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Recovery and Rehabilitation
I have decided to go on a course of paroxetine too see if this might help lift my mood and function better. I took it it 2011 before any knowledge of looking or anything like this and it seemed to work, maybe only as a placebo but something happened. Back then I remember my self-esteem increased and my self image became more positive and acceptable, at least to me.
The difference now is that I don't think my self image is as lucid and real as it was back then. I am much more present to the moment and the movement of life seems to capture more of my attention than the constantly wrestling thinking patterns. Saying that, I wonder if this drug may work well with looking and have a positive effect. I know that they can be addictive once started so I'l try it for a year max.
Any ones experience or thoughts on these drugs whilst looking would be greatly appreciated.... I've seen people post about this in the past but I wonder if there are any fresher ideas about using these drugs post looking.
If you do a search on the research on exercise you will find that there are many good studies that show that exercise is as effective on moderate depression as SSRIs. SSRIs are only about 40% effective, a little better than a placebo. I would say try exercise first, if depression is the problem. Now anxiety is another animal and I don't know the research on anxiety and SSRIs, but you could check it out.
In regards to depression, exercise increases something called BDNF, or brain derived neurotrophic factors. This substance is produced in the brain and has both protective actors against neurotoxins, like high levels of cortisol that often go with depression, and it also increases neurogenenisis, or the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is associated with memory and emotional regulation. This is a rather new area of research (BDNF) and the discoveries are still coming in. Interestingly, fasting has similar effects on the brain as exercise. Both stress the brain, which is a good thing as it increases levels of BDNF. I have experimented with an intermittent fasting regime for the last 5 weeks and have experienced favorable symptom relief from depression, on othe order of when I used to run long distances. It's not as draconian as it might sound. I stop eating after dinner, around 7 and don't eat again until 11 am. This is a 16 hour fast which allows an 8 hour eating window, where I eat as much as I normally eat. After 12 hours of fast I got the liver switches from burning glucose as fuel to burning fat...this is ketosis. Researchers have found that the byproducts of ketosis, ketones, are actually the better fuel for the brain over glucose, probably affecting all brain functioning. For more info on this, you can look up a tedx talk by a John's Hopkins researcher named, Mark Mattson.
Your decision to go on SSRIs is, of course, an individual decision and I'm not saying don't do it, but it might be useful to explore these other areas as well, maybe in conjunction with SSRIs. I would advise seeing SSRIs as a temporary measure with plans up front on withdrawing after 6 months or so. Many folks go on these meds for life and the longer you are on them the harder it is to get off, in my experience in working with kids as a clinical social worker.
Bottom line, do the research on exercise, diet and fasting and avoid the pseudo-science info in this area. In regards to the looking, my anxiety went away almost completely after 3-3.5 years. My depressive states hung on longer, but have gotten better after 4 years and using the measures I describe above. It does get better!
Jim sorry I don't have any experience to share in this area. Seems to me you need to try these meds out and see for yourself if they can help you, I know that's what I'd have to do.
For me nothing other than one look at me and learning to guide attention has worked in the fashion it is talked about here.
Can add that going half-manic on attention practice has done wonders for my fear and worrying lately, I don't know how determined you are to work with it but I strongly encourage anyone really to put all eggs in one basket, at least for a while, and see if there's anything to it. Do it every waking minute you think to do it with intent and determination to become a friggin pro. The misery is still around surely, but it is just depressing and beside the point, deserves way less attention than it calls to itself.
The hardest part is to keep practicing when everything is awesome, but doing so is like exercising with extra weights and totally rewarding in that sense. Somehow deeper than whatever is making my day awesome in the first place.
I used to use SSRI's for depression before looking for many years (more than 10 altogether) without any discernible effect on depression. They just made me sleep bad. As Jackx says, the effectiveness of SSRI's have been contested, some saying that they are not actually any more effective than placebos, considering all the research results withheld by the drug companies involved in developing them. That's what I've heard. Placebo effect in itself is not to be dismissed, though.
I've greatly improved along the years since I started looking. These days, depression is for the most part a thing of the past, and I attribute it to the looking. I practise the attention directing very infrequently and lazily, so I find some inspiration in roed's posting. Maybe I should do it some more. Some consequences of depression are still there, the habits that developed due to depressed mind, and the lack of development, too. These might also change over the course of recovery.
