And I Wrote This Book.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Survive and Thrive Bloghop: Living With Depression

Be it known that Alex J. Cavanaugh hyperlinked himself. Or perhaps a clone was involved.

Thank you, team, for this highly relevant Blogfest!
Here's what they wrote:
   The blogfest is meant to bring awareness of disease prevention and early detection regarding medical conditions that may be averted or treated if caught in the early stages. Our desire is to motivate people to go in for early screening, and if a condition is caught early and treated, then our world just became a little better place to live...What’s great about this Blogfest is you can inspire people to take care of themselves and their loved ones early enough to make a difference in their lives. 

Last year, I wrote this article for a local newspaper. I aimed to describe the monstrous force of severe depression. What I learned after publication, though, is that far too many already know this beast.

A few lesser-known facts about depression:
  • It's the world's most common disorder.  
  • It's both a mental health and a medical condition. The brain of a depressed person looks very different than a healthy person's brain. The good thing about this is that treatment most often helps.
  • It's generally chronic. Depression doesn't usually do a one-time "hit and run." It likes to stick around, often for months, years, or a lifetime. In my case, it's hibernating below the surface, likely to make a grand entrance unless I keep it tamed - and even then.
  • Stigma is so great that Robin Williams kept denying his depression and/or bipolar disorder, while incorporating his substance abuse into his comedy routines. Think about that! He chose to be labeled "a druggie" --with all the wretched stereotypes connected to drug addicts-- but refused to acknowledge his genetic mood disorders.
Some things that help me survive and thrive:
  • Writing. I started writing to provide myself an emotional outlet. I had nobody to confide in as a kid, and I let the curse words fly. It helped tremendously and still does. 
  • Dancing, jogging, walking, cardio exercise. Gotta get those neurotransmitters flowing. I did so much writing today, that I broke things up by taking a few quick walks in the...
  • Sunshine. I'm lucky to live in CA.
  • Laughter! I advise a hearty laugh AT LEAST once a day. I'm talking about a laugh from the pit of your being that bursts out of you and continues until you're on the verge of losing control of bodily functions. Two of my favorite sources for this are A Beer for the Shower and Al Penwasser.
  • Antidepressant meds. Not everyone who's depressed needs medication, and not everyone facing depression can find the right antidepressant. I went through years of awful med trials. Eventually, I was fortunate to find one that works for me. Now, I hardly think about it; I take it like a daily vitamin.
  • Counseling. I've had more therapists who hurt versus helped. But I persisted, and a few good ones guided me through significant change. Simply having a place/person to express oneself to is crucial.
  • Connections.  Depression messes up our brains, causing us to believe that we're crap, our lives are crap, and there's no reason to go on...The best way to stay grounded in reality and hopeful, is through connections with caring people. I've pushed myself to reach out, even if only by calling a talk-line, when in deep despair.
  • Chocolate. How could I not include this? I'm opting for dark chocolate more often these days, though, to keep it a little healthier. I also maintain a fairly healthy diet otherwise. When I overdo it on the sweets, or on food in general, which is often, I tend to feel guilty enough to exercise it off.
 If you struggle with depression, you're not alone. I think it's particularly common amongst the writer/artist community. You're in very good company. Let's keep the conversations going. Please feel free to email me at Rawknrobyn@aol.com. Life is worth living, and everyday brings much to appreciate.

Have a nice, laugh-filled new week.
   Thanks again to the Survive and Thrive Bloghop Team!

53 comments:

  1. I would never have guessed you suffer from depression, Robyn. Bloggers who do often disappear for long periods. I hope writing this blog and entertaining your readers has helped you as much as the dark chocolate.:)

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  2. You've really put your heart and soul into helping people with depression, by recently chairing the walk, and bravely sharing your own struggles. I know that by keeping the conversation going, you'll continue to help others. Though you mentioned two hilarious blogs that are guaranteed to cheer anyone up, I'm disappointed you didn't hyperlink yourself, Robyn!

