Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything you’d like at any time of the day.

Here’s one topic suggested by a reader.

Several people on this blog have mentioned taking anti-depressants, either long- or short-term. A prescription for those, in my experience, comes with a recommendation for therapy. I have a little experience doing this, but have yet to really click with anyone. These suggestions sound helpful, but are also very vague. What other tips have people found useful in starting therapy?

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN STARTING THERAPY


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93 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. Oh no! I hope this morning’s discussion didn’t do this thread in. People can always post as anon.

  2. A prescription for those, in my experience, comes with a recommendation for therapy.

    In my case it was the opposite. I had an intake visit with a therapist and a few sessions and he refereed me to my PCP for a prescription. I started taking the meds and things got dramatically better and the sessions went from once a week to once every other week and then (within a few months) to not at all. I was told that the old stereotypical “analysis” isn’t really a thing anymore. They don’t encourage you to dwell on all the issues you’ve had in your life. They focus on things like CBT, medication, and other techniques to help you move past your issues. At least that was my experience. However, that’s not to say that some people don’t do well with other methods. I’d recommend that if something isn’t working to try other avenues.

  3. Rhett, do you think you could’ve skipped the therapy and just gotten meds?

    I think it helped but if there we substantial financial or scheduling restrictions I think it could have worked without the therapy. This isn’t to say other people would have a vastly different experience with meds less effective and therapy more.

  4. I have sought counseling a few times through ,mainly using my ex’s or my employer’s EAP. The first time was when we were going through divorce. It was helpful mainly because I actually got to speak and the counselor made my ex repeat what I said. It was very enlightening as the first few times he repeated what he had said and not what I said. The counselor called him out on not listening and continuing to assume I had the same opinion he did. It clarified for me the reasons we were divorcing.
    Another time it was very helpful as there was a tangle of things going on in my personal and work life that were negatively affecting each other. I think just having a non-judgmental ear who could help me untangle the mess in my mind and connect the dots to see the big picture was beneficial.
    Another time, I found it to be completely useless and actually felt worse after seeing this person. I talked to my PCP who did a number of diagnostic tests. A few came back abnormal, so treatment followed – some medication (but not an anti-depressant), exercise, diet and sleep – that after a couple of months the retest results came back normal. Once back in the normal range, I mentally felt a lot better.

  5. I went to counseling for several months that included my pregnancy that ended at 23 weeks and my FIL’s final diagnosis. It was helpful for me to have a “zone” to grieve and helped me set aside unhelpful ruminations. I didn’t take anti-depressant medication because I thought I was in grief, not depressed. It was helpful to have some of my family oddities confirmed. (Your mom hasn’t called you in the 8 years you’ve lived here except to tell your about your grandfathers’ deaths? I agree that’s unusual.)

    Probably the biggest lesson I learned was to focus on what I can change and ignore or tolerate what I can’t.

  6. I saw a counselor when I was in my mid-20’s and feeling “stuck” for lack of a better term. It was really helpful to have a fresh perspective on things.

  7. My wife was “on meds” for seven years. We were reluctant to “go there”, but it was a good move for her and for us. (She would check in with a counselor occasionally, but wasn’t seeing anyone regularly. And she has a Masters in Counseling.) After five years, the meds seemed more variable and less effective– and increasingly, she wanted to be free of the meds.

    As an aside, at the five year mark, she read “Inside Out” by Larry Crabb– a book that stirred the pot. (It was/is part of a 21-month curriculum I’ve developed for training “thoroughly equipped” lay-leaders in the church.) Bad news, short-term: it stirred the pot; good news, long-term: it stirred the pot. As the pot was being stirred, she found an article on “rumination” (and the “depression learning path”) that was *extremely* helpful. The article spoke to her thought patterns– that she would focus on something and cycle into trouble, ruminating on things that should have been left alone– and how to alter/stop those thoughts. Some key verses for her: Philippians 4:8, II Corinthians 10:4-6, Ephesians 6:10ff, Galatians 5:1,13, and Romans 12:1-2. She’s been med-free for nine years now– not perfect by any means, but much, much better than pre-med or med.

    All of this also reminds me of John Nash and the movie, A Beautiful Mind. In the movie and in an interview with Nash (on 60 Minutes), he describes the importance of being on “a diet of the mind”. (As an aside, another popular movie of the same time frame, “As Good As It Gets” took a more fatalistic approach– you accept it and do the best you can.) To the extent that Nash and the Scriptures are correct, then “the battle is in the mind”. So, meds may help,(or be crucial) short-term– but for many/most people, there may be hope that better days lie ahead…with work.

