Depression Getaway

encouragement, information, inspiration and hope

Christmas Stress: Taking my own Advice

Merry Christmas!

To all of my Depression Getaway readers:

I am taking my own advice.

I am cutting out everything I can to save what little energy I have for this stressful time of year.

So, I am starting with my blog and taking a break from posting until the new year.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself during this season.

Keep that Christmas Crash Helmet on

before, during and after Christmas.

I'll  be back in the New year.

Wendy Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Best Christmas Ever’ – Do You Have One?

Best Christmas ever? I know what one of mine was. Like to hear about it?best christmas ever

My 'best Christmas ever' has to do with one person, not with gifts or parties or decorations or Christmas movies.

And that person is my sister!

This picture of me and my sister was taken in 1967. We could laugh at nothing at all, or at everything. We find the same things funny. She is a little older than me so she has been in my life from the very beginning.

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Family Christmas: Filled with Laughter or Fraught with Tension?

'Family Christmas'– does that phrase bring good or bad memories to mind?

family christmas

"Family Christmas" brings all sorts of warm childhood memories to my mind. I remember food, fun, family, laughter and most of all love.

At least that is how I remember my childhood Christmases. Who knows, maybe my parents had stresses with our family christmas that I was not aware of?

Let me share a typical childhood Christmas for me.

I had lots of Aunts, Uncles and cousins right in Toronto where I grew up. On Christmas eve we would get together at church. The service was boring to this child but when you are sitting shoulder to shoulder with siblings and cousins, and 'visions of sugar plums' dancing in your head, it was pure fun. After church we would go back to someone's house for goodies and visiting and opening one present.

On Christmas morning my sister and I (after having slept for 2-4 hours) would wake up our folks at 5 or so. My mom would not deviate from her usual routine of washing her face, putting on lipstick, and adding pearls to her already beautiful negiligee outfit. Before we could start any present opening she would prepare tea and toast and fruit and bring it into the living room on a tray. I guess she thought no one should open presents on an empty stomach. After presents were torn open, my mom and dad might sometimes go back to bed (I thought they were sleeping) while my sister and I would play with our new stuff.

A little later in the morning we got together with our cousins for breakfast and more gift opening. Whoever did the breakfast didn't do the evening meal. After this lovely time of family, presents and food, home we would go.

Oh my goodness, a lull on Christmas day? Not for long. Soon we were packed up and going to visit our step relatives for more gifts and food. Then it was back home to prepare for the evening meal. While waiting for the final event of the day, my sister and I would lovingly arrange our stash of goods under the tree and discuss whether or not there might still anyone else who had a gift for us.

The next and last part of the day was a delicious turkey supper. I can still picture my uncle carving the meat. I can taste my aunt's pies. I can see my mother's pretty face. I can see my dad lovingly looking over us all. And I can see my sister, always there, usually right beside me. My sister was the one constant of every Christmas.

Were all of my Christmases so busy, so idyllic, so full of family. No, they weren't. There were probably only five or so like the one I described. This was probably my most ideal one, at least to me, as a child.

Maybe our childlike recollections of Christmas set all of us up for being disappointed in Christmas when we become adults? If we did have a happy family Christmas it might have been partly because we weren't involved in any of the planning or the work? We just turned up, opened gifts, ate food and enjoyed.

'Family christmas' – does it conjure up happy childhood memories or not?

'Family' can be one of those Christmas landmines we have been talking about.

For further reading you may want to check out Holiday Stress: 6 Ways To Deal With Difficult Family Members During The Holidays

WHAT ABOUT YOU? 'Family christmas' – does it conjure up happy childhood memories or not? And what about now? What kind of interactions are you looking forward to or dreading this Christmas? If there is no way to avoid situations or people who are unpleasant for you, can you figure out some way of dealing with it to minimize the stress?

I am so glad you dropped by Depression Getaway today. There is hope for depression. Don't give up. I am praying for you – right now.

Dear God,

Please comfort and heal the dear person who is reading this. Show them ways to minimize stress this Christmas. Thanks Lord.

Wendy Love

 

‘Season to be Jolly’?

Season to be jolly? That's a lot of pressure for someone who is depressed. 

season to be jolly

Tis the season to be jolly? Even if you don't deal with depression you can find it hard to be happy just because it is Christmas.

I remember the first Christmas after my dad died suddenly at the age of 59. Christmas came three months later. I knew Christmas was going to be tough. I even wondered if there was some way to avoid it all together. A friend said 'sure you could avoid it this year but then next year you will still have to have your first Christmas without your dad. You may as well get it over with.'

