Emotional Overreactions and Depression

Yesterday I was having a good day. This doesn’t happen to me all that often but I was being all productive and downright cheery. Miracles. Every day.

But then something happened. It wasn’t an earth-shattering thing, it was just a thing. A life thing. A thing that your average person would feel bad about but not the end of the world.

Just the end of my world.


Depression is a funny thing. Not so much funny ha ha but more funny want to slit your throat. Depression makes you believe things that aren’t true. Depression makes you believe that you are lowly, that you are nothing, that you are unlovable, that you are unlikeable, and a host of other things all seemingly designed to tear you to the floor.

And it’s really unfortunate when life events work to confirm, or seemingly confirm, these false beliefs.

It’s About Me

So a little life event then, that’s unfortunate but hardly inconceivable, suddenly feels like the end of your, personal, universe (or the universe in general depending on your level of depression).  Suddenly something bad happening is about you. It’s your fault. It proves that you are dysfunctional. It proves that no one loves you now or ever will in the future.

Depressed EmotionUm, It’s Really Not About Me

But then, we all know that Bad Things Happen to Good People. And this isn’t just the title of a book or an engaging speech. What this means is that you can be the best person in the world, the most loveable, the most worthy, and still, Bad Things Will Happen. Because bad things do. Happen. To everyone.

And that extreme overreaction of taking a small event and allowing the crazy to blow it out of proportion is the thing that’s about me, not the little life event itself. The little life event is random and not about me in the slightest.

Emotional Overreactions and Depression

And an overreaction doesn’t just ruin your whole day, it might ruin your whole week as you find yourself shedding a week’s worth of water from your eyeballs. Energy goes. Motivation goes. Self-confidence vanishes and self-doubt flourishes. In all, it just ruins a human period and it can take more than a bit of time to bounce back.

Avoiding Depression Overreaction

OK, I admit, I don’t have the answer on this one. If I did, I wouldn’t have overreacted now would I? But I do think it’s prudent to pay attention and try to nip overreaction in the bud. In my case I was aware that I was doing it, I knew that it was crazy and I still couldn’t stop it, but that’s me.

Here are some suggestions for avoiding an emotional overreaction thanks to depression:

  • Remember that life events neither confirm nor deny who you are. They aren’t about you.
  • Nip overreaction in the bud – it’s easier to survive a breeze than a hurricane.
  • Use your self-talk. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone else who this happened to.
  • Do a reality check. Don’t know if you’re having a reasonable reaction? Check with others.
  • Do something else – pass by the event by moving on to something you want to do, maybe something that engages others who can affirm who you are.

Because you are better than depression would have you believe and you deserve to believe that.

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  1. Pingback: BPD Awareness Month (Demonic Thoughts/Obsessive Thoughts) | Borderline Personality disorder awareness blog

  2. I can’t tell if I’m just down and sad rather than being actually depressed. My mom insults me, but II can fix them I’m sure I’m just lazy you know? this isnt a diagnosis I agree, but today a speaker at my highschool talked about it and it’s really hard to distinguish if youre sad and lazy or depressed. I never know if depression is real because it seems like teenagers, especially in highschool, often use it was an excuse for putting things off or to get symathy. I don’t want to ask my doctor about this as it doesn’t seem relevant, but is there a possible professional who can advise me?

  3. My overreactions are a result of a series of painful, seemingly never-ending difficulties that have been going on for about five years. I feel like my resilience is gone. I have been carrying this load for so long, every little problem is magnified a million times. It’s like carrying a boulder on your back, and then a feather lands on your back and suddenly it’s too much to carry.

  4. – I agree with this so much i know what it feels like to be depressed at such a young age yes i may be young but i go through more then any 16 year old should this site really helped.

    • the best thing I can say is don’t let it take your life, my mother did and now there are 5 brother and sisters all with different addictions and mental problems thanks to one.
      I wont quit I cant my jobs not done.

  5. I don’t think this is to diagnose anyone. It’s simply out there to let other’s going thru the same feelings, and thoughts that other people do. For all you people telling people expressing their thoughts or feelings towards the above by Natasha are ridiculous! These PEOPLE are going thru enough trying to understand “why.” Why must you make it harder on them? Yes, they are complete stranger’s, Yes, the internet is for everyone to voice their opinion in confidentiality or whatever crap you tell yourself, but what if your rude comment(s) push someone’s button to the point where they do something awful? What than? I know you won’t care. But that PERSON’S family will. That basically makes you a bully/ murderer. We should be lifting each other up. Not bringing each other down. Maybe it’s YOU that needs help. For those PEOPLE going thru this type of MEDICAL CONDITIONS please get help. We can’t do it alone. Although we want to. It’s ok to read other’s stories and feel like they relate, but we have to do more for ourselves to get better, and just be HAPPY. God bless you ALL. (Notice how I use the word PEOPLE. We’re all human, let’s act like it.

  6. Hi everyone1 I just want to say I am very glad I stumbled upon this page because I am having terrible anxiety and depression that I just can’t shake. I know it may have a lot to do with being laid off as I live in Michigan and work at a Golf course, but I go through this every year and have never had it this bad. I am having terrible irrational thoughts and cant seem to control them . Any advice would be welcomed and appreciated.