  8. DH doesn’t have to do talk therapy. The psychopharm doc asks him how its going and fiddles with the meds. That works. Another family member has always talked and talked and talked, with a custom basket of meds throughout the day. The meds are for basic functioning. I have no idea what all the talk does. I personally like a tune up from time to time. The best one was an EAP gig with a former pastor who was really helpful after Mom died – working through situational depression/ grief without drugs. A couple of months ago I went to CBT for targeted help with the rumination. I tentatively broached a subject for discussion to see whether it could be useful beyond that and the rote responses from the practitioner reminded me of why I would really have to be in bad shape to seek out talk therapy.

  9. I have a low opinion of therapy because three people very close to me have been harmed by it. I have never been to therapy for this reason. I expect that CBT might be useful for certain issues.

  10. I did CBT a few years ago. It was really helpful. I knew exactly what the issue was and what caused my anxiety (health issues of one of my kids), which my therapist said made me a good candidate for CBT. Never took any meds, although she suggested them at the beginning since my main issue was being unable to sleep.

  11. Two of my kids got mental health services. One at age 13-14 because he just wasn’t good on follow thru, as in “why doesn’t X just do his work?” and some other behavioral things (none life threatening). In retrospect, it seems like adolescent growing pains, but at the time it was quite difficult for DW and me. The other was because he (different kid) had a text conversation with a friend talking about being addicted to painkillers and offing himself. This turned out, I’m pretty confident, but you can never be 100%, to be mostly boastful talk, but we went thru the drug/substance abuse testing and a couple of counseling sessions. Zero recurrence of any of that.

  12. For quite a few years, I saw a therapist about blended family issues. It helped immensely, mostly because my therapist didn’t just nod her head and agree about how hard I had it, but because she would quite often call me out on things I was doing wrong. I loved that. I wanted things to be better–I didn’t just want validation. I credit that experience for many changes I made in my life that aren’t related to a blended family — things I might have gotten away with never addressing of it weren’t for the stress of a blended family.

    Each of our kids spoke to a counselor a few times around middle school. All for transient things that seemed to be resolved as a result of their having a listening ear that wasn’t a parent.

    RMS – that’s too bad about people being harmed by therapy. I’m sure it happens – I’ve never heard first hand about it. Really unfortunate.

  13. One of my kids has a physical problem. We went to a specialist who gave a diagnosis. Since it is a recurring condition part of the treatment is relaxation techniques so we were referred to a behavioral therapist.
    I am not satisfied with the interaction with the specialist. There were a bunch of tests done, serious life threatening issues ruled out, so I felt we were dismissed.
    Even if the diagnosis is correct we don’t have a good roadmap of how to deal with the issue long term. I am seeking a second opinion. Good news is that I got the PCP to approve a bigger Practice affiliated with the children’s hospital. Waiting for a call back.

  14. I have a low opinion of therapy because three people very close to me have been harmed by it.

    Was it the old style dwell on your childhood type?

  15. RMS – that’s too bad about people being harmed by therapy. I’m sure it happens – I’ve never heard first hand about it. Really unfortunate.

    In two cases, I think it was partly because there wasn’t really any fixed goal and the therapy went on for years. One of them (and this was in the 70s, when it was already discredited!) was good old psychoanalysis — multiple days per week. One was because the therapist’s own issues and ego caused her to (metaphorically) stab the client through the heart. And one was my dad, who had PTSD after WWII and it turns out 1940s psychiatry didn’t actually do any good (for anything probably, but certainly not for PTSD) and actually did some harm.

  16. Speaking of rumination and dwelling on past wrongs, I’ve been following a daily meditation program the last few weeks, and I’ve found that a lot of my emotional ups and downs, getting angry about things and ruminating on them, playing scenes over and over in my head about how I wish something had gone, and grudges have simply gone away. I have way more patience with my husband and kids, and I’m much more accepting of things that I can’t control and much more proactive about things that are within my power. I plan to continue with the meditation when I finish this book I’ve been working through (8 minute meditation – possibly recommended by someone on this blog?). I’ve had mixed success with therapists. Saw a great one as a young adult when I was really unhappy in my job and in the town where I was living. Saw a bad one for one session of couples therapy with DH. Never taken any psych meds.

  17. One of them (and this was in the 70s, when it was already discredited!) was good old psychoanalysis —

    I think many people don’t get help they could benefit from because in the public’s mind therapy is still the old Woody Allen/Freud/Jung type that, as you mentioned, has been discredited for 40 years.