I practise intermittent fasting, too, or it might be more accurate to say intermittent feeding, as some suggest. My fast is even longer most days being 19 hours and 5 hours of feeding (fast-5 method), but I'm relaxed and flexible about this these days. It's worth saying here that if you have eating disorders or compulsive eating, it might get aggravated in the adjusting period to this regime. What some call limbic hunger might eventually go, referring to wanting to eat when not physically hungry after some time, and healing some of the obsessive eating. All in all, I find fasting a very fascinating thing and it suits me well. It's empowering. I don't like to be eating all the time. I don't do it for the mind, but for the body, mostly. I believe looking has brought some self-reliant confidence and clear headedness on this issue, too. You might want to check on "fasting mimicking diet" which has been developed at the University of California (I think) to mimic the positive effects of fasting but making it easier, if you're interested in all this. Basically it's a 4 day period of eating certain way to get a fast response in the body repeated a few times a year. It has been shown to improve many health markers dramatically while being easier than actual fasting for some. This is a new development.
I would promote the attention directing exercise for depression, too, but if you want to do more and easier things, those other things might be useful.
Thanks for these responses.
Exercise and the paroxetine is the way I'm going to go from here. I may think about the fasting methods another time. I am also very lazy when it comes too the focused attention but to be honest I don't feel like I've needed it. My life has been very stress free lately as I have only just started working for the first time in two months and I have been living like a recluse. Not such a bad thing in the coldest months of the year. The problem with this is when I have to talk to people it gets more and more difficult.
Seppo, I was convinced that it was a placebo effect that worked for me last time on that medication but I cannot be sure. I know a few people who really feel they need it and without they become major depressed and suicidal. I don't get bad depression so I am using the drug for anxiety mostly. But with anxiety does come low moods and isolation with me.
Last month I became so used to my own company that I was convinced that I would be content and happy (possibly) if I never saw another person again. Even my family. Some would call this depression but it just seemed so comfortable not to have to worry about having to go out and deal with the fear and alienation. The fact that fear is what made me like this in the first place means I would be doing it for the wrong reasons though. Unless I tried to become a hermit out in the wild somewhere I have to go out into the world where people know me and I need to socialise to make a living.
So, I am hoping this drug will help spur me on a bit. May sound a bit reckless but it could be worth a try.
Thanks again for the replies!!!
Good info, Seppo, thanks. I tend to binge on food, especially in the winter, when my depression hits hard, and have found fasting to regulate my appetite and my whole relationship with food, as well as my mood. I feel like this is what John means about when he talks about 'natural intelligence'. We find what works for us in our particular body/brains. I like 'self-reliant confidence and clear headedness'. Sums it up.
Do feel that fasting helped your mood regulation?
Good luck, Jim. My wife is on paroxetine for anxiety and it works well.
The drugs might have helped me when I was first diagnosed and this might be due to placebo effect, or not. I've told this before here in some earlier thread that in the neuroscience lab I do cleaning in the mornings there was some research done on the SSRI's and they find that they increase neuroplasticity in the brain, making them more flexible. This might explain some of the effects and why the best response comes with drugs combined with psychotherapy. If one feels they help I don't see why they shouldn't use them, especially if the side effects aren't too bad. I had go on sleeping pills every time I used them.
Jackx, I don't think fasting has done much regarding my mood. At first with fast-5 method, I did experience the lessening of the so called limbic hunger and it made me feel better. I get binges still, especially when I get very hungry and because I haven't got rid of the compulsive sweet/fat combination in my diet. If I did, I'd have to reconsider my fasting as I wouldn't get enough calories. My sugar intake concerns me, but I feel the recovery might take it away at some point. I feel lost and empty and try to add some feeling by eating cookies and cakes and chocolate, to get something going on in my mind. Now, clearly this is a dysfunctional pattern of behaviour and might not survive the recovery as it advances. I hope it won't.
I believe exercise is good for depression as well, but in my case I lacked the motivation. If you just want to lay down and die and don't care about nothing much, it's hard to see why exercise. I got into training with weights about ten years ago whenever I felt better and it might kept the bad feelings at bay somewhat. These days my exercise is minimal, but I've read some interesting theory about HIT, high intensity training, where you train briefly and infrequently but intensely, meaning doing your set till you can't do another rep. It's very demanding but I believe it has effects less intensive training doesn't have. I'm quite sure more research will be conducted on this in the future (it's been looked into since the 60s, before the jogging and other cardio exercise was promoted so much in the seventies, as result of a fad and inaccurate research methods, I've read). It's even said that it gives better overall cardiovascular conditioning than the regular running etc. This way you don't need to spend much time in the gym and it's much safer. It makes sense that the quality and intensity of muscular stimulation gives better results. I can see the shift happening with HIIT, high intensity interval training where you cycle or run with the highest intensity possible for less than minute and repeat it a few times per exercise and a per week. This has shown to be effective for many people replacing hours of steady state exercise giving the same or even better results. But I think training with weights has been ignored some in favour of the so called cardiovascular exercise. Anyway, this is just a side issue and my view (actually, of many other's, too) and mentioned in case you're interested and looking for your way to exercise. There are alternative views on this as well. But any movement for the body is potentially good for you, both mind and body, unless it's done in excess.
