Friday, February 5, 2016

"Cog-mitive Ther-py" or Keepin' It Real

My last blog post didn't get the reception I wanted. First of all, nobody read it (other than my mom). Second of all, those who did read it (my mom) said they were concerned because my last few blog posts make me sound depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic, instead of revealing my positive, loving, bubbly, amazing, wonderful, fantastic personality. Ahem, sorry, I got a little carried away there. Well mom, I have some unfortunate news for you... I AM depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic. I am also positive, loving and bubbly (we'll stop there). Enter the world of a happy depressive. What a dichotomy I am! Just imagine the war going on in my personality every day, a fierce battle of good versus evil! It goes something like this, "Remember, just be positive." And then, "But I don't wanna!" It's really sophisticated. The problem is, what I choose to write about is usually issues I am dealing with that I know other people are too, in the hopes that together we don't feel so alone. It often requires me to dig deep into my depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic bucket of sorrows.

So as a nice change, I'm going to try writing about happy things only...

Puppies are nice. I like them. They lick me and I don't mind. Other people are like, "Hey, stop licking me, that's gross!" but I'm like, "Hey, thanks! That's a little bit gross but mostly cute and I like it." So that's nice. Puppies will love you even if you feel unlovable. Puppies were actually the first hippies and started the hippy movement in the 60's but they are so under-represented that they never got the credit they deserve.

Kittens are also nice... sometimes. But they have these little claws that are like razor-needle-scissors and they won't hesitate to use them no matter how much you love them. They are not very particular in who they use them on either (in whom they use them on? On whom they use them on? Who they use what on? Who's using what, now? How? Why? Let's move on). They will scratch your eyes out if they want. But don't let it hurt your feelings because they don't mean it, even if you know they secretly laugh behind your back about it.

Also, I love babies. My brother had one, which was really nice of him, cause of how much he knows I love babies. His name is Ewan, like "you-won" (which we did), not like "E-won" which is cool because it sounds like something from Star Wars, but unfortunately not his name. God made Ewan extra-special cute (I'm not kidding, he is extra-special cute) just to make me happy because He knows I can get depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic sometimes. So gee, thanks. I like him. I like him a lot. All I want to do is visit him so I can squish him and be as physically close to him as I possibly can. Some day my nephew is going to sing to me, "Don't stand so, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me," but in the mean time he can't talk. He can't even get away. He physically isn't even capable of crawling himself to safety. He is mine, all mine, MWAHAHAHAHA! Actually he's my brother and sister-in-law's, but you get the idea. I'm quite attached. Being an aunt is amazing because you can finally kiss a baby as much as you want without feeling like any minute now the mom is going to charge you with molesting their child.

I also like ice-cream but I'm allergic. I found out I'm even allergic to goat's milk ice-cream, so that little victory of finding a delicious alternative to real ice-cream died about as quickly as a fading star AKA a fiery ball of gas (like me when I eat it). Turns out I'm not lactose-intolerant to cow's milk (the allergy I have to dairy is like a hay fever allergy), instead I'm lactose-intolerant to goat's milk. It's like when I found out at an early age that I'm not just allergic to the milk in chocolate - my favourite food on the planet (is chocolate a food? Or is candy a separate category? What if the chocolate has almonds in it? Then does it count? So many questions...) - I'm also allergic to the very cocoa itself. And wheat. And potatoes. And rice. I would die in Italy, Ireland and China. Some people might think God hates me... Oh gosh I never thought about it that way...

This happy-writing thing isn't working.

You see, I could write about only happy things, but writing about only happy things gets boring after a while and usually doesn't do a lot of good. I mean, if you really want me to, I could write about my nephew for a very, very long time. For instance, he likes to growl like a little bear, all the time, and sometimes, if you're lucky, he makes pterodactyl sounds which is just really cool of him, also really smart considering he's only seven months old. Cause, like, how does he even know what a pterodactyl sounds like? I mean sure, nobody does, cause they're prehistoric creatures and all, but the point is he is pretty much a paleontologist. He even flaps his chubby little arms around a lot like he is preparing to fly, and I just don't have the heart to break it to him yet that this will never happen. He will never fly. That kind of news can really mess up a kid's dreams of being a pterodactyl. Also, the spelling.

