Tuesday, March 29, 2016

4 Ways I Deal with My Depression

Last time that I discussed my struggle with depression I was in the process of seeking help…again. Right now, though, I’m doing OK. It’s work, a surprising amount of work actually, but it’s working.

I still have down days and up days, but in general the vast majority of days are riding comfortably in the middle, neither too or too high. Here is how I manage my depression.

1. Medicine
Look, some people despise the idea of medication. I used to be one of them. When I was a teenager I would sometimes flush my pills down the toilet because I couldn’t bear the thought of taking anything else. No matter what your thoughts might be on overmedicating or treating mental illnesses through pharmaceutical drugs, I thrive while staying on my medication.

There is one downside though – it makes me weirdly sweatier than normal. Silver lining of that downside, if I accidentally forget to take my medicine I become unbearably sweaty, like, to the point that once my daughter crawled into my bed at 3 in the morning and said, “Mommy…why is your bed wet?” No, I did not pee the bed. Also, I don't forget my medication anymore.

2. Exercise
Depending on the week, I average about 4-6 days of exercise. Primarily, I love to run, especially with my dog. I also hit the gym 2 days a week to strength train and I recently started working with a personal trainer. Honestly, the fewer days a week I exercise the more likely it is that I start sliding back into my depression.

I’m not sure what it is about exercising. Maybe it gives me a tangible accomplishment to focus on or maybe all the endorphins are giving my medication a boost, who knows.

3. Eating Well
I am by far not the only person in America who has struggled with dangerous deprivation and binge eating cycles. Fair warning, this will not result in weight loss. While part of my focus right now is to lose weight until I reach a healthier mass for my height, I’m doing it while eating well.

Yep, lots of veggies, no more late-night binges, and actually eating to avoid hunger, which actually helps with those late night binges. This also means coping with difficult or frustrating situations in ways that don’t involve food.


4. Breathing
I forget the actual name for this technique, but whatever. I call it 4-breathing. Closing my eyes, I breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out over another 4 seconds, hold it for 4, then start all over again.

Along with my depression and anxiety, I also deal with a lot of anger issues. I know, shocking. But among a number of other techniques, 4-breathing is one of my best tools to battle depression, anger, and anxiety. 


I don't think that there is any magic recipe for treating and handling depression, but there are a lot of tools out there that can be used to make things better. So from me to you, if you're struggling, remember that there is help, and when you're ready, reach out for it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Writing? Put it on the to-do list

Look, I get it, no one likes to-do lists. They have a bad reputation for being the tools of controlling individuals who have trouble letting go. “No, we can’t do that. It’s not on the list, see?”

But fuck it, I LOVE to-do lists. Mostly because I wouldn’t get anything done without them. Want to know something else? Something that might make you want to throw up in your mouth a little?

I also make to-not-do lists. Like, shit I need to avoid. They mostly look like this:

TO-NOT-DO
  • Dick around on the internet (there's nothing for you there)
  • Nap
  • Watch more than 1 hour of TV
  • Wallow in self-pity

And yes, I re-write my to-not-do list every day in my planner. Why? I’m a writer who works from home, I need a proverbial boss to pass by my non-existent cubicle every now and then to make sure I’m being productive. With my planner positioned right next to my keyboard all I have to do is glance over and, “OH EXCUSE ME SIR NO I WASN’T GETTING ON FACEBOOK OK BYE.”

But my to-do lists are honestly just as effective, even if my kids have been conspiring to keep alternating weeks to get sick while my husband’s deployment drags on for what feels like forever. One of the reasons that to-do lists seem to be shunned by creative people is the constrains that they can place on the creative process. There are many writers and artists who feel as if they can’t get down to work until inspiration strikes.

I’m of a different variety. Basically, force me to sit down and I’ll hammer it all out right then and there. For me, sitting down to the computer or the notebook is my spark of inspiration. Kind of. Look, if I don’t make myself do it, I’ll fall back on the old reliable, “Oh, I’ll get to that when I have a wider open schedule.” I never, ever have a wide open schedule. No one does.


To-do lists haven’t always been my best friend, and to-not-do lists are an even more recent addition to my game plan, but they’ve become invaluable assets to my writing goals and career. I might not mark off every item, especially when someone (not naming names but TOTALLYMYKIDS) is sick again, but the lists keep me focused and moving forward.

What are your feelings on to-do lists?