Monday, June 29, 2009

Blogging to Heal (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my post on Saturday, I plan to write more about the topic of blogging to heal. The way I see it, there are three separate components: the blog itself, writing as a form of healing, and developing a supportive community. In today's post, I plan on sharing some interesting info I've read in the book, Blogging: Digital Media and Society Series, by Jill Walker Rettberg, an associate professor at the University of Bergen.

In the section on Blogs as Self Exploration, Rettberg writes: "Vivian Serfaty characterizes weblogs as simultaneous mirrors and veils. Just as we study ourselves in a mirror, shaping our faces so our reflections please us, so we create a reflection of ourselves in a weblog. At the same time, we use our blogs to veil ourselves, not telling all but presenting selective aspects of ourselves to our readers.

"Pseudonymous blogs often play a flirtatious game of peek-a-boo, showing but not showing all. For instance, the pseudonymous blogger may tell us funny episodes, or life altering concerns in the tone of voice as if she were writing to a close friend...

"...When pseudonymous bloggers post photos of themselves that show some of their faces, but not all, or show them only from behind, they simultaneously use their blogs as mirrors and as veils--exploring themselves, hiding part of themselves, and looking through the veil to communicate with their readers."

Since I blog under my "real" name, I have no idea whether those of you who use pseudonyms agree with Serfaty's and Rettberg's hypotheses. Thus, I have the following questions:

If you use a pseudonym, why do you? What are the differences between blogging under a pseudonym and blogging under your real name? If you blog under your real name and use a photo as opposed to an avatar, do you have any privacy concerns?

P.S. Unless you leave comments this morning, I have a series of appointments today, and won't be able to moderate comments until later this afternoon. So, please don't worry about whether I received your comment, just realize it may take awhile for me to read it and respond.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blogging to Heal (Part 1)

I usually don't post on weekends, but I had a dental emergency yesterday, and I need to rest at home today, although I'm sorry to be missing my digital photography field trip at the Getty.

In the last week, I've been doing more research on writing to heal (a topic I've been personally involved in for the last 15 years) and have come across another wonderful book, When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer, by Dr. Sharon Bray, which "shows that storytelling in a supportive environment can lead to a profound transformation of body, mind, and spirit."

While Dr. Bray's book is targeted at people who want to lead writing groups for cancer survivors, I believe her message applies to any illness. And I've often written about the importance of blogging as a means of developing a virtual support group.

Over the last 29 months, I feel we've gathered together a wonderful group of supportive people--some of whom actively participate by leaving comments--and others who are steadfast readers, but don't feel comfortable leaving comments. Some of these relationships have remained online friendships, and some have become offline friendships as well, where people provide support, love, and advice in a more private way.

In the coming months, I intend to write more about the process of blogging/writing to heal in anticipation of some workshops I will be leading. Through my recent therapy sessions, I have truly understood that the value in having been so ill for so long (for me), and having made such significant progress toward wellness, is that I truly can help other people who are suffering.

Whether you are dealing with depression, bipolarity, cancer (my father died of cancer and I actively participated in helping him develop a wellness program as well as helping him cope with his illness), or issues related to aging (my mother died after a long battle with dementia), or whether you're a spouse, relative, doctor, nurse, caregiver, or survivor of someone who's coping with these illnesses, or has died because of them, I believe I can provide insight, information, techniques, and advice about the blogging/writing process that will help you heal.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Writing for Wellness

Today, I'd like to share some touching quotes from Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing, by Julie Davey who leads writing groups for "cancer patients, their family members, doctors, nurses, caregivers, and others who may have suffered tragic events in their lives."

When Davey's own father was dying of cancer, she wrote: "My parents were not ones who often said 'I love you' to each other or to my brother and me. ...My parent's actions always showed their love; my brother and I knew how they felt. I assumed my father always knew how I felt, too. But, somehow, when a person is terminally ill, all of these emotions rise to the surface. If the opportunity to speak them or write them is not taken, then it is truly lost forever.

"With pen and paper, I told him how much he meant to me, how much I loved him, and how grateful I was to have had him for my father. I sobbed as I composed the letter and had to recopy it because of my tear stains. It was my first experience with the healing power of writing.

"I felt greatly relieved after I finished writing the letter. I wrote things I had wanted to tell him for years and never did..."

