De-funk yourself

There’s an ugly word we need to talk about: Depression. We’ve all been there – a dark day, a small temper tantrum – but how do we know when it’s more? Admittedly, I wanted to post another vlog about something fun, like golf (not to worry – I’ll still post that later) but this is something I think we should all talk about. Living with NMO (neuromyelitis optica) how do we avoid mental illness, especially when no one would really fault us for having a few extra disgruntled moments? When we regularly lack interest in life, suffer from sleeping and eating habits and have general health issues – some symptoms of depression – it’s hard to recognize the signs.

Put stops and alerts into place.
I see a therapist. Yup – that’s another ugly word: therapy. There’s such a negative connotation around getting help, you’re almost admitting you’re crazy if you see one (rest assured, you’re probably not). Now a convert, therapy helps me feel sane, gives me a safe place to vent and also provides me with the tools to manage my day to day. It’s also impartial, unlike seeking an ear from a loved one or a friend. No one other than a professional can really diagnose depression so at every medical checkup, we also assess my mental health. Most important, be honest!

Know what it takes to get out of your funk (if it’s just a funk).
I loved Christine’s post last week because it made me happy. Thing is, I didn’t realize I was having a down day until that moment. What else makes me happy? Seems like a simple question but as patients we’re so focused on routine we forget to ask for more. Other things I enjoy (and you might want to pick up “The Book of Awesome” for more ideas):
• Sunshine, hanging in the backyard and a good BBQ
• Sense of accomplishment from a good day worth of work
• Shopping for fresh produce at the local farmer’s market
• Hugging my pug, Marmaduke

Mix it up sometimes.
Yes, I know, it’s important to stay on a strict regimen – take your drugs at the same time, get enough sleep, get some exercise, and eliminate stress – but I find it refreshing to mix it up. Try going out early (or late), call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, cook a new dish (or order something different) or take a new path on your walk.

May 2011

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