Changing is hard

Changing is hard. Okay, lots of things are hard when you’re depressed. Getting up in the morning. Finding the energy to do everyday tasks. Looking for the will to go on. You know, all that good stuff. But changing yourself and your thoughts is especially hard.

It’s a strange battle, isn’t it? Often, you know what you ought to do or have to do. And often, you just can’t seem to summon up the will to do it.

Let’s say you want to to start exercising more, and let’s say you even found the energy to do it a couple of days. Great! That’s a good start in making a positive change in your life. Then you miss a day, or two, or three, or a month. That change didn’t go so well, and now it’s like you have to start over from the beginning. It can be demotivating.

Or let’s say you’re trying to combat social isolation. You chat with a couple of friends you haven’t talked to in a while, catch up. Everything seems pretty okay, and maybe you’re even feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Then plans you made with one friend fall through and you’re left feeling disappointed and depressed. It’s not really their fault and it’s not necessarily yours. But it can set your progress back.

I know there are changes I should make to improve my life. The problem is that my mind, my depression tells me that these changes are nearly impossible. I think of the cost, the energy needed, the risk and I find it difficult to carry things through. Changing is hard!

And I’m stubborn, really stubborn. I have negative thought processes that have slowly been ingrained in me over the past 20+ years; it might take another 20+ years to rewire those processes.And I’m so, so tired of fighting some days – tired of fighting with myself, with the world. Sometimes I don’t want to change. Sometimes I want to take the easy route.

But I think change can be good. So I try, and try, and keep trying, despite some reluctance and more than a little anxiety.

I don’t think there is some magical way to make changing easier. Take things one step at a time? Get back up when you fall? Pick your battles wisely? It’s all decent advice. But it’s still going to be hard. And it’s still going to seem pretty awful. And it’s probably going to be pretty depressing.

But I hope it’s worth it in the end!

❤ Michelle

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Healthline’s Best Depression Blogs of 2016

Just a quick post to mention an honour my humble blog has received. This is a Depression Blog was listed as one of Healthline’s Best Depression Blogs of 2016.

I’ve been blogging here for over 4 years, and I still think it’s pretty wild that people are reading this. But I guess life can be pretty wild, can’t it? 🙂

So hello to my new readers (and, of course, hello to my old readers too). I’m glad to have you all here with me on my journey.

And if you haven’t checked out the other blogs on the list, do! There’s lots of good reading!

 

Michelle’s very unscientific and inconclusive vitamin D experiment

Spring finally rolled out in my area. It’s warmer (sometimes). It isn’t pitch black outside at 5pm. This is good news for sufferers of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also sometimes called ‘winter depression’. I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD, but I have noticed that I often feel more depressed in winter. I wanted to try to combat this last winter.

Now, let me try to explain my thinking:

  • Some research suggests there could be a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression (Just check out these Google Scholar results for the search ‘vitamin D depression’).
  • I experience increased symptoms of depression in winter.
  • I am probably vitamin D deficient in winter.
    • I come to this conclusion because the main source of vitamin D is sunlight. I live above the 37th parallel, which makes it more or less impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the winter (I’ll let Harvard Health Publications explain this one.)
  • Therefore, vitamin D deficiency might be linked to my increased symptoms of depression.
  • Therefore, increasing my intake of vitamin D might help combat those increased symptoms of depression.

That makes sense, right?

It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, so I decided to take supplements. Eat Right Ontario suggested that 600-4000iu was both safe and good for me, so ignoring some allegations that we might actually need far more vitamin D, I always took between 1000iu and 2000iu.

I’ll jump ahead and give you the “results” right now: taking vitamin D didn’t seem to do a damn thing for me. I tracked my mood throughout the winter, asking myself at the end of the day ‘How did I feel today?‘…the answer was usually ‘Blah!

But here were the problems with my experiment:

  • I did not take the supplements every day.
  • I varied the amount of vitamin D I was taking (and my amounts may have been too low).
  • I did not use a very rigorous mood and symptom tracking questionnaire.