  18. I may have mentioned 8-minute meditation here. I tried meditating for a few months but I discontinued it although I still try to focus on being more mindful of the here and now. I believe that has helped my tendency toward negative rumination.

  19. Just remembered I saw someone for 1 session when I was in law school. I’d had a panic atrack of sorts during our property exam and spiraled for 30 minutes. I saw someone at the health center who talked to me about thinking errors.

    Through her, I learned to significantly reduce my stress about so many things by thinking about the worst case scenario in every stressful situation, and realizing that the worst case was rarely life ruining. And that meant every little related decision or detail wasn’t all that big a deal, either. Each time I went through that process, I’d see that the situation wasn’t really as worrisome as I was inclined to think – I was making a thinking error by blowing it out of proportion. So I’d stop worrying about the main thing and also stop worrying about all the little related details.

    I still use this technique and I find it works very well.

    A very simple example would be traffic. I think of the worst thing that will happen if I’m late — usually just rescheduling something, and having to apologize. No big deal, though – you just apologize and reschedule. And once you know that, all the details – each stoplight, each driver who cuts you off, each slow school bus in front of you – immediately stops mattering. You turn on BBC World Service and learn something while you’re inching through traffic and you no longer care about how slow you’re going. Works every time for me. No one would call me easygoing, but I have total traffic Zen because of this technique.

  20. I’ve never thought of rumination as a thing to deal with in therapy. What sorts of things does one do in CBT to deal with it?

    I usually think of therapy as working through something and behavioral methods as ways to forget that they are there–sort of like operating to get the bullet out vs PT to deal with the damage it did on the way in. I’ve always wanted to hit a reset button so my son could go back to himself. About a month ago, I learned that his school has a psychologist, who we met with once. For the first time ever, my son didn’t motion to me to speak for him, and for a couple days afterwards, he remarked on being positively surprised. This guy’s approach is all behavioral, which I’ve never liked. They’ve had a couple more meetings, with other kids, and my son feels good about it. Of course, the school year is nearly over. Besides it being too late to save this school year, we also won’t have any contact with him over the summer–ethical guidelines prevent him from consulting for anyone he could work with through the schools. I don’t know if saac would agree to work with someone else now, guess we’re going to find out.

  21. Risley, isn’t traffic irritating in and of itself, no matter what it’s making you late for?

    Rhett, your Woody Allen comment reminds me of a guy I saw during grad school. He told me I was thinking too much, needed to feel my emotions instead of thinking him. Not helpful. So I went to the school’s psychiatrist, who wanted to prescribe anti-depressants, but said there was a blood test he was required to do first. Looking at the results, he said he’d never seen anyone test positive, that I was bipolar and should take lithium. That sounded too heavy, so I dropped the whole subject. I eventually found someone else to look at the blood test–I had an overactive thyroid. They didn’t know how to treat it, but they knew it isn’t the same as being bipolar. I guess in a roundabout way, I’m agreeing with Rocky. Just having the letters by their name doesn’t mean they know what they are doing.

  22. SM – not for me, it’s not. Once I don’t care about being late, it’s just sitting around listening to the radio. No big deal.

    Having said that, I live a life with minimal traffic.

  23. Just having the letters by their name doesn’t mean they know what they are doing.

    That’s true even when they know what they are doing. Some approaches work on some people and not on others. That was even the case for my chronic health problem. One doctor had a lot of luck with Treatment A which works for a lot of people and the second doctor had a lot luck with Treatment B which also works for a lot of people. In my case Treatment A did almost nothing and Treatment B had me back to +98%.

  24. S&M – when I did CBT, most of it was having me listen to the scenario that was causing me anxiety. Over and over. Slight variations of it. At first, it provoked a lot of anxiety, but after a while, it doesn’t. It is weird.

  25. I did some CBT with a person who was not at all helpful. Just a bunch of worksheets and then she had me hold this temperature thing and then read a passage about sitting in front of a fire, and my hand temp went down – I could have told her that it wasn’t going to work! (hypothyroid plus a bit of Raynaud’s = always cold hands) The subsequent person I went to for therapy (anxiety) was quite helpful. I get anxious when I think I am going to be late or when (this is most common) I think I should be doing something different from what I am doing at the moment, or when I take on other people’s concerns as my own and get stressed out about those, and she helped me work through it. The worst-case scenario doesn’t work for me, bc I tend to get stuck in a loop there too.

  26. The worst-case scenario doesn’t work for me, bc I tend to get stuck in a loop there too.

    Me too also, and furthermore, my worst-case scenarios usually wind up looking like a post-apocalyptic hellscape populated by mutant vampires. With guns.

