A dozen helpful thoughts

This is from Proverbs 31 Woman which is from a Christian viewpoint.  A Dozen Helpful Thoughts For When You Feel Depressed. 

I think it would be a good exercise to take each of the questions and write them out in your journal and think about why you might be feeling this way.  Of course I understand if you're tired of everything and don't want to do that.  I know how it feels when everything is exhausting and you don't want to do anything. 

In that case, you might just want to color or write something.  Find a hopeful thought and write it over and over and over.  Use different colors of Sharpies.  I do this and then draw pictures on top of it to make art.  I find it relaxes me, centers me and helps with the depression.  I write Bible verses but if you are not a believer, you can write anything personally meaningful to you. 

Here's a link to some great quotes on hope.  Brainy Quote

Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

Bradley Whitford

Turmeric as effective as Prozac.

That's what this study says.  I want to try it because I don't enjoy the side effects of Prozac and I do enjoy spicy food.   http://www.inquisitr.com/3574246/studies-show-turmeric-beats-depression-active-ingredient-curcumin-works-as-well-as-prozac/  In our quest to fight depression naturally, this seems like it would be a good ingredient to have on our side.    Unsure how to put turmeric into your diet?  I am too.  I found a few resources though.  Here's an article from Kitchn about how to eat it. and it includes this important note:

"Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective" 

Here's a chili recipe that includes turmeric.   I may try this one.  Crock Pot 365.    I would think you could put a little bit in most chilis or spicy soups. 

If you don't want to eat it, or if you just don't feel like cooking (I understand) you can take it as a supplement.  Amazon

Apparently it has other benefits too.  Check out this article.   Apparently it helps with artitis and inflammation.  I'd better get onto making this chili.  :-) 

Anything that helps our depression is a tool we can use to overcome it and get back into life. 

It's been a rough year, but ...

I'm still here.  I'm still kicking.  I'm getting up in the morning and doing what I need to do.  I am practicing some mindfulness and being in this moment and getting better at it.  I think about washing the dishes when I'm doing them, at least part of the time, think about the warm soapy water, instead of using that time to worry about everything under the sun, think about what's not going the way I want it to, etc., which is my norm.  I try to go outside and sit for a moment, looking at the sky and the trees.  I try and connect with people.  I've been intentional in getting together with my friends, just going to Burger King to sit and talk and sip a soda, going out to lunch with a friend I've known from childhood, taking the initiative to set things up.  Sometimes we just get so busy with our shows we watch, running our own households, working (or looking for work in my case) and forget to schedule time to have real fun with real people instead of watching it on TV or reading about it on social media.  One of the things I like about the Big Bang Theory guys is that they schedule and plan to have fun together.  I'm working on it.  

I kind of had an epiphany last week.  I was sitting on the porch for my prayer time, whining to The Almighty about not being able to find a job and feeling sorry for myself and the thought came into my mind -- how dare I complain when I am at home, in this beautiful place, with the kids I have and a husband who goes to work every day and does not complain about it or about anything I do, how dare I?   I am blessed beyond measure.   So what if we can't afford extras like vacations right now? We can pay our  bills.  So what if my life is not perfect.  Its still good.  There is still good. 

A year after getting off Prozac, I am so, so, so much better.   I think know it was making me worse, not better, causing intrusive, frequent suicidal thoughts that are now just a part of my past.  If you think your antidepressant could be making you worse, talk to your doctor and find out if you need to change or taper it. 

Think about this moment, not the future, not the past.  Think about this moment.  You're reading this blog.  Take a minute, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, slowing it down and relaxing for a moment.  Think about 3 things you are thankful for, even if they are pitiful.   Sometimes, it's "Hey, I don't have the stomach flu"  or "I don't have vertigo today".  Vertigo is horrible and every day without it is a day to celebrate.  :-P  

I found a great blog on being positive today.  The Positivity Blog.  The tagline is Happiness and Awesomeness Tips That Work in Real Life.  How cool is that?  I'm going to be reading for a while over there. 

