8 Ways To Persevere When Depression Persists

See PsychCentral Article Here
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Although I like to cling to the promise that my depression will get better — since it always has in the past — there are long, painful periods when it seems as though I’m going to have to live with these symptoms forever.

In the past, there was a time when I had been struggling with death thoughts for what seemed like forever. One afternoon, I panicked when I surmised that they might always be with me. I embraced the wisdom of Toni Bernhard, who wrote a brilliant handbook for all of us living with chronic illness, How to Be Sick. While reading her words, I mourned the life I once had and made room to live with symptoms of depression indefinitely.

The death thoughts did eventually disappear, but I’m always mindful of my depression. Every decision I make in a 24-hour period, from what I eat for breakfast to what time I go to bed, is driven by an effort to protect my mental health.

When I hit a painful stretch that feels like forever, I return to Bernhard’s insights and to my own strategies that have helped me persevere through rough patches along the way.

Here are some of them:

1. Revisit the Past

When we’re depressed, our perspective of the past is colored by melancholy, and we don’t see things accurately. For example, if I’m in a low mood, I look back on those years when I experienced death thoughts and think that I felt nothing but depression for more than 1,000 days. It’s helpful to peak at my mood journals from that period to see that I did have some good days and good times scattered throughout the painful stretches, which means I will have good hours and days in coming hard periods as well.

I also look at photo albums that bring me back to moments of joy sprinkled in amidst the sadness; these give me hope that even though I’m still struggling, it’s possible to contribute a nice memory to my album.

2. Remember that Pain Isn’t Solid

Going through mood journals is also a good way to remind myself that pain isn’t solid. I may start the morning with excruciating anxiety, but by lunch I might be able to enjoy a nice reprieve. At night I may even be capable of laughing at a movie with the kids.

Bernhard compares the painful symptoms of her illness to the weather. “Weather practice is a powerful reminder of the fleeting nature of experience: how each moment arises and passes as quickly as a weather pattern,” she writes.

I like to think of my panic and depression as labor pains. I breathe through the anguish, trusting that the intensity will eventually fade. Hanging on to the concept of impermanence gives me consolation and relief in the midst of distress — that the emotions and thoughts and feelings I’m experiencing aren’t solid.

3. Maximize Periods of Wellness

Most people who have lived with treatment-resistant depression or another chronic illness have learned how to maximize their good moments. During painful stretches, I consider these moments to be the rest periods I need between contractions. I soak them in as much as humanly possible and let them carry me through the difficult hours ahead.

4. Act As If

Author and artist Vivian Greene has written, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass … It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

That sums up living with a chronic illness. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself too hard and not challenging yourself enough, but most of the time, I find that I feel better by “acting as if” I’m feeling okay.

So I sign up for a paddle-boarding club even though I don’t want to; I have lunch with a friend even though I have no appetite; I show up to swim practice with tinted goggles in case I cry. I tell myself “do it anyway” and operate like I’m not depressed.

5. Embrace Uncertainty

Not until I read Bernhard’s book did I realize that much of my suffering comes from my desire for certainty and predictability. I want to know when my anxiety will abate, which medications will work, and when I’ll be able to sleep eight hours again. I’m wrestling for control over the steering wheel, and the fact that I don’t have it is killing me.

The flip side, though, is that if I can inch toward an acceptance of uncertainty and unpredictability, then I can lessen my suffering. Bernhard writes:

Just seeing the suffering in that desire loosens its hold on me, whether it’s wanting so badly to be at a family gathering or clinging to the hope for positive results from a medication or desiring for a doctor not to disappoint me. Once I see the [suffering] in the mind, I can begin to let go a little.

6. Stop Your Inner Meanie and Remember Self-Compassion

Like so many others who battle depression, I talk to myself in ways I wouldn’t even address an enemy. I call myself lazy, stupid, unmotivated, and deserving of suffering. The self-denigrating tapes are so automatic that I often don’t catch how harmful the dialogue is until I’m saying the words out loud to a friend or doctor.

We can relieve some of our suffering by addressing ourselves with the same compassion that we would offer a friend or a daughter. Lately, I’m trying to catch my inner meanie and instead offer myself kindness and gentleness.

7. Attach Yourself to a Purpose

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

When my depression gets to be unbearable, I picture my two kids and my husband, and I tell myself that I have to stick around for them. It’s fine if I never wear one of those “Life Is Good” T-shirts. I have a higher purpose that I must complete, like a soldier in a battle. I must see my mission through to the end. Dedicating your life to a cause can keep you alive and give you the much-needed fuel to keep going.

8. Stay in the Present

If we can manage to stay in the present moment and focus only on the thing that is right in front of us, we eliminate much of our angst because it’s almost always rooted in the past and in the future.

When I’m in a painful stretch, one day at a time is too long. I have to break it down into 15-minute periods. I tell myself that for the next 15 minutes, my only job is to do the thing in front of me, whether that’s helping my daughter with homework, doing the dishes, or writing a column. When 15 minutes are up, I commit to another 15 minutes. That way, I patch several days together, and before long, one of those days contains some joy.

 

This Is The Most Powerful Way To Make Your Life Fantastic

See Author Article Here
By Eric Barker

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Last year Cal Newport convinced 1,600 people to completely change their lives.He asked them to take a 30-day break from the optional technologies in their lives. Unless not using it would get you fired, divorced, or cause the people you love to spontaneously burst into flame, it was out. Say goodbye to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a month.And anything not optional got rules: only checking email at designated hours and the screen time limits you might impose on your kids now got imposed on you. So what happened?No, nobody had a seizure. And, yes, the initial transition was rough for many. But after that, in the vast majority of cases, it utterly changed people’s lives for the better.

