Don’t Let Depression Drag You Down – A Guest Spot

Today I have the honor of sharing a piece written by Marie Miguel for www.betterhelp.com and I am sharing it with you today here on The Bipolar Writer blog. You can find the bio for Marie Miguel after the article.

Don’t Let Depression Drag You Down

Everyone has heard of depression but many people really do not know the difference between having depression and feeling depressed. Of course, if you or someone you love suffers from a depressive disorder, you know what I am talking about, but a lot of people think having depression just means that you are sad. They may say “what do you have to be depressed about?” or “how can you be depressed when you have so much going for you?” I get that one a lot. Yes, I have a great job doing what I love but having depression does not just mean that you are feeling sad or depressed. There is a whole lot more to it than that.

What Is Depression?

According to the experts, depression is a very common but serious mental health disorder that affects how you think, act, and feel. It can disrupt all your daily activities including working, eating, sleeping, socializing, and working. It is not just a feeling of sadness but an actual medical condition that lasts more than two weeks. In fact, in many cases, it can last for years or for your entire life. Imagine being told that you are going to have this debilitating disease forever and there is nothing you can do about it. Not only does it make you miserable, it can sap your strength, make you exhausted, cost you your job and relationships, and it is invisible so nobody can actually see what is going on. That is depression. Here are some symptoms:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless for more than two weeks
  • Crying over nothing
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Memory loss
  • Isolating yourself from everyone
  • Talking or moving slower than usual
  • Random and chronic aches and pains
  • Constant fatigue
  • Thinking of death or suicide

If you or someone you love has any of the above symptoms, it may be depression. One of the best things you can do for this is to talk to a professional mental health expert. In many cases, you can find a solution to feeling better after the first session. Of course, many of us with depression do not want to go see a therapist or psychiatrist. For some, just getting out of bed is a big accomplishment. Luckily, there is a wonderful new concept called internet therapy. It may also be referred to as eTherapy, online psychiatry, or many other variations of this. Basically, it boils down to the fact that you do not even have to leave your house (or your bed) to talk to a therapist.

Yes, you can talk to a therapist online without ever having to go anywhere and you do not even need to set an appointment. With online therapy, you can use any kind of electronic device such as your cell phone, tablet, or computer to talk to your therapist. You can use texting, instant messaging, email, or even face to face teleconferencing like Skype or Facetime. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, what are you waiting for?

Marie Miguel

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Depression & Depression Cycles

I was asked to have a post about depression, and when I talk about depression, it is also good to talk about depression cycles. Yesterday, I had a bad day where I cycled between mania and depression– my depression left me laying in bed most of the night, day, in the dark and binge-watching my favorite shows. (If you want to learn more about my mania check out my blog post here.) So here is my discussion on depression and depression cycles. I hope this helps for those that asked about me writing this post!

Depression Cycles – The Thoughts From The Bipolar Writer

When I started my blog The Bipolar Writer, I wanted the connections that I made there help guide what I would write in my the story of my Bipolar life. I didn’t imagine that what I blog about would extend to my memoir right away, but sometimes it does just that when you least expected.

The last few days I found myself talking about depression cycles (or as some call them depression episodes.) To me, the two are one in the same; I think it depends on your psychiatrist and what they call these cycles/episodes. For the sake of this blog post, I will call them cycles.

To me, the defining parts of my depression cycles are the deep feelings of depression that last more than a week (some doctors would say two, but hey I am no expert.) My depression cycles always bring out the worst parts of what I like to call “depression me.” It starts when I have trouble getting out of bed or doing the simplest of tasks.

There is the not eating and feeling hopeless every second that I’m awake. The strangest part for me when I am in a depression cycle is that I’m tired, and yet I have no reason to sleep. I know things are going wrong when I go days without sleep. Instead, I just lay there for hours on end lost in an endless abyss of my depression. The worst part is that the depression cycle keeps me from leaving my house.annie-spratt-649938-unsplash.jpg

Depression for me has always been the hardest thing for me to deal with, and I haven’t ever managed it well. I fail to fix the problems that make me depressed, and then I feed the depression by not getting out of bed or eating. It only gets worse over time. I do nothing about it, and that is the worst part of my depression cycle. I eventually found a way to deal, but this came after many depression cycles lasting for years.

