Tag: DEPRESSION

Alphabet of thanks, “E”

(Hey, I had this ready to publish this morning. I did not miss a day. But I just caught it now, so am sending it on its way to you.)

I am thankful today that I can Exercise. That means I’m healthy enough to do so.

My husband and I walk forty-forty five minutes every day. When we can’t because of inclement weather, we use our treadmill. I feel downright sluggish when I don’t.

Excercise is good for just about every illness. It helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, dementia, etc. And it certainly doesn’t have to be forty minutes. Thirty minutes is just fine.

And the best part is, it’s free. No expensive gym memberships. One can just walk out the door and begin.

While exercise is good for almost every medical condition, it really helps promote good mental health. I’ve written many posts about the importance of exercise in treating and preventing depression and anxiety. You can find some of those posts here, and here.

For me, to be able to walk for forty minutes is a real gift. I have very bad feet (five surgeries to prove it) and sometimes I would rather not walk but I know that I am able to walk because I do walk.  I’ve always remembered what my doctor told me a number of years ago.

If you don’t routinely walk most days of the week, you will find that eventually, you won’t be able to walk. You will go from a cane, to a wheelchair, to being bedridden.

So I walk. When my feet hurt, when my back hurts, when I just am not in the mood. If you have to start out with two days a week, do it. I can almost guarantee that after even one walk, your mood will improve. You will sleep better, too.

So today I am very thankful for exercise. It has made a huge difference in my life.

 

Healthy reflection leads to a really healthy life

A couple of weeks ago someone posted the quote below on Facebook. That person really got some feedback, a lot of it negative. (I think some people were having a bad day.) I really couldn’t understand the reactions of some people. I find this quote actually true because “things” (more of them or less of them) has never been proven to equate with happiness.

gratefulness

Then a few days ago, I was feeling “down” but was crawling out of it when someone made a remark that stopped my progress in its tracks. I realized later though that my reaction to her was just that, my reaction. She wasn’t having a problem, was. She couldn’t possibly plummet my mood, only I could do that.

That got me to thinking back about people, people who offend us, people who try to help us with trite euphemisms and silly little sayings.  If you’ve followed me very long, you know that I’m not a fan of many of the little “hip, hip hooray “sweet” inspirational sayings. For example, I hate the phrase, “It is what it is”.


it is what it is

But just because many of these little “Pinterisms” are trite and overstated, they sometimes contain a bit of truth. And if it helps some people, good.  Lots of things “hit a nerve” and when I’m feeling “down” it’s certainly true for me as well.  But at least these little “pollyanna” phrases are meant to lift our spirits and:

If anyone can prove to me how jumping in the pit with someone, helps them get out of the pit, I’d love for them to tell me.

It’s certainly better than the “pull yourself up” kind of remarks from a person who’s never experienced depression. (Or perhaps it makes more sense to say, never “admitted” to depression.)

 

And maybe the best question we should ask ourselves is,

“What if what is being said contains some truth?”

Or,”Can I learn something from this”?

For example,  “It is what it is”. I don’t like this one at all and I hear it all the time. I hate it because it reeks of hopelessness, not acquiescence.

(On second thought, maybe I would be better off sometimes by buying into “It is what is” ((maybe more, “They are who they are.”)) thana feeling as though I have to single-handedly change the world.

I like this better though; it offers more hope.

It is what it is but

Often people who are depressed will receive all kinds of well-intentioned advice. Sometimes it is not received well. Often because we feel no one else has ever felt this way so how can anyone else help? But as I wrote the other day,

Our depression is not unique.

Why do you think there is a “standardized” list of symptoms that determines when one’s mental health can officially be classified as depression?  That’s because when depressed people describe their symptoms, they pretty much describe the same symptoms. The causes may be different, the manifestations of those symptoms may look different but the illness and its symptoms are pretty consistent across all reported cases.

Depression feels pretty much the same for everyone.

I’ve yet to read a post by someone who is clinically depressed that sounds any different from anyone else, including me. As long as we think our depression is somehow unique, we are never going to listen to any advice. We are sure these strategies that have worked for untold numbers of others, couldn’t possibly work for us. Our depression is “so much worse”. (I don’t mean to sound crass.)

