Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, Depression, faith, Friendship, happiness

Surviving the Pandemic – When I’ve Exhausted My Creative Resources

My Desk

So, I’m a pretty creative person.

I tend to have a lot of ideas. I’m not easily bored.

I think of myself as a resourceful person who can find solutions.

I used to say to our kids that if they were bored it was because they lacked imagination and I still think that people with a good imagination are not likely to be bored. Lately, however, I’ve begun to lack imagination. Or, put another way, I’ve begun to exhaust my creative resources.

It’s not exactly the same as burnout, because I’ve been there. It’s more like ‘dry out.’ I’ve squeezed every drop out of this sponge of creativity or imagination or resourcefulness. I’m in the, “just put one foot in front of the other,” stage. Methodical.

This has its merits. At least the things that need to be done, still get done.

I’ve been here before, in some measure, maybe not exactly to this extreme. I recognize the territory. I tell myself this is not permanent. It is a phase. I will emerge, once again, and there will be creativity and passion.

When I feel this way, I tend to ask if there is a cause. If I can identify a cause, maybe I can find a treatment or an antidote. There are things I can pay attention to, like getting more sleep, eating better, relaxing, lightening up.

But this is about a deeper need.

I remind myself to delight in the little things. This adds sparkles to my day. Sparkles are beautiful and distracting and they make me happy.

Are sparkles enough?

And there is the constant rub. That word–enough. That sense of something missing. Maybe even a latent guilt over the very fact that I question whether I have enough, whether I am enough.

I’m not pursuing happiness, exactly. It’s just that happiness and contentment is a byproduct of something greater. It’s how I feel when my cup is full.

So, what goes in my cup?

And when do I know it is full?

It might also be helpful to ask, how do I know it is not full?

And why is it so important for my cup to be full?

Is it really necessary for me to always be concerning myself with having a full cup?

Can I live, fairly contentedly, with a less than full cup?

The last question is one I can answer and the answer is, yes.

If there is one thing I have realized during COVID-19 it is that I can do with less than. I can adjust my expectations.

My husband just brought me coffee in a fancy cup. His response when I asked him, why the fancy cup, was, because it’s Sunday. I asked, what flavor is it? Coffee.

COVID-19 has caused me to distinguish between the things that nourish and the things that add flavor to my life.

I like flavor. I like pretty things. I like stimulation. I like entertainment. And these are really important and even necessary. But they can be delayed. I can wait for them.

What makes me really sad is when people have to wait a very, very long time for ‘flavor’ in their lives. I don’t live in a bubble. I feel the pain of humanity. I think about what others are suffering, not in order to compare and rationalize, and console myself by telling myself my situation could be so much worse, but simply because I have compassion.

One of the most meaningful things in life is knowing we are making a difference, however small or great an impact it is that we are making.

My mother is in her eighties and recently when I have spoken to her on the phone she has frequently alluded to the thought that she is no longer making a difference. I say things to her like, “As long as you can smile and speak an encouraging word, you are making a difference.” Or I remind her of the things she has told me she has done recently.

Her days stretch long before her and I know that what makes the most difference for her is if her time is punctuated by visits from others. These are the highlights of her life. I remind her that she bakes muffins or cinnamon rolls or pies and this is a special thing she does for the people who visit her. In our family we have used common sense and not cut off visits to our mother during COVID-19, since the place where she lives is not on strict lockdown and she has a patio door, so people do not need to walk through the building when they visit her. Staying connected fills her cup.

It is something that fills the cup for most people. We are designed for connection. I think about the many people who cannot go to their place of worship, the place where they meet their extended “family.” This is a difficult time for them. Others connect by going to clubs and parties. Some connect by going shopping. A senior friend told me, during the strictest COVID-19 lockdown period, that she would go grocery shopping almost every other day, just to be around people. Unfortunately my mother no longer drives and barely is able to walk, so she depends on people coming to her house.