I wanted to talk about one of my worst depression cycles within the confines of this chapter. It started in 2007 and didn’t end until 2010. It would be one of the worst three years of my life. In late 2007, my diagnosis became Bipolar One after a failed suicide attempt, a psychiatric ward visit, and then a release. Around New Year’s 2008 I ended up once again in the psychiatric ward. I honestly don’t remember most of 2008, and I can count on one hand how many times I left my house that wasn’t a hospital visit.

There were many hospital visits in 2008. Several occasions I was taken by police car to the hospital from my psychiatrist’s office. There were late night hospital visits, but most of the time they released me if I had a “safety plan.” I must have been a convincing writer because most of the time the hospital released me.

Other than that, I spend most of my time in bed. I played video games when my concentration allowed it (although I have played video games my whole life, so it doesn’t take much attention) and I ate food only when I had the energy. I was distant, and I always felt hopelessness daily. I remember the terrible things that I did during this period, like falling through a glass table after taking a double dose of my sleep medication. It wasn’t until late 2010 when I finally came out of this cycle, the longest of my life, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Why do Ijohn-fornander-724778-unsplash.jpg write about this? The goal I started out with was to share my experiences over the last ten years since my diagnosis. Do you know why my depression cycles lasted so long at the beginning? The simple answer I let depression control me during those times. In my journey, I have had to learn the hard way when it comes to depression.

If I can impart wisdom about depression cycles it’s this: always have a plan to get better, do the little things like getting out of bed, making your bed, and eating some breakfast. Find ways to get out of the house for ten minutes or more so that you to prevent being trapped or allowing repeatable behavior. When I started this blog, I wanted the connections that I made here help guide the blog posts that I write. I didn’t imagine that it would happen right away, but sometimes it does just that when you least expected. I’m just going to see where the idea and direction of this blog post go in the following paragraphs.

The last few days I found myself talking about depression cycles (or as some call them depression episodes.) To me, the two are one in the same; I think it depends on your psychiatrist and what they call these cycles/episodes. For the sake of this chapter, I will call them cycles.

gabriel-762937-unsplash.jpgThere is the not eating and feeling hopeless every second that I’m awake. The strangest part for me when I am in a depression cycle is that I’m tired, and yet I have no reason to sleep. I know its bad when I go days without sleep. Instead, I just lay there for hours on end lost in an endless abyss of my depression. The worst part is that the depression cycle keeps me from leaving my house.

Why do I write about this? The goal I started out with was to share my experiences over the last ten years since my diagnosis. Do you know why my depression cycles lasted so long at the beginning? The simple answer I let depression control me during those times. In my journey, I have had to learn the hard way when it comes to depression.

If I can impart wisdom about depression cycles it’s this: always have a plan to get better, do the little things like getting out of bed, making your bed, and eating some breakfast. If you can get out of the house for ten minutes, or more if you can. Seek help and work at making the support you receive work in your life. Listen. Listen to what your psychiatrist or therapist is telling you.

Smile more.

I am not saying do all these things, and that it will all be better. You have to put in the work. It took me years to get to a place where I could function as healthy as possible, and still, I don’t operate all that well. But, the more you do can mean working towards getting out of the depression cycle. My depression cycles now last weeks or days.

Depression cycles are all about your point of view at the time. If all you want to do is get lost in the endless darkness of depression, it will feel as if your cycle is an eternity. I have wasted years at a time of my life, but that is in the past. You can learn ways to fight depression better. I do what comes natural, and I write. I also use uplifting music to change my mood.

