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"Change the channel" -- dealing with cognitive symptoms

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

One of the techniques I've used to deal with withdrawal symptoms is what I call "changing the channel." It's a composite of whatever works, to switch from bad feelings to more of an emotional equilibrium. Changing the channel is particularly effective with the neuro-emotions of withdrawal syndrome, which come out of nowhere, can be very intense and painful, and then in minutes or hours or days, disappear like a summer rainstorm passing through.

 

It's a way of managing the distress while not adding to it with very understandable worry, fear, or panic. The key is to understand you have a feeling self, who is sometimes overwhelmed by emotions, and an observing self.

 

You feel a feeling, and your observing self knows you are feeling a feeling: "Oh, I'm feeling so sad." The technique is very simple: When you recognize you are in the midst of an unpleasant emotion, change the channel by doing something more pleasant or constructive or healthy. It can be anything, any psychotherapeutic technique, your choice: - Switch your thoughts to puppies and kittens, or people you love. - Do slow, meditative deep breathing. - Play with your pets. - Cuddle your children, or significant other. - Phone a friend to say hello. - Take a walk in an interesting part of town, or in a park. - If you like cognitive behavior therapy, do CBT. - Do some gardening, look at trees and flowers. - Go to the store and smell all the spices. - Wash the dishes. - Read a book or magazine you've been interested in.

 

Gentle physical activity like taking walks, breathing regularly, looking at trees, flowers, and interesting sights is good for you in 4 ways -- the physical activity helps your autonomic nervous system to regularize and it stimulates the growth of new brain cells (neurogenesis). Looking at pleasant things puts pleasant images into your memory that you can replay. Plus, you are taking care of yourself and this will build your confidence. (I mentioned "changing the channel" to my therapist the other day and to my surprise, she had never heard of it. It seems I might have invented it! Anyway, she liked it a lot.) This seems like something each of us does in his or her own way. What do you do to change the channel?

Edited by Petu
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summer   
summer

Funny, I did this last night. I started thinking about something unpleasant and very unnecessary for me to even be thinking about. I said something to myself like... nope, not going there... and "changed the channel". My mind was on something else in a matter of seconds... like hot air balloons or something like that. I'm getting better at doing this all the time.

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angie007   
angie007

Alto,

 

This changing the channel thing really does help, thank you.

when the thoughts hit out of the blue i've been thinking about holidays away, lying on warm sun kissed beaches, with the sun beating down on my face,

laying in a recliner chair with my feet in the ocean, listening to the waves lapping onto the shore ahhhhhhhh, its some really relaxing stuff i tell ya.

certainly a lot more satisfying that listening to all the mental chatter from wd and paxil thats for sure.

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summer   
summer

Alto,

 

This changing the channel thing really does help, thank you.

when the thoughts hit out of the blue i've been thinking about holidays away, lying on warm sun kissed beaches, with the sun beating down on my face,

laying in a recliner chair with my feet in the ocean, listening to the waves lapping onto the shore ahhhhhhhh, its some really relaxing stuff i tell ya.

certainly a lot more satisfying that listening to all the mental chatter from wd and paxil thats for sure.

 

Oh wow... you've been to the spa of your dreams! It's a wonderful place, isn't it??? And, free to us SA members. Can you believe it?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Awww, thanks you guys. Glad it helps.

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Interesting in its simplicity and touches on a balance I have been searching for for a long time--to feel emotions as they happen and respond appropriately, particularly when disagreement, confrontation, anger, hurt is involved. I'm the queen of 'I should have said____' after the fact and then go over and over analyzing. I've been reserved and analytical for as long as I can remember (family shows no emotion). I censor any expression of my feelings, run everything thru my head. No heart-mouth direct line.

I'm sure all of the meds made this worse and I bottled stuff up more. Now that I'm off of Pristiq, it seems like emotions are erupting in intense spurts that are a little unnerving b/c so different for me. A friend encourages me in getting anger out. Really foreign to me.

Any tips on being aware of and responding to feelings but not ruminating? Listening to and trusting intuition/gut. Read Judith ORLOFF, MD, recently. Good stuff. She's a bit controversial, but I appreciate someone who will step out and risk what others think.

