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Determine Your Intentional Response to Depression

Determine Your Intentional Response to Depression

What do we do when life feels like it’s piling on top of us? In depression, we bury our optimism, hope, and joy and react with anger, fear, or guilt, allowing overwhelming circumstances to knock us flat. Emotional depression can become an automatic reaction to life’s trials. Reactions are automatic, but responses need not be. Depression does not have to be automatic.

Even if we may immediately react negatively, we can learn to intentionally reassert positive emotions. This may not be our first reaction, but our first reaction doesn’t need to be our only response. Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” Our reactions are on one level, but we can learn to take our responses to the next level.  

The next level above automatic reaction is intentional response. You need to be intentional in your response to life and its circumstances. You need to deliberately recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy. In the midst of depression, the thought of sustaining even a modicum of positive feelings may appear overwhelming, a burden too heavy to bear. But aren’t you already carrying around the weight of emotional baggage? Think how much energy it takes to carry around anger, fear, and guilt. When you begin to put those emotions down, you will find strength for optimism, hope, and joy.

Negative emotions may be part of your personal landscape. If that is the case, you’ll need to intentionally seek out and rediscover optimism, hope, and joy. Optimism, hope, and joy are responses that come from within you and are not necessarily derived from your outside circumstances. Regardless of the circumstances, you determine to remain optimistic; you decide to have hope; you derive joy.

When you are depressed, you live pulled to one side of the emotional spectrum—the negative side. Your emotional responses are so overrepresented by anger, fear, and guilt that you have lost the ability to absorb and experience optimism, hope, and joy. Without joy, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no optimism.

Intentionally choosing how to respond to life is not a trivial matter; this attitude can save your life. We will not always have control over our circumstances, but we can determine to hold on to optimism, hope, and joy—to recognize them, promote them, and sustain them. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  The Center was recently voted one of the Top Ten Facilities in the United States for the Treatment of Depression.  Break free and achieve peace. Call The Center at 1-888-771-5166, or fill out this form to connect with a specialist.

Eating Disorder Recovery: Mapping Your Progress

Eating Disorder Recovery: Mapping Your Progress

Healing from an eating disorder is a journey.  The path isn’t always easy and level, but neither is life.  You must want to get well, to move forward and reestablish a healthy, balanced relationship with food.  Once you have understood that something is drastically wrong with the choices you are making in your life, the responsibility for making positive change lies solely with you.  You must replace the false control of food with a positive control based on your new understanding of yourself and your past.

As you continue on your healing journey, allow me to give you some food for thought.  Mapping your progress can be very beneficial.  I encourage you to use a journal to assist in the recovery process.  Here are six tips for you to consider:

  1. Imagine your healing process as a journey.  Draw a map in your journal of your progress so far.  Show the path you’ve taken, the obstacles you’ve had to overcome or work around.  Write about the high points where you’ve come to understand a hidden truth.  Label it, “My Journey.”  Remember, don’t worry about the quality of your drawing.  Use color and whatever details help cement how you’re really feeling.  This picture is for you, a visual chronicle of the work you’ve done so far.
  2. Go back through a previous healing journal to refresh your memory.  Read over the statements and questions you’ve already answered.  Take a moment to put this journey into perspective.  Fill in your journey up to this point and then, if you like, anticipate some of the highs and lows that may come up as you continue.  If you can anticipate the lows, it may help you to get through them.  You’ll have an idea they are coming, although you may not be sure exactly when.
  3. Looking at your map, what are the major high points so far?  What are the major valleys so far?
  4. As you look over your past, what are you able to see now, from a more mature viewpoint, that you haven’t been able to see before?  Think about letting go of your anger.  What are your immediate reactions?  Read these next two statements aloud and then write down your answers:
    • I’ve always thought I was at fault for what happened to me.  Now I can see that what happened to me happened because…
    • It’s difficult to forgive my parents for not being perfect because…
  5. Read over the following and respond as honestly as you can.
    • It’s hard for me to accept responsibility for how I use food because…
    • I realize I’ve contributed to my unhealthy relationship with food by…
    • In order to get well, I’ve been able to…
    • I choose to accept the responsibility for my future because…
    • In order to get well, I’ve been able to…
    • I choose to accept the responsibility for my future because…
  6. You have to want to get well.  You have to believe you can get well.  Use the following statements to reinforce your desire and your belief in your own healing.
    • I have the following reasons for wanting to get well…
    • These are the reasons I know I can get well…

You have been experiencing waves of emotions that have tossed and turned you about.  It is time for some calmer waters.  Everything we do, see, and experience is sifted through the filter of our perspective.  It provides the lend through which we see the world.  Continue to document your healing journey.  In time, you will be able to reflect and see how far you have come.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call 1-888-771-5166 today and a specialist will answer any questions you might have.

 

Reestablishing Relationships Following an Eating Disorder

Reestablishing Relationships Following an Eating Disorder

Because of your dysfunctional relationship with food, you’ve been isolated from those around you. This isolation has been largely due to fear—fear that others will discover what you do with food, how you feel about food, and how you feel about yourself. You’ve isolated the real you out of fear that they will find out who you really are, and fear of your own unresolved anger. Understanding casts out fear. Anchored solidly in your understanding and self-acceptance, you can begin to trust other people again.

As you go about strengthening, reestablishing, and developing relationships, it is important to remember the following guidelines:

Be honest with your feelings. This does not mean your relationships must be solely dictated by your feelings and emotions. But through your past relationship with food, you have developed a pattern of covering over or numbing your emotions. One of the joys of a relationship is the ability to experience a full range of emotions within the context of relating to another person. Expect to experience a variety of feelings. This is normal.

Develop clear boundaries. Relationships are not invitations for others to take advantage of you. Healthy relationships are mutually uplifting and edifying. Pick and choose your relationships carefully, and find people who will honor and respect your boundaries. Be sure, also, to honor and respect their boundaries.

Respond rather than react when you are hurt. So much of how you’ve dealt with and used food in your past has been a reaction to pain in your life. While it’s true that your relationship with food is changing, it’s also true that you’ll continue to experience pain, including pain in relationships. Relationships aren’t perfect because people aren’t perfect. Be realistic in your attitudes and set goals for your relationships. Relationships involve hurt. Becoming involved with imperfect people means you will be hurt. Remember, however, that being imperfect yourself, you will also cause hurt. That is why forgiveness must well up like an ongoing fountain in your life.

Seek maturity in your relationships. All of us have been hurt and all of us cause pain; it’s the nature of who we are as humans. The point is not to avoid relationships in order to avoid pain. Instead, the goal is to learn from our pain and grow as individuals dedicated to reducing the amount and severity of the pain we cause others and ourselves. This is maturity. A focus on food, weight, and body image freezes you at the point of self-absorbed emotional adolescence, encouraging you to do whatever is necessary to feel better momentarily. Seek to respond in your relationships in a mature way.

If you have begun your eating disorder recovery process, but continue to struggle with the relationships in your life, you may benefit from the guidance of a professional. The team of eating disorder treatment specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE are available to talk about opportunities to receive professional help and support during this recovery process. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone from The Center • A Place of HOPE will be in touch with you soon.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.