Tag Archives: Depression

Over iT: A New Book by Mary Buchan (and a Giveaway)

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Over It Cover

Just in time for the brand new year, a post by wellness nurse and writer Mary Buchan:

I believe that everyone has a book in them. I knew there was one inside of me in my early 20’s, I just didn’t know what it was.

I struggled to work through my issues (my iTs) as I navigated through the decades of my life. I knew that I needed to get Over my iTs before I shared my writing with the world. The biggest changes for me started in my 40’s when I realized that my mother had not ruined my life ,and my husband could not fix me.

And that is how my book of Over iT: How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself  came to be.

Enjoy this excerpt from my second chapter:

Side Trips and Dead-Ends on the Road to Well-Being

Each decade of life seems to carry its own epiphany. During that decade between 10 and 20, for example, I discovered that boys really did make a positive contribution to the universe. Between 20 and 30, I learned that, just like my parents always said, money does not grow on trees. From 30 to 40, I learned the joys—and the agonies— of parenting.

The biggest changes of all started when I was 40. That’s when I learned that my mother had not ruined my life and my husband could not fix my life. Before that, I was pretty angry at times for all the nurturing and unconditional love I believed I had not received from my mom. Up until that point, I blamed mom for just about all the ways my life was imperfect.

I see it differently today, of course. It is always difficult to share family secrets and I have struggled with whether or not to share mine in this book. Quite frankly, I am tired of pretending that my personal struggle as a child had no effect on me. Decades later and years of counseling have proven that I had to learn how to get Over many “Its” so that I could live above my circumstances and beyond myself.

You see, Mom suffered from bi-polar disorder and several other mental illnesses. In those days, when it was diagnosed at all, it was called manic depression. Also in those days, there was virtually no effective treatment for a mental disorder that made life a living hell for the people who suffered from it and for the people who loved them and tried to live with them.

Sometimes Mom was too depressed to get out of bed, much less do the hundreds of things mothers are expected to do to keep a household running. Other times, her manic states drove her to rage or other irrational behavior that children have no way of understanding or protecting themselves from. In other words, my childhood wasn’t perfect.

For a long time, I thought yours must have been perfect. I spent a lot of years angry about how unfair that was. Since then, I’ve learned that very few of us grew up in an episode of “Father Knows Best” or “The Brady Bunch.”

I was in my 40s before I realized that my mother did the best she could. I forgave her and my father for my imperfect childhood. Finally, I even realized that I could be forgiven for blaming them for circumstances they certainly would have changed if they could have.

Becoming a mother myself and realizing how hard it is to get it right was a big part of my healing journey. I started to recognize that I was doing the best I could and that, even without the degree of health issues my mother had faced, I was far from a perfect mother. In fact, at times I was pretty much a wreck because I still hadn’t managed to get over my own far-from-perfect childhood.

Because of the circumstances I grew up in, I spent many years doubting whether true well-being was even possible in this life. And even if well-being was a possibility for others, I was skeptical that it would be given to me. Maybe, I reasoned, I was just destined to have a messy, unraveling, and sometimes painful life.

I’ve also spent much of my life looking for well-being in the wrong places. I thought that if I had the right husband, right house, right job, right church, right friends, and right investments, I would feel satisfied inside. Then all the external trappings of my life fell apart and I realized that all of those things were really only side trips and dead ends on the road to well-being.

Life has taught me that true contentment is an inside job. Ironically, a true sense of well-being began not when my circumstances were at their best, but when it seemed that the bottom was falling out of my life. My husband was between jobs. We had to move out of a house I really loved. I needed to go back to work. Our financial future looked very cloudy.

And yet, even during those uncertain times, I experienced amazing peace as a gift from God — because I had quit expecting my happiness to come from people and things.

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin Seligman identifies five key components of a vibrant life: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. All of these are vital ingredients to help us flourish as individuals—and all of them are spiritual attributes available to every one of us.

