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/