Visits with my grandchildren fill my cup like nothing else does. They expose me to so much spontaneity, so much personality, so much unconditional love, so much amusement.

It takes a lot of work to remain connected in this world. I come from a family where we easily back away from others when there is a slight altercation. We don’t like conflict. But even more, we don’t like the sense that our views or our person is not respected. I have to keep going back, keep trying to connect again, keep believing in the importance of maintaining the path, not letting it become overgrown with weeds. This requires courage and sometimes humility, but most of all faith in humanity.

Without these connections, I think we dry up. Without the sense that we are able to make a contribution, even a smile or a kind word, I think we dry up. It is not unreasonable to expect and desire this nourishment in our lives. I have not seen my grandchildren for months, or my mother. COVID-19 means we cannot travel to see one another. But a phone call helps.

I can spend my life employing all my creativity and all my resourcefulness and still come up short, lacking, feeling a need. For me this is not always about having enough, but about being enough.

In my life I have had periods when I have not lacked for friends and meaningful relationships and then there have been other months and years when friends seemed to be impossible to find. As the apostle Paul said, ‘I have learned both how to be abased and how to abound.’

I watched my husband during the months when he had no work. He teaches children music–a very stimulating and emotionally rewarding job. He is the optimist who will always talk about the cup as half full, not half empty. But I saw the truth when he wasn’t working. He felt the emptiness. Life wasn’t enough and it made him come to the conclusion that he will never retire. He will teach as long as he is able.

I have seen doctors and teachers and caregivers become depressed in retirement because they can no longer help. My husband’s father has nightmares of being back in his managerial position. He, on the other hand, loves his retirement.

During COVID-19 I have thought a lot about addictions. Some of us are addicted to helping. We get “high” only if we are helping others in some way, whether that is through our job, making our boss happy, volunteering, cooking food for our family, creating something to bring joy to others, or any other ‘helping’ activity. We have to be making a meaningful contribution. And when that well dries up, and we are no longer giving, we become depressed. In some ways this depression is a good thing, because it signals to us that things are not as they ought to be, and we ought to be contributing in some ways with our lives, but it does not signal that our lives are insignificant if we are not giving in the usual ways.

Work, itself, can be a drug. A stimulus. We get that sense of accomplishment. That high feeling that accompanies completion, after the rigorous employment of our mental and physical resources.

During COVID-19 we have to find substitutes. Some people are more creative and imaginative in filling the gap. Others have more energy to burn and feel frustrated because of this. If ever there has been a time to reflect and to come to know ourselves, this is it.

I’ve been engaged in a number of self-improvement exercises in the past months, which I will not go into here. I’ve also looked at what brings me joy, what is life-giving. I’ve watched to see how I am impacted by the various things I do. I’ve analyzed why I do them. I’ve asked if they are helpful? Are they truly me?

So what do I do when I’ve exhausted my creative resources? When it becomes difficult to motivate myself? When I don’t seem to be able to fill my own cup?

When my children were young and used to get cranky I would ask myself if they were hungry, tired, or needed a diaper change. If these were all looked after, then I asked myself if they were in pain or some sort of discomfort. Sometime they were teething. Sometimes a bath helped to ‘refresh’ them. Sometimes they needed a cuddle and a lullaby.

These are still the basic needs we need to address in our own lives and the lives of others, young and old. We need self-care and we need comfort.

There is another thing we need as adults. We need to feel like we are enough, and like we are good enough. If we live our lives being less than kind, we will feel disturbed, understandably so. This is contrary to our design, which is to be life-givers. Because we are designed to give life, not doing so makes us feel like we are falling short.

There is a longing in all of us to have the sense of being really valuable human beings. If I live my life reasonably well, I might still come under a sense of guilt, a feeling of not being adequate, maybe of not doing enough. Often this is a false guilt.

I’ve battled these feelings and I think most people do. If not, then I would tend to question if there has been any real introspection.