  27. The worst-case scenario didn’t work for me, either. The worst-case scenario was a terrible outcome.

  28. The worst-case scenario was a terrible outcome.

    My husband used to take part in this biennial exercise that usually seemed to end up in a (pretend) nuclear exchange, and once Honolulu got nuked his office no longer had an active part in it but they all still had to go in as ghostly observers. He was always really cranky for the rest of the week after Honolulu got nuked. I don’t think that worst-case scenario did anything to inspire a zen frame of mind for him.

  29. Funny. Can’t comment right now. In a lecture where they just emphasized that you almost never take the bullet out.

  30. “most of it was having me listen to the scenario that was causing me anxiety. Over and over. Slight variations of it. At first, it provoked a lot of anxiety, but after a while, it doesn’t.”

    That’s exposure and habituation therapy, used for various types of anxiety and other disorders. I accidentally discovered that’s what I’ve been doing most of my life, including imagining the worst case scenario, which could include death. But it seems to work for me, most of the time.

  31. “But I’ve never heard any explanation of why people wait in line.”

    Poor pre-planning? What if you just stop by on a whim. It’s funny I was just searching for a restaurant for a quick bite to eat near Penn Station and when I got on Yelp some of them, maybe most, had the mobile ordering option come up first. But this doesn’t work for a group unless you coordinate in advance. I checked another restaurant in a different area and they don’t seem to have that option.

  32. What if you just stop by on a whim.

    The 20 people always in line at my local Starbucks aren’t all their on a whim.

  33. @Rhett, I am constantly astounded by the willingness of people to wait. They’ll wait in the huge line at the Starbucks at Maryland House on I-95 when you can just walk over to the Burger King and get a cup of coffee there. I won’t go to restaurants that don’t take reservations and unless i’m dying I won’t wait in a line more than maybe 4 deep. Nothing is that good. It baffles me.

  34. Rhett – no hijack…open thread.

    ” let’s state the obvious. Ordering ahead for pickup is not a new concept. People have been doing it since there were pizzerias and rotary phones.”

  35. The idea of food trucks is kind of fun, but the wait times are awful. I wind up walking away far more often than I end up actually getting food.

  36. Ordering ahead for pickup is not a new concept. People have been doing it since there were pizzerias and rotary phones.

    Do people ever order a pizza for takeout at the counter?

  37. I’m glad you all mentioned how the worst case scenario doesn’t work for you, because I had planned to show him that post. Maybe I still will, but I’ll present it differently.

  38. I hate to wait too which is why I never go to Starbucks. There is one restaurant that we love that doesn’t take reservations but we don’t attempt on a Friday night unless we can go at 5:00 or 5:30. We went to this local Mexican place on Cinco de Mayo and they had to have had the worst logistics system of any restaurant I’ve ever been to. The patio was closed because it was raining and so I will give them the fact that they didn’t have extra tables on a very busy night but they told us 45 minutes – 5 minutes later our table was ready. They told our friends 45 minutes and I think they were waiting for an hour and 15. Told other friends 2 hours and they were seated in 30 minutes. It was totally bizarre.

  39. And I want the reservation system to be online, and preferably through Open Table. I don’t like calling and trying to figure out when the staff will there.

  40. Dammit Ada, saac said the same thing! ;)

    Rhett, idk about at the counter, but I’ve certainly seen/been to pizzarias where you order after you sit down at the table.

    Habituation is one of the techniques the school psychologist recommends.

  41. “Is it morally wrong to place a mobile order from inside a restaurant if the line is moving at a glacial pace? Yes, people do this, and yes, others resent them for it.”

    Why? Because they failed to think of it first?

    Maybe some people prefer to wait so that they can oversee the production of their complicated order.

    I’ve never ordered ahead with an app, but wondering how it works at Starbucks. You hit the app, and then join the scrum at the pickup counter — how do you know whether your drink is up without the knowledge that the girl in the blue shirt was two people ahead of you, she’s still waiting, so yours is probably not up yet?

  42. how do you know whether your drink is up

    There is a label on it with your name on it. In the past they kept the mobile orders on the counter against the wall, not on the pickup counter so you had to flag someone down. However, in the last few weeks they’ve added a tiered shelf on the pickup counter where each mobile is displayed.

  43. Wow, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since we are all our own special snowflake but it’s astounding to me how a strategy that completely changed my life and reduced most of my stress could work in pretty much the opposite way for others.

    Makes me realize how hard therapists have it – how do you know what will work for whom and what will fu#% someone up!

