Inspired to read on mindfulness

I’ve been really struggling with my latest episode of depression. I’ve been feeling isolated, hopeless, frustrated and apathetic.

But after sleeping way too much for the past four days and calling in sick today, I suddenly felt the need to read one of my many self-help books. So I stopped a movie about twenty minutes in and started to reread The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.

I say reread, because I bought this book about three or four years ago on the advice of my last psychiatrist. I have a bad habit of buying self-help books and only reading bits and pieces. I tried to read through this book when I bought it, but I think I was too deep in the depths of depression at the time to absorb it. I did practice some of the meditations in the CD that comes with the book, but that was it. A couple of years later I did a mindfulness-based stress reduction course that is based on many of the same teachings and experts. I took much more readily to the practice when learned this way. My later trainings in yoga helped to solidify these teachings.

But here I am, once again falling into depression and not using any of these helpful practices.

But tonight I was inspired to pick up the book again. I flipped through to see where I had left off and then decided to just start again at the beginning. I’m glad that I did.

Upon reading the introduction, it seems to me that perhaps the place I’m in right now is conducive to taking more from the book.

Already there are a lot of statements that really struck me:

…it is actually okay to stop trying to solve the problem of feeling bad. In fact it is wise because our habitual ways of solving problems almost invariably wind up making things worse. (3)

Depression, once treated, often returns–and becomes more and more likely to recur the more often it is experienced. (4)

…every time a person gets depressed, the connections in the brain between mood, thoughts, the body and behavior get stronger, making it easier for depression to be triggered again. (4)

…break the cycle of depression, in which we tend to go over and over what went wrong or how things are not the way we want them to be. (5)

We get lost in comparisons of where we are versus where we want to be, soon living almost entirely in our heads. (5)

…endless cycles of mental strategizing that increase your risk of getting depressed. (6)

… The mind, body, and emotions work together to compound and sustain depression. (6)

…we are all prey to habit-driven patterns–of thinking, feeling, and doing–that curtail the joy inherent in living and our sense of possibilities. (6-7)

…there is an unsuspected power in inhabiting the moment you’re living in right now with full awareness. (7)

We invite you to let go of the tendency we all have to try to force things to be a certain way and instead work with allowing them to be as they actually already are in each moment. (8)

I think this is a great time to reread this book, because already I’m showing so many of these tendencies and I definitely want to break the habits. It’s time to rediscover the mindfulness approach.

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I need new lenses

I do need new contact lenses, but that’s not what I mean. I think that I’m getting so tense and tired and stressed and upset that my views are becoming distorted.

Every time I wake up, I’m thinking about my work conflict. Any time my mind is not fully occupied with a task, it’s going back to the work conflict. I’m annoyed that I’m letting this take up so much of my energy!

I’m remember how zen I was at many points last spring. I want to find that again. Things I will work on this weekend:
– be in the present
– notice when work stress is creeping back to my thoughts and say “No!” – this is my time, not work time
– find time to meditate
– move around, get out of the house

I received a reminder yesterday that I have an appointment with my psychiatrist. Finally! My last appointment was in August because I was doing so well, feeling high spirited and ready to reduce some of my medication. No need to see the doctor for three months. What a laugh. Things have fallen so far since then!

I also haven’t been seeing my therapist since last spring as I was so busy then and my yoga training was a form of therapy. But right now I have nothing and I think I’m feeling the strain of not having their support and insights.

I also stopped blogging so much, losing out on my self-analysis and your helpful insights! Already, having started blogging again this week has been a great release.

Until next time!

Be well.

Loss of Interest in Favourite Activities

One of the major symptoms of depression is the inability to be interested in anything. Not even your favourite things. During the worst of my depression, I was either indifferent or I dreaded the outings that normally gave me so much enjoyment.

Today I started one of my summer sports. And I’m so happy to feel the difference between this year and last! 🙂

For the last few years, I’ve been backing out of practices at the last minute because I couldn’t get out of bed. I’ve been resenting the responsibility and time commitment (even though I had a pretty empty schedule!). I just didn’t enjoy going out, meeting up with my team and being active. I sometimes went through the motions, but I wasn’t engaged.

Even though I was exhausted today, I went out and I had a fantastic time. I feel very excited about the season and I think it will be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to getting to know my new team mates and catching up with old ones.

I don’t have any advice on how to find your normal enjoyment in favourite and everyday activities. I can only say this: pay attention. If you find you don’t care about any of your favourite things, it’s a very strong sign of possible depression. Stop to assess what’s going on and seek help if needed.

It’s been many years, but with therapy and the right medication, I’m once again happy to get back out there. 🙂

Excuses, Excuses

Today my day went like this.
7 am – feed cat after she wakes me up, go back to bed
12:30 pm – wake up, eat lunch, watch TV and play games on my tablet
2:30 pm – have a nap
5 pm – wake up, watch more TV. Think about going to yoga, bit I’ve missed all the ones I like best.
6:45 pm – have a bath to at least wash my hair – first step towards leaving the house – and read new yoga ebook.
7:45 pm – get out of bath and debate doing something. Mess around online. Write email to my aunt.

