Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Delusion

Delusional Thought Patterns and How We Can Change Them

I have battled with depression since I was very young. Depression is a mood disorder that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression affects 1 in 10 adults in the U. S. alone. When I was hospitalized from my mood disorder, in my Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) sessions we learned about the connection between depression and delusional thought patterns. Depression can distort the way we think. My distortion was a result of how I processed information pertaining to my environment. 

Most girls growing up face some form of self image prospective and can lead into a delusional thought pattern, which could also lead into other conditions (i.e., eating disorders, self mutilation, etc.). When I was growing up my delusions started with my self-esteem. I would compare myself to other girls; friends, actresses, and models. This is a dangerous road and there is much more recognition for the manipulations involved in society and how the imagery affects girls and their mental development. For me, because I wasn't 'perfect' I didn't feel that I was anything to look at. The delusion continued until the distortion affected my brain and caused other issues, such as my social avoidance. 

A delusion is defined as a "belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary." It is also the "belief based on false or incomplete information, or other effects of perception." (Google search) When we believe something, it is hard to consider that what we think we know, is actually false information. Once we can accept this, we can move on and work on retraining our brain.



The activity that has worked the best for me is a version of positive thought retraining, based off of "The Glad Game" from Disney's Pollyanna. Here are some steps to work toward changing delusional thought patterns:
1.) Keep a journal. This is something that you can take to a therapist and they can read or collect the data to help you determine different thought patterns. Don't feel ashamed or threatened by what you write or showing it to a professional. Seek help! They are trained to help you through this.
2.) Write Them Out. This goes with journaling. Once you have validated the distortion, write out what you have believed. This will help your brain and initiate the retraining process. Once you have written it out - cross out the negative or distortion. Next to it (them) write one to two positive or true statements to replace the negative or delusional thoughts. To see a list of positive affirmations click here.
3.) Mental Meditations. Once you have been able to detect the delusional thought patterns then you can begin to retrain your brain to instantly acknowledge, recalculate, and execute. Acknowledge that you have the delusion. Recalculate the positive affirmation to replace previous delusion. Execute by replacing the negative thought with a positive thought, or two.
And finally - Reward Yourself - nobody every said life is easy, so when we set a goal and achieve them we need to make sure to positively reward ourselves. If you have a eating disorder (like myself, I am a comfort eater - so I can't reward myself with food - although I do sometimes) try to reward yourself with something more positive based on your needs. For example, say: if I can go two days without putting myself down, then I will get new ear buds that I have been needing.

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