Q: what do you see as the primary diff btwn CBT and Changing Channels? CBT felt TO ME as if it was in opposition to my intuition. I cognite too much. Need to emote.

Just read interesting opinion by a therapist on ADs -- said they interfere w therapy by blunting emotion. Link on David Healy page.

I sure veered OT. Sorry. Return to regular programming.

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summer   
summer

Changing channels comes more naturally to me, and almost instantly. I can feel myself kind of smiling when I do it. It's been consistently working.

 

CBT, while useful for some, doesn't work for me. It reminds me of EST, and I'm not a fan.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

You can bundle any techniques that work for you into changing the channel. Mix and match -- your brain is your playground.

 

CBT was always too structured and authoritarian for my taste -- it bugs me there's a "right" way to think. But I agree, it can be very effective.

 

Everybody employs different styles of thinking. If you find a CBT approach is good for one of your thought patterns, you can use that, and use something else for a different thought pattern. Maybe you want to throw in some affirmations, too. And some Positive Psychology.

 

The motto of "change the channel": Whatever works!

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Karma   
Karma

I had to look this technique up because I've seen Alto mention it to other members. I'm still slightly assailed by doom thoughts and I'm really tired of it. So, I looked up this thread and as soon as I read "Switch your thoughts to puppies and kittens ..." I smiled.

 

From time to time I've used "stop" to stop the thoughts, but that is often abrupt and rather harsh. Then I remembered that a friend of mine used to tell me to "thank myself for sharing" and state the thought that better reflects where I want my outlook to be. I guess this is kind of CBT in that you capture and acknowledge the distorted thought (and are gentle with yourself) and then replace the thought with a more realistic and less distorted thought.

 

I'm going to use this today ...

 

Karma

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Thanks, Karma. And if you have any other suggestions about how to "change the channel," please post them here!

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

I need more channels. :-o

There are times when even my good channels trigger negative feelings and thoughts ~

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Nikki   
Nikki

Thanks for Changeing the Channel tip. I think what brought me to medication is what I call the diseas of negativity.

Grew up with it. When I read The Secret years back there was quote in there "Emit a New Frequency".

 

I have to catch & remind myself to do this.

 

When I am in the throes of w/d it is pratically impossible to do...It is much easier when feeling better.

 

Thanks

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Utahgal   
Utahgal

I really like this idea of "changing the channel"!

 

I like to combine something physical to really focus on something else. I like to rake the leaves, for example. It gets me outdoors, breathing fresh air, exercise, and enjoying nature all rolled into one event. Another thing that works for me, is to sort through family photos. Organizing them is a mental challenge, plus looking at pics of enjoyable times with loved ones really lifts my spirit.

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Jemima   
Jemima

Computer games are good for distraction and if you're able to read fiction, "cozy" mysteries, classics like Little Women, or Amish romances can be engaging. (Some of us have had trouble reading fiction during withdrawal, probably due to anhedonia and not being able to engage with the fictional characters.)

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mammaP   
mammaP

I like that phrase 'change the channel' . It helps me too. I used to use it when I was in the middle of

the polydrug nightmare and had racing thoughts. My thoughts were like a movie on fast forward,

sometimes several movies at once and my brain just wouldn't shut down. I imagined I was driving

a chariot and the horses were out of control. I took the reigns and slowly pulled them up until they

slowed down. It helped to slow down those racing thoughts. I don't know where the idea came from

and when I told my psych nurse how I stopped the thoughts she said "so you can control them can

you?"  It felt like she was disbelieving me, or that I wasn't supposed to be able to do that without drugs.

But I could, and did! 

 

I have to admit though that all that went out the window when withdrawal hit and I had to re-learn how 

to do it! 

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Nikki   
Nikki

Alto I have read about Emitting a New Frequency.

 

I am very depressed at this point.  I feel like my life is a waste or I wasted my life away.  Dead tired. have to keep on top f myself so I can 'change the things I can' and not be in a state of denial over things.  I've spent many years in a marriage in denital.

