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Tricks with quicksand. Sunday May 19, 2013

Language is always revealing. We talk about being mired in our problems. A mire is a swamp or bog. The image is of being trapped, sucked in, impossible to extricate. Quicksand is the most terrifying form of mire.

Steve Hayes, an eminent psychology professor in the US, uses a metaphor about quicksand to introduce an approach to healing he calls acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

When we're stuck in quicksand, our immediate impulse is to struggle and fight to get out. But that's exactly what you mustn't do because as you put weight down on one part of your body (like your foot), it goes deeper.  So the more you struggle, the deeper you sink – and the more you struggle. It's a no-win situation.

With quicksand, the way to survive is to spread the weight of your body over a large surface area by laying down on the quicksand. It goes against all our instincts to do this - to get into as much contact as possible with the very thing that is threatening us. But that's exactly what we have to do.

It's the same with distress. We struggle and fight against it. But perhaps we've not considered just letting it be, of being in direct contact with the distressing thoughts and feelings. If we did, we'd find that we'd get through it and survive more effectively than if we'd fought and struggled.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 8:16am

Yes, good point.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 8:30am

Bring back Mark ......

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 9:46am

I know that the thoughts are going to be different but they are not uplifting just depressing - I used to look forward to the daily thoughts but now I dread reading them - sorry

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:03am

Good post. Enriching thoughts. Have a nice Sunday.

Elizabeth Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:21am

This seems to be, not exactly but simillar, something my therapist tryied to tell me over and over again. I would really appreciate some people's experience. How did you get through your quicksand?

Julia Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:33am

This reminds me of something I read a while back relating to physical pain. That if you concentrate on the pain, it will go away. For instance if you experience pain on a particular part of your body, focus your mind on the area where it hurts for a few minutes and relax into it rather than try to fight against it with all sort of knee jerk reactions and remedies. It does work!
I have never thought of applying this principle to mental anguish,worries etc. But I do know that struggling and fighting it every day doesn't help even though I continue to do this.I may try to relax into exactly how I am feeling today

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:39am

I agree entirely with this post. Fighting depression or distress only makes things worse for me. I have found that being mindful of my experience, meditating and yoga are the path back to happiness. But I also agree with some of the comments here, this isn't overly uplifting and is only helpful if you have come across the concept before. I think these daily posts are extremely difficult to get right. What is helpful, isn't always inspiring. What is uplifting may not offer a longer term solution. It comes down to what the objectives are of the daily post.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:48am

Me too, the old friendly ones used to give me the warm fuzzies, these 'directive' ones just make my heart sink and I positively don't want to read them.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:53am

Good post. I like metaphors as well as personal stories. I think ACT is very aspirational, but not easy to achieve. It requires us to think and act differently from our instincts, and I think it requires discipline. To open and let go when our very self is screaming I must hang on, get a tighter grip. Wouldn't it be nice if potential solutions were at least a bit easier than the problems themselves?

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:53am

He'll be back soon.

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:54am

Please bear with us. We understand. They will change, we just need a little time.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:14am

Hi, in my experience, the way through depression is about connecting. Depression is very isolating, as we all know. I find we connect in a positive life-affirming way through are hearts, primarily - look at mums and babies enjoying themselves. Of course we also need 'emotional intelligence' but a heart-felt connection is what 'warms us up' - being able to love and be loved, knowing what we feel, having the courage to acknowledge our feeling and our needs, and finding ways of getting our needs met. Jon and Mark had the courage to express what they felt in their hearts - and it brought us all alive - just like magic! Thank you Caroline as you bear with us! With love and smiles to all :)

Daydream Believer Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:23am

We must be tolerant of Moodscope and not resist the change, give them time must be very hard to replace Jon's evident personal experience, understanding and way with words - after all, he is a copywriter. The important thing is to keep doing the test. Actually, I think today's post is an excellent point and well put. Good luck to the Moodscope team.

Daydream Believer Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:24am

My Mindfulness teacher says DROPSS ... don't resist or push, soften and smile. I find this invaluable.

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:35am

Thanks :)

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:39am

Thanks Daydream Believer. I'm glad you like the post. Although not terribly personal, the messages are informative and hopefully helpful. You're right, it is really important to keep doing the test.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:47am

Ah .. Soften and smile - love it :)

June Jones Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 12:05pm

Thank you for today's post it has given me another avenue to explore. And thank you for your continued support of Moodscope Caroline. I wish there was some way I could help, I don't suppose my constantly recommending knitting as a form of therapy would be useful?

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 12:42pm

I agree entirely with the premise to "just feel your feelings - be in the moment however scary", in our tradition of Buddhism this
is exactly what we are encouraged to do and it DOES work. While you are in the moment its not very nice (initially) but then - I don't know how- something happens and it subsides and then peace comes. Or it does for me. So I say to myself, if I am sad - then BE sad, if I am desolate then BE desolate, acknowledge it and let it be. With love to all - I do so hope its helpful, its my very first post after 5 months, but I felt moved to write.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 2:12pm

Quicksand. Reminds me of a comedic bit by John Mulaney...