  44. I only use the App now to order my Starbucks drinks. So nice! I do it after I have parked, but before I have opened the door. 90% of the time my drink is waiting when I go to the mobile order area. About 10% of the time they have forgotten to check the little printer where the labels pop out and I have to wait.

  45. “However, in the last few weeks they’ve added a tiered shelf on the pickup counter where each mobile is displayed.”

    Our local Starbucks must not be ready for a raft of mobile orders, because the pickup counters just aren’t designed this way. Yet.

    “What would the scenario be?”

    1. No tables are available and the disappointed customers get takeout instead?
    2. Customers tried calling from the car or the street on their way to the restaurant but staff didn’t pick up in two rings so they hung up and decided to order in person?
    3. Customers have very specific topping needs and were unwilling to trust that the person with limited English skills who answered the phone would get it right?

    WE have never ordered takeout at the counter, but I have seen other people doing it.

  46. Perhaps ordering ahead, via app or phone, has a tipping point where a few pre-orders thrown in doesn’t mess up the order-at-the-counter experience, but past a certain number makes you feel it’s not worth your while to eat there if you haven’t called ahead. I usually head out to buy lunch without a specific plan of where I’m going, and will decide based on things like which walk light comes on first and how crowded a place looks, especially for the places that cook to order so have longer wait times. It’s really a bummer to go in thinking there’s next to no line, order and pay, and then realize they’re all backed up preparing an order for 10 that someone called in a minute or two before you arrived.

    Another tipping point in casual dining is the unreserved tables situation. If a place has what should be an adequate number of tables to accommodate the number of customers it gets and the average time a customer takes from sitting down with food to leaving, there will not be enough tables because people will not feel confident about finding a table so will send scouts to find and save a free table while one person lines up, orders, and waits for the food. Now each customer / party is spending significantly longer at a table, so the number of tables is no longer adequate! But if you put in enough tables to still have a few empty even with the longer table use time, then most people won’t feel the need to stake out a table claim, so all of a sudden you’ll have lots of empty tables because the tables that would have been occupied by claim-stakers are now free. So, any set-up where you buy food and can sit to eat it at unreserved tables will either have the tables all full and people prowling for seats, or plenty of empty tables.

  47. “It’s really a bummer to go in thinking there’s next to no line, order and pay, and then realize they’re all backed up preparing an order for 10 that someone called in a minute or two before you arrived.”

    True. But that has also happened to me with in-person orders. The woman in front of me just paying for her order when I arrived was getting drinks for 4, so there were 3 invisible people ahead of me.

    “people will not feel confident about finding a table so will send scouts to find and save a free table while one person lines up, orders, and waits for the food.”

    This is where the different temperaments in a family emerge. Some people cheerily assume that a table will surely open up by the time they get their food, so no need for scouts. Others will not order unless a scout is installed, to avoid being a vulture slithering about looking for people who really should be moving on. And it’s not enough to leave a jacket draped on a chair — a real person who has reached the age of reason and can defend the table and all associated chairs must be present.

  48. I get starbucks 3-5 times per week and it is always an impulse. However, I only go to locations that are super-efficient, and usually drive through. I rarely wait in line more than a minute, and budget 5 minutes for the whole event.

  49. We use the entire family -1 as scouts. No one is going to kick out 4 people sitting at a table at Shake Shack (including 3 kids) because “you haven’t ordered yet”.

    Usually the takeout ordering at the counter happens when you are on the way to/from somewhere else, and you decide that it would be a good idea to pick up food on the way, and you don’t have the menu in your head enough to know what you want to order.

  50. “Do people ever order a pizza for takeout at the counter?”

    We do it a lot at Coscto. Typically, I will stand in line to order and pay for the Pizza while DW starts shopping. By the time we’re done shopping, the pizza’s ready.

  51. Wow, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since we are all our own special snowflake but it’s astounding to me how a strategy that completely changed my life and reduced most of my stress could work in pretty much the opposite way for others.

    I suspect that many of the people it is not working for might not do it in a controlled, coached way. Therapists may not all be great, but there is a set of specialized knowledge that they likely have acquired. There is a difference between a guided desensitization program and escalating rumination.

    I think this is analogous to the parent who says, “I tried cry it out and it didn’t work.” What they mean is that they let the baby cry for awhile, fed the baby a bottle, baby fell asleep. Next night they let the baby cry even longer, then rescued and then eventually trained the baby to cry for hours and not fall asleep on his/her own. That is not a strategy.

  52. “Usually the takeout ordering at the counter happens when you are on the way to/from somewhere else, and you decide that it would be a good idea to pick up food on the way, and you don’t have the menu in your head enough to know what you want to order.”

