In a recent article in NZ Listener Marc Wilson writes about people “suffering panic attacks”.  I often hear people talking about “panic attacks.”

There seem to be a lot of them around.  I’ve never actually seen one myself.

Some years ago I made a major life decision. As a result I was feeling alone, insecure and uncertain about the future.  A very sympathetic friend listened to me as I spoke about how depressed I was feeling.   He said something like, “You are telling me that just at the moment you are feeling depressed. I’m curious, how are you making yourself depressed?”

It was one of those situations where someone’s words turned my life around.

My first response was to think “I’m not making myself depressed.  It is something that is happening to me.” Then as we talked it through I came to believe a number of life changing things.

Being anxious, depressed, angry or whatever is something that I do rather than something that happens to me. 

Since it is a process I can find ways to change it.  It is not a thing that has to be removed.

Using the right words is one way I can start being more in control rather than feeling that I am a helpless victim.  Just thinking “I am depressing myself, or I am anxious-ing”, lightens the load a bit.

My friend coached me to “rewire” my brain in a few minutes by asking me to consider the answers to these questions:

  • How do you know when it’s time to be depressed?
  • How depressed do you want to be?
  • What good does it do?
  • What do you want to achieve by depressing yourself?
  • What other ways could you get that?
  • How will you know when you are no longer depressing yourself?
  • What will that be like?
  • What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t stop depressing yourself?
  • What would happen if you didn’t stop depressing yourself?
  • What would happen if you did stop depressing yourself?
  • What wouldn’t happen if you did stop depressing yourself?

As I walked away from that conversation, life seemed brighter,  and there was a sort of harmony and peacefulness within me.  It was the beginning of a new transformed life for me. I still did depress myself at times – the difference was now I could cope with it more easily and sooner .  I have learned other ways to be in charge of my feelings and behaviours. And I have coached many others do do the same.