5 Tips for Survival When Depression Creeps Up on You

5 Tips for Survival When Depression Creeps Up on You

5 Tips for Survival When Depression Creeps Up on You

Let’s just get the inevitable out of the way, I have depression. I think I’ve probably had it since I hit puberty at the ripe age of ten. It wasn’t diagnosed until my oldest boy was four months old but looking back I can see how kind of out of control I was emotionally. I am on medication and this post isn’t about me trying to get off of medication. I spent 16 years of my life being depressed and not medicated and I’m never going back there again. Living with depression is all part of a puzzle and so much of it means being in tune with yourself. For me, the months of February through April are the roughest. I live in Minnesota so the long, dark days, cold weather and lack of getting outside makes me prone to depression. I’m married to an accountant and this is by far the worst time of year for him and our family. Those contributing factors alone can create a huge mess for me if I’m not paying attention to how I’m feeling. How do I combat depression when it seems to be creeping up on me?

Five Tips to Survival When Depression Creeps Up On You.

Move Your Body

As much as I’d love to tell you that this isn’t an essential part of combating depression, that’s just not the truth. I have been working out, early in the morning every day since November of 2016. When I miss a day I can tell; I feel sluggish, lonely, and tired. Working out not only naturally increases your body’s endorphins but it creates a “high” so to speak that’s similar to morphine. From WebMD,

Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. 

I experience this more on the days that I don’t get my booty out of bed to workout. Let me be perfectly clear though, when I am struggling with my depression the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. It is physically, brain chemistry related, difficult for me to get up. I’d love to tell you that the reason why I get out of bed is because I’m just that dedicated but that’s not the truth. The reason I get out of bed is because I belong to a gym, a community, and people are expecting me to be there. When I’m not in full depression mode having a community who expects something from me is sometimes the only reason I get out of bed.

5 Tips of Survival When Depression Creeps Up on You
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

I’m not saying that you need to go balls to the wall and kill yourself doing an incredibly intense workout if that’s not what you’re used to doing or if it isn’t your jam. What I am saying is that you should move your body every day for at least thirty minutes. Go for a walk with a friend, go for a walk with your stroller, join a group fitness class, DO SOMETHING.

Communicate with someone whom you trust.

I truly believe that communication is the key to being happy. We were made to be in community with others; Adam was lonely so God created Eve. We need human interaction and there’s a reason why isolation is a form of severe punishment. Find someone you trust and tell them about your struggle. For me, my people are my sister, mom and husband, as they’re the people I’ve known the longest and with whom I trust wholeheartedly. Part of the problem when you’re depressed is your inability to reason, your brain simply (or complexly) cannot move that one completely irrational thought over to the other side so that the thought can be put through reasoning. This is where communication and your person come into play; you need someone that you’ll trust and listen to when the going gets tough and you need a little reasoning. The relationship has to be strong and one that you feel safe with that’s why my people are my family.

Five Tips to Survival When Depression Creeps Up On You.

Set a Daily Routine.

Keeping myself on task and busy with a purpose dramatically helps me manage my depression. When I’m not busy I tend to become apathetic about life – the dishes pile up in the kitchen sink, there are mountains of laundry everywhere, the kids are pretty much feeding themselves, and I just lay around waiting for the night to come so I can just go to sleep. I’m not saying that the dishes piling up in the sink is always a sign that depression is looming around the corner, there are times when life happens and we’re just busy, the problem is when it becomes the norm and here’s the key: YOU DO NOT CARE. There’s a difference between not being able to keep up with part of your routine and feeling a little twinge of guilt because you’d like to still keep up with it and then there’s the other side of being apathetic. The problem happens when you become apathetic. Apathy means, “lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.”

Five Tips to Survival When Depression Creeps Up On You.

Fuel Your Body with Food

When I’m eating junk, guess what, I feel like junk. No really, I’m serious here. When I pig out on sugary treats (I’m not talking about one or two, I’m talking about binging) it messes with my attitude and outlook. I feel that sugar high and then the crash that comes afterwards. It’s not good to allow yourself to feel that rush because you can’t maintain it, right? You inevitably have to come off of that sugar high and that’s where problems arise for me. Again from WebMD, “Don’t rely on popular diets that cut out food groups and sharply restrict what you can eat. Just focus on the basics: watch your calories, eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, and limit fat and sugar.” There is not a diet that can cure depression, some may say there is but nothing has been proven and my thought is that when it comes to brain chemistry you shouldn’t put yourself in a position to experiment without the help of a professional.