Jim, your feelings about being content without seeing a single human being are familiar to me, especially in teens. Then I got depressed as a young adult and felt that I failed to make connection with others and was depressed for the next 20 years. Until recently, when the feelings of not needing others are coming back. I believe this is because I'm healing. I feel I have more room to be with or without other people. I'm less anxious about how I'm seen or what others think about me, while also being more relaxed and direct in saying what I think. And more confident. What I'd like to find these days is a project to do and pour my energies into.
The thing about attention practice is that it is totally unlike any other thing you do, while all the other things are the same.
Thanks, Seppo. I have heard of HIT and try to do some of it in my exercise. Walking hills, short burst running, etc. For me, exercise and other monotonous activities are the times when I do attention exercises. Focus on my breathing, or my step cadance, etc. It's comfortable and something I can bring my attention back to.
I also struggle with compulsive eating, or have in the past. I pretty much have to cut sugar out of my diet. I've read where fasting better regulates the hormone ghrelin which manages appetite. I have found that fasting pretty much took away my impulse to overeat and regulated my satiety levels. There are definitely parallels between the effects of exercise and fasting on the brain, which is why I suspect it may help with mood as well.
I have found a theme between fasting and directed attention, that I can't quite verbalize. I believe there is s deeper connection between the looking, directed attention and other basic, primal activities such as eating/not eating, focused attention/diffuse attention or zoning, as I said, I can't quite put it into words, but it feels the looking process has sensitized me to these basic functions in a new and rather intense way. For example, you can choose to read social media or direct your attention (look up from your computer) outside and watch the birds or wind in the trees. You can be more structured and chose to fast from social media. Perhaps, just as with fasting from food, your taste and senses will refine and your satiety set point will change, thereby becoming satisfied with 'low stimulation' input.
Jackx, those are interesting reflections. I need to think about what you said on attention practice relating to fasting, satiety point etc. I wish I could cut sugar from my diet, but strangely I don't feel too alarmed about it anymore. One of the troubles with not getting to work I'd like to do, painting, is perhaps that I spend a lot of time online looking into the many things I'm interested in. Painting requires a special frame of mind and another kind of time. All this digital stimulation leads elsewhere, so some kind of digital media fast would be in order.
To comment some more on the HIT. The short bursts you etc. are more HIIT (the extra 'I' there meaning intervals), which is different. In HIT you don't have intervals, you do it very slowly, which strangely enough, adds to the intensity. And makes it safer for your joints and easier to watch your posture, etc. The point is to do the set (of weight training) to failure, which means until you can't move your load anymore. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve. When the fatigue hits, it starts to feel uncomfortable and your minds starts to scream for you to stop, you're suppose to carry on. If the load still moves, you go on until you fail, and still push for 10 seconds. This ensures the optimal stimulation to the muscle cells. The point is not to move certain amount of iron certain amount of times, but to send a message to your cells. This is so intense or even a little bit frightening, that it might take some time to get to the actual point where you fail. At least it did for me. This requires attending to your mind, which is quite close to attention practice. You turn your attention away from the thoughts that tell you to stop and only watch your movement until it stops. So it's quite a mental exercise. I think I get better at it the more I practice attention directing. This kind of training is so demanding that you can hardly do it longer than 30 min. Also, they say it requires longer recovery. So you make it short, intense and with a week or more between each set (one set per exercise each session). More on this google Doug McDuff or Drew Baye, for example, if you're interested. There are videos of how it looks like on Youtube.
I think the intensity of it might contribute to distracting you from depressive feelings, plus the the physical intensity of it draws you to your body way from your head. It might be that the connection between attention training and physical trying and fasting is the intelligence of body and mind awakening, now that I think about it.
To add some thoughts to this thread, I've been continuing with HIT, IF (intermittent fasting) and attention exercise, and those things have made a difference. I'm not sure which one is the most responsible for this. I'm more and more confident that depression is in the past, apart from the regular kind on changes in the mood. I've been drawn to whole food plant-based diet lately, and been eating mostly vegan for the past few weeks. This have made a big difference in my mood, too, which is consistent with recent studies made with increasing fruit and vegetables in your diet. Serving by serving, the amount of fruit and veggies have been found to make people happier, up to 8 servings a day (if I remember correctly). I've been vegan and raw foodist before but it feels different now. I'm more level headed about it this time. I'm not trying to save my life with diet anymore, covering up something else with health obsession. I'm curious about the optimal diet, but I seem to be able to keep the theory and my eating practice separate these days and watch them both unfolding and merging on their own, without too much forcing. It's an exercise in excellence, trying to do things as well as you can, but being grounded in reality of your own situation and pace of progress. It's very satisfying.
