Reframing Perceptions and Understandings
When we see a new patient who is presenting with “depression” and/or “anxiety,” the first thing we do is help them to reframe what they believe they are or have. Anxiety and depression are actually buzzwords, jargon or slang that to get better we need to explore in some depth.
A person is not “depressed.” A person is not “anxious.” They have a problem right now in real time. That does not make them “mentally ill.” It is something going through them they need to look at – feel – and hopefully let go of. Depression is a code word for “sad” or “grieving.” It can also reflect low energy or often boredom. If I say I am depressed, there is nowhere to go with that. It is a frozen term. If we believe we are depressed, trying to get out of it is like trying to box our way out of a huge paper bag. It doesn’t work and in exhaustion we may erroneously accept where and who we believe we are: bad, sick, crazy, or stupid.
Working Through Toward Overcoming
I can work through sadness by understanding I am sad about (fill in the blank) _______. I can sit with my feeling of sadness, share it with a friend, parent or therapist. Eventually I can notice it has a lighter feel because I am acknowledging and naming it. Talking about it once or preferably more times is what we call “processing.” Eventually it will drift off and set us free.
The same thing is true for anxiety, which is a code word for fear. Anxiety, if we accept that label, doesn’t move. If I ask myself, “What am I afraid of?” I may begin to understand a cascade of fears flowing over and paralyzing me. If I can separate each fear and look at it, talk about it, even pray over and then release it, I can move toward peace. Talking to a parent, therapist and/or safe friend helps a lot. Some peer support groups can help.
This process cannot happen if there is denial. Denial blocks personal growth. It shuts us down. If we can’t introspect we can’t do this process.
Introspection means risking going within our real self as we explore, develop, and live as far on the spectrum of our current and past life experiences as we find what works best for us. Introspection is a key practice to use at any time we need it and for any reason. (The cartoon movie Inside Out shows us some of this process.)
Our patients tell us that this feels like peeling an onion – and they laugh as they explain how each time they face a feeling of fear or sadness, one more layer is removed. When we decide we are not going to accept the pain of anxiety and depression any more, this starts our “Hero’s Journey.” We face our fear and sadness. While scary at first, when we experience the first relief of facing and releasing a painful hold that some feeling has on us, we then realize what a relief it was.
Our attitude and intention can even lead to a “Bring on what’s next” attitude. With repeated attention and willingness to address our mental and emotional matter, we are now naming things accurately that are true about our life and about our inner life and outer life too. These insights eventually set us free. They are usually worth the effort of going within through these kinds of serious introspections.
Caution: For readers who are on psych drugs…do not stop taking your drugs suddenly. Work with a physician who is trained in the weaning process. Patience is important here and using the above process will help you to get off and stay off toxic drugs.
Why Psych Drugs Don’t Work
The repeated and erroneous messages from Big Pharma, Big Media, Big Psychiatry, and Big Medicine claiming psychiatric drugs are usually effective and not harmful or toxic. In fact, they are usually harmful and/or toxic. I (CW) have published a peer-reviewed article in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 195-207, 2010. My books, The Truth About Depression and Not Crazy: You may Not Be Mentally Ill go into more details about these drugs and the harm they can do. In fact, the widely-published and world respected psychiatrist Peter Breggin MD and his peers have written that psychiatric drugs work by intoxication and disabling the brain, similar to how alcohol and heroin work.
If you can find an alternative medicine physician who will help you taper any psych drug slowly, usually over many weeks or a few months, you can get off the drug or drugs.
Charles L Whitfield MD
Barbara H Whitfield RT
The Whitfields have authored and co-authored 24 books on healing from trauma and other problems in living. Dr. Whitfield is a retired associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at two medical schools. Barbara was a medical school psych researcher studying the after effects of near-death and other spiritually transformative experiences. They each taught at the Rutger’s Institute of Alcohol and Drug Studies for a total of 24 years. They live in Atlanta Georgia where they have a private practice helping trauma survivors in individual and group psychotherapy.
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