    • I have Bipolar with manic depression I am also rapid cycling at the moment I also have bad Anxiety and Panic attacks, it got so bad for me that I had to quit my job of 8 years working in a bakery because I would break out in tears without warning or anger so I know how you feel Depression is my middle name the only thing that keeps me sane are my doctors who help keep my medacations on check and also talk to me about how I am feeling and what I do about it so the first thing I will tell you is to get to dr and get help please don’t wait any longer I have also tried to end my life and that’s not good if you need to talk cal me my husband is from Detroit we live in Alabama now my cell is 1-334-590-9175 I go to bed around 9 my time let me know how you are doing sometime I will also pra for you

  7. This post was a huge comfort to me. I have been really struggling with my depression & feeling ashamed & embarrassed about it, but reading your article made me see that others go through this too & I am not a big pathetic weirdo; I just have an illness that gets its claws under my skin & reduces me to a crying useless wreck curled into foetal position. Your comment about losing a weeks worth of water from your eyeballs made me laugh so much. I relate totally; I cry so much sometimes it is a wonder I have a face left.

    Thankyou for making me feel less ashamed & for being brave enough to share this with so many people.

  8. In the first scene of the movie “Silver linings playbook” (the story of a bipolar man), he maintained that his illness is nothing but being ‘caught up in a state of negative thinking’. wow. That hit home with me.
    I don’t think most of us are aware of it, but I believe that a daily build up of negative thinking, falacious beliefs about ourselves or about what others think about us, can eventually cause us to implode and lose control of ourselves in that loud, fierce and ugly manner we wish we didn’t own. This doesn’t excuse it, and I don’t expect sane people to understand my illness, or even want to, so I must take responsiblity for my own actions more or less, as I do have Some sanity left.
    I can’t blame All of my bad behavior on bipolar–we all know better than that. When a negative/bp mood hits me-I’m damned well aware of it. It’s so difficult to stop it.. so it happens. At the same time, I know I’m saying the wrong things, or overreacting in a wrong way to an innocent person, or a stranger or loved one. But it happens anyway. It’s out of my control, right? Most of the time I’d say it is.
    We don’t need news of a dead loved one to set us reeling, the crazy police are just mere moments away and we don’t need any horrific news or special prompting to lose control of ourselves.
    After the dust has settled and there’s a change in the air, we are either sorry, embarrased, ashamed, in denial, or ignorantly apathetic. I’m the one who always feels sorry later.
    Empirically speaking, my experiences are that too many bipolar people justify their rants or misplaced angry outbursts on someone else. Not all, but too many. It’s always someone else fault.
    Never misunderstand the power -or art of apology. If you have a husband or any real friends left, after being diagnosed w/ bipolar, years down the road, I believe this will be why.
    What we have, imo, can only be Truly understood by Another one of us.
    I’ve sent my husband scores of bipolar articles, and we have scads of b/p books, but I know in my heart–he doesn’t really get it. He can’t.
    I always and must apologize.
    Not for being sick, but for hurting him -by being sick.

    Thank you for posting this Natasha, it’s an exceptionally pertinent one for all of us.

  9. Extreme emotion is crippling, it can range from feeling like your chest is missing and there’s nothing but a gaping hole under your skin to feeling like all your organs are trying to tangle them selves’s in each other and your blood feels like its trying to fine a way out of your body. Well that’s what is feels like to me anyway.

  10. Help! My son’s girlfriend is a lovely girl on the outside….but she recently has shown a side no one would have EVER imagined. She wildly over-reacts to very insignificant comments, or small talk …to the point where she has twice completely ranted using profanity to me in front of my younger children . It was as if there was a different person inside her…..I forgave her the first time…but now it’s happened again. I fear for my son as when she gets like this..she loses all sense of decorum, perspective and civility. Whoever her next target could be his boss, his co-workers….she needs help. She all but ruined my son’s graduation from college ……I heard my son telling her to stop yelling and swearing …but she wouldn’t stop.

  11. I cant read anymore one sided views about bipolar or depression. Personally I have been saved by the medication and therapy. Bipolar is a genetic disorder. It is a daily battle. I do beleive however that some people are misdiagnosed and dont have a mental health disorder. It is up to each of us to seek the proper help in order to stay alive. Please dont get on helpful websites and staye that all of us are just medicated and dont truely have genetic disorders. I cant read your negative opinions

  12. ■Nip overreaction in the bud – it’s easier to survive a breeze than a hurricane.

    HOW????? That’s what I’m trolling the Internet to find out. I am sick of seeing myself overreact to e-mails at work, to my mother making noises when she eats, overreact to someone’s raised eyebrow or serious face at church and conclude they’re mad at me. I need help. Please help me.

  13. Pingback: Bipolars are Like Everyone Else? | wildwillows

  14. Do you also react embarrassingly in intense emotions? Like, do you say things irrationally, especially in emails, etc, that you can never get back? OMG do I regret so many “crazy” emails I have sent while crying hysterically. I once told someone by email that I had become obsessed with them–I don’t even know if I really was obsessed or just so thankful for their continued help. Or sometimes I have sent emails and then 2 minutes later sent another email saying I wish I hadn’t sent that it was so crazy. Then later, of course, I wished I had never sent either. I so wish my brain functioned correctly regularly.

    • LOL! I so very much know where you are coming from! The email thing, it’s got me into no end of trouble! I was worse when my moods were swing Ultradian-style, firing off an aggressive message when in a hypo-mood and wishing I hadn’t when the retaliation lands just when I was in a depressed state. Oh, what ‘fun’ …

  15. Natasha,

    I just had to comment to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every time you post an article like this one and bare your own demons, you give me a little more hope that while I may be crazy, I am not alone. Please, never doubt the good you do here.


  16. I am experiencing extreme anger, aggression, frustration and suicidal ideation. I,m “up” for a short time then a few minutes or even a day later watch out, i could either strike out and possibly hurt someone or myself. I’m so tired of this. I’ve spent years of treatment. ECT, Meds, DBT, talk therapy. Nothing really ever changes. Meds begin to be less effective, then the Meds are upped again and again until their maxed out. Then on to more drugs. It never ends. Bi-polar is not a life. My family has abandoned me. My daughter says she’s tired of making excuses for my behavior. I’m a mother without children and a grandmother without grandkids. Knowing this will never change and having bi-polar for so long i don’t feel much hope anymore.

