Friday, February 20, 2015

Staying Alive

Sometimes you need a set of instructions. Especially when you are depressed, a guide on what to do can really help.

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How I Survived 41 years

I have been depressed more often than I have not. I have felt suicidal thousands of times. My official diagnosis is “Severe Depression, Recurrent,” so I know a little something about the subject.

Factor in far too many deaths of loved ones, every form of abuse, unemployment, poverty, isolation, various forms of trauma, PTSD- statistically speaking, I should be dead, many times over. Yet here I am.

So why am I still here? How did I stay alive, time and time again- what did I do differently than so many?

  1. I go to therapy. I make it a priority. I’ve fired 5 therapists in search of the 2 good ones I’ve been blessed to know. Once I have found a therapist I am comfortable with, I am honest with them. I listen to their advice, and gratefully accept and use the Tools they give me to function. At times I had no insurance- I still made therapy a priority. With no money and no insurance, I called every social agency in town and asked to be directed to *someone* that offered free therapy; I always found it. I was searching on craigslist for barter therapy at one time; had I been in a larger city, that option may have worked. (I bartered for one session of EFT training so I could treat myself; today find free Emotional Freedom Technique (aka tapping) on YouTube). Don’t accept the word “no” when it comes to getting counseling, it’s essential if you are suffering from depression. Today there are online therapists, there are medical ride shares to get you to a therapy appointment, there’s so many ways to get therapy. Make it a big priority to start, and attend regularly- you are worth it, you really are.
  2. I joined support groups online- on Facebook, specifically. I used the ‘groups’ search to find groups I thought I would like, joined several like it, then narrowed my choices based upon the ‘feel’ of the group. I belong to a mom support group, parents of angels group, several Autism support groups, depression support groups, health groups, positive thinking groups, and various others.  I love being online, it allows me to be social in a setting I am comfortable with and understand- so I get my support online. Get yours somehow, somewhere, in whatever form or fashion works for You- it’s super important, even if you’re just talking to fellow Elvis fans.
  3. I drench my world in positive messages. They used to be written on index cards, but thanks to Pinterest, now I have beautiful posters. I searched for every meaningful, inspirational, uplifting, motivational quote on there, and pinned them to save them. I downloaded the ones that really spoke to me, resonated on a gut level to speak to my soul, saved them to my jump drive, and got them printed at Kinko’s. Color is 49 cents a page, and I print batches every time I have ten bucks for it. In my bathroom, in my bedroom, on the doors, on the refrigerator, by my front door, in the hallways, next to the thermostat, in my car, in my purse- they are everywhere. Some I read out loud, every day- this is very powerful and makes a Noticeable difference. These words tell me how important it is to keep going, and how, and why- and since I picked them, I remember, “this is important to me, this is a message I want to give to myself.”
  4.   I don’t own a gun. I don’t care what your policy is about the 2nd Amendment, hunting, your rights, etc, all of that has zero to do with this. If I had owned a gun, had it available in my home where I could have had the instant access to pick it up and used it when I felt my worst, I would have shot myself several dozen times. HALF of the suicides in the United States are committed by gun; it is the most common method of suicide in the US. By not owning a gun I also protected my children, keeping that option out of their environment. I’ve lost 4 people to suicide- all 4 used a gun. If you get depressed enough that you think of dying, even once, you’re much more likely to stay alive if there are no guns of any kind in your home. If you have one, move it, now.
  5. I address areas of health that contribute to depression. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. It made sense to tackle the cause of the whole problem, so I started doing things that would improve, alleviate, or remove my depression. I researched what can cause depression, and found that internal parasites can cause/worsen depression. My symptoms fit, so I did an herbal parasite cleanse. I stopped feeling so incredibly suicidal after completing this cleanse, it was my first life-changer and hope that I could improve. I took probiotics to improve my gut, as gut health is directly tied to mental health, the brain, and suicidal thoughts and feelings. I’ve also been treating high metal toxicity, mold, yeast, fungus (all with food grade edible dirt), low vitamin D levels, low magnesium and low zinc levels. I don’t think any one of these things is solely responsible for the crippling depression and suicidal thoughts; I think they each contributed. As I remove them and correct them one by one, I notice improvement. I don’t get as depressed, as often, for as long. A blood test discovered my low vitamin D, after 25 years of depression. No one thought to look at my blood for what is considered an emotional or mental disorder for decades.