So here I am at 8:35 pm and I’ve done exactly 7 of my 12 tasks.
What I haven’t done:

  • go outside
  • exercise
  • job search stuff
  • finances
  • meditate

Essentially, all the most important tasks. :-p

What’s up? I could say it’s because it’s -35C outside, but that would be a lie. I could blame insomnia, but that only covers sleeping until noon. There are many possible excuses, but I’m not interested in that. I didn’t do anything because I didn’t want to. I wanted to hide.

I had such an amazing day on Saturday, but things went downhill since. Why? I think it was the socialization. I was very social, happy and outgoing. More so than I’ve been in a longtime. And there was a cute guy there that I’d never met before and we got along extremely well with so much in common. We talked almost all night.

I thought he might be flirting with me, but I’m so out of practice that I really don’t know. In any case, I think it brought up a lot of unresolved issues that triggered the current depressive mood. You see, I have a real problem with relationships. I push them away and avoid them because deep down I feel completely unworthy. But that, of course, is so lonely.

A friend talked about papering the cracks in a comment earlier and, to some extent, I think that’s what I’ve done. I really have made a lot of progress. But I still haven’t addressed the deepest issues. How do I get past my horrible self-esteem problems and open myself to others? There’s a lot of stuff there and for whatever reason I haven’t gotten into them with my current therapist. I think I trust her to help me break my bad patterns, but not to discuss the deepest issues. So that’s where I am now. I feel I’ve absorbed what I can from this therapist, but that I maybe need a different one to address the deeper issues. Or maybe that’s another excuse.

I may still get to my other tasks. I’ve done most lately between 9 and midnight. But I think it’s time to shake things up. So I’ll take some melatonin to sleep tonight and then get up tomorrow in the morning. And tomorrow I will do everything on my list, no excuses. I’m also going to start planning ahead for next week to come up with ways to develop a morning routine. Because I’m tired of wasting my days. And the most helpful thing I can probably do job-wise right now is to ensure I’m ready for a full daytime routine if and when I get a new job.

“Easy Things”

I had an appointment with my therapist the other day and told her about my 10×10 challenge and intensive yoga program. I also told her about how tired I was after my yoga weekend and how lazy I’ve been since.

She asked if perhaps ten tasks were too many, if I had tired myself out. My response was, “Oh no, most of the tasks are easy things like get out of bed, go outside, meditate, etc. I was tired because of so much yoga after a period of inactivity and I haven’t done much since then because I haven’t had specific goals, a new challenge.”

It has just occurred to me how telling that statement was. Getting out of bed is easy… Going outside is easy… For so long these tasks have been difficult if not impossible. They were major daily challenges and often where everything went wrong.

The fact that I can now describe these as “easy”…. Well, that is a major milestone on the road to recovery and shouldn’t be overlooked.

A Productive Monday

Today was much better than the weekend. I straightened out the contract once and for all (no, not enough certainties or money) and was feeling energetic.

I saw my therapist for the first time in 6 weeks and she was amazed at how much progress I’ve made. She could tell right away by the way that I was talking that I am more upbeat and energetic. And it’s mostly due to you! I told her about how much support I get through our little community and how beneficial blogging has been in helping me be more conscious my moods and anxieties and the influences behind them. And my reactions – I’m beating myself up less often.

She laughed and said I was too funny when I showed her my one week challenge (smiley faces and all!) but was very happy that I’d taken her advice (break things down) and applied it in my own way to make it work for me. It’s okay if it looks childish – I apparently like putting stickers in boxes! Lol

I also did a lot of work on the career front. I applied for one job and I also met with a friend experienced in freelance work to find out if it’s really worth my time pursuing it.

So, here is today’s tally:
Get out of bed – check
Go outside – check
Career – check
Socialize – check
Mental health stuff (therapy) – check.

I’m liking the new challenge, but I need to find a way to fit exercise in more often.

Good night! 🙂

One Week Challenge – Day 2

Again this morning I really struggled with getting up. I had a telephone interview and rather than getting up an hour beforehand as planned, I got up less than 10 minutes in advance! Good thing it wasn’t a video call! 😉

I’m concerned about the lack of energy. Perhaps it is due to the time change and increased darkness. Today was dreary with rain and snow. Perhaps I am getting hooked on caffeine after relying on it for long work hours the past few weeks, so when I didn’t get my caffeine fix, I was super drowsy. Or it’s the transition with the meds or I’m not eating well enough… In any case, I don’t feel depressed, just exhausted with headaches.

Oh, well. I did get up and I got things done.

Career: Interview. Check.

I was then supposed to have an appointment with my therapist that I wasn’t looking forward to, basically because I was so tired and was wondering whether I could squeeze in a nap first. Then the therapist’s office called to cancel and I felt so relieved! (Hmm, is that a bad thing?)

I considered going back to bed but instead I went to the sofa and watched some TV while eating lunch. Afterwards I managed to keep going all afternoon.

Organize or clean something: check.

This was really stressful today! I need some super important financial papers and I have no idea where they are. So I organized and went through all of my papers twice, to no avail. I either put them in a really safe place (safe even from me!) or they were accidental casualties of my summer purges. Tomorrow I will need to call for new copies because unfortunately the government offices were closed today. Blah.

Self-Help: check.

I read Listening to Depression for another 20 minutes.

Exercise: check.

I wanted something a little lower key today so I went to yoga. The first half was anything but low key but the second half was very relaxing at least.

Now that my checklist is complete, I’m vegging out on the sofa for the rest of the evening. Goodnight!