20 May

Recognize Something is Wrong

In life, there are some decisions that are easier to make than others. If you don’t like your current job; you seek alternative employment. If you have outgrown your home; you sell it and upgrade to another. healthyblurbsIf you need new shoes; you decide to go shopping and buy new ones. Those are fairly easy decisions to make. What about when you are sick and need to see a doctor? You make an appointment and consult with your physician. Again, seems pretty easy and straight forward.

Why is it so hard to seek help for depression?

I believe there are many factors that make seeking help for depression a difficult task.

What kind of support system do you have in your life? Do you have people in your life that may recognize a change in your emotional wellness? Would someone you know be aware that these changes could be due to symptoms of depression? A close friend or relative could start the conversation with you about your emotional health. Without someone to raise your awareness to your own mental health, you are left on your own.

Have you suffered from similar symptoms in the past? Have you ever been diagnosed with depression? Do you have knowledge of depression and the symptoms that come with it? If you have never been diagnosed it can be difficult at first, to know what is wrong.

Do you accept you have a mental illness? If you can’t own your illness, you can’t be open to seeing when it has a hold of you. You need to come to terms with the possibility and then, if necessary, the diagnosis of your illness. Awareness is key to maintaining a healthy mental state.

If you’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness and you believe there may be something wrong, seek the advice of a professional. Mental illnesses do not go away on their own. Click on this link to the Canadian Mental Health Association website to learn more about depression. You need to be your own advocate.

You’ve taken the first step towards getting the help you need. Learning more about mental illness is an excellent way to build ammunition to fight. You now know why life has become such a challenge. You can begin to understand why many of your emotions are heightened.  There are answers to why activities that used to bring you so much joy, now make you feel nothing but emptiness. When I can’t appreciate a spring morning, it usually means something is up with me. It helps to be aware of why making any decision becomes the hardest thing to do. The best thing you can do for yourself is NOT make any major decisions when your mental frame of mind is in question. It is not your fault when the smallest of chores become devastating interruptions in your day. There was a time when needing to stop at a gas station to put air in my car tire was a tearful event. This should not be a normal, acceptable reaction.

If you have been diagnosed with depression in the past; you recognize the symptoms you are living with.  You need to seek the help of a professional; just as you have in the past. This is where I have always struggled. I would attempt to ignore the symptoms. I wouldn’t seek the help I desperately needed. I simply stuffed the feelings. I created the wall of denial. This has never worked to my benefit, not in the 20+ years of dealing with depression.  In fact, symptoms only worsened. Every symptom became exaggerated to its fullest. I ended up seeking care as an emergency measure. Don’t wait to get the help you need.

Here is list of signs and symptoms of depression from Women’s Health Matters.

22 Apr

5 Ways to Break Free of Depression

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Depression is never an easy topic to discuss. I’ve suffered for most of my life; wavering from not feeling depressed to fearing suicide. When I say I know 5 ways to break free of depression, I am not referring to any medication, nor any specific professional advice that has been given to me. I’m writing about some of the things that have worked for me. And these methods, with practice, have become habits.

 

 

If you have no idea what I am talking depression1about, you are where I was a few years ago. For some, depression can be in part caused by our own negative self-talk. We chide ourselves for errors we think we have made. The voice has been talking in your mind for so long, you may no longer hear it. Learn to hear it. It is not easy. When I began listening to the voice, my mental state actually worsened. I was stunned by the things that I was telling myself. Be prepared. Once you can hear the thoughts, stop them. Have the conversation in your mind, no one else can hear it. “Well, that was stupid, Sharlene!” is an example of what I would hear. “Whoa! Wait just one second! How was I supposed to know that? I know now for next time, but I had no idea. It’s okay not to know everything.” is an example of how I can answer that. Put the brakes on the negativity and change the thinking. No one else can change your thought patterns.

