“The way of the world is greatest. Winter is the coldest, the spring most icy—it’s cold for the longest— the summer the most sun-beautiful…the truth is very tricky” – London, BL, Cotton Tiberius B.i. (“Maxims II”)
“Your right is to perform your work, but never to the results. Never be motivated by the results of your actions, nor should you be attached to not performing your prescribed duties.” – Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 47.
Disclaimer: I have encountered the sources above in my reading and both have influenced my thoughts, as I will relate them in this article. I am neither qualified nor do I intend to comment upon the ‘correct’ meaning of the texts I have mentioned.
I’m quite open to discussing my mental health on my blog – you can see from my posts, such as this one and this one, that whenever I address an issue, however big or small, I like to reroute it back to hope and recovery from distorted thinking patterns. Why? For me, at this point in time, my mind is always on my mind. I want to be happy, grow and enjoy life, but a swarm of unhelpful thoughts seem to be getting in the way.
The only way I know how to solve problems is by thinking. Cognitive work has been the bread and butter of my success so far, or at least what I would consider as worldly achievements. How else would I have received an offer at the University of Oxford? My thoughts produce my writing. If I couldn’t write, then to what use would I come to society? My mind deems there is too much at stake to loosen its hold and continues to try to think better.
Now, to be faced with the news that your mind no longer works like it used to is devastating for a person like me. My mind does what it’s supposed to do, yes, but I have realised that I have depended upon it too long. I am lost and afraid. What I thought was a lifeboat turned out to be punctured, and now I have to swim, but I’ve never quite learnt (does that analogy work? Let me know…) I am reminded of the film ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ where the schizophrenic protagonist, John Nash, believes he can “reason” his way out of his problems. I am starting to realise what his doctor’s response meant: “Your mind is where the problem is in the first place.” Maybe there were stressors in my environment, yes. But my mind was the cauldron where all of it stewed. Imagination and cognitive power were the deadly ingredients that enabled it all to come out spilling, leaking, spewing out everywhere. Call it depression, anxiety or whatever other mental health difficulty, but it is in short, the mind directing too much power back in upon itself. A short-circuit of sorts.
Okay, so I’ve made three different analogies in the space of one paragraph, and they don’t really go together, but bear with me as I get this out on the page.
Research has established that CBT is very effective at alleviating symptoms of depression. It seems contradictory now that I think I’ve failed at thinking myself into wellbeing. How can an unwell mind take its own instructions on how to get better? It seems to me that I’ve snipped away the behavioural part of CBT to my own convenience, relying too much on “cognitive therapy.” Thinking myself into wellbeing or dissecting my unease has not worked very much for me; I say that after 6 years or more of analysing myself. Truth is tricky, as Maxims II, an Old English poem, concludes – just when I thought I was doing so well, and working so hard to repair myself via my thoughts, I realise that it didn’t achieve as much as I would have liked. At the same time, all the evidence shows that ignoring cognitions altogether is not the solution.
I am altering my tack. It will be a useful experiment – to see whether, if I focus more on going about my daily tasks well, my mind is compelled to change its old, faulty ways of thinking. Please leave a comment – I’d love to make this discussion extend beyond just me, myself and I. Also, don’t forget to like and follow to read more posts like these!