That is the key to changing a depression cycle; you have to be willing to change your mood. Depression is a mood, and it can be improved. It might take a few days but just getting out of bed is a huge difference. In my worst depression cycles, I spend hours and days in bed. It’s counterproductive to breaking the cycle.joshua-earle-480378-unsplash.jpg

Also, give yourself a break. In my Bipolar Life, I spent way too much energy giving into depression. Sometimes you need to take a few days off to break the cycle’s hold on your life. But don’t entirely give in. Keep fighting, and you will break the cycle.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

Ryan Whitlow

Annie Spratt

John Fornander

Joshua Earle

The Mental Illness Box

When I was a very young child, my brain and mind were free and open to see and create beautiful visions for my life. I had a lifetime to make my dreams come true.

There was no box.

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After a few years passed and the abuse began, I saw the box and visited it occasionally to protect myself from the pain caused from the outside world I knew.

This box was always there for me and protected me and kept me safe within my mind, but I could still get outside my mental illness box.

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After I gave birth to my first child, a large box swallowed me whole, entrapping me inside. The box encompassed me and left no windows of hope or opportunity to see through. My life and view of the world became very dark.

After a few years I saw a glimmer of light shine through a small opening. I saw hope and soon my window of hope gradually increased in size until I could peek through an opening of my life knowing there was a chance to escape from the darkness of this mental illness box.

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After being diagnosed with postpartum depression and bipolar 1 disorder 25 years ago,  I have never been able to completely break free from the confines of my box. Many times my box had great big windows of hope and opportunity. Hope was within my reach and I held on to that rope of hope with all my strength. Sometimes only one side of the box remained, so my sight opened up to a better day and a brighter tomorrow.

Imagine being in a large box that is closed shut. It is very dark. Blackness surrounds you.

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Sometimes, a small horizontal rectangular window of light opened up so I could peek through. My rectangular window of hope varied in size and dimension throughout the years depending on the wellness of my brain and mind and which bipolar pole I was in or near.

My rectangular window and view for my life changed from day-to-day. The larger my rectangular window became, the more hope I had. The greater the vision of hope I had, the more beautiful the picture of my life became. My ability to function and live my life depended on the size of the window of hope inside my box. I was still living, but my vision and living had been obscured from this mental illness box that surrounded me throughout my life.

After many years of living with this mental illness box surrounding me, my box grew darker and my window of hope destroyed. There were no more windows to see out of or to bring light back inside my mental illness box of life. I was gone. I left. My brain had died. I had no more light to see. I had no hope.

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When I did not have the ability to hope or see clearly, my brain shut done and took away my rational thoughts and ideas to live. My thoughts did not seem to be my own, but they were the only ones I had and the only reality I knew. My perception of reality was wrong and my brain fired lies at me that I could no longer fight.

I began to listen to the illogical lies my brain was telling me and soon I could no longer stop the words I heard inside my mind and dark mental illness box. I obeyed the commands inside my head. They ordered me and I obeyed with the inability to stop the demons and darkness inside me. I followed the commands inside my mind. I thought there was no other choice but to end my life.

That is what happened to me and my brain on the morning I should have died, after my last suicide attempt. After surviving my suicide attempt, my brain and I felt dead for days until I began to see a small flicker of light peek through the blackness of my mental illness box. My spark of hope began to flicker. My window of hope inside my dark mental illness box grew larger every day until I saw beautiful visions of hope and faith.

I could finally see outside my mental illness box. The view was beautiful. The more beauty I saw the greater my hope. The more hope I had the larger my window of opportunity became. As soon as my window of opportunity became large enough I jumped out my window head first and never looked back.

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I still see glimpses of my mental illness box in my rear view mirror, but my visions of the mental illness box continue to decrease on my beautiful journey to recovery and wellness.

I dream of one day living my life free from the stigma of mental illness and…

free from inside a mental illness box.

~written by Susan Walz

Be brave and…

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If you are living inside your mental illness box, please keep fighting and try to live outside of the box. I am not saying to live without mental illness. I am saying do not become stuck inside your mental illness box. Break free and learn to live near your box and use your mental illness to enhance your life in any way you can. Please do not let mental illness consume you and stop you from living a purposeful life. Don’t let mental illness stop you from seeing the beauty of the world.