    • I do not think you were EVER bipolar at all. Try to wean off and quit the drugs. You can’t do it instantly. But if you do so successfully, I suggest you take responsibility for your own life and change. There is nothing wrong with you at all, Forget about the psychiatry, talk therapy, medication bullshit completely. Live your own life and avoid hurting others. That is just my opinion.

      You’re not bipolar. You don’t need the medication. Take action.

      • John.

        I don’t think it’s reasonable to tell another person what to do like that. You do not know her. You have read _one_ comment of hers, _one_ time. You have no right to judge her and you especially have no right to judge her based on such limited information.

        – Natasha Tracy

        • Rights? Well, Natasha, this guy knows better than all the thousands and thousands of medical researchers, psychiatrists and other doctors in the entire World … (Sounds like Delusion Disorder or just a supernova Manic episode!) <>

        • While this may only be one comment from her, you have to admit, she doesn’t seem very happy about her treatment. Medication and therapy can’t change you. The change has to come from within.

      • Pray, what are your medical qualifications that enables you to judge if a person is Bipolar or not, especially without ever having met them? I mean, that’s genius – you should have your own TV program: Doctor John’s Surgery.

  17. I’m not convinced that depression is a chemical imbalance. Perhaps an extremely stressful state of mind, where everything in your reality collapses. Support, and hope, to me, seems like the best treatment for depression. I wish I had more knowledge to gauge the effectiveness of antidepressants in these situations.

    • Some clinical trials reported on the internet suggest drug treatment is significantly more effective than placebo with *serious* depression but less so with milder conditions. Studies also suggest that a combination of drug and psychological therapy work better than either treatment on their own.

      • I think these diagnoses are extremely harmful. Perhaps a person starts to display behavioral problems. This can be due to many factors. (ex: bad influences) This person is referred to a psychiatrist, and put a psychiatric drugs and labeled with a disease. This person is not sick, but will now live believing that he is sick. He or she holds that belief because the doctor told him or her. But lets say psychiatrists never existed, this person would gradually either grow out of their bad behavior through the passage of time, or continue with it. What do psychiatric drugs do? Subdue the patient. A pill does not actually fix the behavioral problem or solve it, it simply represses it. I’m sorry, but if anyone recommends psychiatric treatment to another person, I’d be extremely weary of them. There is not much proof about a chemical imbalance in the brain at all. These drugs are extremely dangerous. But hey, I’m no psychiatrists.


        In my personal opinion, I do not think depression is a disease at all. If it IS, then I am 100% sure it is being diagnosed WAY too much.

        • Correct, Depression isn’t a disease. It’s an ILLNESS.

          Depression isn’t the same as just feeling sad or miserable, like a rain shower is not the same as a hurricane, and like a shower and a hurricane, there is a gigantic difference between feeling sad and clinical depression. If you think the drugs used to treat depression are dangerous, try having a really bad clinical depression because that’s even more dangerous – if the drugs are poisonous and shorten a life, it won’t be as short a life that an untreated clinical depression may cause. But if you’ve never experienced it, you won’t understand the difference.

          Yes, of course true depressions are often more complex than a “chemical imbalance” – other influences may also be genetic, stress, environmental, psychological trauma, cerebral trauma, street drugs, etc. but they may be only chemical, like with an under active thyroid.

          What I’ve imparted to you here just scratches the surface of what is depression. So, if you really want to know what it is, and not just make do with your unqualified assumptions, do MORE research.

          • I’ve already done enough research. I only end up going in circles. All the things I’ve read from you I have already seen over, over and over. Perhaps you can provide me with some references?

          • I’ll tell you a little story. A few years ago, I went through a very strange phase. My behavior started to worry my family as I became violent and erratic.
            I was eventually told that I should see a psychiatrist by a family friend. The first few doctors didn’t diagnose me with anything. The last two, however, did and prescribed me antipsychotics and antidepressants. I want to remind you that during this time, I had NO KNOWLEDGE whatsoever about “mental health”. But because it was a habit of mine to research new terms on the internet, I started reading about psychiatry, depression, therapy, bipolar and mental illnesses in general. While researching about these topics, I happened to stumble upon anti-psychiatry, Thomas Szasz and whatnot.

            The psychiatrists diagnosed me with social anxiety disorder, dysthimia, and eventually, depression. I was given seroquel, and effexor XR.

            When I asked him, “are you sure I am depressed”
            he said : trust me I have been a psychiatrist for 13 years.
            The woman that referred me to see a psychiatrist told me that what I was diagnosed with could have been the result of genetics, my upbringing, or at least how I reacted towards it. In any case, she told me taking these pills would be HEALTHY and GOOD for me. But that wasn’t what I read online. In fact, some sites claimed these drugs are just downright harmful and toxic for you.
            During this time frame, I have to admit, my behavior was very extreme. It affected all aspects of my life, but I was very stubborn and reluctant about taking the pills after reading about their side effects. So now that time has passed, I believe that I am free from my “depression”, and I didn’t need to take any antidepressants.

            Looking back, there had to be a reason why I started behaving so strangely. By analyzing myself, (or what you psychologists like to call it therapy), I was simply around bad influences during that time in my life. And that one simple factor triggered a chain reaction in my behavior. I have no real explanation for it. It just HAPPENED. Just like how people say, shit happens.
            I just want to emphasize that I am absolutely fine as of now. Had I never read about antipsychiatry, I might have accepted my diagnosis accepted the treatment.