They got happier. More productive. They spent more quality time with their kids. One father remarked how weird it was to be the only parent at the playground notlooking at his phone.

Research shows 70% of your happiness comes from relationships:

Contrary to the belief that happiness is hard to explain, or that it depends on having great wealth, researchers have identified the core factors in a happy life. The primary components are number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70 percent of personal happiness. – Murray and Peacock 1996

And what’s the biggest controllable factor that’s taking quality time away from your relationships? Probably your phone. The internet. The pseudo-relationships you have on social media.

We’ve read a thousand tips and tricks for reducing our screen time but they’re like fad diets and are generally only effective until the next time you feel a buzzing in your pocket.

Technology’s not evil, but we need to find a balance. We need more than tips, we need a philosophy. A system. Dare I say, an ethos. And Cal has one for us: “Digital Minimalism.”

No, Cal’s not going to tell you to smash your phone. Quite the opposite: He’s a professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, sporting a PhD from MIT. The Force is strong with this one. He’s the bestselling author of a whole bunch of books, including the amazing Deep Work.

His latest book is Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

I gave Cal a call to find out how we can get the best of technology — so it doesn’t get the best of us. This isn’t another rant about the evils of screens. It’s a battle plan for building a better life.

Let’s get to it …

The true enemy is “reverse FOMO”

FOMO: fear of missing out. You’ve probably clicked an article about the subject because, hey, wouldn’t wanna miss out on the latest internet hysteria. But FOMO is a false god. It’s not the real problem.

The real problem is “reverse FOMO.” You’re not missing out on anything online. But by always being online you’re missing out on life. Here’s Cal:

We have this idea of FOMO, which is that if you’re not super-connected, there could be something you’re missing out on. But the reality is that the issue most people are having is that because they’re using technology more than they know is healthy, it’s crowding out all the things that we know deep down make a good life good. People are missing out on real-world conversation, which is just crucial for a satisfying life. Being with people in person, sacrificing time and effort to actually be with someone, to connect with them through the good, the bad, the boring, the interesting. We need that to survive.

The ability to lift your phone at any moment is slicing good hours into time confetti. It’s preventing us from accomplishing big things and focusing on the people we love. And at the same time it’s creating a salad bar of new problems like anxiety, FOMO and loneliness. Sorry, your brain needs more social connection than Facebook Likes can provide. Here’s Cal:

…we’re seeing this increasingly strong signal that more social media use means higher likelihood of loneliness. And one of the leading hypotheses is that social media displaces real-world interaction. If you’re on social media all the time, you feel like you’re very social, and therefore you don’t invest the effort required to do as much real-world interaction. Our brains evolved for millions of years with no like buttons or emojis. When you say, “Okay, I’m not going to give you any face to face interaction, but what I am going to give you is a little number that counts how many hearts someone clicks on a picture” — that’s not satisfying it. That’s why you can ironically end up more lonely when you spend more time on social media platforms. It’s something we should be much more afraid of than we are.

Too much phone time isn’t just distracting us from our relationships — research shows it’s making us worse at conducting them. Here’s Cal:

Sherry Turkle from MIT documents that conversation actually requires practice. There’s a dance involved in sitting across from someone and negotiating that interaction. And if you rob a lot of that from your life, you get bad at it. It not only makes you lonely, it not only brings out anxiety-related disorders, it makes you really bad at relating when you have to do it.

People will respond “But social media is good for X and Y. I do get value from it!” No doubt. But that logic is a trap. Plenty of things have some value — the question is what are you giving up in exchange for it?

You have 24 hours in a day. If you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing another. Is the value you get from epic hours online better than the value you’d get from the alternative? Better than quality time with friends? We need to be more conscious of the choices we’re making.

When a friend convinces you to download yet another app, they may say “you don’t know what you’re missing.” But when it comes to real life, we do know what we’re missing. And often it’s far more valuable than whatever another dinging notification brings.

(To learn more about how you and your children can lead a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

So what do we do about it?

Forget lifehacks — Start with values

Tech’s not good. Tech’s not evil. Tech’s a tool. You can use it for good or for let’s-be-honest-checking-email-300-times-a-day-is-not-very-good.

You never sat down and decided that your default should be you’ll stare at your phone every time you have a free second. But somehow it became the rule anyway.

And that’s the problem. We didn’t make a decision. And that has led to epic amounts of asking, “Where the heck did all my time go?”

We don’t need a lifehack. We need to start with values to make sure that technology serves us instead of us serving it. A hammer is a tool. But you wouldn’t default to picking it up every time you had a free moment. That would be silly.

You’d grab it for a purpose that served your goals. But things get screwed up when you don’t know what your values and goals are. Here’s Cal:

What matters is your whole picture for your life. You’re trying to build a good life that focuses on the things that are important to you, and technology is only useful in so much as it helps support the things you really care about. What this means is that you’re going to be very intentional. “Here’s what I really value. I’m going to focus my energy on these things, and I’m going to ignore and miss out on everything else.” That intentionality itself can be way more satisfying and positive than the benefits you get from all of those minor conveniences and minor dollops of value. You’re figuring out what’s important to your life. For each of these things, you’re stepping back and saying, “What’s the best way to use technology, if at all, to support this value?” and then you ignore everything else.

If your career is everything to you and you’re in sales, hey, maybe you need to check email 300 times a day. No problem — that’s in service of your values. But that’s not the case for most of us.

