Tame Your Mood is a monthly newsletter focused on the noble challenge of overcoming anxiety and depression. Psychotherapy for depression and anxiety requires many approaches, among which is the critical need to develop your understanding of what these wild moods actually are, how they work and function, and how we can get ensnared. These writings are here to help you build an understanding that supports the uprooting of the wild moods.

Below, you will find about 10 years of writings to help you understand the wild moods more deeply, practices to experiment with, and hopefully inspiration that anxiety and depression are not permanent, and there is actually a way out of them.

February 2024 – The Ghosts of Stalled Grief

In this month’s article, I’m writing about grief again, given that it is so central to the process of depression, its emergence and resolution. Specifically, I’m discussing how “ghosts” get created when our capacity to tolerate the loss of something that has been life-structuring gets overwhelmed. There’s no quick solution, but more of my point here is that knowing that you are camped out in a necropolis, and not actually in life anymore, is the necessary step to restarting grief and returning to life.

May your winter be progressing with only a manageable level of chill, and may you have the grace to remember that it is always just a phase in the rotation of the seasons.

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December 2023 – “The Stream Which Seems an Endless Lake”: A Metaphor for the Grief Process

Following on the last two newsletter articles (here and here), this month’s thoughts focus on a metaphor for grief that I use frequently, because of the way it seems to usefully embed the different phases of grief as it unfolds from shock to acceptance. Of course, find the metaphor that works for you, that describes your actual experience in a way that gives it shape and language and meaningfulness. But here’s a suggestion of one which you can tuck in a pocket, and bring out in times when it’s hard to find an understanding of loss that isn’t simply endless misery. Given that we’re fully heading into the holiday season (like it or not), and that the archetypes of family are getting lit up along with the fairy lights, it seemed an apropos time to offer up this lake-and-river imagery.

So, however your December is shaping up, may you find a joy that matches your unique self, and enough supports to make use of whatever the stress of the season brings you.

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November 2023 – The Protocols of Grief

Fall (in the Northern half of the planet), with its increasing dark and insularity, as well as the setting in (for some of the planet) of the holiday season, can bring on experiences or re-experiences of loss. Sometimes these are new losses, and sometimes these are losses that we tried to tuck into the attic but nonetheless have made their way downstairs. Given the build of our human psyches, these losses trigger the grief process as the way we’ve been designed to resolve those losses. But as natural as that is, we often initially resist or deny or rationalize the loss. Which doesn’t work.

So, in this month’s article, I lay out a sketch of the “protocols” of grieving, the stripped down elements or principles that make the process flow as smoothly and elegantly as it can. Hewing to these as best you can is a decent (if not cookie-cutter) recipe for engaging a process all of us would prefer to ignore. But since hiding grief is the invitation to depression coming on, it behooves us to surrender to the grieving, and these rules of grief are here to support us in that surrender.

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July 2023 – The Mind Is Inherently a Really Really Weird Place

In this month’s article, I’m stepping back for a second from my usual focus on mood to talk about something that impacts all sufferings, being the commonly held misconceptions about the nature of our minds. For us to engage in our own healing, we need a good map and model of the process. Why? Well, try building a bridge if you’re assuming bridges work on the same rules as writing fiction. I hope it stirs up some interesting thoughts and self-inquiry.

Otherwise, may your summer be starting with a sufficient mind and heart space to appreciate the changes in the season, and if not, that you have enough support and trust in the possibility of change to keep going.

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March 2023 – Our Friend, Futility

For this month’s article, I’m revisiting directly one of my favorite topics, being the boons of aligning with futility. I know that saying futility is full of gifts does not sound right (to say the least), nonetheless the assertion here is that futility, understood and approached properly, is a profound friend. Read through the following piece and hopefully you will come out with a different view of what futility actually is, and what it offers.

Otherwise, I hope that the change in season (such as it may be in your neck of the woods) is bringing energy, reflection, rightly accepted grief, and deeply welcomed joys.

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February 2023 – Swimming Upstream: Social Life During Depression

In this month’s article, I answer a reader’s question about how to build and maintain a social life during depression, and give an outline of the program elements that help. As ever, there’s no guarantee with depression, and it is work to come out of depression. There’s no way around that, but when you come to terms with that, you have a big advantage in the inevitable wrestling match that depression presents.

Wherever you are in the world, may your February be full of the right mix of challenge and support, work and grace.

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January 2023 – Acceptance Comes Before Understanding

Happy 2023, and I hope the first few weeks of the year are starting off well for you. If not so much, then I wish for you to have enough support and inspiration to work with whatever is arising, especially the awareness that, “Even this will pass.”

In this article, I’m addressing what we often are confused on, the belief that understanding has to come before acceptance. The counterintuitive thing is that actually the two are decoupled, and acceptance requires no understanding, just acknowledgement of the reality of something, and letting that reality be true within ourselves. Which, although it is not easy (we have defenses against foreign stuff), works a lot better in the long run.

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November 2022 – Depression and the Illness of Loved Ones

As with last month, I’m going to answer another question from the list that folks have sent me, with this being about depression in relation to the long-term illness of a loved one. Although the article below is specific to this question, the thoughts are relevant to any “slow-motion” loss we are experiencing, whether that of a loved one, or loss of a career, or a medical situation of our own.

As we move into winter, I hope you are staying warm, literally and internally, but also enjoying the transitions in whatever way you can.

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October 2022 – Love Letters to Humanity

I recently tossed a request out to a diverse group of humans I know, asking them for questions they might have about all things depression. There were a lot of questions, so I’ll be writing to them over the next few months. The first one I picked out was, “Why is it important to have a list of ‘Love Letters to Humanity’ for games, movies, songs, art, etc., in terms of Depression/Anxiety?” That there is a very interesting question, which I attempt to address in the article below.

May your respective Falls be starting well, and may you both enjoy the change in season (such as they are in your part of the world) and reflect on the impermanence (that most fundamental of life’s qualities) that the falling leaves and increasing chill implies.

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September 2022 – Depression in “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

In this newsletter, I look at depression through the lens of this year’s movie, Everything Everywhere All At Once. In addition to Inside Out (see here for my review), it is a brilliant, and beautiful, depiction of not just depression, but depression and its resolution. I’ve been talking about it for months, and thought it was time to write it up here.

As I say in the article below, the film is not intended to be a complete map to the intricacies of the journey out of depression, but rather a meta-map for the whole arc of that journey, and its key factors. And amazingly—it’s an absurdist story of a harried woman and her taxes—it’s totally correct. So, before reading, if you haven’t, see the film, and consider seeing it again. It is very rich, and totally worth the time.

So, as the Waymonds say in the film, may these difficult times be met with heartfulness, good companions, wise guides, skillful conflict (as necessary), and more than anything, the willingness and resources to practice growth.

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