Author Topic: I dont't know what to do anymore  (Read 5215 times)

verdanais

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I dont't know what to do anymore
« on: July 30, 2013, 07:35:23 PM »
Hello,

I have been meditating every day every morning after waking up and every evening before going to bed, I usually just try to focus my attention on my breathing. I have been suffering with depression all my life and I have been under antidepressants for two years. I started meditating the second year after taking taking antidepressant and the coumpounded effect of medication plus meditation was significant. Everytime I sat, I could stay extremely focused on my breath without being interrupted by my thoughts for a very long time and after sitting and I found myself in a detached, relaxed state most of the time.

Because I was  concerned with the long term effects of antidepressants, I decided to stop taking this medication 2 years ago and unfortunately, I have almost never been able to reach deep states of meditation ever since. I am overwhelmed by the captivating power of my thought and despite all my efforts to just observe them and go back to counting my breath, I often find myself cought in the torrent of my thoughts only to realize 10 minutes later that I completely lost track of my breath.

The strange thing is that it seems like I enter in a dream like state, by that I mean that I am barely conscious of those thoughts, they are rarely logical and I usually remember only a tiny fraction of them.

I cannot escape my thoughts and find a moment of peace anymore, I am thinking more and more about taking antidepressants again, what do you think I should do ?




something

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Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2013, 11:14:26 PM »
This sounds kind of difficult.. I cant really help you, but maybe ask you some questions, which can help you.

Are you maybe craving? Maybe you have always this picture how meditation should be in your head, while meditating.

And maybe this meditation with antidepressants wasn´t "real" meditation, like hypnotization? (at this point it gets complicated, because i am a beginner of meditation and cant really tell you whats real or false meditation..)

I am not really into antidepressants and the structure and effects of depressions, but i don´t think, that you should take antidepressants with the motivation to meditate. You should take them, when you are depressive (and sometimes even then, you shouldnt take them ;))

Maybe you should go back to the basics and just try to relax by meditating.

(Again: i am a beginner and cant really give you advice.)

verdanais

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Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2013, 12:17:03 AM »
Of course I am not considering antidepressants again solely for meditation, the reason I took antidepressants in the first place was that I have been suffering with depression my whole life.

I started meditating about a year after I started taking antidepressants and the change in my state of mind was so dramatic that I thought I could get rid of the medication alltogether but the problem is that several years later, I don't know if meditation is helping me much.

My mind is constantly random thoughts, quite often about insignificant moments in my past and I have zero control over it, on top of that it is really hard for me to concentrate because of earworms (songs stuck in my head playing in loop for hours ).

I also have a pretty lonely life which isn't making things easier but the more I think about it, the more It feels like meditation is a waste of time for me.

Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2013, 05:15:48 AM »
hi,

i think anti depressants help in calming down the mind so it also slows down the thoughts hence easy to meditate. But it can be said that it is a form of sensual pleasure as it creates mild sensations in body to produce calmer mind. So even though it helps in meditation it has to be realized that it is impermanent and depending on them is not logically right. Normal everyday sensations will return as soon as we stop taking them. 
(i have no experience of anti depressants but my case was same with weed)

Slowly try to get adjusted to everyday sensations.

Quote
I often find myself cought in the torrent of my thoughts only to realize 10 minutes later that I completely lost track of my breath.
this should not happen, work harder

Quote
The strange thing is that it seems like I enter in a dream like state, by that I mean that I am barely conscious of those thoughts, they are rarely logical and I usually remember only a tiny fraction of them.

This i would consider as a progress, your mind moves from usual ego thoughts to this dream like state. Its a more relaxed state and you have to learn to get control inside it and not fight it.

Matthew

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    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
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Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2013, 06:46:39 AM »
I have been meditating every day every morning after waking up and every evening before going to bed, I usually just try to focus my attention on my breathing. I have been suffering with depression all my life and I have been under antidepressants for two years. I started meditating the second year after taking taking antidepressant and the coumpounded effect of medication plus meditation was significant. Everytime I sat, I could stay extremely focused on my breath without being interrupted by my thoughts for a very long time and after sitting and I found myself in a detached, relaxed state most of the time.

