Thursday, June 6, 2013

Are You A Best Friend To Your Best Friend?

I've often said that friends are so important for someone coping with depression - scroll down to my
blog about how you can't have too many friends :-) - but all too often, when we think about friends, we think about what WE want.

Think about it, though - is that really what friendship is about?

Like any relationship, true friendship depends on mutual benefits, with the emphasis on the mutual. Sure we all have friends where the relationship is one-sided, but these are not the friends we call on when we really need someone, and vice-versa. They're also the least likely to be there when we need them!

The problem with being depressed is that sometimes a person is needy but not able to give back. If a friend calls and says she wants to see a movie but doesn't want to go alone, you might be tempted to say you're feeling down and don't feel like going out. Yet sometimes a time-out when you can go outside yourself for a while is just what you need to help you rise above the depression. Think about that the next time someone needs you.

If you're married or in a significant relationship, then there's one person who really needs your friendship - and whose friendship you really need!

Angeline M. Bishop has a great blog about how to create a best friend relationship with your partner, and her list of things you would look for in a best friend is really worth reading - and applying to yourself.

Click here to read her blog now at Angeline M Bishop Official Website.

Meanwhile, cherish your friends, especially those very close to you, and the light they bring into your life!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Being Unhappy Can Be The Trigger to Better Things...

Hello, friends - I've been away from the Talking About Depression blog for too long, exploring other life paths. I'm back now and hoping to get into regular blogging - those of you who know me know how close to my heart the issues of depression and other illnesses are.

One thing I did give a lot of thought to is the difference between simply being unhappy and real depression.

How often do we say :"I'm depressed....." - fill in your own blank. What are you 'depressed' about? That the cool guy at school didn't invite you to the prom? That the boss gave the promotion to someone else? It's Saturday night and everyone else seems to be out on the town and you're stuck home with only the Saturday Night Movie on tv to keep you company?

These things are not depression. Of course, they can signal situations that can trigger depression - loneliness, a sense of failure, a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy. Yet most of the time, the 'little' upsets in life pass - you find another cute guy to date, a better job comes up (or you realise that the promotion would have been too demanding) and your social life picks up. Often just making yourself think about the things that make you happy will lift the mood.

Depression simply isn't as easy to deal with as that. I'd describe a lot of the feelings I hear described as depression as, in fact, be simple human unhappiness. We're not intended to be on Cloud 9 all our lives - we need the occasional 'low' or unhappy moments to spur us into personal growth and change. Or, as my Grannie often used to say: "Into every life a little rain must fall.'

How can you bloom if you're deprived of rain? Being discontented or unhappy can force you out of your comfort zone and into a life where your achieving your potential.

Helped along by the advent of one-size fits all anti-depressants, we may have been brain-washed into thinking we should never be unhappy.

Think about this, though: Feeling unhappy can - and should - be a red flag in your life to make some changes. And I think it's fair to say that we're all unhappy sometimes.

But not necessarily depressed. Depression usually involves a feeling of helplessness, an inability to act, that keeps you stuck in this mire of feeling, well, awful.

And that's when you need help, to find your way out of the dark and into the sunshine again.

So, before you passively accept that you're 'depressed', take a close look at how you feel, the thoughts running through your head, your life in general.

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Do these suggest a need for change - either in behaviour, lifestyle or simply in the way you think?
Explore the possibilities, and see what you can do to bring about change - and happiness - in your life.

Good luck - and you're welcome to drop by and share your story here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Can't Have Too Many: Tips For Making New Friends

In my last blog I talked about the importance of staying in touch with friends and loved ones. But many people who are depressed feel lonely and even feel they have no, or few friends. It's a catch 22 situation: social contact can help you cope with depression; but depression can prevent social contact.
So, working on the theory that you can never have too many friends and acquaintances, I came across this blog that lists some intersting ways in which you can expand your circle of acquaintances who'll maybe some day become friends.
Here's the link:

And don't forget - freindship is a two way street. Try to be a friend in need when your friends need you. You'll both benefit.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Boost Your Relationship!

