How can I help myself not feel depressed?
May 20, 2007 9:15 AM   Subscribe

What do I do about being (maybe) depressed when one of my issues is a complete refusal to talk to others about how I feel?

Some days I feel fine, some days I feel like absolute crap. I don't know if I'm imagining how I feel, or whatever, but most days I can convince myself that even if I'm imagining it, that kind of screwed up imagination itself probably means I should see someone. But I can't/won't/don't want to. I just barely ever talk about how I'm feeling, or negative stuff that happens (it took me about a month to let my close friends and family know that I'd broken up with my longterm live-in boyfriend). I have normal conversations about how crap last night's tv was and so on, even stuff like the cute guy I hooked up with, but nothing really deep. And I know I could if I really wanted to, but I really really don't want to. When I was a teenager I told a teacher I was very close to about being depressed, and then it went to my parents and I spent a few months enduring sessions with an absolute idiot of a psychologist. Probably not helping me now.

Things I do at the moment to help myself:
-plan for specific future goals, like a week's holiday later this year, and work towards it (look up my destination, put money away)
-exercise: I've played sport my whole life, I normally exercise three or four times a week. It's good, but I feel worst at night, and can't really just head out for a jog at 3am.
-being conscious of good things: I've started noticing the awesome scenery around me, like going to one of the prettiest campuses in the country. I try and list positive things I've got, like travel opportunities and so on.

My original question was how could I make myself see a therapist, but on writing I think that I won't until I really want to. So, what can I do for myself to help me feel better? And, spontaneous extra question, how do I bring stuff like this up with friends, without being an attention seeking drama queen?

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posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
And, spontaneous extra question, how do I bring stuff like this up with friends, without being an attention seeking drama queen?

Lead-ins are your friend here. Asking your friends, "What do you do when you feel like X?" or, "I've been feeling really Y lately, i have this and this going on, what do you do in these situations?" is a good way to open yourself up, and get (hopefully) good advice. Just make sure you listen well, too- don't be that person that uses personal questions as an inquest to blathering about every mundane detail of their lives. If you just let yourself relax and listen to people whose experiences you relate to, people you trust, you can probably start a meaningful dialog.
posted by baphomet at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2007

If you just don't want to talk about how you feel to a therapist, but you are willing to confront these feelings, maybe you can try online therapy?
I have no personal experience, but I can imagine it's a lot easier to type about how you feel with a therapist than to actually talk about it.
posted by lioness at 9:44 AM on May 20, 2007

i too resist therapy for similar reasons (and yet recommend it for everyone else--i know how valuable it can be).

i think therapy's not a bad choice, if you can convince yourself to do it. yoga might help--and you can do it at night. it sounds like you are not in the habit of having confidantes.

why not try opening up to your friends a little at a time? start with smaller confessions/admissions and work up to bigger ones. like, instead of "i always feel like crap and think i need psychiatric help," say, "i can't believe i slept all weekend/couldn't sleep. i think all this crap at work/school is really starting to wear me down."

alternatively, you could just flippantly ask, "have any of you tried therapy? i swear, xx is driving me so crazy i'm starting to have dreams about it." see how it flies. i bet some of your friends have had therapy and that alone might make it more palatable.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:57 AM on May 20, 2007

In some non-critical situations, keeping a journal is supposed to be helpful in some of the same ways that therapy is. Maybe you could try writing down the "really deep" stuff that you don't like to discuss. If you try it, write down both what happens and how you feel about it. Meditation might also help.

In terms of bringing stuff up with friends, I suspect no one would judge you as harshly as yourself in terms of being a drama queen. So you might try taking a little step, and then checking with them how it seemed. If you ask, you may be surprised that people connect with your openness, rather than being put off by it.
posted by daisyace at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2007

Sounds to me like you just need a non-idiot to talk to.

Find a quiet sensible friend and test the waters. That may be all you need.

You might also get a trusted friend to recommend a clergyperson. Some folks in that field have a lot more common sense and experience with the human condition-and if you did turn out to need more than THAT could possibly recommend a non-idiot therapist.

OTOH there is actually something to be said for NOT talking if you don't wish to. Exercise, vitamin B complex, sunlight, and journaling are all things that come to mind-in your case you really ought to consider journaling, I think. Getting stuff out on paper even if no one ever sees it really helps.
posted by konolia at 11:18 AM on May 20, 2007

Seeing a therapist of your choice is likely to go better than seeing a therapist your parents made you see. Especially if you're willing to try a few until you find one who's not an idiot.

