I used to view my depression as a hideous, evil entity that had decided to make its home in my brain. I had no control over it and I believed I would never get control. I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with this thingrunning around in my brain.
In the beginning of my recovery, it used to make me very irritated when I heard people say that depression was a disease, just like diabetes or heart disease. How could something that had infested my brain and made me feel so rotten be nothing morethan a disease? Surely, there had to be some other, fancier word for it, but there wasn’t.
It took several months of counseling for me to finally realize that all those people who had said that depression was a disease were right. I finally understood and it had been my diabetes that had shown the way.
As a diabetic, every day is a maintenance day. I have to monitor my blood sugar, give myself insulin shots, and I have to have a few people I can rely on, whose job is to let me know if I look like my blood sugar has dropped too low. There are consequences for not maintaining my diabetes properly. If I let my blood sugar gets too high it makes me feel very bad and is very destructive to my body. If I let it get too low then I could go into insulin shock and that is also bad for my body. It was when I was thinking about this routine, that I realized that I had set up something similar with my mental health maintenance.
There are things I have to do every single day, without exception, to successfully manage my depression. Daily, I have to remember to take three different medications, which add up to eight pills everyday just for the depression. Making sure my mind is focused on positive things and not getting bogged down in negativity, is a very important step in my depression management. That means not allowing or to bring negativity in my life. I watch my reactions to situations and people to make sure that I am not being overly emotional, and review my thinking to make sure it is logical. I also have several people, who know me well, in addition to my counselor, who monitor my behavior.
To make sure that I always remember to take my depression medication and to take it at the same time every day, I carry it with me every where I go. I have a special bag that goes into my purse, that bag holds all my medications. That way if I am not at home and it is medication time, it is right there with me. Keeping it in that bag also makes it much easier for me to keep track of my medication and its location. After all, how hard can it be to overlook a bright purple bag with Tinkerbell on it?
I do several things to make sure my mind stays focused on the positive. I read motivational and inspirational quotes every day. Just having positive little sayings running around in my head is a huge help. I also maintain a policy of always finding something positive in every situation. There are certain types of movie and television shows that I no longer watch because they are too depressing. Probably one of the most important things I do to keep my mind focused on the positive, is not allowing people to bring their negative behavior into my life.
I no longer worry endlessly about anything. If a worry does creep into my mind, I have a way of managing it. I allow myself two “worry times” a day, each lasts no longer than fifteen minutes. One is in the morning and the other is in the late afternoon. I am not allowed to worry outside of those periods of time. This prevents a chain reaction of negative thoughts from forming.
In addition to examining my own thoughts, making sure that they are staying logical, I have assigned several families to monitoring me as well. They make sure that I am making sense when I speak and in how I behave. They also look for clues in what I am saying that might indicate if my thinking is off kilter. These people are very important in my depression management.
These are actually very simple things to do, and well worth any time they take up. They have become part of my daily routine, just like managing my diabetes is part of my daily routine. Now I am one of those people who say, Depression is a disease, just like Diabetes and Heart Disease.