One of the greatest ways to ameliorate depression is by working positively to create strong relationships around you. The support of underestanding friends and family mean a great deal to someone experiencing depression, but good relationships don't just happen by accident. They require work, love and care.
Sadly, when someone is in the throes of depression, they can seem self-centred and selfish; concerned only about their dark thoughts and sad feelings and unable to emphathise or be happy for those around them.
A good antidote for this is to make a point of being supportive to your loved ones when the depression is held at bay; they'll be more tolerant then if the 'black dog' rebounds into your life. It's fair to say, though, that good relationships, sharing pleasant activities, and always having something to look forward to, or even just someone who'll go for coffee with you and listen even when you're not good company, are good ways to fight depression.
Here's a linbk to an article with some interesting tips on how to keep your most primary relationship - husband, wife, partner - fresh and happy. These include such modern advice as cutting down on social networking addictions and being supportive of your partner's hopes and dreams, to age old remedies such as enjoying intimacy and spending quality time together.
Here's the link to the article, which is titled Ten Secrets of Super Happy Couples:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Depression: Common Symptoms

Depression is definitely an equal opportunity illness. It is a fact that not everyone is prone to depression, and that some people become more severely depressed than others – both of these facts have researchers busy trying to determine what makes some folks appear to be 'immune' to feelings of depression.
It's important to remember that we are all individuals and as such we experience depression differently. This is extremely important when considering treatment for depressed clients – there is no one-size fits all drug or counselling treatment. Each course of treatment, whether it is with anti-depressants or with counselling, requires that the individual client's needs be taken into account. This is one of the reasons I favour cognitive behavioural counselling when working with depressed client – cognitive behavioural involves working with the client to reach an understanding of the root cause of the problem and also to understand the behaviours this might cause and, in recognising why the client behaves in certain ways, to learn new ways of behaving or coping.
Not only do we all experience depression differently, but the causes and triggers are often different from person to person.
However, there are a number of symptoms that occur in depressed people, although not all symptoms occur in all people! But if you are experiencing two or more of the symptoms on this list, it is probably a good idea to check in with your doctor. I always recommend that a client has a health check up to determine if there is any underlying physical health problem that may be causing the symptoms before action is taken by way of anti-depressants, etc.
 Here's the list:
 A general feeling of sadness or loneliness that pervades daily life without any real reason, sometimes including sudden crying bouts.
 Getting overly annoyed or frustrated over small details or incidents.
 Not being able to sleep – or sleeping too much
 Constant fatigue without an identifiable cause
 Loss of appetite – or increased appetite, particularly when these lead to either unintended weight loss or gain
• Feeling bored or disinterested in hobbies or activities that are usually pleasurable
 Loss of interest in sex
 Feeling unable to relax even when there is no apparent reason for tension.
 Inability to concentrate, even on usually relaxing pastimes such as reading.
 Not wishing to participate in social events
 Feeling indecisive, unable to 'think straight'. This is sometimes shadowed in one's physical actions being slowed or indecisive.
 Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or losses and blaming oneself for things that go wrong.
 Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
 A sense of lack of physical wellbeing, aches and pains and vague illness.
While for many people depression is a dullness or greyness in life which they try to struggle through, for many it can become so severe that they become unable to function. Just getting out of bed in the morning feels too much, looking after personal hygiene, family needs, cooking a meal or going to work become obstacles that are insurmountable.
But the key to remember is that if you, or a loved one, experience depression there is help available. Consider the available treatments and decide whether counselling or anit-depressant medication may be best for you.
For many people, a short course of anti-depressants coupled with a longer period of supportive counselling and will offer long-term relief from depression.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Look Your Fears in the Eye!

