Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beat Depression in 6 Simple Steps...Without Medication

The geese and ducks are starting to go south, and if you battle seasonal depression like I is everything else.  Actually, depression is a condition I manage on an ongoing basis--but winter makes it worse.  So every fall I gear up for the winter by reviewing my mental health checklist, and especially by turning on my light therapy lamp.

That's why I contacted NatureBright this week to see if they would donate a lamp for my giveaway.   I know it's a great product because I use it all the time.  And thanks to their generosity, I get to put one of these sweet babies in the hands of  a lucky reader--to use for herself or to give to someone she loves.

Lately I've been spending the first half of every day wanting to sleep, or cry, or both.  Whichever comes first, really.  And though it's a little early for SAD to kick in, it's not off the charts.  So as I am reviewing and re-implementing mental health basics that have saved me over and over again, I thought I'd share them with you.

So are we talking about the winter blues, seasonal depression, or major depressive disorder?  The answer is...yes!  They share the same causes, symptoms, and treatments, so--all of the above.  If you're reading this article in the middle of summer, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The practices outlined here improve overall mental health, period--so whether you get slightly blue from time to time or whether you suffer constantly from the enormous weight of major depression, this post is for you.

I found these pearls in The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs, written by Stephen S. Ilardi.  If you've been to this blog with any regularity, you know that I want everyone in the world to read this book.  For those who haven't had the time to read it yet, and more importantly, for those of you who are in such tough shape you can't bring yourself to pick it up--and no judgement, because I've soooo been there--I've decided to spend the next six weeks discussing Ilardi's six steps to mental health.

The book is heavily based on research conducted on modern hunter-gatherer societies, noting a marked absence of symptoms indicating depression.  When we contrast the hardships suffered by these groups with the ease and prosperity enjoyed by the typical American, it is strange to report that Americans are the ones who suffer from depression!  These findings lead researchers to formulate a treatment plan based on the hunter-gatherer lifestyle including: dietary omega-3 fatty acids, engaging activity, physical exercise, social support, adequate sleep, and sunlight exposure.  For many people missing only one or two of these elements, addressing just those is enough to affect powerful and lasting change.  We'll spend time on each of these elements in coming weeks here on the blog.

But first, here's my caveat: anti-depressant medications are sometimes the very best first step on the road back to mental health.  They were life savers for me, and I've talked to many who have felt the same way.  If you've found medication that works for you, then there's really no reason to look elsewhere.  I am writing this post because many, like me, come to a point where the medication no longer works well enough to make them willing to put up with the side effects.  I will also say that the steps I will outline consistently out-perform medication in terms of resulting wellness.  But it takes practice and sometimes a little money to develop these life habits.  In the meantime, I am in full support of whatever you can do to feel well.  You deserve to be healthy.

This is the first of seven post on beating depression without meds.  Come back next week and learn how beneficial light therapy can be for depression, and especially for SAD.  And...don't forget to share!  

Share any one of my posts in this series on depression on Pinterest or Facebook, and then let me know you've done so by commenting here on the blog.  Each share is worth one entry, so if you share each of the seven articles on both sites, you'll be entered fourteen times.  

And just so you know...I'm not getting anything from NatureBright or from the publishers of The Depression Cure.  I just get a kick out helping others beat depression.  Somehow it makes what I go through worthwhile.  Almost.  :)


Post edit:  The Sun Touch Lamp Giveaway concluded in the fall.  But feel free to share anyway.  :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Isaiah brought the dumpsters in Tuesday morning, for the simple joy of doing a big person's job.  He loves to help!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Acrylic paint on the floor.  Hmm, could it be Monday?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

i thank You God for most this amazing day

I've talked about the chamber choir I have been helping to start.  Long story short, in high school, I was crushed when I didn't make the chamber choir.  In college, I was crushed when I didn't make the chamber choir.  So when I grew up, I made a chamber choir.  

Okay, truth be told, I have only been a helper on the project.  Dr. Paul Wiens puts in enough hours every week, he would more than earn a generous salary if we had any money.  And Rachel.  You know you're my hero. Without you I'm pretty sure it would have been a women's chorus.  Of five.

Last night was our debut.  We sang two numbers at the Southern Utah Choral Festival, hosted at DSU and boasting a very special guest clinician: Dr. Ronald Staheli, who recently retired from a long and illustrious career at BYU.  Working with him was such a privilege.  But the best part was singing together for the concert at the end of the festival.  We sang my all-time favorite, O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen; and a new favorite, a Eric Whitaker's gorgeous setting of E.E. Cummings' poem:

i thank you god for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes
(i who have dies am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;
this is the birthday of life
and the birthday of love and wings:
and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Such a magnificent piece of gratitude and contemplation on our relationship with Heavenly Father.  It could not have been more perfectly chosen for the occasion--for me--I was in a state of absolute gratitude last night.  To be surrounded by so many amazing musicians, singing praise to my Maker in a manner truly fitting--I don't think I've ever enjoyed singing so much in my life.  I can't believe that Heavenly Father would hear the prayers of little me and answer them with such astounding bounty. He is so generous and kind!