    Health issues that can affect depression, in no particular order:
    Living within one mile of large power lines- like these thyroid disorders, lack of sleep, dehydration, diabetes, hormonal imbalances (due to pregnancy, birth, contraception, menstrual, medications), poor nutrition, grief, trauma, surgery, mold exposure, candida yeast overgrowth,parasite infestation, undiagnosed seizures, metal toxicity (mercury, lead, copper), pesticide exposure, fluoride, Lyme disease, heart disease, Sensory Processing Disorders, food allergies and intolerances, Medications: birth control pills, diabetic medication, blood pressure medicines, even acne meds- if you take a script, see if depression is a side effect. If it is, and you’re depressed, consider stop taking it. Study HOW to stop taking it- some medicines are Extremely Dangerous to quit Cold Turkey; Call your Pharmacist.
  6. I seek relief from every source I can. In addition to the health changes above, I bought a special blue light bulb that is for Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), which cost $5, and installed it in the lamp next to me that I use daily. I drink an anti-stress tea called Tension Tamer (which works!) that I’ve found in every grocery store in every state. Hematite stones are used in stone healing to reduce stress; I own several and carry them in my purse and pockets, and wear hematite jewelry. I meditate, sometimes quietly by myself sitting, sometimes a ‘walking meditation’, sometimes I listen to a guided meditation on YouTube. I listen to classical music, which is known to affect moods and improve brain function- when severely depressed, I put classical music on the TV, turn it to low, and sleep on the couch with it running in the background all night. I burn frankincense in my home as often as I can; smelling the smoke from frankincense decreases depression. I carry an herbal tincture in my purse that is for stress and tension that goes under my tongue. I carry an aromatic scent blend that I like that improves mood in my purse and sniff as needed. I recently discovered Sound Healing, and listen once a week to an hour long Sound Healing session on YouTube (with headphones). I got my eyeglasses tinted Smoky Rose as this color soothes me and helps avoid visual Sensory overload, especially in grocery stores. I take warm baths with Epsom salts, use lavender sachets in my pillows, give myself scalp and head massages (learned how on YouTube), and imagine myself on a beach at least once a day. I studied Mindfulness and began practicing it regularly. I researched breathing techniques and perform the ones I like. I learned how to do a few key tapping points using EFT that help- 2 minutes of tapping helps enormously.  I learned visuals like putting all my worries in a big bubble that I’ve blown up with my breath, and then push the bubble away. I watch hypnosis videos that help rewire my brain. I recommend EMDR, it gives really great results for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and PTSD. I take Melatonin at night to help me fall asleep and stay asleep, since sleep is vital and poor sleep causes depression. Anything that can help with stress management, relaxation, changing thought patterns, I study it and seek out and add the ones that suit me.
  7. I avoid bad news. I don’t read the newspaper, in any form. I don’t go to news websites, I don’t watch news video clips, no RSS feeds or newsletters, and I don’t watch the news on TV. In fact, I don’t watch TV; this removes all the commercials, special interruptions, upcoming previews of the news, and so on. I only subscribe and ‘like’ positive sites on Facebook. Friends and relatives who post a lot of ‘tragic news’ and rants get edited; I spend time clicking ‘hide all from channel 5 news’ instead of ‘hide all from Emily’ so I can still see pics of their kids and congratulate them on their promotion at work and things of that nature. In the checkout line, I only look at the recipe magazines. This prevents me from seeing who in Hollywood is getting a divorce, got caught cheating, is dying of cancer, got robbed by their accountant, got fat, got secretly taped having sex, and all other negative messages just repeated with giant headlines and photos. I work to avoid these things, because I’ve noticed it really makes a big difference in my life. I feel better, think better, and handle my own stress better when I’m not inundated with the stresses of 7 billion other people.
  8. I made a conscious Choice to Live. Not just to Not Die, but to Keep Living. There’s a difference. Once I figured that out, I decided I wanted to keep living. Prior to that decision, I had just been Not Dying every day. I decided maybe people could be right, that it is Possible to Feel good and want to live. I realized I could stop being in pain and be Capable of feeling peace, relief, joy. When I took that step and decided to actively Choose to Live and not just keep existing, I started finding Answers. I suddenly changed doctors and the first thing the new doctor did was order the blood test that found the low D. The comment of a friend led to me finding support groups on Facebook, which led to me learning about the myriad of issues I didn’t know I had that were damaging my health, and keeping me sick and miserable. Once I chose to live, things that would ultimately help me live healthy and well came into my life, all the time.
  9. I seek out happiness. One day, after months of very deep and dark intense depression, I decided to make a list of things that I enjoy, when I’m capable of enjoyment- my list of things that make me happy. Eating good chocolate, dancing, coloring with crayons, helping others, taking long baths, listening to music, writing, looking at art, and walking in the woods were some of the things on my list. When I was done with my list, couldn’t think of anything else to add, I stopped and thought, “how often do I do these things?”. I realized the answer was Never. I did not do one damned thing a day that I liked, not even for a few seconds! No wonder I was miserable. The opposite of happiness. There was no happiness in my life. I guess I expected it to just show up on its own. I realized I was mad at myself, that did so much ‘stuff’ in my life but never did Any of the things I liked or wanted, never did anything to put a smile on my own face. I started doing the things on my list. I started living a life I actually wanted, down to small things like buying the coffee creamer I really like. I began seeking out people to help online, since I wanted to help people but was crippled by anxiety and social fears- I found a way around those problems by going on Yahoo answers, answering people’s questions that came up in their lives. It helped. I started to feed my soul.  I look at the Louvre online, and I visit people’s art collections on Pinterest to find new art styles I like (shadow art!). I visit YouTube and now I’m listening to music every day, and it makes a difference. I quit worrying about being 41 and went and bought the deluxe box of Crayolas and sat and enjoyed coloring. I started doing at least one thing a day every day that made me happy in various areas, from hugging my child to watching baby animal videos.

    Happiness is a verb; when you don’t act that verb out you create a vacuum which misery fills. Suicide follows misery because ongoing misery feels so hopeless and pointless. Figure out what makes You happy and Feeds Your Soul, and go Do Those Things.

©Michelle Mason Rocks 2015. This work is a FREE SHARE. You may share it for free anywhere with anyone, in print or digital format. If someone has charged for this work, please notify me at MichelleMasonRocks@gmail.com. Available for download on Smashwords.