Month: January 2015

depression hurts *blank* can help

We all remember those Zoloft commercials, “depression hurts, Zoloft can help” and they have that very sad looking circle be bopping along…The other day I was reading some articles about how this or that can cure depression. It also happened that I was in a depressive (I have dysthmia) episode and I was talking to my husband about how much crap that is. Nothing can cure depression. Things can help it but there is no cure. In certain articles depression is viewed as a thing someone chooses, that it is just like any other sickness. One will get over it in a few days, it isn’t a big deal. Now, I believe everyone will experience the kind of “feeling blue depression” at one point in their life, but there is a difference between that and clinical depression or a form of depression where one needs to seek treatment.

First, let us start off with the different types of depression (Webmd and NIMH):

  1. Major Depressive Disorder
  2. Persistent Depressive Disorder, sometimes known as dysthmia
  3. Bipolar Disorder (though I view this as a different disease all together)
  4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  5. Psychotic Depression
  6. Postpartum Depression
  7. Atypical Depression

*The first two are the major ones, the other ones develop under unique situations*

Today, I want to mainly focus on the first two because those are the most common and also seem to be the most misunderstood.  According to the ADAA  approx 40 million adults suffer from a form on an anxiety disorder while of that about 6.8 million adults suffer from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). Major Depressive Disorder affects 14.8 million adults/year and 3.3 million adults suffer from Persistent Depressive Disorder/Dysthmia. It is also not unusual for a form of depression to have a co-existing disorder such as but not limited to: bipolar, eating disorders, PTSD, IBS, fibromyalgia, sleep issues, chronic pain, substance abuse or alcohol abuse, adult ADHD.

From facts let us move on to biologically what goes on:

We all know that it is a chemical imbalance, but what about the other biological factors? The limbic system (regulates emotions, sexual drives, stress responses), the hypothalmus (regulates temperature, appetites, and regulates the pituitary gland), and the hippocampus, all can get out of wack and mess with hormones and regulation. The neurotransmitters can also not transmit signals to parts of the brain correctly, again causing deregulation. All of this together, combined with certain genetics, can cause one to have depression. Also, when one experiences a traumatic event it can trigger a portion of the brain, possibly a part of the limbic system, to not function properly. For a more in depth look at depression please check out the NIMH website here

Medicine and therapy are the best way to manage depression. Since it is a chemical imbalance, we need the medicine to help us make those chemicals. There are natural ways to help depression but they do not fix the problem. It is important to understand that when articles are being published saying, “fix depression the natural way”, “your diet is causing depression”, “eat this and fix your depression”, etc…Now, I am very into natural medicine and herbs, I really don’t like to take medicine but there are times when it is needed. The list below are some natural aids that can help make your depressive days better. Again, like most treatment programs, what works for one does not work for another. It is also important to remember that it is very important to talk to a healthcare professional if you think you have any symptoms of depression or to find a program that works for you.

Natural Aids to help your Medicine and Treatment Programs

*Holy Basil

        -I use this regularly in tea form. Of many things I have tried, this has really been beneficial to my medication.  It is also called Tulsi. IAs tea you will find it as pure tulsi, or be blended with other herbs. Holy Basil also makes for a great tincture to put in water. For more info on tulsi click here

*Exercise

       -Another aid I use regularly. Cardio is the most effective, but any form of exercise releases endorphins that can promote happy feelings. Ever heard of “runners high” or experienced it? Then you felt endorphins! just a minimum of 30 minutes can have major effects on depression.

*Cashews

       -I still don’t know how I feel about this, though I do enjoy cashews. Research is still iffy but I figured it was worth mentioning. I haven’t felt instantly happier after eating cashews like I do with Tulsi, but I do love the nutrition of a cashew!

*SAMe

         -An over the counter medicine, it has been available in the US since 1999 but has been studied in other countries. It is said to help parts of the brain and  make more of certain bodily nutrients that we already make. For an investigative article click here

*Meditation

         -I did not meditate till I started teacher training, and wow! I can definitely tell a difference on days I meditate and days I do not. I have also talked to some other friends who have depression or bi-polar and said meditating helped them a lot. One can just google depression and meditation and multiple scholarly articles come up.

