I’m impressed with your site Phil. You are highly intelligent and an excellent writer. Some others here also state their thoughts in a clear eloquent fashion. This place is like a breath of fresh air. It’s not often I see critical thinking and logic employed.
I’ve dealt with depression, anxiety, and addiction most of my life. I’m at peace today, after a long journey. Like millions, I was “diagnosed” with depression after a brief conversation with a “doctor” AKA “specialist”. As a kid, I had dysfunctional parents. Dad was detached and drank. Mom died when I was a baby, and as a teenager, I had a 2 year sexual relationship (my first) with my demanding narcissistic stepmother. My anger and shame was not addressed by the “specialist”, and I was given Prozac, which made me feel lifeless. For 20 years I used meth, cocaine, pills, and pot. I told people meth saved my life, because I believed I couldn’t tolerate my negative thoughts and feelings without it. I thanked God for meth.
For decades I accepted the Disease Theory of Addiction as fact, and believed I was screwed up. When I read the book, “Rational Recovery” (based in CBT) and learned addicts aren’t defective, but lacking some basic cognitive skills, I stopped using, quickly and easily. I learned I was fueling my depression with chronic negative thinking. It was a watershed moment . . . an incredible epiphany.
When I talk to people about defeating depression and addiction, they usually think I’m ignorant. We’re taught it’s not possible to defeat these mental challenges, AKA “diseases”. Like some of the anger on this site, I’ve been ridiculed as a fool and told I was irresponsible for claiming most mental challenges and self-harming behaviors are self-generated. Sobriety is a skill – a method of not obeying your thoughts. (I still desire drugs on an almost daily basis, but it’s no big deal)
I heard a lady with an eating disorder say, “I don’t know who I’d be without Anorexia”. Labeling oneself as defective is crippling. As we see with some comments here, once someone adopts the idea they’re defective, they’ll defend it like fanatics defend their religious and political beliefs. 12 Step members sober for decades still claim to be “alcoholics”. If you tell a 12 Stepper that defeating addiction is possible, they reply, “That’s the disease talking.” I believe the powerless philosophy of 12 Steps is disempowering. Imagine teaching children, “You are powerless over your temper tantrums.”
The most important concept I’ve learned = our thoughts create our feelings. It’s an ancient idea. Depression does not exist without negative thinking. Wallowing in negative thinking is optional. I support CBT and emotional intelligence approaches. We are the conductor of our train of thought. It is a choice to buy a ticket and board the Train of Pain.
Like negative thinking, self-hatred (self-loathing) is neither abnormal nor a disease. There are many great books on the subject, for example the brilliant Theodore Isaac Rubin. If you think you don’t experience self-hatred, stand in front of a mirror naked and listen to your thoughts and the note the feelings that arise from them 🙂
Suicide is usually not a result of mental illness. Like all suicide victims, before killing himself, Robin Williams experienced a massive tidal wave of self-hatred and negative thoughts. He did not need medication, or expressions of love. He needed cognitive skills he was never taught.
Addiction, anxiety, rage, depression, and other mental challenges are passed down from generation to generation, but not due to genetics and “biochemical imbalances”. We pass on to our kids our inability to cope with our feelings. It is so important to learn to not take thoughts and feelings very seriously. As humans, our focus is our reality. Focus on crap, and you feel crappy. We feel stressed or sad. So what? Why get angry about the weather? (which we complain about a lot!)
Pain is a normal part of life. We have a distorted view that life should be free of pain, and this causes us anguish. When we resist our sadness and anxiety, it becomes stronger. Negative reactions such as anger, resentment, blame, and jealousy are simply a refusal to accept things as they are.
As Neurologist Rick Hansen says, negative thinking, anxiety, and fear are natural highly adaptive evolutionary traits that helped our ancestors survive. Now, we view these traits as “bad” and insist they be eradicated. When we become anxious about our anxiety, it causes more anxiety, and the cascade opens the door to a “panic attack”, which “specialists” insist must be treated with Xanax. We are being sold a load of crap, all in the name of science. BTW, I am a plant researcher with a degree in science and knowledge of genetics. I love science.
Regarding school shootings… These kids who kill do not have mental illness. None of the 9/11 terrorists had mental illness. Road rage murders, child abuse, and spousal killings are not due to mental illness. We need to discuss the real roots of violence. Ego plays a huge role in human behavior.
I was a big food binger when I was depressed. Overeating and obesity is not a disease. Cortisol is not the cause of getting fat. Genes don’t make anyone 400 lbs. We live in a culture of victimology. How often you hear someone say that chronic drinking or over eating are decisions? Since before Biblical times, overeating was called gluttony, but now it is called an illness.
I’m interested in feedback about my comments.