Tag Archive for Major depressive disorder

Was I “Born This Way”? Lessons from Glee & Lady Gaga

glee

I’m not a big fan of Lady Gaga’s music, but I must admit that, sometimes, she’s a good role model for teens looking for acceptance.  She’s also been a huge supporter of the gay community and worked hard on anti-bullying campaigns which has become a very important mission in my life.

I am a total Gleek (fan of Glee combining the words Glee and Geek), and I just watched the “Born This Way” episode of Glee where the kids and teachers all learn to take that one thing that they hate the most about themselves, own it, learn to love it, and tell the world about it.

I could relate to Rachel hating her big nose;  I have a big beak myself…and it’s a little crooked.

However, the thing that got to me the most was Emma, the school counselor with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) who openly admits her OCD to the Glee Club and goes to see a therapist to get a handle on it.

I have dug and dug around looking for a clip of Emma’s therapy session online, but I have come up empty handed.  But trust me when I say that the scene was so moving and so inspiring and touched me on a very personal level.

While I do not have OCD, I can relate to Emma’s character having a mental illness that prevents her from fully functioning in our society.  I know how it feels to be out of control and scared.  I have dysthymia, a chronic depressive and anxiety disorder.  I also understand the stigma surrounding mental illness and those who have them as explained by Emma’s therapist.

Therapist: “There’s a stigma, in this country, about mental illness. I mean, depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar…they’re hard to diagnose so people don’t understand that they’re serious problems, but they are.”

Emma:  “I don’t know.  You know I’m not sure I want to lay on a couch and tell some stranger all of my secrets.  And I don’t want to start popping pills just so I can turn into something that other people want me to be.  This is how I am.  This is who I’m supposed to be. “

Therapist:  “Your illness is not who you’re supposed to be.  It’s keeping you from who you’re supposed to be.  Look, you’re a guidance counselor, right?  So, if a student came to you and said they had diabetes, would you give them insulin or would you say, ‘Hey, that’s just who you’re supposed to be!’?”

Emma:  “I just feel so ashamed.”

At the end of the episode, the glee club does a performance for themselves of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” with t-shirts showing what they are embarrassed about themselves or hate about themselves that they have come to terms with and want to share with their fellow glee clubbers.  While Emma’s original shirt to inspire the kids into participating said, “Ginger”, after her therapy session and taking an SSRI (an anti-depressant medication given to her by the doctor), she chooses a new shirt telling everyone about her OCD.

What an amazing episode.  While I fully enjoyed the previous episodes where they treated Emma’s OCD like a cute little quirk, the fact that they took it to a new level and chose to make it something serious and show everyone out there that mental illness is real, not something to be ashamed of and that taking medications such as anti-depressants for depression is really no different than taking insulin for diabetes, getting chemo for cancer, or using an inhaler for asthma.

And before you tell me that these conditions can be life threatening, untreated depression and anxiety can also be life threatening.  Untreated mental illnesses can lead to suicidal thoughts, and that’s just the obvious.  People with untreated mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder get less physical activity, go through stints of not eating healthy, engage in risky activities, can become addicted to dangerous drugs and alcohol, and a host of other problems.

I want to thank Glee and Lady Gaga for helping to shed light on mental illness and stigma surrounding it.  It’s okay to have a mental illness.  It’s okay to take medication (something I am just now coming to terms with), and it’s important to seek help.

It’s inspired me to think about possibly revealing my identity on here, though I don’t want to make any hasty decisions.  It’s easy to act and pretend to have a problem and put it out there on television.  It’s different to live it everyday and show the world who you are, like this brave young woman.

If you are ready to show the world who you really are, announce that you were “Born This Way” and help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

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Getting Healthier in 2011 – October Health Goal Wrap-up

Happiness

Image via Wikipedia

Getting Healthier is my goal, and the goal of this site.  I don’t want to be the Always Sick Chick, but the Rarely Sick Chick.  That, however, takes some work and discipline, and it’s not always easy.

In fact, it’s rarely easy.

My health goals for October were basically met with one exception:  I didn’t continue with my supplements. I don’t know what happened, exactly.  I’m pretty sure it had something to do with my depression getting much worse at the beginning of October when my doctor increased my Prozac dose in an effort to help my depression and anxiety. Instead of getting better, I had a breakdown.

