In the most recent MAPS session we continued our focus on Depression. We worked on interpreting emotions, breaking the lethargy cycle and enhancing our social networks.
We began the day by focusing on interpreting unpleasant emotions. We had previously done a lot of work on thoughts in depression so now it was time to focus on the emotions. We were exposed to a model of interpreting unpleasant emotions which first began with distancing self from the feeling. This includes removing our personal ownership of the feeling and interpreting this feeling as a bodily sensation. It is then necessary to monitor the feelings in a mindful way in which we observe them without judgement. Instead of condemning ourselves for the emotion we observe them and label them so that we can better conceptualise them. It is then useful to assess the feeling. What is the message it is trying to send us? Is it a bad day or in response to a life event? Is it associated with negative self-talk and if so is that self-talk occasional or is it more intense and could indicate a relapse into a mood episode? Is it in response to a problem? Can this problem be solved easily or not? What coping strategies and resources do I have available to respond to the problem or cope with my response. I found this strategy very useful especially the elements about not judging the feeling. I can see this working very well for me in periods of depression.
After focusing on cognition and emotion we moved on to behaviour through examining the behaviour poverty and lethargy cycle. This cycle describes the way that when we are depressed the less we do the less we want to do. And then the more depressed we feel the less we do. It is is important to break the cycle by doing something pleasurable or something rewarding. This can also involve breaking activities down into small, even minute, components to create a sense of achievement. It also important to be mindful during these activities to increase awareness of bodily sensation and enjoyment of activity. My go to activity lately has been juggling as it shakes my mind and my body up, is pleasurable and is rewarding and challenging.
Our final part of the session was spent examining our social networks and our resources for coping. It got me thinking about how this group has opened up my support networks and given me a whole new variety of people to work with. It also made me reflect on my own practice in interacting with my support networks and asking for help. I think it is an area in which I have grown tremendously over the last 12 months.
Next session we begin our focus on mania which I will be interested in as I experience mania in a way different to the majority of people (more on that next week) so I hope there is some useful information for me to take away.