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I don’t mean financially. I mean with time. Invest the time in you. Learn more about you.  What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Do more of what makes you happy. Eliminate those things that cause sadness, if you can. Invest in personal development. There are so many great books; good old fashioned book form, e-books, and even audio books. Your options are limitless. I know people who listen to audio books during their commute to work. I’m still a lover of the feel of a book in my hands. I have learned that the investment in me is so incredibly worth it. I continue to learn and grow. Learning is something I thrive on; why would I stop learning?

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Track your thinking. Very recently I have learned that if you want to make a change in your life you need to see what is actually happening in that area of your life right now.  Darren Hardy, the writer of The Compound Effect, challenges his readers to pick an area of their lives they want to improve. Readers are instructed to track this area of their lives on paper. For example, if you want to handle your money better, write down everything you spend. Each spending decision is soon prefaced with the question, “Is it worth writing down?” When you have decided to track an activity, you are aware of your actions. The behavior begins to change immediately. He suggests tracking for 21 days.

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I can write about the benefits of journaling every single day. It can be very therapeutic. You can share your thoughts and feelings without feeling judged by anyone, other than yourself. And don’t judge what you write! Don’t spell check and don’t worry about grammar. Dig deep when you write. Stop and ask yourself, “What do you mean by that?” And then write some more. Keep doing that to really broaden the scope of your thoughts.

depression5Plan your future. Believe that you are in control of your destiny.If you want to be doing something different with your life, make a plan. What do you need to do to get to the life you want? Be realistic! Just don’t be afraid of making changes. You are alive today! Live your life the way you want to live it!

 

You don’t have to live with depression. I know it feels like it is insurmountable, in the moment. When you are in that state, the distance to feeling better is so incredibly large. Bridge the gap. The harder you try, the shorter the distance becomes. Decide, to feel better!

Til next time, do the next thing.

 

08 Apr

Five Essential Ways to Maintain Mindfulness

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Being mindful is a tool for successful maintenance of your mental health. In addition to becoming mindful, you need to develop ways to process what is being brought to mind.

Here are some ways I have been able to maintain healthy mindfulness:

  1. Journal – Journalling is one method to clear your mind. When your mind is juggling multiple topics and you can’t really file any of them away; journal. I find, if I just start writing words on the paper, sentences are eventually formed, and plans for action can be made or thoughts can be filed away with closure. As I learn new strategies for coping with emotion regulation, I will use my journal to find perspective after an event has caused an emotional spike. Some processes are easier to learn than others. Emotion regulation is not an always easily managed. When I write about the cause of the emotional spike, I am not only calmed, I also learn how the situation could have been handled differently.
  2. Breathing – Being mindful can at times leave you open to feelings that are not comfortable. You should prepare yourself for the possibility that this can happen, and have a plan in place for coping. Breathing is my go-to for uncomfortable feelings. I use the breathing technique of inhaling for my count (your count may be faster or slower) of 7, and exhaling for my count of 11. I do this until a wave of calmness washes over me and I able to move on.
  3. Pause – When uncertain of how you should respond to someone, or you simply need to say something important, take a moment. If you do not think you are capable of providing an appropriate answer, pause. You can request to excuse yourself from the conversation, or if you are real quick at calming, carry on after your pause.
  4. Celebrate – If your mindfulness journey suddenly involves being aware of new thoughts or feelings, celebrate that discovery. Journal about it. Take a moment, in the moment, to revel in the new thinking and feeling. The more you are present for your thoughts and feelings; the more able you will be to appreciate them.
  5. Meditate – If you are new to mindfulness, it can be overwhelming at times to pay attention to all that is happening within you. Take the time to clear your mind and allow it to rest. Meditation is the best practice. Your mind and body will appreciate it.

These are just some of the things that work for me. Mindfulness does not happen overnight. It is a journey. Enjoy the journey; you will be amazed at how many things you didn’t notice before.

Until next time…..do the next thing!

Sharlene