Hello verdanais,

As something suggested in the reply above, the description of your meditation sounds like you were entering a mild hypnotic trance. Particularly your description of having no intrusive thoughts and the feeling of detachment afterwards. This is ok, it was what it was, and, as you describe, it can be very relaxing. Yet it is unusual to have no thoughts - especially as a beginner in meditation: usually there is a period where one becomes much more aware of intrusive thoughts due to being mindful, listening to the inner self, body and mind. Often depression is linked to not truly being mindful of the inner world due to some internal unresolved conflicts. I have often written on the forum describing the possibility that meditation becomes this self-hypnotism, it has some benefits such as you have described, yet the truth is that it does not lead to insight and understanding that can resolve these inner conflicts - this is potentially why in your meditation there is no peace now. Don't worry though, it's never too late :)

Because I was  concerned with the long term effects of antidepressants, I decided to stop taking this medication 2 years ago and unfortunately, I have almost never been able to reach deep states of meditation ever since. I am overwhelmed by the captivating power of my thought and despite all my efforts to just observe them and go back to counting my breath, I often find myself cought in the torrent of my thoughts only to realize 10 minutes later that I completely lost track of my breath.

Long-term use of antidepressants is a valid concern. Search YouTube and you will find a video by Gwen Olson (Olsen?) called 'confessions of an Rx-drug pusher' or something like that. In it she describes how pharmaceutical companies are creating life long customers for themselves. She was a very successful sales agent in that industry before she realised the dynamics of it, which she describes in the video.

Effectively most drugs, especially psychoactive ones, do not heal underlying causes but merely hide the symptoms. This is not to say that you should not take antidepressants, I am unqualified to tell you that. It is something you might consider after talking with your doctor, however, there is much research that suggests the best use of antidepressants is short term and in connection with other things that start to unfold the mysteries of why the depression is there; and also doing stuff that has been shown to help depression in the long term: such as taking up exercise, getting out, socialising and getting more sun exposure for example.

So the situation before, in summary, was that you were medicated to hide symptoms and meditated to hide symptoms. It does not need to be that way :)

The strange thing is that it seems like I enter in a dream like state, by that I mean that I am barely conscious of those thoughts, they are rarely logical and I usually remember only a tiny fraction of them.

The above statement seems to confirm my suspicion that your meditation has become a form of self hypnosis, 'dream state', 'barely conscious', 'usually remember .. a tiny fraction'.

It is interesting that you barely remember. Meditation is about mindfulness and the Pali word is Sati which is also synonymous with 'remembering'! Are you starting to see how the dots join up in this picture?

I cannot escape my thoughts and find a moment of peace anymore, I am thinking more and more about taking antidepressants again, what do you think I should do ?

Firstly I hope some of the above information will help you know there is hope for your situation, but neither my hope not your hope is going to solve the deeper issues: for this you need some practical advice, and if that advice agrees with your common sense, reason and experience, you will need to act on it.

Wherever you learned to meditate something went on that lead to you hypnotising yourself instead of meditating, being mindful, remembering.

I suspect this has something to do with the idea you express of 'escaping (your) thoughts' ..  It can't be done, well not unless you suppress them, which can be done with drugs and self hypnosis as you have already learned, yet this will solve nothing in the longer term, will not reveal (allow you to remember or be mindful of) whatever lies behind the depression you suffer.

There is this concept of 'right effort' and another concept 'the middle way'. Herein is the answer to some of your troubles. Self hypnosis usually arises due to too much effort or too little effort. In your case in your search for peace it may be that you tried hard, very hard, to learn to concentrate on the counting of breaths and, for a while and when you were also medicated, it sort of worked. The basic ingredient missing from this recipe is a very important one: relaxation, the other side of 'right effort', the part that ensures in our efforts to learn to concentrate we tread the middle way and don't fall of the path into laziness on one hand, or suppressing stuff through too much forced concentration that we are better served by being mindful of on the other hand.

So in this regard my advice to you differs 100% from siddarthegode's advice above. I do not think you need to try harder, you are clearly determined and putting in much effort. I think you need to try smarter :)

It is now 6.30am and after waking at 4.30am I read your post, meditated for 30 minutes, then spent one and a half hours drafting this reply to you. Sleep is wafting over me and it is important my mindfulness is strong, so for now I will stop here. Later today I will post again with some thought on how you can move forward. Thank you in advance for having some patience.

