As you can imagine, my book deadline is chasing me and I am running fast! Sorry I've been the missing cowgirl. UGH!
Time to dish about depression. This will be a 2 part blog. On Friday I will post the 2nd half which will be about diet and depression. My best pal Terri Cole is one of the original members of my cancer posse and an awesome Crazy Sexy Shrink! We’ve been friends and accomplices for decades and her boot camp strategies for living a balanced, fulfilled life have been a blessing to me. Terri’s advise pulls me out of the black holes and sends me back towards the sunshine. Here’s what she has to say (a sneak peek from the new book) about how to get stable footing on the slippery slope called depression….
"There are many reasons cancer survivors may be vulnerable to depression. When I was diagnosed I was sad and angry that my innocence, the “it will never happen to me” phase of my life was abruptly cut short. I struggled with integrating my diagnosis with my self-image of being strong, able to handle anything, and HEALTHY. This took time and work with a fantastic therapist. I looked at therapy as a gift I could give myself. One hour a week with a person who did not need ME to be anyone or anything for HER…an hour to acknowledge my fear without the fear that SHE would fall apart.(of course I AM a therapist so I did not have the resistance to seeking help that many others may have.)
So let’s talk about tools for managing depression. First and foremost you must connect with the power of your mind and your thoughts. What do you say to yourself? Are you kind? Are you punitive? If you are not sure, take time this week to listen to the language you use to talk about yourself and write it down. What you say about yourself is what you “affirm” which influences your subconscious mind.
An affirmation is a statement you declare to be true. Look at your subconscious mind as an excellent executive assistant in your life, ready to help you achieve the goals you; the boss and your conscious mind have set. An affirmation may be positive or negative in nature. It is how we talk to ourselves.
I am smart
I am fat
I am healthy
I can’t do this
I will do this
The above statements are all affirmations…what are YOU declaring in your life? Once you decide on some positive affirmations, your executive assistant will seek out every opportunity to reinforce them. For example if I affirm,” I have a fat butt”. When I am walking down the street and someone looks at me I will think, “See they are looking at my big fat butt.” This thought will make me feel shame, embarrassment and self-loathing. Conversely, when I affirm, “I have a beautiful healthy strong body that I love” and someone looks at me, I think, “ How nice they are appreciating my beautiful bod” which leaves me feeling empowered.
For affirmations to be effective in your life you must get rid of the negative self talk and replace it with positive self talk. The things that are repeated most in your mind are the ones that stick. If you are trying to stay away from sugar because it is bad for cancer and bad for depression and you find yourself in a bakery and your affirmation has been, “I only eat desserts that are healthy for me”, then you look at the desserts and hear a little voice repeating, “I don’t want those because I only eat desserts that are healthy for me”. Your ever-alert subconscious has latched onto an opportunity to achieve your goal, and enforce your self-instructing affirmation. You can use affirmations in every situation in your life…you have the power to change your mind so do it!
Another pitfall to be aware of is the danger of over-exaggerating. We all do it, as it is a current popular speech trend in this country. But there is a danger in not talking straight. How many times have you uttered the phrase,” I just can’t take another second of …having the WORST day ever…nothing ever goes right in my life…” Realistically none of these statements are true at any given time. None of these statements or the pessimistic thinking at the base of them is the things you want to re enforce in your life. I had a personal experience with the challenge of not over-exaggerating when I got into family therapy with my husband and our 3 boys. They had lost their mom years before so I had married the whole kit and kaboodle of angry, acting out teens. The therapist noted in session one that we were a family that did not talk “straight”….huh?! I was confused until she pointed out how sarcastic and exaggerating all of us spoke. She explained that it was a way to veil the hostility we were feeling. The positive changes that happened within my family system from just learning to “talk straight” were amazing.
The power of realistic vocabulary to help fight depression is great. What will REALLY happen if you don’t meet that deadline, make it to that meeting etc? As cancer survivors we are truly dealing with life and death and missing any meeting or deadline will surely not end your life. I have a THEN WHAT exercise I do with my clients. It is an invitation to play out the catastrophic fantasy. When you play it out it loses power over you. To be aware of negative over-exaggerating is to be more authentic in your language and in your life. This alleviates mental stress and gives you more brain space for the good stuff.
Essential Oils…do a brain chemistry good
There are many amazing essential oils out there that do an array of things. I use them with my clients as a mood lifter. My favorite is Lavender Essential oil. It is amazing for lessening anxiety, depression and insomnia. You can use it anytime you need a lift in mood. You take 5 deep breaths of the oil while visualizing breathing in positive peaceful energy and exhaling negativity, stress and depression. Buy a meditation cd. (I like Dr.Brian Weiss Meditation Relaxation Regression) and get committed to 20 minutes a day to listen to that cd and breathe in your oil. Over time you will train your body to associate complete relaxation and good feelings with your essential oil so when you are out and about in the stressful world, one whiff and your body will respond by relaxing and releasing stress.
Move your Booty
Exercise has is another extremely effective tool in the fight against depression. Do not set yourself up to fail. You don’t have to participate in an IRONMAN. You just have to move. Commit to 20 minutes a day of walking briskly. Get a pal to go with you (it is harder to blow it off with your friend waiting for you on the corner of 82nd and Broadway) it will lift your mood and increase the serotonin levels in your brain.
Do Your Morning Pages
Write write write and then…write some more. Julia Cameron talks about the healing effect of writing “morning pages” in her book,” The Artists Way”. She suggets that you wake up and write 3 unedited pages before your green tea, before your super ego has a chance to change what you would write…before the “shoulds” wake up. It is a morning mind dump that will clear your head of clutter and negativity. Honor yourself with some sacred AM time and you will feel lighter and better for it.
You are not a bear…so don’t hibernate
Social interaction with supportive friends and family is a must…even when you don’t feel like it. Being with people who love you feeds the soul. Ask for what you need from the close relationships in your life. Maybe it is just a back massage or an empathic ear to listen and NOT fix (shout out to all the mothersJ). Be clear and honest about what you can and cannot do. Don’t be committed to the false self for everyone else’s sake. This is exhausting and alienating to you. Tell the truth…it really will help.
Most important …Never give up hope
Know that your effort to feel better will pay off. Take these tools, use them and come up with your own winning formula. Know that you are the only person on this planet with your DNA. There will only ever be one you. You matter, you’re worth the effort to work for a happy and fulfilled life. Just decide you won’t take no for an answer NO MATTER WHAT!"
Thanks Terri! Isn't she top shelf? Can't wait to see what you all think and share? So much love and man do I miss you!
Depression chat w/guest blogger Terri Cole!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Posted by cancer cowgirl xo at 7:07 AM