This makes for bad science (not even touching the fact that I’m just one trial!). Any of those problems could skew the results of my very unscientific experiment.

So, unfortunately, I can’t really come to any solid conclusions. I might try this experiment again next winter, but with stricter guidelines. Until then, I’ll just enjoy the sunshine.

Notes: I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on T.V. I did not do this with a doctor’s permission or under a doctor’s supervision. If you are curious about what supplementing vitamin D could do for you, talking to a real doctor is almost certainly a good idea. Stay safe, stay well, friends 🙂

 

Change of Scenery

I fought tooth and nail to avoid spending the holidays with my family and friends this past year. I was in such a bad state of mind that I didn’t feel like being around people (especially when people would be merry-making). I just wanted to be left alone with my misery.

Despite my protests, I ended up ‘going home’ for a visit anyway. In truth, my family and friends didn’t give me much of a choice – they were quite adamant I was going to visit them! And you know what? The change of scenery was good for me.

I totally expected to spend most of my time completely miserable. That’s how I was spending my time, so I figured it would continue. But just being in a different place and around different people helped my state of mind. I wasn’t necessarily all smiles and laughter, but I also wasn’t hobbled by my anxiety and depression. It was okay.

Now that the holidays are over and I’m back in my normal environment, I can feel the miserable state of mind creeping back in. I can’t just pick up and visit my family and friends whenever I want, but I think I can still use a change of scenery as a way of shaking my bad mood.

So, when I’m feeling poorly, I’ll try to switch things up. This might mean going for a walk, or heading to the store, or it might just mean stationing myself in a different room (It’s cold outside, but it’s nice and warm in here! 🙂 ) Hopefully I’ll see some benefit from this.

Anybody have any experience with this? Anybody think this would help them? Drop it in the comments 🙂 I’d love to hear from you!

All the best to all of you!

X

Michelle

Web find: Anti-Depression Kit

Just a quick post to share something I saw floating around the web (I believe this is the original Tumblr post). Check out this ‘Anti-Depression Kit):

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I just thought this was very sweet.


More posts coming – I’ve just got to pull myself out of my pit of sadness first. I’m getting there!

All the best to all of you 🙂

Promo update: depression-inspired tattoos

Remember this post about Healthline collecting images and stories of people’s depression-inspired tattoos? Well, the final product is up now. So if you submitted, or you simply enjoy this sort of thing, check it out!

I really like the :): ones. Maybe it’s time for me to get some more ink.

Review: HOW TO BE HAPPY – Lee Crutchley

cover of HOW TO BE HAPPY  bookYou know how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? You shouldn’t judge a book by its genre descriptor either. I’ve read a fair few self-help books; I’m willing to bet you have too. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what self-help books are like. So, I was surprised when I received my copy of Lee Crutchley’s HOW TO BE HAPPY (OR AT LEAST LESS SAD). I was expecting a self-help book like any other, but it is a little different from other self-help books.

First off, it’s a workbook filled with activities (If you’ve done CBT, ACT, or similar therapies, you’ll probably recognize some of the activities.). With this book, you can cut right to the chase and do helpful activities instead of just reading about them. I believe a lot of us spend enough time sitting around thinking when we should be doing!

Second, it’s a fairly modest book. The author doesn’t claim expertise. There are no assumptions that the book will cure you. There is even acknowledgement that not all activities will work for everybody. However, there is a good range of activities, and I think there is something there for everybody.

When flipping through the book, the first thing I noticed was the fun design. It is decidedly more pleasant that the photocopies-of-photocopies-of-worksheets you usually get in therapy sessions. The second thing I noticed, upon closer inspection, was that it is witty. I caught myself truly laughing out loud more than once (and couldn’t we all do with a laugh?)!

