What Worked For My Depression

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wow. I am so surprised and thankful for all of the amazing responses I received yesterday from my post about depression. Thank you. Seriously. Thank you all so, so much.

I haven't been shy about my issues on this blog, but I haven't written about them in a while. I'll try to do more of that kind of thing over here, but honestly, I've been doing pretty well. Just trying to work on the questions of mortality and life in general, but I may never find those answers.

Either way, the support has been so encouraging. A lot of you understand that depression isn't as easily cured as some will have you think. Reaching out may not save anyone. Talking to someone may actually make things worse. It's very hard to get out of your head when you are supposed to be able to trust your body. If you can't trust yourself, what do you have?

So I just want to say thank you. The comments, tweets, and messages were all outstanding, and I'm so grateful to have you all in my life. Things haven't always been peaches and cream over here, so I try to take some time every day to remember all the good in hopes of keeping away the bad. Hopefully it works.

I'd like to talk today about some of the things that really helped me during my short bout with depression. I can't honestly say if they helped it go away, but they were a shining light through the bad times. I refused any and all medication, and I did end up seeing a therapist three times. Other than that, here's what helped:

  • Watching comedy.
    Shows like New Girl and Modern Family made me laugh even in the dark. It was fairly mindless, so I was able to disconnect and focus on something else. This wasn't all the time, but more often than not, the TV shows worked. I'm certain a funny movie I'd already seen might have helped too, but this kind of thing doesn't work for everyone. I can say that going to a live comedy show did not make me feel any better, but that was more because of the anxiety of being in a large group of people and possibly having a panic attack. 
  • Not fighting it.
    The less I tried to hate myself for going through the depression, the less it affected me. The less I focused on it, the less it took over. Not by huge amounts, but the more I sat with it and tried to accept it more than push it out of my mind, the more I felt a bit better. This is probably why the comedy worked. It also worked for the panic attacks. The more you fear a panic attack, the more they'll control you. Try to let go, as the panic attack will not, in fact, kill you. Your body can handle everything about a panic attack. Trust it even when you think you can't.
  • Exercise.
    I'm thinking more like some yoga here would have been good, but trying to get up for walks around the block helped. However, getting myself off the couch or out of bed for a walk wasn't exactly easy. It's not like you feel able to walk down the stairs, and it's not like you're eating enough to support a cardio workout. But movement, even if it's just walking to the bathroom, reminds you that you're alive, even if you don't feel that way or want to be. 
  • Good food.
    When I was able to eat, I was eating fruits and veggies for the most part. That's basically by diet anyway, plus some grains, starches, and beans, but the better the nutrition, the more likely you'll start seeing the darkness fade. Makes sense, right? Also, I'd highly consider a gluten-free diet if you're battling depression.
Notice what's not on the list:
  • Reaching out for help.
  • Talking with loved ones.
  • Calling the Suicide Hotline.
  • Medication.
These are just some of the things I tried to do while working through my depression. I really only had two mad months of it, and it wasn't the whole two  months. It came and went, which sometimes I think was worse in a way. Every time I thought I was through it, it would eventually seep back in for a time. Maybe it wasn't worse, but it was pretty bad. I wouldn't wish what I went through on my worst enemy. EVER. 

In either case, I hope these posts find people who can use them. I am always here for anyone who needs to talk about their depression, anxiety, panic, etc. 

4 comments:

Selena Laurence said...

Hey Girl! First of all, I didn't comment yesterday, but I read. And kudos to you for telling your story, and yes, if it were as easy as "talk to someone" there wouldn't be suicide. There is no easy answer.

I don't go around blasting it, but I don't hide it either that I've got Fibromyalgia, which basically means my nervous system is kind of just all screwed up! I've had anxiety most of my life, and the physical pain finally came along to match the emotional pain. I'm lucky, and mine isn't anywhere near as bad as some have it, but I second your advice that exercise and diet are SO important. Will they fix everything? No. Will they help a whole hell of a lot? Yes.