    Also, some places don’t do their own delivery – only through GrubHub/Postmates/UberEats – and not everyone uses those services. But people will call the restaurant directly & do take out. Or, in some cases, it is a feature rather than a bug to wait & have a drink at the bar (alone, no kids) while waiting for the family take out order.

  53. “Or, in some cases, it is a feature rather than a bug to wait & have a drink at the bar (alone, no kids) while waiting for the family take out order.”

    You caught me!

  54. Actually my Saturday morning Starbucks on a whim, no mobile order is my therapy. I contemplate the baked goods and the snacks, and decide which small item will stave off my hunger till lunch time without the calories.
    Then, I pat myself on the back for being good. A mobile order means no therapy experience.
    DD often is with me on the way to dance class so we chat while waiting.

  55. I had some therapy after persistent symptoms after a big personal stressor. I was surprised that I wasn’t getting better and still ruminating on events. I went to a therapist that was recommended by a friend because “she doesn’t believe in a lot of woo.” I was reassured when the therapist told me that most of her patients are seen for 8-12 sessions, though she had some patients she had been seeing for > 1 year. She had a philosophy for dealing with the intrusive thoughts that worked very well for me and after 8 or so visits, my symptoms had decreased and I was able to leave her care and recover on my own.

    Some mental health issues are biochemical, and some are situational, in my opinion. I think my problem was all situational and I needed some CBT/talk to work through it. When you look at people with intermittent/recurrent depression, depression associated with heart disease (among others), mental illness with psychotic features – those are biochemical problems with biochemical solutions. I don’t know that everyone knows the difference, but I think many therapists and primary care providers do.

  56. It’s really a bummer to go in thinking there’s next to no line, order and pay, and then realize they’re all backed up preparing an order for 10 that someone called in a minute or two before you arrived.
    Or call in an order and find it isn’t ready when you get there–but they put up several Uber orders.

  57. a real person who has reached the age of reason and can defend the table
    My kid could do that well before the age of reason. Granted, his mama’s was the only seat he had to save besides his own, but he did it well. Around the age of reason, he could hop out of the car at the restaurant’s door and get a table while I parked. Single parenting FTW!

  58. it is a feature rather than a bug to wait & have a drink at the bar (alone, no kids) while waiting for the family take out order.

    Oh yeah!

  59. Anon at 3:54, I generally agree with you that situational and biochemical depressions are different things, but when one goes on for a long time, I think it can bring on the other type.

  60. “Probably the biggest lesson I learned was to focus on what I can change and ignore or tolerate what I can’t.”

    This is pretty much habit #1 of 7 Habits.

  61. I have not used therapy, but members of my family have, and I have spent a ridiculous amount of time researching what is effective. I agree with the comments already made about the use of CBT for situational issues, but the need for meds for longer term issues. I’ve mentioned before that the neurofeedback was nothing short of life-altering for my son. He is not even the same person he was 5-6 years ago.

  62. Both my kids marketed their plea for fidget spinners as helping with concentration and relieving stress.

  63. On a completely different topic, last night, DD and I found Party of Five on Netflix. Anyone remember that show? Great mom/teen daughter bonding show, imho, and a good follow up to Gilmore Girls, which she and I worked our way through last year. (I suppose boys might like it too–there are 2 main male characters in it. But these family dramas seem to appeal to girls more, IME).

  64. Spinners–the teacher in the class that is the most obvious example for how they can be useful–English–won’t let my kid (who she knows is fighting anxiety) use his during writing exercises. Arg!

  65. Sorry I missed discussion. Mixed bag for me.

    I went to an EAP therapist when we had to move out of D.C. and I was stepping off the partnership track a year shy — I was sort of reasonably freaked about leaving my family and the career track I had been sort of blindly following and basically wanted someone to help me adjust and accept life as it was instead of how I wanted it to be. Long story short, instead of CBT, she was much more traditional psychoanalysis, and she ended up the comparing my desire to have my life mean something/be remembered to Hitler and Mussolini (no, I am not making this up). So instead of providing assistance in managing my fears, she added worry that the fact that I was afraid was a sign of megalomania. I needed a little hand-holding, and she chose to invalidate my fears instead. F her.

    I guess that may be part of the reason why I didn’t go for therapy when I was legitimately-but-situationally depressed a few years later. Well, that and the fact that depression is so insidious that you “feel” normal, until the fog lifts and you realize how *not* normal the last XX months/years have been. My first real bout was magically cured when my thyroid issue was diagnosed and I got on meds. My second bout was after my stepdad died, and I called the EAP and they helped me leave messages for therapists and no one ever called me back and so I didn’t bother following up (because, hello, depression). But again, situational, so that one lifted within a year or so.

