Source: Public Acknowledgements Of DF Members
Blog Entries posted by bh34465
I moved this from the Pinned list on the DF Water Cooler so that it perhaps would be more visible.
Source: Public Acknowledgements Of DF Members
Source: Will It Ever Get Better?
Yesterday was a full day; full being I had some things to do to fill my day that were helpful to me in treating my depression. It wasn't a perfect day, but it wasn't a horrible day. It seemed easier much of the time to cope with things. Today, not so much. I am going to do a couple of things later today that are helpful and gets me out of the house and away from isolation, but so far the day has been a struggle. I even decided to forgo one thing because I just didn't want to do it. As much as I think I need to be proactive and do things to help myself, I also have to be able to be kind to myself, not doing too much, or beating myself up if I can't do everything perfectly.
After receiving a comment from my last blog post about anxiety and depression overlapping, I did some research online, and found a good article. The summary below is from the Psychology Today website from an article by Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. It has five parts, beginning with part one.
As regards talk therapy treatments for co-occurring anxiety and depression, what does everything I've written up to this point suggest? In reviewing the literature on the subject, I think many points are worth emphasizing (and, indeed, some I already have). They are, in no particular order:
• Because of their many similarities (cognitive and chemical), therapy centering on either anxiety or depression can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of the disorder less focused upon--and a single therapy may at times be effective in addressing both disorders;
• If serious depression is to be successfully treated, any significant anxiety also present must be recognized and attended to;
• When pronounced anxiety and depression co-occur, successful treatment can be expected to be more difficult and take longer to achieve (and therapists need to be aware of such patients' increased suicide risk);
• In terms of "evidence-based treatments," cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) seems to have the edge over other treatments, although many types of talk therapy can effectively deal with these disorders. CBT, however, focuses more on identifying, and altering, dysfunctional thought patterns and behaviors that have culminated in feelings of helplessness and hopelessness--which, in turn, have led to the patient's serious symptoms of anxiety and depression;
• Making lifestyle changes--such as expanding one's support system, improving one's diet; learning breathing and relaxation procedures; getting more sleep; discontinuing or cutting down on tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and any illicit substances; adding to one's daily regimen physical exercise, yoga, Pilates, etc.--can all significantly accelerate progress in therapy. Exercise, especially, has repeatedly been shown to improve the mood of depressives, and to "loosen up" the brains and bodies of those who are anxious and up-tight.
But perhaps the most important point to make here is that if you're in the throes of severe anxiety and depression, therapy alone is much less likely to be helpful than the combination of therapy and the most suitable psychiatric medication(s). That is, if your negative mind has been working overtime to keep you in a state of restless despondency, it may be impossible to get therapy off the ground until you're properly medicated. Only then may you be able to fully appreciate just how much your maladaptive beliefs and behaviors have gotten you into such a bad place . . . and how, at last, you can get yourself out of it.
I have an overlapping anxiety and depression. After reading this entire article, I can see why I am suffering so horribly with it. I am glad that I have tried to do some things to help myself in the process, such as walking, cutting out caffeine (or cutting way back), and other things. The article seems to agree that the correct medication first, then therapy along with that, can be effective in getting better. I just have to hold on until my counseling begins. I am not so sure I am on the right med, or the correct dosage at least, so that will need to be looked into.
To start out on a positive note, last night I went to bed early and seemed to sleep well. I got up early. I know that my depression seems to be worse lately, so I am getting antsy about being able to go to the clinic that I just had an intake evaluation for last week, or to see the doctor about my medication which doesn't seem to be as effective as before. So, I went about trying to call these places this morning. I knew I would feel better even if I could just know that I had an appointment. I was unable to get anyone because today is a holiday. I even called the crisis line for the clinic, and all I ended up with was a voicemail.
During periods when I would have good moments during the day, or when I would have good days among all the bad, I could deal with things much better. I could be patient for those times when I could talk with someone. I could feel good that the things I am doing to help myself were really helping. These past days, I only feel as if things are getting worse. Maybe the "getting worse" is necessary to get better. I don't know. Maybe these feelings I have to contend with all day every day are just that, feelings. Nonetheless, it is painful. The things my mind can tell me. Yes, I can deny those thoughts, dispute them, and recognize that many of them are not reality, but it's still painful hearing those thoughts constantly, day to day.
I don't know if I will ever get completely over this, but if I could just feel good most of the time, or even some of the time.
I know I am not alone in my depression. There are others like me who are struggling and need answers and support. I have been trying to put myself around people because I feel it could be helpful. However, some people are not helpful, and sometimes being around a lot of people tends to trigger me into a more depressive and anxious state. I hate having to hide that I am hurting, and have people wondering why I am not able to do more with my life. I have tried to use all the resources made available to me to help myself. I just got an intake evaluation this past week, and I still have to wait to see someone. What do I do in meantime when I feel as if I am getting worse? What I mean by that is that even though I am still doing many of the things that were helpful to me for a while, I feel as if I am getting more depressed and anxious. I get the feeling sometimes like I don't know if I can keep hanging on. I know that I need to take it moment by moment, but it is difficult. It really is easier to isolate myself, because then I don't feel judged. The first thing anyone wants to know about me is what do I do? I am not employed and I think people think I'm a loser because of it. I struggle just to get through a day right now.
