Nicole is doing 23 things including…

overcome depression

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Nicole has written 7 entries about this goal

Overcome Depression*

*This entry is for me to refer to if I ever fall into the abyss of depression again. Obviously, I am not a medical professional, so take from this what you find helpful and leave the rest.

My depression was so bad. Not many people know how bad it was. I shared some of it with a few people, but most of it I kept to myself because that’s how I am.

I remember being so proud of myself if I managed to get a shower. How desperately hard it was to go into a store and shop for groceries. I would sit outside in my car and try to work up the ability to go inside. I thought about suicide after I’d been on meds for…oh, about six months. I remember telling my shrink that the meds weren’t doing it on their own and that I obviously needed to find other ways to get myself out of the depression.

These are the other ways.

1. Exercise. This is hands-down the most important thing I had to do. I kept waiting for the anti-depressants to kick in and give me the motivation to start exercising. They never did, so finally I made myself exercise without the motivation. Funny thing, that. Motivation often follows action; it’s not always the other way around.

2. Eat healthy. There isn’t much that makes me fall into self-loathing faster than eating a boatload of crappy food. Of course self-loathing begets depression, which causes me to self-medicate with unhealthy foods. It’s a vicious cycle that is nearly impossible for me to stop once I get on it. How can I stop it? See #1, above.

3. Feed my spirit. This is commonly known as “taking care of yourself,” but those words don’t do it for me. To me, taking care of yourself means that you get a shower and eat when you’re hungry. Basic maintenance. Feeding my spirit, however, is a whole different ballgame. To me, that means you’re stepping into a realm that makes your heart sing, that creates great joy.

When I first heard this term, it was in Sonia Choquette’s book Ask Your Guides, and I had NO idea what fed my spirit. It stopped me in my tracks and I had to think about it for quite a while. How sad is that? I now have a list of things that feed my soul, and I make sure to do a few of them every day. Some things are simply a constant in my life now, like having fresh flowers in the house. Here’s my list for my reference and hopefully to help you come up with some ideas for yourself.

• Beautiful stones (crystals and agates and such)
• Good smells
• Reading
• Having an orderly home
• Music
• Tea in lovely cups
• Flowers
• The ocean
• Alone time
• The library
• Traveling to exotic locales
• Turkey (the country, not the food)
• Beautiful photos
• Art
• Art museums
• Watching/feeding the birds
• Being outdoors
• Writing
• Light
• Plants
• Teaching ESL
• Farmer’s markets
• Hello Kitty
• Chimes
• Hanging out at Barnes & Noble
• Walking
• Water (as in the tabletop fountain I bought myself)

3a. Helping other people. For me this is something that feeds my soul, so that’s why I’m putting it here. However, if it’s not something that comes naturally to you and you’re struggling with depression, I urge you to find a way to help someone out, and not by donating money to a cause. For depression, I believe that hands-on helping is one of the best ways to get yourself out that darkness, even if it’s only for the time that you’re actually helping. But find something, anything, to make a difference to someone. I swear to you that I get more out of teaching ESL than my students do. I LOVE teaching them. I am so happy to have met them and to walk into class and greet all of them.

Of course, teaching ESL isn’t for everyone, but there are a multitude of ways you can help out, from volunteering at animal shelters, to becoming a Big Brother/Big Sister, to volunteering to clean up community gardens. If you are completely clueless as to how you can help, I urge you to pick up a copy of Bill Clinton’s book Giving. It will definitely spark your creativity.



Socializing

My depression is all but gone. The one area I still find myself struggling with is socializing. I just don’t have the mental energy to plan something so monumental. It often feels like it’s going to be such a chore to be “on” for those hours when I’m with people. I guess there are two things I need to do for this: 1) Socialize anyway. 2) Stop having such high expectations for myself. I don’t NEED to be the life of the party all the time. Sometimes it’s good enough if I just show up.



Soul Feeding

I’m doing really well with this. I’ve been walking 5-6 times a week without fail, and every day I try to do something that “feeds my soul.” I even made a list of things that feed my soul: beautiful stones, good smells, reading, having an orderly home, music, tea in lovely tea cups, flowers, the ocean, alone time, the library, traveling to exotic locales, Istanbul, beautiful photos, art museums, watching/feeding the birds, relaxing outdoors, and writing.

I try to do at least one soul feeding activity a day. It’s really quite wonderful, and really making a difference in my depression. When I first decided to do this I had NO CLUE what feeds my soul. That’s how out of touch I was. NO WONDER I’m fighting off depression!

Really—I can’t recommend this enough. Please let me know if this helps you in any way.



Walking

A few weeks ago I decided that the meds simply weren’t enough, so I MADE myself start exercising. I had absolutely NO motivation to do so, but still, I got on the treadmill and walked.

OH.

MY.

GOD.

It’s like magic. I kid you not. I’ve been doing so much better since I started walking. I ended up walking four times last week (and I was sick for two days, so that’s not too bad). On Saturday, I was feeling a bit sad, so I went and got on the treadmill and I felt fantastic afterwards. It’s absolutely essential for me to walk in order to overcome my depression. I can tell this for sure.

Even though I’ve been feeling better, I also reached out to get counseling. I’m working on getting a therapist and hope to have that done today.



Feeling Good

Two weeks ago, my doctor increased my dosage of Luvox. I think I’m actually feeling better now! For the past four days, I’ve felt really good. I’m motivated to get things done, which makes me feel even better. I do hope this continues!! Oh, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!



New Strategy

For the past three days, every time I start to feel depressed, I get up and do something physical—usually clean. My house is looking pretty good, thankyouverymuch. It seems to be an effective strategy, because I do feel better after I get moving.

I am also happy to report that I walked around the block today. Yay!



Upping the Dosage

Today I called my psychiatrist, who for a VA shrink is surprisingly accessible, and told him I need to increase my dosage of Luvox. I’ve been on it for a month and a half now, and I’m not doing better at all. If anything, it’s worse. I know that 75mg was what I had been on before, but I also weigh a lot more now than I did then. He told me to bump it up to 100mg and we’ll see how things go. I’m glad that I made the call.

I’ve also been writing in a journal every day—laying out small goals I want to accomplish for the next day. I’ve been doing well. So far, I’ve accomplished four things and didn’t accomplish one. That’s not too bad, I don’t think. I’ll keep it up.



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