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Christmas Landmines: Detect and Avoid

Christmas landmines, I have a few. The biggest one might even be my own expectations.christmas landmines

My mother was a classy, fussy lady. Every morning I walked into our little kitchen to a mother who had already washed her face, brushed her hair and teeth, put on pearls (yep pearls), lipstick and a pretty negligee! 

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Christmas Crash Helmut – Be Prepared!

'Christmas Crash Helmut' . Your mood may crash either before or after Christmas. A 'Christmas crash helmet' could protect you from total devestation.

christmas crash helmet

'Christmas Crash Helmet' is the name of this next series here at Depression Getaway. Christmas is a difficult season for many, even those who do NOT have any sort of mental illness. My idea about a 'christmas crash helmet' is to encourage you to prepare for Christmas ahead of time.

CONFESSION? I don't enjoy Christmas. I feel like Scrooge saying that but it's true. It is too extroverted for this introvert. Too busy for this gal who needs quiet routine. Too much shopping for someone who does not like shopping. Add to that the guilt of being depressed during 'the most wonderful time of the year'. You get the idea.

However, I have found a few tricks which help me to navigate the season with less stress and more joy. What could be wrong with that? Would you like to know some of my little secrets? Stay with me for the next few weeks.

Christmas is especially difficult if you have depression 

say's Psychology Today. Let's talk about why.

"Tis the Season to be Jolly"

"Peace on earth and goodwill toward men"

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Are any of those sentiments true if you are dealing with depression?

I wrote 'What I Hate About Christmas' awhile ago. Feel kind of guilty using 'Christmas' and 'hate' in the same sentence but there it is! But when I googled 'what I hate about christmas' I discovered I was not alone. Check out 'Am I the only person alive who Hates Christmas?'

Depression doesn't take a holiday on holidays.

Oh how I wish it would but it doesn't.

As we observe the "commercial" Christmas created by Hollywood and the retail business, we fall into the trap of thinking it is real and normal, but it's not.

DO THE MATH:

'glowing notion of happy people during the holidays'  +  depressed person = more depressed person.

BUT WAIT! It doesn't have to be that way. 

The Christmas Crash Helmet will help you navigate the season with the least amount of damage.

Next time we are going to chat about why you need the Christmas Crash Helmet. (Hint: Christmas landmines).

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How are you feeling today? Is Christmas something you look forward to or something you dread?

I am so glad you dropped by Depression Getaway today. There is hope for depression. Don't give up, I'm praying for you, right now.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for Christmas and why it even exists, because you sent your son to us to save us and help us and comfort us. Please help each of us to cope with the way society has created this season. And Lord, someone who is reading this is having a really bad day, please reach out and love that person and give them hope.

Wendy Love

christmas crash helmet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depression Recovery Report Card: What Does Yours Look Like?

Depression Recovery Report Card? Is there such a thing? Well there is now and I am going to share mine with you.

depression recovery report card

A depression recovery report card helps us measure progress, even if that progress is backwards. Being aware and staying vigilante are key to handling mental illness.

I am sharing my own depression recovery report card because I have also shared, several weeks ago, that I hit a really low patch of depression in 'Help, I'm Hitting a Brick Wall'. If you read the downside, you deserve to read the upside. 

My first order of business every time my mood crashes is to cancel everything and lay low. Get as much rest and solitude as I can. Just doing that alone can often bring the low mood up a notch. This time I thought I would do the depression review again and see if there is anything I had missed.

In this latest series 'Depression Review with Eight Keywords' we have discussed eight things worth examining if you are wanting to measure your progress. These keywords can also help you get started on the road to depression recovery.

Keyword #1, Diagnosis

For me this has not changed. I received the right diagnosis, Bipolar II, in 2008. So there was no need to revisit this.

Keyword #2, Medication

I have struggled with most medications. They either didn't work or the side effects were worse than the depression. But when I really hit bottom again, as I did recently, I couldn't resist trying something new. (I am either brave or stupid!) I read about low dose lithium and thought it might be worth a try. After only one week, I had a killer headache and was seriously constipated. So changing medication was not an option, as usual.

