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.  :)

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.