Chasing The Big Black Dog: what works for you when confronting moments of depression?

Adventures with the Estrogen Army

This topic contains 10 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Sue Braiden 2 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #2172

    Linda Nowakowski
    Participant

    Anyone with pearls of wisdom for chasing away the big black dog or at least calming him?

     

  • #2176

    Sue Braiden
    Keymaster

    Hello, Linda! I’m guessing you’re speaking metaphorically here about depression? I have to admit that I’ve recently been introduced to that beast myself, compliments of the peri-menopause tango, and boy is it rough! Since it’s not something I’m accustomed to, it really knocked me right out of my shoes — that feeling of hopelessness. In fact, it just plain scared the hell out of me because I didn’t understand at first what kicked it off.

    So, I self-medicated, and by that, I mean I did what felt most intuitive, and at the time most frightening: I pushed myself out and surrounded myself with people at the Art Gallery, participating in teas with a fellow who had just come back from the Yukon, and learning how to make books, and transcribing First Nations treaties on handmade paper with ink-dip pens. Surrounding myself with so much creativity — both in the gallery spaces themselves, and in the people who were part of those sessions — was bloody brilliant. I found each time I did it, it innoculated me against the grip of that damned cloud.

    Last night I took what I called a baby step, but what for me was more like jumping off a cliff: I went out, by myself, to Caesars where an old friend was playing with his band. I nearly talked myself out of it a dozen times, but I decided this was going to have to be another one of those micro-adventures, and I was rewarded. Walking alone downtown at night wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought. It was so bright and alive with people, laughing on coffee shop patios, dancing down the streets and enjoying a perfect almost-summer night. I walked down along the river and stopped to simply let myself feel the crush of beauty that spilled through the trees where the river was as calm as glass, pretty twinkle lights, and people eating icecream, walking with their kids down the path. By the time I finally got to the Casino, I realized the best part of the night may already have happened, just by letting myself be in the moment of the journey there.

    The odd thing was I didn’t feel out of place. I had a stillness I never had in my youth. I had a couple of glasses of wine, loved catching up with a very dear old friend between sets, and the big one: after saying no about a hundred times, finally saying “f#@$ it” and got up and danced when a gaggle of women kept trying to pull me up to the dance floor to celebrate our “power as old girls”. I can’t tell you what a big deal that was for me. I can be very self-conscious, but dancing — something I haven’t done in way too many years — was a pretty epic release. I came home feeling like a weight had been lifted off my chest, and slept better than I have in a long, long time.

    I don’t know that there’s a magic bullet that works for everyone. I just know that these micro-adventures have worked for me. Everytime I push myself out to have another, I come back feeling stronger, more at peace, and certainly happier.

    I would love to hear how other women have tackled this “big black dog” you’re talking about, because when it comes to visit, it’s a scary thing. Thanks for being brave and asking the question here, Linda! I hope others might share …

    Sue … xoxoxox

  • #2179

    Joan Boysen
    Moderator

    I am so impressed with Sue’s response. How adult, how positive, how very healthy.  Truly.  Funny when I traveled for work I was never uncomfortable going out to dinner alone, but I’m not very good at it when on my home turf, which is pretty much all the time.

    Linda, I think Sue is probably the poster woman for what to do.  I always turn to chocolate, which is disturbingly often as evidenced by my portly Boysen build (that my twin does not have).

    If you have close friends or relatives nearby you might talk to them about your need for encouragement, companionship or support.  Be as specific as you can be. For example, plan a weekly “date” or some fun activity.  What things feel like pampering to you? A pedicure comes to mind. Or perhaps visiting a dear friend you have actually never met. Say one in Arkansas.

    I would say I am not a good resource for doing this well. I’m a great coper which has been a learned skill and not a particularly positive one.  I yearn to be wild and crazy and, when I was a pastor’s wife, encouraged parishioners to think of me as eccentric. But I digress.

    What I will say is that if these black dog moments are more like black dog days, you should consider talking to a doctor. They have marvelous meds these days. That I can comment upon.  Research has shown that if you have depression, the sooner you address it, the more likely you will be to recover and not have recurring episodes.  I also found that taking a brisk walk in a beautiful place was helpful for me.  Humor has always been my place to go to get through the tough times.

    Another idea is to do something for someone else, which I’m pretty sure you must do endlessly, but it can be helpful.  I don’t know if any of this is at all helpful, but please know that it is offered with great love and care.  You can ignore me and it won’t hurt my feelings.  After all, I’m not even sure I have enough estrogen left to qualify for this woman’s army.