            I would have never ended up on this blog if all this never happened to me. I probably would’ve never even seen a psychiatrist. But because that woman told me too, I did. And because of that event, I’m here writing this post today.

            What’s my point? Your life experiences shape you. If you grow up believing in mental illnesses, you will believe that psychiatric diagnosis. If you grow up not believing in mental illness, you’ll think it’s a crock of shit. I was between those two realities. I seriously almost accepted my diagnosis. But in the end, I DID NOT. Did I really have depression? I don’t know, it’s just a term.

            I might not be a doctor, but from this story, can you understand why labeling a person is so harmful? Again, heck, if that event never happened in the past, I wouldn’t even be worrying about all this. I wouldn’t even know in thorough detail what depression and bipolar is.

            I wish I never came into contact with that woman. Because my reality could have been being diagnosed with bipolar and living with pills. In the end, I don’t think it matters. If I was ignorant about all of this stuff, perhaps things could have been less complicated.

          • No offense, but the more I read my story again, the more I regret seeking treatment. As if pills can cure your problems. They just suppress your current problems and present to you with another set.

          • That’s it. I conclude that seeking psychiatric treatment was a huge waste of time. Not only that, I almost got drugged. My behavior was probably never “not normal”, these psychiatrists just made it seem like there was something wrong with. Please don’t tell me this doctor, who is clearly very educated, was correct in diagnosing me with dysthimia, social anxiety disorder, and depression. It’s bullshit. Huge bullshit. If I really had this thing called depression, i definitely needed treatment right? My ass. I don’t trust psychiatry. If you choose to take their advice and go on drugs, it is your choice. It was a mistake on my part to involve myself with those doctors.
            To be honest, at one point, I did find myself making myself depressed because I received that label. FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS. But then I realized, hey, I’m doing this to myself. So then, I stopped being depressed. Chemical imbalance. What a load of shit.

          • Ok John, maybe your psychiatrist was wrong about you, maybe you are right. But that was just one psychiatrist and only one diagnosis from him. You are John, not me, not Natasha, not anyone else except yourself. You cannot (MUST not) make unqualified judgements about anyone else’s health, be that their mental health or any other aspect of their well-being because you are not them. You are the expert on YOUR state of health, NO ONE ELSE’S.

            So, by all means relate your experiences – that’s quite valid – and you might even reasonably surmise that there will be other people out there who are in your situation, too. BUT you must NOT assume what is true for you is true of everyone. You must not play at being a doctor to any individual person just because of your individual experience.

            Mental illness is a serious business because it kills people, with many dying ever before they get any treatment. So, unless you have the skills, experience and knowledge of a doctor or medical psychologist, don’t f@@k with peoples’ minds, especially those most vulnerable because of their mental state of confusion, because without those specialist medical skills, you’re as useful as a carpenter attempting heart surgery. I say again, you are expert only in your own condition, not anyone else’s.

        • John, I’m going to get a bit snarky here. Other people, like your family, noticed your behavior was violent in the past, as well as erratic, and they didn’t like it.

          You mentioned that drugs “subdue” the behavior. Yeah, well, that’s kinda the point. If your behavior becomes violent, that starts to be a concern about the risks you might represent to the people around you. The rest of us quit caring what you think about psychiatrists or mental illness or depression, and whether you think the meds fix underlying problems or not.

          We quit caring whether you think it’s a good idea that the meds only “subdue” your behavior. If that behavior is violent, we’re just peachy with that.

          Statistically, John, folks like yourself generally have family that, when you’re in an episode where your behavior is trending towards violent and erratic, would prefer that you be on meds—it makes you much more pleasant to be around.

          I say this as someone with a mental illness who takes medication, and as a family member of people with a variety of mental issues that have caused them to be prescribed medication. Family gatherings used to be full of drama. Over the years, as more and more psych meds, more narrowly targeted and with milder side effect profiles got approved, more and more of my family members got put on meds for one thing or another.

          I tell ya, the more family members got on meds, the happier the holidays became. Holidays with family are now actually events to look *forward* to.

          So, here’s the snarky bit—-you may be among the “I’m not sick dammit!” contingent, and as long as your behavior just affects you, hey, go to hell in your own way and have a blast doing it. Fine by me. But once your behavior crosses that line of starting to impact *other people*, then you need to be on meds.

          The best predictor of future violence in a mental patient? Past violence.

          Not everybody who has an episode needs to take meds whether they want to or not, to the point that the law should make them do it. Violent? That’s the line.

          If you get sick again, I would want you to be outpatient committed (court ordered to take meds) and hospitalized (locked ward) if you didn’t stay treatment compliant.

          When I talk about this and say that for most people treatment is a choice, but certain people in certain situations can and should be compelled to get treatment, you’re the kind of “certain people” I’m talking about.

          You indicate your own family was concerned about your violent behavior in your past episode, and you indicate it in a way that sounds like they had cause for that concern. That history is enough for me, should you relapse.

          (Again, that’s for outpatient commitment—the court ordered to take meds and comply with a treatment program thing—not the inpatient “imminent threat” criteria.)

          • Almost every crazy person I know can look back at an episode, if they want to be in denial, and say, “I’m not crazy, I just had this, this, and this going on in my life.” Yeah, well. The crazy tends to get worse under stress, or trauma, or “bad influences.” If you want to rationalize it, there’s always something you can point to and place external blame.

            I’m not crazy, I just had [person or list of people or group] in my life.

