12 Steps to Motivating When You’re Depressed

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photo by vinoth chandar (creative commons)

I’m just passing this on, in case someone might find it useful. There’s nothing more irritating to a depressed person than being told you should just do blah blah blah. If you’ve never been depressed, the simplicity of some of the suggestions might shock you. Such as “Wash Up” or “Get Dressed” or “Go Outside”.

In any case, some food for thought at PsychCentral.

The Depression Blog*

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA photo by nevil zavery (creative commons) I’ve got another blog kicking around. Though it’s called LA Eastsider Depressed it’s devoted to a number of topics, much like this blog. The style is a little less wordy than here, and I’m making more of an effort toward variety — quotes, images, videos, poetry, etc. Some of the recent posts:

*LA Eastsider Depressed has been renamed! It’s now Los Feliz Psychologist, but there will still be plenty of stuff about depression. All the old links will work, too.

Free Ebook — Psychotherapy FAQ

For some time now I’ve hosted a page with a compilation of thoughts on “What is Psychotherapy?” I’ve now combined and lightly edited these posts, and bundled them together into a free ebook, Psychotherapy: Frequently Asked Questions. The book is divided into two parts.

Part I focuses on the many questions —  frequently relating to doubts, fears, and misconceptions – that people have about psychotherapy.

Part II digs in a little more – focusing more on the nature of therapy and what one might expect from treatment. You can click here for the page.

Or click here psychotherapy faq to download the ebook.

 

Understanding Bipolar Disorder, Visual Edition

Recently came across, and enjoyed, this graphic novel that chronicles one woman’s struggle with bipolar disorder. I’m not going to review it here, but I will say that I enjoyed it. It accurately describes the frustrations that those with bipolar face to find the right balance of treatments. As the NPR reviewer wrote:

Bipolar disorder defies easy treatment; each individual patient must become their own guinea pig to discover the balance of medication and lifestyle therapies that will allow him or her to achieve long-term stability.

Here are a few reviews, including the one from NPR:

From Manic Highs to Oceanic Lows, (NPR)

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, (The Guardian)

Marbles, By Ellen Forney, and More, (The New York Times)

Understanding Depression, Visual Edition

I want to share a little gem of a resource that I’ve been admiring for some time.* It is a web comic about depression. That might not sound all that inspiring, but if you’ve ever cared about someone with depression or struggled to explain your depression to someone who cares — you know that it can be very difficult.

That’s where Hyperbole and a Half comes in, a website that includes some amazing comics about what it is like to be depressed. And perhaps the best starting point, is the episode: Depression Part Two. The art is rudimentary, even crude. The message is as spot on as anything I’ve ever read about depression. Here’s a sample quote:

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared…

…The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions. You’re maybe just looking for someone to say “sorry about how dead your fish are” or “wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though.”

I’ve also added, in the sidebar under the heading “blogs on depression”, links to both this and the first comic in the series, Adventures in Depression. It is equally insightful and funny, and begins: “Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed, but not me. I just woke up one day feeling sad and helpless for absolutely no reason.”

I hope you gain some comfort or understanding from the comics.

*As a coda, I was unaware that the author, Allie Brosh, just published a book of her comics with Simon and Schuster and has been getting some press recently. In fact, she did an interview on NPR which aired yesterday. Recommended.

Also:

Meet Allie Brosh, Reclusive Genius Behind the Blog (and Book) “Hyperbole and a Half” at Mother Jones.

‘Hyperbole and a Half’ illustrates Allie Brosh’s precise crudeness at NY Daily News.

“Hyperbole and a Half” creator Allie Brosh: “Good comedy has a lot in common with good horror” at Salon.com

 

10 Blogs on Depression

Someone recently asked me if there were seriously really any blogs worth reading. Pause. Pause longer. It depends. Funny thing to say on a blog, but maybe not. Thing is, the vast majority of blogs are inherently frivolous. They tend to be self-promotional projects. Or driven by a very specific interest. But if you happen to have a specific interest — a blog might be worth dipping into. That’s how I’ve found most blogs. I dip into them. I often don’t return. But occasionally someone writes well, and grabs you. You come back for more. You are compelled. You find yourself reading about topics  you didn’t even think you were interested in. Now that’s a successful blog. So, while there are an awful lot of frivolous blogs, I have to answer “yes” to the general question of whether there are any blogs worth reading. Or maybe this is really about the question of whether frivolous things have any value.