    Julie

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  3. Thank you for writing about this, Robyn. Hearing from someone with depression who is managing their symptoms is absolutely beautiful. Hopefully, the stigma attached to depression will be a thing of the past one day soon.

    I'm with you, talking to a counselor was the best gift I ever gave myself and one I continue to give myself. I love my counselor and wouldn't be where I am today without her guidance.

    Elsie

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  4. This is a wonderful post, Robyn! Depression is extremely common. We're either suffering from it, have suffered from it, or know someone who has/is. I can make a list of people in my own circle of family/friends who have dealt with this illness. Talking about it, bringing it out into the open and educating the public about it will help stomp out the stigma. Baby steps, but at least we're moving forward.

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  5. Thank you for this amazing post. I think Robin Williams' suicide really opened a lot of people's eyes to the fact that it can hit anyone, and any time. Nobody is immune. We just all need to be there for one another.

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  6. So much information!
    Sad Williams chose drugs rather than admit his depression.
    I think cardio exercise really makes a difference. It's an invigorating flush of the system.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

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  7. GB, yes. Blogging nearly daily (if only by reading a few blogs) has been such a help. I can't imagine life without it. You've been here all along. I'm guessing you know what I mean. Wink.

    Julie, I only hyperlink myself in private. Smiles.

    Elsie, thank you. It's great to get to know you better and realize how similar we are. That's what talking/writing about this stuff helps with.

    Martha, baby steps, yes. It is one step forward and a few back. But we're moving in the right direction.

    OE, you're welcome. Thank you. I believe everyone knows depression, whether they admit it or not.

    Alex, thanks for hosting.

    Love to all,
    xoRobyn

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  8. oh yeah, depression is a dark, evil beast that hides and springs out from time to time. I'm much better now with my new life but what I have now is a bad hormonal type depression each month, and a really really bad anxiety disorder with panic attacks and overthinking. I won't go back on antidepressants though...those killed my sex drive and as a newlywed, we can't have that. So I walk and walk and walk and do crafts and seek out my friends online to talk me down.

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  9. I've gone through bouts of depression and it's so easy to give in to the urge to hide from the world and connections.

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  10. lol chocolate fixes all. Depression is nothing to fool with indeed and the sun does help a lot of things.

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  11. Depression is debilitating and it is so wonderful that you are discussing it and bringing it to the forefront. It is easier for people to discuss their addictions to alcohol or drugs than state they have a "mental" disorder. I use that term because, actually I hate it. It stigmatizes a person. It is a brain disorder just like someone can have a heart or kidney disorder. We just do not know enough about the brain and how to help all the synapses, for lack of a better term, work in the best way. people must try to forget the centuries of stigmatizing a person when their brain was not functioning correctly and realize that the brain is an organ and when it is not working to its full potential, medicine is there to help. Like every medicine, one works well with one person and not with another. I am glad you persisted. I often find persistence is the key and so is laughter

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  12. Some people hide it so well because of the ridiculous stigma. Excellent choice for this fest.

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  13. How sad that Depression is the world's most common disorder.

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  14. Robyn,
    Thanks so much for sharing this information. I do get hit by depression, but haven't been treated for it. You're so right, it doesn't do a hit and run, but it does take some effort to give it the boot when it comes knocking.

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  15. very moving Robyn - still can't get over Robin Williams

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  16. I hope this blog is cathartic for you! You're brave for writing about this on your blog. Love the title!

    my blog: morgankatz505.blogspot.com

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  17. Definitely a lot of mis-information out there about depression. Glad to hear you've got a handle on yours. Thanks for the great info, as well.

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  18. Great post qnd great info! I read somewhere that having a good belly laugh has the same effect on our health as having an orgasm. So laugh as much as possible! Plus you can do it in public too -- bonus!

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  19. Probably the most misunderstood condition too. Glad you found the right solution for you. So many don't seek the help they need because of that stigma.

