Adaptation PracticeNo more depression, no more medication
Karen E – No more depression, no more hospital, no more medication
I first came to Adaptation Practice after I had spent a week in a psychiatric ward in hospital. I had what was diagnosed as an acute stress reaction and what felt to me as if I had lost my mind. I had hardly slept for a week prior to my stay and what had kept me awake were my involvement in incessant negative thoughts and worries. This was also in the context of much of my adult life spent in depression and destructive behaviour.
During my stay in hospital, I was given drugs to help me sleep and I began to feel much more functional. It was a week after I had left the ward that I saw an article in The Guardian about Adaptation Practice. The article explained an alternative way of coping with difficult thoughts and feelings outside of the conventional wisdom of talking therapies and the use of drugs. What resonated with me so deeply in the article was that the Practice was not asking people to cling to and explore persistent, worrying thoughts but to learn to let go of them through doing and being and living here, in the moment. What had always made me feel worse before was getting caught up in and being troubled by thoughts. I had lost hours and possibly days distracted and distraught by negative, self-destructive thoughts.
The Practice is a purely practical undertaking and is concerned with doing. When I first met Clive, he told me I needed to make a timetable to do the Practice six days a week, not five and not seven. I was to decide when I would get up, stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and when I would go to bed. Once I had made the timetable, I then had to stick to it in spite of how I felt, whether I could be bothered or not, or if I simply did not want to. I decided to get up at 7:00am and that is the time I would get up whether or not I wanted an extra ten minutes in bed. I also agreed to put myself wholeheartedly into what was ‘being done at that moment’, as Clive always put it. I began to concentrate on and pay attention to whatever I was doing, whether that was listening, talking, cooking food, opening the door to a visitor or attending a music concert. At first, this new approach seemed very unusual, even though I was not doing anything except going about my normal activities, and I had to keep reminding myself of even the most basic instruction to ‘stay here’ and ‘do it carefully’.
As I began to grow more used to this new way of behaving, I noticed that I was beginning to feel more positive. I stopped becoming so involved in my worries and thoughts and felt more able to participate in everything, in actually living my life itself.
I was also getting better at coping with my emotions, however painful, difficult or upsetting. I had come to know and experience the emotions inside me through letting them be in my body and letting them, literally, fill me up. If I was really angry or cross about something, I allowed the sensations that came with that emotion to run throughout my body without turning away from them and without letting them control me. At first, this was quite frightening and uncomfortable, but, little by little I was able to get used to the discomfort of the sensations and began to accept and face bigger and more powerful emotions. In doing so, I began to notice that my emotions no longer held me back or interfered with my life. I now feel much more able to manage everything on my own and I am able to confront life as it is; even if I don’t like it.
I have been well for over ten years now even though I lost my job, broke up with my best friend, had tests for cancer (which turned out to be negative), moved home twice, and have been able to cope brilliantly with all the disappointments, worries, frustrations, sadness, fear and stress. I now realise that it is not to get rid of these ‘normal’ emotions but to live through them and this is what I now do and it’s becoming my normal way of living.
Through living in the moment and becoming more aware and careful with what is happening in the moment, I am less concerned with my worries or how ‘I’ feel. I have let go of my preoccupation with myself and I can now see the bigger picture of life. Before I started the Practice, I was blind to all the blessings I had in my life. I was so busy trying to turn away from what I did not like that, in doing so, I had turned away from so much in the world that is amazing.
Karen E – 7 April 2016 – Norfolk