*Keyword #3, Therapy*

I have tried therapy a few times with little success. I didn't stick it out. This time however I decided that if I could find a therapist I actually liked, I would stay with it for awhile. And I did! And I believe it has been helpful. The therapist explained to me that talking about your 'stuff', whatever that may be, gives it less power over you. Hearing yourself talk about things can bring perspective. And simply talking, talk therapy, has huge value. Personally I do not enjoy reliving my heartaches which is why I have resisted therapy all this time. However, I am glad I have persevered and will continue to go as long as it seems helpful. Surely this therapy has reduced my stress levels and therefore helped me back to the road of recovery.

depression recovery report card

Keyword #4, Research

No change here. I think I have oversaturated myself in research about my particular disorder. So further research wasn't necessary this time.

*Keyword #5, Lifestyle Changes*

One of my big challenges is sleep. I average 5 hours a night, which means some nights I get less than that. This is not helpful to depression. So my doctor gave me a mild sleeping pill. I checked it out with the pharmacist who said that it is safe to use 2 or 3 times a week. I keep records so I don't go over that because it is apparently addictive. But guess what? It has really helped to get a good sleep now and then. And that good sleep seems to have broken the cycle of poor sleep and sometimes I actually sleep well without any sleeping pill at all.

Keyword #6, Strategies

This time I did not come up with any new coping strategies. However, I still stick to my old ones, walking daily, eating well (most of the time!), not overdoing socializing or other activities, staying away from stressful situations and making sure I get enough alone time. Being an introvert, I need a lot of that.

Keyword #7, Recovery

No change here. But each time my mood crashes I remind myself that this Bipolar II is a chronic disorder. Recovery is sometimes temporary. And if I recovered before I will recover again. I tell myself this when I can remember to do so.

Keyword #8, Relapse

With each crash I remind myself that I have relapsed before and will probably relapse again.

So my depression recovery report card would say this: Wendy has successfully completed the 'Depression Review with Eight Keywords'. There was no changes necessary in diagnosis, medication, research, strategies, recovery or relapse so that gives her a recovery mark of 6 out of 8.  However, the changes made in lifestyle (sleep) and therapy, have produced favourable results and so this review has helped a lot.

I have recovered from a relapse! This is great news!

 

depression recovery report card

I am so glad you dropped by Depression Getaway today. Don't give up, there is hope for depression. I am praying for you right now:

Dear God,

Thank you for hearing all of my prayers for all of the people who read this blog. Please help, heal and comfort each one. And even right this minute Lord, a reader is desperate for help. Take them in your loving arms and give them hope.

Amen

Wendy Love

Relapse is a Dirty Word: #8 Keyword in Depression Recovery Review is Relapse

Relapse is a dirty word for me. It is dreaded, negative, unwanted, undeserved, well, you get the picture. But just like death is part of life, relapse is part of depression recovery. Do you have the courage to read on? 

relapse is a dirty word

Relapse. Relapse? Relapse!

Relapse is a dirty word, for me and probably for you too. Relapse is a word you don't want to even consider when working toward depression recovery. Relapse is a dirty word, right? But guess what? You absolutely must factor it in to your review.

If you attended Weight Watchers you would not only learn how to lose the weight, you would learn how to maintain that weight as well. If you don't maintain it, you will gain it back. Maintenance is part of the program. You will even learn what to do if you start gaining the weight back.

Mental illness is not as easy to control or maintain as weight. Many will recover from depression but some of those will relapse. What are you going to do if you have a relapse?

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Depression Recovery: Depression Review Keyword #7 is Recovery!

'Depression recovery' – I like the sounds of that, don't you? Just saying 'depression recovery' helps me to believe that it is possible for me, and for you.

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Recovery! I have some questions about that:

1. Isn't 'recovery from depression' what we are all working towards?

2. Doesn't 'recovery' sound wonderful?

3. How different would your life be if you were free of this old depression?

Depression recovery is my fantasy life, a life free of depression would have all sorts of pleasant social interactions in it. I would have people over for supper. I would volunteer in the community more. I would be able to babysit my grandchildren just for the fun of it. I would travel with my husband who loves to travel. The list is long. How about you? Do you have a list of things that you would do if you were fully recovered?

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Depression Recovery Strategies: Keyword #6

Depression recovery strategies can only be discovered through some good detective work. And guess who the detective is – you!

depression recovery strategies

What does a monopoly game have to do with depression? Nothing really, but it has a lot ot do with strategy and if you want to win this battle with depression you are going to need some game strategies.

Depression is a difficult illness, sometimes life threatening. You will need some depression recovery strategies when things get really tough. These strategies are best put into place when you are well enough to think straight. Maybe you should write them down so you can refer to them when you temporarily lose your rational thought process during a depressive episode.

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