I have been on Nortriptyline for three and a half months. I know that it was helping after about six to eight weeks, as I went from feeling completely hopeless to feeling some hope and functioning more easily. I wouldn't say that I was transformed, but it did give me enough relief to be occasionally social, and to reach out in various ways. I began to do things routinely that helped: taking a walk, writing, posting on DF, and accomplishing small goals daily.
At about the three month mark on Nortriptyline, I started to notice changes in my functioning. I went from going to bed at a decent hour, but waking early, and being unable to go back to sleep to going to bed earlier and sleeping later. Now, it is difficult to get out of bed. Today, I stayed in bed two to three hours longer than normal. My good habits that I had developed seemed to have gone out the window to a large degree. Pages of daily journal entries have turned into paragraphs. Some days I skip and write nothing. I have felt so tired and fatigue the past couple of weeks that I have only been able to take a walk on some days. One day, I only made it about half the distance before I felt completely worn out. The next chance I get, I am going to see a doctor, just to make sure it isn't something more physical and not depression.
The thing that is really troubling is that I felt that the one thing I was really lacking was human contact and interaction. So, as much as I was able, I accepted invitations from others. I went to a support group. I visited a church and talked to the minister (who, by the way, was very helpful and understanding, and eager to help me in any way he can). When I went for my intake evaluation at a mental health clinic a few days ago, I was able to finally talk about what was going on in my life. I thought all this was going to fill some of the void I have been feeling (and maybe I am not giving it enough time), but instead it seemed to open me up to more fear, and more feelings of failure, and emptiness. I think it is because when someone says they are going to help me fix the things in my life, I feel overwhelmed. I feel it is too big to overcome, and I feel that some will look at me as a project or something broken that needs to be fixed, instead of a person. I suppose there is more safety in isolating myself than in letting myself be vulnerable and reaching out to others.
I want to be patient with myself and with whatever process I have to go through to get help, but it seems such a long wait when moments of relief do not seem to come in the midst of all the pain and struggle. I know that I am not going through anything that countless others are not also going through, but I need some relief.
Source: Feeling Down
I copied the above from my post from this morning. I have had the worst day. The weather is cool and gloomy. I am lonely, and I have had the most anxiety I have had in a while. I thought I would feel better if I got out of the house and went to the store, but instead it caused an anxiety attack. I feel overwhelmed in many ways. The things that I normally do - writing and posting on Df - don't seem to be helping much. I just need a little encouragement.
Went for a mental health evaluation yesterday. I was diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder. I was not surprised. Now, I just have to wait a bit to get an appointment for counseling and possibly med management. I had to wait about three months for the intake, so I suppose I can wait a while longer.
It has been a while, and I just felt the need to write something. Today, I am going to a facility that offers counseling, med management, etc. I think that today is just doing the intake (registration), so I will probably not get an appointment until a later date. Even so, it makes me feel better knowing that I am at this point in the process. I had to wait about three months to get this appointment, and when I made the appointment this day seemed so far away. I look forward to being able to discuss my meds with someone because, even though they are helping, the past three to four weeks, it seems as if I have become more depressed; I don't feel physically well, which I am attributing to depression, but it could very well be purely physical.
Before I had to make a trip out of town, I was on a consistent schedule of going to bed and getting up. While away, I had more irregular hours, and I wanted to sleep more. When I returned home, I continued the trend. I napped more during the day, and I went to bed on time or early, and slept longer in the mornings. I don't think my sleep is restful, so that could be the reason I feel run down and have to nap so much. I've continued to try to be active by walking, doing household chores, and social activities (not a lot of social, but a step in the right direction), yet it still seems I am more depressed. I have been through a lot these past months, so it is not like I can't figure out where the depression is coming from. The loneliness and frequent isolation certainly is not helping.
I don't want to wave a wand and have the depression go away, but I do want to be clear on what I need to do to help myself. I'm taking an AD, journaling, posting on the forums, walking almost daily, setting small goals, putting myself in social situations, posting about what I'm thankful for, what went right, and many more things. Still, it seems as if I'm getting nowhere; maybe it's just that the progress is so slow that it seems un-measurable.
This is probably rambling, but I wanted to get some of my thoughts out.
