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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wise Words From a Long-term Patient

The woman who talked to me today about how she has learned to manage, what was once a debilitating depression, has been in on-going weekly treatment for a number of years.  Over time, she has come to know herself and, with some trial and error, has learned how to take care of herself  in a way that is effective and also a relief to her family.

Coping with depression:
~When it occurs, I limit myself to 7 days.  If I still feel the same after that time has passed, I will make a life change.  Usually, it has abated by then.
~I don't exacerbate it.  When I feel bad, I don't allow myself to dump more discouraging thoughts upon myself.  So I don't continue to spiral down and feel worse and worse.
~ Continue to function.  ("Fake it 'till you make it")  I fulfill my responsibilities, take care of my child,--- despite feeling somewhat robotlike or, certainly joyless, at times.  Doing this keeps me out in the world, encountering people and new situations, which sometimes helps to change the mood during the 7 days.
~I say to my family what it is that I need at that time.  For example, in that state I am pre-occupied with trying to deal with myself.  So, I don't have much patience nor energy for listening.  I ask them to limit their quests for my attention.
~No externalizing.  For example, when I wake up to find myself depressed, I previously found it convenient to blame men.  However, when I began looking at my history, I realized that I was sometimes visited by depression when I was not even in a relationship with a man.  "I saw that it was not the world shitting on me but how I looked at the world."
~Don't shut out those who care.  I did hurt those close to me before I learned this (when I did do the closing out, that was something else to feel bad about).
~From the movie, Zombieland, I saw that when I learned something I could make a rule and enter it in my journal.  Also, that the rules are not written in stone; they can be amended or changed as needed.

These guidelines came of a long, consistent effort on the part of a person who suffered for years and now is living the majority of her life in a satisfactory state of mind.  When she is visited by depression, she isn't helpless; she has created a personalized program for staying in charge of her life.

Does this woman's story inspire you to try to develop your own self-help list?  What have you come up with?

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