    As to the humor thing, be careful what you say to some folks. I once posted on FB “I used to have a life, but it didn’t work out that well.”  Now this is a standard smart ass comment, but a friend from high school days responded immediately for fear that I might be looking for a bridge to jump off.  Like I would do that. All the bridges in this country are aging and structurally compromised.  Getting on a bridge could be dangerous.

  • #2184

    Joan Boysen
    Moderator

    Linda, I did some more thinking and can offer some thoughts on severe depression, more like a huge black bear that is probably more than you will need.

    During the abyss, and trust me it was deep and the walls were steep and wet so climbing out took a really long time.  So I knew I had to establish some guidelines to get strong enough to begin the ascent.  So here were my rules:

    1. No music, it is too emotional (this is the most controversial of my rules and may be exactly wrong for you).
    2. If it’s on the Oprah Winfrey book list, don’t read it. It will just be full of angst.
    3. No introspective thinking. It will only get you in trouble.

    Now the first two were pretty easy to implement, but the third took a little creativity.  Audio books.  Let me explain. When listening to an audio book you need to pay attention to the book and it offers a painless way of avoiding introspective thinking.  Plus, you could do housework, yard work, laundry, and puzzles and emerge unscathed by IT (not the tech stuff). Actually I wish I would have discovered it years ago when the mundane boring demands of a family claimed too much time. At least I could have sat down in the evening with a sense of accomplishment without being a martyr.  After all, I read a book all day.

    Nowadays the offerings are amazing.  I use my iPhone and log on to my local library and download whatever appeals to me, plug in my headset, pop the phone in my pocket and enjoy my chores.

    Sue, I know you have issues with vision and this could be really useful for you.  Picking the books is a little like online shopping without a drain on your pocketbook.

    If you’re depressed, I would encourage you to entertain light reading.  This is no time for Samantha Power.  It is time for Elizabeth Peters and her character, Amelia Peabody, an Egyptologist with an new mystery every book.  The reader if Barbara Rosenthal and she is simply marvelous.  In fact, in a time of secret sharing, I discovered Pam O is an Amelia Peabody fan and enjoys a little light-hearted reading.  I can also recommend Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mysteries. They can be laugh-out load entertaining.

    Give it a try, you might enjoy it.

    Big hugs,

    -j

  • #2186

    Sue Braiden
    Keymaster

    Linda, I am so glad you invited this conversation! Joan, reading through your two responses gave me so many great ideas.

    By the way, I finally swallowed my pride and started checking out the large print books at the library, and my God, what a hallelujah moment that was! I’ve been trying audiobooks the last two years, and while some are hit and miss, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with a lot of them, including a pretty epic reading of the “Game of Thrones” books by a gentleman who morphs his voice completely into dozens of different characters in a heartbeat. It was a great way to reclaim my love of books when it was becoming too difficult to read as I wanted with having lost so much of my sight.

    I think it would be neat to harvest some of the ideas from this conversation and turn them into an article here at the site, pointing it back to the conversation to invite continued dialogue. Really looking forward to what other people contribute.

    Thanks again, Linda, so very much for asking the question, and Joan, for your bumper crop of great ideas!

    Sue.

  • #2187

    Linda Nowakowski
    Participant

    You two…..how I have missed both of you and your empathy, humor, caring…..I am sure I missed lots of traits I miss.

    I have gone through major depressions 2 other times in my life….one when I was 20, one when I was 50 and this one.

    Re doing things for other people….that I do regularly. I have three 84 year old women that I take places and “look after.” I tutor one of my grandnieces 5 days a week. I taught a class in alternative gardening at the library. I teach English to a woman who speaks Spanish. I do work at 2 homeless shelters. I am in charge of the community garden at the church (it feels like that should read that as the garden at the church that I do for the community),  treasurer, on council and a couple of boards… I help both of my brothers with their businesses, transport and “entertain” my disabled sister, I am handling the social media for an adventure my one brother is doing – riding his bike alone from The Pacific to the Atlantic and fund raising for charity…. just feeling like I am there for everyone else but no one is there for me.

    If I didn’t have 5,000 ft^2 of garden depending on me, I would leave for Arkansas tomorrow.

    The last couple of weeks of getting the gardens in has just absorbed all of my time and energy. Man – I moved 2 full pick-up loads of horse manure and some 9,000 pounds of compost pretty much by myself . Plus I planted out a couple hundred plants I grew indoors from seed plus all of the things that could be planted from seed outside.

    Thanks for letting me vent. It helps. I need to get someone to take me to Thailand for a massage!!!! ….and I probably need to learn to say “no.”