Hang in there. 

So now, add failure to the list. Or not.

So last week, I took a job I had been offered.  I worked from Tuesday until Friday and then I quit.  I could not visualize myself staying in that job and the company I was working for needed me to commit there for a year.  So, before signing my contract saying I would work for a year, I quit.  It was especially embarrassing for me because I had put it on Facebook saying that I was starting a new job and also I put it on Facebook saying that I had quit, in order to stop a lot of the questions about how the new job was going ... etc.   Next time I will keep any new job starts to myself.  (I may not even tell my immediate family!)   Lesson learned.  As a matter of fact, I've learned many lessons this week.  That was #1.  Another one is not to be seduced by money to a job that I really deep down don't want.   Also, I learned that physically I can do a lot more than I thought.  All this exercise this summer has paid off.  I learned that I don't want to be away from my home and family 40 hours a week because that is where my heart is.  I don't know how much longer these 2 kids (who are pretty much grown up now) will live with us and I want to be around for them while they are launching as much as I can.  Soon enough, they'll have their own homes, families, jobs and I won't see them very much.  I learned that I need a job that aligns with my core beliefs and if it doesn't I won't last long.  I also learned that I need to be able to be genuinely me at work, which I guess is basically the same as the core beliefs thingy but this job required me to be falsely cheerful and talkative and I didn't feel very comfortable with that. 

Learning this many lessons in a week is difficult and I feel very vulnerable right now.  I'm afraid I won't ever be able to stick to anything.  I'm sure most readers are familiar with the voice of gloom and doom saying (in our heads)  "You can't stick to anything!"  "You always quit".  You're a spoiled rotten baby who won't ever amount to anything!"


Step 1 of starting over, go to the library and get a book that is designed to help people find careers that fit.  Step 2, make a to-do list and start doing it.  Step 3, try and keep the sense of humor and the faith.

Even more on journaling for health.

Ways to use your journal for self care.
Follow the link above to find specific ways to use your journal for self care.  This is a great time to get notebooks on sale, since school is starting.  Get a journal and a pen or pencil and you will be able to lighten your mood and make yourself feel better.  It really does work.  While you've got the journal open, you might also do some doodling or coloring, both of which also help mood. 

Hang in there. 

Non-Drug Methods of Dealing With It.

Psychology Today - Tips for skipping the prozac.

This article I found interesting, because it mentioned a couple of things I hadn't seen before, one of which was advice to never skip a meal to keep your blood sugar stable and being authentic, plus ones we have heard before, like exercise, sunlight, natural supplements.  Combined, these things work.  Don't give up.  You can win this one.

On Grief.

My Mom passed away on June 23.  I know some people don't like the term "passed away" but it's all I can say.  In my head, even, I can't say "died" in conjunction with my mom.  Not yet.  My Dad passed 6 1/2 years ago and I thought that I knew what this grief experience was going to be like, having gone through it before, but I am surprised.  It's a different experience.  I had a different relationship with my mom than my dad and they had different illnesses, so they way that they died was different.  My dad had lung disease, COPD, caused by smoking.  He had become disabled with it, so that he didn't often leave the house, but he was happy as a clam, living at home, having mom take care of him.  I suppose that he hid details of his illness from me so that if you had asked me a week  before he was hospitalized (the week before his 80th birthday) I would have said that I thought he had 5 or 6 years left.  One morning, I was at the doctor's office and my aunt called me and said that dad had fallen and that they had called 911.  He never regained consciousness, really, and passed away a week later, in the ICU of our local hospital.  I cried rivers.  I cried and cried and cried and cried.  I could not go anywhere in my car without one of my kids because if I was alone in the car, I would end up arriving at my destination red faced and swollen from crying.  I could keep it together if one of the kids was in the car.  They were 17, 13 and 11 and one of them went everywhere with me, pretty much, for a couple of months.  After dad passed away, I lost interest in and did not participate in life for a while.  I kept working; thankfully I worked at home as a medical transcriptionist then, but I didn't cook, didn't clean and just watched TV all the time.  I binged watched NCIS.