 

Maybe I am on my back too much.  I don't know the difference between what I need to pay attention to and what are he neuro emotions.

 

Comedy is good.  Madea is opening tonight.  She cracks me up so much

One of my customers just had a baby and I get to hold him once a week.

 

Uplifting books....like Joel Osteen and Les Brown are good for me too.

 

Alto I just want to cry......feeling really hopeless.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600   
cymbaltawithdrawal5600

Hi Nikki,

 

I surely hear the pain and frustration in your voice but don't lose heart. You have been through a lot just recently with changing meds and the issues with your daughter. The tiredness and 'flu' are probably from your body getting used to the med change and will resolve in due time I'm sure. You are doing all of the right things and the only thing that is needed now is time and patience while your body works things out. Don't be so hard on yourself if things seem hopeless, the changes you are making are just not visible yet but they will be soon. Please hang in there! You have a lot to contribute!

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Nikki   
Nikki

thanks cymbalta....the flu like symptoms have gone.  Now it is depression, sadness feeling like I want to give up.

 

I don't have time tonight but a good comedy would help.

 

My daughter saw Frozen yesterday. Disney, she said it was as good as Beauty and the Beast.  Wants to see it again, maybe I should go.

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Sweetcreature   
Sweetcreature

Nikki I'm sorry you're feeling so low, treat yourself nicely and have a good cry.  Wish I could help more...

 

SC

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mammaP   
mammaP

Nikki if you can get out and go to see a movie I strongly recommend it! I remember when I was 

feeling so wretched and anxious/depressed and hopeless I took myself away from home, to get

away from these 4 walls which I was ready to climb. I went to a movie, on my own. It was the best thing

I did. I hadn't been to the cinema alone in 45 years! It was a comedy and I laughed out loud with

everyone else. Normally I can't stand noise but it drowned out what was happening in my brain. 

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MissSerene   
MissSerene

One of the techniques I've used to deal with withdrawal symptoms is what I call "changing the channel."

Alto: Thank you for these constructive ideas and for everything you contribute to this site....You are awesome and appreciated, and the first day of the New Year is a great time to say it!I love the concept of "changing the channel." Am just starting to learn to do this. Have been reading about Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which includes a practice like this and is tailored for anyone who wants to deal more peacefully and self-compassionately with overwhelming emotions. From what I see so far, I would highly recommend it.Again, we are fortunate to have you leading us here. I'm starting out the New Year with hope. Blessings to you and all.

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MissSerene   
MissSerene

Maybe I am on my back too much.  I don't know the difference between what I need to pay attention to and what are he neuro emotions.

Nikki: I know you posted this several weeks ago but wanted to say hang in there. I, too, at times have trouble distinguishing between a) "deep" or authentic feelings I need to process and let go of slowly and gently, and B) "neuro-emotions" or, separately, thoughts/feelings that come from rumination or idleness on my part. I want to get better at knowing when I need to attend vs. when better to engage in something else.On this front, I am learning about Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which helps people not to suppress their painful emotions but to respond to them more constructively and peacefully.Hope the New Year holds good things and healing for you.

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mattinsmom   
mattinsmom

Oh I needed to hear this right now. I am going to go play cards now. Thanks

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Meimeiquest   
Meimeiquest

An acquaintance of my husband recommended a book The Brain and the Mind as the next best thing to sliced bread. It was a tough go for me...it talked a lot about quantum physics...definitely above my pay grade, and quite tedious. But he talked about this concept, particularly in OCD. He said research shows a tiny, tiny opportunity between the arrival of a thought and moving forward with it, and that is where we have a choice. He thinks you need to have something in mind as to what you will do when an undesired thought arrives, so that you can immediately move to it.

 

For example, if someone with OCD symptoms has a repetitive thought to organize cans in the pantry, trying to resist almost never works. But if that person decides they will go outside and work in the garden when that thought occurs, and does that at least sometimes, they will become more and more able to go to the garden, and they will gradually destroy the "unhealthy" circuit in their brain. And then my brain says....and then they are compelled to garden, but hopefully it doesn't work that way.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

What an excellent way of putting it. Thank you, meimei.