The powerlessness of positive thinking
Self-affirming statements actually make some people feel worse
by Cathy Gulli on Monday, July 6, 2009 6:12pm - Canadian scientists have some bad news for those in the self-help business: positive thinking can actually make people with low self-esteem feel worse about themselves. Joanne V. Wood, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo who co-authored the soon-to-be-published article with John W. Lee (University of Western Ontario) and W.Q. Elaine Perunovic (University of New Brunswick), spoke with Maclean’s about why self-affirming mantras such as “I am a lovable person” may actually do more damage than good.
Q: Tell me a bit about your studies?
A: We identified people who were low in self-esteem and high in self-esteem. We invited them into the lab and assigned them randomly to one of two conditions. In both conditions, they were asked to write down their thoughts and feelings. In one condition, in addition to that writing task, they were asked to repeat “I am a lovable person.” We found that those with high self-esteem were slightly better off in the positive self-statement condition than in the other condition. They were a little bit happier. We found the opposite effect for the other group. People with low self-esteem who repeated the positive self-statement were actually lower in mood and worse in their feelings about themselves than in the condition where they didn’t repeat the positive self-statement.
Q: Did you do things beyond that?
A: In another study, we instructed people to then focus on the statement “I am a lovable person.” In one condition they were told they could write down ways that it was true of them and not true of them. In the other, they were told to focus only on ways that were true of them. Again, it had the opposite effect for people with low self-esteem than you might expect. If they were low in self-esteem and were required to focus only on how they were a lovable person, they were worse off.
Q: Why did people with low self-esteem feel worse after repeating the statement?
A: We think they thought about the positive self-statement and then thought contradictory thoughts. So they might have had thoughts about ways in which they weren’t lovable, [which] overwhelmed the positive thoughts.
Q: What about in the case of people with high self-esteem who felt better after saying the statement?
A: I think they enjoyed thinking positive thoughts and it gave them a little boost. It wasn’t that big, but it’s interesting that the positive self-statements seemed to work for people who don’t need them.
Q: How does your finding fit in with the way we put so much emphasis on positive thinking?
A: It suggests that for many people it doesn’t work. I’ve heard from people saying ‘I’ve been reading self-help books for 10 years and repeating positive statements has not helped me.’ They’ve said, ‘I’m so sick of my friends and family telling me to focus on the positive because it doesn’t work for me.’ Some have gone so far as to say that the emphasis we have in our society on thinking positively puts pressure on people and it’s unrealistic.
Q: Are there other options for people who feel that positive thinking doesn’t work for them?
A: Unfortunately, we don’t really know much about how to improve self-esteem. People tend to feel better about themselves when they’re in a positive mood. There is one self-help book I’d recommend by Sonja Lyubomirsky [a psychologist at the University of California] called The How of Happiness, because it’s based on research. Most self-help books are not based on any research whatsoever.
Q: What are they based on?
A: They’re based on personal experience, or something that seems to make intuitive sense. It makes sense that if you say positive things you’re going to feel better. That’s the importance of research, really showing whether or not these sorts of things help. [Lyubomirsky's] book focuses on documented ways in which people can increase their happiness.
Q: Besides the book, are there other suggestions for people who feel positive thinking isn’t an effective tool for them?
A: There’s very little research showing what will help people’s self-esteem, but one study I know of found that people who have been in a loving, supportive relationship have improved their self-esteem. So I think if you can find a loving, supportive partner that’s probably the best possibility for your self-esteem.
Q: Does it have to be a romantic partner, or do family and friends work too?
A: The research I’m talking about only involved romantic partners. I would think it would have to be someone really close to you.
Q: If positive thinking doesn’t work for so many people, why is there so much emphasis on it? Self-help books are rolling off the presses.
A: I know, I know! For most people it does have this intuitive appeal. They think it should work. And it seems like a pretty easy way to improve self-esteem. There’s a mix of good intentions by the people writing them, a lack of knowledge about the importance of research, and an eagerness to make money.
I was talking with my sister a couple of days ago, and I felt like the more I tried to explain what was going on in my life, the more I rambled on. My brain seemed to jump from one disconnected thought to another. I told her that I could probably write what was going on with me and it would make more sense. I tried writing a letter to her. I wasn't sure if I would actually send it to her, but I wanted to see if I could concisely explain it. What I found out is that trying to explain depression to a person that is not depressed is difficult. It is difficult enough to explain to someone who knows about depression, such as a therapist or fellow sufferer.
I managed to write about three paragraphs before i stopped. Why should I have to explain my depression? It would be so much better if my sister, or anyone else, could just say, "I don't understand, but I see how it is affecting you. I support you, and I am here for you." She expects me to make all these big social adjustments when I can barely at times speak to a cashier or someone in the park. When I am struggling to do the smallest things, and I am hearing you should and you need to, it can really drag me down.