Perhaps because of my lengthy illness, I have often written letters to relatives or friends to tell them how much I love them, and/or to thank them for standing by me when I was ill. Have you?

Exercise: If there are people in your life with whom you need/want to share your feelings, perhaps now is the time to write to them.

Ms. Davey recommends the following prompts: "Dear...As I look back over my life, I remember a time when...

"I feel fortunate because without you..."

I believe that one of the values of having been so ill is that I have learned how to express my feelings honestly and openly. What have you learned from your illness?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wellness Activities

Because I had a stressful morning, I decided to focus on wellness activities for the rest of today. I gardened for an hour, which is relaxing on many levels. I celebrated my friend's birthday as planned. And I decided to post photos as a change of pace.

At the park.

At the beach.

On my block!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Physical Illness Versus Mental Illness (2)

When I awakened yesterday morning, I felt worse rather than better. Falling is like that. You suddenly feel every bone in your body, and they all seem to ache. However, because it was just "physical pain" rather than psychic pain, I was able to take a few aspirin and go on with my day.

After I showered, I took Jack for a long walk, and stretching my muscles helped. I also had an old carpal tunnel bandage I put on my left hand, and it made my wrist feel better. I wore some sturdy walking shoes and laced them tight so that my ankle didn't hurt, and Jack and I explored our neighborhood.

When I returned home, I had a proposal to finish writing for a workshop I'm hoping to lead at a conference in the fall. And then I had to take photos for my digital photography class that met last night. I had my regular therapy session, dinner, and class for almost four hours.

As I'm writing this, it's late Monday night, I'm ready to read and go to bed, and I must say it was a wonderful day. Still, there is an underlying sadness that I've been feeling for two days, which started when I took a long bubble bath after my fall on Sunday. As I lay in the tub I thought about my mother's last few months of life.

When my son, and husband, and I were away for a few days, my mother fell out of her wheel chair, and broke her knee. While she went to the hospital twice, they never found the break (which was so incompetent that it is difficult to fathom). But when I returned from vacation, visited her and saw that her knee was the size of a grapefruit, I felt physically ill.

"Why didn't the nurse at the assisted living facility handle this?" I wanted to scream aloud. "How could my sister let this go when it was so obviously a medical emergency? What would have happened to my mother if I'd been gone for a week or two rather than just a few days? Why does my brother never feel responsible for my mother's welfare?"

The bottom line was that I immediately called an ambulance, and took my mother to a different hospital. Because they were short-staffed and my mother had dementia and needed me to stay with her, the attendant in the x-ray room let me stay with her and help. When we finished he showed me the x-ray, and my mother's knee wasn't just broken; it was sheered. She had to have been in such terrible pain that it was unimaginable.

The rest of the story is equally horrible. Neither my brother nor sister helped me as I had to find a doctor at the hospital who would treat my mother, and stay with her until they found a room for her, and so forth and so on. It's a long awful story that I can't forget.

On Sunday night as I felt my bubble bath lesson the physical pain in my body, I wished it could lessen the pain in my heart. For me, physical pain is nothing compared to the psychic pain of depression. But, to my mother, physical pain was a constant in the last years of her life. And the terrible treatment she received despite my best efforts still sickens me.

Perhaps some day, I will be able to forgive all those people--strangers and relatives--who did so little to help mother and me. But, I doubt it. I may be able to forgive them for treating me so badly, but I will never be able to forgive them for abandoning my mother in her time of need.

P.S. For those of you who are regular readers, you know that my mother died in October of 2007. For those who aren't, I guess I should have mentioned it in my original post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Physical Illness Versus Mental Illness (1)

We had a lovely Father's Day yesterday. If you like action/caper films (with violence, I must add), you might enjoy The Taking of Pelham 123, a fast-paced remake of a film we saw many years ago. (After reading the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, you should probably make your own decision on this; I guess I'm one of the few people who liked this film.) Afterwards, we went to a wonderful sushi restaurant in our neighborhood. And, while we were walking out of the restaurant, I tripped on the front step, and fell.

I broke my fall by reaching out with my left-hand (I'm left-handed), and thus I sprained my left wrist, and still hurt my right knee and ankle. Today, almost every muscle in my body hurts, but other than that I'm okay. Last night, as a I lay in the bathtub soaking, I thought to myself,
"The most uncomfortable physical discomfort is easier to cope with than any depressive episode I've ever experienced."
And that's some statement coming from someone who's survived more than 100 depressive episodes. (to be continued)

P.S. I don't recommend The Taking of Pelham 123 for the feint-hearted or for children.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

I always thought that Mother's Day and Father's Day were silly holidays because they're so commercial, and if you love your parents you celebrate them in your everyday life.

