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I have been feeling very out of sorts for the last month or so, dealing with various troubles and stress. A few of my close family members are having medical problems with not-so-good outlooks (cancer, stroke). My DH has been working like 24 hours a day it seems, I feel like a single mom. Sometimes I just feel like I can't go on anymore - I feel a lump in my throat and just cry. It is really hard to talk to anyone IRL, all they have to say is "get out for awhile, do something for yourself!"
I really don't feel like that is the problem though, I don't think that "getting away" is the answer. I feel like I don't know who I am anymore - I don't know what will make me happy, have no one to talk to, then my hard drive crashes and I can't use the computer for what seems forever and I lose touch with my only source of contact with anyone. I feel SOOO pathetic sometimes. DH tries to be understanding, but he just ends up irritating me most of the time.
Last week it all came to a head, I was just picking on everything - actually got mad at him because he had to use the bathroom and would be unavailable to help me with my son. It was really ridiculous. He got mad at me and went to bed. Then I just lost it, crying on the living room floor, my house a mess, my dog jumping all over the furniture, my son trying to open up EVERYTHING, I felt like my life was meaningless. I exist to cook, clean, and feed.
I think what gets me the most about this is that I don't really feel like my emotions are justified- people have things way harder than me and manage, why can't I figure it out? Why do I fall into this "poor pitiful me" stuff? My husband wanted me to see someone, but I don't really think any DR. is going to have any advice other than drugs or "get away for awhile." I don't know, maybe drugs would help, I can't help but feel a little leery of that though.
I have managed the last few days OK, and decided it was time to at least talk some of this out, if not IRL, then online. I have just been too wiped out to do anything. I'm not at ALL educated on natural medicine, and I don't eat *really* well - so I don't know if anyone has any advice in that arena. Thanks for letting me get this out - I do feel a little better now.
I struggle with depression too, off and on, so I know how hard it can be. Let me see if I can think of some things that help me. I try to get outside - take a walk or just sit. I think this helps because aside from getting some exercise, I'm getting away from all my depressed energy which has collected throughout my house. Being outside just refreshes me. Trying to refresh the energy in your house can also be a help. I don't know how cold it is where you are, but sometimes just opening the doors/windows and getting some fresh air in can make a huge difference. Or light a scented candle or burn some sage and turn on some relaxing music. Buy yourself flowers and put them in the room where you spend the most time. This seems like a huge extravagence (I know it does to me), but I am visiting my mom right now and she always has fresh flowers in her house. It has really been nice - just to have something beautiful and living too look at.
Are you nursing? If not, you can take St. John's Wart. I know this helps some people. You aren't supposed to take it while nursing though, as far as I know. Cutting back on dairy and sugar will also help depression, but ime they are really hard to give up when you are using them as comfort foods to get through the day. (I don't know if you do this, but I sure do.) I try to pick comfort foods that are half-way healthy like granola and rice milk or toast with almond butter and jam.
Do you have any Rescue Remedy? This can also help when you are having one of those "I'm falling apart" moments (or days).
Do you have a spiritual practice? This may seem like a strange thing to ask, but honestly as I look back through the past year, this is the thing that has helped keep me out of depression. Exactly what your practice is doesn't matter at all, just that you are getting something meaningful and nurturing out of it. I like to read on women's spirituality (there have been a lot of great books suggested in the Spiritual If threads, if you are interested) or do yoga or meditate (which doesn't necessarily mean sitting quietly - you can do it while taking a walk or washing the dishes). Having some grounding practice is really a strength to lean on when times get hard.
I know how you feel about going to a doctor. To some extent, I feel/have felt the same way. However, if your life is truly suffering and you are not seeing any way out of your depression, I would urge you to consider going in to see one. Get recommendations before you pick a doctor out. Try to get one who at least has some respect for alternative methods, if they aren't an holistic health provider themselves. You can always go and if you don't like the advice you are given, look elsewhere. You are responsible for your own health, not a doctor with whom you have spent 15 minutes, ykwim. You also might consider counseling if you think talking things over with someone might help.
Wow, I'm glad I read this instead of just posting. This is EXACTLY the advice I was going to give. Getting away for me didn't mean leaving my kids it meant escaping my house...and even an open window helped. Eating better help too because it's a vicious cycle - you don't have the energy to cope if you aren't eating well and then eating well seems to take so much energy. Being mindful of day to day things as a form of meditation...just stilling your mind and concentrating on the moment - just what you're doing is very relaxing. And when all else fails and this is seriously affecting your quality of life seek out help. Also coming here and ranting is helpful as long as you don't get bogged down in it.
My family has a HUGE problem with depression. My mother and sister are manic and have co-dependency issues as did my father, and my aunt as well. I struggle off and on with depression and have found it's really hard for people on the outside to know what you're going through. My poor DH doesn't know what to do with me sometimes, and I've learned not to expect him to. It just makes it worse if I start thinking about the things he SHOULD be doing to help me, and for someone who has never dealt with it himself that's a lot for me to ask.
When I'm in a depression, I try and take the time to slow down, reflect on why, and either take steps to change it, or just allow myself to be in it and ride it out. Sometimes I even learn something from it. I remind myself it won't last forever and that it's my body telling me that I need to slow down, lower my expectations of my life right now, and pay close attention to how I'm feeling and why.
It seems to me you have perfect reason to be depressed, ill family members, and your DH needing to work so much leaves you with a lot of stresses (kids, dog, household, and all the everyday stuff that you need a 2nd person to help with). Don't be hard on yourself and give yourself permission to be depressed. Feeling guilty for it will only make it worse.
