#DepressedAnonymous

Depression is a lonely feeling.  It is hard to explain the deep despair that is the crux of depression.  I have trouble getting out of bed much less do I feel like feel like socializing when all I really want to do is crawl back under the comforter.  As hard as it is I force myself to exercise, walk my dogs, putz around the house; anything to keep busy.  I feel if I stop moving the depression will set in.  It does.  Writing helps – the community of bloggers is wonderful – but could there be a comfortable way to meet people to feel less lonely?

I have many friends and family members who have suffered with addictions of various types; alcoholism, drugs, gambling, food.  The one constant in those who made it to the other side was Alcoholics Anonymous. 

 I wondered if there was a “Depressed Anonymous” a place to meet others who are experiencing the same feelings of lonliness and despair.  I was very excited to see that there was.  After visiting their website at http://depressedanon.com I thought this was definitely a program worth exploring.

Based on the very successful protocol set forth by Alcoholics Anonymous what follows is from the website of Depressed Anonymous.

THE AIMS OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS:

1) To let the depressed person know that she or he is not alone in his or her struggle with depression. We also help others learn to do pleasant activities again.

 2) To provide a group where members can help one another and learn new skills in taking mastery over their lives and begin to live again with hope and joy. 

3) To help each member feel better about themselves — today. One day at a time! 

4) To educate the depressed person and his or her family about the nature and causes of depression and remove the SHAME of their feeling depressed. It’s OK to admit that we are feeling overwhelmed

We seek to prevent depression through education and by creating a supportive and caring community through support groups that successfully keep individuals from relapsing into depression. 

12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous

1. We admitted we were powerless over depression —that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove our shortcomings.

7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.

I hope that anyone reading this who is suffering will be motivated to search for a meeting in their area.  Please visit their website if you can’t find one –  they are there for you.  It is up to you to take the first step hard as that sounds.  Once you have taken that step I have a feeling you will be glad you did.

#AweDepressionandOtherCauses

Depression is an odd animal. My husband and I spent the last few days in Zion National Park, Utah.  I was awestruck by the beauty of nature yet felt sad at the same time. Is that sadness depression? I’m pretty sure that was how I felt. 

I have this need to name my depressive feelings hense “Awe Depression”.  This got me thinking, is there a clinical name for this and other types of depression?  

Google to the rescue! Following are a few of the most common causes of depression, some more surprising than others.

Genetics

Maybe your mother had it. Or your uncle or your sister. Watching a family member suffer from depression can be difficult. But does that mean you also will suffer from the condition?

Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is the most common form of depression. The Stanford School of Medicine(SSM) estimates that 10 percent of Americans will experience this type of depression at some point in their lives. This type is also more likely to be shared by siblings and children. A person with a relative who suffers from depression is almost five times more likely to develop depression as well.

A British research team recently isolated  a gene that appears to be prevalent in multiple family members. Scientists believe as much as 40 percent of those with depression can trace it to a genetic link. Environmental and other factors make up the other 60 percent. 

One study found that women had a 42 percent chance of hereditary depression, while men had only a 29 percent chance.

Facebook Overload

In a 2010 study, researchers found that about 1.2% of people ages 16 to 51 spent an inordinate amount of time online, and that they had a higher rate of moderate to severe depression. However, the researchers noted that it is not clear if Internet overuse leads to depression or if depressed people are more likely to use the Internet. These individuals may struggle with human interaction and lack of companionship.  Some experts even call it “Facebook depression.”  How apropo.

Poor Sleep Habits

It’s no surprise that sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, but it can also increase the risk of depression.

Summer Weather

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is most commonly associated with winter blues, and it afflicts about 5% of Americans.  But for less than 1% of those affected by SAD, this form of depression strikes in the summer.  “Warm weather depression is caused by the body experiencing a delay adjusting to new seasons,” says Alfred Lewy MD, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland. Instead of waking and enjoying dawn, the body has a hard time adjusting, this could be due to imbalances in brain chemistry and the hormone melatonin.  next

Rx Medications

Depression is a possible side effect for anxiety and insomnia drugs.  Certain drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure and lower cholesterol can also be a culprit.  Then there are those drugs used to treat menopausal symptoms. These among many others can cause depression, read the potential side effects when you take a new medication, and always check with your doctor to see if you might be at risk. 