I’ve been interested in why some people are so quick to reject Christianity, when Christianity, rightly applied, is really a very hopeful religion. Wrongly applied, it can result in despair, so maybe this is the reason for objections.

Probably the central unique and attractive feature of the Christian faith is the introduction of forgiveness. The Bible is full of stories of men and women constantly failing and falling miserably short of the ideals God has specified in the Ten Commandments.

God can look like a stern judge, condemning us, but in reality he is a shepherd, guiding us, trying to keep us from falling off a cliff, trying to keep us from destroying ourselves.

When Jesus came on the scene he essentially brushed away all the extra rules that were added to the commandments and condensed them into two laws–love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.

Jesus taught about the importance of having a good heart–keeping our heart attitude right. And of course, we all know that it’s impossible to keep our attitude right, so he introduces “redemption.” Essentially he tells us that we will never be free of the sense that we are failures, so we need some help. He offers forgiveness.

I’ve had to forgive myself. I’ve had to realign myself with the truth I know. I’ve had to learn to trust that I am enough. To believe that I am loved.

My mother has to embrace a new way of living in which she cannot derive her value from her ‘works.’ She has to derive value from her essence. The person she is. The person people meet when they visit her.

We are enough. I am enough. And when I fail, there is a remedy. It’s called forgiveness.

I still have resources at my disposal, even though they seem rather depleted now. My creative resources may feel like they’ve dried up, but it helps to remind myself that no matter what I feel, or what I experience, I, as a person, am still enough.

Even if I was paralyzed in a wheelchair, the very fact that I have life in me is enough to tell me I am worthy. I like to meditate on the miracle of life. This helps fill my cup.

This sense of worthiness, of knowing my life has value, restores my hope. It is a well from which I draw sustenance. So, when I feel like my creative flow is down to a trickle, I remind myself it’s not about doing. It’s about being. Everything I do flows out of the person I am and I am enough.

Things will turn around again. My strength will be renewed. This restful “nothing” phase is probably an important part of my recovery.

Posted in anxiety, Coronavirus, Depression, faith, Self Regulation

My Personal Response to the Coronavirus

 

edit cv

We are in early days, here in Canada, with stats going up every day, and drastic measures taken by our provincial and federal government around the coronavirus.

Being in the “over 60” category, I am doing my best to heed the admonition of my family and stay home. I admit I went to a specialist appointment last week and this week I needed to have a lab test and pick up a prescription. I’m now delegating the grocery shopping to my husband who is younger (smile).

Fear can grip us in these times, but fear is not helpful unless it serves a good purpose. I realized a long time ago that I can do much better in life without unreasonable fear. So, I try to put fear in its place.

However, there are some really difficult things we may have to face, and thinking about this can make us anxious and fearful. There is also a “spirit of fear” which is not from God and which we do not have to be subject to. There have been times in my life when I have rebuked the spirit of fear, in the powerful name of Jesus, whom I serve, and it has immediately left me.

Facing the truth can make us fearful, but it also has the ability to empower us, because it means we can take some action and be more prepared for what is to come.

I tend to look at the worst case scenario and work my way backwards from there. The worst case scenario for me is that I would be destitute, without food and shelter, diseased and end up dying as a result of the coronavirus. This is a very tragic scenario, but extremely unlikely.

flowers

In times like this I place a lot of trust in God sustaining me. I keep reminding myself when I see a beautiful flower, or watch a bird flitting about on my balcony, that God cares about me more than he cares about the birds and flowers. I’ve been meditating on the beauty of the design of birds…things like their unique color and shape, the function of their feathers, the fact that they can fly and humans can’t. This is faith-inspiring. None of these birds have a “job” or an “income” yet God provides for them.

I have the advantage of having faced extremely trying financial times and come through them. Remembering my past experiences gives me faith for the future now, while my husband’s job hangs in the balance.

