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Major Depression - How to Cope?


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#1 barefut

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:15 PM

Hey Everyone ~

I have coped with depression off and on for most of my life but as you can imagine it got much worse since having to deal with my scleroderma. It is one of my most challenging hurdles. I am seeing a mental health counselor and am on antidepressants and I've been using my "happy light".

Other things I've done and or tried to help beat the blues:
Music
Forcing myself outside
Petting my dog and cat
Meditation
Baking

Does anyone else suffer from major depression? What do you do for yourself? I am wondering if hypnosis would work and how expensive that might be? What about self-hypnosis?

#2 Margaret

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 01:12 PM

Hi Barefut ,

Yes, Gareth has had horrible issues with major depression since diagnosed with scleroderma/UCTD. The hardest part for me is trying to decide if it's depression related or something else is going on. We were told to get the *blue bulbs* for ceiling lights and one of those fluorescent bulbs for by the table, to simulate sunshine. I don't think they help any!!! He's also taking an SSRI but we can't raise the dosage above 10 mg/day due to side affects.

It's hard, Lady!!! I'll keep you in my thoughts.

Take care, Everyone.
Margaret

#3 Joelf

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:24 PM

Hi Barefut,

Thankfully, I've never really experienced major depression (the term "happy idiot" probably describes me best!! ;) :lol: ) but I can understand that it must be very debilitating and miserable for you and I'm sorry to hear that you've been going through a bad spell.

I've found that a good mood enhancer is exercise; the old endorphins get going once I'm exercising at the gym, tuned into my favourite music, surrounded by lovely people, which never fails to raise my spirits (sadly the same can't be said for the other gym members, when I insist on singing along to my best loved tracks! :blush: :rolleyes: ) I find music very uplifting anyway; I have a couple of very upbeat songs from the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas which I really enjoy. Watching much loved old films also cheers me up; it doesn't necessarily have to be a comedy and it doesn't matter how many times I've seen it (very often I know the dialogue by heart and could stand in for any of the cast! :P ) Also I can agree with your suggestion that you pet your dog and cat; I have a cocker spaniel with the softest, longest ears and a labrador whom we love very much! :wub:

I've included a link for you to our page on Scleroderma and Alternative Therapies which includes Hypnosis and there is an interesting link to information from the Mayo Clinic on Hypnosis which I hope you'll find helpful.

I've never tried a "happy light" but I can imagine that it could be beneficial during the winter months, especially in the UK where we seem to get dull, wet weather most of the time (including summer! :( )

I do hope that you soon feel better and that the sessions with your counsellor and antidepressants improve things for you.

:emoticons-group-hug:

Kind regards,

Jo Frowde
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#4 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 07:09 PM

Hi Barefut,

That's an interesting question. It's my understanding that you should discuss this with your mental health professional. It is important to be sure that you would be a good candidate for it and that you consult an excellent hypnotherapist. It's possible your counselor may even be able to provide the hypnotherapy, to make sure it is done in a way that is complementary to your existing regimen.

I've been hypnotized several times by a previous mental health counselor, and it was very beneficial for me. I later extensively studied self-hypnotism, including its potential pitfalls, so that I could reduce my need for pain medication after a major surgery.

What I learned then is that our subconscious does not understand negatives, so it automatically ignores all negatives. "Don't worry" thus becomes a command to "worry" to our subconscious. I go somewhat batty when I hear people say "Don't Forget" because to our subconscious, it turns into a command to "Be sure to forget!".

Also, we can become closer to our emotions while hypnotized. More vulnerable, is the word I think I am looking for. So you want to make sure you can totally trust the person who is providing the therapy and that they will be mindful of your emotions. This is also why you do not want to do this yourself, until you are certain you are in safe territory, mussing around in the land closer to your more tumultuous feelings.

Many of us have been hypnotized hundreds, probably even thousands, of times without being aware of it. It is simply a state of intense concentration. It is not like being on drugs and going off into some la-la land. If you've ever been daydreaming so much while driving that you missed your exit, you were probably hypnotized by your own thoughts. Or if you're working (or drawing/painting/writing/whatever) and suddenly realize that you worked right on through lunch and now it's time to go home, and it is a shock to see how late it is, then you were essentially hypnotized, albeit probably not with any intention of self-improvement at hand.

So, first, discuss this whole topic with your mental health professional. See what they recommend and experience it with a trained professional. Please do not rush out into do-it-yourself land with this project, because it's not like a weekend home improvement project. Although self-hypnotizing is very easy, and can be learned very quickly, the concepts beneath it -- how our subconscious works, how our emotions work -- is far more complex and worthy of lots of consideration lest we do ourselves more harm than good.

I found your list of things you find helpful to be excellent. If you'll notice, they are all focused on the positive. Not one of them is "do not think sad thoughts", which in self-hypnosis land would be instructing yourself to "think sad thoughts!". It's hard for people to think positive even when they aren't depressed. Well, except for Jo maybe, I think she is a natural-born cheerleader, which is why we all find her so comforting to turn to. Anyway, kudos to you for finding all the ways you can to improve your spirits.

