Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me

"I like myself"
"My best is good enough"
"I can easily express my emotions"
"I am worthwhile"
"I forgive myself"
"Everything is going to be OK"
"I am proud of myself"
"I am attractive"

As part of my therapy, I was given a list of phrases which I'm supposed to say to myself whenever I'm feeling down. As I understood it, these are supposed to negate the debilitating thoughts which use up the serotonin in my brain.

I've actually done something similar once before. When I left to serve a mission, I was extremely shy making it very difficult to talk to people while out tracting. To help me overcome my shyness, my mission president gave me an assignment. Each morning, the very first thing I was supposed to do was to go to the bathroom, look at myself in the mirror, and then spend two minutes telling myself what a great person I am - loud enough so that my companion could hear me (who was then to report back to my mission president). It felt really stupid, but it actually did help bring me out of my shell.

So, now I'm doing something similar, only it has a fancy name - Cognitive Therapy.

It still feels stupid, and I just can't help thinking about "Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley" from Saturday Night Live.


Kengo Biddles said...

As long as you don't start wearing Cardigans, Abelard, I'll support you in this venture. ;)

My sister tried to get me to do something like this. I don't know that I have the gumption to actually do it and stick to it.

Abelard Enigma said...

Cardigans - in the summer - in Texas - are you kidding???

... although, in the fall, once it starts to cool down a bit ... hmmm ...

I haven't actually started it yet - it feels stupid. But, this morning, I did tape the list up in our master bathroom where I'll see it every day - it's a start.

Although, my kids use our bathroom on occasion when the other is occupied ... which could lead to an awkward conversation.

Silus Grok said...

Do you speak a second language? Try posting it in that language.

Also, why not _write_ this … have a white board marker in the bathroom and take some time writing it out.

Just an idea.

I think writing is much more intimate.

Abelard Enigma said...

alas, no I don't speak a second language. I haven't even picked up a Texas drawl - after living here for over 20 years - I still talk like a Californian.

White board ... hmmm ... I'll have to think about that one ...

Beck said...

I think you're good enough!

I think you're smart enough!

And doggone it, I like you!

MoHoHawaii said...

I've been mulling over this post today. Here's my $0.02:

1) Most docs underprescibe antidepressants. That's because they are supposed to 'titrate' them-- start low and work up until it starts working. They are lazy and sloppy. They just give you the minimum dose and let it go. Also, there are dozens of drugs on the market. It usually takes a lot of fiddling to find the right one. Most doctors don't have the patience. If you are still depressed and are on antidepressants, you might try to find a doctor (usually NOT your primary care physician) who will work with you until they get it right.

2) You know what works better for me than cogitive therapy? Exercise. I hired a personal trainer and started going to the gym every day, and let me tell you-- my outlook improved a lot. I lost weight, became more muscular, felt better, slept better, etc. Even though the results were modest, not dramatic, I honestly feel I got more improvement in my self-image that I could have from repeating affirmations.

3) Do you do anything to pamper yourself? Your kids are grown. You have worked hard supporting the family. What small pleasure or indulgence would make you happy? Are you willing to spend a little money on yourself? A hobby, some books you want to read, kitchen gadgets, etc. I'm not advocating retail therapy or materialism, just letting yourself take advantage of the years of work that you've put in. Making sure that there are some parts of your life that are pleasurable makes a big difference. (I use vacations for this.)

4) Have you considered finding a gay support group? A good one might be gay fathers. I know the one in my town has lots of married men in it. This kind of thing can be very supportive. I think you may be at a point where you need actual face-to-face contact with others of your tribe.

Best wishes to you.

Abelard Enigma said...

I appreciate your comments

1) When I was first diagnosed with clinical depression, I quickly became disillusioned with my primary care physician and how they were handling it and started seeing a psychiatrist for management of my medication. We went through 6 different antidepressants before finding the one that worked best for me, and then went through a period of finding the correct dosage. But, that was nearly 10 years ago - so it might be time to reevaluate my meds. But, I wanted to start with a psychologist first.

2) [queue ominous music] the dreaded E-word. Yeah, I know, I'm just in denial

3) I do pamper myself with my photography hobby - and, of course, there's always chocolate :)

4) Hmmmm, how does one go about finding such a group in their area?

Silus Grok said...

I second mohohawaii.

And numbers two and four go together … find a psychologist, then get a referral from them for a group and a psychiatrist.

Michael said...

I would feel stupid too. However, I do think that positive affirmations can help. maybe you just need to tailor them to fit you. (so you don't feel silly!) I have three positive affirmation quotes taped to the back of my door. I look at them when I am leaving every morning. They say...

"All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve are the direct result of his OWN thoughts."

"It takes knowledge, motivation, action, and time to create change."

"There can be no progress, no achievement without SACRIFICE."

These quotes help me realize that it is up to me to be who I want to be. Anyway, good luck!

Silver said...

I likewise find you not only good enough but, witty, charming, intelligent, entertaining and damn funny from time to time.

If the bathroom mirror is too public, try a journal. I find writing very therapuetic and private. This blog can't hurt either. I think the blog gives you a great tool and we can encourage you.

I was the king of negative self talk until just a few years ago. I promise the habit can be broken and it has helped me tremendously. I'm much more affirmative to myself these days and much happier. When a negative thought comes up I refute it now and present an argument in my behalf. I'm very convincing.

Exercise has helped me too, great suggestion but, work into it, don't blow a hammy!