  • #2188

    Linda Nowakowski
    Participant

    Joan…..maybe we should both plant a trip to Windsor….that is only a 3 hour drive from here. The flight to Arkansas is longer than that from here!

  • #2189

    Sue Braiden
    Keymaster

    You know what? I think what we have here is an epic opportunity for both testing the new tools I’m about to unleash, and have a little madcap adventure together! Let’s make meeting in person a goal.

    How would you ladies feel about using the new Adventure Journals I’m about to release later this week to plan a little Adventure Diva mini-retreat once Linda’s gardens are in? I’ve been wanting to set one up in Chicago (for reasons which I will share in another post soon), and I think this would be a great way to see if the tools I’m sharing really can allow us to plot out our various adventures and have them on our shoestring budgets. It will give us a chance to try out some of the innovative ways of travelling, feasting and staying away from home without spending a lot to do it.

    Are you game?

    Damn, I just got so excited I spilled my hot chocolate all down the front of my dress … lol.

    Sue. <3

  • #2190

    Joan Boysen
    Moderator

    Oh Miss Linda (that’s Southern y’all), I knew you would be giving back and reading your list I am ashamed of myself for being a hermit and exhausted by your schedule. I think maybe you need to find a way to take care of yourself. This would be an excellent example of the pot calling the kettle cast iron, as I am very poor at it.  I was going to say the pot calling the kettle black, but feared it might be racist…never my intention.

    You do need a massage and if I had two nickels to rub together I would send you a gift certificate for one. It would have to be a gift certificate in your name and required proper ID to use it. Otherwise you would give it away.

    I’ve already recovered from being ashamed because I can’t imagine doing 1/10th of what you do. I would need to set more realistic goals and have to be 30 or so.

    Miss Sue, I love the idea of you writing an article. Don’t change any names, none of us are innocent.

    It took me 40 years to realize my hobbies were laundry and housework so yesterday I had a “honey don’t” day.  I went with my adult niece to our local nursery who were having a customer appreciation day.  These folks were over the top and it was a great, mini adventure.  I know she suffers from some mental health issues and thought to myself, why don’t I call her and ask her to do something?  We had such a great time together.  She is one of my heroes as she has crippling rheumatoid arthritis and wakes  up in pain, spends her day in pain and goes to bed in pain. And yet she has a very high-powered, high stress job, a husband and two little girlies who have an incredibly busy dance team schedule and never whines. She has meltdowns of anger from time to time and it’s pretty scathing and frightening, but people who don’t have any of these issues really struggle with it. I do too, but I know she will come down from the edge and an Aunt can say things to her that a mother never could. On mother’s day (which I call the National Day of Pain and Disappointment…another story), she took her girls on a trip to the ballet.  She had a big meltdown and texted that she had left the girls at the big city aquarium. Within milliseconds I was on the phone, calling the aquarium and describing the girls.  Like many people, that was a not true statement but she was in such pain and screaming for help.  She adores her girls and wouldn’t hurt them, but you have to respond to these things. If her mother did that it would be catastrophic. Trust me, I have a very touchy relationship with my daughter and I’m not even sure what crime against the people I have committed. I’m a really good aunt and, frankly, I should have stayed in the aunting business. Motherhood is way too hard.

    Sorry to be babbling, but you have to go with your strengths and I am a gifted babbler. I simply must have a honey do day or their may be questions from the health department or some other governmental agency.

    Miss Sue, one other thing. I’m not around any Thomas Kriese folks these days and find myself stumbling around a bit to find things.  Can you give me a few tipps?

    Love you ladies,

    –j

  • #2191

    Joan Boysen
    Moderator

    PS, I’m working on an iPad as I spilled a large mug of coffee on my laptop that was a non-recoverable error so I accidentally closed this topic then reopened it but I’m not sure   if I hurt it. Damn fat fingers.

  • #2202

    Sue Braiden
    Keymaster

    Joan, I am so sorry to hear about your laptop! Glad you’ve got an iPad to cope with the basics still.

    I love the idea of your “honey don’t” day! That needs to be a thing 😀 The one thing that I think eventually occurs to us all at some point is that we can’t be any good for other people if we do not take care of ourselves. Nurturing is instinctive to a lot of us, but we sometimes forget ourselves. I’m definitely adopting your “honey don’t” day, Joan.

    As for tips to help with the stumbling around, I’m going to put something together this week, Joan, to try to give a bit of help with the basics. Perhaps you call can help me figure out what needs to be added in to make it easier to get around? (One of things things on my list is to increase the size of the text, and change the light gray links to something darker, both to make it easier to read).

    Sending a big hug out to both of you in your little corners of the world tonight, Linda and Joan. xoxoxo

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