Sometimes I still pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming and won’t wake up again to the sadness and turmoil I experienced before.

But no, my well-being is real, and it is a gift from God, who taught me how to live above my circumstances and beyond myself. Since the world didn’t give it to me, the world can’t take it away.

Giveaway: I’m giving away one copy of Mary’s book, Over iT: How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by January 15 saying that you’d like to be the winner. U.S. and Canada only. Thanks!

mary-buchan

Mary Buchan RN has over 30 years of health and wellness experience. After helping a wide range of people lose weight, reduce stress, fuel energy and reinvent their lives she recently repurposed her nurse’s cap as a life reinvention coach, speaker, and author of the award winning book Over It How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself .

As a mid-lifer with an empty nest, Mary blogs about self-discovery, relationships, reinvention, and healthy living.  Mary’s blogs have been featured in Friend For The Ride, Midlife Boulevard, and Boomeon

 Visit www.MaryBuchan.com to learn more

Mary's Website

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part Two

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Alice finding door

In Down The Rabbit Hole Part I, you may have walked away with the idea that falling down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression is inevitable.  Well, for many of us it is, to some degree.  That’s why I’m back today.  Yes, I find myself depressed during certain times of the year.  The good news is, there’s a way out.

There are several things I do to get out of that rabbit hole, and none of it is as crazy as the stuff poor Alice In Wonderland faced. Through years of counseling and years of experience, I have found a formula that works for me.

These ideas may or may not work for you, but they are worth trying.  Of course, if depression doesn’t lift after you have done everything you can to help yourself, seek professional help.  With that said, these are my thoughts about ways in which I have found my way out of that dang rabbit hole.

Recognize Your Season

Falling down the rabbit hole is something I know is inevitable for me during certain times of the year.  Knowing this is part of my salvation.  As they say; “forewarned is forearmed.”

Depression is like many illnesses – the more we know, the more prepared we are, the more likely we are to recover.  When the dates approach, I talk about it with my family.  It’s coming.  I know it.  Saying it out loud with those who know me best (and most likely are going through the same thing) is a way to prepare.  Pretending this time isn’t coming does absolutely no good whatsoever.

Accept Your Feelings

It’s true that the years have softened the blows I feel from the losses I’ve suffered.  But what happens to people like me who have “situational depression” is that even small situations can trigger the FEELINGS of a bigger situation.

During the times when I’m most likely to become depressed, I recognize the small triggers and give them the same respect I do the big triggers.  This helps bring about the same result – lessening the depression or quickening the recovery.

Accepting the importance of these smaller triggers also validates feelings, and validated feelings are the only kind of feelings we can work our way through.  Unvalidated feelings get stuffed and land us back in that rabbit hole.

Remember Your Recovery

Each time I end up down the rabbit hole, I remind myself that it’s a temporary situation.  I remember the times I thought I’d never smile again; then I did.

I remember that even if I am depressed at times, I very often laugh at the same time.  I guess what I want to say is a good life full of laughs does not exclude depression, and depression does not exclude a good life full of laughs.

I am a happy person who also happens to get depressed.  I do not have a cloud following me around.  I am not a sad little stick figure on a commercial for anti-depressants.  Sometimes I am very happy and I still want to go to bed.  But, I know I will get up again. That’s what recovery is like for me.  It’s important to remember that.

Reach Out And Renew

I have people I love who know about this darkness and care about my recovery.  I have learned to reach out to them instead of pulling the covers over my head.

Make a phone call, write a note, contact someone to say; “Yes, I am in bed today, but tomorrow I’ll call you again.”

Making that connection is a big part of moving forward.  Then, you’ll be ready to take the next step; perhaps get together and walk.

On the same note as connecting, we sometimes need to accept a new challenge – to renew.  I’m not talking about something gigantic, just something outside of what we are currently doing.

I have been working at home for many years.  When the woman who does my facials called to say she needed someone to take charge of her appointments and phone calls, I knew it was something I needed to do.  The call came at the height of my depression.