Five Tips to Survival When Depression Creeps Up On You.

Take Time to Relax

Resting is just as important as staying busy. It kind of forces you to decompress and take a little time for yourself. Sit down and read a book or read to your children if they’re home. Try to stay off of social media as it can sometimes be taxing mentally. Maybe get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Spend 15 minutes minimum daily, even multiple times a day, relaxing. Give yourself permission to not be everything for everybody 24/7.

Five Tips to Survival When Depression Creeps Up On You.

Now what?

If you are still unsure, please seek professional help. Maybe seek out a counselor or speak with your physician? If you have a faith talk with one of the leaders at your church. Whatever you do, do not just wait for it to pass by. Unfortunately with the depression, despite how you’re feeling, you have to be active in recovery and this means understanding how you tick. Like I said, it’s really the LAST thing you want to do but you have to stay on top of how you’re feeling.

5 Tips for Survival When Depression Creeps Up on You

 

 

This is what depression feels like

This is what depression feels like

When I was diagnosed with postpartum depression back in 2009 I promised myself that no matter what I would try to give a “voice” to this often times shameful and silent disease. Before I go on though, I need to preface this by saying that I am on medication and while I know that you, the reader, may feel differently about anti-depressants I ask that you keep all anti-medication opinions to yourself. This post is not about medication, pros or cons; this post is about what depression is from the viewpoint of someone who is depressed. Yes, perhaps one day I will be off of medication but that’s up to me and the medical professional I see regarding this. I never want to go back to the scary place I was in before I was diagnosed; it was dangerous to myself and those I cared for the most. That being said…

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This is what depression feels like

I’m a pretty open person. I don’t take myself too seriously and because of that I’m willing to put myself out there to anyone who will listen. I have to be honest;, this is not an easy post to write. It’s not easy to admit your shortcomings. Depression is something that we as a society like to keep private and behind closed doors. That hush hush attitude is what gives depression its stigma of shame. I am ashamed that I struggle with this. I am embarrassed of my thoughts and my behavior when I’m going through a depressive state. Unfortunately, those whom are closest to me suffer right along with me. I’m currently in a healthy place and because of that I can write about what depression feels like. It helps me to verbalize how crazy things were in my mind.

I anticipated that the added stress of having more children during a busy season at work for my husband would cause my depression to spike. I typically try to see my doctor at the beginning of this season so I can discuss everything. I thought I had a plan, well, looking back my plan was to just bear down and get through this period of time. Not a good idea. Sure, I functioned in the day to day routines, but as the end became more in sight, the more my husband, Ben, worked.

The more he worked, the farther away I slipped from reality.

This is what depression feels like

The mind can be a dangerous place for someone whose neurotransmitters aren’t working properly. When a normal functioning brain encounters a feeling of sadness or anxiety that chemical reaction moves on over to the reasoning side of the brain. From there that chemical reaction is dispersed and should be regulated and that’s where a depressed brain is different from a normal working brain. A normal working brain does regulate those emotions whereas a depressed brain doesn’t. Enough of this science talk…although it is really fascinating. If you want more information please visit this site.

Not feeling all the feels.

Out of touch and blank. Hopeless and apathetic. That’s how I felt from the first week that my depression set on until six weeks later when a loved one mentioned something to me. The depression started out slowly.

  • Losing my temper here and there.
  • Getting frustrated with my husband and his choice of career.
  • Then I felt guilty for feeling so badly about my life. Other women have it worse than I do so why was I so sad?

That feeling of helplessness and hopelessness continued to build and build and build until everything came to a head over something stupid.

The incident was childish really. My thinking was so far from reasonable I don’t even recognize the person I was. I was acting like a teenager saying and doing without ever thinking ahead. Sure, those closest to me tried to talk me down but I just kept getting sucked in deeper and deeper into my thoughts. It was like I was being held prisoner in my own mind but I didn’t even realize it.

I stopped enjoying the things I had enjoyed before like writing, spending time with my children, talking on the phone to my mom and sister and friends, coordinating various groups I was in charge of and even watching General Hospital. I hated my life and there was nothing stopping me from that thought.