Yesterday, I was really discouraged, and I had to ask for support on DF. Looking back, I think coulds and shoulds really got to me. I forgot that I had to just put one foot in front of the other and take things day to day. My sister's expectations (and my perceived expectations from others) made me feel as if everything I am doing means nothing. I know my sister cares, but sometimes I am left with that familiar feeling of only being acceptable if I do certain things or behave in certain ways. Performing well equals being loved more. As much as I don't want to, I still feel like I am trying to live for others and not for myself. I had thought about moving closer to where my family lives, and I actually had to ask my sister if she thought anybody would want me around, and if any of them even love me. It hurts not knowing.
Yesterday, I went for my walk, and I came home feeling good (as good as I can). Then I found out something that just knocked the wind out of me. I can't go in to what it was, but it just seemed to zap away any positive, healthy progress I have made. At a time of day that I am usually feeling better and calmer, I felt low. I felt so fragile. I tried to just "live" with my feelings, as the technique of not looking at my feelings as good or bad, but just observing them seems to work for me. The natural inclination is to avoid, run away from, or fight certain feelings. It's just that sometimes I feel like I can't take anymore. I feel as if I have all I can handle as it is. How can any more be added to it?
I was so glad to have had some small, but positive things happen yesterday and today. I had been invited somewhere for Christmas, but decided it was not a good idea. When weighing being alone with being around negativity, being alone won out. I was going to be home alone for Christmas, and I was prepared for it. However, I have the chance to have dinner out with a group of people who, like me, were going to be alone on Christmas, or who don't celebrate Christmas. Last night, I got a visit from someone who had a gift for me. It was totally unexpected, and it came during the time I was really down. Then later, I received an email from someone who wanted to drop off some treats for me today. They were going to just drop them out front, but instead they knocked on the door. It was so good to see someone (I'm rarely around anyone lately), and to get a warm hug. I was offered a ride to dinner by some friends that are going. Not that I need a ride, but just to go along with someone.
Sometimes I think because I am hurting so much right now, I have the highest expectations of others. Maybe it is normal that if you have so much emptiness, it can seem like the occasional, small things that people do are so inadequate to fill the voids I have. Maybe they can't completely fill the void, but I think if I can realize through my depression that things are done through love, kindness, and compassion, that those small things can expand in me to fill at least some of the void.
It would be so easy, on this day especially, to absorb every negative feeling and thought. Who knows, maybe I will fall apart by day's end, but I want to grab on to every small moment, gesture, and act of kindness.
I had this idea today to go for a walk without my two dogs. I figured maybe it would give me a chance to be social. One of the dogs is protective, so I can't really interact with people because I have to make sure he doesn't get too snippy with passersby. However, when the dogs know that I am going for a walk in the park (and they know) one of the dogs squeals to be able to go along. I guess I used their excitement to go, and my reasoning that they need to walk, too, as an excuse to have them go along and comfort me (and maybe prevent me from having to be social). They think they can't be without me for a minute, and I suppose I don't want to be without them much of the time. So, yeah, we are a bit co-dependent.
I've posted in different threads about going for walks. I've come from being absolutely insistent that I absolutely could not go for a walk to walking daily for the past three or four weeks. I think exercise is important, and you will hear me say it often. I think there a physical benefits from walking, and I think it is helpful in lifting mood. I will admit, however, that walking has become more something that I choose to do, rather than something I enjoy. I do it because of the benefits I feel I'm receiving from it, but rarely does it bring me real pleasure. Perhaps some aerobic exercise that gets the heart rate up and releases endorphins would produce noticeable benefits - maybe I'd actually come away happy.
When I was walking today, I felt as if everything I have struggled so hard for for the past few months was going out the proverbial window. It seemed as if every negative, damning thought was bouncing around in my brain. I felt the weight of the hopelessness that I experienced two months ago, but managed to move away from, albeit ever so slowly. My first inclination was to think that I needed more medications. Why do I think more medications is always the answer is what I countered with. Maybe it's something else I need more of: more courage, more social interaction, more counseling, or more exercise. So, onward I pushed for another lap around, my body lapping up the benefits while my mind furiously protested.
When I arrived home, my mind seemed to have changed gears. I was proud that I had gone for a walk for yet another day. I was in my home, isolated and safe from the big, scary world.
I've been blogging about interesting topics the past few days, but not today. I just want to write about what is going on. I was fully prepared to be home alone for Christmas for the first time in at least ten years. There may have been a Christmas or two where I had to celebrate the day before or after, but never without someone special to share it with. There is an open invitation to a restaurant for anyone who isn't celebrating Christmas, or has no place to go and wants to go. I am considering going because I think it is a no-pressure situation. I would prefer to spend Christmas with someone to whom I am close, but I don't have that option.
The past two mornings, I've wished I could just go on sleeping, but I can't. I wake up and I can't go back to sleep. It probably is a good thing that I can't go back to sleep because I think I might start to sleep away all my troubles. Anyway, I have such dread of facing the day. I have had the dread longer than just the two days, but before I would just get up, grab up all my courage and depression-fighting tools, and face it. Maybe not fighting it is just as good as fighting it.If depression is a bully, do I want to walk around the neighborhood afraid that the bully is going to jump out from an alley?