*Acupuncture

          -Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that uses special needles to open energy channels which can heal the body. I have also used acupuncture and it was amazing! Again, many people turn to this aid and have seen great improvements in their depression/anxiety. Here is another great overview acupuncture and depression.

*Magnesium

        -This is a nutrient that our body needs. Magnesium helps with the biochemical reactions that happen in our body. Taking magnesium, like holy basil, help alleviate the symptoms of stress. For more info on magnesium and the brain read this fascinating article.

*Yoga

       -Last but not least the great and powerful YOGA! Yoga combines meditation and exercise. Yoga has been used for many many years to help individuals who have depression among other mental health issues. There are certain asanas in yoga along with certain breathing techniques that can calm one down and help the mind-body connection. Within the realm of yoga there are certain styles of yoga that can help even more than traditional Hatha yoga. Give yoga nidra or restorative yoga a try 🙂

~~~~~

Are there any other natural aids that you use that I forgot to mention?

How do you manage your depression?

images

 

Sources:

allaboutdepression.com

ADAA/Anxiety and Depression Association of America

WebMD

NIMH/National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Weil

Advertisements

For Two Are Better Than One

Today marks 2 years of married life. It seems like much longer, probably because the hubs and I will be coming up on 5 years of being together in March. So much has happened to us within these 5 years/2 years of marriage that it has been a wild ride.  In the course of these two years we have: birthed a furbaby (love our Winston!), found a church home, moved to a new location, fought, love each other, sit in therapy, continue to support each other, develop better forms of communication, battle my ED together, and better yet: see some of our best friends get married.

I am not going to be one of these wives who say that marriage is great, lovely, filled with unicorns and daisies. In fact, when I got engaged most people told me that marriage is not that but this: work, hard work, tiring, a new way of life. They were and still are right. All of this reminds me of our wedding. We did this activity called Keys to a Happy Marriage. We had our guests write advice on antique keys and put them on a key tree. Here is some of the advice that was written: never go to bed angry (this was over 50% of the keys, and very very important), when you can’t agree on an answer pray because God will always find the answer that is best for you two, always think of the other, always remember “Yes Dear” (we got multiple of those too), happy wife happy life, listen and understand each others needs, put the Lord first, each for the other both for Christ, have a date night once a week, keep it naughty, if you aren’t first you’re last (epic I know!), anything worth having takes time, don’t stop believing (don’t we have great friends?), cook dinner together, pick and choose your  battles, a cookie makes things right as rain (again, epic friends), practice patience, hold hands, practice forgiveness.

Here we are two years into marriage and we have gotten angry before bed but we talked about it before we went to bed even though it made us uncomfortable (we both hate being vulnerable). We continually believe in our marriage, and we do cook dinner together (even though we aren’t compatible in the kitchen). We may not always pick and choose our battles but we do eat cookies and drink wine together. We are still learning to be patient with one another which is difficult because that is not both of our strong suits. I am learning to keep it naughty (hah!), and I am learning to trust  that Jeremy will not lead me the wrong way. Everyday I practice giving up control, well loosening the reigns, and learning that I can’t always be in control. I pray for our marriage, I pray for Jeremy. I pray when things are right, when things go wrong, when I don’t know what to do.

All of this brings me back to what we made our vows about….being one another helpers. From the very very  beginning we helped one another. Jeremy helped me get the strength I needed to go into recovery. He supports my choices, and gives me the encouragement to face my fears and to be the best version of myself. I help him from being too serious all the time and help him let loose. Jeremy has taught me about communication, beer, and scotch. I have taught him about dance, yoga, and Reiki (hehehe).

Here is our Scripture/Sermon from our Wedding:

From the very beginning God created men and women to be each other’s helpers; it is not good for either one to go through life alone.  As it is written in the second chapter of Genesis, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and to keep it…Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. So the Lord Go caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. “At last!” The man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. She will be called woman because she was taken from man.” This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

When the two become one, a new life starts. The couple can then begin to help one another. When this holy union is formed, the two joined are strengthened. This is God’s Will . Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 states, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.”

Jeremy and Leslie, from the moment you say your vows and exchange rings, you become each other’s helper. You will help the other succeed. You will help lift them up when they fail or praise them when they are blessed. When the other is attacked, you will defend. By clinging to God and sharing the bond of holy matrimony, your bond will not be broken.