    More recently, I saw myself acting the same way I did that first time in NM, when nothing seemed worth the effort required. Luckily, the logical part of my brain still worked, so I was able to observe my self-defeating behavior even if I couldn’t change it and called the doc. (Yeah, ok, took me two months, because he didn’t return my first message). This time, I walked in and he handed me a prescription for Zoloft. And within a week I was my normal self. So, yay.

    In terms of therapy, I have gotten far more from Dr. Phil (back in the early days) than a person. I watched the show and read the books, and over time really changed my perspective from feeling powerless to realizing I was in charge of my own life. The one time a therapist was most helpful was in getting DH to listen: I did not like his parenting approach to our little kids, and DD was of course particularly challenging, so I got him to go to family therapy under the guise of needing help/treatment for DD. DH was more willing/able to hear some suggestions from a third party than just from me — still took it all with a huge grain of salt, but at least gave it a shot, and things improved.

  66. There were three “other” responses to question about what type of treatment was received. I wonder what other types of treatment are used. Maybe exercise was recommended, for example.

    I received biofeedback treatment many years ago for headaches. They hooked me up to a machine and I was able to create the right wave patterns but it didn’t help my headaches.

    Many Friday nights my neighbor used to walk to one of our local restaurants, order a pizza to go, and have an enjoyable drink at the bar while he waited.

  67. SM – the spinners are legitimately said to help with ADHD and anxiety so for your DS if he has those conditions listed officially he should be able to use it though they may not be allowed for other kids for whom it is the latest toy.

  68. Louise, exactly, he should be permitted. That’s why I’m frustrated.

    LfB, Idk what EAP is, but if practitioners are likely to compare you to Fascists, I don’t really want to. (Odd that she chose Mussolini; he seems lesser known in the US and most people reach for Stalin first.) You were on here when your stepdad died. I have no idea how this forum could’ve supported you, but wish there would have been a way. Cool that your DH took suggestions from the therapist. I think I’ve mentioned on here before that when I went to therapy with my very depressed husband, he decided after 1 or 2 visits (including some individual appointments for him) that we were ganging up on him. Clearly not parallel, because we didn’t have so many years in the relationship, and no kids.

  69. EAP is a common employee benefit and fully known as Employee Assistance Program. It’s supposed to be free and confidential to access their referrals. Typically set up for employees to use when going through ‘tough times’, however defined.

  70. @SM: Thanks. FWIW, the forum did support me a lot, because sometimes I could post things that I couldn’t say to people IRL (e.g., my frustration with my mom’s sudden overwhelming neediness), and sometimes I could just talk about Other Stuff and forget it for a while. And that’s really all you can do; unfortunately, with the normal grieving process, you just sort of have to muddle through the suck until one day you realize you seem to be out the other side. One of my friends just lost her mom, and talking to her last night, she seems to feel the same sort of disconnection I did, so maybe at least I can pay it forward a bit.

  71. Risley – I did not watch much more than the first episode of Party of 5 because I had tiny children, and it made me sad to think of them being parentless. On the other hand, Matthew Fox!!

  72. @LFB – It’s funny that you mention Dr Phil. I had forgotten about that show, but my friend & I watched it kind of religiously for a little while, and it was just at the right time to have an impact on me. I remember seeing him for the first time on Oprah as a senior in college, and then watching the first season of his show as an early 20-something with my friend/roommate (we taped it on a VCR!). Some of the tough love – what are YOU going to do about it – YOU are in control of your own life messages really helped me get over some angst and victimhood that is probably pretty typical for people that age. I haven’t seen it in years though. My “problems” at that point were laughably run-of-the-mill – just general job/”adulting”/friendship/dating stuff.

  73. Thanks Fred! lol at my total misread!

    Lsura, glad to hear we were of some help

  74. I used EAP four separate times for my short term needs. All of them were helpful. I was taken care of immediately. But that is because the sessions function like physical or occupational therapy to deal with a specific issue.

    What LfB said about depression taking over her insidiously and the powerlessness to follow through even if recognized is exactly what makes my family members with the genetic inheritance for depression different from me, and what often makes us non depressives unsympathetic. When I am situationally depressed or grieving or sad or frustrated by circumstance, I immediately categorize the fogginess and sleep changes and inability to act in the same way as a physical ailment that requires immediate attention – it is a disease state for me, even if it is a situational short or mid term response. For my kids and spouses, otoh, there is a less happy baseline – they might function well most of the time with a reasonable amount of fun or success, but the sadness is a familiar state that provides a kind of comfort like a ratty toddler blankie, not an abnormality. Some of them self treat, some take pills, some have developed enough self awareness (sort of like migraine sufferers discern the aura in time to take meds) to catch it quickly. Only one uses extended talk therapy in addition to the meds for what is, at bottom, a chemical “wiring” issue.

