Saturday, September 6, 2008

10 Questions to Ask When You're Depressed

While I don't usually post on weekends, Catatonic Kid wrote a very interesting piece about depression, and asked for help in figuring things out. I gave her a list of ten things to think about, which I've decided might be helpful to others.

Let me preface this by saying that I don't believe depressive episodes come out of nowhere. I don't think there's some mysterious little biochemical misfiring that causes us to feel bad for no reason despite what our psychiatrists tell us.

But, I didn't always feel this way. After my diagnosis, and all that I read, I was sure there was nothing I could do about my depressive episodes--which is a terribly powerless position to be in. For me, it meant that I could work hard to heal, but if a depression hit, BAM, that was it. I could try to medicate it away, but for the most part I was stuck with it until it ended.

I now believe that feeling helpless to change things contributed to my illness. The fact that most medication didn't work was a huge problem. And what it all meant was that I wasn't in the driver's seat. When I felt a depression on the horizon, I was terrified. I prayed that the next episode wouldn't be as bad as the last one, and hoped I could survive one more time.

After ten years of horrible depressions--one worst than the next--I finally decided this was all a bunch of bull pucky. If people who have cancer cancer can cure themselves, so could I. And so I have.

The list of questions I provided for Catatonic Kid is the one I used to review my situation and to change my life. Hope it helps!

1. Do you keep detailed mood charts so you can see patterns–either seasonal ones or situational ones?

2. Do the depressions come out of nowhere or are there triggers? What are the top triggers? Are they people? Situations? Stress? Seasons?

3. Are you exercising on a daily basis?

4. Are there foods that aggravate your depressions?

5. Have you been to a doctor to check out that it’s nothing physical?

6. Do you like your job? Do you feel your life has meaning?

7. Are you socializing on a daily basis with people you care about?

8. Do you ruminate (tend to think about the same things over and over)?

9. How do you deal with things when you’re unhappy? Do you keep your feelings inside or do you have ways of expressing anger? Disappointment? Irritability?

10. Are there unresolved issues that you need to discuss with a therapist or counselor in order to get well?

Next week, I'll write about various topics within this list. Hope you have a nice weekend!

4 comments:

Catatonic Kid said...

Excellent idea to post them, Susan =) I'm certain they'll be helpful to others. They've got me thinking, that's for sure.

Gianna said...

Hey Ms. Susan,
good questions!

I'm (sorta) back...I'll try to start participating again, but I'm so so tired, being on these emergency meds to knock me out...

know that I read you every day.
love to you.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear CK,
Whenever I've been "stuck," and couldn't figure out how to proceed, I found that if someone couldn't provide the answers, sometimes all I needed was the questions.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
I certainly understand. You've survived this Herculean challenge and it's no wonder you feel exhausted. To me, these experiences are like climbing Mount Everest without the Sherpas!

Love from L.A.

Susan