But I digress. I think blogs on the topic of depression can be very valuable. Depression is inherently isolating. Anything that can contribute to reducing that sense isolation is valuable.

So thought I’d take at and update my resources on depression. So I headed over to PsychCentral, which is a pretty good starting point when you’re looking for something psychology-related on the internet, to see what they’ve been up to. Here’s a link to their Depression page.

They haven’t updated their best depression blogs category since 2010 — so I thought I’d check out the links and see what’s going on there. This is what I came up with:

  1. Una Bella Vita. So far so good. Activity seems to have dropped off a bit in the last few months, but there’s lots of good material in the archives. Last updated 4/22/12. The author was also running a blog called Depression Diaries, which is worth a look for some introductory material.
  2. Dr. Deb: Psychological Perspectives. Also continues to be active. Dr. Deb knows her stuff, and frequently posts interesting items. She is the author of the book, Living With Depression, which seems to receive quite favorable reviews. You could also click on the “Labels” sidebar to the right (scroll down a little). That will link to 42 articles related to depression, as of this writing.
  3. Storied Mind. I was immediately drawn to this post, Leaving Lamictal and Antidepressants for Now, not because I think it’s absolutely the way to go — there is no one-size-fits-all treatment — but because you don’t see it taken up that often. An open, honest blog about one man’s ongoing experience with depression. Definitely worth a look.
  4. My Postpartum Voice. Still going strong. Thoughtful and incisive writing. Of course, the “postpartum” partly refers to post-partum depression — not to be confused with the stress and moodiness that can result during the weeks and months following birth — which can be quite crippling. See her post on the controversial TIME magazine cover, TIME Magazine Fails to Support Mothers.
  5. Postpartum Progress. It appears this blog has grown a lot since the last time I looked, with a full roster of regular contributors. Check out this post on the Difference Between Post Partum Depression and Normal New Mom Stress.
  6. Draw That Beast. Art project on depression. Continues to be active. Interesting.
  7. Mayo Clinic Depression Blog. Updated about every other month recently, but good expert thoughts on interesting specific topics dating back several years. You might check out this post, Depression Is Painful, But Don’t Give Up Hope.
  8. Depression Marathon. Still running! (Sorry for the pun.) This blog lives up to its name. The author has put in a lot of blogging miles since 2008 and touches upon a very important — and often under examined in mental health circles — the importance of physical fitness. I hope to read this blog more closely in the near future. Anyone that was ever depressed knows the experience of falling into repetitive, cycling thoughts. See her post: Thinking, Thinking, Thinking. 
  9. About.com blog on depression. Appears to present short snippets from the research literature on depression. You might find some news here — though it’s couched in the language of research, which means the “news” should be taken with a grain of salt. Language of research? When you hear words and phrases such as these you should always wonder what they really mean — some examples: “Linked”, “may cause”, “may help”, “may be safe”, “less likely”.
  10. Pick The Brain: Motivation and Self-Improvement. Light. Might be most appropriate if you’re feeling a little blue, rather than really depressed. Because quite frankly, you might be annoyed by some of the advice here if you are really depressed. Here’s a sample: 10 All Natural Ways to Stop Feeling Depressed.

Recession and Sense of Self

Self doubt. Diminished sense of self. Fear and diminished expectations. Depression. Anxiety. Lack of sleep. These are some of the symptoms being predicted as a result of the upcoming (if not arrived) recession. Washington and Lee University (quote from Shrink Wrap) warn of the following:

What’s really interesting is that this compromised sense of self becomes hardens and is better described as a permanent scar rather than a blemish. Even when people become employed again, the adverse impact of unemployment on psychological well-being lingers.

At the New York Times, David Brooks takes a broader sociological view, but comes to some of the same conclusions. He notes a cynicism from the 70s that never really went away. He notes:

Recessions breed pessimism. That’s why birthrates tend to drop and suicide rates tend to rise.

or

But recessions are about more than material deprivation. They’re also about fear and diminished expectations. The cultural consequences of recessions are rarely uplifting.