I have endured pain and sickness and loss. I’ve taken it one day at a time. I’ve survived. This is what I plan to do.

I will use this time of seclusion to read material I have not had time to read, to practice piano, and play guitar. Maybe I will pick up language learning again. I will write, and call people. I will paint, and maybe make some cards to send.

I will do some exercises. I will cook a few tasty meals. I’ll watch some YouTube videos and the occasional movie or reality show. I have a few ideas of new things I want to learn, like story telling.

There is no shortage of things I can do with my time. But for me the challenge is keeping my spirits up. It’s OK to get a little bit down. That’s normal. But the real “exercise” is to get back to that good place and then try and maintain it for as long as possible. For me it can prove difficult when I am the one entirely responsible for how I will spend my time.

I think it was actually easier when I had children in the house to distract me and challenge me and bring me joy. This “retirement” stage brings with it the difficulty of regulating myself and my life. One of the ways I have typically helped myself was by planning regular outings and activities outside the home. It looks like I will have a long stretch without this distraction, now, so I need to find out what will work for me during this season. I remind myself, this is temporary and I am very capable of addressing this challenge. I plan to encourage myself with every successful day and learn from what I’ve done.

First and foremost, I will not expend unnecessary energy on being anxious about things over which I do not have any direct control. It will only bring me down, make me more susceptible to health issues, and rob me of enjoyment in my present circumstances.

I can pray, and I will pray for those in deep need, and I will be open to possibilities of how I can be of help and think about what is reasonable for me to do. I will try to speak encouragingly, with understanding.

I will regulate what I watch and listen to, in terms of news updates, and I will monitor my response, so as not go become too anxious. I will tell myself to take things one day at a time. I will remind myself of Who I can trust with my future.

bird

 

 

Posted in addictions, Depression, Drugs, Health, women

Sweetie, Ple-e-ease Don’t Do Drugs

woman-looking-at-sea-while-sitting-on-beach-247314
courtesy of pexels.com

 

I watched her walk across the street and felt a knife slice through me. This could be me…or my sister…or my friend…or my niece.

The drugs had killed her. I saw the lifeless eyes. The ravaged body. The unfocused mind. The shaking nerves.

I want to find the biggest billboards and post them with graphic images of her.

DON’T do DRUGS!

I want to post them everywhere. All over the city. All over the countryside.

No matter how bad it gets, sweetie, ple-e-ease DON’T do DRUGS!

Yes, that could have been me. “Try it…try it,” they urged me. As though they were my friends.

They were not my friends. Anyone who offers you drugs is your enemy number one. That is the first sure sign that they don’t give a sh*t about you.

Drugs won’t fix anything. But there are a few things drugs will do, and you can count on that. Think about it. Take a look down drug alley.

Life is tough. Life is really hard. It’s what it is.

The trick is to learn to push through. Everybody has to do it.

Get up. Get up again. Life will knock you down. Do not to resort to the type of “help” that cripples you in the long term. Because you could still be here for a long time and suffering much more than you can imagine if you start on that path.

Once you start on drugs, you shut the door to help. Because drugs are a dead end. Even your own mother can’t help you.

No reason whatsoever is good enough to do drugs.

Doing drugs is saying yes to a ball and chain. Drugs create a prison of perpetual torment that you can’t get out of. It may be ecstasy for a moment, but there will be hell to pay.

You are smarter than that, girl.

Don’t let drugs to ruin your beauty, your brain, your talent, your smile, your laugher, your love, your gift to the world.

Sweetie,

Ple-e-ease,

I beg you,

DON’T do DRUGS.

 

 

 

Posted in Depression, faith, Health, mental health

Staying in my Happy Place

This morning I awoke in my Happy Place. It felt like the world was right. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. I wasn’t overwhelmed by any anxiety. I didn’t have a sense of doom. I wasn’t worried.