when it hurts…not you…but your loved ones

Happy New Year! Here is to a happy new you, and a year filled with blessing, love, and happiness. Namaste.

So that is all I am going to say about the new year. Right now I could write an entry about how I am going to make this year better than last, how I am going to continue to work through recovery, finally figure out what I am going to do with my life, or go in the direction towards my dream. But no, I am not going to write on that. Why? Because recovery is a full time job, I will never know what I am going to do with my life (only God knows and directs), and he points me in the direction of my dreams. So I want to write on how mental health/depression/addictions/ED’s etc…can hurt not just you but those who you love most.

When you are in the depths of your disease (insert your addiction, mental illness, or combo) you are not aware of the damage you are doing. Not only are you doing damage to your own body, but you are damaging others. But you cannot see the damage because you are in delusion that your disease can hurt you because it is your friend; and you definitely cannot see the damage it does to your loved ones because you are selfish. Yes, I said it. Selfish. Your disease is all about you. Your disease is about surviving, hiding, and internally dying;while it is telling you that you are living, thriving, and being beautiful.  Your disease does not see outside of your own mind it cannot see that with every lie, every drink, every purge, every opportunity to numb yourself, that it hurts your parents/boyfriend/girlfriend/best friends. This awareness of outside damage does not occur until one begins to do the work of recovery and their mind starts to think clearly. Even then there are chances that you will still hurt those you love.

One of the first people we hurt are our parents. Our parental relationship is probably most difficult relationship to grow and nurture in our lives even if we don’t have a disease. I remember when I was really deep in the pits of my ED that they constantly hurt me. I found out they were talking about me behind my back, talking about my extreme weight loss, and mood  swings. So I got upset. I got mad at them which drove me into a deeper pit of purging and resenting them because instead of helping me seek treatment they talked to others and tried to force me to eat or make me gain weight. I thought they didn’t love me. But after many sessions in therapy I realized they did love me, it is just that they didn’t know how to deal with the situation. How could they? No one they knew had an ED. They didn’t know how to help, they felt just as helpless as I did. When they would see me hurt myself, they would hurt because they didn’t know what to do. Now, many years later I have made amends and can put myself in their place. I know if I was to have a daughter or son who had a disease  it would hurt me too. So, for those of you out there who haven’t made amends with your parents, meditate and pray about it. They do care about you but most of the time they don’t know how to help themselves let alone help you. Just like it hurts God when we hurt ourselves, it hurts them when we hurt ourselves. They love regardless and parents will always be there.

The next relationship that we can hurt the most is the one we share our life with. For me it is my husband. I still hurt him even though I have been in recovery for some time and he was the one who helped me get help and has sat through many therapy sessions with me. Marriage is difficult. It is filled with compromise, unconditional love, loving another more than yourself, and giving. I think that when I am in a relapse or having a depressive episode there is nothing I hate more than when I see my husband being helpless because he can’t help me. Lately I have been experiencing this more than anything else. My depression and the lovely *not* Melvin has been really prevalent in my life as of late and it has seeped into my marriage life. I have been laying in bed to depressed to move, eating nothing but cereal, and shutting down in my communication, withdrawing (unfortunately, it is a skill I have mastered whether well). I didn’t even enjoy my favorite holiday season, Christmas. While I am in the midst of this, I can see the pain I bring my husband. The helplessness in his eyes because he loves me unconditionally and there is nothing he can do. When I see that in his eyes, it actually makes me wanna get better and climb out of my little abyss of depression and bowls of cereal. Because I love him more than I love myself and definitely love him more than Melvin.

Deep down I am a lover. A let us all sing peace, love, and kumbaya individual. The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt someone. Here is where recovery comes in. Once we have tasted recovery and cleared our mind to find our inner selves all we want to do is be better. Be the best versions of our selves we can be because we know what it is like to be the worst version of our self. So to be the best version of our self we need to be aware of the potential hurt and pain we can cause those we love.

When you find yourself to blue to get out of the bed or found yourself on your fifth bowl of cereal and you see the pain in your loved ones eyes;remember how far  you have come. That you have tasted love and know that there is someone else who loves you more than you can imagine. Give into that supporting relationship’s hugs and kisses. They can be the one who sends you down that ladder to climb out of that abyss.

Quotation-S-Kelley-Harrell-support-healing-Meetville-Quotes-208416