If you’re looking for a nice book of activities to lift your mood, I think HOW TO BE HAPPY could be just the thing for you. Will it work for you? Well, I can’t tell you that, but the book comes with my recommendation, nonetheless! I’ve been working on a few of the activities myself (though I still can’t bring myself to write in the book; the idea makes my eye twitch), and I’ll be sure to report in with any excellent results.

If you’re in the US, HOW TO BE HAPPY hits shelves near you today. If you’re in the UK, sit tight till July. Regardless of geography, you can take a peek on Amazon. Also, check out the #HTBHbook tag and/or one of these other reviews to see more information about the book, and even some of the activities. And, if you want to learn more about Lee Crutchley and his work, you can go to his site, leecrutchley.co.uk.

I don’t get paid to do reviews as I’ve not yet started a ‘will work for books’ campaign, so you’re looking at my honest opinions!

Promo: depression-inspired tattoos

If you like tattoos you might be interested in checking out this slideshow of depression-inspired tattoos at Healthline.com. There are some pretty cool tats, and some touching stories. If you have a depression-inspired tattoo, you can share a photo and your story  (the details and fine print are right through the link).


I actually have a depression tattoo (though for privacy reasons, I’m keeping in under wraps [I say on by blog full of my inner thoughts!]). Depression has been a part of my life for so long, it felt right to have it physically imprinted on me. People misunderstand it. They think it’s a shooting star. The tattoo artist almost oriented it so that it way, but I corrected him. It’s not a shooting star; it’s a falling star. That’s what I feel like sometimes. Beautifully tragic. But if people want to think of me as a shooting star – beautiful and lucky – I’m okay with that, too! 😉

Something to Live For

Lately I’ve had this pervasive thought. It is this: I have nothing to live for.

It’s not necessarily true. I have family, and I have friends. I even have school. It seems like that is enough for many people.

I’m not sure if it’s enough for me. I don’t see much of my family or my friends. Other than my brother, nobody is near by. School is just school. I don’t love what I currently study enough for it to emotionally sustain me.

I don’t have a significant other. I don’t have friends/family/peers (other than the aforementioned brother) that often. I don’t even have a pet.

It makes it harder to get up in the morning. It makes it harder to keep going.

It’s not easy for me to motivate myself to go on for myself. Yet, I think that’s what I need to be able to do.

So this is the plan: I’ll keep going. I’ll keep going until I find something to keep me going or until I’m good at going on for myself (practice makes perfect). Eventually, I think I’ll come across something to live for.

On having stuff and things

I am not a particularly materialistic person. I enjoy owning things, of course – I like having a laptop for computing, cookware for making tasty things, etc. But I get fed up with having so much stuff.

My family hoarded things. In part, it’s a habit you pick up from poverty. You hold onto things because you don’t know if you’ll be able to afford to replace them. You hold onto things that are broken or worthless because they might have a purpose one day. Before you know it you’ve got all this stuff that you don’t use.

I’m guilty of this hoarding on a small scale. I hold onto things that I think I might be able to use for arts and crafts. I’ve got scraps of paper, and pieces of string, and stones that I might use one day – not today, and not tomorrow, but, maybe, one day. A cleverer person would probably throw them out.

Every once in a while, I get the urge to live a much simpler life, and I start getting rid of things I don’t need or want. It’s not easy. I second-guess myself (might need it later, might want it later). Yet, I’ve never run into a situation where I’ve needed something I’ve gotten rid of.

There are also things I might want. I want more tech gadgets, and I want more cookware. But I don’t need these things, so I don’t get them. It’s pretty simple.

I’m happier living without so much stuff. However, I’m surrounded by people who think differently. It can be straining. I have friends and family who just keep buying and collecting things they don’t need. It grinds my nerves. I’ve learnt not to question them (Why are you buying that? You don’t need it.), because they get very offended (wanting something is a good enough reason for them to get it). I guess if they can afford the stuff, and they have space for it, it is their prerogative. I don’t really understand it though.

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