I embraced the opportunity to get out of the house and do something new.  It was time I made a change.  I was outside my comfort zone, but only slightly, which was good.  Small changes are still good changes.

What I Know

I have what my counselor calls “situational depression.”  For this reason, I know that certain times and certain events will trigger my depression.

But, it’s alright.

Because there’s a lesson I can take from Alice In Wonderland.

Just like Alice, I will find that little door… and open it.

I am reassured once more that my depression is just a season in my life – not the entirety of my life.

Thank you, Barbara, for letting me share my thoughts with you and your readers.  I hope my experiences with depression will help clear up some of the confusion that so many have about this complicated issue.

p.s.  For more about the signs of depression, the dichotomy of depression, and how it affects us at our age, please read my blog post – Depression In Baby Boomers – I’m So Happy I Just Want To Go To Bed.  And don’t forget to leave a comment.  I love the company here in the blogosphere!

About The Tiny Door: 

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage… she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains…

Discovering that little door, and finding your way through it and into that lovely garden with bright flowers and cool fountains isn’t necessarily easy.  Poor Alice went through hell and back to find her way.  I can feel the excitement of pulling that curtain back to discover that tiny door, and the hope that I might find a lovely garden and cool fountains when I work my way through that door.

Alice finding door

“Alice Finding Tiny Door Behind Curtain” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel

Visit Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org to see over 42,000 ebooks, free for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  Enjoy.

Patti school pic

About the Author:  Patti Winker has enjoyed reading and writing ever since she can remember.  She likes sharing stories of growing up in the 50s and 60s on her blog RemarkableWrinklies.com You’ll also find her stories in our collaboration – Tangerine Tango

In addition to waxing nostalgic, Patti also writes about aging well.  Part of Patti’s journey through life has been her battle with depression.  This two part guest post is her way of telling others that depression doesn’t need to defeat a person, but it isn’t always easy either, especially as we get older.

According to the CDC, the highest rate of depression occurs between the ages of 45 and 64, then drops off again after 65.  In her blog post – I’m So Happy I Just Want To Go To Bed Patti explores this problem that many ‘baby boomers’ are experiencing right now;  reaching a perceived perfection, but not feeling the joy.  I hope you find some useful information and support in these posts.

About the Picture:  Patti said she laughed right out loud when she found this picture of herself and knew immediately she had to use it for this guest post.  I think she looks rather “Alice-ish,” don’t you?   Patti estimates this to be her 2nd or 3rd grade school picture, about the time she would have been reading Alice in Wonderland, and wondering what kind of crazy person Lewis Carroll was.

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part One

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Alice pool of tears

A post by writer Patti Winker:

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.  Down, down, down!  Would the fall never come to an end?”

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been a fan of Alice In Wonderland.  It was always kind of creepy to me, both as a kid and as an adult.  Although, as an adult, I can appreciate the twisted dark thoughts and innuendo.  Or am I reading more into it than I should?

Anyway, I digress.  For whatever reason, the whole story is just weird to me.

That said, Alice In Wonderland has felt like a familiar friend to me at times… times in which I fell down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression.

I know, I know.  The commercials all say that this is supposed to be the time of our life.  We’re all supposed to be happy as skylarks, singing glorious notes as we fly off into the azure shades of early evening on our way to our vineyards, sailboats, horse ranches, and fat retirement checks.

We’re supposed to all be planting seeds for our sunset years, while enjoying the vim-and-vigor of this quasi youth.

It doesn’t always work that way.

I learned from a counselor many years ago (during my first marriage) that I had what he called “situational depression.”  Sometimes this is referred to as “adjustment disorder.”  It is covered in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), so I guess I can accept that.

Okay, I don’t like to think I have a “Mental Disorder” but, hey, something was terribly wrong.  With or without a diagnosis, I was falling down the rabbit hole.

“Situational depression,” by its very nature, comes and goes.  Depending on, well, the situation.  Coping is possible, but there are times when it becomes difficult to face even the simplest challenges.