My tip would be not to look for happiness, thinking that it is an antidote to depression. Instead, look for ways to be useful and praise yourself whenever you do anything useful, because usefulness is the precursor to satisfaction, which is the precursor to happiness. Thus you can increase your satisfaction by telling yourself, "I was useful to the cat today, as I cleaned their litter and gave them a good petting!". Or, "I treated my body well today, when I brushed my teeth morning, and took that nap it needed." Or, "I was useful to the house this week, as I cleaned out a drawer!" At the end of the day, try to count several ways in which you were useful, to encourage your feeling of satisfaction.

Of course, with depression, you'll always be tempted to list out the ways in which you are use-less. So it can take an awful lot of determination to turn that around to use-full. So for the New Year, I am going to send you lots of wishes to be as Use-Full Thinking as you can manage, given the constraints of being ill and being human.

:emoticons-group-hug:
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#5 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 07:55 PM

I want to add that New Years seems to be a very difficult time for many of our Sclero Forums members. Please remember that each and every one of you mean the whole world to us. Together, we can pretty much make it through anything. You can draw strength from this gathering of your friends, even if you haven't posted a message here yet. You are still ever-present in our thoughts.

This is just one evening out of many. Last year is over and done with, along with all the foibles and embarrassments. We can wipe down our arms, gathering all our troubles along the way, and throw them out into the universe. Most of what we think we are feeling is just unnecessary drama. We don't really need to be quite so dramatic tonight, do we? Tomorrow is another day. Life can improve in a single moment. Maybe even the next one.

Sometimes loneliness can come home to roost on a long or boring holiday. We have all lost family members, friends, and loved ones either through death or separation. You are not alone and your sorrow is shared by us all. Many people mourn the year gone by, some because it was so chock full of joy that we don't want it to end, and others because it was a year we'd rather never have repeated again. If you feel mournful, remember that it is just another passing emotion. So feel it and let it pass.

If you are feeling more than just a passing drama, if you feel more desolate than that, please remember that whenever you feel at the end of your rope, it is considered to be a medical emergency. Call 911 (in the U.S.; emergency services elsewhere). Don't even think about it, just call right now, and tell them you need help right away. Don't even try to drive yourself to an emergency room because you don't need to be dodging drunks while you're already upset.

Many of us have been at the end of our rope -- for whatever reason, for no reason, or for many reasons. With just one phone call, we somehow found the strength to carry on, a reason to hang on to this life of ours. There is never any situation too grim for hope. We love you, we care, and we want to have you here with us.

If you feel this message in your heart, this message was meant for you. We care. You are not alone. Tomorrow is a new year. Tomorrow holds new promises. Whenever life feels too rough for you, just hang tight, until tomorrow.

:emoticons-group-hug:
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#6 Margaret

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 08:19 PM

Shelley ,

Thank you, for that insight and advice. I will start to encourage Gareth more often when he's really down....especially telling him how * I need you* to ......

Happy New Year to everyone and best wishes for ALL of us!!! :emoticons-clap: :emoticons-clap:

Magaret
Mom to Gareth, 24 years old, DS/ASD/OCD

#7 barefut

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:22 AM

Thank you so much for your advice and warnings regarding hypnosis Shelley. I would have never thought about some of that. I will ask my counselor for a referral to someone experienced.

Another thing I do to help myself is make "Ta-Da" lists at the end of the day instead of "To Do" lists at the beginning of the day. It feels much better to see what I HAVE DONE - even if it is just taking a shower and feeding the boys - rather than look at an overwhelming list of all I have to do and will never get done. Mind tricks work for the feeble minded! Ha-ha!

I also try my best to keep perspective and a sense of humor and let myself have a good cry when I need to. Letting go of what I cannot control is important. And the number one thing that helps me the most is being able to openly share my feelings with all my loving, caring friends here who make me feel hugged when I am feeling down.

#8 miocean

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:30 PM

Shelley,
Your post is very beautiful. You should save a copy of it and post it every year at the start of the holiday season. This year was especially hard for many of the people I know. For some reason, loss of loved ones years ago hit them very hard this year, and so many in my area lost homes and possessions from the hurricane that you can't go out to eat or to a shop without hearing a sad story of loss or frustration with dealing with it.

Barefut,
You are so lucky to have a group of caring friends. I find they are the best thing for depression. I tried hypnosis in the past for weight loss, can't say it worked or not. I think it is important to check anything out rather than jumping in it head first, as I learned with my experience of the "happy box." I know it is hard to do anything at all when you are depressed but I always really enjoyed your blogs (hint, hint) so maybe some creative writing might do the trick. If you are still suffering, even while seeing a mental health counselor, perhaps that person isn't the right one for you. Or maybe you have exhausted what that person can do for you and you may need to seek someone who can move you out of this down period. Just a thought.

Depression is so difficult to deal with. Unless you have been there you really don't understand it. You cannot just snap out of it and medications and various therapies don't always work right away so it could take a while before you see any results.