You need to ask yourself what’s important to you. And then make a decision about how technology fits into your life to serve those goals. Be intentional abut setting rules that serve your purpose. Here’s Cal:

How many people just made a New Year’s resolution to look at their phone less? That doesn’t do it. How many people have read the same article again and again about turning off their notifications? That’s the equivalent of telling people, “Vegetables are good for you. Try to eat less and move more.” It’s not enough. People need a philosophy based on their values so we don’t have to think about it. Digital Minimalism is one such philosophy. It’s like the veganism or the paleo of the digital world.

“Paleo for your screen” has a nice ring to it. But that might be too extreme for most of us.

But you need to know your values and priorities. And then set rules that work for them. Because as we’ve all seen, if we don’t start with values tech time will fill every void by default and you’ll end up wondering where the hours went.

You may also end up wondering where you friends and family went too.

(To learn how to stop checking your phone, click here.)

I know what a lot of people are thinking: “Um, other than vague platitudes about putting those I love first, what are my values?” And that leads us to another problem with tech. To address this one, we actually need to start by getting away from people.

In fact, we need to get away from everything for a little while …

Try a long walk without a phone

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away people used to do this thing called “thinking.” They didn’t listen to anything, read anything, or talk to anyone for a little while. You can look this “thinking” thing up on Wikipedia and it probably has a picture of a horse and buggy next to it.

These days I think many of us are scared to death of being alone with our own minds. This wasn’t always the way. And it’s not good. Here’s Cal:

A smartphone made it possible for the first time in human history to eliminate all moments of solitude and deep thought from your day because it provides an endless stream of compelling stimuli. If you want to take in ideas and process them into something valuable, this requires a lot of thinking, and this thinking has to be done free from other stimuli. So if you want to take the great ideas from that new Eric Barker article and integrate them into your life into a way that’s really useful, you can’t just read the article. You also are going to have to spend some time thinking about what you read and place it within the structures that already exist in your life. You have to have time alone with your thoughts to extract anywhere near the full possible value from information.

We need to do less reacting and more reflecting. Back to Professor Cal:

Having insight about your values, your life, changes in your life, what you want to do, how you want to live, these key bits of self-reflection that help us grow as human beings absolutely depend on solitude. There has to be time where it’s you alone with your thoughts.

So go out and take a long walk, sans phone, and try this “thinking” thing. Reading and listening to good ideas is awesome — trust me, I’m a big fan. But we also need time alone to create good ideas.

We need to think about what is important to us. When we have the answer to that, many other decisions become much much easier.

(To learn the 4-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

So you’re taking time to think. You know what’s important to you. But now you’re going to face the same problem the 1600 people in Cal’s experiment did:

“What the heck do I do with myself now that I’m not online all the time?”

“High-quality analog leisure”

Archaeologists have discovered that back in that Dark Ages when people did that “thinking” thing,  they also engaged in these odd rituals called “hobbies.” These were projects where they gained skills and created things without incentives from an employer. How quaint. Here’s Cal, who explains things with 90% less snark:

Historically, especially in the 19th century or the 20th century, as people had more leisure time, the natural discomfort with boredom drove them to try to fill it with quality activities or community engagement, high-skilled hobbies, intellectual pursuits that are done for non-professional reasons, like poetry and novels and big idea thinking. And we were always driven towards this.

We all have activities we’re passionate about. Things we’d like to do that make us feel proud of ourselves. Things we’d like to be respected for. We look at people who teach themselves to play the guitar or learn another language and say, “Where do they find the time?”

But we all have the same 24 hours. Really. (It has to do with physics or something.) I laugh when I see articles on the net about, “How To Read More Books.” They get a lot of clicks. And people often ask me, “Eric, you read a lot. How can I read more?” But I won’t be posting on the subject anytime soon. Actually, I will.

Here you go: “The things that are not reading, do them less. The things that are reading, do them more. The End.”

We all have 24 hours. It’s about priorities. And many of us are making our phones and social media a big priority — whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

One of the most common things Cal heard from the 1600 was, “I forgot just how much I enjoyed doing X.” We should all do more X. And some Y. Forget Z, it sucks.

We blast our free hours into time confetti and then can’t conceive of how people take on big personal projects or learn new skills. What hobby might bring you more joy or pride?

Seriously, answer that question — because if you don’t know the answer, your efforts to curb your tech use will inevitably fail. You must have something to fill the void. And it has to excite you more than Instagram.

(To learn the 4 harsh truths that will make you a better person, click here.)

So other than your new stamp-collecting hobby, what else do you need to do? Hint: it involves people…

Make awesome plans with friends

Social media is the empty calories of friend nutrition. Keep stuffing your face with digital Doritos and you won’t have time for a real meal.

Think the world will end if you don’t comment on your friend’s next Facebook selfie? It won’t if you go visit them in person. Here’s that Cal guy again:

Digital minimalists are way more invested in real-world conversation. Maybe they don’t comment on that baby picture, but they show up unsolicited with dinner so you don’t have to cook that night. They call you. And it’s a priority for them. “I want to talk to you. What’s going on? How’s X, Y, Z happening with your work?” And so their friendships end up becoming much stronger.

This is what he saw with the 1600. (I encourage you all to emulate them — and bring me dinner.)

Do your best not to socialize digitally anymore if you can help it. Don’t use texting to catch up — use it for logistics to arrange a get together. Prioritize quality over quantity. Less texting, more hugging. Hugs make you happy. Science says so. Mom says so. Scientific moms say so.