And along with that I'd say, don't make an assumption about medications. No one wants to think they'll be on meds the rest of their lives, and there's a lot of talk about the possible negatives associated with meds. I'm not pro or con on meds. I know that when I was 38 years old with four young kids at home, and migraines that hadn't stopped for sixty days, panic attacks in the middle of the night, vertigo for no reason, pain throughout my body, and a part-time job to get to, I didn't have the luxury of waiting for meditation, yoga, diet, exercise, talk therapy, holistic intervention or whatever the hell else, to kick in. I needed help, I needed it bad, and I needed it fast. Meds gave that to me, and after a couple of weeks when I could get out of bed I bought an exercise bike, bought a share in a community agriculture farm so I'd have fresh veggies delivered to my house every week, and starting learning about what the hell was wrong with me.

The use of meds should really be dependent on your individual case, and like with diet and exercise, they aren't a cure all. You can't go taking pills and eat like crap and never exercise and expect to be well. It's a combination therapy, no matter who you are and what ails you emotionally. It's about finding the combination of things that work for you, and then sticking to them, committing to being well, understanding that there will be days you "flare" or "relapse" or just feel like hell because people do sometimes. None of that matters. What matters is that you find what works FOR YOU, and you do it. Day after day, month after month, year after year.

I've been living my life happy and successful WITH fibromylagia for eight years now. I raise kids, write books, run, bike, eat gluten-free, and have a happy marriage. I love my life, and I conquer my anxiety every single day. Thanks for telling others it can be done too Mickey!

Michelle Kampmeier said...

Selena,

Thank you for sharing your story with me! It's not always something we want to talk about, especially when we're happy. I know that yesterday sent me spiraling into some emotions I didn't want to visit again, but it was for the best.

I can definitely agree with you on the medication front. If I'd had to take care of kids, worry about my job, or really care about my house more than I had, I would have considered medication. But part of my problem (which I haven't talked about as much) was fear of death by ingesting things that would make me feel different than normal. It's a long story, and there are reasons why I don't talk about that part, but the medication scared me more than thinking I'd be on it forever.

I'm so glad that you have a fulfilling life now. Nothing is perfect, but we can make it close to that in our own ways. <3

Sinae Kallal said...

I didn't comment yesterday either...but there's so much I could say that I don't need to because you said it. I don't talk about it a lot, but I will with people that share the anxiety because I think mutual conversation helps at times. But publicly, on here, I'm still too chicken. I will say I've been so desperate before that I have tried meds. The kind that messes with your seratonin or some BS. They make me ill. My brain doesn't like it so my whole body suffers. Constant nausea. I instead will take situational anxiety meds, like xanax for times when I'm feeling particularly anxious. Not depressed. Some people think they go hand in hand but for me they are completely different. I applaud you for writing about this. It's brave. I also don't 'seek out help'. Tried that. It doesn't help because no one knows the inside of your head except you. You can talk to people about things and situations and feelings, but solution has to - HAS to - come from within you. And often you can't trust anyone but yourself. I don't like putting all my business out there either. Judgmemt could easily make me more depressed.
What have I done to help myself? You're right, exercise, amusement, DMB - those things make me feel better. Dave Matthews almost always can cure me. But biggest of all is something that isn't for everyone. I had kids. I live because I will never ever let them think they weren't worth living for.

Michelle Kampmeier said...

Sinae,

Thank you so much for coming here and talking to me about your anxiety. This is an open space, free of judgment. And I'm glad you're here. It's not an easy thing to talk about, and a lot of the time, I'm just too tired to talk about it. Or I'm so over talking about it at times too. I'm glad the depression isn't bad with you, and I'm glad the meds work for you. I have issues beyond the actual medication, and that's why I don't take it. That's my choice. But I also agree with what you've said, that the solution has to come from yourself. And I'm glad your kids provide you with a reason to stay positive. Music too! Yes, I agree. :o) But living well will, in the end, help.

Thank you again for sharing with us. <3

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