If you don’t already know this, I’ve been busting my butt to beat a severe depressive episode that began in June of 2011. I think it’s safe to say that I’m finally in the “safe” zone as I like to call it. It took me six long months and a lot (A LOT!) of medication and dosage changes to get me to a good, stable place.
For the past 18 years, I have used a combination of medication and therapy to pull me through these hard times. But I realized something last fall. After struggling with manic/depressive episodes for most of my life, maybe it’s going to take more than just those two things to stay well.
I have listened to my therapist(s) tell me of the different options for controlling the symptoms of bipolar disorder. But I have never taken their advice.
Until now . . .
Here are five (new to me) things I’m doing to beat depression.
1. Exercise: The benefits of exercise on the brain have been proven time and time again. Well, I am finally giving it a try. I am going the the gym at least twice a week specifically for that extra release of endorphins. It has gotten to the point where when I have a bad day, I kind of crave a run on the treadmill. I didn’t go at all last week because I was sick and I can definitely tell the difference in my mood.
2. Lightbox Therapy: I’m actually surprised I never tried this before. After discussing with my therapist a possible pattern involving becoming more depressed in the winter time, she recommended I purchase a lightbox and spend 20 minutes under the light each day. I am currently researching which one would be best for me. My insurance company will even pay for mine! I’m excited to see the benefits that an extra boost of make-believe sunshine will do for my spirits.
3. Keeping a Mood Journal: I have actually done this before for a brief period of time. But I am starting it back up with the help of a handy iphone app! There are different options but the one I use is called Moody Me and is available to download for free. The thing about moods is that you can often find a pattern. I want to keep track of when I am more irritable than usual and see if it is the same week to week or month to month. Keeping a mood journal is about increasing self-awareness of my illness and I’m excited to see how it helps with my recovery.
4. Keeping a Gratitude Journal: I know, I know. What is this blog coming to? Are the puppies and rainbows ever going to go away? Well, I’m not sure because the positive attitude seems to be working for me. We could all use a little perspective. Sitting down at night after my busy day is over and concentrating on all the GOOD that happened over the course of the day is really good for me. There is way too much negativity in my brain. Writing all the positive things out is sure to have a lasting effect on my mood.
5. Taking Supplements: It may seem ridiculously simple but taking vitamins to supplement my diet has its benefits. Vitamin D and Fish Oil, specifically, have been proven to help with depression. Now don’t think for one second that I’m replacing my regular medications with these vitamins. I am not. It’s just difficult to keep up with a perfectly balanced diet that includes everything I need to stay well. So I added them to my nightly routine and I’m hoping it pays off.
This post brought to you by – a brand new year, a brand new me, a brand new outlook on life
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The opinions expressed above are my own. Please consult a doctor before taking any of my advice.