  75. but the sadness is a familiar state that provides a kind of comfort like a ratty toddler blankie, not an abnormality.

    Speaking from the other side, I’m not sure that’s quite it. It’s more like, “I’m depressed because everything is horrible”, and factually speaking, everything IS horrible. Do you realize what’s going on in the Congo? Do you know how the Syrians are suffering? Do you know how much homelessness there is right here, right now? Do you know how many people suffer from chronic pain? So the sadness feels justified. It’s not until you take the meds that you realize that you can acknowledge the awfulness of the world without being paralyzed and feeling sick to your stomach all the time.

  76. Do you think that people who suffer from depression often have more empathy in general than those who do not? Or maybe they are more sensitive to outside stimuli than people who don’t?

  77. (Odd that she chose Mussolini; he seems lesser known in the US and most people reach for Stalin first.)

    It’s extra insulting, because Stalin was evil but competent, and Mussolini was evil but a clown.

  78. Do you think that people who suffer from depression often have more empathy in general than those who do not?

    They/we certainly think so! Again, once you get on the meds (if they work) you start to see that that’s b.s. And it’s often not true, because depression can make you obnoxiously self-absorbed.

  79. RMS – I imagine there are as many different lenses though which the world is perceived as their are suffers from depression. One of mine has a version of what you describe, gets PO’d a lot in the same way, with a chaser of a bad dose of seasonal affective disorder from Nov through Jan. So the use of the word “comfort” rather than “familiar default state” is perhaps just an expression of the frustration experienced by someone who has been dealing for 50 years with the seeming preference of so many around her to stay “stuck”. And chronic depressives, even with treatment, are often manipulative, disagreeable and self defeating. I can choose to love and support them, but by now I know I can’t fix ’em.

  80. Rocky nailed it — the whole point is that everything seems completely, 100% logical. The added twist in my case (for what I consider the two “real” depressive events, vs. the circumstance-driven ones) was that I never once felt “sad.” It was just that the world was grey — there wasn’t any happy OR sad. The best way I can describe it is that nothing was interesting enough to justify the effort required to get up off the couch to do it. So why bother? Why engage? Why get up and go to the gym? So I just did less and less, and frittered away more and more time watching mindless TV and Fixing the Internet — those sort of things that provide a little distraction from being inside your own head, a momentary laugh at a laugh track, a little blip when someone says you said something useful or good. Or, this most recent time, I found myself pushing limits to try to provoke an emotional response from myself, e.g., driving far faster than I ever had before because it gave me a momentary rush.

    And when it broke, boy, it was a different world. It was like I could see depressed-me stuck in my little box, like watching my life in a sit-com on a black-and-white TV, when here I was in the real world surrounded by color and emotions and 3-D people. *But I still felt like the same “me.”* I felt just as logical before and after; it was just that there were many, many more things that made me want to get up off the couch, which now seemed boring by comparison to the whole big world out there.

    So, no, I wasn’t even remotely more empathetic when I was depressed, because I wasn’t ever sad; if anything, I was more disconnected, just couldn’t force myself to care, like there was an invisible veil between me and the world. Now, OTOH, I have a lot more empathy for people who are going through that, because I can see with crystal clarity how “insidious” is precisely the right word, how the disease itself actively intervenes to prevent you from seeking and following through with the treatment that would make it go away.

  81. I don’t think people are more empathetic when they are depressed, but I do think that people who have been through it are more likely to be empathetic, because they realize that what is the obvious, unshakeable truth in front of them can be different from the obvious, unshakeable truth that’s in front of someone else looking at the same picture. In that way, it makes you less self-centered and more understanding. I agree that depression =/= tears. Crying is a break through.

  82. Re: the spinners. My child doesn’t have any issues but says that she hates those spinners. They apparently make a noise that bothers her. She finds it distracting so maybe that’s why they don’t allow them.

  83. There must be different kinds of spinners. When itnspins really slowly, his makes a very soft clicking noise that could bother someone if they could hear it, but one of the things we remarked on when we first got it was how amazingly silent it is when it spins faster. This is the last week of classes–he just mentioned it this morning & at this point, it’s not worth pursuing. I plan to look for a different type of fidget toy that’s less popular over the summer, something he could keep in his pocket if need be, and fiddle with some kind of buttons or whatever.

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