I think that simply mentioning to your closest friends when you're particularly depressed, but not expecting or asking for anything more from the conversation, is good. That way they at least know what's up with you, that it's something that comes and goes. Depression is a very internal thing anyway, and actually talking about the experience itself, whether with a friend or with a therapist, has always been supremely unsatisfying for me. (And I don't like feeling that people think I'm fishing for sympathy.)
posted by hattifattener at 2:53 PM on May 20, 2007

If you do consider seeing a therapist then you will probably find that that some are better than others. Good therapists are used to working with people who have a reluctance to express themselves and will be a bit more proactive - instead of just staring at you in silence waiting for you to talk which may be a problem with less experienced therapists. There are also different types of therapy and some may appeal to you more than others. For example, a cognitive - behavioural therapist will deal with challenging negative thought patterns and helping you replace them. They may need to know about the way that you think, but are unlikely to need an in depth analysis of everything negative in your past and your feelings in the way that a psychoanalytic therapist might. I'm no expert on this but with some research you might be able to find a therapist who specialises in a type of therapy that suits you.

Something that I find helps me when I'm having a bad day is to write down what I'm feeling in a notebook. It allows me to express how I'm feeling without worrying about annoying anyone, and is also helpful in letting me see patterns in the times I'm getting depressed which helps to determine root causes. There are times when I need to distract myself from my feelings, but sometimes its necessary to acknowledge them too. Good luck.
posted by Laura_J at 6:10 PM on May 20, 2007

I'm trying to think back to the first time that I had gone to see a therapist--it lasted only for a couple of sessions--he accused me of being in love with my best friend's girlfriend at the time, which I was, the fucker.
The second one that I got hooked up with, was a friend of a family friend, and he used to come over to my house for therapy sessions. After a few weeks, I found out (his wife had accompanied him to our house once, and she told my mom something about seeing another man, or something of that nature), and I felt kind of guilty for keeping that information to myself, so that was the end of therapist no. 2.
It took me YEARS to finally see my third and current psychiatrist, whose a very good doctor, and whose even gotten me in-touch with my current Therapist, and the three of us are doing just fine.

I guess the reason for telling you all this is that you will of course face some difficulties at first to maybe find the right kind of therapist for you, but you shouldn't let that stop you. And from reading your post I already see that you're doing a much better job of tackling this depression by concentrating so well on the positive aspects of your life. Keep it up, and don't stop until you see someone about your problem. (Maybe you can start by seeing your camp councilor?)
posted by hadjiboy at 7:38 PM on May 20, 2007

I made a recent comment on Metafilter about how I coped with and defeated my depression, which may be of interest to you. Actually the whole thread might be worth reading. But both the thread and my comment are both fairly lengthy, so I'll try to summarise what I said there.

Basically, during one of the worst moments of my depression (I had actually, finally contemplated suicide) I realised I needed to do something to kill my depression, as opposed to me. I looked into and began researching meditation pretty heavily, which suited me because like you, I didn't really like talking to people about how I felt so something I could do in the solace of my room to help myself was perfect.

I also started writing a live journal. I didn't just write about my depression (infact I rarely did) but I wrote a lot. I did this to keep my mind active and to just expend some energies. It helped a great deal.

As I said in my comment, it didn't happen overnight, but it did happen. One day I was writing in my livejournal and realised that I had beaten my depression because for the last few months I had been truly happy. I was still single, but I was happy with life, with me and with being single. And things started to change for the better. Within the space of 2 months I had found a girlfriend (who I am now engaged to), a job (which led to my dream job, from where I am currently writing this comment... during lunch, natch) and my relationships with my friends and family improved.

And I did it all without popping a single pill. I recognise however that for some people medication may be neccessary, but I didn't want to go down the path of messing with my brain chemistry and this was the main reason I looked into meditation.

So yeah, basically I suggest looking into meditation and writing a whole lot more, if you are that way inclined. I also suggest you try to find ways to be happy with yourself (which I know is far easier said than done) but it'll be a key step in helping yourself get better.

Whatever you wind up doing, good luck!
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:05 PM on May 20, 2007

There are some books that can be very helpful, although I'm sure they'd work even better with therapy and/or meds. Feeling Good and Thoughts & Feelings have helped me a lot (in addition to therapy + meds.)
posted by callmejay at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2007

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