            You may well have had all sorts of crazy-making influences in your life. It happens. Whatever does it to us is a mix of genes and environment and so forth. Fine. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a mental illness. It doesn’t mean you didn’t have a mental illness. ***It doesn’t mean you were thinking clearly or behaving rationally***.

            “Mental illness” means one thing primarily among all the other things. It means your brain is sick. Whether it is your wetware or your software or a combination of the two and how much it is of each–that varies by individual. But your brain is not handling the myriad functions of being you in the way a healthy you (as an individual, healthy, functionally developed human animal) is supposed to do.

            You can get better from *some* depression problems by talking to an amateur therapist who just happens to be as good at straightening out your cognitive innards as a pro.

            Just like you can fix *some* problems with your car by letting the neighbor’s teenage kid fiddle around with your engine. Or you can get your engine all screwed up because he knew just enough about it to break it.

            The reason states require licensing of therapists is to avoid having a lot of people treated by clinicians who know just enough about screwing around in people’s minds to break them.

          • Alright then, let us assume you were never originally mentally ill. Let us say a HUGE traumatic event happened in your life. How about… someone killed your daughter. Your daughter is dead. Not only that, a person murdered her. You would probably experience some behavioral issues in this case would you not? I’m just using this as example. Anyways, if this happened to you, you most likely would be INFURIATED. You’d probably want revenge. You might even want to hurt that person who killed your daughter. You spend days, weeks, months, talking about how you’re going to get your revenge. In this state of mind, people would probably consider you crazy. They would probably tell you to go see a psychiatrist. Would you be compelled to take medications? I don’t think you would, especially if YOU KNOW BEFOREHAND that these medications can alter your brain completely.

            There was recently a case where this cardiologist, murdered his children by stabbing them numerous times after discovering that his wife has cheated on him with the personal trainer. Why did this happen? Mental illness you say? I just think he got extremely mad and did something very stupid. Do you agree that you have trouble controlling yourself when you get mad? I’m sure majority of people do. This man is clearly a very smart man. But even a man of his education and status can end up doing something so horrific. He was “diagnosed” with depression.

            Yes, I do believe that it is for the benefit of society to medicate people who want to kill others or cause harm, to subdue them. But how comfortable do you feel when people are trying to subdue you? The drugs aren’t exactly healthy for you. They DO ALTER your brain. Why else do people have trouble stopping? They go through withdrawal.

            I’m sure there are people out there with really shit family relationships. Perhaps they should all take antidepressants. While this may make family reunions more pleasant for them, they’re basically just all drugged up. Why don’t they all separate from each other instead?

            And while my behavior was “violent”, I did not harm anyone AT ALL. Had I taken the pills, I most likely would’ve calmed down. But I also most likely would have become fucked up. Sorry for the language but that’s probably true. I do not know how many people psychiatry has helped. I’m sure there are some that have been helped. But majority of the people I have spoken to told me to avoid them. Am I ignorant? I don’t know, but don’t deny that there is a lot of controversy in psychiatry. A LOT. Ask a psychiatrist how many people he or she has cured. Probably none.

          • I’m clearly still very angry about what has happened in the past, and this most likely will influence my writing. I’m not a psychiatrist, so I can’t really say much about mental illness. I do know that before this phase, I exercised to the extreme. I probably burned out, which caused my erratic behavior. And when I say extreme, I mean it.

            I’ve definitely calmed down since. I am sorry if I offended anyone due to my ignorance. But there certainly are many factors as to why I am here writing the things I am writing. I am pretty sure that if I never found any antipsychiatry related material, I would’ve accepted treatment. Am I crazy? I don’t know anymore.

            I’ve done a fair amount of reading about mental illnesses and health, but I am not yet satisfied. I get a headache sometimes because some people are very supportive of psychiatry. At the same time, a handful of people are very against it.

  18. Thanks Natasha,
    I often suffer with irrational thoughts and it takes over my whole life. Thanks for writing about this it was very helpful.

  19. I am shocked everytime at how fast I can go from feeling emotionally stable, confident, happy, and being content with my life and relationships. Minutes later my world can crash in and suddenly everything in my life becomes the exact opposite; I am a horrible person, I am consumed with self hatred and guilt, nobody loves me, I will never be okay again, and I want to disappear. For me, this becomes my reality and it is as true as anything I have ever believed. I am blessed to have a supportive husband but it causes chaos until I come out on the other side. After each episode we try to analyze the situation and figure out what we can do different the next time, and yet, we are still slapped in the face and it is all repeated. It seems that all we can do is hang on until it passes. We have been living this, officially diagnosed, for twelve years and still struggle with how to handle it. As much as I have studied and learned about cognitive thinking and have attempted to implement new thinking patterns, when I go the place of dark thoughts all that I have learned flies out the window and it seems impossible to remember anything real. Years ago, I wrote what I titled “Truth Statements.” When I was in a good state of thinking, I wrote myself a long list of true, rational beliefs and thoughts, and then when I went into my irrational thinking, I would read those statements knowing that I personally wrote them and I would try to hang on to MY words. As hard as I tried rarely was I able to believe the truth. Again, it has been about just trying to get through the dark until I can see things as they truly are. When it passes, I try to make amends for how I have behaved, and then we wait, until we are slapped again. I am glad that I found your blog. I have had my husband read a few of your posts and it has helped him understand me better. Thank you.

    • Hi Dina,

      I do completely identify with your experience. What cognitive behavioral therapy fails to take into account is the depth to which some people can fall. And when people are this deep CBT simply ceases to be effective. Therapists have a hard time believing this but it’s true and it’s exactly the experience you describe. You try to find the trigger – and maybe you do, but it doesn’t make any difference because it just “slaps” you upside the head again anyway. And, as you said, you can write truth statements – yourself – and you still won’t believe them. CBT just doesn’t work when you’re that far down.

