I’m so sorry you’re in the midst of a bad depression episode, but here are some possibilities for you. I want you to know there is a future.
Humans are a problem solving species. We are wired for it, beginning perhaps with the evolutionarily imperative to find food. And boredom is a problem we are driven to solve.
In modern times, boredom can mean many things. Generally there are plenty of things to do, just nothing you want to do, or feel like doing. It’s the uneasy feeling of being unstimulated with nothing to occupy your mind. It’s one reason social media thrives. It’s the fastest feel-good balm we can turn to for that ping of instant gratification.
The Speed Of Want is a chapter title I read in the recent (great) book by therapist Lori Gottlieb Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019). In it she alludes to what I think of as the human evolutionary trait of finding faster, easier ways to the goal, with none or less of the hard work necessary to accomplish it. Witness the recent college admissions cheating scandal. In modern times, think of the changes that have occurred simply between the start of the industrial age and the present that have impacted our lives with mass production, instant worldwide communication, and outsourced labor due to advanced robotics alone.
But there are unintended consequences to this ‘need for speed.’
It’s pretty standard knowledge that you go to therapy to change something. But changing a way of thinking or a behavior we don’t like is just not that easy, is it? And it is especially difficult to change our reactions to other’s mayhem. If it was we’d all do it and be on our merry way. Let me share three signs you need therapy.
Let’s start with the bad news, but with the knowledge this is all PREVENTABLE! I struggle so much with how to make this important topic more palatable, but feel strongly that knowing the SUPER-power of connection is critical to good mental health. Did you know you have an inborn ‘connection neediness’ level? It is different for each individual and varies widely among us.
Thinking in opposites is a strategy I want to offer you. Here’s why.
My moods can drive me a little crazy at times. They can shift a fair amount, even though I’m a pretty even-keeled person. For example, I can feel super UP when a new client contacts me and it feels like a great fit. That’s a big dopamine hit for my little therapy brain.
Then there are other times when the occasional isolation of running a solo private practice gets to me. I’m a people person, especially when it’s one-on-one or when I’m with a small, intimate group of friends. Nothing brings me more pleasure than those connections.
But—as Mick says—you can’t always get what you want, or at least not immediately, or without some effort on your part.
Lots of research and theories exist on dreaming and why we do it. They are all theories at this point, as brain research is still in its infancy. Heck, we don’t even understand the purpose of sleep! Recently, however, I’ve been studying one school of thought in particular. It intrigues me because it just makes sense. First, a little story.
Yes, loneliness is a bummer topic, and one of those that people respond to with the thought “NMP” (Not My Problem) and then change the channel. Yet it affects 25% of us in the USA, chronically. With the chronic nature of it come a host of health issues that can increase the chance of early death by up to 26%, according to the guru on the topic, John Cacioppo, a professor and researcher on the issue for more than twenty years. Why is this so?
Did you know there is a difference between being alone and loneliness? Lots of people enjoy being alone and even need alone time to recharge their batteries. They don’t feel alone when they are by themselves engaged in an activity, from simply ‘being’ to being deeply engrossed in a hobby or pastime. They likely get into a kind of pleasant flow that makes the passage of time seem impossibly fast. The difference is that loneliness is a feeling, one of perception. You can feel lonely inside of a marriage or partnership, and you can feel lonely when surrounded by friends and acquaintances.
Depression is beastly, but you can start to manage it a bit if it has a grip on you. I think of it as the “do-nothing disease.” It takes a toll in many ways, from causing you to withdraw to postponing making decisions because of a sort of paralysis that sets in. It has physical ramifications as well: too much sleep, too much food (or not enough), too little exercise, too much TV or screen time. In short, self care goes into the toilet.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
Free parking at office