Coping with Severe Depression

Severe depression is horrendous. 

The NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability. Jan 28, 2015

350 Million! 

So what it this beast we call depression?

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Although depression may occur only one time during your life, usually people have multiple episodes of depression. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Other people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Most people dealing with depression turn to modern medications such as anti-depressants. In most cases this is enough to get you out of the pit and moving again. However, for some that isn’t going to work.

Many of those suffering from depression don’t have access to medications, maybe they can’t afford it or maybe medications just don’t work. Some may even make their symptoms worse. I’m one of those poor fools who can’t take the meds because my body won’t metabolize them correctly, so I only get the side effects and not the help.

There are medical alternatives for those of us who can’t do take medications.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Supplements

Examples of supplements that are sometimes used for depression include:

  • St. John’s wort. Although this herbal supplement isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression in the U.S., it’s a popular depression treatment in Europe. It may be helpful for mild or moderate depression. However, it should be used with caution — St. John’s wort can interfere with a number of medications, including blood-thinning medications, birth control pills, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS medications, and drugs to prevent organ rejection after a transplant. Also, avoid taking St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants because the combination can cause serious side effects.
  • SAMe. Pronounced “sam-E,” this dietary supplement is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. The name is short for S-adenosylmethionine (es-uh-den-o-sul-muh-THIE-o-neen). SAMe isn’t approved by the FDA to treat depression in the U.S., but it’s used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression. SAMe may be helpful, but more research is needed. SAMe may trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are found in cold-water fish, flaxseed, flax oil, walnuts and some other foods. Omega-3 supplements are being studied as a possible treatment for depression. While considered generally safe, in high doses, omega-3 supplements may interact with other medications. More research is needed to determine if eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve depression.

Nutritional and dietary products aren’t monitored by the FDA the same way medications are. You can’t always be certain of what you’re getting and whether it’s safe. Also, because some herbal and dietary supplements can interfere with prescription medications or cause dangerous interactions, talk to your health care provider before taking any supplements.

Mind-body connections

Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners believe the mind and body must be in harmony for you to stay healthy. Examples of mind-body techniques that may be helpful for depression include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga or tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage therapy
  • Music or art therapy
  • Spirituality
  • Aerobic exercise

Relying solely on these therapies is generally not enough to treat depression. They may be helpful when used in addition to medication and psychotherapy.

Some people turn to psychotherapy or go to counseling. Counseling can often be extremely helpful in sorting through the problems. However, not all counselors are helpful. I’ve been to some that just shrug their shoulders and say, “Gosh, I don’t know what to tell you.” Doesn’t really help much.  Finding the right counselor can take time through trial and error. Often this adds to the depression giving a person the feelings of failure or hopelessness.

So what do you do when you are just one person sitting alone in the dark? When nothing has worked and you have no strength left? When you just can’t find the will or the energy to get out of bed let alone seek help? When you are sitting on your bathroom floor exhausted from crying and holding a scissors over your wrist because you are so desperate for an escape? 

If you’ve hit that point then call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

However, if you are still holding out with one tiny little shred of hope grasping onto the last thread of your last rope….

It’s OKAY!

You’re not alone!

We are here for you, even if you don’t know us. There are those of us struggling along beside you. We can’t see you and you can’t see us through the haze of darkness that seems to surround us, but we are here.

And it’s time.

Time to take a breath.

Time to go out and look at the stars.

Time to let go a little.

Constantly holding yourself accountable for all the problems in the world will do you no good. You are only human and that is okay. Yes, the world around us is going to pot, (haha see the joke there? everybody is smoking it? haha). But what I mean it that the world is going crazy and honestly, honey, you can’t stop it.

Look to your friends. They love you. They are just waiting for you to let them in so they can help. If you don’t feel like you have friends, then just cry once in public and you’ll find them. Believe me, they’re there. Even strangers on the internet are there to help you. There are chat rooms, Twitter feeds, Instagram and Facebook pages full of people going through the same things as you are. You may not have met them yet, but your peeps are there. 35 Million of them, remember?

Honestly, I find that a lot of depression is rooted in three places: our health,  our mindset, and our environment.

