Archives for Coping with Depression

Coping with Depression

Anger management techniques for a middle-aged woman

Last Friday afternoon I found myself standing behind what used to be an auto repair shop with a 16-pound sledgehammer over my head, beating the crap out of a large tire. It's not something you would expect a 56-year-old woman to do on a sweltering summer day in Florida.

But I was angry. I had just spent an hour in what I shall call "intense fellowship" with a handful of my colleagues and a lawyer and I was not at all happy with the outcome of the meeting. I knew if I did not get rid of that anger in an "appropriate" way, it would come out sideways.

Most likely I would verbally eviscerate someone and remain pissed off for days. I would relive that intense hour of fellowship over and over - fuming, stewing and creating scripts of what I would do next.

And then I heard a little voice: Depression is anger turned inward.
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Alcoholism

How my depression nearly killed my sobriety

This month I celebrate 17 years of sobriety. Let me say that again. This month I celebrate 17 years of sobriety.

I can't believe I just said that because it seems so impossible and sounds so weird coming from my mouth.

17 years.

How the heck did that happen?

One day at a time. I also followed suggestions, especially from a doctor friend who told me about 12 years ago that I was in a major depression and needed antidepressants.
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Bipolar

How to avoid anxiety and loneliness when vacationing alone

Since my last major depression I have created for myself a small, insulated world - completely accessible on a 20-plus-year-old pink bike. My doctors, work, favorite restaurants, grocery store, dog park, gym and ocean are within a five mile radius of my cozy little house.

I like it that way. Driving a car is unnatural for me. It brings back heavy, gray memories of commuting 25 miles from the suburbs of Detroit into the city to work. In March, when dirty snow and a gray, seamless cloud took over the sky, the commute fueled my depression, already acute from months of seasonal-affective disorder.

Life got better after I moved to sunny Florida but depression still smothered me. Death and divorce will do that regardless of the weather. I responded by making my world small. I preferred riding a bike to driving. For awhile I had a scooter but then went back to my beloved bike.

When I ventured out of my bubble for work or vacation, I always had a reason and purpose. Conferences, graduations, reunions and exciting adventures meticulously researched. For years I have travelled with my boyfriend - a free spirit like me. We research what is available to see and do in an area, but make few plans and reservations besides renting a car.

We have slept in the back of an SUV and stayed in five-star hotels. When a mountain stream looked as though it might have some trout in it, we pulled over and fished. No timetable. No plans besides the occasional baseball game at legendary fields - Wrigley in Chicago and the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway.

Vagabond wanderlust.

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Coping with Depression

Depression relief: Why standing-up matters

Sometimes, getting vertical is the hardest thing to do when we you are depressed. Just getting up - off the couch or out of bed - is a major accomplishment. Getting up and out the door is monumental.

In my last depression, I forced myself to do this. I knew that shutting myself in would only make the depression worse. Of course, I had the fear that if someone saw me out and about they would accuse me...
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Coping with Depression

The importance of passion

If we want people to take us and our mental illnesses seriously, then we have to take them seriously. Unfortunately, it's a little more involved than just taking some pills in the morning.

For me, this has meant figuring out the things I do that turn on and off certain chemicals in brain. I did years of therapy to deal with my emotions - especially anger. I learned part of my depression is anger turned inward.

I had to learn how to eat and sleep well - watching carbs, especially sugar consumption, which can spike my blood sugar levels causing quick highs and lows. I had to learn how to exercise in moderation because I tend to be a teeny bit extreme when it comes to working out.

I do not drink alcohol. I do not do dairy or gluten - which cause inflammation and make me feel old -something I DO NOT LIKE AT ALL! And sleep - ahhhh sleep. Eight hours, minimum with 20-minute power naps when needed. One day a week I sleep until my body wakes me up - usually after 10-12 hours.
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Coping with Depression

Should I let a lovely day at the beach ruin my mental health?

I have a rash and it is messing with my head.

I have had this rash for three weeks now. Two trips to the dermatologist and a biopsy and still, its cause is unknown. It is definitely an allergic reaction but to what, no one knows. My diet, soaps, lotions, animals in my life have not changed.

Obviously, this rash is frustrating. Constant itching, little bumps and more itching. I have tried every anti-itch cream on the market and everyone's home remedies.

But here is the real problem with this rash - it has forced me to take and perhaps take away the medication I need to protect my mental health.
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Coping with Depression

Crying to prevent my depression

My life improved when I accepted crying as a body function - like blowing your nose or peeing. I never worried that someone might think I was a wuss because I blew my nose. So, why is water coming from my eyes considered a weakness and peeing is not?

I got to pondering this enigma after a major depression that followed the death of my parents - 16 months apart - and then the death of my dog 8 months later. It took a couple years after these losses for the depression to really kick in. But when it did, it kicked in hard.

What I learned in my recovery was that I hadn't grieved properly. When sorrow smothered me, I stuffed it. When sadness came on me at work, I flung myself at a project to stop the tears. I was not going to cry - at least not in public. Of course, it's okay to cry right after someone dies or at the funeral. But not two months or two years later.

Get a grip. Suck it up. Enough already.
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Alcoholism

My closet filled with little boxes of bad deeds

In my mind there is a closet. It has one shelf and I must stand on my tip-toes to reach the little brown boxes on it.

I don’t reach for those boxes often because what is in those boxes scares the hell out of me. Each box contains a memory of an event that I wish had never happened or that I pray never will happen.

I only pull one of those boxes down and unwrap it when I know I need to. One box hold the memory of a car accident I had while drinking more than 30 years ago. I wrapped a 1972 Gran Torino – a massive vehicle – around a telephone pole.
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Coping with Depression

Celebrating a decade, depression-free

I celebrate three dates every year: August 27, 1998 - my sober birthday; December 18, 19?? - my belly-button birthday and April 26, 2005 the day my depression swallowed me whole.

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since my last major depression. I have had ups and downs but for 10 years now, there has been a floor below me and ceiling above me. I credit my medications for those gifts.

When I first started taking them...
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