Six rules I follow to avoid depression during the holidays

Yesterday, as I was sitting on the front porch I was smacked upside the head by a Hallmark moment. An SUV with license plates from another state pulled in the driveway of the family across the street. I love having this family and their little ones across the street.

From the SUV spilled little cousins and what looked to be an aunt and grandmother. Their front yard was filled with hugs and babies on hips and...
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Coping with Depression

Death and depression: Two questions you must ask

I am now in the midst of watching a loved one die - slowly. This is the third time I've been down this road. The first two deaths were my parents. Cancer ate them little by little and they died 16 months apart.

Today, it is the man of my dreams, the love of my life. His cancer has metastasized again and I'm afraid it won't be long. He is a wonderful man and I will miss him dearly...forever.

About two years after my mother died I slid into the darkest depression I had ever experienced. Frankly, it scared the heck out of me and when I finally clawed my way out of it I vowed I would do everything and anything to never fall into that black hole again.

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anxiety and dreams

How much sleep is enough/too much when you have depression

The first thing my psych-nurse practitioner said on my first visit during my last major depression was this:

"First, we need to get you some sleep."

What? I expected her to say anti-depressants - at the time a major fear of mine. But sleep? Really?

I immediately decided that I liked this woman because her top priority was something natural - sleep. Although she did prescribe a very low dose of Seroquel to help me sleep soundly, I liked her recognition of the body's own ability to heal itself.

Plus, I hadn't had a really good night's sleep in a long time. And I really, really like to sleep.
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Coping with Depression

Four reasons to exercise when you have depression

Shortly before my depression snapped me in half, I went to a spin class at the gym. Of all the exercise I have done - and I have done a lot - spin is the most intense aerobic workouts.

An hour of riding a stationary bike -mostly at your maximum heart rate - and my body is toast. However, my brain is on a pink cloud - awash in endorphins.

But on that day, the endorphins did not...
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Top 5 comebacks when asked why I don’t drink alcohol

For some reason, people want to know why I don't drink.

If you offered me Brussels sprouts and I said "no thanks" and you said, "are you sure I can't get you some Brussels sprouts?" and I said, "No thank you, I don't eat Brussels sprouts," would you ask, "How come you don't eat Brussel sprouts?"

Probably not. But when I say I don't drink alcohol, people what to know why.

Why is that? I haven't figured that out yet, but...
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Coping with Depression

Fuel for depression: I get paid when bad stuff happens

It's 6:32 am and I just had an epiphany: I spend too much time thinking about what's wrong.

I'm a journalist so it goes without saying that that's what I get paid to do. We write about what's wrong. Have you seen that commercial where the kid says to his buddy, "My dad's company didn't get hacked today." That's not news.

So, basically I have spent the better part of the last 30 years focusing on what's wrong, why...
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Addiction treatment: Here’s the prescription for relapse

I met yet another addict who is taking benzos prescribed by a doctor who knew this woman is an addict trying to stay clean.

WTH? (I would like to say WTF? but I'm a lady.)

This addict said the doctor who prescribed her Klonopin and Ativan knows she is in recovery. In fact, he's the doctor who treats clients in her intensive outpatient program. (Again, WTH?)

I have two problems with this common scenario:

Doctors who prescribe benzos to patients...
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Public Policy

Mental health groups ask Kenneth Cole to remove billboard

Twenty-three mental health organizations delivered a letter to fashion designer Kenneth Cole this morning, protesting the bizarre billboard Cole posted on a New York City highway in August that was supposed to support  mental healthcare reform and gun reform.

Two comments:

1. Thank God the country's most prestigious mental health organizations have taken a strong, united stand in urging Cole to take down the billboard.

2. What the hell was Cole thinking?

When the words mental illness...
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Chiropractic care for physical and mental health

My insurance company wants to know why I have been to the chiropractor so much recently. The company has asked my chiropractor for an explanation.

I've got an explanation: My back hurts. I did not injure it. I was not in a car accident. I'm 56-years old and sometimes it just goes out of whack. But here is the main reason I've been seeing my chiropractor so much. I am a recovered alcoholic and I have bipolar II.

You see, I can't and don't want to take muscle relaxers. I might abuse them. I don't want a shot of some steroid because if you take the pain away without correcting the problem, I will go back to my usual exercise routine and very likely hurt myself.

Exercise is a critical component of maintaining my mental health. It's not just the endorphins, it's the way I feel - energized, strong, capable. It builds my self-esteem and gives me confidence. It's the camaraderie and fun I have at the gym. It's my tribe.
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Drug treatment: How many times will you go to go to rehab before you realize it isn’t working?

This is going to make some people mad. I'm going to say it anyway.

Why do addicts and alcoholics go to rehab over and over and over if it doesn't work for them? If you had cancer and you did 10 rounds of treatments and they weren't working, would you keep going?

I know you are going to say relapse is part of the disease. But if you relapse over and over and over and over, why go back to the same treatment? At a certain point you have to stop blaming the disease for your relapse and realize the treatment you are doing for your disease simply isn't working.

Stop going to rehab. Stop paying tens of thousands of dollars for a treatment protocol that isn't working for you. I'm not saying that rehabs don't work. They do - for some addicts and alcoholics. Treatment will work for the highly motivated addict or alcoholic who won't be distracted by the cushy, resort-like facilities that offer massages, tai chi, golf "therapy" and meditation on a Florida beach.

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