Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Coping with Depression and Anxiety

I'm not an expert on depression and anxiety but I am an expert on my own journey through life with many struggles with the disease.  I've struggled since I was a young girl.  Never feeling as if I fit in or was accepted, my stomach would roil at the thought of anything putting me into the limelight with my peers.  Eating in front of others, being the last chosen in gym, teased about my clothing, nose and boyish figure - I became trapped within myself, unable to believe people would like me for myself.

Through the usual childhood journeys amid bullies, changing friends and school blunders, I pushed on as we all tend to do and soon found myself an adult with a baby who never slept.  At a time of great happiness I was exhausted, which occasionally led to a feeling of inadequacy and failure.  With time also came Rheumatoid Arthritis, multiple surgeries and pain, and the isolation made me feel even more alone.  However, this blog isn't about my specific stories, it's more about the way I've learned to cope.

I've read a lot of books, gone through many varied therapies - writing, talk, workouts, homeopathic, hypnotherapy, etc - and tried many medications without a great deal of success.  A few years ago, I read an article that talked about changing your brain patterns.  When your thoughts turn dark or you are repeating conversations and incidents it stated you should try to change the way your brain is processing.

At this point, anything, no matter how weird, was worth a try.  I don't expect these items to work for everyone because depression and anxiety are different for everyone. If one idea helps someone else ease their pain, this article will have been a success.

I have them written on a poster on my office wall so I will be reminded of my determination to get well.

  • Listen to a Pandora channel of my favorite comics - for me that's Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan and Kathleen Madigan.
  • Dance - who can be sad or think of hurtful conversations when you're dancing?  I love all the old 60's, 70's and 80's music myself.
  • Play piano - I just started lesson's 5 years ago but I love to play and having to figure out the notes puts my attention somewhere else.  (Must remember this one more, I've gotten out of the habit over the holidays)
  • Yoga, walking, meditating.  These have been wonderful techniques to help me combat both depression and anxiety before they begin.
  • Ask myself what is the worst outcome of whatever I'm afraid of - even if as in flying, the answer is death, you can face that head on.  Do I want to die?  No, but if it happens I can't do anything to stop it so I can let the thought go.
  • I color - yes, I'm one of those adults who enjoys coloring.
  • I take photos - actually any hobby will do if you can immerse yourself in it.
  • Allow myself 10 minutes to listen to sad music and feel the negative emotions, journal them then tear up the paper.  I find it cathartic to destroy the feelings. 

These may seem like simple ideas but sometimes simplicity is best.  I've found that it helps if I can get myself moving and concentrating on something that challenges my mind.

Please talk to your doctor if you are feeling hopeless and anxious.  If you are thinking of harming yourself please call a hotline immediately.  There are people who care about you and want to help!

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - (800)237-8255

For hotlines in your state or more information - http://www.suicide.org/

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Recreating a Memory

There are photos that encapsulate a moment in your life.  You look back and become happy, sad, mad, or a myriad of other emotions.  This photo evokes a happy memory and a sense of time passing yet staying the same all in one look.  It was 1988 and I had just met my husband to be, George.  He lived in Ohio and I in Wisconsin. We took this photo when I went to visit him in Ohio and we were just getting to know one another. 

Recently we saw a piece on the news about a company that rents vintage vehicles.  As they swept through the showroom I happened to spy a vintage Mazda RX-7.   Geo used to talk about his RX-7 when he saw them around and I knew he occasionally thought of buying the car again.  I casually mentioned the news piece and he went to look up the website.  Sure enough, they had the car in a slightly darker shade than he used to own.

What could be more fun than to rent a piece of our past?  With Geo's birthday coming he decided that driving around seeing the colors of fall in the classic car would be the perfect gift.  So he picked it up on Friday and brought it home.  

Saturday was spent driving the manual transmission vehicle around the area taking in the fall colors, having ice cream and reminiscing about old times.  We talked about how he loaded his car up with his possessions and drove it from Ohio to Texas when he graduated West Point and joined his first unit in the army (stopping in Wisconsin along the way to ask me to marry him!). We went on our first dates in that car. We spent our first years together driving around Texas with no air conditioning.  There were countless things we had forgotten that this car brought back which was priceless.  We laughed and as with all things there was a little sorrow.  Things that can't be redone, people no longer in our life and a time that will never come again.

We decided to duplicate that first photo.  Can you really recreate a favorite memory?  Perhaps not, but trying can bring you closer than you thought possible.

To see what vehicles Morries has available visit their website - Morries Heritage Car Collection.  The program closes October 31 but will open again in May 2017 so if you want to take advantage of this unique and fun opportunity call quick!!