End of Events

When something important comes to an end, like a TV show, movie, wedding, relocation or vacation , it can trigger depression in some people. All the excitement leading up to the event has had your adrenaline in overload. When the event ends the adrenaline levels drop and so does your mood.

Where You Live

You can endlessly debate whether city or country life is better. But research has found that people living in urban settings do have a 39% higher risk of mood disorders than those in rural regions. A 2011 study in the journal Nature offers an explanation: City dwellers have more activity in the part of the brain that regulates stress. And higher levels of stress could lead to psychotic disorders. 

Too Many Choices

The sheer number of options available whether it’s a beauty product, what to eat for breakfast at  a restaurant or simply buying a bathing suit can be overwhelming,  Not a problem for shoppers who pick the first thing that meets their needs.  However, some people respond to choice overload by exhaustively reviewing their options in the search for the best item.  Research  suggests that this coping style is linked to perfectionism and depression.

Lack of Fish in the Diet

Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and vegetable oils, may be associated with a greater risk of depression. A 2004 Finnish study found an association between eating less fish and depression in women, but not in men. These fatty acids regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, which could explain the link. Fish oil supplements may work too; at least one study found they helped depression in people with bipolar disorder.

Poor Sibling Relationships

Although unhappy relationships with anyone can cause depression, a 2007 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that men who didn’t get along with their siblings before age 20 were more likely to be depressed later in life than those who did.  It’s not clear what’s so significant about sibling relationships (the same was not true for relationships with parents) researchers suggest too much squabbling is associated with a greater risk of developing depression before age 50.

Chronic Pain 

Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.  Such fun!  A rollercoaster of symtoms – which is causing which?  

Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time, and may begin to affect your mood. Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem. Depression doesn’t just occur with pain resulting from an injury. It’s also common in people who have pain linked to health conditions.

In retrospect my Awe depression is not all that odd.   If I analyze myself (this happens frequently), it seems to fall under end of event  depression; I tend to worry about the trip being over while it is still happening therefore everything is that much more intense and important.  

It seems self-analyzing can be enlightening.  I am by no means suggesting you fire your therapist!  A little self discovery never hurt anyone.  Does your depression fit any of the categories I have listed?  Did I miss one that you feel may cause depression in you? If so please share as we are all in this depression game together.  I feel the more we learn from each other; the better equipped we become to aid ourselves in our lifelong healing process.


#DepressionSurvivalTip101

I have found a few things I can do that absolutely keep depression at bay once my medication is correct – A good belly laugh being number one.  

My sense of humor runs amuck I never know what will cue my funny button but once that happens it’s off to the races for at least 5 minutes.  That’s 5 minutes I am not depressed, success.  

So for my friends in depression please try to find something to make you laugh today.  I don’t care if it’s a movie, a book or reading my previous post about farting (I laughed as I typed that one, I know sick sense of humor) just laugh – out loud.  You will be amazed, you can actually feel the endorphins being released.

I am the depression queen.  A proud survivor of many things, depression being just one.  At my lowest I was never suicidal, to vain for that.  I would not give this disease the satisfaction of taking my life. I like looking at the sky, listening to the wind blow, beautiful flowers – I love life.   

Lucky me the one thing I have no control over is my biggest fear, death.  So I laugh.  As often, as loud and as long as I can. 

Join me in laughter please.  Tell me what makes you chuckle or roar with laughter.  I am always looking for something new to laugh at other than myself!

Chuckles

Marlene

#TheArtisticMindandDepression

I stepped out of my box on my last post “Political Obsurdities”.  Needless to say I did not get many likes and no comments.  Not that I live for likes or comments but I worked hard on that post, damn hard.  I thought I had written an op-ed that would make people think. The cricketts were thinking. 