However, since my father died more than 20 years ago, every once in a while I really miss him on Father's Day, and I'm not sure why since my parents lived five blocks away and I saw them all the time. Alas...

To every father who reads my blog, I hope you have a special day with your children. To my husband, I know it will be a special day! To my father whom I'm sure is watching me from heaven, I love you daddy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Quotes on Motivation

At the end of a very busy last post that I published a few years ago. Next week, hopefully I'll have time to write new material. Also, this is a bit of a celebration since today you have viewed more than 100,000 pages of my blog. Thank you one and all!

* * *
I was looking for some quotes on motivation and found three that I loved from a woman I'd never heard of, but genuinely like. Her name is Mary Anne Radmacher. She's a writer and artist, and her enthusiasm and joi di vivre made my day!

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”

“The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be...because of all I may become I will close my eyes and leap!”

Have a good weekend! See you on Monday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Ideal Wellness Center

I've got a lot to do this week, and so I've decided to republish a post I wrote more than a year ago. Hope you enjoy it!

A few months ago, when I could feel a depression coming on, I knew that all I needed to feel better was to be able to go to a Wellness Center. I didn't feel like being alone but I couldn't go out and have to engage other people.

Why is it that there are an abundance of Cancer Centers throughout the country and nothing for us? The place I envisioned was a Richard Neutra- type house with different healers in different rooms and all of the rooms overlooking a swimming pool and hot tub. If I wanted to, I could just lie on a chaise lounge and listen to relaxing music, participate in a mindfulness meditation taught by someone connected to Jon Kabat-Zinn, take a Yoga class, get a massage, or take a woodworking class if I felt better.

Recently I've been researching cancer centers to see what resources they have. You wouldn't relieve how great the classes are. There's painting, writing to heal, tai chi, qui gong, and knitting (it's evidently relaxing). There are places where the support groups take hikes together or go swimming. There's a place in Santa Barbara, CA where they provide free 10-week exercise classes at a local YMCA.

Obviously, when you feel lousy, you don't want talk to anyone and you certainly don't feel like participating in energetic exercise classes. But it might not be so bad to be with other people if you didn't have to talk. When my son was little and I took him to the park, he did what they called "parallel play." It just meant that he sat and played by himself while the kid next to him also played by himself. That's not a bad idea for people who feel depressed. How great it would be if you could go and do an activity you like--and have people around--but you could remain silent because everyone realizes you don't feel like talking.

P.S. The graphic is the Hoffman House.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dealing with Grief

I'm reading this wonderful little book, Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft, by Bill Moyers. There's a poem on grief by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that brought tears to my eyes as I thought about my parents who have both died, my grandparents, Spike, my dog who was a doggie-person to me, and the years of loss I feel, which was caused by psychiatric medication.

And perhaps it will strike a chord for my Aunt Marilyn who mourns my cousin Liz, Cami who mourns her parents and brother, Emma, who is mourning the loss of Molly, Tamara, who is mourning Wyatt, and all of us who feel loss or grief.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish through the midnight air
Beat upward to God's throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death--
Most like a monumental statute set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it, the marble eyelids are not wet;
If it could weep it would arise and go."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wellness Activity: Looking at Photographs

In anticipation of my digital photography class each week, I look at photographs taken my some of my favorite photographers. The preceding photographs were taken by Ansel Adams. Here are some of his quotes as well.

"You don't take a photograph, you make it."

"All I can do in my writing is to stimulate a certain amount of thought, clarify some technical facts and date my work. But when I preach sharpness, brilliancy, scale, etc., I am just mouthing words, because no words can really describe those terms and qualities it takes the actual print to say, 'here it is.'"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wellness Activity: Writing a Gratitude List

One of the most important wellness activities I do when I'm well is to write a gratitude list. The items can be big or small, but I believe it's important to be mindful of what makes me happy, and what I'm thankful for. Here's today's top 10 list.

1. I'm grateful my last depression is over, and I feel well every day.

2. I'm grateful my overall health is so good, and that my recent mammogram was "normal" after an abnormal one last year (that turned out to be nothing, but frightened me for a week).