I got a daily affirmation email today that said, "The last place we tend to look for healing is within ourselves." I have been so miserable that I have looked into every method, technique, quote, food, exercise, supplement, and medication for help. I think I've done everything but look at how I feel and why. When I feel bad, I go looking for some word of wisdom or advice. I go looking for something, anything, that will make me not feel this way. Maybe the answer is inside me. Maybe there is something that I need to allow my "self" to tell me. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with asking for help. I'm not denying the importance of eating healthy, exercising, etc etc. Okay, this is starting to go the way of "lesson."
This holiday feels crummy. Where are the people ringing my phone, maybe invite me to a party, or just check on me? Where are the knocks on the door? Where is a simple Christmas card? I feel sad and lonely. Yes, it would be better to NOT feel this way, but what is best for me: to not feel, or to be able to discover what makes me feel the way I do? I've tried to be positive about Christmas, but as prepared as I may think I am, I might fall apart. I might suffer from the worst loneliness yet. I might have to resist beating myself up over thoughts of "what is wrong with me" and "why doesn't anyone love me." All I can do right now is take it moment to moment.
Edit: It is a daily battle between not desiring to be social and isolating myself, and feeling lonely and wanting company and comforting.
I can't believe I'm already blogging again. In my last blog, I was talking about going for walks. I came back from my walk a little while ago frustrated and down on myself. The entire time almost I kept having these guilt feelings. I knew what the guilt feelings centered around, but I couldn't pinpoint anything that I had actually done wrong that I should feel guilty for. I have been aware for a while that there is a healthy guilt that causes us to make good choices and do hurtful things , and then there's unhealthy guilt that doesn't allow for mistakes. I was experiencing the latter, but I don't know what the mistakes were that I perceive that I made. It is almost as if my brain tells me that if I made any decisions at all, they were wrong.
There are studies (Google depression and guilt) that indicate that depression and guilt are strongly related, and that non-depressed people link specifics to their guilt, while depressed persons blame themselves for everything. It is not clear whether the depression causes the guilt, or whether guilt causes depression.
It is so interesting how so many things are tied to depression. When people think that being "depressed" just means feeling blue for a little while, they have no idea. It is as if depression takes over your brain, influencing every part. Thankfully, these areas of the brain that make depressed people feel abnormal guilt are able to learn, which means we can work on changing the way we think.
I just wanted to write about this because I thought it might help me not to beat myself up over guilt that I am having that is most likely not justified in the first place.
I have been trying for two months to get more sleep in the morning hours. I was going to purchase a sleep mask to help me block out light from the street lights and the sun in the morning. Someone mentioned using a soft t-shirt to cover their eyes, so I did that, and I also have used a dark bandana. It works for keeping the light out, but the bigger problem is keeping the thoughts out.
I had a discussion with a family member about having a tough time in the beginning of the day. I was told that I am having bad days because I think I am going to have a bad day, so then I say I'm going to have a bad day. I need to tell myself that I am going to have a good day. I see the logic in it, and I am not totally disagreeing, but I think it is more than just saying it. There has to be some belief, some hope, that I really can have a good day. However, when your depression interferes with getting restful sleep and you wake early, then struggle with ruminating until you finally just get out of bed in frustration, it is not as simple as saying I'll have a good day. I wish it was that simple. It would be the easiest thing to think the day will be bad, but to say that the day is going to be good. The key to achieving something that is close to reality is to be prepared to have negative thoughts and feelings, but also be prepared to counter the negativity. I have adopted recently the idea of being prepared for something, but not expecting it. For example: I prepare for becoming anxious by learning to recognize distorted thoughts, physical symptoms, and knowing how to control breath to calm myself; however, I don't go to bed telling myself that I am going to wake up anxious. Anticipating anxiety only causes more anxiety for me. The worst thing I can do is to feel as if I am going to have a bad day, then beat myself up for having those feelings. Depression speaks to me with negativity; just as I have to believe that I am going to have a good day, I also have to believe I'm going to have a bad day. If depression says, "You are going to have a bad day," you can choose to accept (believe) it, or you can defy (choose not to believe it). This is different than the "positive thinking" that promote. Is it better to say something positive than something negative? Probably, but does that make it so because you say it? Thinking positive has to be grounded in reality. I can feel as if I am going to have a bad day because I feel bad and because my thoughts are negative, and I can say that I feel like I'm going to have a bad day; that doesn't make my day bad. What makes my day bad is if I ignore positive aspects of it and only focus on the negative. Bad things happening do not make a day bad.