      (I’m not trying to diss CBT here, I’m simply saying it has its limits.)

      I wish I had the answer for you here, but I don’t, I can only tell you that your experience is real and that you’re not the only one feeling it.

      I’m honored if I could help you and your husband. Thanks for the comment.

      – Natasha Tracy

      • I would add that the lessons we learn about how to use CBT, to challenge assumptions, they are easily forgotten: In our confusion, we forget to challenge, and we forget because doing that requires a mind that is clear enough to recall what we are supposed to do!

  20. Man did I need to read this. It is def one of the things I’ve been dealing with lately. I’ve been struggling with depression & anxiety for almost 5 years but it’s only in the past few months that I’ve begun seeking good treatment. Overreacting is def something that is hurting me. One little thing sets me off and it does ruin not just the rest of that day but the next few as well.& even when I know I’m reacting irrationally it’s hard to stop! It’s exhausting and annoying all at once! This just enforces my anxiety and worries about going out and participating in things because what if something sets me off?! I don’t want to freak out and cry in front of other ppl! And then the not interacting with other ppl doesn’t help my depression, it’s a kind of vicious circle!

    One thing that I’ve found so far to help me when I freak out or overreact to something is to have someone there to talk things out with. My Mother has been good about sitting with me, holding my hand and helping get me out of that head space. When you try to explain your reaction or worries having someone else outside of the situation helps remind me to put things into a differet prespective. Or at least it’s someone with a shoulder to cry on while you talk about how terrible things keep happening to you.

    • Hi Mandy,

      I’m happy I could help give you a bit of information on a day when you might have needed it.

      First off, goof for you for seeking quality treatment. Depression and anxiety are treatable but not if you don’t get help. :)

      Having things constantly “set you off” is called reactivity and is common in some mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder. And whether you have borderline personality disorder or just the character trait, dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) may be able to help you: http://natashatracy.com/treatment/therapy/dialectical-behavior-therapy-borderline-personality-disorder/

      Perspective is a hard thing to gain but I believe it comes with time and often therapy and I agree that having another person there, if you can, it can help. But therapy can teach you the tools so that if it happens when you’re out and about you can handle it.

      Good luck.

      – Natasha Tracy

  21. I just found your blog and am grateful for it…you are the first person who writes about exactly how I feel when depression has me by the throat. I try to be aware of the the warning signs before it sets in, but it’s difficult and sometimes it’s like an instant ‘snap’ that keeps me down for weeks. (I have BPD, also)

    I will use your suggestions, and also was thinking of trying to keep a box of positive reinforcements to refer to when I’m in the middle of a depression to help me negate the painful thoughts that plague my head about how worthless, pathetic and useless I am – great suggestion.

    As much as I wish I was the only person who suffered from this awful mental illness, I’m glad I’m not alone and there are others around to share their experience and advice.



    • Hi Dee,

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you could find something to identify with.

      I, too, wish no one else had to experience this time of life, but I agree with you that it is comforting to know you’re not alone. And, of course, you aren’t.

      – Natasha

  22. This post helped put things into perspective for me. My partner struggles with the depression side of BPD for the most part, and it’s hard sometimes to understand why he can suddenly be derailed so easily by something that would normally never bother him (or me). But he talks very similarly to how you described here – that it’s the end of his world, that he’s worthless, shameful, not worthy of help.

    It’s a mean-spirited way that depression prevents people from getting the help they deserve – by convincing them they are not worth being well. It breaks my heart – all I can do is keep reminding him that I’m there to remind him of what’s true, to help him when he can’t see that himself. That he is as worthy as any other of good mental health. That he’s not taking the space of someone who “really needs it” – and that it’s okay to really need it himself.

  23. Thank you, Natasha. I know those “scripts” you’re talking about. It’s another coping technique my therapist taught me.

    One of the ‘scripts’ basically goes…”okay…so ‘this’ is what you still can’t do yet, but let’s go over the list of what you couldn’t do before but you *can* do *now*…”

    Lots of people will tell us we can’t rest on our laurels, but to hell with them. I’ll rest on my laurels as long as I need to to help me cope. I earned my darn laurels and I’ll enjoy them!

    I was intensely agoraphobic from a very young age. My mother had to toss me out the door and lock it behind me to make me go outside. I wouldn’t go *anywhere* by myself. I certainly wouldn’t get on a bus alone, and even with friends I shook like a leaf and sat in a cold sweat. Crowds? Oh god. My fear was so intense it felt like physical pain. I was terrified of the world. I craved solitude but had no independence. As a young adult I would go days without food if I couldn’t find someone to take me to the store to buy groceries. Even then I had to drink to settle my nerves just to get in a car for the drive. I was 24 before I said to myself, “Enough. I won’t live the rest of my life this way,” and began pushing myself just to walk part of the way around the block, little by little by little until I made it all the way around (in full panic, you understand, but I made it). Then a little futher and a little further and a little further until I could get my own food at least.

    I pushed my limits a bit more each year. When I turned 40 I took a month long trip by myself across Canada and the United States: Vancouver to Las Vegas, back to Vancouver and took the train first class back to Toronto, then flew to Florida and to New Orleans, then to Chicago and back home to Toronto. During my deeper depression, when I question myself, my ability to do anything ever, I look at the art I bought in the funky little galleries, the photos I took, and the keepsakes that only mean something to me, and the “script” says “Jesus! You have done more than you ever thought possible once upon a time!”

