Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Giving Advice about Depression (Part 2)

What's most difficult about giving advice for depression recovery--a subject about which I truly know a tremendous amount--is that I lack patience when people don't listen.

I guess the problem is that during the periods when I have been severely depressed--and would have been thrilled to find anyone who could have helped me--I was unable to find people who were truly effective. And, in periods of great need, like last November and December, once again someone I knew recommended yet another charlatan.

This guy was a psychiatrist, and I had to drive all the way to San Diego (more than 100 miles), and it was a complete disaster. He allegedly had this "secret process," which he couldn't explain to me, but he said had worked with other patients. And, he learned it on the telephone from someone over a two year period. I could go on, but you get my drift. My need for help is sometimes so great that I've been willing to allow charlatans to financially take advantage of me rather than trusting my own instincts.

And, I know that much of what works for me works for others--but only if they are willing to listen, and fully participate in their own wellness. Yet, I also believe that in a deep depression, medication is the only way to end it--if you can find something that works. And, once you feel better, you have an opportunity to start doing all the wellness activities that will enable you to feel better long term.

What I mean by this is that I, too, realize it's very difficult--in fact, next to impossible--to start an exercise program when you're depressed. However, if you start one when you're not, it's much easier to continue with it when your energy level diminishes.

Same thing about finding a new therapist. It's almost impossible when you're depressed. At least it is for me because talking is so very difficult. But, if you find someone you like when you're feeling well, it's far easier to continue this relationship when you're not.

For me, this year will be the ultimate test. Earlier, I spent nine months in therapy resolving my issues. I am participating in this gardening program, which is truly healing, at UCLA Extension. I'm figured out what I dislike about the holidays, and we're developing new ways of celebrating this year. And, I've been reading about how to "embrace the darkness," which is clearly an issue for those of us who have a seasonal depression.

So...if my low-level depression worsens, I know what I need to do to get better. And, I've written myself letters to remind myself what needs to be done, and I've told myself that I am the only healer I truly need.

What works for you?

8 comments:

Tamara (TC) Staples said...

Susan,

I am so glad that you have learned what works for you and have a plan in place if you need it. That is truly being responsible for your own health.

What works for me? Exercise when I can do it. When I am in too much pain then it isn't possible. Music works. I put it on and dance around. It feels fake at first but then it takes hold and lifts my spirits (especially when the dogs start barking because they think I want to play). Time talking to my hubby works or reading books from my favorite authors. Getting up each morning, dressing, make-up, etc. instead of lounging in my pj's.

Those are some of the things that work for me.

Have wonderful day!

Love,
Tamara

KJ said...

Once again your sound advice inspires me. You are totally right that if you do preventative plans when you are well, it will help so much when you are having those depressive ones. Great advice!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
Thanks for sharing your tips. I love the visual image of you and your two dogs dancing.

Also, it reminded me that I play music when I'm feeling low, and try to force myself to sing. I know that music works because I play CDs that evoke happy times for me. I'm big on soundtracks to old musicals because I know all the words. And, now that I have a keyboard and have learned how to play chords (my left hand), I can play a simple version of tons of songs I love.

You're sure right about getting up each morning, showering, blow drying my hair, and dressing. I believe that makes all the difference. If I look good, it makes me feel better.

I'm hoping your comment will prompt others to share. It would be great to compile a list and share it on Friday.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
Glad it helps. And you're right about prevention--it's critical for long-term wellness.

For years when I started feeling a depression coming on, I frantically tried to figure out what was wrong, and carefully analyzed every trigger I could think of.

And, in fact, that was far less helpful than developing an exercise program I do all the time (for me it's walking the dog twice a day and adding other fun activities when I feel like it), finding non-writing hobbies (playing the keyboard and electric guitar), gardening, and photography.

What's new this year are the letters to myself. I developed this idea because I realized that when I start feeling worse, I forget so much of what I know. So, who better to remind me than me?:)

Susan

Writing Works said...

It is interesting to read what works for others. I find that I am rediscovering what works for me after the huge growth spurt I've had in the past year.

Paul Bright said...

For me it took getting back to the pleasureable activities: singing in public, soaking in the sun.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Writing Works,
Like you, I think this evolves over time as we change and grow. It will be interesting to see what you come up with.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Paul,
I love singing too, and sunlight is really important to me as well! Thanks for weighing in on this.

Susan