With a reduction in my Prozac dose and then adding in Effexor, I am doing much better now.  It’s a major improvement.  That is probably why I am forgetting my supplements.  I was feeling pretty good. Why take the supplements?  Well, I need to resume them, of course.  Which I will do now that my head is back together, screwed on straight, etc…

Halloween also threw me through a loop. That holiday should not take as much preparation as it does, but somehow it was completely nuts around here.  I’m sure my husband’s new wonky work schedule has a lot to do with that as well.  So many changes in such a short period of time. No wonder it felt like October was much longer than it actually was.

Aside from not taking my supplements toward the end of the month, I basically followed my other health goals without much difficulty:


scale_zero
Image by dsearls via Flickr

I did not gain weight. I did not lose weight, but I did not gain weight.  This is surprising as I was getting my coffee at McDonalds and Starbucks more often last month, especially toward the end of the month.  Thankfully, it didn’t come back to bite me.

I managed to get more sleep and felt more rested last month.  I still had my off days, and with the weather changing my allergies have acted up again, keeping me up at night more often.  But overall, I got more sleep last month.

With the help of my doctor, we now have my dysthymia mostly under control.  In addition to my 40 mg of Prozac every day, I am now taking a small dose of Effexor to help with the depression symptoms.  I’m also in behavioral health in order to help managed my depression better.

I continued physical therapy, and I have now completed it! No more appointments for me because, as they put it, I’m now managing my pain well.  I just have to continue doing my stretches and exercises to prevent and deal with my pain as it creeps up on me at least once a day.

I went gluten free! Honestly, I’m not sure how much of a difference it is making except that I’m not eating fast food and processed grains, which is good, and I haven’t had any issues with the acid reflux since doing this.

I have tried practicing mindfulness. I have found that it is strengthening my bond with my children and my ability to enjoy family activities more than I used to.  I’m also more relaxed, less worried and anxious, and able to head off the anxiety and stress before it gets to be unmanageable.  It’s not all perfect, but I’m able to relax more and keep myself calm, which is amazing for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t stay away from the Halloween candy.  I was weak.  :(

Right now, I’m fighting off a stomach bug.  In addition to trying to get some work done and keeping up with the house and my motherly duties, I somehow need to get some rest in there as well.  Hmmm… Well, thankfully, my husband’s new wonky work schedule worked to my advantage yesterday. I slept half the day and spent the other half on the couch complaining about my stomach.  I’m feeling much better today, but still have a little sour stomach.  I hope to feel better soon, as being sick is exhausting.

Question:  How did you do with your health goals for October?

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How to Challenge Negative Thoughts & Depression

Depression

Don't let negative thoughts cripple you. - Image via Wikipedia

I read an amazing article on PsychCentral.com discussing a personification of depression that I found intriguing.  The article, entitled “Depression’s Secret Plan for Your Identity” (excellent title, which made me click and read), personified depression in a way I never thought of before, and it really got me thinking.

“Depression may try to convince you that it holds the true assessment of your personality, weaknesses, and limitations.”

You are not your depression.

Depression may be a part of you, but it does not define you. Negative thoughts that enter into your mind are not you, but your depression trying to get you down and keep you stagnant or moving backward in your life.

If you are able to personify depression, making it separate from yourself, it is easier to imagine your negative thoughts as being outside of yourself.

Next time you think, “I will never amount to anything,” immediately challenge that negative thought.  Say, “That is my depression talking, not me,” and see how that makes you feel.

I’ve been doing this for a few days. Not only does it make me more aware of my thoughts, which I may not be consciously aware of most of the time, it also makes me consider how I would respond if someone else was standing in front of me saying these awful things to me.

Think of Depression as an Abusive Relationship

“I will never accomplish anything in my life.”

That is your depression causing thoughts and feelings in your mind and your life that are not true.  Change that thought to:

“You will never accomplish anything in your life.”

Who is saying that to you?  It’s not you.  It’s someone else.  Depression is now a person separate from you.  Who is saying that? Is it someone you know and trust?  Is it someone from your past?  Or is it just some negative individual who gets his/her jollies by tearing you down?