But the big thing we’re missing these days is activities. People used to do things. Yeah, coffee or a drink is nice, but we need events, celebrations and competitions. Poker nights, board games, pickup basketball. We need to be a part of something and have a medium in which to connect, cooperate and express ourselves. Here’s Señor Newport:

So this is one of the benefits you get from high-quality leisure activities that have a social component to them, such as playing a board game with a group of friends or Ultimate Frisbee with your team. Part of why these types of things seem to be really beneficial is that the structure of the activity allows you a lot more flexibility and enjoyment in your social interaction that you might have in a simple conversation.

Play Monopoly. Plan an outing. Go conquer a neighboring village.

(To learn how to have a long awesome life, click here.)

Okay, we’ve learned a lot about what we’ve been missing. Let’s round it all up and see just how essential being part of a real-life community is to every one of us …

Sum up

This is the most powerful way to make your life fantastic:

  • Reverse FOMO is the problem: You’re not missing anything online. But if you’re always online you’re missing a lot of what makes life great.
  • You Don’t Need Lifehacks, You Need Values: If you don’t know what’s more important to you than spending time on Instagram, you will keep spending all your time on Instagram.
  • Long Walks Without A Phone: Thinking. Give it a try. I promise you, it’s not something you want someone else to do for you.
  • High Quality Analog Leisure: Make something, learn something, practice something. We all have 24 hours in a day. Someone else is not doing cooler things than you because they have “more time”. It’s because they have different priorities.
  • Make Awesome Plans With Friends: Which village should we conquer first?

It’s about feeling good about yourself. Living a life in alignment with your deepest values. Accomplishing things you’re proud of. And, most of all, being engaged with a community of people who love and support you.

I like technology. So do you. Nobody’s saying we have to surrender our phones and smash our routers. The issue is, by not having rules around how much we use it, we’ve quietly sacrificed some things that are vital. We can’t let digital connection get in the way of real community. That’s what we should be afraid of missing out on. It’s more important than any buzzing in our pocket — and if we take the time to really think about what makes us truly happy, we’ll choose community over modern conveniences almost every time.

I’m not trying to be all sappy and poetic. We have evidence. By the end of the nineteenth century, cities in America were rapidly moving toward what would become the modern world. New technologies, more convenience — but less community.

However, among the Native American tribes, not much was changing. Largely egalitarian and ruled by consensus, they lived much the same as they had for thousands of years. Not much new technology, but no shortage of community.

Here’s what’s interesting: city-dwellers sometimes left to join the Native American tribes. But the reverse almost never occurred.

From Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging:

It may say something about human nature that a surprising number of Americans—mostly men—wound up joining Indian society rather than staying in their own. They emulated Indians, married them, were adopted by them, and on some occasions even fought alongside them. And the opposite almost never happened: Indians almost never ran away to join white society. Emigration always seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal, and it left Western thinkers flummoxed about how to explain such an apparent rejection of their society.

Actually, it even gets more extreme than that.

From Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging:

“When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs,” Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend in 1753, “[yet] if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.” On the other hand, Franklin continued, white captives who were liberated from the Indians were almost impossible to keep at home: “Tho’ ransomed by their friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a short time they become disgusted with our manner of life … and take the first good opportunity of escaping again into the woods.”

Humans are a social species. We long to be part of a community, part of a tribe. Given the option, we’ll always choose it. The modern world isn’t giving us a lot of great choices. So we must create them for ourselves. And the first step toward that is making sure that technology serves our communal needs, rather than replacing them.

Seriously, how many of the best moments of your life happened in front of a screen?

Love Is Not Always Convenient

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Leena Sanders

I think we have this huge misconception about what love is what love is not. Current day we are so determined for everything in our lives to look and feel so perfect, so molded, and so edited that the second something feels bad a lot of us first think about just leaving whatever doesn’t feel great. We’d rather swim on our own than ride the waves to mellow water. Don’t get me wrong, some relationships are destined to end and it’s a beautiful thing that they do. However, when the amount of effort and dedication is the problem rather than the people and their habits + who they are, that’s where love gets lost.

The truth is, love is not always convenient.

Love is not always steamy sex and beautiful handwritten letters.

Love does not always sound appealing, you do not always crave it.

Love does not always feel like date nights and cloud nine.

Love is not always planning your future and falling in love with the same vision of it.

Love is not always convenient.

Love is asking how your person’s day was when you are exhausted.

Love is feeling mentally drained but still showing appreciation for the fact that your socks have been folded and there is a love note on the mirror for you.

Love is seeing the bigger picture, it’s being willing to ride the waves because you see the bigger picture.

Love is selfless, it communicates, and it even communicates when the words that are being spoken don’t feel so good.

Love does not always happen in the moments that you want it to, sometimes the timing of love accompanies the timing of grief in ways that are unimaginable.

Love is not always a steady pace at sea but love rides waves to shore.

I think we need to remember that love has more to do with our own commitment to unconditional appreciation and gratitude and less to do with temporary moments that we don’t feel full.

Love is about learning your own personal map to fulfillment while still crediting and honoring your experience with another.

Love is knowing it’s not convenient and still daring to show up anyway.

9 Thoughts That Can Prevent You From Confronting Depression

See Author Article Here
One of the many difficult things about mental illnesses is that an illness can construct a narrative in your head that isn’t necessarily true. With depression, a combination of stigma and difficult-to-pinpoint symptoms may make diagnosis difficult. But the symptoms of depression are well-documented, and the first step is paying attention.

Since depression can alter your thoughts, it can be hard to differentiate when the illness is talking, versus when you are “When we are depressed we are viewing the world through a lens that isn’t congruent with our external reality, but during a depressive episode, our internal reality changes so it seems like things can be hopeless which often leads us to feel helpless,” Travis McNulty, LMHC, GAL, of McNulty Counseling & Wellness, tells Bustle. “ […] Usually depression manifests its form in a cycle of negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative behaviors that further perpetuate one another.” These negative influences can actually start to convince you that you aren’t dealing with depression.