Also, all well-researched books, doctors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals suggest the same basic methods to manage depression, with or without medication. For example, exercise is suggested by every mental health professional as one of the most important tools for managing depression, especially if there is accompanying anxiety.

The  symptoms and the management tools for dealing with depression are amazingly consistent.

I think the harder question is why some people recover from depression and seldom deal with it again, while others struggle throughout their entire lives. This is especially hard for those who’ve worked hard at getting better and just can’t seem to get there.

At various times in my own recovery process, I asked the same thing, “Why can’t I get beat this?” Eventually, I did. But others have done the same things I’ve done and not got better. Did I work harder? Did I have more support? Did I hate depression more? Did the fact that I’ve never used alcohol or drugs make a difference? Did it just “run its course? Did I pray more?

I wish I knew.

But for the life of me, I can’t understand why there is so much anger on social media about just about everything.

overreation

Can’t we just all be generous enough to agree that for the most part, people are trying to help? Can’t we allow for a “well-intentioned although ignorant” remarks sometimes? Besides, haven’t we all done that?

After all, we all know depression is one of those illnesses that is hard to explain to someone who has never been there. Instead of reacting maybe we should be educating.

I sometimes think people have a hard time understanding my personal recovery.  They assume I was ever only mildly depressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was where many of you are now. I have the journal notes to prove it and every once in a while, to remind me of where I used to be, I read them. It’s very painful.

I’ve also witnessed serious depression in a number of people I love. I can tell you unequivocally, that in every case, these people got better. And they started to get better when they realized they had a part in either causing their depression or exacerbating it. Once they admitted to one or the other or both, they started to heal because they knew they could do something about it.

As I said earlier, a few days ago, I found myself very defensive with someone’s remarks even though what she said deserved some thought.

On this blog, you can share your honest opinions, whatever they are. You can disagree with me. You can offer help when I need it. That’s how we learn from each other, through honest conversation.

As long as your motive is to help, as long as you use decent language, as long as you are not just reacting and have given thoughtful consideration to my point of view, I would love to hear from you.

For me, I never comment on someone else’s post unless I think I’m helping. And I don’t comment haphazardly. I think before I write. But I have also offered a dissenting opinion if I think it adds to the conversation. I speak from my heart. I urge you to do the same.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

 

 

Psalm 40

Depression isn’t for “sissies

I see I posted twice yesterday.

But the whole “thought my kitten was lost” really had me frazzled. I thought I had everything in order and the post entitled “why overreacting doesn’t help depression” hadn’t even been edited. I’ve since corrected it.  It was a post from a few years ago that I thought bared repeating. I hope you found it helpful.

So because it did publish I felt I should continue the theme. The truth is that depression isn’t for “sissies”. What is interesting about those that suffer from depression is that it’s almost never the “bad”, “mean” or “shallow” person that experiences depression. You have to be kind of a “deep-thinking” person, a sensitive person to suffer this mental illness. And “mental illness” doesn’t always mean what we think it means. Depression is an “illness” that involves the  “mind”, therefore it’s a mental illness.  What is the matter with our society that we still don’t understand this?

My heart aches for anyone who suffers depression and/or anxiety. It’s horrible. And I think more people suffer from the disorder than don’t. But there is still such a stigma that many people never talk about it. Instead, they stand at the edge of a precipice never knowing when they are going to fall in the pit. That feeling of impending doom clouds their very existence and life becomes shrouded with fear and dread.

You would almost prefer to fall in the pit rather than standing at the edge worried that any minute you might drop into the dark hole and disappear.

(I realize this isn’t a photo of a “pit” but they were all too scary-looking so I chose this cliff instead. Same concept though, right?)

edge of a cliff

It’s like feeling dead inside but pretending to be alive. The effort of trying to act like everyone else is almost more than you can bear.

I get it.

If I thought I was heading there again, honestly, I would be terrified.

For a little while.

“Why for only a little while?” you ask.

Because while I have a history of depression, I also have a longer history of recovery. I’ve learned a lot from my battles. Mostly, that God will get me through if I cooperate.

Would he get me to the other side anyway? Probably. But it would take a lot longer and if I were rescued every time, I don’t develop the skill set necessary to keep me from succumbing the next time.