70d09112-c08a-11e2-bf32-000bcdca4d7a Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 2:49pm

Good post! It´s very difficult to escape from quick sand every day when the same negative thoughts start throughout the day.Most times I can´t escape because it´s a compulsive disorder.Even tough I try to change thinking of something else they come back instantly and don´t pass.It can become scary if I don´t stay calm and concentrate on what I´m doing.In fact what helps me to get over this shitstorm of is distraction with music,meditation,reading,sports-in other words relaxation techniques.
Without these I probably would´nt be sitting here writing this.Our thoughts create our reality every day,let´s try to make most of it despite quick sand in the world.Thanks Caroline :-)

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 3:07pm

Answer to the two anonymous whingers. Don't read them. I am sorry to say this but your posts are very depressing for us all to read. The new moodscope team's blogs are trying to help and actually do help many hundreds of us on a daily basis just as most of Jon's did. However your moaning posts about bringing back "warm fuzzies" etc etc do absolutely nothing positive or helpful to those of us who suffer from mental health issues.
Why don't you just do the charts and ignore the blogs or do you just want to moan about them to us?In my view you will be missing out on the new teams blogs if you don't read them. If you just want to bang on about missing Jon, then you are at liberty to do so but honestly for me it's getting rather boring.
I am lucky I am not part of the new moodscope team and just your average punter but one who supports Caroline and Adrian and is getting a lot of helpful hints from their blogs as I did from Jon initially and recently Mark. I must say Caroline is being very patient and understanding.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 3:44pm

Hi Caroline, I was just reading you reply, and wondering if Moodscope is about being 'informed' ..... ? ... Its just that I personally don't wish to be 'informed' !!! Lol. - would you like to be informed ? I really think Moodscope has loads and loads of potential and I'm sure it will all sort itself out :)

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 5:11pm

Thanks June. I guess there's only so many times we'd be able to recommend knitting!

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 5:12pm

We will sort it out :)

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 5:37pm

Like your smilie - I'm sure I read somewhere recently that using smilies helps communication and understanding between people and has a really positive effect :) .. and :o)

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 5:45pm

I can completely relate to this. I have had the darkest depression recently which I am just coming out of, but when in those times I do just desperately want to escape which sends me through a cycle of different emotions and behaviours, normally disturbing and destructive.....Living in that mental torture is like being in quick sand...I will try to visualise this and hope that the next time the dark mirey clay visits me again, which it may well do(i have bipolar), I will just breath and accept it and wait for it to pass, rather than try to escape it.

Anonymous Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 5:48pm

I like crocheting too - but yesterday I was gardening and that was another activity which keeps you living in the moment.

NostradamusZen Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 10:30pm

Exactly Julia,

One way I've heard it is that, if you have pain, you focus your attention on the site of the pain and try to make it more intense. Something to do with reverse psychology perhaps. Same when you're trying to go to sleep: one by one, focus your attention on any itches, cramped muscles, or areas of tension, and they melt away.

I don't see the 'daily thought' messages as depressing - they're just something to reflect, or meditate, on: they literally act as a mirror to your mood. So if you find them depressing, Anonymous, guess what - you're depressed!

And, if the Moodscope team are short of resources to write daily thoughts, how about (Caroline) those of us that want to volunteer to write some? I for one am a copywriter with twenty years' experience, and on a good day can still write a pretty inspiring thought for the day!

Finally, a small request from me (or moan, if you like) - could all the Anonymouses take the time (approx 30 seconds) to sign in when you comment here? You don't have to use your real name, and it would really help the rest of us to know when we're replying to a moan about being informed (which I, for one, DO want!), if we're replying to the same moaner who moaned that this week's person is not as good as last week's person! :-)

Thanks, Mark xx

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, May 19th 2013 @ 11:57pm

Mark, if you'd like to contribute or for that matter, if anyone else would like to contribute, please email us. We'd love to hear from you.

June Jones Mon, May 20th 2013 @ 12:04am

Gardening is very good too. :)

Elizabeth Mon, May 20th 2013 @ 8:35am

Thanks for all your comments. For me, I have had two types of experience with, lets say, not running away from my feelings. On one hand, often, trying to feel and express my sadness, perhaps after a longer time I haven't done so, can really help to release tension and give me more energy. On the other hand my most severe and lasting dropdowns (not counting the first one) also happened after me getting into a closer contact with my feelings than usual. Not sure if they were to any use in the long term after all. Perhaps I am doing something wrong here?

Julia Mon, May 20th 2013 @ 8:49am

I don't know what the answer is either Elizabeth; after all these years I still haven't come up with a solution. I sometimes think that the only "solution" is acceptance. In other words this is me, warts and all and is it so bad? For years I have been trying to find a way out of/overcome my insomnia and low moods plus the occasional highs (want to hang on to those!)so maybe it's time to stop the fight, struggle and the search.

Anonymous Tue, May 21st 2013 @ 12:08am

What I do these days is look to what my feelings are telling me - what am i needing? Maybe reassurance, specific help with something, to be understood ... then try and take some action that will help meet my needs. Looking back I see I've spent much too long stuck with bad feelings when I maybe could have found ways of getting my needs met so I wasn't stuck with the feelings.

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