    And I also pull out other people’s “scripts”…people like SARK…an influential and successful artist who strongly encourages lots, and lots, and LOTS of lounging and dreaming and napping followed by sleeping (LOL) to nurture our creative spirits, because, according to her, our spirits are more important than our jobs, and productivity will happen in its own sweet time so there’s nothing to hurry or worry about. LOVE that script!!! Thoreau is another person who was successful and encouraged “loafing”. No one puts him down for it! He’s even taught in schools!

    Yes, by all means ‘put away’ those thoughts that don’t benefit us and pick up new thoughts that are helpful. Depression not only gives us permission to do whatever is necessary to survive and thrive, but I think it in fact makes it a Rule of the Day.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Well I think that’s amazing. I’ve done a lot of things in my life but I can’t claim to have ever conquered agoraphobia! That’s an amazing accomplishment and when you beat something you really beat it! Good for you. That’s inspirational for many.

      – Natasha Tracy

  24. This is another timely and excellent post, Natasha. I am not much into ‘disastering’ these days but only because I had a lot of terrific guidance and time to learn to cope differently.

    My parents, particularly my mother, were ‘disasters extraordinaire’! A spilled drink, a broken or merely dropped anything-at-all were cause enough for immediate and explosive yelling and damning judgment of my character and carelessness. But my mother was equally hard on herself. If she broke or spilled anything or made even the slightest mistake in sewing or cooking or any little thing at all, merely forgetting something, she would yell at herself and call herself “damn stupid ignorant fool!!!” and “Jesus you’re stupid!!!” …yes, very loudly at herself. That was very disturbing to me.

    Years later a friend caught me judging myself like that and wouldn’t let it pass. He taught me it wasn’t fair to treat myself differently than I treated other people, and I was always kind to others. He taught me to change my self-talk and self-thinking/self-evaluation by pretending I was someone else immediately upon making any kind of ‘error’. What would I say to someone else who did what I’d just done? Right away I stopped the impatient and unkind criticisms. It really works!

    After all those years of being jumped on for even the smallest real or perceived error it is simply not in me to do it to others. I don’t want to be what I hated to passionately as a child. I don’t want to hate myself, and I surely would if I behaved that way.

    That said, the criticism of being “lazy” when I am depressed is something I am extremely sensitive to because when I am deeply depressed that ‘stinkin thinkin’ has gone to work on my mind and self-worth…my irrational fear that maybe I’m not just bipolar but really a lazy bum in reality and that’s why I never get ‘better’. It’s the worst part of the depression, that fear, that self-doubt. I need to struggle to remember that it is the disorder messing with my head then.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Ah, the harsh judgement of a parent – I know it well. Congratulations on learning how to combat that behavior within yourself. It can be a really tough transition into being kind to oneself but it’s worth it – you deserve it :)

      And yes, such kindness is difficult during depression but you seem pretty aware of your hot button so hopefully that can help diffuse the issue for you. For me, when I know my thinking is skewed I just put it away and try not to think. Which I guess sounds odd but it works for me. I have “scripts” that I know are “safe” to think and so I think those instead of my actual thoughts.

      – Natasha Tracy

  25. Hi Natasha
    this is the first time I have read anything in the way of a blog about depression. I have lived with depression for thirty years and am at home now (time off work) because I am having some kind of meltdown. I have been on Effexor 150mg for 16 years and my doc had just added pristiq 50mg. Its been four days and not much change. I think I need to increase my effexor but I dread it because I once tried to (slowly) come off it and nearly killed myself, it was the absolute worst I have ever been.
    I have so much aggression in me and feel like I could rip peoples heads off – literally. I try so hard not to overreact and your ideas are all used by me, but still I feel the rage. The effexor stopped the rage for years but now it is coming back and frankly I am scared. Usually I can manage my depression but when it grabs me like this I know it controls me and I am useless against it

    • Hi Jane,

      Welcome. Glad to see you here.

      A couple of things about your comment that you may or may not know.

      1. Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) is a metabolite of Effexor (venlafaxine) and so their active ingredient is thought to be very similar. Pristiq may have fewer side effects due to the fact that it is a “cleaner” version of the drug.

      2. Four days isn’t very long and you need to give antidepressant trials weeks to see if they are successful. I know that can seem like a long time but that’s how long some antidepressants take to be effective.

      3. Effexor (and sometimes Pristiq) can be _very_ difficult to come off of which is why I’ve written about it specifically here. If you decide you need to come off that drug, I suggest you read this and discuss it with your doctor: http://natashatracy.com/treatment-issues/withdrawal/antidepressants-effexorpristiq-venlafaxinedesvenlafaxine/

      4. Don’t give up on medication. There are many different types of antidepressants (and other types of medication) and most are different from Effexor, so just because that drug has stopped working for you doesn’t mean that others will too. It can take some time to find the right medication, but it is out there.

      I hope that helps.

      – Natasha Tracy

  26. Pingback: Addtional to the list « In My Depressive Mind

  27. I could relate on this one. OVER REACTION. I’m so good on this. But most of all, thanks for the list. I will include this on my notes.

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  29. Pingback: Disaster – OMG! | Up & Down Like the Assyrian Empire!

  30. In the moments/episode of overreacting emotionally, it feels totally sane & understandable.

    When reflecting on the moments/episode, it looks very ridiculous & overreactive!

    So now you’ve got my interest peaked; will you tell us what small event triggered this post?!!

  31. I find that I need to be realistic about how life events will effect me, and this helps to some extent with overreaction. This is because, unless I say to myself, “This is bad. You’re going to be upset by this,” I tend to treat my mood as though it’s a normal mood episode, and then it gets even more intense than it would otherwise be, since I’m ignoring how much of my feelings are really a reaction to the event. Then I just get my reaction plus my mood episode, which is twice as bad.

