sociable, but not any more. I now find socialising in public pointless, even when Iím up, and gave it up in favour of doing things I love when Iím on my own. I suddenly realised that I couldnít compromise anymore. I didnít want to tell the polite lies that are necessary to keep a good dinner party going. I realised that I didnít even like most of the people I socialised with, unless Iíd had a few drinks. Iím older now and happy to live alone. I only see my closest friends when Iím up, and never in groups. Relationships donít interest me any more. I never wanted to give up my independence in order to stay with one person. I tried once and it was a disaster.
So I donít actually want to socialise at all. Ever. I donít worry about what people think of me as no one seems to notice me at all when Iím out in public. The kind of negative thoughts I have are not about myself, but about other people. I think we live in a really horrible world where weíre all out for what we can get and lying to each other 95% of the time, especially in relationships, and that everyoneís pretending to be happy when theyíre not. I think this when Iím up as well as down, but only obsess about it when Iím down.
Now these could be negative thoughts, or they could be true, and thereís no way to really know for sure.
But staying away from people is my way of surviving. As long as Iím left in peace I feel so much calmer, yet the advice is always to get out there and socialise. But why should I when even a trip to the shops can end up making me feel terrible? Even the most ordinary things people say in overheard conversations on buses can really upset me for days. If I see someone treating their child badly in a supermarket it can make me cry and I replay the event in my mind for weeks after.
I donít even see my friends when Iím down as I canít handle their lack of comprehension and the guilt I feel when they blame themselves because they canít Ďcheer me upí. Iím also acutely aware of the fact that Iím not the friend they know, and talking about things makes me feel worse, not better.
But I donít obsess about myself. I know I have an illness I inherited and that itís biochemically-based, so I donít blame myself for the way it makes me feel. I like the person I am when Iím not depressed. I donít identify with the view that itís an illness I Ďhaveí because I believe that I Ďamí bipolar, and without the disorder I would not have a self at all. I tried to fight against that for so many years, but have finally found peace in accepting what I can never change.
So Lucy, I think that if youíre a naturally sociable person it must help to force yourself to get out there and find that things are not so bad as they seem, and thatís great advice you offered, but for someone like me, who is so easily hurt by the way most people behave, it can only make things worse to get closer to the source of the pain more often.
Iíve tried positive thinking without success, and am irrevocably scientific, so I canít get my head around the laws of attraction (though one of my best friends swears they work).
I have to go to the shops this morning. Just one shop. Going through the back lanes with my earphones in. Hoping I wonít meet anyone I know. Hoping I donít see an animal dead in the road. Thinking of nothing except how good it will feel when I can close my door behind me again.
But even at home the negative thoughts donít stop. Imagining arguments I could have had with people (I never do in real life) asking myself whatís the point of recycling when big business is polluting the world anyway, thinking of a single sparrow I saw killed by a speeding motorist ten years ago, or an incident of child or animal cruelty from way back, imagining what Iíd like to do to people who act like that, thinking of how I donít know one single good relationship yet everyoneís pretending things are fine, obsessing about the greed and materialism in this world, thinking of people spending so much money on meaningless things Christmas when kids are starving to death in other countries.
Those are the kinds of negative thoughts that crowd in on my mind 24/7 when Iím down (unless I use distraction techniques like RPG games), and no matter how hard I try I canít think up enough positive thoughts to counteract them because I know that thereís so much truth in them and that the only way Ďnormalí people survive is pretending that so much isnít really happening. Denial. So it feels as if depressed people are seeing the world far more clearly and realistically than most other people, and maybe thatís why no one wants to be around someone whoís Ďdepressingí. How could anyone really be happy in a world like this if they had to accept whatís really going on?
So maybe thatís what I need. A Ďdenial pillí.