Her perspective is, depression is real. It happens because life is hard and WE CAN OVERCOME IT... with exercise, healthy eating, proper sleep habits, teaching ourselves NOT to listen to the negative comments that come into our head, etc. She attributes MUCH of depression to Satan's influence on good people. This day and age depression is so accepted-- which is good. But, for me, it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone give tips on being happy that were more than just 'take a pill.' Not that pills aren't helpful... but I have learned that we CAN control our mood by controlling our thoughts and our behavior.
She quoted a Duke study (read about it here) where they took 3 groups of clinically depressed people.
Group One got Zoloft only.
Group Two got Zoloft and Exercise.
Group Three got Exercise only.
After 3 months all of the groups had equal percentages of depression relief.
After 6 months Group One had 38% depression relapse, Group Two had 31% depression relapse, and Group Three had 8% depression relapse.
The results were surprising because everyone thought that Group Two, Zoloft and exercise, would have the best results. The conclusion was made that the reason Group Three did the best was that they felt like they alone had control over their moods. The medication groups felt like they had an illness, something that they had no control over, affecting them. "Simply taking a pill is very passive," one Duke professor said. "Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment. They may have felt more self-confident and competent because they were able to do it themselves, and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise."
I took Prozac or Cymbalta for many years (starting after Anna burnt her hands), and I loved it. It gave me just a little bit of numbing that helped me be a more calm and patient mother. Because my family has a history of mental illness, I always felt like it was my duty to take medication. This summer I stopped medicine and started exercising, eating healthy, taking VITAMINS (i love THESE multi-vitamins, you can get a free sample here) and getting more sleep. I feel powerful and happy. Without medicine, I FEEL more and I love it. I'm crying again... at sweet commercials. And, sometimes I yell (I rarely lost my temper on medication). But, I am an emotional person... sometimes I get angry or frustrated or hurt or sad. I LOVE knowing that I can control my mood with my CHOICES. Yes, some days I feel depressed. And when I feel down, I fight it... by DOING good stuff, eating good food, taking a nap, PUTTING AWAY MY LAUNDRY, taking some time for myself, planning out my life, etc. Even on medication I felt depressed some days. But then, I was more likely to label it "depression" and feel like a victim of my chemicals.
I think the harm in current 'depression thinking' is that it makes us feel dependent on an outward chemical for our happiness instead of teaching us, or reminding us, that we can control our thoughts and our behavior. When we learn to control our thoughts and behavior, our emotions WILL follow. This reminder has given me back POWER in my life.
I did NOT plan on writing this blog today, although I did plan on writing it someday. I'm not an anti-medicine person, that would be hypocritical. BUT, I thought I had a chemical imbalance, that it was genetic, and that I would just need to accept the fact and take medication for the rest of my life. It was refreshing and life changing for me to hear one voice tell me something different. I love feeling powerful. And, I love being ME... passionate, spiritual, loving, excited, EMOTIONAL me.
Here are some things I remember when I feel the cloud approaching...
1. Care for your Spirit
-Be CLEAN... repent, monitor your imput (books, tv, thoughts, friends, etc.), be morally pure and live according to your value system
-EXERCISE... pray, study, ponder, plan... take time to study and learn and set goals to progress your spirituality... don't just go through the motions, stretch yourself and put priority on your study. Start a new system for scripture study, mark different or use a study guide... really exercise your spirituality.
-Nourish your SPIRIT... listen to good music, count your blessings, allow yourself to feel the Spirit, feel the love of your family and your God...-REST... take time to just BE, ponder, write in your journal, look outside and consider your blessings... at night before you sleep find the JOY in your life and focus on that. BREATHE out your weakness and breathe in the grace.
2. Care for you BODY
-Be CLEAN... shower, wear nice clothes, (if you don't have clothes that you feel comfortable in, buy something new), do your hair (you may need a haircut if you don't feel comfortable with your appearance)... how you feel about your body physically REALLY affects your mood.
-EXERCISE... move, push yourself, get ACTIVE... I can't say enough about the positive power of exercise and movement and pushing yourself physically. Even if you are not able to really work-out, just go for a walk, do jumping jacks, put on music and dance with your kids, stretch... you feel better when you exercise your body.
-Nourish your body... don't just eat, NOURISH, concentrate on the FUEL you are choosing for your brain, eat REAL, FRESH foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, drink water, take vitamins. Buy healthy, fast snacks (almonds, edimame, fruit, yogurt, V8, etc.) that you can grab to fuel on the go.
-REST... early to bed and early to rise. I say bed by 10pm up at 5am. To do this, I try to be in my bedroom by 9pm to start winding down.
When I focus on Spirit first, Body second, I have a strong foundation that I can build on.
Next I focus on my family... helping them with their Spirits first and Body second.
Then my home... Spirit (or PLANNING) first, Body (or physical) second.
Then I can focus on my extended family, service at school or church or community, and friends.
This changed my life. I have seen my emotional stability, physical health, family and home completely change as I focused on this order.
Sometimes I'm scared of going back to the hard places that I have been, but I have hope that even if I have a bad day, or a bad week, I can always start again by focusing on the basics; SPIRIT first BODY second.