I have been feeling a lot less depressed lately. I have more energy. I don’t want to sleep as much. I have a more positive attitude. I’m able to accomplish more. I laugh more. I feel more capable of handling personal interactions.
I will never know exactly what is causing me to feel better. Most likely, it is a combination of things. My doctor recently adjusted my medication, and I’ve been in CBASP (Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy) treatment weekly for a while.
I am happy and grateful that the depression has lifted as much as it has. I am hopeful. Life is good.
So what is my concern? That it won’t last.
Why I am afraid
During one of our sessions, my therapist talked about the associations our brains make and the way we can end up with beliefs such as, “If I’m too happy, God will zap me.”
I’ve written about the many health issues my family members had as I was growing up.
When I was a child, I thought that God would make me sick when I became an adult. I wasn’t born with physical handicaps like one of my brothers, and I didn’t have the other health problems he and the rest of my family had.
I thought I would get my share of the sickness when I grew up.
Why did I believe that?
I would guess that it stems first from feeling helpless about my circumstances. I could not keep my brother or other family members from getting sick and going into the hospital. I could not make everything OK.
I also felt a lot of guilt as a child, a result of my relationship with my parents, especially with my mother, which I’ve written about before.
My sense of guilt grew as my obsessive compulsive disorder developed and got worse, and my religious scrupulosity led me to pray compulsively for the safety and health of my family. If someone got sick, then, I reasoned, my prayers hadn’t worked because they hadn’t been done right, or because I had sin between God and me.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I started to believe that I deserved the illnesses that I did get, the OCD and depression.
And if I deserved them, then any improvement would be just a mirage, something that would disappear as soon as I started believing in it too much.
How I’m going to handle it
I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to expect to fall back into depression. I don’t want to miss the improvement because I’m paying too much attention to the possibility of it ending.
And I’m aware that down times will still come around.
I’ve decided to be proactive about this.
*I try to be grateful, mindfully appreciative, that I am doing better.
*I am continuing to do the things that seem to be helping me: taking my medication as directed and going to therapy.
*I know I can continue to develop practical skills to handle life’s problems better, to avoid a sense of helplessness.
*I try to cultivate an active sense of hope.
I don’t believe that other people “deserve what they get.” They don’t deserve to be sick, physically or mentally.
I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t deserve to be sick either.
Have you ever been afraid that improvements in your health and life wouldn’t last? How did you handle the fear?