Warmly,

Matthew

~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

verdanais

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Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2013, 03:19:51 PM »
Thank you very much for this reply, I really appreciated it and it made me think of a lot of things. I completely agree with the the fact that I have this tendendcy to view meditation as a getaway instead of a lab where I can observe and dissect my own thoughts instead of running away from them.

You talked about relaxation, I think that is a major part of my problem (and maybe a lot of people), as an extremely anxious person relaxation is very hard for me.

It’s not even an intellectual phenomenom as much as a general “feeling”. I feel neither here nor somewhere else and my mind cannot rest on solid grounds anymore, that alone is a cause of stress for me.

Maybe that’s impermanence but at this stage this feeling of total detachment, of being lost between dream and reality feels more like a big obstacle than progress.

I have also tried chanting lately and it seems to work a little better for me, I feel much more focused and relaxed than when I concentrate on my breath but less thoughts arise.

Some people talk about being in the moment but this is very difficult when you don’t feel the reality of your experience or that you are even here.

dimeo

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Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2013, 04:49:26 PM »
When it comes to something like depression and biochemistry talk to the professionals who have education and training which makes them qualified to give you their opinion.   Personally I'd avoid advice from anyone who doesn't know you and your medical needs in detail.   There are many complex factors in your history that a Doctor / Psychologist would review first before advising.

Many of us I'm sure can relate to how the feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction with life can be difficult and overwhelming sometimes.  Regardless of the direction you go with your medication... what a great thing that you are pursuing a path of spiritual meaning in your life!  Why not continue with such things.   

What you say in your posts, shows that you are observant of your thoughts, developing insight and awareness.  This is not a waste of time, but of course like anything meaningful in life can be difficult, trying and confusing at times.  Keep at it.  Sometimes it seems like one step forward two steps back, sideways, and so on, before we see progress.

When you feel/think meditation is 'a waste of time', what do you believe would be a better use this moment right now?  Perhaps there is a chore that is more pressing that would be good to get done now first before sitting?   Sitting can be a good choice when one feels tired, overloaded, overstimulated, burdened.  It's good medicine for a wide range of suffering.  Sometimes a person needs to rest and seek refuge.


Just the other day I read in the news about a study that showed the benefits of meditation for depression and loneliness.   Here's an example study: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/meditation-reduces-loneliness-237463.aspx.

May you find refuge in the dharma and sangha!



something

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Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2013, 06:04:28 PM »
Maybe you can try to establish a new attitude towards the sitting: "Now i will allow myself to relax, i dont have to do anything further".

I assume that relaxing is also missunderstood pretty ofen.. at least i understand it, not to relax myself like hang out etc.. just to be with yourself with this subtile feeling that you dont have to do anything - this can be also while your body is trembling and cramping. I see it more as a acceptance of everything, which is there (and hypnotization is maybe always connected with a "i-must-do-something-attitude" like "i have to focus on my breath, that i dont think so much"). But yeah, it´s sometimes pretty hard and takes time to establish this attitude..

Matthew

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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2013, 12:26:27 AM »
verdanais,

I'm glad you found the words helpful. The second part I just spent some long time preparing (I'm away from home posting using an Android phone ... yawn) ... it got lost when I tried grabbing a link to share with you.

Please be patient with me - in the library tomorrow I can do it more easily. It's past bedtime now :)

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: I dont't know what to do anymore
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2013, 08:46:54 AM »
When it comes to something like depression and biochemistry talk to the professionals who have education and training which makes them qualified to give you their opinion.   Personally I'd avoid advice from anyone who doesn't know you and your medical needs in detail.   There are many complex factors in your history that a Doctor / Psychologist would review first before advising.

...
Just the other day I read in the news about a study that showed the benefits of meditation for depression and loneliness.   Here's an example study: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/meditation-reduces-loneliness-237463.aspx.

dimeo, something,

Your posts are delightfully inspiring.

Regarding medication, though - as I expressed (see below) it is advisable to consult a medic - they are not as all-knowing as you imply dimeo. Recently my doctor laughed out loud when I saw her for a regular consultation. 'Matthew', she said, 'last night we had a continuing professional development course. It was all about vitamin D. You've been telling me stuff about it for two years and, frankly, the guy running the course knew less than you! He could not answer some questions I asked based on what you have told me from your research. It would have been more helpful if you had been teaching the subject'.

