Journey of Life

the place formerly known as control your destiny

Searching for Answers

There are times when I seem to be challenged with spells of very low moods. Times when most of my thoughts seem to be of fear and despair for a future that has not yet happened and a future that may never happen, except for in my thoughts.

At times I have some clue as to what causes these moods but at other times their arrival is unexpected and with no apparent explanation.

My usual response or approach to handling these moods is to start searching for a way out of the fog. I never have to search for long before I am presented with a smorgasbord of advice, suggestions, tips and endless how to’s. The problem for me however, is the fact that, while the advice is mostly very good (with some exceptions) sometimes I am so lost in that fog that what’s on offer has the opposite effect, at least for a while. I have come to understand and accept that during those times the only option is to simply ride out the storm until the fog lifts on its own without my trying to control or change anything. I understand this sounds like a defeatist attitude and perhaps it is, but when I am in that space being offered practical advice just doesn’t cut it.

I have also come to accept that my condition (however you choose to define it) is something I will have to live with. I know I could visit my doctor who will no doubt diagnose me with the label of mild depression or something equivalent but how is that going to change anything? Would that kind of diagnosis make it easier to cope with? Would medication keep the feelings at bay? Perhaps, but I am not a fan of medication, which in my view never solves the problem anyway, it merely numbs the symptoms as long as one keeps taking the medication. I prefer to find a way of accepting the feelings for what they are and learn how to live with them.

As mentioned earlier, I don’t always understand what triggers these feelings. Sometimes it can be as a result of tiredness and lack of sleep, at other times it can be a result of the food I eat or the amount of alcohol I drink. It could be a deficiency of certain brain chemicals or a combination of all of them or something entirely different.

I have tried herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort and 5-htp in the hope that it would help. In truth, I have no idea whether or not taking these helped or not. I had a problem with St John’s Wort in that the instructions were to take them three times a day with a meal. This was a problem as I rarely eat three times a day (which could be part of the problem) so I can’t really comment on whether or not it works as I never really tried it properly. A point worth remembering is the fact that I was looking for a quick fix! A magic pill that would take all the pain away! 5-htp had some effect on me. It enhanced my dreams quite dramatically (in a good way) and I found that I woke up feeling rested and refreshed more than I do now. I haven’t taken it for a few months now. As for reducing the spells of low mood, I didn’t experience any real noticeable effects. It may be worth trying again and actually journal how I feel in comparison to now.

However, even if it does work, it is still just numbing the symptoms and not actually getting to the root of the problem. At this point I have no idea what the root of the problem is. I have some ideas that relate to a lack of self love or self esteem but the ideas aren’t clear at the moment. I also keep thinking that I need to somehow go back and remember more about my childhood as this could contain clues. I had a very safe and caring upbringing and did not experience any traumas that could help explain how I feel. I don’t think that I have some deep buried memories of abuse that needs unravelling. On the other hand I do know that I never felt as loved as my younger brother. I often felt he was the son they really wanted and that I never lived up to their expectations. This is a feeling that has stayed with me all my life and something that is worth exploring further.

I am not coming from a point of blame although my favourite poem may suggest otherwise;

Philip Larkin – This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.

8 responses to “Searching for Answers

  1. fibi June 8, 2010 at 6:14 am

    I understand completely.. Wish I had an answer (let alone quick fix!)..

    My favourite mantras at the moment are: “This too shall pass..” “It only has power over me if I allow it…” “Nothing but my own thoughts can hamper my progress..” That said, when I get into that mode – those mantras do not help..

    What fascinates me is that I tend to be able to really experience the down times with all their intimate glory, however, when it comes to experiencing the fun times or the up times, I tend to put a dampener on them (just in case they don’t last – or I get my hopes up – or I get disappointed, etc etc…)

    Take care

    • J June 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

      “What fascinates me is that I tend to be able to really experience the down times with all their intimate glory, however, when it comes to experiencing the fun times or the up times, I tend to put a dampener on them”
      Fibi, these words are like reading my very own thoughts. Whenever I am in a good space I always find myself wondering how it will last this time…

  2. Viv June 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    One thing I have always wondered regarding brain chemistry. They can’t tell us whether the changes in brain chemistry are the cause of depression or the result of it.
    Worth thinking about…
    And there’s nothing wrong with using medication(or good eating or whatever) to help you while you get to grips with the fundamental causes of the issue; the trouble is usually people stop wanting to look further once some relief from distress is reached. I believe that depression is a message from the soul and it needs listening to but as a people we have lost the art of listening to the soul messages we all receive. This includes night time dreams, day dreams, nightmares, the signs and symbols the world around us gives us and what our soul friends have to share with us.
    I often write down striking dreams and continue to ponder them for years after…

    • J June 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

      The brain chemistry issue is definitely worth thinking about, but then again I am often accused of thinking too much!! I know it will benefit me to pay more attention but, as you said, once relief from stress is reached one tends to stop looking. I know I often do this..

  3. Brynn Thomas June 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Well, well. Isn’t life just strange. I have just started coming out of my ‘bad’ place and this post comes along at just the right time.
    Most of us have these mood swings or bouts of depression, and it could be something as simple as low blood sugar or as complicated as clinical depression, it’s different for all of us. That’s why there is no ‘magic’ pill, we all need to find our own method’s of dealing with them.
    Reading self help books is an answer, but it is a very lengthly process. You might need to read a hundred different authors until you find one you ‘click’ with, (I’m still searching).
    I notice the poem is very anti having children, each to there own I guess. I’m in the very fortunate position of having my boy to cheer me up, and even my dog sometimes. When I’m feeling down, an innocent smile or hug for no reason from my boy cheers me up immensley, even if it is just for a few minutes, it really helps. Or my dog will do something silly and I’ll crack a smile.
    Just remember Jesper, you are NEVER alone, so feel free to share when life becomes strangely sad.

    • J June 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Brynn, it’s great to see you back here.

      As you may have expected, self help books isn’t the answer for me anymore. I have learned a lot from some but I have come to the conclusion that the answers cannot be found within a book describing a journey or the steps taken by the author. Some of it may work but ultimately it will remain their journey and as you said, each of us have our own journey to travel and our own way of finding the answers.

      I have never actually read the poem as being anti having children. It is more a case of each generation passing on their faults and quirkiness to the next and the only way to stop this is to not have children. I have absolutely no doubt about the joy your boy (I left his name out as a respect of privacy) brings to your life and whilst I don’t have children I love their raw honesty which rarely fails to make me laugh.

      Sharing my thoughts has become the best therapy.

      Thanks Brynn

  4. shiona June 11, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I myself am a regular customer of the pharmaceutical industry. (Ironically, I also work for it.) I wouldn’t hesitate to take medication if I can’t stand the nasty mood, but indeed, it only suppresses the symptoms. So just like you I’ve come to believe that I need to learn to live with it. As you have mentioned, once this condition overwhelms you, no friendly advice, no rational thinking, no gentle words of comfort, nothing can help until it’s gone. It always reminds me of The Snow Queen story. It feels as though a tiny little piece of that vicious mirror got into my eye and everything looks ugly and meaningless. Eventually it dies away little by little, but I never know when the next seizure will be and how long it will last.

    • J June 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm

      Learning to live with and ride out the storm seems to have helped me see it in a different light. Don’t get me wrong, I really do not like the feelings associated with the condition but accepting the fact that it is there has helped me stop fighting it so much.

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