bop_radar: (The Fall Alex kiss Roy)
[personal profile] bop_radar
In the last months I suffered a breakdown (panic attacks) and relapse of my depression. At times I've been so disconnected I had no idea who I was and my thinking has been paranoic and distorted (but I don't recognise it as such at the time). However I have lucid times as well and still hope to be able to stay off medication.

So I haven't been in a place or time where I had a lot to give to other people (hence lack of posting here). But in my searching for ways to help myself and give myself hope that I can see this through, I've come across a couple of resources that might be of interest to others who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mood disorders:

optimismonline These guys have an app where you can track your symptoms and the various ways you look after yourself (sleep, exercise, supplements, etc). You can customise it with the techniques you are trying so you get an idea over time what is really making a difference. This seems really ideal to me in terms of self-monitoring, on or off medication.

curetogether This site gathers data from people who actually have various conditions who report on how useful they found various treatments. The results are compiled as here for depression:
VERY useful to bust the myth that medication alone is a solution. Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all solution to depression as it's such a blanket term that covers a lot of different things, but it's a great way of seeing that there are many ways to support ourselves (most of these can be combined, after all!). And which ones are fucking useless--alcohol and caffeine!! (And some fairly useless medications!)

smilingmind An Australian initiative to promote meditation, especially among young people. It's a very userfriendly, accessible introduction to meditation with the advantage that you can use it on your computer at work in short breaks. Meditation has been instrumental for me--when reducing my medication and now to recover. Absolutely everyone benefits from it--the key is to learn how very easy it really is!

1. Accept myself exactly as I am. If that means I'm sobbing or feeling disconnected from everything then that's also ok. <--easier said than done
2. Lie on the grass in the sun, feel my body supported by the earth and breathe deeply, connecting with it. Soak up the blue sky. Just go into the feeling/moment.
3. Have a warm bath with Epsom salts. I was doing this through detox and I'm probably still detoxing ten years of medication--either way, it is very comforting and a sanctuary for me.
4. Get out of the house. Spend as much time around other people as possible. This is especially important for me because I work alone. Absolutely do not withdraw--I know what a trap that is.
5. Cut out caffeine. Yeah, it probably added to my withdrawal symptoms briefly, but that shit is POISON if you have panic attacks. I know that now. Thought I'd never quit my beloved coffee (I'm a Melbournian!) but it's not a problem for me now--it's amazing how good chamomile tea tastes when the alternative is thinking you're having a heart attack.
6. Cut out alcohol. A no brainer for me as well--I quit while stopping meds. I do actually have an occasional sip of wine or beer in company, but my mood is generally too fragile to risk it these days.
7. The weird one: network spinal analysis. It's definitely the most 'out there' thing I've tried so far, and the results are kind of frightening (emotions being released) but I'm on week 3 and I think a big part of the reason I can be lucid and make this post is that the extreme tension/spasms my body was in as a result of the breakdown/panic have eased. My body feels more flexible and relaxed. So going to keep trying this.
8. Qi gong. My lifeline. My body feels very different now than when I started--so doing it reminds me that I don't want to go back on the meds. My channels are more open, physical blocks are less. It's just mental noise and emotional distress that I am in now. When I practise--especially with others--I believe this too can clear over time.
9. Reduce sugar. Should have listed this above with caffeine, but basically this became a necessity for me due to anxiety. Again, you start seeing it as poison when you feel it's direct affect on adrenals. I am a sugar junky but I haven't had a pastry in weeks... (have to say this is a TON easier to stick to when not taking Effexor--and a fellow former Effexor taker agreed with me). I only eat fruit and occasional honey now. There is incidental sugar in sauces and stuff but I don't eat sweet snacks at all.
10. B vitamins, Vitamin D and iron--B vitamins and iron helped my energy levels recover. I now basically don't have an energy problem (which always used to be a big part of my depression--I would lie around all day). Vitamin D was very low in me so I am taking that too and while I can't say I notice the effects I know it DOES help in time.
11. Listening to music while I work. My concentration has been shot to pieces (anxiety SO MUCH more work-impairing for me than general depression) but putting some music on makes it a lot easier. Really helps my mood a ton.
12. As much time as possible out of doors and in natural settings. Still getting used to just how good this is for me. My mind is constantly tricking me not to, thanks to years of thinking of myself as an indoors, bookish city girl. But connecting to nature is incredibly calming--at times my only comfort.

On the fence about:
1. Eating a protein-rich diet. I certainly do think it helps my anxiety. Does it help my depression? Hopefully in time. I know I may need to take it further and look at reducing or dropping gluten--not quite strong enough to do that yet. Focusing on the fact that making SOME positive changes in my diet is a good thing.
2. Amino acids. Thanks to the wonderful [personal profile] laurashapiro I was introduced to Mood Cure. I had to ship in some of the supplements suggested but I am now trying them out. One of them (DLPA) seems to help with the excessive crying and sensitivity I was having--always prone to it, but it's a known problem coming off Effexor so it was NUTS for months. Could not watch ANY TV AT ALL without bawling. Ad with puppies? BAWLING. Other supps I'm not sure on yet... 5HTP seems to make me kind of wired. :(
3. SAM-e. Recommended by my doctor and rates pretty well on curetogether. It's natural and has no side effects. I *think* it may be helping but it's fighting against a lot. I would have been very distressed ON medication in the last few months anyway so it's hard to say.
4. OMEGA 3 (supplements and eating fish/eggs): Possibly is helping? I can't say I notice it specifically among other things I take but am willing to keep going on the strength of my doctor's advice and the Mood Cure.
5. Therapy. I had a great therapist. She quit just as I got to zero. I am on the fence about my new one after trying several people. I go for the meditation and visualisation exercises--those seem to help. But sometimes I feel like I'm just turning up to report in. I have to for now because I am on a care plan.

