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Friday, January 20, 2017

A new way of thinking

I thought Dr. G wouldn't start tapering down the dosage of my meds because of the depressive episode I had this week.

I was wrong.

And in the history of being wrong, this is the time when I am happy that I was wrong. Dr. G started to taper down my dosage of Lamotrigine (anticonvulsant).

In this post, I wrote about my depressive episode that started last Monday and ended on Wednesday night. But after talking about it with PM and my friends, I stopped feeling bad and I started to calm down. When I was already in a calm state, I looked back at the events and realized that these feelings and thoughts were just cognitive distortions.

Looking at them now, I can say that I am starting to get better in dealing with these kinds of thoughts. These thoughts and feelings are not wrong. I have reasons why I came up with these. But cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been teaching me how to see things from another perspective and has been helping me change my thinking patterns.

Whenever I have a depressive episode, these come in succession: sad thoughts, followed by insecurity. It's as if they form a package deal. Z is the strongest trigger of my insecurity (although she doesn't know this and this isn't her own doing. It's not her fault). And when I get insecure of her, I feel small; I feel that I am not smart; I feel that I am not talented; and I feel that I have to prove to people that I am the better choice. I feel these things. These are constantly in my mind.

But do I have concrete evidence that support these thoughts? Did any of PM's fraternity brods, sorority sisses, friends, family, and relatives tell him (or me) that I am not a good choice? The answer is no. So why do I need to convince them? As what my friend Dr. T told me, the only people that I need to convince are PM and myself. PM doesn't need any more convincing, so it is just me that I need to convince.

Putting it that way makes me see that there is nothing for me to be insecure of. Friends of mine, especially those who know Z, have been telling me that for quite a time already. But sometimes, I fail to remind myself of that. I fail to see the qualities that make me unique. All I can see are the things she can do that I can't. I dwell on the past even if the present is showing me something beautiful. Now, I can appreciate myself better. I recognize that I am also good at what I do, and that makes me smart, too.

CBT has also taught me to stop feeling bad about things that I cannot control. Negative things happen, and they happen not because of a fault of mine. Because of CBT, I have stopped blaming myself for things that I cannot control. Anyway, blaming myself won't change these negative things. It won't make the bus go faster if I am running late. It will not turn back time and let me change what I did or what other people did. Self-blame would just make me feel bad about myself and would send me into a downward spiral. It's not helpful at all.

Seeing my good qualities and stopping the self-blame are I guess the biggest proof that I am improving. Maybe this is what Dr. G was waiting to hear from me, that's why she decided that we can start tapering down the dosage of of one of one my meds. She asked me which of these two do I want to taper down: Quetiapine (antipsychotic) or Lamotrigine (anticonvulsant). I chose Lamotrigine. I would've wanted to choose Quetiapine because it is the most expensive medicine among the three that I am taking. But it plays a bigger role in keeping me stable. Plus, it helps me sleep, so I chose Lamotrigine instead.

I don't know how many CBT sessions I have left. I will see Dr. G again in February. I am hoping that on my next session, we will taper down the dosage of Lamotrigine even more. And if we can taper down the dosage of my two other medicines, well, that would be even better.

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