However, as I said, my advice to verdanais came with the correct caveat:

Because I was  concerned with the long term effects of antidepressants ...

Long-term use of antidepressants is a valid concern. Search YouTube and you will find a video by Gwen Olson (Olsen?) called 'confessions of an Rx-drug pusher' or something like that. In it she describes how pharmaceutical companies are creating life long customers for themselves. She was a very successful sales agent in that industry before she realised the dynamics of it, which she describes in the video.

Effectively most drugs, especially psychoactive ones, do not heal underlying causes but merely hide the symptoms. This is not to say that you should not take antidepressants, I am unqualified to tell you that. It is something you might consider after talking with your doctor, however, there is much research that suggests the best use of antidepressants is short term and in connection with other things that start to unfold the mysteries of why the depression is there; and also doing stuff that has been shown to help depression in the long term: such as taking up exercise, getting out, socialising and getting more sun exposure for example.


Here is the video I referred to earlier:

Pharma Not in Business of Health, Healing, Cures, Wellness

Now, back to the main point.

verdanais,

... I completely agree with the the fact that I have this tendendcy to view meditation as a getaway instead of a lab where I can observe and dissect my own thoughts instead of running away from them.

Good. It is good that this is clear to you, it can mark the end of the old attitude and the start of a new one perhaps?

You talked about relaxation, I think that is a major part of my problem (and maybe a lot of people), as an extremely anxious person relaxation is very hard for me.

I understand fully. Relaxation is, however, a skill you are fully capable of learning. Sometimes you might want to try an experiment: just lay down and starting with your left toes say to yourself 'relax left toes' and physically relax them, then your left ankle, calf, upper leg. Spend 10-20 seconds gently relaxing each part. Do the same for the right leg, the pelvis and backside, the belly, the chest, lower and upper back, each arm: fingers, wrists, etc, up to the shoulders, the neck, the face (bit by bit works here too).

Try it and see, the whole exercise ought to take at least ten to fifteen minutes. Like learning a to ride a bike, you'll fall off occasionally, just get back on ... it is a very practical way of learning the physicality of true relaxation. It is also a meditation in itself.

It’s not even an intellectual phenomenom as much as a general “feeling”. I feel neither here nor somewhere else and my mind cannot rest on solid grounds anymore, that alone is a cause of stress for me.

I've experienced this and it's quite unpleasant. The exercise suggested above will help. Also you are not wrong when you write:

Maybe that’s impermanence but at this stage this feeling of total detachment, of being lost between dream and reality feels more like a big obstacle than progress.

You are experiencing a contact with impermanence, yet right now it's 'too close for comfort', so start with learning to relax the body - the mind will follow (this is in fact one of the key effects of full-body awareness Anapana or mindfulness of breathing).

I have also tried chanting lately and it seems to work a little better for me, I feel much more focused and relaxed than when I concentrate on my breath but less thoughts arise.

If you want to use this as a way of relaxing ok, however, it sounds like it may risk becoming hypnotic again so be aware.

Some people talk about being in the moment but this is very difficult when you don’t feel the reality of your experience or that you are even here.

Indeed, being in the moment takes some time of right practice based on right view (understanding). First get the taste of relaxation, then let's get started with a form of meditation that is about developing calm concentrated but awake and aware states.

For the meditation maybe you could read the calm abiding instructions linked from the homepage and give it a try? I would consider it wise to drop the counting completely as you may have strong habits/tendencies towards hypnotic states linked to this.

The important thing is breathing in and out aware of bodily sensations, calming the body, and letting thought wash over you like waves rising and falling on a beach, aware but not attaching to it.

Other practical stuff I have already mentioned: exercise (physical) - if you don't now then I'd strongly suggest starting. Swimming is a good one for body and mind. Even just walking for half an hour or more a day will help.

Socialising: I know this can be terrifically tough in depression yet if you get creative and make gentle steps it will be very helpful.

Talking of creative: writing, painting, singing, learning or playing an instrument or singing: all good stuff.

You do not have to live with depression. In addition to considering medication it may be wise to seek help from a therapist or counsellor. There are even some mindfulness based therapies that might suit you as you already have a mindfulness practice.

As I wrote earlier you need to act on those advices that agree with you. I fully understand this is one of the hardest things to do when depression is a major part of the landscape, however, it is the way out and the door is open for you to walk through ...

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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