Would you put up with that if it came from someone else?

The thing is that I know I wouldn’t.  If some jerk walked up to me and said, “You’re not smart enough or creative enough to even try to do that. You will fail. Why bother trying?” I would react in complete disbelief and then tell that jerk to take his negative thoughts elsewhere and to leave me out of it.

I would remind that jerk that just because he’s too afraid to try something doesn’t mean he needs to tear me down and try to keep me from trying.  I would also clearly state that you’ll never get anywhere unless you try.  You never know until you try, and the only failure is the failure to make an attempt.

Trapped by Negative Thoughts – Psychological Abuse on Oneself

Would you hang around someone who constantly told you that you were ugly?

Fat?

Lazy?

Stupid?

Uneducated?

Ignorant and naive?

Most likely, you wouldn’t put up with this from someone else and you would cut this person from your life if you could or, at the very least, tell him/her to shut-up and screw off.  We should try doing the same to our depression.  Next time those negative thoughts creep in, respond with, “Oh my God. Shut up and Screw off!  You are so mean, and I don’t want you here!” Then say the opposite of what the depression was telling you.  Tell yourself that you are beautiful, attractive, a good person, a hard worker, smart, educated, and trustworthy.

Recognize yourself for who you are and stop letting depression take control and abuse you like a violent spouse in a bad marriage.  Divorce the depression and tell it to screw off.

This is what I’m going to do to challenge negative thoughts and be good to myself the way that I am good to others and be a friend to myself as I am to others.  Take my own advice that I give to others, cut myself some slack and stop putting up with the negativity that depression pushes into my life.

I’m going to try to take control.

I blog for World Mental Health Day

Question:  How do you recognize and challenge negative thoughts?

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Dysthymia – Understanding Chronic Depression

On the Threshold of Eternity

Image via Wikipedia

Dysthymia (dysthymic disorder, chronic depression) is a form of “mild” depression that is ongoing (2 years or more in adults; 1 year or more in children and teens) and affects 10.9 million Americans (including me) aged 18 and up.

Like most forms of depression, dysthymia can have crippling affects on the sufferer and her family (I say “her” because dysthymia affects mostly women – another check for me, as I am also a woman suffering from dysthymic disorder).

Dysthymia Symptoms

Do you suffer from dysthymia?  If you have the following symptoms for 2 years (1 year for children and teens), you may have dysthymic disorder.

  • Sleeping Issues – getting too much or too little sleep / Insomnia
  • Feeling helpless, worthless, hopeless
  • Feeling Guilty
  • Loss of Interest in life, self, things that once interested you
  • Fatigue, Loss of Motivation (everything feels like a chore)
  • Hard time making decisions, even minor ones / Difficulty Concentrating (ADD/ADHD are often a misdiagnosis of dysthymia)
  • Appetite changes
  • Anxiety
  • Persistent and unexplained aches and pains
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

I was only going to bold the ones that I have dealt with personally, but then I realized that they all apply to me or have at some point during my diagnosis and treatment.

What Causes Dysthymia?

depression and dysthymia dsythymic disorder

Dysthymia can cause loneliness and isolation

As with most depressive conditions, dysthymic disorder is a bit of a mystery and the causes of it can vary from person to person.  While some doctors look to changes in brain chemistry and serotonin, others look to life stressers as the main culprit.

People suffering from dysthymia have trouble coping with life changes, especially if life throws them a curve ball that smacks them in the face.  Recovering from such a blow is difficult, to put it mildly.

Life stress that can cause dysthymia or make its symptoms worse include:

  • Chronic illness (self or a loved one)
  • Medication
  • Relationship problems
  • Work issues

Why is Dysthymia (Chronic Depression) referred to as “Mild” Depression?

Mild depression is misleading.  However dysthymia isn’t nearly as severe as major depression that keeps a sufferer from completing most daily tasks.  Persons suffering from dysthymic disorder may have a lack of energy and motivation, but are able to handle their day-to-day obligations for the most part.  Some days are better than others, however.

Dysthymic disorder patients have been described as people who function okay daily but are consistently unhappy.