I first noticed that something was not right with mom in 2003.  She had Alzheimer's disease and though it wasn't formally diagnosed until 2010, I knew about it long before then.  In 2013, we moved her into assisted living and in late March of this year (2016) she stopped wanting to eat or drink.  She'd lie down and sleep pretty much all the time at the assisted living facility, not engaging in any of the activities.  She would cry when the CNAs there would try and get her to go to the bathroom, get dressed or take a shower.  She was pretty much miserable, but unlike what you typically hear about Alzheimer's patients, she still recognized me.  She often called me mama or introduced me as her sister, but sometimes she called me my baby; any of the ways she introduced or greeted me, she still knew I was hers.  After she stopped wanting to eat or participate in life, she went down hill quickly, losing almost 40 pounds, feeling weak, falling, going to the emergency room and finally being admitted to a nursing home. Every day in the nursing home, we got worse news about her condition until she died 13 days after being admitted.  My brother, mom's sister and I were there to watch her death and though it was peaceful, it was still awful.  I cried every single day from the end of March until June 23 and then after she passed away, I felt dried up, like a husk.  We delayed the funeral for a couple of days until my son could get here from out of state and then we had the funeral and visitation.  Of course I cried at both of these, but not the volumes of tears I cried for my dad.  I think that because I knew that it was coming for longer, it was (maybe?) easier?  or maybe it just hasn't hit me yet.  Not fully.

It's funny how we react differently to similar events and I know that in some types of situations, it's not a good thing to just give in to your feelings (like doing things you need to do even when you're afraid) but in grief, you just feel how you feel and you just have to go with it and not get angry at yourself for not feeling the way you think you should.

This probably doesn't make much sense, but if you are grieving, ride the feelings, cope with them as best you can but don't ever try and make yourself feel guilty for not feeling the way you think you should.  It's hard enough.  Don't make it harder.

And back again.

I had to go off the Wellbutrin.  It causes me to have a dry mouth that is horrible.  I wake up with my tongue actually stuck to the roof of my mouth.  I had to give it up and get some Biotene mouthwash for the dryness.  It's miserable.  I am hoping that as I continue to wean off the Wellbutrin, it will get better.  We'll see.

In other stress news, we are putting my mom into a nursing home, possibly tomorrow.  She's been falling at the assisted living and has just gotten to be more than they can handle.  It breaks my heart, but our backs are against the wall.  She needs this level of care, 24 hour nursing.  At least it is a very nice place.  I try and console myself with that.


One step forward, one step back.

I was very happy, last August, to give up my Prozac.  I had been on a 10 mg dose for years and it was very hard to taper off of.  I finally got rid of the buzzy head symptoms about January.  Then, in January, I had the stressor of moving my mom to a new assisted living facility and the stresses have just kept on coming.  Every time I get up, the rug is pulled out from under me again, over and over and over again.  Every day involves watching someone suffer who does not understand what is happening to them.  This is life with an Alzheimer's patient.  Not fun.  In this context, I went to the doctor in February and got a prescription for Wellbutrin XL.   I came home, read the side effects, decided I didn't want to take it and put it in the desk drawer.  But, life just kept happening and happening and despite all I have learned while writing this blog, about fake smiling and making my bed and taking a cold shower, I have not yet mastered always looking on the bright side of things, so the Wellbutrin had to come out of the drawer.  I started taking it last week.   I admit I do feel better.  I'm supposed to be tapering the dose up, but so far, I've stayed on the lowest dose of 100 mg because I want the eventual taper off to be easier.   I have dived back into my art and reading, which is a comfort to me and yesterday, I did a random act of kindness which involved giving a piece of my art to all of the employees of the assisted living that help with my mom and that did make me feel better too.  It's still hard.