The thing that makes the most difference about eating now is that I'm not using food as entertainment as much anymore. Somehow it's just losing it's hold as a mental habit and addiction. I keep a "fun day" a week when I eat whatever I fancy, and I'm flexible when I'm offered food that isn't ideal, which is a sign of progression, too. I don't feel the need to be rigid about it. I can enjoy unhealthy food on occasion, but don't feel as drawn too it as I used to. We discussed sugar and food addiction in some other thread, but I seem to be busting my sugary food habit, which is great relief. It's early yet, but I feel some confidence already. Actually, I felt confident that I will (at some level) when the time comes, a couple of years ago already, and hopefully it's now happening. It's strange, this confidence, like you know that those good things will happen. Because the basis for the bad habits is basically gone. This all translates to overall trust satisfaction towards life. And then you get curious about it all and think "Heck, whatever else is possible!?" You keep pushing your previous boundaries further and it's exiting. This is such a long way from the depression, pessimism and paralysis I used to live in.
Jackx, I think I can now see some connection between attention practice and fasting and other such physical and mental disciplines, in them being some kind of intelligence about self regulation. Too much indulgence in thought, food or physical laziness won't feel good or optimal.
What comes to company and social relationships, I've become freer with them, too. I'm more relaxed with people but I'm not looking for a salvation in relationship anymore. I cherish the freedom to be by myself, and I enjoy the occasional social engagement. I'm quite amazed to find this happening.
I could have almost written this post as my own, Seppo. I'm pretty much on the same track. I am not nearly as intense and compulsive about food and diet, yet am probably eating better and feeling better than ever. I am not trying to use food as a vehicle to transformation or salvation, as you say. It's just food, it's just our bodies, and just life, right?
I can't pinpoint causality either. I just think the looking initiates a major sea change and each person finds their way as they ride out the changes in their own mind and body. It's really great that you're feeling the effects so profoundly, I am too. I just wish that others could experience the same changes. It's amazing that the effect of the fear so thoroughly blocks such a simple little thing, no?
Yes Jackx, sea change it is. What is interesting to me these days is how this change translates into choices in daily life, and visions about the directions one should pursue. Or a vision/s for humanity at large. There are countless interesting philosophies and ideas about what an ideal society would look like, how we should live for it to be sustainable etc, but I kind of believe that this change channels one into a slight, or perhaps quite profound, shift in the angle about them. I can sometimes feel that there is a pattern to how I relate to ideas about food, health, society, politics, sustainability and so on, but I can't quite verbalise it.
It seems, though, that I'm still looking for definite answers and I'm a bit uneasy about most things being incomplete, in process and always changing. I wonder if this unease is natural or if it will go drop away eventually? I'm still quite the perfectionist and it leads to certain dissatisfaction. But this bothers me less, it kind of sits in a different context now. Food is just food, and some disease or another will finish each of us off anyway, but if I can do something about it with diet, then I can pursue it with new kind of freedom when I don't seek distraction, or salvation from eating. It's this freedom that is that compels you to learn more and go further. Regarding diet, it's new to me because I didn't feel free about what I eat. Let's see how things develop.
I know what you mean about societal focus and how to make the world better. I am in my mid-fifties with two kids. Makes me think a lot about our world. I think the fear-free perspective allows us to intuit things that fear occluded and we make decisions based on our context and perspective. I have recently been convicted about how I spend money. I believe it is the most political thing we can do besides voting, actually way more important than voting, as we vote with our money every day. Perhaps redirecting our money is like redirecting our attention. I saw clearly how fear and greed have conditioned us so thoroughly and how the big interest (energy, pharma, medical, food, and military) have sickened us, weakened the earth, and thoroughly conditioned us as consumers and politically. I am planning to put solar panels on my house and buy an electric car, even if it's a stretch financially, because I need to personally do something about global warming. Also, buy less animal products and buy locally, etc. give to organizations like this one. That's just my own take on things, someone else may be convicted to act differently based on their context. The key is acting. Before the look, I thought about things, talked a good talk, but never made a move. I can't take away their fear, but I can redirect my money away from fear into life affirming business.
We look, we see, we act. As our minds heal the world heals because the world is contained in our mind?
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