  1. Nutrition: Our nutritional intake can severely affect our emotions. I know you’ve heard this a lot, but too much pre-processed food with chemicals put in for this and that soak into our bodies and make us nuts. I see this all the time with my Autistic son. If we eat too many meals that come from a box or a can then he gets emotionally unbalanced and sometimes violent or goes through crying fits. If I keep our food on the homemade side then we have a much more stable home life. Omega 3 supplements made a huge difference for me in my depression.  Try checking your nutrition and see if you can fix anything. If you don’t know what to fix, ask a doctor. If you don’t have a doctor then ask our friend Google, there are plenty of nutritional diets out there.
  2. Mindset: When I say our mindset, it does not mean that I think it is all in our heads. I know personally that depression is very real. What I mean is that it is in our perceptions of our own reality that make it so hard for us to cope. If you let go of your preconceived notions about what is or is not the standard that you should be living up too, it can help a lot. For example, I has such high hopes for what kind of mom I was going to be. Then Autism came along. I had to give up. I can only do what I can do. Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes not. Sometimes we need to stop and do some self examination of our deepest self. We must ask some really hard questions. Why are you depressed? Is is because you are trying to hold onto something that is beyond your means? Are you living to please someone else’s plan for you life or are you living for you?
  3. Environment: Look around you. Is your personal space cluttered? Sometimes just cleaning up your immediate area can help you get a sense of control. It can make things around you seem a lot less overwhelmed and give you a sense of accomplishment. That alone might be enough to break the downward spiral of defeat. Are you hiding away? Sometimes depression comes from too much self absorption. Are you caught up with yourself so much that you haven’t looked around in a while? Seek out others and try to help them. Sometimes it will fill the void that is causing your depression. Human contact can do wonders for your emotions. However, be careful of over committing yourself so you can hide from your problems.

Depression is a many faceted beast with no easy answers or cures. It is a struggle every day, but it is a struggle that you can get through. I will leave you with something my mom always says.

Keep going. Tomorrow may be the best day of your life.

Autism and Wandering

One of the things about having a child with Autism is that they have a tendency to wander. It may be because they don’t realized they shouldn’t and they are in their own little world or it may be that they run from something they are scared of. What ever the reason, it scares the crap out of us parents.

My son has disappeared a couple of times on us while out in public and he has wandered off from grandma’s house and home. I can’t tell you how terrified we were. I live in constant fear that one day he will slip out and we won’t find him. Luckily we live in a town where almost everyone knows my son, but what if….

The lovely people from Quality Life Concepts, our family support, turned me onto the BIG RED SAFETY BOX.

It is put out by the National Autism Association. Which is great resource by the way.

I signed up and donated $10 and they sent me the Big Red Safety Box. In it there was  lots of handy stuff.

NAA’s Big Red Safety Box includes the following resources:
1) Our Be REDy Booklet containing the following educational materials and tools:
A caregiver checklist
A Family Wandering Emergency Plan
A first-responder profile form
A wandering-prevention brochure
A sample IEP Letter
A Student Profile Form
Emotion Identification Cards
Wandering Quick Tips
2) Two (2) GE Wireless Door/Window Alarms with batteries
3) One (1) MedicAlert Bracelet or Pendant, and One (1) Shoe ID tag*
4) Five (5) Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows
5) Two (2) Safety Alert Window Clings for car or home windows
6) One (1) Red Safety Alert Wristband
7) One (1) Child ID Kit from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Sometimes help is actually available. You just need to know where to look.

A little landscaping can go a long way

My front flower bed looks like this. Lots of weeds. Some wild daisies. A clematis with a fear of heights. And lost of cat poop.

Let’s face it, I suck at gardening. My attempt at landscaping was a little plastic fence, shoveling out the cat poop, and digging up the dandelions when they showed up. Not a pretty sight.

Enter my wonderful husband.

He came home for R&R from work and decided to sort it out. He worked all day in the sun, happily I might add. (I die in the sun, but he loves it. ) He dug up all the weeds. Removed all the cat poop. Found a trellis for my poor clematis and tamed the crazy daisies. We had a bunch of stepping stones buried all over the back yard from the previous owner’s garden design. He dug them up and hauled them to the front of the house. He arranged them and then went and got some of those lava rocks and the white sparkly rocks.  After some artful scattering and a bit of rearrangement of some driftwood that was laying around.

POOF!

 I have a very pretty front flower bed.

I don’t know what I’d do without my wonderful husband.