Hello Dear Readers! Before I get into today’s topic, I wanted to mention that soon I will be giving a National Public Reading from one of my memoir books and there will be a chance for you to ask any questions you have live with me. I will provide more details as the date comes closer for the talk.
Depression–it seems to be a problem that just about everyone with mental illness has. When I was a teen, I had such crippling depression that I didn’t have a girlfriend, never went to dances or other social events, and could often be found abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. I should say right away that if you use alcohol to excess, or any drug, it is important for you to be able to talk about it. I suggest that if you have any of these problems that you find a good 12-step meeting to go to, even if you are at the moment unable to quit.
The next thing I would like to see my readers do if they experience depression is to write about it. It can be a very healing process to keep a journal about your feelings and moods. But don’t just write about it in a private journal you don’t show to anyone, write to your psychiatrist. Write them a note or a letter. If you don’t have an appointment soon, send them the letter (yes I know letters are almost things of the past, but they are a powerful tool for many people). If you write a short note detailing your depression and what you are experiencing, give it to your doctor when you see him or her next. There are many kinds of depression and many kinds of anti-depressants available, it is important that the doctor who treats you to know about your depression, he or she may be able to prescribe you something that could help.
The sad truth is, even if your new medication works, it may take some time. Don’t give up hope, and don’t stop taking the medication if you have some minor side effects. Often medications will have some side effects at first that you can adjust to over time, and during this time, the medication may begin to work.
I have been experiencing a few days of the blues lately. My doctor has looked at my medications and decided that I don’t need to keep taking my anti-depressant, they are actually just meant to be a stop-gap resource in most cases. It worries me that I will slip into my severe, debilitating depression, but there are some things I can still do.
One of the big things you can do if you have depression is simply to try and get more fresh air and exercise. Even though I have a bus pass that allows me unlimited travel, whenever I can, I make it a point to walk. Long walks give you fresh air and exercise, help you sleep better, and can elevate depression. There are many ways to exercise no matter what your current health situation. You can go to the pool and just dog-paddle, moving your arms and legs for fifteen minutes or so, then spending some luxurious time in a steam room or hot tub, alternating with cold showers.
Another thing you can look into (besides the 12-step meetings) is trying to get into therapy. I realize this can be an expense for my friends south of the border, but even though it may be difficult to pay for, a few sessions or even many sessions can help you progress and find ways to cope with thoughts and actions that depress you. Most therapists will work on a sliding scale, and if they won’t go low enough for you, tell them to keep sliding or contact a social services agency like Catholic Social Services who may have free counselling or be able to find you free counselling. And don’t delay, the sooner you start to open up about what bothers you, the sooner you will learn coping skills and feel better. And if you ever start to think of suicide, please pick up the phone.
In Canada help is available at 1(833)456-4566
In the USA, 1(800)784-2433 or 1(800)273-TALK(8255)
In the UK, 0800 689 5652
And of course, you can always reach out to me at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best dear readers, stay healthy and know that you are loved!