I am saying this as much to myself as to anyone who may read this. It is not easy to close our ears to, and turn our backs on, the damning messages that depression feeds us. Sometimes I think I'm never going to feel better. It is a struggle to feel that I could have more good days than bad. It is a struggle to keep doing things that don't always allow me immediate results because I have faith that it will make a difference down the road. For at least the past two weeks I have been taking walks. It was suggested to me that I should do so, and I also read that exercise can be beneficial for depression. The idea of going for a walk angered me; how can I go for a walk when I can barely move. The world outside these walls seemed scary, and I just wanted to hide. Then I started hearing and reading that if one is depressed, he should do the opposite of what depressions says to do. I finally was able to coax myself out of the house for a walk. I was miserable! I am not exaggerating. It wasn't difficult physically, but internally I felt as if I was being dragged unwillingly along. It took a day or two before I was able to convince myself to try again. It was not much different. I was miserable, and instead of noticing the trees or the sunshine, all I could focus on were the negative, anxiety-producing thoughts going through my mind. Even though I felt no benefit from walking, I would always tell myself that at least I did it. Understand, that at the time I began walking, I felt hopeless. I could find no pleasure in anything. I felt as if my life was over.
I read something about hopelessness. Two things stood out:
Hopelessness is the most severe of all the other: depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, etc. Feelings of hopelessness are your greatest enemy. Overcoming them is of immense importance. Most suffering can be endured if you can foresee that eventually things will get better. I hung on to the belief that if I could keep doing these small things (well, they didn't always seem small) and putting one foot in front of the other (I know that sounds cliche) that eventually things would get better. Things have gotten better. Are things perfect? No. It seems like so little has changed when measured against my high expectations of myself. I can report that I don't have the heavy, debilitating feelings of hopelessness that I had months ago. Do I ever feel hopeless? Yes. However, I can now recognize it for what it is - a distorted thought. I can see lots of evidence that things are not hopeless. Even as I write this, I fear that I might fail and fall. This is not a message of 'I have arrived,' but a message of hope that things can change.
I read a few posts and a blog with the topic of perfectionism, so I decided to see if there was a strong link between being depressed and anxious. Turns out there is. As one website noted, perfectionism might seem like an admirable trait, but in reality it can be harmful. What better to egg on depression and anxiety than trying to live up to some unattainable standard. Could it be that the reason I struggle in the daytime with depression and anxiety is because subconsciously I am aware that daytime is when many people are at their jobs? (I know that many people work late shifts, too, but it's just my theory for myself.) Not feeling like I'm living up to my full potential or any potential at all would give me cause to react to daytime hours (when my mind perceives that people work) and not in the evening or at night (which is when people return home from work). It "could" be many things, and this is just a theory.
In the articles I was reading it suggested acknowledging and praising yourself for small achievements. That is something that I have tried to get into the habit of, because I tend to see things that I do in two categories: how big was the thing I achieved, and how does it compare to what others do/did.
I want to blog something because I think it will help, but every time I try, I think what's the use. I feel as if every thing I've tried to do to help myself has gone out the window. It hasn't really, because writing is one thing I do and I'm doing it, so....
Most days I've had courage, but today I am dis-couraged. I'm going to try to recognize my small victories today. It's really about putting one foot in front of the other, but sometimes I put myself down because I didn't run instead. I know that I can't get from A-Z without going from A-B first. I am going to do my best to find the good things about myself instead of focusing on the bad. I'm going to try to be kind to myself. Just as I wouldn't judge or ridicule another for struggling, I will not judge or ridicule myself.
Today, I was having a difficult time remembering and applying all the positive, helpful things that I have been learning individually and as a part of this forum. At some point, I stopped myself and recognized that I was falling into the same habits or patterns of dealing with the things that were concerning me as I had always done; and by that I mean doing and thinking things that didn't work. The first thing I decided to do when I realized I was letting concerns eat away at me and allowing negative thoughts to infiltrate my mind, was to do a guided meditation (I never in a million years thought I would ever use meditation). Right in the middle of my meditation, I received a phone call that relieved a huge stressor that I had from last evening until this morning (okay, it was a negative that it interrupted my meditation, but still....). I returned to my meditation afterward.
I will always have things that will likely cause me anxiety. How I deal with them is the important thing. Although it was difficult, and I was frequently distracted with thoughts, I did meditation because I feel that it has helped me. I could have chosen to examine the thoughts I was having about my situation and the people involved and see if my thoughts were distorted, or if they had any basis in reality. I might have chosen to go for a walk to relieve the stress, or to be able to think clearly. I could have chosen a number of things to do. I had a number of tools that I could have chosen to use to help me through my (in my mind at least) difficult situation. Before I learned some coping techniques, I had no options but to let anxiety or depression take me where ever it wanted me to go. (I'm not going to say that I don't still do that on many occasions, because it is a process.)