3. I'm grateful my son (whom I love completely and unconditionally) is so much happier.

4. I'm grateful my husband has so many hobbies and interests and remains so thrilled to be retired.

5. I'm grateful I've discovered gardening and digital photography as new passions.

6. I'm grateful I'm resurrecting my professional writing career, and will be co-writing a garden article and book.

7. I'm grateful that despite years of depression, I still have a coterie of very dear friends (and a few extended family members) whom I love and who love me. And, for the first time in years I'm meeting new people I genuinely like.

8. I'm grateful that after 27 years of marriage (our anniversary was earlier this month), I still love my husband and he loves me.

9. I'm grateful that I've learned so much in therapy that I feel confidant I might end these depressions once and for all.

10. I'm grateful we adopted Jack, our adorable terrier-chihuahua mix rescue dog, who's a marvelous companion, and with whom I've re-established my twice a day walking schedule.

For what are you grateful? If you post a gratitude list, I'll link to it. If you just want to mention a few things, please leave a comment.

If you're depressed or feeling blue, I urge you to reach down in your soul, and find one thing you can feel grateful for. I used to do this, and it always makes a difference--even if it just causes a brief feeling of happiness.

P.S. I just went blog visiting (actually I'm swamped with work and need to begin writing), but I saw that KJ had posted her own gratitude list yesterday, so consider it linked to mine.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Horses and Healing in Outer Mongolia (2)

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about Rupert Isaacson’s book The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son. Today, I promised to write about what I learned about bipolarity from reading Isaacson's book.

1. The Horse Boy reinforced my belief of how little is known about most “mental conditions.” When Rupert Isaacson and his wife Kristin found out that their son Rowan is autistic, they learned that the most effective treatment is applied behavioral analysis (ABA), which is an almost Pavlovian approach to controlling autistic behavior.

Like those of us who have been diagnosed (whether correctly or not) as bipolar, Rupert and Kristin also learned that despite their willingness to research treatment options, it’s never easy to determine what will really help, or to find people who are competent, capable, or insightful. There is a maze of red tape to go through. The treatments are very expensive, yet insurance pays a small percentage. And even when it’s obvious that someone is not getting better, no one admits it.

2. The Horse Boy reinforced my belief that you’ve got to go with your gut feeling. When Rupert realizes that Rowan responds more positively to riding horses than to any other activity, one of the few professionals who truly listens to him is an adult autist who is a professor of animal sciences. And when he tells her about his plan to take Rowan to see shamans in Mongolia—and explains the kinds of ceremonies they engage in—she explains why that kind of repetitive activity might be effective.

When Rupert asks if she thinks there is a value in going on this trip, she says, “The worst thing you can do is nothing. All the experts agree on that, even if they can’t agree on much else. Take your son to Mongolia if it seems to agree with him.”

3. The Horse Boy made me realize that I’ve been right in thinking outside the box. While it’s difficult to imagine how hard it was for Rupert and Kristin to take Rowan (and a film crew) to Mongolia, I think it would have been far more difficult to sit at home and watch him fail to progress.

Yet, the moment any of us tries something different, it’s amazing how angry it seems to make people who can't or won't think outside the box.

In fact, just yesterday I was stunned to receive two very nasty emails from a former psychiatric nurse who berated me for the post I wrote about the poor treatment my friend had gotten from her psychiatrist. The nurse felt I was negative about medication. The truth is that I have repeatedly written I am not opposed to medication for others. It is an individual choice. It didn’t work for me, so I have tried alternative forms of healing.

Yet, some people just can’t keep their negative feelings to themselves. Why should my quest to pursue alternative healing cause anyone else to be angry? I have no idea. Why should anyone feel she is entitled to criticize me when I have spent 15 years actively seeking wellness. I haven’t got a clue.

But, what I do believe is that many people—who are unwilling to do the research and the hard work it takes to heal—find it far easier to strike out at those of us who do than assume responsibility for themselves.

4. The Horse Boy made me feel that whether we are an autistic child or a bipolar adult, we all need people in our lives who love us enough to help us help ourselves. In my case, the initial support came from my husband and my mother, who stood by me for so many years when others were so willing to abandon me. And now, it also comes from readers who have become friends, and support me at every step of the way.