Some of these self-doubting thoughts may begin to dissipate when you acknowledge that depression is a serious diagnosis, and that you deserve help for the things you’re struggling with. Finding a mental health professional you can trust may help get you there even sooner.

Here are nine thoughts that can mask depression for what it is, according to experts.

1. That It’s Not “That Bad”

Aleksandr and Lidia/Shutterstock

If you’ve been noticing yourself feeling worse and worse for a while, but have a narrative of “I’m fine” running through your head — you may want to examine that thought further.

“One of the biggest lies that depression tells us is that we are OK,” licensed clinical social worker Melissa Ifill, tells Bustle. ” […] Unfortunately, we are often slow to give credibility to [any changes] or are truly unaware of how the depression is impacting us.” So if you find yourself minimizing your feelings, remind yourself that you don’t have to be at absolute rock bottom to deserve help.

2. “I Can Deal With This On My Own”

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Depression is a serious illness, not a burden you have to bare alone. Even if you have been through blue spells before, you deserve help this time around.

“One of the major thoughts people often have when experiencing depressive symptoms is that they do not need help,” Ifill says. “They believe that the mood, feelings or thoughts will go away by themselves or if they keep behaving as if things are OK, they will be eventually.” While some wounds may heal with time alone, it’s OK to admit that you may need the support of friends, family, or a professional, for what you’re dealing with.

3. That Everything Is Bad

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While it’s harmful to downplay your symptoms, it can also be harmful to catastrophize what you’re feeling as well.

“Black and white thinking is a classic thought pattern for those who are experiencing depressive symptoms,” Ifill says. “[…] Having a good supportive network (which should include a helping professional) can assist you in challenging some of these thought patterns and help you to see the more varied perspectives that life has to offer.” Many people have felt like there’s no way out before, and there are a plethora of resources to help.

4. That It Doesn’t Matter Anyways

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Another harmful way depression can try to trick you into thinking you’re not depressed is by telling you that it doesn’t matter either way.

“Depression causes helplessness and hopelessness,” Lara Schuster Effland, regional managing director of clinical operations for Eating Recovery Center’s Insight Behavioral Health Center, tells Bustle. “One may believe they are the problem and [that they are the reason] why they feel lonely and lost.” Blaming yourself for causing the consequences of your depression is hurtful. Finding a therapist or psychiatrist may help you break out of this thought pattern.

5. That You “Just Need A Vacation”

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Minimizing your symptoms does not always take the form of self-blame. Even telling yourself that you “just need a vacation” can be a way that the depression can get ahead.

“Feeling overworked, under-rested, and overwhelmed when depressed [is common],” Effland says. If you have a sense that you’re unable to get ahead, reaching out for support on that level is likely more helpful than a few days off could be.

6. That You’re Fine Because You’re In A Relationship

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Depression doesn’t discriminate. Having depression doesn’t make you ungrateful, either. So if you’re equivocating by telling yourself that you’re fine because you’re in a relationship, have a good job, or have great friends, you may actually be minimizing a serious illness.

“People who have the ‘perfect’ situation aren’t immune to depression, and often depression can come when everything is going well, because it often can’t be explained,” LGBT-affirming therapist Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, tells Bustle. It’s important not to discredit your need for support just because things seem good on the outside.

7. That You Don’t Cry Much, So It Doesn’t Count

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While depression can cause symptoms like excessive or easily-triggered crying, that doesn’t mean you should discount all of your other signs of the illness just because you haven’t been experiencing this.

“Depression can present itself in a lot of ways and only one of those ways is tears,” Leikam says. “Depression can also present itself in feeling lonely or numb of emotions and often people who feel numb, aren’t always able to cry.” If you’ve noticed that you’re feeling more apathetic than usual, then it’s a good first step to talk to your doctor.

8. That Excelling At Work Discounts Your Feelings

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Depression doesn’t always take away your ability to function. Many people with depression are still able to go about their daily lives. Just because you’re excelling at work doesn’t mean you don’t have depression.

“You can be on top of your game at work and still have clinical depression,” Leikam says. “Successful people can still have depression. Depression can be a chemical imbalance so it doesn’t discriminate against who has it and who doesn’t have it.” You deserve help even if you’ve been noticing symptoms, but are ignoring them because you think being high-functioning disqualifies you from the support you need.

9. That You’re Just Not “Normal”

Aaron Amat/Shutterstock

Mental health stigma can be incredibly powerful, especially if you’ve internalized it to the point that you believe something is wrong with you for feeling this way.

“Without an understanding of mental illness individuals often believe that depression is an indication that they’re not normal anymore, and that they are somehow different,” Dr. Neeraj Gandotra, MD, chief medical officer at Delphi Behavioral Health Group, tells Bustle. Reminding yourself that you’re still you, and that any changes to your health are worth taking care of, may help you get the boost you need to seek help.

Separating yourself from the symptoms of your depression can help you from being tricked by negative self-talk. “I like to help my clients refer to their depressive symptoms as ‘the depression,'” Ifill says. This way, you may be able to externalize the symptoms and emotions associated with depression, potentially making it easier to find a professional to support you.