    • Hi Daniel,

      You make a good point that being realistic matters. It’s always good to see, admit to and deal with reality rather than try to shoehorn our own experiences into another person’s version of “normal.” Doing that really can make things blow up and get much worse.

      – Natasha Tracy

  32. Yep- that “little” thing that sends the whole day to hell, is one of my worst bugbears! My therapist & I call this “disaster-ising” and I really have to keep trying hard to stamp it out. Something ALWAYS seems to happen when I’m doing a trivial or loathed task that “puts me off” for the rest of the day. It’s often when I’m getting our breakfast things out of the dishwasher- a glass that’s been leaning on a cup crashes down on its side, breaking. My automatic thought is “Oh no- that’s terrible- the whole day is going on bypass while I deal with this unthinkable occurrence!” I KNOW why I do this also- but 55 years of fearing the same thing is A BIT MUCH!! I still react as I did as a kid when, if anything I was near, broke or was dropped, I’d get yelled at- “naughty, bad, WHY?, smack, shout, smack” from my father. Mum would HIDE broken stuff from him when he wasn’t there- he was just irrational- obviously doing his own disaster-ising. However, the emotional wreckage & humiliation persisted and when I’m in a down phase, it leaps out & gets me. All I can do is “self-talk” and maybe play a silly video like Eddie Izard’s “DeathStar Canteen”. Most times currently I might be able to do a few mundane things after a breakage, but it still stops me from doing pleasurable stuff, like hobbies. I just try to carry on regardless, thinking “Accidents will happen- the world is a chaotic place- get on with the day”. Thanks for the reminder post!

    • Hi Murfomurf,

      I think “disastering” is a pretty good term. It sounds like for you, your disastering has a personal experience component and maybe that’s something that can be worked through in therapy. Certainly childhood things can stay with us even if we don’t want them to but we can fight them too. Hopefully this will be one area of disastering that you can conquer as you know the cause.

      “I just try to carry on regardless, thinking “Accidents will happen- the world is a chaotic place- get on with the day”.”

      Yup. Absolutely right.

      – Natasha Tracy

  33. Great list of suggestions! My favourite is ‘self-talk’ if I can manage to do it. If my husband is around I can tell him about my irrational thought and he can often talk me through it. But oh if I am alone there is only one comfort, something sweet to eat like cookies or ice cream. And then I will feel so awful from overloading on bad food that I can almost forget what I was being irrational about! Maybe we need to write ourselves a speech entitled “WHAT TO SAY TO MYSELF THE NEXT TIME I HAVE AN IRRATIONAL THOUGHT” and say “okay now, think about it for a second, that is not even really true! So instead of thinking that untrue thought, think about something that is true such as ‘the sky is blue’ or ‘babies smell good’ or ‘I managed to get up today’ or ‘my husband loves me’ or ‘God is good’ or whatever. Then say those true things over and over to yourself until you can banish the ugly thought, which is, of course, easier said than done. I’ll let you know if it works, if I can remember or if I can stay rational enough to do it!

    • Hi Wendy,

      I’m pretty sure self-talk is the key to implementing all the other suggestions. Without it, you can’t make yourself try any of the healthy behaviors, I don’t think. And I think self-talk is always with us, it’s more a case of can we wrangle the voice into saying what we want it to say.

      I think writing to yourself is brilliant. It’s like your healthy inner voice goes outer. It might be just what you (and others) need to change a pattern before a spiral starts.

      Good idea. Do let me know how it goes.

      – Natasha Tracy

  34. Spot on Natasha!

    My true bipolar symptoms did not start until age 25. However, as a child I was convinced that there was something wrong with me. Now I understand that the only thing ‘wrong’ with me was that I had empathy, academic prowess and musical talent. And that, even though I had friends, I was constantly treated with the stigma of being a nerd and subjected to immature comments, hatred, resentment, and even bullied at times.

    My reaction to this was to ignore it, show no reaction, and get on with my life, talking only to my friends. I didn’t care. But one day, for example, the class was unattended and one girl was calling things out to me to impress her friends. I heard a dog bark from outside, and then I burst into tears and it took ages to calm me down. I told my friends ‘my dog died, I miss her’, and I convinced myself that it was indeed the case, that I was just overreacting to hearing the dog, since it was actually two years since my dog had died and I was just upset about the teasing.

    Now the difference between this type of emotional overreaction (which was not really overreacting considering it was about the teasing) and emotional overreactions in depression, of which I have experienced both, is that in depression, you don’t recover even in a couple of hours, or a couple of days. You just keep spiralling downwards and downwards, since you have no coping strategies left to you. With the right medication and therapeutic techniques and social support, you might just be able to pull yourself out, if you’re lucky.

    • Sarah,

      “…in depression, you don’t recover even in a couple of hours, or a couple of days…”

      That’s true and that’s the unfortunate things about it. That’s why it’s best to avoid it in the first place if at all possible.

      “With the right medication and therapeutic techniques and social support, you might just be able to pull yourself out, if you’re lucky.”

      I believe that you can, not just if you’re lucky. You can.

      – Natasha Tracy

  35. As I have said to my longsuffering boyfriend more than once – “The fact that I know I’m being irrational doesn’t help me to not be. In fact, I think it’s making it worse.”

    The most important thing is you seem to be reversing the trend and getting back on track. We all falter, it’s what we do about it.

    Thanks for once again sharing even the parts that hurt.

    • Hi Lynoth,

      It’s so true. I’m not sure if knowing you’re irrational helps or hurts but it sure the heck annoys, that much I do know.

      You’re welcome. I try.

      – Natasha Tracy