I know we all want to be able to make it without these medications and their side effects, but we can't always do it.  I am not beating myself up about it.  I'm just taking my pill each day and trying to hang in there, down here at the end of my rope, where I live.

I have enjoyed this Ted talk lately on the Surprising Science of Happiness.  You should go watch.

Playing Games.

Playing games is a valuable enterprise to help in all aspects of mental health and can help you recover from depression.

You'll have to listen to the talk to know why there are pictures of baby animals here.  :-)
A Ted talk by Jane McGonigal.  This highlights a way to use a game to experience post traumatic growth.  That's one phrase you don't ever hear.    Go, watch this Ted Talk.  Do what she says and then, just for fun,
visit Deep Fun by Bernie DeKoven and find a game to play with someone  that will enhance your relationships and enhance your very life.  Play is so important.

Something I hadn't considered, anger.

This article on Psychology Today  has a some of the same things we've talked about on this blog to help with depression, including being active, reaching out to others, watching funny TV shows and laughing, but it also addresses something I had not heard of or thought about, repressed anger.  Now that I think about it though, I remember Dr. Sydney Freedman on M*A*S*H saying "Anger turned inward is depression; anger turned sideways is Hawkeye."  
This article encourages you to spend some time thinking about what you could be angry about and how you should acknowledge and try to accept your angry feelings.  I think, based on the research I have been doing for this blog, that the best ways to acknowledge and accept them, outside of your therapist's office (if you are like me and can't afford a therapist right now) is to write them down.  According to the article we read last week, it seems like it would  be a good exercise to write down everything you could be angry about as quickly as you can.  Get it out.  Then wad it up and throw it away.  I think you (and I) will feel better.

Let's give it a try.

Great article.

I found a great article this morning on Dose.  It has 50 ways to Happier, Healthier and More Successful.    Some of them we have talked about before and some of them I have implemented in my life in the past year.  I do think that they help and they are reasonable things and they can't hurt, so why not?

They mention journaling, which is reported to be as good as anti-depressants.  I was on anti-depressants for several years and they caused me to have side effects that I don't ever want to have again, so I am in the process of trying to kick them for good.  Journaling has no side effects that I know of, unless it would be a tired hand or paper shortages.  I personally think that the act of writing things out by hand is therapeutic, rather than typing them, but if you want to try typing them, by all means, try it.  Report back here and let us know if it helps fight the darkness.

Another one that I try is a modified cold shower.  I just turn the cold on at the end, rinse my hair,

which makes it shinier (bonus) and hopefully, benefit from a better mood.

I also make my bed each day, or really, my husband does it.  My reading this article for the first time, coincided with our family getting a new dog who likes to chew his chewies on our bed (messy!) so when I started making the bed, it gave us the bonus of not having his chewy mess on the sheets.  I do have to wash the bedspread more frequently than I used to but it's better on than the sheets.   This caught on and now my husband does it every morning before work.  It does make me happy to walk into the bedroom and see the bed made up and looking pretty.

This particular article has a LOT more stuff and you definitely should go read it.  My favorite it is to make one audacious request per week.  Hey, you never know what might happen!!!

Keep on fighting the blues!  It's winnable!

14 Mood Lifting Tricks from Prevention.

Prevention magazine has an article on things that you can do right now to feel better and boost your mood.  Some of them, we have looked at before, such as writing things down and taking a walk, but they have expanded on these a little.  When talkign about writing, they say you should quickly make a list of good things about the person or the situation that is getting you down.  Here's a quote:

"Turn your thoughts into a race—it can lift the blues in minutes, says Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin, PhD. For example, when your mother-in-law is driving you crazy, give yourself 30 seconds to make a list of all the ways she's been helpful to you in the past—you'll feel better fast. (If nothing nice comes to mind, quickly jot down other ways she bugs you; speed thinking negative thoughts can still improve your mood, Pronin found.) Researchers believe that rapid thinking may release feel-good brain chemicals—or it could just be a helpful distraction. "

And there are some things I've never heard of on this list. 