When we want to have good mental health it is important to have a measuring point. It is important to identify how we feel when things are going well. My Happy Place, for me, is my measuring mark. It is the place I try to be most consistently in my life. I try not to fall too far below this mark and when I do, I make an effort to get back there.

In order to repeatedly experience my Happy Place I find I have to know what good things happened to make me feel this way? What did I do differently?

Some of the things that contribute to my Happy Place are a good diet, time spent outdoors, and being in the presence of family and friends.

Things that rob me of my sense of well-being are injustice in the world, family conflicts and the threat of losing what is precious to me.

In the same way that I identify what happened to make me feel peaceful and joyful, I also need to figure out what happens that makes me lose my sense of well-being.

I find it helpful to write down whatever I can think of that impacted my emotions in a negative way. Then I put a box around it.

When I write things down, I can see clearly what I have to watch out for. I have a limited amount of time and energy and I cannot allow these things to absorb a disproportional share. In other words, I need to be careful about how much time and energy I spend interacting with them. I am the one who has the most control over how these particular disturbances impact me.

On this list of stressors are some things I can do something about, and other things over which I have little or no influence. Because I am a praying woman, I commit to God the things I cannot change. And then I pray for wisdom and guidance regarding the things I can change.

Maintaining a peaceful life feels good, but it is also necessary for our health. Anxiety and worry and distress cause all sorts of difficulties in our bodies such as high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and even reduced immunity. Stress can also cause people to resort to unhealthy and addictive behaviors and this is another reason why it is good to identify our stressors and learn to manage them.

When I write down the troubling things in my life, I am giving them a name and creating a bit of distance between me and them, enough to take an objective look at them.

This is one of the ways I organize my life. When our lives feel stressed it is often because we feel out of control. Our lives become chaotic. Chaos makes us uneasy. We naturally want to be in control of our lives.

When we see our stressors in front of us in this way, life becomes more predictable. A more predictable life gives us a greater sense of control. A greater sense of control leads to greater peace of mind.

Blocking, or burying things, by refusing to think about them, means that they can pop up unexpectedly and throw our lives into disorder or chaos. That is the reason why I like to be aware of what is going on inside me, particularly the things disturbing me. I like to identify and corral the enemy in this box.

At the other end of the page that contains the box with the things in it that are stressors, I draw another box that represents the good feelings I have when I am happy with my life. It includes the things that contribute to these good feelings. In this way I can keep track of what gives me a sense of well-being.

You may need to wait and watch for your Happy Place to happen–that place where you have a general feeling of well-being. Once you recognize the exact feelings you have, you can begin to try and prolong this good feeling. Make it last an hour, a day. Try and make it happen more frequently.

I draw third box between the box of stressors on the left, and my happiness box on the right, and in it I write action steps I will take. These are the things I believe I can do to make my life better and to stay on track. Sometimes I can’t do much, but I can do a little. Doing a little, now and then, starts to add up over time.

One of the keys for me to be in my Happy Place has been to find out exactly what the “little things” are that I can do well. Not what others expect me to do. Not even my expectations of myself, because I will often put far too much on myself. But just those small things that I feel a gentle nudge to do, things that are a good fit for me in terms of my character and ability.

Years ago I read a book about the difference between faith and presumption. I realized that I had presumed a lot of things were my responsibility when they were not. Faith gives us only as much responsibility as we are meant to carry. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we find the yoke that is tailor-made made for us then our burden becomes much lighter and easier. The truth is that as long as we are in this life we will have burdens to bear, but they don’t have to crush us.

Peace is probably the word that best describes what I feel when I am in my Happy Place. I have found that I need to pursue peace. Things will always happen to disrupt my peace and then I have to begin my journey back by recognizing the place I want to be, acknowledging the things that are hindering me, and committing to doing what I can do to make a difference.

Posted in Depression, Health, mental health

Don’t Let the Depression Monster Get You

drivingIt feels like I have battled depression all my life. I am familiar with a great many strains of depression. Depression is like a bacterial infection. It might go away on its own if left alone, or it might turn into a life-threatening disease. So the key is to get it under control early.