Psalm 40

I’m never one to tell anyone that all one has to do when faced with depression is to trust God and just like a magic Genie, everything will get better. While God can heal instantly and he often does, it’s no guarantee.

Besides, we develop a great deal of resilience when we cooperate with God instead of letting God do all the work.

My understanding of God’s dealings with people throughout Scripture is that cooperating with God is always God’s first choice. It’s kind of like God wants us to have a stake in our own growth. It has been proven time and again that people who have a vested interest in something appreciate it more.  I think God created in us the desire to claim some responsibility for our own lives.

When Moses balked at God’s command to speak to Pharoah because he didn’t think he could (for whatever reason and the jury is out on that reason), God said that Aaron could be his mouthpiece. How much personal growth did Moses give up right then? I would say, a lot.

So if you are on that precipice, you don’t have to fall in. I have no idea the faith walk of any of my “followers” so I can’t really give you steps 1-10 to keep you afloat. I can only tell you what I do.

I will try to share more tomorrow but here’s a preliminary list (in no order) without much detail:

  1. I pray and read Scripture.
  2. I exercise. If I’m struggling with a current depressive episode, I might walk longer and/or more than once a day.
  3. I stay distracted. If you are employed, this is easier. If not, just start moving and doing something, anything, and that will spur you on some more. This is very hard when you’re feeling down. Do it anyway.
  4. I should’ve started with this: Make your bed. I’ve been saying that much longer than the recent hype over the commencement speech of the same title and the subsequent book.
  5. Talk to someone today with your “voice” not your fingers.
  6. Avoid negative people.
  7. Don’t go to bed tonight without having accomplished something. (See # 3)
  8. Keep up with your personal grooming. You should look in the mirror and feel somewhat better by the image you see.)

That was a very cursory list.

Apparently, I’m on a roll, so I’ll try to keep this up for the rest of the week.

It’s hard for me to write about depression when I’m not actively experiencing an episode. But it’s also hard if I am.

Anyway, God bless and have a good day.

(PS. You can always check out my menu under the heading “depression”.  I have lots of material there that you might find helpful.)

 

 

 

what is coming out of your mouth

What is coming out of your mouth?

Why are some people so mean and thoughtless?

Why am I at times?

Why do we say such unkind things?

Why do we use words like “retarded” and stupid?

 Words by themselves are fairly neutral but we all know how we feel when we’ve been the recipient of a word used in a derogatory way. “Retarded” is a perfectly good word if we’re referring to something other than a person.

Many times we don’t mean our words to suggest anything other than what they literally mean. We’re not intending to hurt.

But words do hurt.

It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that “Sticks and stones may bring my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Who coined that ridiculous phrase anyway? And our culture has deteriorated rapidly in this area. Watch any reality show and you’ll see what I mean.  What has happened to our sense of humor that we think making fun of someone is even remotely funny?

What has happened to our sense of humor that we think making fun of someone is even remotely funny?

Of course, the “sticks and stones” phrase is meant to be used as a retort to someone who’s said something unkind to us. A way of getting back at them and letting them think their words didn’t hurt us.

Let’s be very careful our word choices. Next to our actions, our words say a lot about us and determine our own moods, more than anything else.  We simply cannot say cruel things to others without it hurting us as well.  I always feel a little sorry for someone who can’t control their speech because I know they are not happy people inside because…………..

Happy people use life-affirming words.

(By the way, if you’re dealing with depression you, of all people, need to use life-affirming words. What comes out of your own mouth will set the tone for your mood.)

God bless and have a good day.

(PS. I was downloading some pictures from my phone to my blog and apparently I accidentally hit publish for one of them which is why you saw a picture yesterday with no post attached. But maybe we can consider that a “teaser” for what is to come. I’m finally getting ready to share our kitchen re-do from a couple of years ago. I know, I know. A little late. But I’ve had to find all the before pictures which has taken a lot of time.)

630 WP drafts

Lessons learned from the past.

So….

I decided to clean-up some WP pages.

Guess how many “drafts” I have lying in wait.

630

That’s a lot of posts. The way I figure it, I shouldn’t have to “think” for almost two years!!!!

So I thought, why not share a couple with you from my very first days of blogging? You’ll get a good laugh out of this first one and although at the time

Here’s one from 2013

I had to quickly add this post.