5. The Horse Boy confirmed my thesis that healing is possible as long as you don’t give up hope. Today, Rowan Isaacson is doing so much better because he had a father who pursued a “crazy idea of taking him to see shamans in Outer Mongolia.”

Today, I am doing better because I wouldn’t allow my psychiatrists to convince me that bipolarity is a life long debilitating illness.

More than ever, I now feel that our belief in ourselves is a primary component of healing. If we continue to believe we will get well, it doesn’t matter how many naysayers we have to deal with or how many disappointments we have to overcome. Our ability to achieve wellness depends upon whether we believe wellness is possible.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Horses and Healing in Outer Mongolia (1)

When I was at the library a few days ago I picked up a new book, The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson, that I have to share with you.

In a nutshell, the story is this: Rupert finds that his son Rowan, who is severely autistic, has an affinity toward horses. While Rowan is unable to relate to people, from the very first time he sees Betsy, a neighbor's horse, he has an unusual connection with her. When Rowan and Rupert begin riding together, it's an amazing experience for Rowan. He not only loves the horse, but riding seems to allow him to make verbal leaps he's never made before.

So...eventually, Rupert decides that the best way to heal his son is to take him to Outer Mongolia, a place where 6,000 years ago, the first horse had been domesticated, and a culture in which horses and healers are firmly entwined.

In Rupert's words: "What if we were to start our journey with the shamans of the horse people, who lived on the great oceans of the pasture where the horse was born, and then ride up to the forest of the taiga, Siberia, to see the shamans of Dukha, the reindeer herders, whose traditions of shamanism has been unbroken, I had read, for thousands of years, and whose shamans were considered the most powerful of the region? To travel from the shamans of the horse people to the older shamans of the reindeer people..."

Rupert, Rowan, and Kristin end up taking this journey, and while it's extraordinarily difficult--and there are disappointments as well as successes--the end result is that Rowan's behavior is magically transformed.

It's not that his autism is "cured," but that some of the most difficult symptoms--continuous tantrums, an inability to learn how to control his bowels (He's seven years old when the trip begins and not toilet-trained), and an inability to relate to other people or have a single friend--significantly change. It's the most uplifting book, and one I highly recommend. does this relate to bipolarity? That's my topic for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Friend's Diagnosis

One of the difficulties of knowing so much about depression is knowing how poor the treatment is for so many. When a friend was recently diagnosed, we had the following dialogue.

"My psychiatrist said it's a low-grade depression," she said, "and he recommended Lexapro."

"Did he ask you anything about your lifestyle," I asked.

"Not really. He had me fill out a questionnaire, but he didn't ask about my marriage, my kids, the fact I work at night, the stress with my mom."

"Did he ask you how you deal with stress in general?" I asked.


"Did he ask you whether you exercise or ask about your diet?"


"Did he tell you it might take 14 days for the Lexapro to kick in, that is if it works?" I asked.

"Yes. All we seemed to talk about was medication."

"Did he explain the importance of keeping a mood chart?"


Well, I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that until discussions with psychiatrists focus more on lifestyle rather than medication, I don't have much hope that the treatment will ever improve."

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 8, 2009

More Thoughts about Depression Recovery

Today I talked on the telephone with a dear friend who has also suffered from depression for many years. She's currently seeing a healer who does a combination of yoga, acupressure, and therapy. And during her first 90-minute session, she'd learned more about how to heal herself than she has in the last 30 years.

And I told her that I'd learned more about how to heal myself from my therapist in the last six months than I have in the last 40 years.

In both cases, our first depressive episodes were situational. We both feel that none of the therapists we've seen (except my present one and the person she's going to) helped us resolve that first episode. We both feel we've worked very hard to get well. We feel we've done everything imaginable to achieve wellness and move on. And we've both felt a certain rage and disappointment at the treatment we've received. Yet, for the first time, we both feel that our current healers will enable us to end this cycle.

I often wonder why there are just so few doctors, therapists, and other so-called healers who understand enough about depression to help others. I often wonder why those people who call themselves healers, but are so unsuccessful at healing, continue to treat patients and take their money despite their lack of success.

I just wish my therapists had been as honest with me as my plumber. When my plumber comes to our house and can't fix something, he tells us, and doesn't charge us. And he usually recommends someone he knows who can help us.

Why is it that no therapist I've ever seen has ever said, "I'm sorry. After talking with you today, I realize that I won't be able to help you, but I think I know someone who can."

Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gardening Final

Dear Friends,
I have a gardening final due today, and then we have to dig up our gardens and take them home. So, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and pooped for the next few days. I'll resume blogging on Monday. Have a happy and healthy few days!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Different Look at Depression Healing

Yesterday, Andrea left a comment on What Works for Healing Depression, which was quite different than my point of view and those of the other people who left comments. So, I decided to post it today. And Gianna left a follow-up comment.

Dear Susan,
A long time ago, I had a therapist who had been helping me with dealing with depression. Forms of exercise, vitamins, time with friends, time by myself, choice of literature...we covered quite a bit.

I did these things, set up patterns, but the depressions still happened and I complained that I could feel it coming and nothing I did could stop it.

She told me those things were to prevent the depression, or at least prevent it from coming on so strong. If I felt a depression coming, she advised I embrace it. Let it come, even help it along. Don't fight it - ride it out. Let your brain kick-start itself.

So now, when I feel depression coming on, I act like a young girl who has been rejected by a lover - I buy Hostess, watch sad movies, cry my eyes out, and curse my fate to suffer more than other humans. I know this sounds dramatic and silly, but sometimes an episode will just last an evening.

This might work because I rapid cycle, so my depressive episodes are mostly a predictable length to begin with (3-7 days). I just help speed up the process. So I don't know if this helps you, but maybe it will be of use to someone.


And Gianna wrote:

Andrea's idea is how I stopped even being depressed I embraced myself. I've shared this with you before Susan, but I'll share it for your readers. A friend and great inspiration wrote this:

In any case, it's pretty much the same thing Andrea says although I choose to go inward and embrace it in a more meditative way, but whatever works! I still think what Andrea is doing is a version of the same thing.

What do you think about this point of view? Might it work for you? Has it worked for you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Hypomanic Hallelujah!

While I hate to admit it, today was the first hypomanic episode I've had in almost ten months, and it certainly was a relief. Because I know how to pace myself and control my behavior, it's not like I behave any differently. It's just finally nice to be done with an extended depression, and to have so much energy!

This morning and early afternoon I gardened. I'm digging out three of our flower beds and mulching them so I can transplant my herb garden home, and start a vegetable garden. Then, I rested for an hour to calm myself down, went to therapy, ate dinner, attended the last session of my digital photography class, and took my new dog Jack for a walk.

The only problem is that it's 11:00 p.m. and I'm wide awake. Because I know how important a full night of sleep is, if I don't fall asleep by midnight, I can take an Ativan, although I hate doing it because for me it's the toughest medication to stop taking. But, taking it is preferable to staying awake.

I could tell you how wonderful a hypomania feels after so many months of a depression--even a low-grade one for the last few months--but I sense you must know this yourself. A controlled hypomania must be a bit like being in heaven. I feel such a wonderful sense of well being that it's difficult to describe to anyone who's never felt this way. I'm so focused. I can accomplish so much, and yet I'm not the least bit tired.

Knowing that hypomanias can cause me to talk too much, I am mindful, and thus don't do it. Knowing that years ago they caused me to spend too much money (mostly on books, but sometimes on clothes), I don't do that anymore. If I feel it's the least bit of a problem, I give my husband my credit cards and checks for safekeeping, but it hasn't been a problem in years.

So...actually there's no real downside for me, except a lack of sleep, which I'll handle through medication if necessary. So, all I have to say is, "Hallelujah!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Works for Healing Depression?

After years of developing and utilizing a wide array of wellness activities--from harmonica healing to the zen of sanding--I still had a horrific depressive episode last year that lasted from November until a few days ago.

And what I finally realized was that in addition to the seasonal element of depression, I was carrying a lot of anger and rage about the way I'd been treated since my diagnosis, my subsequent medication merry-go-round that caused erratic behavior, and then the years of having to figure out all my healing activities by myself.

So, at the beginning of the year--after a very long hiatus--I returned to therapy, which has been extraordinarily helpful. I finally feel that once I resolve the issues that have been bothering me for quite some time, I can end these dastardly depressions. And, I'm also doing more research on Seasonal Affective Disorder (although I've researched it quite a bit and nothing that's recommended works for me aside from spending time outdoors), and I'm researching self-hypnosis as well.

My question for you is this: What works best for you, whether it's medication, yoga, meditation, prayer and spirituality, aerobic exercise et al? And, what is preventing you from getting well?