Archives for Living with Depression

Coping with Depression

Is self-sufficiency making you depressed?

Sunday marked the 13th anniversary of my mother's death. Sixteen months before she died, my father passed. Eight months after she died, my dog died.

I loved my parents - and my dog - very much. But I probably should have known something was up when I cried much more when my dog died.

I didn't know anything about grieving back then. I didn't know it could fester inside in my soul and come out sideways as anger, denial and desperation. I didn't know that my grief would morph into a bizarre, extreme strain of self-reliance that would end two years later with a swan dive into a deep, dark depression.

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Alcoholism

A recovered alcoholic asks: If I take antidepressants, am I still sober?

I am a recovered alcoholic. I also have bipolar II, which can manifest in depression.

I am what they call "dual-diagnosed" - or "twice blessed" as those of us in recovery often quip. I was about 7 years into my recovery when I slid into a deep depression and was diagnosed and put on medications.

The decision to take antidepressants and a mood stabilizer posed a huge ethical and medical conundrum for me. I had heard from many fellow recovering alcoholics that WE DON'T TAKE MIND ALTERING MEDICATIONS! Obviously, antidepressants and mood stabilizers are - thank God - mood altering.

Desperate - and with the encouragement of doctor friend who understands addiction - I took them. It took several months find the right dosages and for them to kick in but when they did, my life - and sobriety - completely changed. I'm not saying my life got better but my ability to deal with life got much, much better.
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Alcoholism

4 reasons why addicts should not trust doctors

One

Last month I went to the emergency room with tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. I answered a bunch of questions about my medical history, told them about my depression and bipolar, the meds I am on and made it clear that I am a recovered alcoholic/addict and that I do not want to be given any medications that might cause me to relapse.

The doctor came, looked at my chart, looked at me and asked if I was in pain. I said no, just uncomfortable tightness and shortness of breath. .

"Do you have any pain?" the doctor asked.

"I'm going to give you some Ativan. It will help you relax," the doctor said.

"No you're not," I said. "I'm a recovered alcoholic/addict and I don't take benzos."

"Why?" the doctor asked.

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General

How to screw up taking antidepressants

Once a week I refill my pill box. I take two antidepressants and one mood-stabilizer, along with a handful of supplements - fish oil, glucosamine, daily vitamin etc.

One-by-one I take each bottle out of a basket, open it, deposit the pills in their daily nook and put the bottle back into the basket. I take my medications without fail and I have done this little routine countless times over the years.

Last week I screwed up. Big time. I forgot to put one of my antidepressants in the mix. It took five days and a swan dive into my black hole before I realized this. I probably would have discovered this faux pas sooner if I had been paying attention but I have been under a lot of stress lately and it has been difficult to focus on anything for long.
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Coping with Depression

Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression?

Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression?

There's George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It's a Wonderful Life. Then there's Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree.

Let's not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can't keep his halo on straight, can't sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis' Blue Christmas and Do They Know It's Christmas about people starving in Africa.
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Coping with Depression

What to buy someone with depression for the holidays? Nothing.

I did not want to answer the door during my last major depression and I did not answer the phone.

So, what gift do you give someone who is in this kind of depression?

Consider nothing. There is nothing you can put a bow on that will really mean much to someone in a deep depression. Jewelry, flat-screen televisions, perfume - none of these things will lift us out of our depression. Believe me, if we could buy our way out of depression, we would have done it by now.

Consider, too, that a generous gift is going to make us feel even worse about ourselves because we won't be able to go to the mall and get you something. And, we will feel obligated to send a thank-you not or call to say "thank you."
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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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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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Dual-Diagnosis

Why can’t we understand the link between teens, drugs and depression?

I just read an article that suggested teens with mental illnesses should be screened for substance abuse.

To which my inner teen said, "D'uh!"

The article also suggested that treatment for  SUD and MI in teens should be integrated and not on parallel tracks.

"Double D'uh!"

I can't believe that articles like this still are written. Did we learn nothing from Curt Cobain?

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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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