I got up every morning and hoped that this dark feeling would disappear. It just didn’t. I didn’t know what to do because it all felt so real. I honestly thought that my life had gone from a wonderful one to a dark and lonely place overnight.

That’s the problem with depression: when you’re in the thick of it you cannot see it.

At least I can’t see it and people I know who also struggle with it say the same thing. I didn’t want to see it either. My mom mentioned to me that she thought something was up when I went down to visit her and my dad. I brushed her concern off thinking that everything was fine. At that point I had come to the conclusion that I was losing all of my friends and I was going to be left out forever. After all, I reasoned with myself, who would ever want to be my friend? I thought I was a terrible person. I believed that there was no admirable trait that I had that would cause anyone to stay with me for very long.

This is what depression feels like

Those thoughts are where I spent most of my days for six weeks. Reflecting back on that I see how truly sad I was but in the middle of it I honestly didn’t see it. Can you imagine living that way? Experiencing the joys of life only a few minutes of every day? Watching but not noticing that you’re slowly slipping away from the life you know you love. I lived it and it’s by God’s saving grace that I made it to the other side again.

So what can you do? Good question. Well, since I know that my husband’s busy season comes every year I have decided that now, during the “off” season, I have to come up with better coping mechanisms. Part of that is writing this post. That way I can look back and read this again when I start to lose myself. I’m also assembling a “tool box.” A wise woman from my church whom I met with for coffee suggested that – a depression tool box. In it I’m going to put things in there that will help snap me out of whatever dark place I’m feeling that day. When I’ve gone through every tool in my box and I’m still feeling sad I will call her so at least I have someone who understands me.

I’m also going to look into buying a SAD light. Vitamin D is an awesome vitamin for warding off depression. It’s unfortunate that his busy season is during the winter months here in Minnesota. The sun’s rarely out and if it is often times it’s cold and windy. I don’t handle heat or cold well.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you are struggling with depression please seek out help. Any feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, anger, or loneliness that persist for more than a few days or even a week could be a sign of depression. Please don’t hide it from those who love you. Seek help.

This is what depression feels like

What can you do if someone you love struggles with depression? Watch for the early warning signs – lack of interest in activities they usually enjoy, irritability, pulling away and even that vacant stare. Be gentle in your approach and be lovingly persistent. Remember that a depressed person is living in a very dark and lonely world. It’s very real to them and give them a little grace. They can’t snap out of it. I know that when I’ve been told to just snap out of it that makes me want to retreat back inside of myself. That thought is completely out of character for me. I’m a people person. When I start losing interest in spending time with others that should be a warning sign to those around me that something’s up.

This is what depression feels like

Most importantly a little understanding of what depression is will really help you to better love someone who is depressed. It’s not her choice to feel this way or act the way she does. Like I said before, I am honestly ashamed of my behavior when I was depressed this last time. I don’t even know who that girl was! I would never choose to live in that dark place; no one would ever choose to live life that way..

 

 

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Do You Think You May Have Postpartum Depression?

Do you think you have post partum depression?

As many of you know, I have struggled with depression since the birth of my first child in 2008. When I look back to those early days of my son’s life they are dark and very lonely; it’s almost like I was living my life in this fog and I just could not escape from it. The fog didn’t lift for four months, until someone reached out to me and said, “Have you ever thought maybe you have postpartum depression?” The idea had never occurred to me. I mean we went over postpartum depression in my birth class and I vaguely listened because, well, that would never happen to me. It did though.

This post is sponsored by Sage Therapeutics, the sponsor of the Hummingbird Study.

Do you think you have post partum depression?

Crying a lot? Struggling to bond with baby? Anxious?

Learn about a research study that may provide answers.

If you are currently suffering from moderate to severe postpartum depression symptoms, such as feeling sad, tearful, empty or hopeless you may qualify for a research study evaluating an investigational medication.

The Hummingbird Study is a research study for women with moderate to severe postpartum depression who have had a baby within the last 6 months.
You may qualify to participate if you:

  • Are between 18 to 45 years old
  • Gave birth within the last 6 months
  • Frequently feel extremely sad, anxious, or overwhelmed and these symptoms are associated with postpartum depression

If you qualify and decide to participate, you will receive:

  • 24-hour care and support for your postpartum depression during the 3-day, in-patient period
  • All study-related medical care and medication and provided at no cost
  • Any travel required to participate will be coordinated and paid for by Sage Therapeutics

Call 844-608-0808, Text MOM8 to 87888, or visit thehummingbirdstudy.com to see if you pre-qualify.

