I love the subtitle of Richard O’Connor’s Undoing Depression: “What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You”… because… it’s always felt to me that there was something… some component… that missed the boat called Depression. Does this book answer my query? Come along and find out!
This is no book of simplicity. It’s jam-packed and hard work, if you’re asking me, which I assume you are, since you’re here.
Take the section on “Identifying and Challenging Beliefs”… which is found 135 pages into this 350+ page book. Here is an exercise that on the face of it, seems easy enough, though time-consuming. You keep a daily record of dysfunctional thought. You list the Date, Emotion (and rate from 1-100), Automatic thoughts (Rate), Rational response (Rate) and Outcome (Re-Rate). Now, let me give you an example of ONE of mine from today. What you need to know in advance is that I went in to pick up my prescriptions and that my doctor only ok’d one month of one of them because she wants to see me before refilling for three-six months, as she normally does:
- Date: September 21
- Emotion: Anxiety Rate 100, Fear Rate 100
- Automatic thought: She’s going to find out I’m dying Rate 100
- Rational response: I will go because I have to and afterwards, when I’m not dead, I’ll get new prescriptions Rate 75
- Outcome: I thought about it sixty times, at least, within an hour. Then, I went into reality… I have to go… it will be okay. Rate at this moment 50
If I had to keep track of all this stuff for a day – never mind a week or a year – I could write my own damned book. That’s how often these thoughts come to me. And, as you can see by my lapse into cursing, I’m also angry about it, which raises my rate and deserves its own charting.
But… I know this kind of thing is very important, especially if you don’t realize you are consumed with these kinds of thoughts, which… years ago… I did not!
This book doesn’t say NOT to seek therapy or take medication, it suggests that these two options do not go far enough. Easy to see, especially when you consider client-out-of-pocket expenses for therapies or HMOs that limit the visits… both of which could lead a client to quit long before healing has even begun.
By page 300, we’re getting ready to delve into the program for recovery… and beyond. Is what’s offered… new? No, not exactly and not because the book is a decade old (well, actually, the original was two decades old but this version has a completely revised and updated moniker… and it’s from 2010).
However, keeping track of behaviors (as shown above) may not be “new” but sometimes you just need a reminder. I see this book as providing not only reminders but information that I found very helpful, like the questions to ask a new therapist. It is also packed with case studies and specific, usable information. I would be remiss not to mention that the book addresses addictions and the great work of AA : Alcoholic Anonymous several times. (See link for the 12 Steps and Traditions, which mesh nicely with a lot of what’s presented in the book.)
In short, this is a great book, especially if you’re new to the Depression and/or Anxiety (that so often accompanies it) game — that is anything-but a game, actually. Do I think we can UNDO depression? I’m not convinced. But I’m leaning… and willing to try. How about you? Let me know if you get this book and what you think. It might be the kind of thing that would make a group experience.
*Originally written by me for this blog on September 21, 2018￼