Okay, I'll stop gushing and get on with the rest of the week. The kids and I joined some of our favorite home school buddies at the Childrens' Forest Walk out by Oak Grove.  We learned a little about the historic charcoal kiln there, and we found tons of cool fossils!  Below Naomi and Dannica show off some of their finds.
 And here's Ezra with his BFF, Brady--both trying took look tough.
 This week Isaiah got fifty stewardship points, so TJ and I took him to the mighty Virgin River for a little date.  Okay, so it's not really very mighty.  But recent rains have doubled its volume and turned it the tempting color of chocolate milk.
 Isaiah and TJ had fun seeing how far into the mud they could poke their sticks.  Boys!

Also this week, TJ brought a tarantula home from the scout shed.  Oh, joy.  And yes, that's my bed.  See what a good mom I am?

Monday night we walked around the temple for our family night activity.  It totally looks like we stayed home and photoshopped our way to the temple, but we were actually there.  :)    I may be partial, but I think the St. George Temple is the most beautiful in the whole world, and I love its long history.  And it's short history, too--it's where this family started.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fishing with Paul

Remember me bragging on my new chore chart?  Well, prepare yourself for some more bragging. This guy just earned his first date with TJ and me, for fifty stewardship points.  He's actually been waiting for a couple of weeks for us to get our schedules synced, and so he had plenty of time to choose what he wanted to do.  And he

We had a ton of yard work to do Saturday, so by the time we were ready to go it was about a hundred degrees outside.  TJ and I acted a little like the worm on the hook, trying to convince Paul that another activity would be more fun, but his little heart was set on it.  So off to the golf pond we headed.

Yes... the golf pond.  We think it's legal.  :)

Paul had so much fun chasing the ducks, trying to catch the turtles, and occasionally fishing.  After about an hour in the heat, TJ and I were ready to call it quits, but he convinced us to try for ten more minutes.  TJ and Paul headed for another spot about a hundred feet away, leaving me alone.

I had been offering little prayers for Paul to get a fish, but since this was our last chance, I said an honest-to-goodness prayer, expressing my confidence that the Lord loves Paul even more than I do, and that Paul would be so delighted to catch a fish.

One minute later, Paul reeled this baby in.  Thankfully, it was a catfish, so we didn't even have to go home and cook it.  (Honestly, I have my doubts about anything fished out of that particular body of water.  But this gave us an excuse.)

We celebrated at Maverick with way too much sugar.  There goes my happy vein again.  I should really just stop smiling.

"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?"

In Other News

Isaiah was the youngest contestant, but he won the watermelon-eating contest, fair and square.  So much laughter in this video.  Prepare yourself to be happy. 

TJ and I went to a local film festival this week!  It was cheaper than most movie tickets, and way more fun.  We loved the two movies we saw, Chicago Girl, and Right Footed. 

My Grandaddy Martin and his wife Faye came to visit for a week or two, and TJ enjoyed some dessert with them for date night.

The lizards technically belong to Ezra, but in their hearts, these to boys own them.  It's cute.  
That is all.

TJ and I said goodbye to the Adams Memorial Theatre in Cedar City this month.  For the life of me I can't wrap my head around the Shakespearean Festival's decision to let this beautiful old structure go.  It's such a charming and beautiful part of the experience there.  We saw the last night of the last comedy to be performed on that stage, The Taming of the Shrew, and it was a ton of fun. 

I finally went blonde again.  Usually by the time people say, "long story short," it's way too late.  I will spare you all the drama I went through for about a month, getting it to the right color.  Suffice it to say, such things are usually left in the hands of competent professionals, haha!  But it finally turned out great and I'm happy with it.

My favorite place in the world is Grandma and Grandpa Monnett's farm in LaVerkin.  This was a great year for fruit in Southern Utah, so apart from all the fruit that showed up on our doorstep, we got a bumper crop at the farm as well.  But the best part is time with Grandma and Grandpa.

 That's Uncle Harley in the middle, who lives there, too.  He has been hiring Ezra and Lawson to help him out occasionally.  He pays way too much, but I'm glad they are learning how to really work.


Bumper crops in everything!  Our grapes went crazy.  I froze most of them, and made slightly sour raisins with the rest.  No idea who I'm going to get to eat them.  Does anyone want some?  :)


Take a look at that boy and tell me he's not the handsomest six-year-old you ever saw.  You can't do it, can you?  My brother Kendall took this picture, which is kind of cool, since out of all my siblings, Paul resembles him so closely.  Ken has always had a soft spot for Paul, probably because they have so much in common.