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  20. What I call "my depression" is far less severe- but has been worse. It sneaks up looking for something to wrap around and make me obsess on. I'm usually pretty good at catching it, but I didn't use to be. It's a betrayal by your mind just like cancer is one by your body.

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  21. Hi Robyn,

    All I can say is...hugs. It was an inspirational post. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. great post and certainly important for folks to be aware of depression. It should not be a hush hush subject, and yet there is a stigma attached for employment,etc. Glad you keep yourself in chocolate and dialogue,etc. You do have a community who cares.

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  23. Great post. Thank you for speaking for all of us who deal with depression. When I first took an antidepressant, the universe shifted. I couldn't believe how much better I felt. My daily headaches went away. I was no longer so angry. I still take an antidepressant, but it's a very low dose. It keeps me from getting itchy. I've had sensitive skin all my life. If my depression and anxiety aren't under control, then zillions of little nerve ending scream that they need to be scratched.

    Love,
    Janie

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  24. Robyn,

    You ARE such an inspiration! This is one subject everyone get nervous discussing. But as you have stated it is the number illness.

    Also, you are so right about creative people having bouts of depression. I certainly do. Mostly anxiety. It all started with my first sinus infection. I didn't know what was happening in my head and I FREAKED! It took me ages to finally accept the fact I have serious sinus conditions and not to stress when I can't breathe.

    Also life can be a depressing place when we are unhappy. Many of us are in situations we have no control over and we feel despair. Thankfully there is so much help out there.

    Exercise and talking to close friends and "OUR COMMUNITY" is such a blessing. Because much of "our" depression is caused by not succeeding the way we hope to on our writing journey.

    Thanks so much for posting this today. You are one in a MILLION!

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  25. Here's something you don't know about me yet... My main weekday job involves handing out food samples at grocery stores. Our biggest client is Lindt Chocolate. I get so much of it for free that I often have to fill up the boot of my car and make deliveries to my friends to offload some. If you like, I can get in touch with you via email to send you some ;)

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  26. What a great post. Considering how many people treat depression, you're very brave to bring it out into the open. Too bad Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman weren't as brave. Thanks for the enlightenment.

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  27. Depression is such an important thing to address since so many suffer from it. And many hide it. I've suffered from depression and anxiety since I developed post-partum depression after my son was born. It never went all the way, but it improved significantly from the PPD. Love your advice on how to handle it!

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  28. Hear, hear, Robyn. It's amazing the stigma it carries, and why??

    Pearl

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  29. I don't want to sound sappy but I really wish I could impart hugs through cyberspace. I love you all. Thanks for your words. Blogland has made more of a difference in lifting, and helping me navigate, my depression than I can say.

    Janie, so glad you found a med to take care of what sounds incredibly crazy-making.

    Michael D., you're an angel. Each of you.

    I don't know what to say D'Agostino. I can't say 'no,' but I'm trying to be healthy and eat fair trade chocolate only (I don't think Lindt is fair trade. Not sure) and it costs way too much to ship something between the US and Australia...You're a sweetheart, though.

    Pearl, yes, why? It's like sex - everyone has it once in a while (maybe, at least in dreams), but nobody's talking about it.

    Take care of yourselves, moment by moment, and find the sweetness that's out there in the world, dear blog friends.

    xoRobyn

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  30. Last night I was reading Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half, in particular the chapters on her boughts with depression. It was a real eye-opener-- brilliant, and funny. It helped me get a better prespective on depression. Check it out if you get a chance.

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  31. That's okay, I'll give it to someone that's not as strong-willed ;)

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  32. This is a wonderful post, Robyn. I especially like your survive and thrive list--very positive and uplifting.

    I hope you have a great week! :)

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  33. Excellent post, Robyn. Good for you for putting this out there.

