Dealing with Depression/Am I Depressed?

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Question
Hi Amper,

I'll just start off by stating a few facts. I am seventeen years old and female. My parents have been divorced for over a year and do not get along well. I will supposedly attend college next year.

Since I was four years old, I've had anxiety attacks over the thought of death and eternity and all of that. The attacks were so bad that sometimes I would vomit, but luckily they could be months apart. Lately, I've had them more frequently. They're much shorter and less intense than usual, but often days (if not hours) apart.

I can honestly say that I am quite unhappy with my life. Both of my parents have financial difficulties. My father is going through a difficult period of time, dealing with my grandmother's illnesses, and I feel like I have to support his emotional weight a lot of the time. He is constantly getting drunk and high, and when he does I practically have to parent him, along with my brother.

My mother has a boyfriend who lives with us, and is quite emotionally distant from me. She's always been this way. Every time I try to talk to her about my feelings, which is quite rare, she shuts down anything I have to say and dismisses them as pointless and incorrect. We fight a lot, and she has pulled away from me significantly as I've gotten older. She frequently tells me that I need to support myself financially, despite the fact that no one will hire me.

I am a gymnast as well, and I work out around 25 hours a week. There's really nothing special to talk about there, except for the fact that it makes me incredibly busy, sucking up all of my free time.

I get little sleep. Most nights I get 5-6 hours, and I'm constantly tired. Every time I try to go to bed early, I can't sleep. I hate waking up, and sometimes I cry at the mere thought of having to get up for another day.

I live for my one day off, Wednesday, but often it is piled up with more responsibilities. Each day I live I'm just looking to the next and realizing that there is no end. On Monday I'm looking forward to Wednesday. But then Wednesday is over before I know it and I'm looking to the weekend, but that ends too fast too. I want free time, and more than anything I just want to stop. I want to stop everything. I am so done with everything in my life, from school to gymnastics to piano. Just everything. I feel like I want to sit in a room and just read books for a year. I don't want to do anything else, and I'm having a hard time coping with the fact that I cant check out. No matter how badly I feel, I'm not allowed to stop, and I'm hating my life more each day that goes by.

One weird thing about my panic attacks is how I pull out of them now. I used to just distract myself until the feeling passed. I'd go online, read a book, or sing a song. Now, I just think about dying. But not going to heaven or being at peace. I think about not existing at all. I want to be happy, but sometimes it seems like not existing at all is the better option. I don't think I'll kill myself, but I look forward to death. I think of how I don't care about anything when I'm sleeping but not dreaming, and I want that.

Sometimes I have bad dreams just involving my life. Not even scary when I wake up, but still awful to go through.

The biggest feeling I have, and I've had it for several years now, is that I am hopelessly trapped. Even though I know it's not true, I feel like I will always be trapped in the present. I will never become 18 and move away from my family. I will never become responsible, and I will never die. That's the only time I view death/suicide as a short cut. Better than never reaching it.

I've never had a boyfriend, and I only see my friends at school. I'm not close enough to my father to tell him my feelings and my mother doesn't care. My brother is too young. I feel so incredibly alone, but I don't want to open up to anyone because I'm so afraid that they'll just tell me I'm being stupid and think less of me.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I have. I'm sorry that it's so long, writing in stream of consciousness is the only way I can really be honest about my feelings.

I really just don't know what to do.

Thank you,
Karina

Answer
Although difficult family relationships seem to trigger the onset of the negative feelings you experience, they are not the root cause of your discontent. Difficulties in family relationships simply point to dysfunctions within the system architecture and within its operation to family dynamics. They burden you with their aberrant content and functions, but they do not sustain the malignancy of your discontent. Your world-view: your comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity's relation to it; your overall perspective from which you see and interpret the world; sustains your discontent!

You summed this up accurately for yourself within the second paragraph of your document, "..I've had anxiety attacks over the thought of death and eternity." Thoughts of death and eternity are exactly what caused your anxiety. Death and eternity themselves did not cause your anxiety. Lingering thoughts about them did. Thoughts contained within your world-view lay the foundation for all that follows. They become the cause now of your discontent.

Thoughts linger within the conscious stream. Even if the actual event that triggered the thought is no longer present in reality the mind plays with the thought, building a false reality out of it. Depending what content lingers, it affects the outcome. Thinking affects this false reality that the brain builds for itself and the effect is manifested within the body as anxiety.  If the thought content is negative in nature the effect will be negative in nature. Although thoughts affect outcomes you can control the process. Thoughts do not have to control you or impact you in negative ways.

You can think about negative topics without those thoughts having a negative effect on you as long as you are aware of the process of thought, the effect that can happen out of that process if you lose awareness during thinking, and as long as you do not mistake the thoughts for reality.

Reality is:  present moment experience; devoid of any thought related to the experience. It is a constant stream of being with no past or future that you can go to; to think otherwise is illusion and delusion. All that exists, all that can be proven to exist, is right now: the present experience. Any thought that draws your awareness from this present experience causes a separation in unity between you and reality.

The brain absorbs information about our environment through the senses within the body. (There are five basic senses like sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, however, there are many more senses that many of us are not aware of but that play an important role in transferring information to the brain, proprioception being one of those: the body's location in relation to space and time; it is how we know where we are). This connection between the brain, the body, and the environment is what establishes our reality.

Thought interferes with this direct formulation of reality as the mind tries to interpret meaning from within this experience. The minds interference causes breaks within the experience and reality begins to slip away from our awareness. Unless we prevent that process the thoughts becomes our reality. As the thoughts fill our conscious stream we become less aware of reality and more involved with the thoughts. It is in this state that aberrant processes like anxiety form within the body.

The key to overcoming anxiety is to strengthen the connection between present experience and reality while eliminating thought processes that threaten to weaken that connection. Reality is your center. If you have a strong center then you can operate at optimum levels.

The key to centering is to just experience. Do not let thoughts distract your awareness in the present moment. Thoughts will happen regardless, but when you become aware that you are thinking, just return to the experience through the five senses. What are you experiencing? What do you see? Do not judge what you see. Just see. What do you feel? Do not judge hot or cold. Just feel. What do you hear? Do not cling to a sound that has long dissipated nor anticipate the next one to come. Just hear what is there now. What do you smell, or taste? Do not like or dislike. Just smell or taste what is there now. Focusing on the senses fills the mind with present experience and it wipes the thoughts which threaten to drag you from center.

By doing this, thoughts can not disrupt the flow of experience. If you become aware that disruption happens you can always find your way home to center through the body. This will wipe the thoughts which cause you problems currently. Center does not permit anxiety to flourish in such an intense focus as this. Your connection with reality will become strong and nothing can drag you away from it for very long. You will find that the things which bothered you in the past suddenly can't any more. As you focus, ego settles down and stops responding to the thoughts which give it power. Suddenly you are in control as opposed to having your thoughts control you.

More here on my blog.  You can find information on anxiety and more techniques to overcome, to center, and to wipe the thoughts which lay at the root of your discontent. You will also find diagrams that give you a visual explanation to help understand the process much better than words can describe.  

Dealing with Depression

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Amper Sun

Expertise

Depression, anxiety, self esteem, guilt, loss, grief, spiritual uncertainty!

Experience

Thirty years treating individual, families, at-risk-youth in counselling and psycho-therapy.

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http://anomaly.x90x.net/anomaly/ http://ampersun.hubpages.com http://ampersun.blogspot.ca/

Education/Credentials
Master Practitioner of Counselling and Psychotherapy - M.P.C.P. designation.

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