Strangely, today was a bad head day for me.  I have not “depression” sobbed in a minute and was taken aback when I did.  Am I so entwined in what words I put to paper, so to speak, and the reception received that I will let my whole being be affected?  I would be in good company if I did.  Writing is one of the top 10 professions in which people are most likely to suffer from depression, according to US website health.com.

A 2009 article published by the Association for Psychological Science revealed research that showed a definitive link between creativity and the neuregulin 1 gene, which is also closely associated with psychosis. 

Having hailed from a family with a long history of mental dis-ease — among them bipolar disorder, nervous disorders, anxiety, depression and bulimia nervosa — I fit the bill.  As did this list of a few of my favorite writers who I now feel are part of my dysfunctional family.

1. Sylvia Plath

Plath was known, among friends and colleagues, for her frequent mood swings, tendencies toward impulsivity and a mercurial temperament. She was easily plunged into dejection by even the smallest rejection or perceived failure. 

I am hopeful that when I find my writing voice as she found hers I will survive in tact what she could not. 

2. Leo Tolstoy

Noticeable signs of depression didn’t strike Tolstoy until middle age, but the illness came on with a vengeance. The author considered becoming celibate, questioned his religious beliefs and began giving away his possessions so that he could live like a peasant.


Studies show that both those in the creative arts and those with depressive disorder spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating their own distress. I can relate. 


3. Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf had her first bout with depression at the age of 15.  She battled it throughout her life. Her creativity was frequently compromised by intermittent mood swings punctuated by sleeplessness, migraines and auditory and visual hallucinations.    

 I have Ms. Woolf beat by a year. I suffered my first anxiety attack and pursuing bout of depression at 14. Thank God I do not have auditory or visual hallucinations.  But still I had no idea what the f**k was going on. Nor that I would be writing about it these many years later.

4. Ernest Hemingway

Depression, borderline and narcissistic personality traits, bipolar disorder and, later, psychosis created Hemingway’s personal hell. Hemingway self-medicated, used alcohol, engaged  in risk-taking sportsmanship activities and wrote to cope. 


The author’s mental and physical health deteriorated so rapidly during the last years of his life — primarily due to alcoholism — that he finally accepted electroshock treatments in 1960.


I relate to Hemingway in a personal way. I am a child of electroshock therapy, my mother received electroshock treatments in the early 60’s, while unknowingly pregnant with me. 


 It is undeniable that many prominent writers and poets of the last several centuries have suffered from mental dis-ease. In the words of Lord Byron, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”

I tend to agree.  


Cheers


Marlene

#GladToBeHere

I am typing as I prepare to dash out the door for the WordPress Conference.  I am so glad to be here.  Happy I came.  I was hesitant to attend as for the last four years I had let my health and depression define me.  My husband said “Marlene you are going to this conference. You are still that independent woman I married 5 years ago.  You don’t see her, I do.”  He was right.  I had let fear take over my life.  After meeting and interacting with so many wonderful fellow bloggers at the mixer last night I can feel the old Marlene starting to shine through.  Thrilled she’s back.  I could say she never left she was hibernating.  Time to wake up, smell the coffee and enjoy life.  As I have said before I only get to do this once, it’s not a dress rehearsal.  I let five years pass me by in a haze of not caring.  For now, right this minute, I am back and running out the door to do something for myself.  Learn, meet people and have fun.  Woohoo!!!!

Cheers

Marlene

#LivetoLive

“Live to live” my shrink said to me.  I had relayed my story about the surgeon who removed my gallbladder telling me my liver was enlarged which can cause you to drop dead. I have a fear of death, I was having a “moment ” in her office. We are all going to drop dead at some point she retorted.  You have to live to live.  I totally understood.  You are not living if you are worried about dying. It was an aha moment for me.  What do you think?

Cheers 

Marlene