We are as happy as we make up our minds to be (Abe Lincoln)

That saying is fitting and I like the simplicity of it. I believe good old Abe was onto something. (The quote was taken from the book, Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow by K. Casey)

Technically speaking, I am not in a major depressive episode but I fear I could easily fall back into its clutches. I must stay one step ahead of my depression while I’m not depressed because we all know, once the brain chemistry goes haywire, it’s near impossible to escape without medication – one of the things I’m trying to avoid.

I’m feeling rather melancholy due to a very heartfelt documentary that I saw this evening. I empathized so much with the characters and their life’s struggle that a familiar sadness is here in the room with me. The character’s problems became my problems but, of course, I cannot heal them or control their situation. In fact, I do not even know them so why am I so upset by the movie? Helplessness. I fear this feeling can trigger depression if I don’t do something different that what I usually do.

“Feeling constantly helpless can upset our endocrine balance, elevating the immunosuppressant hormone cortisol and destroying its natural diurnal rhythm. Chronic helplessness also depletes the brain of the vital neurotransmitter norepinephrine, the chemical in our brain that is necessary for feelings of happiness and contentment.”

Further – “The inability to feel in control of stress, rather than the stressful event itself, is the most damaging to immunity.” (Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by J. Borysenko)

So, what to do with this stress and helplessness I feel? I had the usual urge to drink but I’m not going to because, overall, I’ve been feeling energetic and clear-headed off the Pristiq. For the last month, my alcohol consumption has gone way down and I’m glad that I’m making headway. Alcohol screws up my sleep cycle, which can further effect my mood during the day. Bottom line, alcohol is a depressant and I don’t want to jeopardize the gains I’m making.

I need to decide where to begin if I want to change my coping strategies. Here’s what I’m thinking I’m going to try – meditation!

Okay, so you feel down. Don’t run from it or try to mask it with alcohol or drugs. Learn to just be in the moment with the feelings, without judgment.

I will try to meditate, not an easy task for a hyper-sensitive person who always feels ready for flight or fight. But, meditation will help me create a lowered state of arousal which in turn will reduce this helplessness (stress) I feel. I will do as the Buddhist does and recognize life is suffering and that’s okay. Our attitudes about the suffering can create more suffering and attitudes can be changed. So, off I go to meditate before bed, to try to recognize the lingering sadness from the movie and then to see it as a passing feeling and to let it go…

MY GOAL — To manage my anxiety and depression without mood altering chemicals, such as alcohol or antidepressants.

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