What are the Treatments for Dysthymic Disorder?

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)

Prozac - Image via Wikipedia

Dysthymic disorder, like most forms of depression, are treated in the following ways:

  • Therapy
  • Lifestyle Changes – diet, exercise, more time outdoors, etc…
  • Socializing – time with friends and family makes all the difference
  • Medication

I was in therapy for a number of years, off and on. I am not currently in therapy, however.

To treat my dysthymia, I am currently employing lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise, spending more time outdoors, and getting more sleep to ensure I am adequately rested.

I socialize as much as I can (not online, that doesn’t count, at least for me).  I take my kids out to play dates with people we enjoy spending time with.

I currently take Prozac as well. I used to take Paxil and Effexor.  Effexor did not work for me.  I was 15 and was turned into what my mother described as “Tinkerbell”, because I was hopping, skipping, and bubbly all of a sudden. It was just too much.  They cut the dose in half and I turned into the devil himself.

They kept me on the Paxil, but I abused it and didn’t feel any different. I was taken off the Paxil and declared free of mental health issues at 16.  When I was rediagnosed several years later at the age of 25, I was told that while many consider Paxil to be a good medication for sufferers of dysthymic disorder, my particular doctor disagreed and put me on Prozac.  Prozac made all the difference for a very long time and settled my massive panic attacks down quite a bit.

Do you think you have Dysthmia?

Make an appointment to see you doctor or a therapist as soon as possible.  If you are currently contemplating hurting yourself or ending your life, call 9-1-1 immediately and contact a friend or family member.

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Guilty Sorrows

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by John Singer ...

Image via Wikipedia

You often hear of people talking about their guilty pleasures:  a brain rotting reality show, a sugary breakfast on a Saturday morning, fast food indulgences once a week, the fancy coffee from Starbucks each morning…

What about Guilty Sorrows?

What do I mean by “Guilty Sorrows”?  Well, aside from the guilty pleasures (which some would call sorrows, depending on how guilty they feel afterward), it’s the things we do that aren’t pleasurable and affect us now and later.  This is something that someone with depression will be able to relate to – the endless cycle of guilt and depression.

  1. Depression strikes, for whatever reason.
  2. Energy is depleted, and important things aren’t done.
  3. Guilt is felt over things not being accomplish, leading to more depression.
  4. Guilt is felt over being depressed in the first place. After all “What do I have to be depressed about?”
  5. More depression felt, even less is accomplished.  Maybe work suffers.  All you have the energy to do is sulk.
  6. More depression because work suffers.  Energy depleted further.
  7. Housework isn’t attended to.  Guilt strikes over a messy house.  Depression deepens.
  8. “Why am I so broken?” – deepening sorrow and depression over being so depressed that nothing gets done.  Sitting and sulking is all you do.
  9. Indulgent pleasures (addictions) arise – sugary foods, caffeine, sitting around watching TV all day long, playing games online, whatever takes the mind off of the depression and adds chemicals to the body for a temporary relief or distraction.
  10. Sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits deepen depression.
  11. Less energy to spend time with the family.  More guilt. More depression.

Do you see where I’m going here?  A depressed person doesn’t just feel down and out. It’s not all “woe is me”, but more of “I am so broken that my life is falling apart around me, and I don’t have the willpower to do anything but sulk in the fact that I’m depressed and my life is falling around me…”

It’s like a carousel from hell!

I experienced such a feeling this morning.  Yesterday, depression struck me hard, and it was difficult to accomplish anything.  This morning, I felt the ramifications of that – searing guilt because:

  • I never went to the bank. I completely forgot that I was supposed to do that.
  • I didn’t work on my sourdough starter, and it may now be ruined.
  • I forgot to take my allergy medicine, so I felt sick when I woke up.
  • The kitchen was a mess.
  • I never called to get an appointment for an oil change in the car.
  • I can’t bake the bread today like I was supposed to because: a. I didn’t take care of the starter last night and b. I didn’t get to the store to buy more flour and bread pans.

So, more depression came, which resulted in.

  • Me not working today.
  • Me taking a nap this morning (although part of that was due to bad sleep last night as one of my kids kept waking up)
  • No chores being done until after dinner.
  • I sat on my ass while the kids were napping and watched TV instead of working or doing something useful because I just didn’t have any motivation.