Yes! Permission to be depressed! That has helped me immensely - realizing that depression will pass, and that it can actually be helpful. It can help just by slowing me down and making me reflect. One thing I really have to work at is being nice to people when I am feeling depressed. Or at least not being mean. "We're all just muddling through" I tell myself. Lots of great suggestions already...I will just second fresh air, exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, doing fun stuff with your kid(s), growing things.
I use cognitive therapy. In order to escape from depression and anxiety, I have to retrain my thinking. It feels really awkward at first, but it has been crucial for me. For example, when my mind starts going into a dialogue of self-loathing and guilt, I visualize a stop sign, and then say some sort of mantra or affirmation.
If I have worked myself into a panic over something I have certain things I remind myself of in certain situations. If I am nervous about going into a social situation, I remind myself that the situation does not revolve around me, that it exists for some other purpose (to help a political cause, to entertain children, to support breastfeeding). I've found that anxiety is often just an extreme self-absorption, and I feel much better when I realize how relatively unimportant I am (what a relief!).
If there are issues that are really troubling me, I deal with them spiritually. An effective thing to do is to burn your psychological burdens on the dark moon, releasing them to the universe. Spiritual practice helps so much -- even if you have to fake it for a while. One can also write love letters to oneself. One can do a self-blessing each day. One can say affirmations as one goes to sleep. What you are basically doing is tricking your brain back to happiness when depression has tricked you out of it.
It is natural with bad things to happen to be bogged down in them. Perhaps make a practice of keeping a gratitude journal each day will help offer perspective? Also, if your house has become a mess, I recommend the flylady group of egroups. It helps to provide one with a structure so one does not collapse completely into oneself. If it is seasonal depression, get outside first thing in the morning. Also, exercise helps. And music -- lots of it, with dancing.
My mom does something every morning that I have always admired. She has depression issues too, and about 2 years ago she started having a "spiritual moment" every morning. She says that she thinks of all the things that she is grateful for and prepares herself for the day, accepting that there will be much out of her control. I thought on this last year and made a resolution to do this, but to be honest I had completely forgot until you said "keeping a gratitude journal"! I appreciate your thoughts.
I have been there and I have one word for you: THERAPY. A good therapist will help more than any drugs or doctor or IRL/Internet chatting. I do believe that drugs have their place (I was on Zoloft for a while myself) but only in conjuction with good therapy, and often therapy alone is really more important. If you have insurance that will cover some of the cost, then use it, and do see a doctor if you have to get a referral.
And BTW your emotions ARE justified. I always hated it when people would try to make me feel better by pointing out that other people have it worse. It never worked--not only would I still feel bad about my own situation (and feel crappy about myself for it), then I'd also feel bad for these other people and really helpless. It helped me a lot to realize (through therapy!) that my own feelings were perfectly valid and that I was not responsible for the suffering of the world but only for taking care of myself and my kids. Once I take care of my own problems and learn to love myself, I can turn to others and see what I can do for them. And I HAVE to be well to take care of my kids, who always come first.
Get thee to a therapist. Please. You're worth it and it will help.
Oh, do I have an idea of what you're going through! Depression is a horrible thing. It's so debilitating and isolating. I think that having someone to talk out your stuff with is really important, but if you find the wrong person, it's often worse than having no one at all. If you go to a doctor that insists that a pharmeceutical cure is all you need, it won't help.
A lot of the other women have suggested really good ideas. Going for walks, taking time-outs, allowing yourself to be selfish - it helps. Fresh flowers never worked for me because I would focus too much on the fact that they were dying, but I was _really_ profoundly depressed.
As for stuff in your house, forget about it. Piles of laundry? Screw it. Dirty dishes? You don't even see them. Focus on you. You obviously can't ignore your child (and you don't sound like you want to), but there are so many things you can eliminate for now to help yourself get better. I don't know where you live, but many communities have support groups for moms going through depression (be it postpartum or not) - meeting in person with other moms is a great way of healing. You'll be reassured that there are others who are feeling very similar things and you can work out coping strategies together. I think that peer support is often much more effective in dealing with many mood problems than one-on-one therapy.
I'm not a doctor, but I've seen enough of them to know what has worked and not worked for me. I was hospitalised three years ago with severe depression and went through about 10 different drugs and 5 different doctors. And the most help I got was talking with the other patients at mealtime and in the smoking room (kind of scary that I'd prefer a room full of smoking mental patients
Everyone's experience of depression is different, and everyone's effective treatment will be equally different. I'm glad you're asking questions, though, instead of just accepting what others think is best for you.
I have problems with depression too. You have gotten so much great advice from everyone else that there isn't much I can add, so I'm mainly here to express support and tell you that you're not alone.
One thing I do when I'm in the midst of a really dark depression is remind myself that I have been through it before, and each time, it did pass. I also look to hormones as a clue - someone else suggested progesterone creme as a possible help and it did bring me some relief. I know that much of my depression is hormonally triggered; it was bad enough at some points during my pregnancies that I contemplated suicide. Fortunately when my depression gets that bad my DH knows how to keep me somewhat stable; we've developed certain code phrases which enable him to recognize the difference between mild depressions and the really big scary ones. I know you say your dh is annoying you, but if you have a day that's a little better can you have a talk with him about what you need?
Getting away may not be the answer but I find that even taking a half-hour drive by myself with a favorite CD to listen to can help me feel okay. Maybe you can experiment and find what works for you. Music really affects my mood, and in my case I do need to get out of the house alone even if briefly. It doesn't work as well for dh to go out with my son and leave me alone at the house because I'll just spend that time cleaning (even if my complaint is that I do nothing but clean). But YMMV - experiment. One other BTDT tip: if you're consuming caffeine, try cutting back; caffeine really aggravates depression.