TheRealSharon's Blog

{February 9, 2012}   Coping with the big D

I realized something the other day at the doctor’s office when he calmly and nicely talked to me about my depression. He asked me what I did to cope with my depression and my mind went blank for a space of time. After a couple minutes and him offering ideas of what I might do, I said, “I blog”. This response was well liked by my new doctor, but he told me a lot of conquering depression is learning good old fashioned coping skills.

The thing is, I had never really stopped and thought of how I DO cope with depression. It kind of shocked me that I wasn’t able to quickly rattle off ways I cope as easy as I think a lot of people not going through depression might be able to. I mean, there are lots of things I like to do, but things I DO to deal with my depression….that’s another story altogether. In fact, if I really search deep within myself and be honest, the fact that I have survived depression for over a decade MEANS I HAVE coped somehow, right?

But just because I HAVE coped,  doesn’t mean it was in healthy ways that helped me really CONTROL it. I think realizing this is what made me see that I HAVE to learn how to control my depression and I HAVE to do it now or nothing else positive is going to come into my life. My weight is a struggle for me, but I will never gain the willpower or motivation to fight against it if I don’t conquer my depression first.

So far, I have taken teensy weensy little steps and while I almost want to berate myself for this and force myself into bigger ones, taking it slow IS what I have to do to make it stick. I have started with doing some daily reading for inspiration and I am also putting little post it notes throughout my house with little inspiring sayings on them such as, “SMILE, it will make you look younger!” and one that reminds me to ask if my thoughts are helpful and affirmative or negative and critical?

I really think it’s important for me to keep that one question ALWAYS in my mind. Depression makes you think very negative and dark thoughts. If I can remind myself that my thoughts aren’t doing me or anyone else any good, then maybe I can learn to catch the thoughts like a dreamcatcher and switch them to positive.

I also discovered one bit of advice in this Life Management book I am reading that I think others might benefit from as well. It’s about changing from a “judger” to a “learner”. Instead of saying, “Why doesn’t she like me?” or “What’s wrong with me?”, learn to change your thoughts into ones like, “How could I have done this differently?” or “What could I do better next time?” So instead of judging YOURSELF or others in a situation, try to figure out what you can learn from it instead.

I KNOW I have a long way to go and I also know that self help books or any other kind of books will NOT help me on their own, which is why I am working up to the step of taking counseling. I know there are mixed opinions on that subject but I feel like sometimes it’s necessary to ask for help. There’s also the added benefit of being able to just confidentially spill out your heart and know the one listening can truly understand.

Month one’s goal was slow in getting started, but I am now happy to report that I have been drinking a LOT more water in the past week. I intend to keep it up and even increase it throughout the rest of this year.
I’ve been struggling to pick month two’s goal, but have finally decided on what it will be. This month I want to make a strong effort on working on my depression and coping skills. I think I have been putting this on the back burner and letting other things become much more important than my mental health and I want to make THIS my focus for the month instead of just something I worry about later. For me, this means actually scheduling some counseling, reading up on coping techniques and actively making it a point to relearn how I handle conflict and stress.
I don’t expect many others to probably share this specific goal with me, but I think learning to handle my depression in a mature and more effective way is what I have to do before I can work on other goals I have. It’s surprising what you are capable of doing if you can rise above your depression and not let it control you.
Here’s hoping I have good luck especially with this goal!

et cetera
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