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MissSerene   
MissSerene

Meimei: Great ideas. Not exactly the same but related, for me, is the development of "internal boundaries:" when I become aware of habitual, excessively troubling thought patterns and resultant feelings, I want to actively shift to something else. Not suppress, but gently and non-judgmentally notice and then change direction.

 

One of the reasons I was on a psychotropic med was because, like lots of people, I hadn't learned emotional self-regulation skills and didn't believe I could have any command over where my mind went, and over constant upset. Now, in middle age, what a revelation to discover that this is possible and learnable. Dialectical Behavior Therapy materials refer to this ability as consulting the "Wise Mind." I have also heard it called one's "Loving Adult" who can care for, soothe and direct one's wounded or scared child self. This makes great sense to me.

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trouper   
trouper

In one of my group therapy classes, they gave us a little notebook as a "gratitude journal." we are supposed to write down 5 things we are grateful for that day before we go to bed. Its actually pretty cathartic as it forces me to think of positive thoughts and i feel content knowing i came up with at least 5 things. What I'm trying to do now is change the channel and think of what i wrote down when i wake up in the middle of the night when my monkey mind is going.

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mammaP   
mammaP

I spent time at http://www.llttf.com/  before I started tapering and it helped me to deal with negative thinking.

I went back again last night because I needed a reminder and thought I would share it. 

It is an amazing site and helps with all kind of emotions. It was started by a UK psychiatrist who believes that

depression can be treated without drugs. ( Note to self... must email him and ask his opinion on tapering and withdrawal .) 

It is funded by the UK's NHS and anyone, anywhere in the world can join, no need to sign up if you don't want to, but if 

you do sign up you can work through the modules and see where you are at. You can also print off worksheets. There are

books available to buy but I haven't bought any of them.

 

I recommend it to anyone. Withdrawal is very real and horrific  to live with, but the power of positive thinking is remarkable.

 The channel can be changed but like a dodgy tv the brain jumps back to the wrong channel. It takes effort but can make a

huge difference. 

 

Take a look and see what you think. 

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Rhiannon   
Rhiannon

I signed up, might as well check it out, looks like some good stuff.

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nigella   
nigella

Showers are my go to to change the channel. And Tea.

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lolly   
lolly

I love this ' change the channel' I do it all the time even when I'm in the worst wave it helps ease it just a little. If you keep thinking oh my I feel terrible over and over again it just ramps it all up. Changing the channel breaks the routine of negative thought patterns it's what some NLP is based on. I find it partially helpful when I'm coming to the end of a wave but keep having set backs I try to visualise myself being strong and I'm control.

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ikam   
ikam

I used to change me channels frequently by going out and getting embraced in the nature...Not anymore, and I don't understand what happened. Instead of tuning to something that can help me feeling better, I tune to the noise, to my misery, to things I have no control over.

I have six free cinema tickets, I could drive to some park, I need to go to the bank, etc. But I stay home and I feel worse...

I have stayed indoors since friday...I don't really understand this, apart from that after moving house I have never gotten used to the area and people here. I find going out painful...

I used to be out every day before...love the nature...

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Sheri755   
Sheri755

I spent time at http://www.llttf.com/ before I started tapering and it helped me to deal with negative thinking.

I went back again last night because I needed a reminder and thought I would share it.

It is an amazing site and helps with all kind of emotions. It was started by a UK psychiatrist who believes that

depression can be treated without drugs. ( Note to self... must email him and ask his opinion on tapering and withdrawal .)

It is funded by the UK's NHS and anyone, anywhere in the world can join, no need to sign up if you don't want to, but if

you do sign up you can work through the modules and see where you are at. You can also print off worksheets. There are

books available to buy but I haven't bought any of them.

 

I recommend it to anyone. Withdrawal is very real and horrific to live with, but the power of positive thinking is remarkable.

The channel can be changed but like a dodgy tv the brain jumps back to the wrong channel. It takes effort but can make a

huge difference.

 

 

Take a look and see what you think.

MamaP, Just curious did you hear back from him on his thoughts?

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