What came to my mind was self-defense. If you've had a self-defense class, and you find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself, you will most likely have a variety of choices of how to respond, depending on the situation. Perhaps you'll know whether to flee, stand up to the danger, or yell for help, or whatever it may be. Had you not learned these skills, you may or may not have known what to do. You might have reacted in a way that made the situation worse. But because you had learned these skills, you had options. You weren't overtaken by the situation because you remembered what had worked in the past.
Disclaimer: I am not implying that I have arrived. I am still learning. I admit I allowed some actual events, as well as some "what if's" and some "all or nothing" thinking to carry me away to a bad place. Even as I am writing this, I am fighting against negative, distorted thoughts that want me to abandon all my hopes. I am glad that I have those tools available to me (including DF) that help me recognize and cope with the problems at hand.
A thought struck me recently. Why does depression make us choose the opposite of comfort?
For some reason, when I think of being in the sunshine, going for a walk, going to a concert, or being around people I feel repulsed. It's not as if I say, "I want sunshine more than anything, but I just can't bring myself to go outside," or "I want to go for a walk more than anything, but I just can't do it." I don't even desire to do it. A better example might be chocolate cake. It's one thing to want a piece of chocolate cake, but have to refuse it because you are on a diet. You would say that you would love a piece of chocolate cake, but you just can't have it. The problem is when you don't even want the chocolate cake! Not only don't you want the chocolate cake, you would rather eat something nasty instead. If you are cold, would you want a warm blanket or a sweater, or would you rather someone made you colder? If you were hot you would find a cool place or drink a cold beverage, not go to some place hotter and drink hot cocoa.
If there is one thing I've learned, it is that depression causes you to do the opposite of what is best. I don't know whether I don't choose the best for myself because I am afraid that I will improve, afraid I won't improve, or because I don't feel that I deserve good things in my life. Those are messages that depression sends to me - you're not good enough and you don't deserve to be happy.
I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm repeating myself, but this seems to be the thing I am struggling the most with recently. Every day from when I wake up until late afternoon, I have the biggest struggle with depression and anxiety. Initially, I was more anxious. Then I was given medication for anxiety and depression, and the anxiety got better, but the depression seemed to kick up a couple of notches. However, I am able to deal with everything better in the late afternoon until night. I explained that more a couple of blogs back.
I explained to someone what my life was like right now, and he said it was like the movie Groundhog Day. Yesterday, I was reading some things online about depression, and again someone mentioned the movie. It really does seem like the same thing every day. I wake up, fight off the thoughts running through my mind, toss and turn, get up, make breakfast, eat, write in my journal, look at post on DF and reply if I feel like, read daily affirmations, meditate (though lately I've slipped with doing that), find some chore to do so that I don't feel bad about doing nothing, and just try to get through the rest of the morning until lunch. Then, I eat, go for a walk in the park with the dogs, come home, and struggle through the rest of the afternoon. I always look forward to dinner. I eat, and it is usually dark out by then, and I realize that I made it through most of another day. I look forward to going to bed. Then, I watch t.v. or go online. I'm always glad when bedtime comes. I usually am able to go to sleep easily (the days are tiring just trying to get by). I go to bed, then wake up and start all over again. Every days seems like the day before. Maybe the days are getting better. Maybe they are just so long and tiring that they don't seem to change.
EDIT: Today, I talked with my sister about this topic. I told her how frustrating it is the first part of the day. She told me that if I say I'm going to have a bad day, I'm going to have a bad day. She said I need to say I'm going to have a good day. If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested that. I don't go to bed saying or hoping that I am going to have a bad day. I don't wake up and say I'm going to have a bad day. I wake up and fight for it. Whether it is something chemical in my brain, or my inability to change the way I think, it is something that is happening to me, not something I'm causing. Why would I choose it?
For some time now, I have been waking up in the mornings, and I haven't been able to go back to sleep. I toss and turn for a while, and then I get up. I had done some searching online and found that there is what is called morning depression and morning anxiety. I have had both. I know that anxiety and depression often overlap, so I suppose one (anxiety) just turned into the other (depression). Anyway, I went online this morning to find out more about why I am having such heavy depression in the morning that tapers off (but doesn't go away) at night.
I found some of the same explanations I had discovered before: low blood sugar, sleep posture, illness, or a sleep disorder. However, another explanation resonated stronger with me. When I wake up in the morning, it is a rude awakening. Sleep was the only thing peaceful that I got to experience, and now it's over. The first thoughts in my mind are all the things I face, and how I am going to make it through the day. It is difficult to wake up with a positive outlook when you spend entire days just getting by. When I am dealing with depression, it's all about trying to survive. The most frustrating thing is the inability to wake up and imagine all the wonderful things I'm going to do that day.
I think the reason I start to feel better in the late evening and night is because I have gotten through most of the day (the one I didn't know how I was going to get through,) and I have sleep to look forward to.
But, then the rude awakening.
Let yourself be
Unburden yourself from the limitations you've borrowed from others. And let yourself be. Empty your mind of the fears, doubts, worries and distractions that have built upon each other. And let yourself be.