I’ve really been feeling “down”, anxious. I was getting scared. Please, Lord, not after twelve years of living depression-free. Not a depressive episode.

There are some changes on the horizon that I’m not welcoming but they are not “bad” by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. I’m anxious because I’m worried how I’ll deal with it. But that doesn’t seem like enough of a trigger. BUT, I think the biggest instigator has been my frustration with getting this blog developed the way I want it to be.

The “Follow me button on Pinterest” is directing my traffic to someone else’s boards. Couldn’t get the “Pin It” button to work and then there’s the drop-down menu I’ve been trying to create for weeks. (I know, the rest of you probably breezed right through all of this.)

I’ve felt totally stupid and like the biggest loser e-e-e-e-ver.  I’ve been quite convinced that no on has had as much trouble developing a blog as I have. I don’t understand any of the technical language so even with precise instructions from the Word Press tutorials, I’ve been lost. I’ve read and read and read the same things over and over and over. I’ve experimented every which way I can.

Today the breakthrough!!!!!

I’ve come so far, huh? I can just about do anything with my blog now and seldom have to ask for help from the “Help” desk over at WP.

Here’s another from May of that same year. Why I didn’t post this, I haven’t a clue. I like it a lot and it brought back good memories.

What environment are you comfortable with? Do you like a lot of activity around you? Some people thrive on a caffeinated environment.They like the adrenaline rush they get from the go, go, go of life.

Others prefer a much slower place. They hate to be rushed. They like calm. In fact, they feel less energized if there is too much going on around them. It wears them out.

And it really doesn’t matter if they’re an extrovert or an introvert, although generally extroverts would fall into the first category and introverts into the second.

However, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, if you experience from bouts of depression, it might be a good idea to change it up a little.

Sometimes, we need a little something that is just the opposite of what we’re used to. We need to force ourselves out of our comfort zone, to challenge ourselves a little.

How many of you have found that once you’ve exposed yourself to a different climate, you’ve actually liked it? And in the liking, you’ve discovered something about yourself.

Last year, although we didn’t plan it, my husband and I found ourselves attending some events we never would’ve dreamed we would enjoy.  A Tough Mudders contest, a hot-air balloon festival, a Thanksgiving day parade in frigid weather, and a ethnic-based (not our ethnicity) music festival. Of the two of us, I’m the one who doesn’t like crowds. I don’t like being outside in really hot weather or really cold weather. I feel very self-conscious in large groups. However, put me in front of hundreds of people to deliver a speech and I’m fine.

But I have to tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of each of those events.

I surprised myself.

It’s good to “shake things up”. We discover new dimensions of ourselves. We surprise ourselves. Not always, of course.  Sometimes we come away simply more aware why we don’t like something. That’s good, too.

So with the summer looming, why not shake things up in your own life? It’s hard to do when your depressed. There is great comfort in the status quo. But sometimes, the jolt we need is in the unexpected. If nothing else, the more we put ourselves in unusual situations other than what we’re accustomed to, we have conversations with people who give us little snippets of encouragement.

It’s hard to do when you’re depressed. There is great comfort in the status quo. But sometimes, the jolt we need is in the unexpected. If nothing else, the more we put ourselves in unusual situations, other than the ones we’re accustomed to, the more we get a chance to learn ourselves.

We have conversations with people who give us little snippets encouragement when they had no idea they were doing so. Conversely, we encourage others by what we say. 

It really is a small world.

God bless and have a good day.

As I reread this last post, I thought about all the traveling I did when my husband was working internationally. I think back to the first time I road a train from a hotel in Bangkok to a huge shopping mall. My husband and ridden with me the day before so I could memorize the stops and know which number stop I was to get off.

To say I was scared when I did it myself is an understatement. But I did it.

Or even last year when I braved Lake Michigan in my kayak. (Of course, I was in knee-deep water, but still.)

And then blogging. Oh, my. What a disaster I was in the beginning. How I cried and almost threw the computer on the wall. How I almost gave up when my “followers” were scant. And now, over 1,000 of you.

Whoa!

If I post any of these drafts, I will let you know the original date.

Until then, God bless and have a good day.

 

 

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