This post is sponsored by Sage Therapeutics, the sponsor of the Hummingbird Study.

“I’m fine” and other lies depression will tell you.

I'm fine and depression. First Time Mom

I'm fine and depression. First Time Mom

I’ve been harboring a secret for the past month or so. Only a few close friends know and my family obviously. I don’t know why I’ve not said anything about it or why I’ve been hiding it. The truth is that about seven weeks after Keira came into the world I started slipping back into my depression.

It was after my six week doctor’s appointment and things were fine. I was still feeling that motherhood high, looking at my darling daughter sleeping and I swear I could cry I loved her so much. Sure, things were a little crazy and chaotic having two older kids but I was fine. I felt fine.

Fine’s a funny word isn’t it? Most people use the word fine as a way to appease the questioner. “How’s life with three kids,” I was asked by an acquaintance. “Oh it’s fine. Busy but fine.” I thought it was fine. It was chaotic and loud and definitely a juggling act bouncing from one child to the next but I was fine. And slowly but surely the fines started spilling out of me as a way of telling myself it would be fine.

I felt lonely; like I didn’t have a friend in the world. I’m fine though.

I felt like my husband didn’t understand what I was going through with the addition of another child into our family; I felt like he didn’t care at all. I was fine with that.

My life consisted of giving everything to everybody and gaining nothing in return; not even a “thank you.” I. am. fine.

Depression and Loneliness. First Time Mom

I was just going plow through this time of my life; when my children are little needy, greedy people. I would grin and bear it and make it to elementary school and then, surely then, I’d start to see some of the fruits of my selfless acts of love. After all, I was fine.

The days moved on in this slow yet steady pace and I kept drifting further and further away from reality. I lived inside of my head most days. Thinking about how no one was reaching out to me and how my husband couldn’t love me because of my post-baby body. My children didn’t really need me for anything more than a cook and maid. My baby would get by if I wasn’t there. I was short-tempered and easily annoyed with life. I felt hopeless and the downward spiral began like the water draining from a bath. It was quick and there was no stopping it.

Until one evening something clicked inside of my head and I thought for a second that maybe life wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was. Maybe just maybe I should reach out for help? It was a fleeting thought and I had done a good job of telling myself that I was fine so clearly I didn’t need help. My mom and sister thought otherwise.

You see, after my first bout of depression when my son was born my mom took it upon herself to be my guardian from afar. Watching closely after each birth for the signs that something wasn’t working in my brain:

  • Easily irritated
  • Complaining about my husband
  • Letting my house go
  • Not cooking dinner or even caring about making any meals

I’m sure there are more things that she looks for; those are just the things I know are signs for me.

My mom took the job of calling me to chat about how I was just fine but not really fine. My sister took on the job of calling my husband to see if he noticed that things were off.

Again, in a moment of clarity, divine intervention, I listened and heard what my mother was telling me. I needed help. I agreed. And just like that the problem was remedied.

You see, depression is like that pesky leach that attaches itself to your back when you’re sitting in the shallow part of a lake. Minding your own business you play in the water and enjoy the summer day; meanwhile, that leach creeps up on you and attaches itself to the middle of your back. If you’re by yourself there’s no way you’re going to see it. You can’t feel it either; after all you’re fine with life and all is dandy. If you continue the day by yourself the leach has his all you can eat buffet on your back, it’s slowly sucking the life out of you. If, however, you aren’t by yourself and you’ve allowed a loved one to tag along with you on your leisurely swim, your friend will see the leach. She will tell you and you will be able to remove it from your back thus “saving” your life.

The same is true of depression: you can’t see it. It hides itself in your mind in such a way that it slowly sucks the life out of you. That’s why allowing yourself to be vulnerable, sharing your depression with another person, is so important for you to share this part of your life with someone. It doesn’t have to be the world or even two people but it needs to be one person. Someone who knows you well and can recognize when something is “off.”

Depression has taken too many lives because of the shame it’s masked itself in. The most brilliant people can so easily harbor this secret and that’s when depression wins. Don’t let it. Speak up. If you had cancer you would tell someone. Depression is a disease, don’t let it claim your life or the life you are meant to live.