GUILT GUILT GUILT!

And around and around we go.  And right now, there is sugary goodness calling to me from my kitchen in the form of cool whip and frosting.  It’s hard to resist.  I feel like a heroin addict or something.  “Just this once, because I’m having a bad day.”  I crave a mocha too, and I’m seriously considering an indulgence this weekend.  Bad bad bad.  It’s such a good thing that I’ve never once tried illegal drugs before, and even better that alcohol makes me feel so terrible that I have no desire to drink it.  I seriously think that my depression leads to an addictive personality.

Not all people with mental health issues have addiction problems, but mine does…or maybe they are separate, I don’t know.

Whatever.  At least I wrote my article today and did the dishes.  The sourdough starter was taken care of this morning, and hopefully it isn’t ruined.  I’ll go to the bank when I can, and I took care of my sick kids today even though it was really hard to get myself going this morning.  I guess I did what I could, and maybe it’s enough, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

Why do I keep thinking I have to be perfect?

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Searching For a Cure For Depression?

The following article was written by Roseanna Leaton, a specialist in hypnosis mp3 downloads for health and well-being.  She holds a degree in psychology and works to help people cure and/or treat depression naturally.

Day 302: My Emotions Run Deep
Image by Kat.B.Photography via Flickr

I was watching television the other day and was surprised by an advertisement for a supplement which was intended as an adjunct to anti-depressant drugs.  I wish I had noted what was said but a statistic was stated about the number of anti-depressants which don’t affect the required cure for depression.  The percentage was really very high.

It is always difficult to trace the root cause of depression.  Is it a chemical imbalance which results in depression, or is it a pattern of thought which results in a change in chemical balance?  In reality, an interaction is constantly at play between mind and body which has a cyclical effect.

Anti-depressant drugs inevitably provide an intervention from a chemical angle, but cannot treat the way in which you think or tap into your habitual thought processes.  The ideal treatment for depression would in fact include approaches from both angles.  Unfortunately due to the cost of professional time, it is easier and cheaper to purely prescribe drugs to help overcome depression and overlook methods of treatment which involve modifying the way in which you think.

We all know that the way in which we think automatically triggers an emotional reaction.  If you think about your favorite movie a smile will probably cross your face; it automatically lifts your mood.  If you contemplate a horror movie you will associate with the heart pumping, tight chest, sitting on the edge of your chair (or head underneath a pillow!) response it elicits.  Thoughts create emotions and their associated chemical effects throughout your physiology.

One aspect of depression which is extremely frustrating is the helplessness experienced; you feel out of control.  It is therefore important to do everything you can to regain a sense that you are once more in the driving seat in your day to day life.  Taking a tablet makes you feel that you are doing something which will hopefully cure depression, but is there not more that you could be doing as well?

The placebo response in drug trials is normally seen to be at around 30%, which tells us that just by thinking that a treatment will work places you in the position that your treatment for depression is 30% more likely to be successful.  You could use hypnosis to access your subconscious mind and make suggestions to create a positive expectation of successful treatment of depression.  In this way you can feel far more in control, and work on your depression from the mental perspective as well as from a chemical angle.

Hypnosis is a natural state of relaxation and you can learn to use hypnosis easily with the help of a hypnosis mp3 download.  This is inexpensive (you can get a free hypnosis relaxation download from my website) and you can get started right away.  With hypnosis you have easy access to your subconscious mind which is that part where habitual patterns of thought are stored.  Suggestions can be made to retrain your mind to think is a different way. Remember your thoughts create your emotions and the chemical reactions which are felt within your physiology.

You can use hypnosis to regain a feeling of control, change your deep rooted patterns of thought and lift your mood.

Article by: Roseanna Leaton, specialist in hypnosis mp3 downloads for health and well-being.


About the Author
With a degree in psychology and qualifications in hypnotherapy and NLP, Roseanna Leaton is one of the leading practitioners of self-improvement. You can get a free hypnosis mp3 from http://www.RoseannaLeaton.com and find out how to treat depression naturally and cure depression.

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