web analytics

8 Things Helping Me Battle Depression


 

I’ve never been shy about sharing my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety because if it helps just one person not feel alone then it’s worth it. As most of my long-time readers know I had mild to moderate postpartum depression after the births of both Maia and Mason. But after Zoey’s birth it all went sideways and I had severe postpartum depression which slid into postpartum psychosis and settled into debilitating anxiety. It’s taken me years to climb out of the pit. And it’s still a struggle sometimes. My moods are affected greatly by the seasons and the weather and my current level of stress. Managing my mental health is something I will be conscious of for the rest of my life. I’m in a good place right now. I feel like I’ve climbed the highest mountain for the last 6 years and I’m finally reaching the summit. I no longer spiral into a panic when I’m having a bad day, worried that I’m sinking down into that familiar black hole. I can accept that a bad mood is just a bad mood and know that not getting enough sleep one night will not trigger a depressive episode. It’s a work in progress, always. And I’m always reflecting on where I am at and what I’m doing that is helping keep the depression and anxiety at bay. 

1. I leave the house every single day. I can’t believe how much this has helped me. I dreaded this school year with having kids in 3 different schools because it meant I had to go out to drive kids around every single day. And in retrospect, this has been the biggest blessing of my year. Getting out of the house and having a change of scenery every day has boosted my mood considerably. 

2. I make my daily to do list. One of the issues I struggled with was feeling unproductive and lazy. So I have a notes section in my planner and I make a to do list for every single day of the week. I check off things as I go and I feel motivated. 

3. I keep the house clean and clutter free. I’m still in the middle of a purge but I did finish my 40 bags in 40 days challenge. It felt great to get rid of so much junk that we just didn’t need. My house feels more open and clean and it’s helped me considerably. I am committed to maintaining a clean and clutter free home. 

4. I have one hour of quiet time every morning. I fully admit that I’d rather be asleep. But the big kids leave for school at 6:15am and the little kids don’t wake up until 8am. So I have over an hour of quiet time to read and relax and be ready for the day. 

5. I keep the house bright and cheery. I keep the lights on, the blinds open, and the ceiling fans going. The house is bright and open and it makes me feel happy. I add a few drops of essential oils to my diffuser and make the house smell good. 

6. I make the vision for our family top priority. I keep at the forefront of my mind what we want for our family. We want a happy, peaceful family. We want joy. We want laughter. We want experiences. So I ruthlessly cut out anything that is not adding to the vision of our family. I say no to things that don’t fit with the lifestyle we are trying to create. 

7. I go with the flow. This has probably been the hardest for me to achieve. I’m very much a planner and going with the flow goes against everything I am. But it’s helping. Plans changing at the last minute used to send me into a tailspin. Now I just laugh, shake my head, and adjust. And we’re all happier. 

8. I keep looking forward. Nothing lasts forever. A bad mood passes, a rain storm moves on, stress dies off, and it all evens out. I just have to keep looking forward. 

postsig1a



10 Middle Of The Night Insomniac Thoughts

Insomnia Brain

Insomnia. 

I never gave it much thought until it became a regular part of my life. Lying awake in bed with random thoughts running through my head at warp speed, negotiating with my brain to just let me get 3 hours of sleep, and then the anxiety that comes with knowing I’m not going to get any sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. And it happens at least 4 nights out of the week for me at this point. The other night it was so ridiculous that I actually wrote down the random thoughts going through my brain.

1. I wonder if I locked the door. Surely I locked the door. Did I set the alarm? Should I go check? I see the light, is it red? It’s red, right? I don’t want to get up. But what if the door isn’t locked? But even if it’s not locked, the alarm is on. Right? Was that a noise?

2. Did I sign Mason’s agenda? I don’t think I signed his agenda. Or was it Zoey’s? Did I even see Zoey’s? Did I see Mason’s? Should I go do it now? I’ll remember in the morning. But what if I don’t? If I forget they’ll get marked down and lose their sticker. I should do it now. But I don’t want to get up. I’ll remember, right? Mason doesn’t even like stickers. 

3. What was that noise? Was there a noise? Is that a shadow? I think that’s a shadow. Should I wake up Matt? But what if there wasn’t a noise? I swear that’s a shadow. Am I going crazy? Don’t answer that. If you answer yourself then you’re definitely going crazy.

4. Is tomorrow Thursday? No, it’s Wednesday. Or is it Tuesday. I think it’s Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday. There’s something I have to do tomorrow. But what? Crap. It’s important. But what was it? Is tomorrow Tuesday?

5. Did I turn the air over to heat? Is it cold in here? It feels cold in here. I wonder if the kids are cold? Zoey’s just getting better, she can’t get sick again. Is it cold enough in here to make her sick? She went to bed with wet hair. That can make you sick if it’s cold, right? But how cold is too cold? Should I get up and check? 

6. What am I going to make for dinner tomorrow? I want to make lasagna. But I have appointments the next morning. If the lasagna messes up my stomach I’ll be screwed. But the kids love lasagna. So does Matt. Maybe I can just eat a little bit? Yeah right porky, no lasagna left behind.