At its worst, the depression monster clouds you with a paralyzing feeling of doom and despair. I have only had this a few times and it made me very sympathetic to those who opt for a way out of this life.

In most cases you have the inner resources to defeat the depression monster. Myriads of people have resorted to meds and they can take the edge off. The trouble is there are side effects. I was prescribed meds by my doctor and I bought them. But I was so low that, knowing how depression medication can also make you suicidal during the first couple of months, I decided not to take the risk. I chose rather to live with what I knew and understood than introduce an element that could feed the monster.

Having spoken with people on medication I have learned that the lows are not as low, and the highs are not as high when they are on meds. It sort of puts you in a middle zone, numbing your senses. People who read this and have experience with medications will be able to tell you much more about how it works. I am not an authority. But I have also seen how medication can cause someone to spiral out of control, emotionally.

You may need to get medical help for depression. If you do, be sure you work closely with your doctor.

But, if like me, you decide to control this monster on your own, there are some things that have worked for me which I will share with you.

I was “down” a lot as a kid and a teenager. Some of it had to do with my home life. Some of it had to do with my temperament. I have the melancholy temperament common with artists and musicians.

We moved away from my friends and it took me years to find friends again, so I was alone a lot.  I was bullied a lot and had constant anxiety as a kid about getting on the bus in the morning or walking down the hallway at school because that is when my bully and his buds targeted me.

I had several things going for me as a kid. One was regular meals and good nutrition. If I were a doctor, this would be the first thing I would check if someone presented with depression. The second would be social support in terms of friends and family or at least associates. The third would be stressors.

Each of us has our own story of how the depression monster was fed and grew in our lives until one day he was out of control. My monster was out of control after I had my second child. Somehow I managed to clamber out of the deep dark dungeon I found myself in. I don’t remember much about that time, but what I do remember is that I told myself I would never let myself get so low again because it was too hard to get out.

As I write about this I have a great sense of inadequacy because of how I have failed to consistently tame the monster. However I am continuing, knowing there are things I have done that have definitely reduced the size of this monster and kept him at a respectable distance.

The first thing you have to realize about this monster is that you will have to fight him on your own. Nobody can do it for you. So you have to get some weapons. You have to understand your enemy. You have to track him, watch what he does, what makes him diminish, watch what empowers him.

What works for someone else may not work for you. You might find some of the things I share helpful while others will not work for you at all. You may have already discovered some things that help you. The only thing I say is don’t rely on unhealthy habits and supports because, even though they might appear to work, they will bite in the end. I’m talking about addictions. Unhealthy substance use and addictive activities. Remember, you want to be in control of your mind and your body. This feeling of control is the most powerful way to stave off the depression monster.

Some of us have already succumbed to addictions. And there are many different kinds. Be gentle with yourself. But make it your responsibility to choose the most healthy and wholesome course.

Cognitive behavioral counseling is the most effective form of counseling for depression and it is sometimes coupled with medication. In fact, medication is most effective when it is used in conjunction with counseling. Cognitive behavior counseling helps us change our thinking and behavior. Unfortunately, counseling costs a lot of money. And people who need counseling often don’t have insurance to cover the cost. So, you have to seek your own counsel.

I looked across at my doctor’s report in his office when he left the room for a minute and he had written down, chronic depression?? He was suggesting that I find a friend and go for regular walks. He said his wife did this. A good friend can be more helpful than a counselor.

There are so many little things I have done to keep my personal monster at bay. A lot of things I do without thinking. Some are pretty random. I’ll share a list I’ve managed to come up with. Honestly, this subject requires a book but I have tried to condense it.