For me, those times are tied to anniversaries, seasons, and memories.

At our age, we have all suffered trauma – loss, abuse, pain, and illness.  At some point, all those issues converge and create a palate that colors our life.  Someone or something at some time will most likely trigger a reaction.

There are times during the year that I ‘re-suffer’ some of my most difficult losses. There are birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, death anniversaries, more birthdays… and the list goes on.  Every date on the calendar that has memories attached gives my heart another opportunity to suffer.

I am not alone in this.  What happens to me isn’t uncommon.  As we reach a certain age, as I mentioned, we are bound to have some sort of loss, some trauma, that can send us into that downward  spiral.  For people who deal with any form of depression, these unavoidable dates on the calendar can loom large.

For baby boomers, this time in our life can be great, but it can also provide some of the biggest challenges we will encounter.  These challenges can cause severe stress, sadness, illness, and depression.

And, just as Alice worried that she would be “going out altogether, like a candle,” I have moments where I struggle with believing that things will ever be okay again.

The good news is, there are things we can do to keep from pulling the covers over our head and disappearing from the world.  I know I don’t want to waste even a couple months out of the year, hiding in the dark, away from all the people I love.

In Part II, I will share a few thoughts about climbing back up and out of that rabbit hole.

Stay tuned…

About the Pool of Tears:

 “Things are worse than ever,” thought the poor child, “for I never was so small as this before, never!”  As she said these words, her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt-water… in the pool of tears…

Depression can feel this way; beginning with hopelessness, then a sinking feeling. Some people describe depression as a feeling of being over your head in a pool of water, unable to reach the surface, or to even see the surface. I can feel the struggle, the hopelessness in this illustration.

“Alice in Pool of Tears” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel    

Alice pool of tears

Visit Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org to see over 42,000 ebooks, free for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  Enjoy.

About the Author :  Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog, RemarkableWrinklies.com, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.

She likes to cook and eat good food, spend time with her family, including two grandchildren, ride her bike, walk, swim, go to the beach, and enjoys simple living surrounded by nature, but also appreciates a big city.

Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here joining in the discussion and guest posting from time to time. To read more of Patti’s guest posts, click these links:  Pushing Fifty or Pushing Puberty and These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Patti

The Think Quick Forever Love List: A Game for Menopause and Other Occasions

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Think quick!  Name as fast as you can, in random order, ten things you have loved since you were two (or so):

1. Dolls

2. Pretzels

3. My mother and father

4. Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten

5. Icing (on cakes, cookies, spoons, beaters, and in the middle of an Oreo)

6. Coca-cola

7. Raincoats, umbrellas, and shiny boots

8. The beach (early days spent in Ocean City, Maryland)

9.  Lying flat on my back in green grass

10.  Flannel pajamas and  nightgowns, especially brand new ones

Mine’s not an overly creative or unique list, but I played by the rules and wrote it fast.  And don’t forget, you have to list things you have loved ALL your life, as far back as you can recall.

If you’re sad or angry or confused or if menopause is getting you down, make your list!  Focusing on what you have always loved will remind you that you’re still in the game, loving still, never stopping.

After you make your list, write it on your heart but POST it on your refrigerator and your Facebook page. Give those who love you the chance to bring you a bag of pretzels, a pin for your doll, a photo she took years ago of your dad, or whatever is on your very own Think Quick Forever Love List.

In a group setting, this game makes a fun ice breaker and also works nicely for the beach vacation when conversation is running slow after five days. (Cold beer helps motivate the players.  Substitute fudge if you aren’t a drinker.)  Share your lists and analyze away. Be nice though.

Photos:  The dolls are Kathy (on the left) and Bunny, two favorites from childhood.  Kathy is the naugty one. She’d even sneak my mother’s cigarettes.  Bunny is her sidekick.  The pretzels are brand new. Cliff loves them too. Open a bag and the Pretzel Eating Race is on!