Archives for Women and 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.
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

Alcoholism

Take off your watch. It’s making you depressed.

I don't wear a watch. I have watches, very nice watches, in fact. I don't even know where they are - probably in a drawer somewhere. I don't wear a watch because I have a thing with time. I learned early on in my recovery from alcoholism and depression that "time" was a problem for me. A very big problem. I didn't realize my "time" problem until a friend in recovery asked me one day, "What time is it?" I looked at my watch and told him the time. Then he asked again, "what time is it?" And I looked at my watch again and told him the time. "No," he said. "What TIME is it?" I looked at him like he was crazy and said, "I don't know. You tell me, what time is it?" "Now," he said. I had a D'oh Homer Simpson moment and then understood what he was trying to tell me. I was not in the present. "That's why I don't wear a watch," he said.
Continue Reading

General

Get me a sledge hammer: Depression as anger turned inward

About 8 years ago, during my last major depression, I was told that depression was anger turned inward and that if I did not get rid of my anger, I would not get better. This baffled me because at the time I felt nothing but hopelessness. I had emotionally flatlined. I didn't feel angry. I felt exhausted. However, the people who told me this - my psych nurse and therapist - knew what they were talking about. They had spent decades treating people with depression. If they said I would not get well until I got rid of my anger, then I would get rid of my anger. My therapist gave me a whiffle bat and wanted me to beat a pillow. Really? A whiffle bat? A pillow? I figured that if the amount of anger in me was enough to reduce me to a listless, despondent lump of flesh, a whiffle bat was not going to do the trick. I put on my steel-toed work boots, found a metal baseball bat in the shed and drove to a junkyard. I asked the guys if I could have a few minutes alone with one of their vehicles. They raised their eyebrows and took me to a green truck. They left me alone.
Continue Reading

General

Justifying late-term abortions: Mother’s mental health is not enough

Last week Florida lawmakers passed a law banning most abortions during the third-trimester. A doctor who performs an abortion during the third trimester and anyone who assists can be charged with the third-degree felony. However, the law makes an exception when a "physician certifies in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, there is a medical necessity for legitimate emergency medical procedures for termination of the pregnancy to save the pregnant woman's life or avert a serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition." Without wading into the debate over abortion, I would like to weigh in on the exception in the exception of  "a psychological condition."
Continue Reading