I hope you are feeling better already.

miocean
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#9 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:18 PM

Hi Barefut,

I really love your "Ta Da!" List!

:emoticons-group-hug:
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#10 judyt

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

Hello Barefut,
I was doing a little work in the garden yesterday, it is mid summer here and the roses needed dead heading, and I was thinking "Ta-Da" all the time I was there.

It is really too warm at the moment to work outside in the afternoon sun but we need some vitamin D so I put the dinner in the oven on auto at 5o'clock and thought "Ta-Da" now that is 2 things done. Dinner will be ready and the roses will be happier looking.

I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately because I don't seem to be able to recover any energy since I was in hospital last February, and now I have been diagnosed definitely with PBC and my SNS implant doesn't really make any difference so just being able to say "Ta-Da" occasionally does help.

Keep up the good work of being a Mum to those boys, when they are older and they look back and understand what you have done for them they will give you all the positive feed back you can cope with.

Best wishes
Judyt

#11 Sweet

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:30 AM

"Ta Da"! Love you Barefut xoxo
Warm and gentle hugs,

Pamela
ISN Support Specialist
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#12 barefut

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 09:20 AM

Shelley, Jo, Margaret, Miocean, Judy and Sweet ~


:emoticons-group-hug: :wub:

#13 nickisboi25

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:10 PM

Hi Barefut and Happy New Year!

The advice on here is amazing, hopefully I can contribute with my own experiences.

Last year was incredibly hard. I, like you, found myself very depressed and spent a good part of 2012 in counselling. As hard as it was (remember guys don't talk about their feelings and all that nonsense) it was the best thing I've ever done. Congratulations on seeing someone. :)

As I'm sure you know, it's really an ongoing battle. Even now I have really bad days. Sometimes the smallest things help. Do something that means something to you, no matter how stupid, small or insignificant it may seem.

Regarding hypnosis, I've never tried it but have you tried mindfulness techniques? I had CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and the aim is to make you your own therapist so to speak. If you haven't tried mindfulness ask your counselor about it next time. It can help you to zone out and focus more in depth on a particular subject.

All the best, we're all in this together!

#14 Margaret

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:20 AM

Hi Everyone,

Well, for what it's worth, Gareth's psychiatrist added another med (Wellbutrin), to his SSRI, due to the fact he's been slowly getting worse this past month. :( :( She said it's due to the holidays and seasonal depression. She told me that, unlike women, besides shutting down/withdrawal, men also show an increase in restlessness/irritability/anger issues......and, he sure has had those problems this past month. It's been the Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde persona lately. :(

Thank you, everyone, for all the insight to this. Like I have said before, I know that autoimmune issues can affect the brain, but it's helpful to read that others are struggling with this, too.

Take care, Everyone,
Margaret

#15 barefut

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:28 AM

Hi Nick ~

So nice to meet you! And congratulations to YOU for going to counseling. It's hard enough to make the decision to finally go and do it, then you have to actually get yourself out of the house. And I imagine it would be harder for a guy ;)

Thanks for the reminder/advice to do something meaningful for myself, even if it is small. Being a single mom I find that hard sometimes but when I do it is oh so rewarding - even if it is just splurging on a mocha.

I had something else in my head I wanted to say but now it is gone - sclero brain and constant interruptions from a 7 year old - I can't wait until school starts back up!

I WILL ask about CBT! Thank you! Looking foward to getting to know you better and sharing coping strategies.

Margaret ~

I know I've said this before but I have to say it again - Gareth is SO blessed to have you for his momma and even though he probably cannot express that to you, I know he knows it becuase you make him feel it. You make me wish you were MY mom!

#16 Margaret

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:23 PM

Thank you, Barefut, for the nice comment/support. I look over the fence to your side, though, and see how blessed your kids are for what you're going through and raising them by yourself. Give yourself a hug and pat on the back, Lady!!!

Hugs for everyone......... :emoticons-group-hug:

Margaret

#17 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:58 AM

Hello All

From my own experience I consider hypnosis and self hypnosis to be unhelpful and a waste of time. I am an advocate of counselling, if done properly it can be life changing and I would recommend it to anyone.

Music provides my means of escape, I plug in and cop out. I also find listening to the radio helpful provided it's not the news or current affairs, I try to avoid all that like the plague. I still know what's going on, don't get me wrong, but I am not disturbed by the constant barbs aimed at people on benefit, something encouraged by the current government, so they can slash the welfare bill without complaint. Anyways, I love my music and radio time, I just wish I could stay awake longer to have more time to enjoy it!

Live in the day, if you are feeling low you're prone to be overwhelmed so stay in the day, don't think about tomorrow until you're in it, each day has enough trouble of it's own without borrowing more from tomorrow. Also I am all about the treats! Treat yourself, whether something big and shiny or small and tasty, enjoy!

Take care.
Amanda Thorpe
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#18 KayTee

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:42 PM

Wow. Thanks everyone for all your insights.

After years of being a successful To Do list person I am now abdicating that list and starting the Ta Da.

Hugs all.
Kay Tee