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  34. My mother suffered from severe depression much of her life. Sadly, she lived during a time when depression was seen as nothing more than "feeling blue" and she was often told things like "oh, snap out if it" and "it's all in your head". Why is illness that's centered in the brain somehow less acceptable than illness of any other organ?

    Thank you for this post.

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  35. You are my hero, Robyn! So well written. If I were nearby, I'd give you some chocolate. But I'm not, So I'll eat it myself instead... while thinking of you. Thanks for making a difference!

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  36. Hi Robyn,

    Glad to see a post regarding mental health. Such a problem in today's world. And among the youth too. So many people fail to recognize the symptoms and they go untreated for years.

    Thanks for participating in the Blogfest. Hope to see you again for next year's event!

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  37. I'm grateful I don't suffer with depression, but I have seen its effects up close. Everything you say here is good info.

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  38. Thanks all.

    Michael, if only I was so strong willed. I almost take it back. But no, keep it, eat it yourself, give it to someone else...then again, we're talking about chocolate...No, no. Thank you anyway. =)

    Mitchell, I'm glad to inspire you to eat chocolate. Count on me for that any day.

    Love to you all. Thank you for understanding and sharing what you have. You're the best.

    xoRobyn

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  39. Thank you again for sharing your story. The more people speak out, the more help can be sought. Nobody should feel they are going this alone, and it is definitely encouraging to hear that it can be managed. Keep shining the light, girlfriend!

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  40. Yep, yep, all of this. Struggled with it for years, until I finally asked my doctor. Life improved dramatically, though like you say, it's always there, under the surface.

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  41. Robyn I love this post and love how uou talk about it!
    And is amazing if you tbi m usually I laugh in your blog.
    Writing is good to me too.
    And read and knitt...
    Thanks by a lovely post
    xo
    Gloria

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  42. Gah, I'm late! How did this happen? So a firm yes to all of those things, minus the meds. I've seen what meds do to some people, and I don't want to take that chance. I refuse it. My wife used to have to take them, and they made her into a robot that didn't feel anything. She couldn't bear it, and neither could I (she was like a zombie) so we've both found ways to fight this without medication.

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  43. I probably wouldn't add this to anyone else's comment section, but because I'm here...well, you forgot sex! Huge antidepressant, no pun intended. But seriously, it's really hard to be depressed while having orgasms!

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  44. Wow. Thanks for sharing. There is so much we can learn from each other.

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  45. Hahaha, Johanna, yes, excellent point. I imagine. I don't recall sex that was so orgasmic it cured my depression even for the moment, but I shall keep faith that some day I will experience it. And that experience won't be only in my dreams. Smiles.

    BnB, I wish I didn't need meds, but I do. Since I do, I'm lucky to have found one that works for me.

    Take care of your kind selves, all,
    xoRobyn

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  46. Chocolate, yes!! For sure. I love how you put so much awareness into things like this, good for you. Good list, too.

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  47. Hi Robyn .. I recognise these symptoms from a friend, who has it ... for us who don't it's difficult to understand - but I'll be back to re-read this ...

    Thanks for posting - great article .. cheers Hilary

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  48. PS Morgan, I tried to visit, but it's not a secure connection. I've a new laptop, so I'm not taking the chance. Sorry. Thought I'd let you know.

    Take care, everyone.
    xoRobyn

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  49. You are an awesome human being Robyn.

    Once a person finds that right counselor, life starts changing for the better. They are more valuable than gold.

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  50. I like that you discuss important issues on here. Awareness and acceptance need to be improved. Particularly regarding the issue of depression which is still stigmatised in a lot of developed societies, including my own sadly.

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  51. Very insightful Robyn, from someone who knows. I think it really is as simple as exercise, good food and proper sleep, and thats just the basics. Meds, therapy etc are all par for the course too. I would suggest that good relationships help, a close friend or two. And an important one for me, trying to keep stress at a minimum. Cant avoid it of course, but a lot of it can unravel all that prior good work.

    And even then...

    A lifetime for me too.

    Youre a doll.
    xo

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