Here’s How Relationships Can Affect Your Sleep In The Long-Term, According To Experts

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By Julia Guerra

Not to freak you out or anything, but the choices you make today really do have an impact on your future, even in ways you wouldn’t expect. Life is funny that way; sometimes two completely different aspects of life can collide like colors in a messy drawing, and you’re stuck trying to figure out the bigger picture. Take your love life, for example. Did you know your romantic relationships can affect your sleep? I’m not necessarily referring to that can’t-eat, can’t-sleep phase where everything’s coming up roses and you and your partner can’t get enough of each other, either. According to new research, negative relationship experiences in early adulthood might have some unexpected effects on your sleep quality well into your 30s.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 50 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, while an additional 20 to 30 million report the occasional night of tossing and turning. If you’re among that 20 to 30 million, but haven’t been able to identify the issue just yet, the results of a new study, published in Personal Relationships, a journal of the International Association For Relationship Research, suggest that negative romantic relationship experiences can impact your sleep quality over the long-term. I know, like the negative relationship itself wasn’t bad enough, right?

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The study documented the possible correlation between participants’ romantic relationships, stress, and how both of these elements affect sleep quality over the course of adulthood. Researchers recruited 112 participants from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation and studied them from the age of 23 years old to 32 years old. In the end, per a ScienceDaily press release, the researchers found that people who reported having positive relationship experiences in their early 20s were less stressed and enjoying quality sleep in their early 30s. “Although a large body of evidence shows that relationships are important for health, we are just beginning to understand how the characteristics of people’s close relationships affect health behaviors, such as sleep,” Chloe Huelsnitz, a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study, said in a statement, per the ScienceDaily press release.

Generally speaking, says Dr. Tammy Nelson, a sex and relationship expert and licensed psychotherapist, one of the most common emotions that can affect your sleep patterns is anxiety, and as I’m sure you know from experience, no matter how good or bad your relationship is, it can sometimes give you a little bit of stress.

“Being anxious can keep us up at night, prevent sleep, and wake us up once we are asleep,” because it raises blood pressure, increases heart rate, quickens your pulse, and tenses up your muscles, Nelson tells Elite Daily over email. “These are all reactions that are in direct opposition to the relaxation that needs to happen when we are asleep.”

But even after you and a partner eventually decide to part ways, if you’re still dealing with pent-up feelings of stress from the relationship, Natalie Dautovich, an environmental scholar for the National Sleep Foundation, says you can still be affected. “We are physically most vulnerable when we are sleeping, so sleep is most possible when we feel safe and secure,” Dautovich tells Elite Daily.

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If you’re reading all of this and thinking “well, that’s pretty unfair,” you aren’t wrong. But the thing is, you still have control over your sleep health, and there are ways to ensure that, no matter what happens in terms of your love life, you’re still doing everything you can to get your rest.

Of course, if you are currently in a relationship, that doesn’t just automatically mean your sleep health, in the short- or long-term, is doomed. In fact, a physical connection with a loved one, such as a hug, kiss, or even sex, can calm your nervous system, therefore decreasing stress and anxiety, making it easier to fall and stay asleep, Nelson explains. However, at the same time, it’s important to remember that having your own bedtime routine of some kind, made up of rituals (taking a warm bath, meditating, journaling, diffusing essential oils, etc.) that soothe you without the help of a partner, she adds, is just as key.

Having an SO around can also benefit your sleep health in some slightly more unexpected ways. For instance, they can be there to help hold you accountable when you’re trying to cut back on using your phone in bed, or stick to an earlier bedtime. “A benefit of having a sleeping partner is that they often are the first to notice sleep difficulties (e.g., snoring related to sleep apnea),” Dautovich says, so the two of you can both provide support and promote healthy sleep behaviors for one another. It’s certainly worth the try, right? Clearly the sleep of your future self depends on it.

The Science of Staying in Love

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BY NICOLE BAYES-FLEMING

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We all hope to find a healthy, engaging relationship with a special someone—but the truth is, a long-term partner is a lot harder to find (and keep) than they make it look in the movies. So what gives?

It turns out, “falling in love” and “building a relationship” activate completely different parts of the brain, and they don’t always work together well. The rush we get when we first fall in love activates regions of the brain linked with drive, craving, and obsession, and shuts down those responsible for decision-making and planning ahead, says Helen Fisher, PhD, biological anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute.

It turns out, “falling in love” and “building a relationship” activate completely different parts of the brain, and they don’t always work together well.

“People…can fall madly in love with somebody who’s married, who lives on the other side of the planet, who comes from a different religion, and somehow they’ll say to themselves: ‘We’ll work it out,’” she says.

Clearly, “falling in love” has very little to do with choosing the right partner, regardless of what the movies tell us. To counteract this effect, Fisher is an advocate of “slow love”: taking the time to get to know somebody, letting the fog of those initial chemical infusions roll back a little so you can see the person you’re with a little more clearly.

“With this slow love process of getting to know somebody very carefully over a long period of time, it’s going to help the brain readjust some of these brain regions for decision-making,” she explains.

Of course there aren’t many sonnets written about the practicality of love. Learning whether someone’s saving for retirement or if they’re on speaking terms with their parents doesn’t make for the most romantic of courtships. So, how can we build sustainable relationships, while still keeping the spark alive?

Use Your Brain to Stay In Love

To foster a long-term connection that doesn’t fizzle out, Fisher says it’s important to sustain the three basic brain systems responsible for mating and reproduction: sex, love, and attachment.

Here are three tips she shares to do just that:

1. Get a Room

Having sex regularly is Fisher’s first tip for keeping a relationship from going stale.

“When you have sex with a partner, you’re driving up the testosterone system, so you’re going to want to have more sex [in the future],” she explains. “But you also have all the cuddling, which is going to drive up the oxytocin system and give you feelings of attachment.”

Feel like you’re just too busy? Fisher recommends scheduling time within your week that works for both of you.

