Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How I went from suicidal to very happy

I check my statcounter about 4 times a day. I know there are people who read this blog regularly, and when I see that on the statcounter, it gives me a nice little boost. For so much of my life I have felt invisible, or worse, irrelevant, and when I see someone has read my blog I remember that yes, in fact, I do exist, and that I have something to say.

I just recieved a nice e-mail from a reader. (I am always open to e-mails, I just hated the pressure to reciprocate by having comments turned on) This reader has read this blog from maybe the first post, in March of 2005. Back then my blog was black, I couldn't fathom it being any other color, only black or a night sky could express the person I felt I was. I was 210 pounds, terribly depressed, anxious, as well as so socially anxious that I had a hard time going to the store for groceries.

I started this blog with the intention of using it in conjunction with psychotherapy, to track my moods. Instead I found a place to take my ruminating thoughts and worries out of my head, and to put them somewhere less toxic. It helped me to post these journal entries online, because it motivated me to keep posting. It made me feel less alone in my struggles with mental health, and it made me feel good to imagine I was making someone else fell less alone too. Also, knowing someone vulnerable could be reading kept me positive, I knew that if I was too dark, someone in a very dark place could feel worse. I also was mildly suicidal at the time, so a blog was sort of a record of what I was dealing with, something for my family in case "something happened to me."

And look at me in these last two weeks. I am no longer depressed, unattractive, and socially anxious, I am really vital, charasmatic, and GOD DAMN IT IM HAPPY!

I am living proof that suicide is not the answer, and that depression is treatable. Get it? Got it? Good. I know what you are thinking "but I'm different. I am such a loser. I am ugly. I am stupid" and I am here to tell you you are wrong. I thought those same damn things. I looked at other peoples blogs and saw them so far above me, but thats not reality. That is the depression speaking. Which leads to the number one reason why my depression is in remission

I believe I am as good as, not better, not worse, than everyone else. I believe that I deserve good things.

This is the key thing that I had to learn. I was very resistant, I came up with all sorts of reasons why I was a bad person. Or why I should withhold happiness from myself so I didn't become "stuck up" but this was all the depression talking. I also was very judgemental of others, especially happy people, I decided they were shallow because if they cared about the suffering in the world, they wouldn't be so happy. This was also the depression talking. By feeling morally superior I was justifying my own misery.

If I had not been willing to let this possibility in that I am worthy and deserving of good things, my depression would still be with me. Ask yourself, "am I worthy of good things?" If you say "no" then that is sick thinking. Just like glaucoma clouds your seeing, depression is clouding your thinking. If you don't believe you are worthy of good things, start pretending that you believe you are, and after awhile you will see reality...that you are worthty.

Medication and therapy.

Yes you have time for therapy. What you don't have time for is self destructive behaviors, they will not go away on their own. Go to therapy and skip Grey's Anatomy. If you believe reason number one, that you are worthy of happiness, you will know that you are worth more than Grey's Anatomy. If you meet a therapist and don't hit it off, try another one. You have to have rapport for it to work.

Take your medication every day. Dont stop because you are constipated. Dont stop because you gained or lost 10 pounds. Dont stop because you feel better "and dont need it anymore" keep taking it.

And maybe you have tried medication but it hasn't worked for you, or you had side effects. Keep trying. I have been through tons of medications before I found the ones I am using now. And at one point I am sure I will need to try new ones, thats okay.

If you cant afford therapy or medication go to community clinics with free or sliding scale. I have gotten excellent treatment from these places, and they do as much as they can to help, even giving free samples so you don't have to pay for medications.

I am not stubborn

When my therapist told me that verbally abusing myself would not help me get my dishes done I initially thought "well if I don't yell at myself it will never get finished" but I examined the possibility that she might be right, and listened to and tried her suggestions. I could say I was "lucky" because I was suicidal. I knew that if I did not change something, I would kill myself.

Therapists studied thinking and behavior AND YOUR ILLNESS for years. Be open to the possibility that they know what they are talking about. If the way you think and behave is so great, then, as Dr. Phil says "How's that working out for you?"

I look at the silver lining of every dark cloud.

Maybe you are a pessimist, I sure was. Well, you need to lose that. You can keep it if you want, but be aware you are making the choice to be miserable.

The good aspects of any situation are just as real as the bad ones. One of the tailights of my car is burned out. The pessimist sees that it will take time and cost money. The optimist sees that now I have the opportunity to check out the auto shops in town, so I know who to trust when an expensive repair is needed. Or maybe I can learn how to fix it myself. The good things are just as real as the bad things, and even though the good things are smaller than the bad things, I am choosing to see the good things.

Do you think I sound annoying to be so god damn positive? You should of heard me when I complained. Someone being abnoxiously positive is ten times better than hearing someone whine. Again, if you don't truly see the glass half full, just pretend that you do, and eventually you will.

Baby steps

My depression didn't go into remission overnight. I was suicidal in 2001, and I have gotten progressively better since then, with medication and therapy.

Do as much as you can handle at a time. Dont beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Dont push yourself harder than you are ready for. Be gentle with yourself. The little things you do for yourself really add up.

Healthy diet and excercise and sleep

I know if I read that I might get a pang of anxiety. We all know that we should eat right and excercise, but eating unhealthy foods or drowning ourselves in the TV is how we cope from this terrible pain and stress we are feeling. So don't get down on yourself for this, just see it as a worthwhile goal at some point.

Here's how I see it. If you are planning to have 2 big macs, fries, and a large coke every day, start by adding a multivitamin daily, and add an asian salad instead of one of the big macs. Then eventually you can eatonly half of the fries every day, then you can drink only a small coke every day, and drink water also. Ideally, you would eat all healthy things right away, but when you use food to cope, its not always that easy.

All I can say is when I started Weight Watchers to lose weight, a funny thing happened, my mood improved even before I lost any weight! The fatty foods I was eating were creating a sludge in my brain that made my depression worse, and the quantities I ate weighed me down, making me more tired. Nowadays I am finding when I eat a meal with no veggies, I feel depressed, and when I eat a really heavy meal, I feel sluggish and depressed. (And dont go overboard in the other direction either! You should never go under 1,200 calories a day, some doctors say 1,500)

Same with water. I cant believe how many times I have thought I was depressed, but after drinking a few cups of tea or water I realized I was actually dehydrated!

And excercise is a PROVEN anti-depressant. When I was really socially phobic I did excercise videos (when I had the strength to get out of bed of course) and they helped so much. Now that I am working out (weights are very empowering, and easier than cardio) I feel so good, and that is BEFORE I have lost any weight.

Less than 6 hours of sleep will contribute to depression (easy for me to say since you cant get to sleep) but too much sleep can also make you groggy. Dont beat yourself up if you arent doing exactly the healthiest things, just make 6-8 hours a goal

Thats some of how I did it. There are other things like Buddhism and more social interaction that contributed, but the list was getting sort of long. While I am sure I will have relapses into depression again, I don't think I will ever be in the danger of suicide that I once was. Once you learn something you can't unlearn it.

Think I am full of shit? Or that you and your depression are somehow "different." I will make a bet with you. If you do all these six things in earnest for a year, and you do not feel different, e-mail me and I will send you $25 and write a post about how wrong I was.

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I hope it entertains and maybe inspires you. Please know that I know you all are reading, and you are one of the reasons I am doing so well today. I know you can get better too, I am just like you, I thought I couldn't but I kept trying and didn't give up, you will be the same. I promise.

Have as much healthy FUN as you can! You deserve it DAMN IT!!!!!

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