  1. Light therapy. Don’t stay in a dark room during the day. Open the blinds and let light in. Turn on lights if you have to. Yellow or warm light is better than blue light. There are also special lamps you can get to stave off depression. Do some research. I have a friend who tans in the winter to get light. But heed the warnings about tanning.
  2. Keep relationships healthy. This takes a lot of work and will be a lifetime job. There may be friends you need to drop. There may be relatives with whom you need to spend less time. Conversations to avoid. Take time to study conflict resolution skills and how to share your needs and desires effectively. Express appreciation to others too, so that they will like to be with you. Limit negative influences, and this includes news articles, talk shows, videos, social media, etc. Guard your heart. Stay upbeat.
  3. Don’t watch movies in the morning or afternoon. This is when you want to be using your creative energy on important things. Movies are for the time of day when you wind down. They are a passive activity.
  4. Find a no-brainer game to play for half an hour to an hour a day. Generally a maximum of two hours because you don’t want it to turn into a mindless addiction. If done the right way it can put your brain in neutral and give it time to reset. People who are depressed are often over-thinkers so they need to put their thoughts on hold for awhile. Other activities can do this too.
  5. I’ve already mentioned nutrition. We used to own a restaurant and we frequently saw that vegetarians were the most unbalanced emotionally. They came in stressed and couldn’t make their minds up. You may vehemently disagree with me, but I am only speaking from my own experience. I can sink into a depression very quickly if I don’t have protein consistently on a daily basis. But people with other body types might be different. A small piece of meat or cheese twice a day is very helpful for me. And another reminder, eat vegetables every day for mental health. As far as supplements go, I suggest you consult your doctor or naturopath in addition to doing your own personal research.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up. Be gentle. And be firm. Learn your rhythms and work with them. What I have found very helpful, for instance with household chores, is to tell myself to do a small thing to clean up a room every time I walk into it. Disorder contributes to depression, so you want to focus on bringing order into your life. But don’t beat yourself up. Instead, learn to be consistent. Don’t allow yourself to become slack, but give yourself slack, if you know what I mean.
  7. Find the wholesome thing that brings you joy. It might be window shopping, going to a park, listening to music, painting, playing guitar, volunteering, making creative desserts, poking around at thrift stores, fixing things, hiking, taking photographs. Incorporate these things into each day.
  8. Realize that you can either have the body you want or eat the foods you want. You choose. I learned long ago that I will never be able to eat as many potato chips or donuts as I want. I struggle with getting to my ideal body weight, so I have told myself this will be a process that will take time. In the meantime, I watch that I don’t gain. It is the least I can do because gaining weight is depressing for me.
  9. Root out thoughts of hopelessness and despair. Thoughts like, “I can never do this. I am a failure. I am worthless.” The list is long. Begin by identifying your habitual negative thoughts and then work at reframing them. For instance, “I may have failed at a few things, but I can try again. I have also succeeded a few times and there is a good chance I will succeed again, soon, if I don’t stop trying.” “I am a very worthwhile human being by virtue of the fact that I am on this earth. I have a purpose and I am going to find out the unique ways in which I can make a difference.”
  10. Avoid the downward spiral. This requires recognizing it. Recognize what triggers it. It may be negative thought patterns. It may be wrong foods. It may be the time of month–Midol has helped me. Or it may be nothing you recognize. Sometimes you may just have to get up and show up and tell yourself that tomorrow will be a better day. And if you can’t do that, then you ought to seriously consider seeing your doctor because you could be suffering from an underlying medical condition.

If you try even a few of these suggestions you will find it makes a difference. Come to think of it, I haven’t even mentioned sleep and exercise, which are huge.

I fight this battle consistently. I think it helps to realize that it may be a bit futile to think I will actually slay the monster.

I try not to become too fixated on the monster. Instead I divert my attention elsewhere. I distract myself and work on developing healthy patterns. The monster seems to have less power when it is not the centre of attention.

When I focus on keeping my hope and joy alive, the depression monster kind of shrivels and sometimes even vanishes, for awhile.