7. Wasn’t I supposed to order a book for Tyler for English class? What book was that? And when did he need it? I remember looking it up on Amazon. Did I buy it? I don’t think I bought it. Crap. I’ll do it in the morning. Will I remember? He’s probably not going to read it anyway.

8. Why is my heart beating so loud? And so fast? Am I having a heart attack? I don’t have any arm pain, my chest doesn’t hurt. But I did have stomach issues earlier. Isn’t that a sign in women? Are you supposed to feel your heart beating in your face? Should I call 911? But I didn’t shave my legs today. I’ll wait.

9. Did I remember to pay the cable bill today? It was due….crap. It was due last week. If they cut off the cable I’ll die. If they cut it off does it delete everything off the DVR? I have a whole season of Real Housewives of somewhere on there. 

10. There was that noise again. I swear I heard it? Was it the floorboard creaking? Do we have a floorboard that creaks? No that was a movie. So what was that noise? There’s that shadow again. Is someone in the house? At least Matt is closest to the door. He’ll get killed first. 

 
postsig1a



The Difference A Year Makes In Depression

I’ve been very open about my struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety that turned into persistent clinical depression and lingered long after postpartum should have been gone. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. Over the last 5 years I’ve noticed the pattern of depressive episodes- worse in the winter, better in the Spring, great in the Summer and early Fall.  It gets easier to deal with every year. Last year I noticed less depressive episodes in the winter and very few in the rest of the year. I thought that was the best it would get. But y’all. Let me be honest here, I was still dealing with depression. It was better than before, but it was still there. And I know that now because I see the difference this year. Here’s how I know.

1. I don’t care how early I have to get up. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to sleep and I would dearly love to sleep in past 8am, especially in the summer. But I don’t care when I have to get up to take Ty to football each morning. Last year it would put me into a funk all day long, worrying about getting enough sleep to ward off a depressive episode. Lack of sleep was always a trigger for me. Now…I don’t think about it. I just set my alarm and go to sleep instead of laying awake for hours worrying about not getting sleep. 

2. I don’t mind a busy day. I am an introvert by nature but in the last few years I’ve been almost a hermit. Far beyond introvert, for sure. I wanted to be in the house as much as possible and busy days were something I would dread and obsess over for days in advance. Now…my calendar is so full and I don’t care. 

3. I’m happy without a specific reason. I don’t have to have something specific to look forward to in order to be happy. I don’t need to psyche myself up to be happy. I just am. 

4. I’m excited about the future instead of living just day to day. I’ve lived day to day for years just to balance out my moods, not looking ahead into the future because I didn’t know how I would feel. Now I make plans and schedule things in advance without fear that I’ll want to cancel.

5. I’m reading less and socializing more. I love to read, I really really do. But I also know that I tend to hermit with my Kindle when I’m struggling with depression. I’m still reading but I’m not avoiding social activities in order to read. I have a great balance now. 

6. A bad mood is just a temporary thing, not the start of a depressive cycle. This might be this biggest difference for me. For the last few years I was afraid of every bad mood. Every bad mood sent me into a panic that I was in a depressive cycle. Now I know…a bad mood is just a temporary thing and I’ll rebound later. Probably after another cup of coffee.

7. I can see the bright side or silver lining. Things happen in life that you don’t plan for and don’t want. Even last year bad news or unexpected events would send me into a depression. I struggled to see the good underneath the bad. Now…I see it. I can clearly see the bright side or the sliver lining in things that happen. 

8. I can go with the flow. This is huge. I’m a scheduler. I always have been. I like things on a schedule but over the last few years it’s been almost obsessive for me. I’ve really noticed in the past few months that changes in plans don’t even phase me anymore. I just adjust and move on. 

I feel really great about my progress and where I am, especially since I made the personal decision to stop any and all medications for depression and anxiety awhile ago. I’m not against medications at all, but after years of being on meds that made me feel numb, disengaged, and fuzzy headed I was ready to stop them. I rely on making sure I get adequate sleep, I eat well, I exercise every single day, and I use essential oils. So that my depression update for those of you who have been here for years and remember the bad times. Thanks for sticking around. And those of you who are still in the trenches of depression and anxiety- solidarity sisters. There is hope and it does get better. If you need a friend to listen, reach out to me. I’m here.

postsig1a



Things That Make Me Happy

It’s been a week around here y’all. And it’s only Tuesday. That does not bode well for Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, does it? It started with the stomach flu. And an ER trip with poor Zoey who got hit the hardest by said stomach flu. Then came a winter storm warning and cancelled school only to end up with plain old rain. Then more stomach flu. So yeah….is it Spring yet? I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had too many issues with lingering depression or anxiety this winter and focusing on things that make me happy has helped. So in light of my less than pleasant mood today I thought I would make myself a happy list. 

happy1

1- Plush sheets on my bed. I’m cold natured and nothing makes me happier than curling up in my cozy bed at the end of the night and being greeted by plush fleece sheets that feel like a warm hug. Ahhhh…..now I want to go back to bed.