For example, they recommend looking at pictures as something that will give your mood an 11% mood boost.  I had not heard of that as a mood booster, thought it makes sense.  I might want to stay away from this one during periods of grieving but it might help you to look at happy pictures of times past.

Another one they mention that I had not heard before is chopping vegetables.  Interesting.  Presumably, not onions.  :-)  

Go read the article.  Prevention.  

My hope is that you and I will internalize these lessons and learn to use these coping skills so that our winter blues or all the time blues or clinical depression will be a thing of the past.  Hang in there.  

More about journaling.

There's a great article about journaling, heBusiness Insider.   It not only lets you know (again) how journaling can be helpful, it has a writing prompt to use and explains why it is so helpful.  (As good as an antidepressant without the side effects!)  One of the things it says is to really write about what is bothering you and why this helps so much ...

re on
"The foremost reason is disclosure. Psychologists are basically in agreement that avoiding or inhibiting unpleasant emotions or suppressing your thoughts makes makes your body tense, your mood negative, and your cognition impaired. But if you access, express, and process those blocked-up emotions, you'll feel better, in all of the ways. For the same reason that talking about your breakup with your best friend makes you feel better, journaling about getting fired lets you process it."  

So dig in, start journaling.  Write the bad stuff out and then if you don't want to keep the notebook around, throw it away or burn it.  Get that stuff out.  

You will feel better.  

Coping Skills.

Art has been an invaluable tool for me. 
Where I work, we are always talking about coping skills.  Basically a coping skill is something you do to cope with your feelings or pain that are not hurtful to anyone.  Sometimes a distraction is the key.  Some coping stategies we just fall into, or we've used them since childhood and sometimes we need to try and think really hard to come up with something to do.
 When my dad passed away, I had overwhelming grief, and I wanted to sleep all the time, but I couldn't so I distracted myself in many ways.  I watched TV and played video games simultaneously.  I found that I couldn't read, couldn't cook, couldn't draw and so I needed to find something, anything, to help me get through the pain.  It was The Sims and NCIS for me.  It was months before I could cope with any down time.  Every time I was alone in the shower or car I would cry so showering became the only thing I really did alone, asking someone to ride with me everywhere I went, so that I wouldn't get to my destination with red eyes and a wet face.   When my son was terribly afraid of thunderstorms, the counselor taught him ways to distract himself and just get through it.

Here's a list of things to do when you are feeling bad.

Coping Skills.

A good free resource.

Art Journal Guide - Daily Reprieve Center  This art journaling resource combines education about mental health and recovery with information about art journaling and looks like a good way to get started on the art ... and it's free!

Reverse Bucket List

Go on over to Boho Berry for what a reverse bucket list means and get inspiration from her list. Okay,

I'll wait while you go read the blog post and her list.

Now lets do some brainstorming for our own lists, maybe categories ...

Places I visited.

People I have treasured along the way.

Creative things I did.

Just plain fun experiences I would never trade for anything.

Have fun with it!

A simple change that can make a difference.

It's very simple.  At the end of every day, perhaps at the dinner table, you ask yourself or your family, what "went well today?"  I can see how this would help.  It's kind of a gratitude practice.  I didn't have a great day yesterday when I read about this, and I was thinking/focusing on the parts that did not go well, but then I read this and started thinking about what had gone well.
 A piece of mail that I've been anxiously waiting for for 9 weeks, finally arrived yesterday.  That was huge and in my mind, that detail was kind of buried in the stress until I took a second look at my day.

There's a little bit more to it, read the rest at Exuberant Lives

Money and Happiness?

How to Buy Happiness.  This is a link to a fascinating Ted talk that tells you what to do to make yourself happier with a little bit of money.