This moment is filled with every possibility. All that you need to live it fully is already yours.
Look past the noise and turmoil of your thoughts. Be at peace with what is now, and see that peace as it spreads far beyond you.
Let any resentment, anger or disappointment from the past dissolve into nothingness, never to return. Let any anxiety or worry about the future melt away.
Now is where you can make a positive difference. Now is when you can let yourself be.
-- Ralph Marston
Source: Motivational Thoughts
Last night, I had no trouble falling asleep. One thing that I have done is not to have a television in the bedroom. I watch television, and then I go to bed. Occasionally, I play relaxing music to help me fall asleep; other times I like quiet. Since I became really depressed, I have been able to go to sleep most nights without problems, but I wake up in the early morning, unable to go back to sleep. Many times the reason I can't fall back to sleep is because of a number of anxiety-causing thoughts that go through my mind. However, I often have dreams of doing repetitive tasks that seem to last the entire night. Even if I wake up and then go back to sleep, I continue to have the same dream. I went searching for what could cause dreams of repetitive tasks. One explanation is that it is caused by doing repetitive tasks before going to bed, either at work or home. I don't do anything that repetitive. I found a website that said recurring or repetitive dreams could be caused by depression. Obviously, if I am depressed my sleep patterns are altered, but why do I dream in repetitive themes. The dreams are strange. For example, the dream might be that I have to look at paperwork and find all the words that have the letter A in them. That is similar to what I dreamed last night. I even consciously try to make myself think of something else, but as I start to doze off, the same repetitive theme returns.
I was really agitated and annoyed this morning when it was time to get up because I knew I didn't sleep as well as I wanted. However, I was glad that I didn't feel as much anxiety as I often do in the morning (not until later, anyway). After breakfast, I sat down to type into my journal. After a few minutes, I went into another room and I noticed squiggly lines in front of my right eye. Usually when I've had those, it has been followed by a migraine. I seldom have them anymore, and also one of my medications is also used for treatment of migraines, so I figured it probably wasn't a migraine, but just an anomaly caused by a light bulb or something. I think it was a migraine, albeit a mild one.
It was cold here in Florida. For those that live in colder climates, you would probably find it laughable that I call fifty degrees cold. However, when you are used to December days being in the seventies or warmer, a fifty degree day with wind and no sunshine feels cold. I am from a state that has cold winters, and normally it wouldn't bother me. In fact, I would welcome the cold, because it makes the holidays feel more like the holidays. But, when you don't feel good, your head hurts, you are sleepy, and you don't have the motivation to move around and get yourself warm, the cold is not appreciated. So, as I sat bundled up, trying to warm my cold feet (this house isn't the most energy efficient and tends to feel chilly), my anxiety started to rise. I couldn't seem to remember anything to do to help myself feel better, and when I did remember, I didn't want to do them. I just wanted to rest. However, my mind and my body had other ideas. My mind wanted to race, and my body wanted to ache.
I struggled over whether or not to post on DF. I feel so selfish sometimes. There are so many people that are struggling so much more than me. I can't tell you how many times I have written something to post, only to delete it. Maybe I need to post it, knowing that someone is going to read it, whether they reply or not. There is comfort in that. Someone listened. Maybe it is not the same as telling someone face to face and being able see that they are listening, but still you are being listened to. Sometimes I read posts, and I don't know what to say, or I feel as if anything I have to say is inadequate. Sometimes I don't understand. Sometimes I am so wrapped up in myself that I want relief, but I am unable to give relief. Many days I try to respond to posts because it takes the focus off of me, and it makes me feel better to help someone else. Other days I read the posts and everyone is struggling with issues, and what I really want to read is that someone is getting better; I want to see someone's hard fought efforts paying off. I am not putting down anyone on DF. I post a good plenty myself, and most of it is about struggle. I know that sharing in struggle is about healing as well.
Yesterday was not without its struggles, but at the end of the day, it was also full of tiny victories. Then, I wake up in the morning, and its as if someone pushed the reset button, and it's time to start the process over again. Not only do I have a mental and emotional battle to fight, I also have a physical battle on top of it. I know that what makes a day good or bad isn't so much what happened, but how we handle what happens. Some days are filled with major challenges that I rise to, and others are empty of any real challenges, yet I am brought down. There is a constant war in the mind. One part of me says rest from your struggles, take it easy, allow yourself to heal, and forget if everything around you is not perfect; the other part of me says that I should be doing this or that, or that I need to work a little harder at overcoming my depression: taking a walk, being busy, and moving on in spite of it all.
I wish there was some moral to all of this that I could package up all nice and tidy. There isn't. Some days you look in your tool kit and you find the tools you need to make the best life you can for yourself. Other days, you just want to slam the lid on the tool kit and pretend it doesn't exist.