Monday, June 22, 2015

A Time To STOP

The first thing I did when I realized I was depressed was STOP. Basically, I decided to take a vacation; a vacation from the anxious thoughts in my head and a vacation from the “shoulds” and “need to do’s” in my life to deal with the depression and anxiety.

STOP became Space, Time, Openness, and Power to me.

Space became a very important concept to me. Somehow, I had boxed myself in and I needed space to find me and to find God. When I shut down the anxious thoughts and endless to-do list in my head, I began to find space. Space to think about God and space to think about me.

I gave myself the gift of time: time to read, time with God, time to laugh and play with my baby granddaughter, time to take walks and see the green grass, the clouds against the blue sky, the wildflowers peeking through the grass, time to play the guitar and sing, and time to play the hammered dulcimer. I spent evenings with family and friends.

I began to open my heart again. I became open and honest with myself and aware of my thoughts. I tried to be compassionate with myself, to think of what I would say to someone else going through a hard time and tell it to myself.

Realizing I was empty and weak, I depended on God for power. Not my power, but His. Not in my time, but His time. I gave up control and handed over the reins.

Stopping was the very best thing I could do for myself. I initially thought I would take a break for a week, which turned into two weeks, then a month. By the end of the month, I had learned many things about myself. My new understandings were helpful, but I realized I didn’t have the tools I needed to move forward.

That is when I contacted a counseling center to get help. And I am so glad I did.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

To Take Medication or Not Take Medication

When I first shared on Facebook about my depression, I was not prepared for the explosion of comments with a fiery debate over whether I should take medication or not. People either knew someone who did not get help or medication and committed suicide or they knew someone who took medication and committed suicide. One friend shared her experience where medication made all the difference in the world for her and others shared the dangers of medication.

This is a topic I discussed thoroughly with my therapist in our first session. I am not opposed to taking a medication; however, I have severe allergies to many antibiotics and medications. This puts medication on a ‘let’s see how it goes with therapy first and no medication’ basis.

I have an appointment with my general practitioner coming up to talk about the depression and anxiety. She will also consult with my therapist. I trust both of their judgement.

Increasing my exercise, eating well, sleeping well and taking vitamins and supplements have helped. I am taking a Vitamin B complex, magnesium, selenium and Vitamin D.

Books for the Journey

I have been doing lots of reading the last couple of months. Each book has had something that means something to me for my journey. Almost like stepping into God's footprints and seeing where they go. 

I've read almost all of them before, some several times. I thought you might be interested in these books, so here is my rather eclectic list:

Traveling Mercies by Anne LaMott
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown 
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue
A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't) by Brene Brown
Homestead by Jane Kirkpatrick
Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning

I'll share more from each of these books as I write about my journey. I am sure you are wondering what a fiction book like Dog Crazy is doing among these spiritual and self-help books. I'l tell you - when the time is right.

Beneath A Dappled Sky

It's been a while since I wrote about my depression and anxiety. A month ago I realized while I had gained a lot of understanding of myself since I'd become aware of my depression and anxiety, I needed tools to move forward. I started seeing a Christian psychologist who is a God-send for me. She listens and she is giving me the tools I need to shut down my anxious thoughts and helping me to live the way God intended me to live. I am learning to tell the difference between realistic and unrealistic thoughts. To be aware of what I am thinking and of my negative thoughts. This awareness is hard to do when you've spent a lifetime ignoring and denying those thoughts, keeping your mind occupied with anything to avoid them. Now I know to stop them.
I've discovered I need lots of space in my life. Space to think, space to spend time with God, space to write. No schedules or to-do lists. Freedom to work the way I work. Not the way others work.
And I'll spend more time enjoying the dappled sky, watching my nephew run and play, laughing with my granddaughter and loving every moment spent with family and friends. I must say, life is good.

(From my Facebook Profile June 9, 2015)

Learning to Keep Myself Company

"Awareness is about learning to keep yourself company." A quote by Geneen Roth in Traveling Mercies by Anne LaMott.
Acknowledging the depression, writing about it, sharing it on Facebook and reading comments from friends seemed to open a window and some fresh air blew in along with sunshine. I decided to take the week off. Taking the week off from everything that I tell myself I need to do gave me permission to stop. My mind has stopped running through its thread of "you need to do this" or "you have to do this." For me, "need to" and "have to" weigh on me heavily and most often don't get done - even my beloved book project.
For example, yesterday I looked out the window at the dirty white truck and thought, "I'll wash the truck tomorrow when I get the oil changed." What struck me was I didn't think "I need to wash the truck." A little nugget of awareness.
My mind is clear - empty of the ideas, thoughts, creative tidbits and problem-solving for all of my projects and life problems. I told the taskmaster to take a hike and she did! Frankly, I am surprised.

I have space to talk to me. But I don't have to talk. I love the silence and I am basking in it.
(From my Facebook Profile April 8, 2015)

Are You Depressed?

"Gayle, are you depressed?" my best friend asked me last week. "Depressed, no. Well, maybe a little." Then as I thought about what I had just told her - how I spent all day Wednesday deciding whether or not to go to the grocery store. I answered, "Yeah, I am depressed."
Why is it so hard to see it and admit it? I have figured for years that I have a little seasonal affective disorder. In October I am ready to hibernate and emerge in the spring. But this year, it seems to have gotten a little worse lately. I called my friend up the next day. "Gee, thanks, Vic. I may have been depressed, but I wasn't sad until you pointed it out."
For me, the red flag is decision-making. I remember going on vacation with our toddler and baby in 1990. I was supposed to be packed and ready to go when my husband,John, came home from work. He found me crying in the living room, surrounded by empty suitcases and piles of clothes. Since it was October, I couldn't decide whether to take summer clothes or sweaters to North Carolina. My dear husband said, "Well, we are driving a truck. Pack them all." And we did. While we were on vacation, I realized I probably had postpartum depression. That was my first experience with depression.
What am I going to do? Go on a daily treasure hunt for joy, happiness, grace, and love. I'm going to sit in the sun and read a good book. Go for walks with friends. Laugh and play with my grandbaby and drink in her baby smell. Take pictures of baby calves. Sing songs and play the guitar. Set up the hammered dulcimer and play it again. I am going to the mountains with my love and ride 4-wheelers. Camp with my family. Sing around the campfire. Go bowling at Bass Pro with family and friends. Read the Bible and pray. Watch The Voice with Barry and Victoria. Eat taco salad and visit with our kids. I am doing most of those things now, but I'm going to savor them, drink them in as though they are life-giving, which they are.

What am I not going to do? Worry about what I am not doing or getting done. Think I have to be doing something, anything so I can be someone or anyone. And when I am ready, I will know what is essential to my life.
(I first posted this on my Facebook profile on April 6, 2015.)