One of the things about being depressed is that sense of feeling alone, of being the only one experiencing these feelings. It's hard to believe that anyone else could feel like you do - and frankly, you probably feel too down to care.
But depressed people are very vulnerable to fear. Places, things, events that may make a non-depressed person a little nervous can be sources of full blown anxiety attacks for someone experiencing depression.
And, conversely, some of the things we fear may actually be depression triggers. Have you ever gone to a family get together, for example, and become depressed because you maybe once again had a fight with your brother or cousin, or perhaps your dad made one of his sarcastic 'jokes' that made you feel really humiliated?You came away feeling depressed because these experiences were a depression trigger.
Family events are one of the biggest sources of conflict or emotionally based depression triggers.
So, what to do? Avoiding all events like this sounds like a good plan, but that can mean you become even more isolated from the people who could offer you the best support. Feeling part of a family group is in itself a defence against depression - unless yours is a totally dysfunctional family, that is!
So the best thing may well be to face your fears, acknowledge the problem, and do something about it. Being pro-active is difficult if you're depressed, but it can be done. It works best before the situation becomes charged.
So, if cousin Susie is always on your case at family dinners, give her a call before the event. Say you find it upsetting that she behaves the way she does, and ask her why? She may well be shocked to hear you feel this way. Whatever she says, tell her that you want the behaviour to stop. Then tell other family members that this behaviour has been a problem for you and that you've talked to Cousin Susie about it and expect that she will behave better towards you so everyone can have a fun time at the get together.
This puts Cousin Susie on notice that her behaviour is being watched not just by you but by other family members. Peer pressure is great!
What about dealing with other fears?
1) Acknowledge the problem, what the fear is.
2) Do something about it if you can. Action is a great fear-buster.
3) If you can't do anything about it, laugh at it. Tell yourself you are not going to let this spoil your life.
4) Talk about your fears with someone else - your counsellor, or a close friend you can trust.
5) establish some control. Accept that you are in control of how you feel and that you can either take some action to prevent the trigger event, or you can choose to ignore it as not worth your attention.
6) Have a chat with yourself, lay out what it is that frightens or depresses you about any particular trigger.Then talk it out with yourself - is it really that bad? What can you do to chase it away?
Now you understand your fear, you understand that you can either take some action or learn to ignore or take the sting out of the fear or depression trigger.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Being Thankful Lifts Your Mood

When you're feeling depressed and struggling to go from day to day, it's hard to see what there is to be thankful for.
But giving thanks is something that's celebrated the world over - for instance, Harvest Home in England, Thanksgiving in Canada & the US -because our ancestors knew what we seem to be re-discovering - that attitude makes a big difference, and that celebrating the good in our lives lifts our mood.
And when you feel good, you're more likely to attract good into your life, as the Laws of Attraction practitioners will tell you. Attitude is a major factor in how a person feels - feel poor, and you tighten the purse strings to choking point, feel guilty spending pennies, and miss out on opportunities to improve your situation or you fail to invest in yourself so that you can make the most of any opportunity that comes along.
A client who has been very pre-occupied recently claimed that she was finding people very unhelpful. No wonder - she went into the stores with her head down, a frown on her face, so pre-occupied with her own troubles that she didn't notice anyone else. She shuffled about impatiently in line-ups, complained and generally wasn't someone you'd want to deal with if you were a store clerk.
As an experiment, I coached her into going into a large department store, holding her head high, looking purposeful but relaxed. She gave the clerks she met a big smile, asked courteously for help and said thank you and please. To her surprise, she got the best of service, with three clerks helping her locate the articles she wanted, checking the stockroom for supplies and looking up delivery dates.
"I heard a woman in the next aisle say loudly to her companion: "The service here is terrible. There's never anyone around to help." I had three store clerks helping me, and I looked over at her sour expression and I thought, OMG, that was how I'd been behaving! Who would have thought attitude made such a difference! It wasn't just that I got better service, but by smiling and being polite, I felt better about myself," was how this woman reported back.
And that's the clincher, really - having a good attitude makes you feel better about yourself.
So, this weekend we're celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. Practice feeling thankful for what you have, rather than dwelling on what you don't have. If you have a roof over your head and enough to eat, for today, you are rich by comparison to many, many people in the world.
Family are coming to dinner? That means more work for you - but it also means you get to spend time with people you love and who love you. More expense? Sure, but isn't it worth it? Take a little time to think about the extras you can do that don't cost a lot - a grapevine wreath for the front door and table decorations made from hedgerow finds or dollar store buys.
If you don't have family visiting, hold a pot luck supper for friends or neighbours. You'd be amazed at how appreciative they'll be, and with everyone contributing, it's an economic way of entertaining - something our parents and grandparents used to do.
A recent report told us what should seem obvious - that people who give to others are happier than those who don't. Think about it - by giving to others you're showing compassion for your fellows, and also celebrating the fact that however little you have, you still have enough to help someone worse off. Of course it makes you feel better!
And here's a challenge: This Thanksgiving, write down five things you are grateful to have in your life. Perhaps you're grateful to be able to enjoy the autumn colour, or to have someone who loves you in your life, or just a chance to sit and read a good book. Maybe you're thankful for the possibilities to come or the joys you've known in the past. Think carefully and you'll be surprised how many things you have to be thankful for in your life.
Write them down on a slip of paper, put that in your wallet or purse and when you feel down, take it out and read it, meditate upon the things you have there. Add anything new that occurs to you. That little list is sure to lift your mood.
Happy Thanksgiving!