Separating Your 'True Self' From The Lies Depression Tells You
This article from Esperanza magazine, Separating Your 'True Self' From The Lies Depression Tells You, notes that when battling a mood disorder like depression, it's easy to be our own worst critics. Leaning on friends and family for support and words of advice can help you see past your own biases, feelings about yourself, and depression.
Separating Your 'True Self' From The Lies Depression Tells You
Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year, but because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, it's rarely discussed. Struggling with a mental health issue is a challenge in itself, but when self-stigma gets added to the mix, it can be overwhelming. This article from Esperanza magazine, Depression & Conquering Self-Stigma encourages you to shake off the shame, advocate for yourself, reach out to others, and dive into treatment.
Depression & Conquering Self-Stigma
Depression & the Power of Pets
Struggling with a mood disorder? Research shows us that owning a pet can boost your self-esteem, improve your fitness and physical health, encourage you to be more outgoing, and offer social companionship, which will make you feel less isolated or lonely.* In short, life with a pet may leave you happier and healthier.
This article from Hope to Cope highlights some of the practical perks of pet ownership - for example, the responsibility of caring for a pet's needs may get you out of bed in the morning - as well as many of the less tangible benefits. Read more information by following the link below.
The Power of Pets
Source: Psychology Today
We will find inevitably be faced with unexpected challenges, but we can do our best to be prepared by knowing our triggers, developing coping strategies, and having a system in place to tackle problems and symptoms when they arise.
The following suggestions will help you develop your arsenal of coping tools and strategies, and create a plan of action to help you find balance and get back on track.
Creating Your Action Plan
Be Prepared: It’s impossible to plan for every eventuality, but identifying and knowing your triggers can help you stay one step ahead of your symptoms. If you’re faced with an interaction or situation you anticipate may be challenging or triggering, take a few moments ahead of time to prepare yourself. Visualize the interaction, and practice your responses. Plan to take a few moments after the interaction to process and decompress.
Hit Pause: Implement the “24 hour rule.” After experiencing a major emotional event or strong trigger, ask yourself whether this is something that requires an immediate response. Might you take a day to process the event and form your response? If you have time – use it.
Taken by surprise? Before reacting, hit the pause button. If possible, excuse yourself for a minute to step outside or visit the restroom. Take a few moments to practice some deep breathing, and check in with yourself. What are you feeling? What do you need in this moment? What is the best way to approach or handle this situation without compromising your mental health?
Refresh: Neglecting to address your basic needs and practice self-care leaves you operating at less than your best, and not only makes you more susceptible to mood swings and your symptoms, but makes it far more difficult to get back on track. Self-care starts with the basics, so set yourself up for success. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Take time to be active and move your body. Fuel your body with a diet that is balanced and nutritious.
Refocus & Reflect: Take a few moments to reframe, and practice your attitude of gratitude. What are you grateful for? Dedicate some time to self-reflection. What can you do going forward that will help set you up for success? What tools or coping strategies can you add to your repertoire that will help you in the future?
Get Moving: Put your plan into action. When you feel overwhelmed by your symptoms, it’s easy to feel stuck. Tempting though it may seem, don’t rest on your laurels; challenge yourself to keep moving. A mantra will help you keep going when the going gets tough. Remind yourself,
This is only temporary.
This too shall pass.
I am strong and capable.
One day at a time.
Depression can be a slippery slope; in spite of our best intentions, a challenging day or difficult interaction can often send us into a downward spiral of negative feelings and negative self-talk.
In this article from Hope to Hope, Leadership Coach Owen Ashton shares his personal struggle with managing his depression, and offers suggestions on how to cope when you feel yourself slipping into a pattern of negative self-talk.
Learn more and read the article from Hope to Cope by following the link below:
Depression & Rising Above Negative Self-Talk
Many of us struggle with feeling stuck in our own heads, but for those struggling with Bipolar disorder, obsessive thinking can become all-consuming, impacting both your quality of life and ability to stay productive. Thankfully there are tools at your disposal – typically a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral strategies - that can help you redirect consuming, obsessive thoughts, helping you stay grounded and focused.
This article from BP Hope, “Bipolar Disorder and Grappling with Obsessive Thinking, highlights ways to help you cope when you find yourself stuck on the “hamster wheel” of obsessive thinking.
Read the article on the BP Hope website: Grappling with Obsessive Thinking
If you’re struggling with a mood disorder like depression or anxiety, it’s tempting to want to keep yourself isolated. It’s easy. There’s no pressure involved. It seems comforting. It feels like a solution, albeit a temporary one (“I don’t want to see anyone, so I won’t – problem solved!”) and it’s easy to talk yourself into what feels safe.
As tempting as it may be, it’s important to remember that isolating yourself never actually makes you feel better. It may feel like a quick fix, but it’s not a solution. By staying isolated you keep yourself from developing more effective coping tools for handling your mood disorder, and you end up perpetuating a cycle of isolating behaviors that keep you running in place rather than moving forward.
It can be difficult to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone, but remind yourself that no one grows by staying comfortable. It’s a willingness to make a change – to sit with feelings of discomfort – that creates room for growth. In other words,
“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
If you’re feeling unsure of how to make a change, the following suggestions may be helpful in getting you started. Don’t feel the need to make any huge, drastic changes: baby steps can add up to big progress.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Check out this article from Esperanza magazine for tools and recommendations on how to manage your anxiety and/or panic disorder when symptoms arise.
When you're battling with depression it can be hard to find motivation to complete even simple tasks, let alone the motivation to tackle larger projects or goals; this article from the Hope to Cope website offers suggestions for how to get (and stay) motivated and moving forward.
Depression: The Mystery of Motivation
We tend to be our own worst critics, spending more time judging ourselves for the mistakes we make than we spend on finding solutions for moving forward. We get trapped in a cycle of self-loathing and self-criticism: we make a mistake, we berate ourselves, and succumb to feelings of failure and hopelessness.
While we may not always feel we deserve to ‘cut ourselves a break,’ by offering ourselves a bit of self-compassion we can learn to break that cycle, and with time, we can re-train our brains and become our own biggest cheerleaders, instead of our biggest critics.
Re-Training Your Brain
Over time our thoughts forge typical thought pathways in our brains. Think of a sled in the snow. We start with a fresh snowbank, but after a few trips down the hill, we’ve left tracks. The sled will naturally gravitate towards these routes, rather than forge ahead through new snowbanks. Like the sled, your brain follows the path that has been laid out for it – the path of least resistance.
The good news is that our brains are remarkably adaptable.
What we learn, we can unlearn.
In the words of Psychology Today, “The brain is not hardwired, but plastic. Dendritic and synaptic connections have been demonstrated to rewire themselves via experience, and, most intriguingly, through mind training.”
In other words, with time and effort, we can re-train our brains to work for us, rather than against us. The tools and suggestions below will help you get started.
Trading Criticism for Compassion
For further reading on the benefits of self-compassion, check out the article below from Esperanza magazine:
Depression: Self-Compassion Can Change Your Life
Dr. Craig Alan Brown has been providing the highest quality of care and support to the San Diego community for over forty years.