And I have a new one today: STOP THINKING YOU ARE DEPRESSED. Half my problem (now) is that having had a personal crisis, a genuine one, I reacted unconsciously by assuming that that meant I was or would be depressed--old messages and conditioning inside told me that. The crisis itself was real. And I hadn't had such panic attacks before so I can't do anything about the fact I experienced them. But my mind telling me that I don't know who I am, or I am somehow different now or all these feelings of total disconnection: that's an illusion, perhaps a result of the attacks, but still one to be broken. I'm me. I was me on medication too--just a dampened me, with a lot of side effects. But things that made me happy then can make me happy again now too. I just have to trust that, myself and the universe.

Haha, must be me: I am still tl;dr.

Date: 2012-11-11 07:58 am (UTC)
serrico: It's like TPTB were writing fic with the rest of us. (svhowcsaysl)
From: [personal profile] serrico
*hugs* Very good to hear from you, and that you're keepin' on keeping on. Those strategies all look very positive; good luck!

Date: 2012-11-11 11:42 am (UTC)
goodbyebird: Fringe: Close-crop of Olivia as she looks overwhelmed while sorting her laundry after returning home. (Fringe)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
Your list is a very good list. I'm sorry to read you've had a relapse, but it really looks like you're on a good road now. This Summer I made some changes as well, and have been feeling loads better since. I found acupuncture to be especially helpful, but I had a lot of stagnation in my body. I totally connect with the "stop telling yourself you're depressed". The expectation that oh oh everything is going to turn to shit now oh no can really spiral a tolerably bad day/situation into something much worse.

Also, one thing I've been doing for about a month now, and that I feel has really given me an extra boost of energy, is a morning drink. One third/half teaspoon of cumin, juice of one lime/half lemon, and some slices of ginger. I just add hot water and sip it while getting up and about and making breakfast. The bonus on top of the extra energy is that my period pains have just about nearly disappeared. They have always been very bad, but the last time I didn't even feel the need for pain killers, for the first time in my life. And this is a thing that's made me physically unable to get out of bed before, and very often had me unable to straighten up fully. It took a couple of weeks before I really started to notice the effects, but it's definitely a habit I'm keeping.

I've also found that St John's Wort really dampened my anxiety.
Edited Date: 2012-11-11 11:46 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-11-11 01:10 pm (UTC)
goodbyebird: Batman returns: Catwoman seen through a glass window. (Avengers and I can't get up)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
It's also very good for kick starting your digestion, and to help with detoxing. Also, if you have any problems with inflammation.

The reason I started with st John's Wort in the first place was because of depression, and it did help there a bit, but that it also curtailed my anxiety came as a complete surprise! I can't say exactly how long before I started feeling the effects- I'm not as god at keeping track as I ought to be - but I know I started taking it at the beginning of a trip and then felt the effects as I was leaving for the next one, meaning around five weeks time. When I'm about to ship out I'm usually a great big ball if nerves, with fun symptoms like nausea, speedy thoughts, shakes, cold sweat, and heart palpitations. But that trip all I experienced was a light nervous feeling, slightly shaky hands, and that ball of bad feelings in the pit of my stomach. A cakewalk compared to before! And for the most part that has held up very well. I even manage to get a full night's sleep some of the times!

Date: 2012-11-12 06:27 pm (UTC)
ciaan: (secrets)
From: [personal profile] ciaan
SJW didn't work for me at all. I took it for about 5 or 6 months and was still just as depressed during that time, and it had really bad side effects of making me absent-minded and forgetful and unable to concentrate. So like all things it depends on the person.

Date: 2012-11-11 04:58 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
It's really great to hear from you. It sounds like it's been terrible, but that you have a lot of tools in your toolbox now to help you get through the bad times. And you know yourself so well now! That's a great gift.

Thanks for keeping us all updated. We care.

Date: 2012-11-11 05:59 pm (UTC)
eggcrack: Icon based on the painting "Kullervon kirous ja sotaanlahto" (Default)
From: [personal profile] eggcrack
I wish so, so much luck to you. Struggling with your own head sucks so bad. *hugs of encouragement and all things welcome to you!* ♥

Date: 2012-11-12 01:19 am (UTC)
siljamus: (mood - hanging on)
From: [personal profile] siljamus
While it's great to hear from you, I really wish that the news was less mixed, if that's the right word. *hugs*

I haven't had a "high-alert all hands on deck" type panic attack in years and yet I still fear them any time something starts going really wrong in my life, because my brain still hasn't gotten the message. I swear to high Heaven that I know intellectually what is going on, but nah, still not getting with the program.

On the other hand I have learnt what the new normal feels like and that this is how it feels like to be me without the soul-destroying anxiety and panic overshadowing everything else. It may have taken a little bit of time, but I got there in the end.

So here's to you, my friend, and your journey down the road of discovering your New Normal.


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