I know when you are in the stuck inside a mental illness box and can only see blackness and darkness it seems like you will never see the light of life again.
I Wish I Could Show You Keepsake Box

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I am here to tell you, there is a light. Look for that flicker of light and hope and when you find them never lose sight of them—no matter what size they are. When you see that flicker of hope, hang on to that rope of hope for dear life. At first your hope might just be a thread of hope but I promise you soon it will grow into a large rope of hope. 

You can break free from living inside a mental illness box. Freedom from living inside your mental illness box is necessary for your survival, recovery and wellness. You can do it. Rip that box into shreds and live the life you deserve to live outside of the confines of your mental illness box. 

It is okay to have a mental illness.

It is okay not to be okay, but please remember never give up.

I am here to tell you and PROMISE YOU that recovery and wellness are possible.

I am an example and living proof of that.

Much love and hugs, Sue

A comfort zone is a beautful place, but nothing ever grows there.” ~ unknown

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Copyright © 2108 SusanWalz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

The First and Last of the Dark Days

I learned from another blogger that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think many of us with mental health concerns find the stigma around it to be truly terrifying. It can push us inward and leave many of us feeling unwanted or hushed. Suffering in silence and alone is not healthy for anyone, including those around us. Today, I wanted to share with you a quick glimpse of my first darkest of days and my last. There have been many times in between, but consistently I pull myself through, and each time I do, the darkest days come less frequently, and are not as dark as the previous.

September 1996. The pressure to choose a major, before I returned for my third year of school, was being hammered upon me. The weight of this decision was unbearable. I saw many friends easily sticking with a major, planning out projects, collaborations, and internships. The feeling of not belonging created a snowball effect and caused me to fall into classic avoidance behavior.

On the first day I was late to class, probably not by accident. I can’t remember what class it was, but I do remember the feeling of standing outside the door, hearing the professor already speaking, that hallowed silence from the rest of the students, and I knew I couldn’t go inside. My first panic attack occurred outside of that room. I felt like a heavy blanket was thrown over me, I couldn’t breathe or concentrate. My legs felt weak, thoughts in my head were disjointed, and flight or fight kicked in. Flight won.

I dropped out of school that week. This was the beginning of the anxiety and panic attacks that I kept hidden from friends and family. I choose at that time to suffer in silence because I was confused, scared, and embarrassed. The darkest days turned into months and years, eventually it seemed I grew out of it, and was hopeful it was behind me for good. I think what occurred was I learned to avoid triggers and found confidence in areas I didn’t have before through life lessons and eventually returning to school.

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May 2017. The last time I felt this way was after my third child was born. By now I had learned some coping methods and found professional help on and off, though the feeling of shame still prevented me from being open with loved ones. I had this beautiful healthy baby, and I’d done this two times before. This should be easy. So, why was it so hard? Lack of sleep, constant breast feeding, and lack of overall care for myself, all played into my downward spiral. I was becoming very short tempered with everyone around me, I insisted on keeping my house spotless, and controlling every detail of the family. I believe I was on the borderline of OCD, accompanied with postpartum anxiety.

One day my parents and my sisters were being indecisive about something, what it was I can’t recall. I screamed at one of my sisters over the phone, something I never do. My blood pressure must have been through the roof, something rose up inside of me and clicked, I have a problem! This is not normal. I need help.

Being that it had been 20 years since my first panic attack, anxiety was not new to me. I recognized that I needed help ASAP and if I didn’t get it all of those around me would be feeling the brunt of my actions. It wasn’t fair to them. I found a new therapist through postpartum online hotline, one within my insurance network. I did research online to my symptoms, read articles about diet and supplements that would be helpful; I researched other medications as well, continued with acupuncture, started to be more physically active. Most importantly, I caught myself when my temper was rising. I knew it was due to anxiety, just knowing this helped me curb it.

The first of the darkest days was the hardest for me, it was so new and confusing. Over the years I have learned to overcome so much. The journey is ongoing. Anxiety is a part of me, but I fight it. It doesn’t control me like it used to, and I will take that as a WIN.