2- New books from my favorite authors. It doesn’t matter how many unread books are on my Kindle, seeing a new release by a favorite author will brighten my whole week!

3- Favorite movies. There are some movies that I watch over and over again and I love them just as much the 500th time I watch as I did the first time. A few that come to mind immediately are Steel Magnolias, Bridesmaids, This is where I leave you, White House Down, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Hangover….the list goes on and on. 

4- Snow days. I should clarify- snow day where we actually GET some snow. I love waking up to a winter wonderland, drinking hot cocoa, curling up on the couch with my electric blanket in front of the fire and watching one of the above movies. 

5- Favorite shows reruns. There are some shows that I can watch over and over again no matter how many times I’ve seen an episode. Some of my favorites are The middle, Criminal Minds, Fixer Upper, Modern Family, Last Man Standing, Everybody Loves Raymond….I just love them.

6- Peppermint mocha coffee creamer. I wish they sold it year round. It’s just delicious and it makes me sigh with happiness every time I add some to my morning cup of coffee.

7- Funny animal videos. I’m addicted to them. And the dog shaming pictures, they are hysterical. I can’t help but laugh out loud. 

8- Colorful gel pens. I found some that are scented and I’ve reverted back to childhood- sniffing my scented markers in class like a junkie. 

9- The beach. The sound of the waves crashing on the shores, the smell of the salt in the air, the breeze coming off the water, the seagulls over head, the warm sand under my toes…I adore the beach. It is my absolute happy place. 

10- Strawberry Vodka. Mix it with some yummy lemonade and add some muddled strawberries and you have yourself summer time in a glass y’all. It’s refreshing and delicious. 

11- Hot bubble baths. On days when I feel really overwhelmed or unhappy I know sinking into a hot bubble bath with a good bath is a great way to lift my mood. I use aromatherapy salts or essential oils to really help elevate my mood. It works!

So what makes you happy?

postsig1a



7 Ways I’m Avoiding Depression This Winter

SAD

It’s no secret that I suffer from bouts of depression. I’m pretty vocal about those struggles. The worst time for me is late Fall and through the Winter. When we change the clocks back and the days get shorter- that’s when I start having issues. I have a hard time focusing, it’s hard to force myself to function, I want to stay home and hibernate….basically the sloth becomes my spirit animal. Unfortunately, as Matt points out, hibernating is not actually an option for me. Personally I think that’s total bull but he insists that the kids need to go to school and eat. This year I’m determined to function as close to a normal person as possible. I have a plan.

1. Music- I’ve found that one thing that helps me break out of a funk is blasting music and having a dance party in the kitchen. I spent the last month or so adding new songs to my playlist and dancing around the kitchen while making dinner has become a great part of my day.

2. Sleep- I have insomnia. I’ve suffered from it for years and nothing has helped eliminate it completely. But it gets worse in the winter and there have many weeks I have found myself living on less than 3 hours of sleep for days on end. This makes my depression so much worse. This year I’ve committed to making sure I get enough sleep. If I have a stretch of bad nights where I’m only getting a few hours of sleep then I’m going to adjust my sleeping schedule and take naps to catch up on those missing hours. 

3. Puppies- Apparently 2 very funny and active puppies help my depression. Who knew? Abby and Chase are so funny and they are so snuggly. They are also extremely sensitive. On bad days I’ve noticed they stick very close to me, sleeping on my feet, snuggling with me, and persisting until I play with them. It helps a lot. 

4. Not over-scheduling- The holidays are coming which means lots of invitations and parties and commitments. This year I’m prepared to say no. I will not over-schedule. I will choose carefully the things I want to do with my family. We’ve scaled down on Thanksgiving this year, we’ve already said no to a couple of family events, and we’ll continue to keep the schedule light.

5. Maintaining routine- I do better with a routine when I’m trying to stabilize my moods. I like a schedule and knowing exactly what I need to do each day. It also helps me space out errands throughout the week to give me a reason to put on real people pants and leave the house every day.

6. Exercise- As much as I don’t like it, exercise makes a huge difference for me. It can be as simple as running on the treadmill for half an hour every day, or taking a walk with the pups in the evening. I struggle with autoimmune arthritis which is horrible in the cold months but I’ve discovered that pushing through that pain to exercise anyway helps a lot.

7. Stuff to look forward to- This is a big one for me. I’m motivated by reward so having something to look forward to at the end of a busy day is a big thing for me. I’ve been stockpiling books from my favorite authors on my Kindle to read this winter. I bought some amazing microfleece sheets and a faux-mink down alternative comforter for our bed. I’ve saved some great shows on the DVR to watch when I’m feeling low. 

I’m hoping that this plan will help me minimize the effects of depression this Fall and Winter. Anything is worth a try to actually enjoy the season for a change. I know these things probably seem simple or even lazy to some people who’ve never dealt with depression but believe me, little things matter a lot. 

postsig1a