But I suppose happy things do make us feel better, and positive thinking is incredibly important to making positive changes. It's called Cognitive Therapy, say it with me now, "Cog-mitive Ther-py," and my mom loves to tell me about it. Maybe, for once I should listen to her. She is usually right. Someone with depression will automatically think negative thoughts and their view of the world can become so distorted that they don't even recognize the truth when it stares them in the face. It can affect their very memories, so that a depressed person remembers events differently - as negatively impacting them even if it was them who negatively impacted others. Scary. But there is a solution! Cognitive Therapy was created by a woman named Judith Beck. She said, "It's not the power of positive thinking. It's the power of realistic thinking. People find that when they think more realistically, they usually feel better." And let's face it, nobody wants to be around a negative person. We all have these people in our lives and we try hard to avoid them. It goes like this:

Negative Nancy: "Ugh, I had such a bad day. Everyone was so annoying at work. One lady told me all about her daughter's conjunctivitis, and I'm like shut up. So wanna hang out?"
Positive Pearl: "Sorry I'm actually kind of busy."
Nancy: "Of course you are, you're always busy! Nobody takes the time to do real things anymore, probably because they're addicted to their phones. I can't stand people who are always on their phones! I mean get a life!"
Pearl: "Yeah, I hear you. Maybe Mediocre Melissa is free. She's a nice girl."
Nancy: "Seriously? She's the worst. Oh man even talking about her gave me a headache. Do you have Tylenol?"
Pearl: "Sorry no."
Nancy: "Ugh, of course not. I think I'm getting a cold. It's probably a virus. It's probably conjunctivitis from that lady's daughter. She probably passed it on to me as the spit particles from her annoying conversation floated on the air particles to my mouth. Ew. Gross. I hate air particles. I hate breathing other people's air. Especially on buses. That's why I will never take the bus. My mom could be dying and I would not even take the bus to go see her in the hospital. So what are you doing this weekend?"
Pearl: "Oh... things. You know. Maybe go for a run."
Nancy: "I HATE running. I don't understand people who exercise."
Pearl: "Haha... right. So what about you?"
Nancy: "Let me just check the schedule on my phone. Oh look, nothing. I'll probably just sit on the couch and watch TV by myself because I have no friends. Everyone's too busy for me."
Pearl: "Haha... well, it's been great but... My cat... is... calling me."


And I certainly do not want to be one of those people. But being positive in a legitimately negative situation is just plain obnoxious. It usually goes like this:

Normal Norman: "I have cancer."
Obnoxiously Positive Olivia: "Don't say that! You need to think positively! You are fighting cancer."
NN: "Ok, I'm fighting cancer. I've been meaning to tell you but didn't want to upset you."
OPO: "I'm really sorry but I'm so proud of you for not giving in to it. You know there are lot of naturopathic-herbalistic-hippyistic remedies I can send you. Like asparagus. Just, like, eat five pounds of asparagus a day and your body doesn't know what to do with all this asparagus so it like poops out the cancer cells with the asparagus. It's science. The only downside is you have green poop."
NN: "Can't wait to try that, thanks."
OPO: "Have you tried meditation? Maybe you can think the cancer away."
NN: "I don't think so."
OPO: "See, there's your problem right there."
NN: "Also, my dog died."
OPO: "Maybe you should have fed him more asparagus."
NN: "I hate you. Our friendship is over."
OPO: "That's just the cancer talking."

You don't want to know what Norman said next.

I like that Cognitive Therapy isn't just about being positive, it's about changing your thoughts from negative to realistic, which can be hard to do. Negative thinking usually has a grain of truth in it, but it's exaggerated to the point where the problem seems overwhelming and unsolvable, and instead of working on it, you give up. If you look at something realistically, the problem becomes manageable, whereas if you only think of it positively, you ignore the problem altogether. They've done studies and found cognitive therapy doesn't just help people with situational depression, it can actually work as well as antidepressants, even in severe cases. I would say I was sceptical of these findings, but that would seem negative.

You see children, it is important to be real, not just positive. So here I am, keepin' it real. And life is hard - something I wanted to shout at the dude in front of me in the line-up at Rock the Shores as he said, "Why do people complain so much and say life is so hard. Life is great!" My guess is he still lives at home, his mom still does his laundry, he doesn't have depression, his best friend Norman isn't dying of cancer and he isn't living in poverty, but I could be wrong. Yet as hard as life is, you can't take it too seriously or it gets a big ego and starts sending you lemons, like anybody was ever happy to receive lemons. People say, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," as if there were any other options. You can't get a job with lemons, unless your job is making or selling lemonade, which is not very profitable. You could maybe make lemon squares, but you need other ingredients so let's just hope life throws you some flour and baking powder too. You could try trading lemons for other things, like Pokemon cards, but unless your friend has scurvy he will probably be like, "Why would I ever want lemons?" and he might punch you in the face so be careful. Those are about your only options when it comes to lemons... This has been a great conversation. Let's keep it real again sometime.

Faith'sbook, out.

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