2. Give Your Brain the Novelty it Craves

When your relationship starts to feel more like a commute to work than a rollercoaster ride, Fisher recommends trying something new to shake it up. Doing so, gives your brain (and body) that extra boost that  “drives up the dopamine system and can sustain feelings of romantic love,” Fisher says.

This doesn’t have to be a major change, like taking a trip around the world or deciding to have a baby. Little things, like trying a new recipe together, or going for a walk around the block instead of settling into the couch with a movie, can provide the novelty your brain craves.

3. Stay “In Touch”

Hand holding, cuddling, playing footsie under the table—it may sound cheesy, but touch is proven to foster connection. “It drives up the oxytocin system and can give you feelings of deep attachment to the partner,” Fisher explains.

I Don’t Want to Do Anything – What’s Wrong with Me?

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By Marie Miguel

There are times in our lives when we feel down, and we can’t figure out what the source of the problem is. There’s a difference between feeling sad and being depressed. When you don’t want to do anything – not even simple things that you enjoy – there’s a problem. When you find yourself with no motivation, it’s time to seek help because you may be depressed. When you’re thinking “I don’t want to do anything,” there’s something inside of you that’s telling you that life isn’t worth enjoying or pursuing, and that’s not true. You have individual interests and motivation, and there’s inside you. You have things that make you happy, but you can’t see them at the moment. That’s the problem; when you feel stagnant and lack positive emotion. It’s a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored, and it’s important to know that you can get through this time.

Pushing past the “I don’t want to do anything” feeling

One way to push past this feeling is to pursue therapy, but getting to that point is difficult because your brain is telling you that there’s no point in doing anything; including going to therapy. It’s essential that you work past those feelings of stagnancy. It’s vital to remember that what your brain is telling you isn’t true; there is a point to live, and you do have things that you enjoy. It’s about pushing through and remembering that the thoughts going through your mind are attributed to depression; they aren’t a reflection of who you are as a person.

Depression lies

Depression isn’t who you are. Depression is a mental illness that has symptoms such as lacking motivation, sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, changes in appetite, thoughts of emptiness or hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide or a plan to end one’s life. If you’re having thoughts of suicide, please call 911 or go to the emergency room. Contact a mental health professional and get medical attention immediately. Depression is a legitimate illness, and it needs to be addressed. If you’re feeling an emptiness inside, it could be because of this mental illness. It is treatable, it isn’t your fault, and there’s nothing wrong with you.

There is nothing wrong with you

Hear this now: there is nothing wrong with you. If you have depression, you are not alone. You’re struggling with a medical condition that many people, in fact, millions of people in the US alone, battle every single day. If you look at it that way, you’ll be more apt to seek help. It’s okay to acknowledge that you feel hopeless, as long as you pursue something that’ll help you move past this feeling. You’ve got this. Things will not be this way forever, and you will be able to move forward, no matter how hard it seems. Remember a time when you felt emptiness or sadness and were able to push past it and keep going. If you’re reading this article, you are alive. If you’re reading these words, you are strong, and you deserve to seek help.

Online counseling

Online counseling is an excellent place to seek help for feelings of emptiness and that “I don’t want to do anything” feeling. You are allowed to feel lost, but your online counselor is there to help you push through these feelings and find a way to cope. You might feel helpless, but your online counselor believes in you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

This is a featured post by site sponsor Better Help.

 

Daily Habits That Will Help Increase Productivity

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By Natalie MacNeil

No matter how much you get done a daily basis, or how long your checked off to-do list is, procrastination is a challenge even the best and most organized of us face. Of course, it doesn’t mean we’re lazy. We’re all warriors changing the world with our ideas and passion for our businesses.

Still, there are days where we wake up with an exploding inbox, or out of control to-do list, and exactly zero will to tackle any of it.

I get it, I’ve been there too.

And then it spirals, right? You procrastinate, feel off, procrastinate further, feel guilty, and before you know it you’re wrapped in your personal burned-out-but-frustrated-with-yourself cocoon. It can be so hard to full yourself out of it, but if this is something you struggle with?

You’re in exactly the right place — and today’s episode of She Takes on the World is for you.

Jim Kwik is back for the final episode of the Kwik Habits series, and this time around he’s talking about his productivity hacks, as well as how he avoids procrastination and keeps what matters to him the most in his view through it all.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Try one of Jim’s many techniques for overcoming procrastination and dropping into your most productive state.

  1. Jim’s “4 G’s” for a Kwik mindset
  2. Breaking your biggest tasks down
  3. Starting with your why – finding the reasons and reaping the rewards
  4. Just starting, somewhere. Anywhere.

And no matter what, remember to be kind to yourself, especially when you catch yourself in a spiral like procrastination. If you’re kind to yourself when you don’t live up to your highest of expectations, you’re more likely to improve next time. As always, make one of these daily rituals and practices your own this week.

Is Pursuing Happiness the Smart Thing to Do?

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By Alexei Orlov

Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels
Source: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels

In the quest for happiness, I have come to understand it as a fleeting emotion, as fluid as tidal waters. Rather than looking outward for nirvana, I should instead seek a better sense of self. In the end, I know for sure that the only measurement that matters is my own. I do not give myself permission to measure my worth against the earthly achievements of others; that is as superfluous as it is harmful.

I have walked through many passages of life and never have I met anyone who is completely and absolutely in a constant state of euphoria or happiness. That being said, I am blessed for having met a rare few who despite the noise of the world and the scars and blooms of their own experiences, are truly at one with themselves. It is they who find the closest state to pure bliss.

