Looking Over the Hills.

I am looking out from the kitchen window to a most beautiful scene.  The island state of Tasmania has some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the world and being such a compact state, so much of it is just around every corner.

There is the row of tall poplar trees across the road from the house all gently swaying in the breeze.  There are gently sloping hills looking straight out from the window over the fields and in the background, the mountains of the central lakes district of Tasmania.

And yet, amidst all of this beauty today, all I can think of is dark and gloomy thoughts of what a waste my life has been, and all of the things that I have failed at over the years.  I was reminded of those recently, very forcibly, by an email from a close family member and today it seems to hitting home more than normal.

I knew today was going to be one that the black beast had sway when every noise seemed to overwhelm me as I went around the house this morning.  My wife was having popcorn for a snack and every kernel she ate seemed to explode as she ate it and the rustle of the next pieces she picked up seemed to rattle around like pebbles in a can.

I physically had the shakes and my hands trembled as I reached for things – another sign of a swing in moods.

The dark thoughts of life or death echo around my mind and I knew that this was the one of the periods that I must be careful of and especially alert, as I have the mood and the energy to take action. 

As the clouds and mist gently curl around the escarpment like cotton wool folding over the edges, a paraphrase of the Klingon cry from Star Trek comes to my mind, “This place would be a good place to die,” and I again hear that familiar voice reminding me that it would not be difficult to do, just listen and he will help.

Logically I know that it is the stress from the move finally catching up with me and that if I go on fighting these doom laden thoughts and feelings of inadequacy that the circle will eventually turn again back to whatever passes for normality in my mind.

At times like these – I reach for my lifelines, the kiss and smile of my granddaughter as she wishes me goodnight, the concern of my wife and family, the emails from readers of my articles and also the special support received from Colleen at Bipolar World and the gang.

I try to remember my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions and how mood and mind are linked. I pull out the laminated card I carry in my wallet with the ‘Ten Cognitive Distortions’ on it to remind me to analyse my thoughts and not just accept them as being rational and meaningful.

As I look at the card – I almost smile – at least I do so well at having so many of the mental distortions going at once – maybe I should receive a Commonwealth games Gold medal for them.

Here are the distortions of our thought processes for you to look at.  Do they look familiar?  Are some of them old friends to you like they are to me?

Have a think – and when I pull myself out of this spell – maybe I will do an article based more fully on them.  Here they are have fun identifying with them.

The Ten Cognitive Distortions


1.       All or nothing thinking

2.       Overgeneralisation

3.       Mental filter

4.       Discounting the positive

5.       Jumping to conclusions

– Mind reading

– Fortune telling

6.       Magnification

7.       Emotional reasoning

8.       Should statements

9.       Labelling

10.   Personalization and blame


My personal favourites are: All or nothing thinking; Discounting the positive; Jumping to conclusions; magnification; should statements; and of course personalisation and blame.


Graham Brown

16 March 2006

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