When I asked Paul what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he said, "remember when you made Eliza's cake, and there was a giant crack across the top?  Can you do the same thing for mine?  Then we can put dinosaurs running away like they're being killed in an earthquake."  At first I kind of laughed, because though I'm a pretty pathetic baker, I wasn't sure I could actually produce a cracked cake on command--but then I figured I could just crack it by breaking it in half.  Besides, when Paul has a great idea, I have trouble not going along with it.  His enthusiasm and drive are irresistible.

One thing we did at his party was to have everyone say what they love about him, and my favorite comment came from Lance, my sister's husband.  To put it in context, Lance is a very introverted type 4 guy, the father of four girls, and king of a very quiet, contented life.  When my noisy, charismatic, doer of a boy shows up at the Bailey house, it's a bit of a shake-up.  But when Lance was asked what he loved about Paul, he said, with all sincerity, that he loves Paul's energy.  I loved that so much. Lance and Paul have almost nothing in common, but Lance can see that Paul's driven nature is a great gift.

To tell the truth, Paul was kind of a shake-up for me when he came into my life.  I've never been extremely close with anyone that driven, mischevious and fun, (Ken was still very young when I left home) and Paul had a thing or two to teach me about picking battles.  But since I have come to understand him better-due in part to my recent reading of The Child Whisperer, but mostly it has been intuitive--getting along with him is extremely easy.  He has a heart full of love, and is constantly showering me with affection and words of praise. He is full of great ideas, never needs someone to entertain him, gets along with others fantastically well.  When babies or small children come to our home, he is always the first to gently put his arm around them, and show them the toys, speaking with a tenderness that surprises people who've only seen his boisterous side.  And this boy looooves to learn.  Every time I am tempted to send these kids to school, I reflect on how much I would miss teaching Paul.  He is so much fun to teach.

Paul got Super Soakers for his birthday (two, because it's no fun being scolded for shooting unarmed civilians.)  Now the windows on the back of the house need to be washed, because Paul thought it would be fun to soak the entire house.  Also, there's water damage on the carpet in the front room.
But it's okay.  He's worth it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

To the Healers

Ahem.  After that last post, I feel a little bit exposed, and feel the need to crack some jokes or maybe do a little soft-shoe.  But I know you're not here to read about some mythical perfect person, so again I say, thanks for reading, warts and all.

This week, I'm hugely relieved to say, has been progressively better.  Every day, the kids and I get more into our new routine and as stress levels go down, my mood improves.  But mostly I must give credit where it's due.  I know my loved ones have been praying for me, and my Father in Heaven has showered me with blessings.  So, status report on Woman of the House reads Normal this week. Hallelujah.

One of our family members (who shall remain nameless) required a trip to the E.R. last night, and there we stayed until 2 AM.  Flu-like symptoms were seeming less and less flu-like as the week wore on, and a chat with a our family nurse raised the specter of bleeding ulcers due to stress, diet, or (cue horrific music here) cancer.  I felt dangerously close to tears on the way to the hospital because of the C-word and a lifetime of premonitions that something like this would happen to me or someone I loved.

I'm happy to report that all these lugubrious possibilities were dispelled with a few simple--though tediously time-consuming--tests, and we were sent home with a prescription for nausea pills and a new perspective on life.  I'm also happy to report that at no point did I break down and cry.

We joked a lot about the dissimilarities between the ER of reality and that of the TV drama I used to love.  None of the doctors or nurses seemed unusually good-looking.  George Clooney was nowhere in sight.  And if he had been, I suspect he would have been bored.  There were no loud alarms indicating impending death, no paramedics bursting on the scene with gunshot victims, no heated arguments or passionate proposals between the staff.  And as our five hours there will attest, there was no sense of urgency, although once I did see a nurse running, and that made me feel better.

Still, it was real enough for me.  What is it about a trip to the Emergency Room that instantly snaps life into perspective?  I experienced such basic human desires and feelings while I was there.  Need. Helplessness.  Fear. Humility.  And above all, I felt a surge of gratitude toward the brave and patient men and women who work there, day in and day out.

Healers remind me of Jesus Christ.  They take all of humanity, regardless of virtue, status, and even ability to pay--take us at all hours of the day and night--see past our collective ugliness, addiction, and general pitiful state--and they do everything they can to help.  They dig deep, calling not only upon their knowledge and experience, but on their compassion, their humor, and their love.

I said thank you to each individual that took part in the parade through our hospital room last night, but I know that many healers work out of their homes or even just in their families.  If you are one of this noble race, I just want to say: you're amazing.  Thanks for being such an inspiration and a help. You truly make this world a better place.