Every time I have met such a person, they seemed to have the same traits:

  • they were remarkable listeners
  • they read a great deal and reflected even more
  • they walked away from the chatter of every day regularly, sometimes for an hour, other times much longer
  • they were always thankful for something even when their plight seemed unbearable to an outsider
  • they admired simplicity;
  • they gave space and time to others;
  • and most importantly, they sought honesty from within before searching for it in others.

I hope I shall find this balance of the wisdoms one day.

From where I stand, those that deny the varied degrees of darkness that molest their minds and sometimes their very souls—always seeking a distant light, always measuring always desiring—make victims of themselves. There is that terrible saying that goes: “the happier my friends the more I die.” Trying to measure one’s happiness by the rule of others can be dangerous.

Most times the best of things are right there with us, if only we did less reaching out and more listening to the voice within.

I have come to believe that it is important to see happiness not as something that is an additional benefit but an inextricable part of existence; what we value and our values are often not the same thing. There is no constant state of mind.

Another’s perceived success should not be allowed to serve as the ultimate measure of our own worth or happiness! How would one really know what history remains in their quest? Do you know where the bones may lie, or what tears have fallen?

Victor Freitas/Pexels
Source: Victor Freitas/Pexels

To my mind, any sense of enduring happiness is much more about benevolent values, things that don’t disarm or harm. A person’s fame or another’s wealth does not make him special, just different. I am different and unique and so are all others. Whether one is very public or considers themselves an unknown is of no real consequence.

Only you—and you alone—know who you really are. You have the power of self. Social measures are a man-made delusion. Social strata are pretty much medieval. Human knowledge: a knowledge of self and one’s effects upon others is what truly matters.

It is incredible how often we can watch without seeing, hear without listening, speak without reflection and judge without understanding. Blind assumption is the mother of all disaster. Space, reflection, and listening to the whispers of those who care as much as your own inner voice are your true and important companions.

The pursuit of happiness is like trying to catch feathers in the wind; it’s a whimsical folly and will not last forever. We will have many spikes and many valleys.

George Desipris/Pexels
Source: George Desipris/Pexels

From the moment we have basic cognitive power we are taught how to react to and assimilate things. I have more chance to stay balanced, with less teetering—even in this world of uncontrollable wonders—if I listen to myself and am open to constant discovery. If I have the courage to reshape and to retreat, I can then spring forward with an open mind and spirit.

In the search to belong we are all too often lost while surrounded by many. Being part of the madding crowd is, I guess, a part of most of our lives and we have to deal with it. One can’t just simply get off the proverbial bus while it speeds along the motorway.

But that does not mean for one moment that you can’t step away from the invading noise. You’re only good to others when first you take care of yourself.

Search for the right thing—a sense of self and of things that you value that will keep you appeased even when outside conditions are rough. Perfection is best found in embracing our imperfections: We are none of us perfect but like an aged oak table: gnarled and blemished but still standing as something utterly specific.

Your sense of worth and your sense of self belong entirely to you. The only place to look for them is within. To search for these essential feelings is the most important work many of us will do, and a continual state of being. This is in and of itself a happy state.

10 Common Signs And Symptoms Of Depression—And When To Get Help

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By Hallie Gould

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 18.5% of adults in the United States experience mental illness every year. That’s a significant portion of our population—one in five people—yet the stigma and misunderstanding that surround mental health remain. If you are feeling symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor to learn more about treatment options.

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STOCKSY

 

We throw around the phrase “I’m depressed” to describe a stressful situation at work or the end of a relationship. But just like the word “crazy,” for which the etymology has shifted over time, depression can often be mistaken for a way to characterize an emotion rather than a mental health issue. It trivializes those who suffer from the disorder, a real chemical imbalance that creates negative and difficult circumstances beyond our control.

Because it all can seem convoluted, the definitions melting into each other, it’s often challenging to know when to seek help. “Treatment should be sought for depression when the symptoms are interfering with the quality of your life,” says therapist and mental health expert Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C. “Depression is treatable, and there is no reason to suffer in silence.”

To get a better understanding of the hallmark symptoms of depression, I reached out to two experts for their opinions and advice. Below, they detail 10 different, common warning signs to look out for. Keep reading for their thoughts.

Next Steps: 

“Any of these symptoms can occur with any of us at any given time, and that can be completely normal,” notes Lindsay Henderson, Psy.D., a psychologist who treats patients virtually via the telehealth app LiveHealth Online. “But if you are experiencing more and more of these symptoms, or they are growing in severity, start paying a bit more attention to how you are feeling overall. If you notice that these symptoms are impacting your overall functioning, it may be time to seek professional help. The good news is that help can come in many forms and individuals have options for how they address their mental health.”

We know that things like social activity, healthy eating, good sleep, and regular exercise all directly contribute to a healthier mood. If you notice yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, take a look at your daily routines and overall physical health to identify areas that can improve. “It can be beneficial to engage in therapy and talk with a mental health professional about what you are experiencing,” says Henderson. “Not only can a therapist help assess and diagnose the experiences you may be having, but they can also offer tips and tools to better understand, manage, and cope with the many complex emotions you feel.”

Here’s the thing: We know the idea of finding a therapist and getting to appointments can be overwhelming. Online therapy can be a wonderful way to break down many of the barriers that can get in the way of accessing therapy, as the appointment can take place wherever you feel most comfortable. Talk to your doctor to make the best plan for you and seek out an appointment with a psychiatrist. Your doctor may talk with you about the pros and cons of taking medication, which can be particularly helpful with depression and anxiety, but not for everyone. It’s best to talk first with a professional about your options before making any decisions.