I recently finished reading How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill And Their Caregivers. The book was written by Toni Bernhard, a once very active attorney and law professor, who in the midst of a full life, was randomly struck down by a mysterious, debilitating illness that keeps her primarily contained to her home. For any of us dealing with the uncertainties of depression as well as the uncertainties of life in general, Bernhard’s insights are a welcome respite.

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National Suicide Prevention Week stirs up a lot of emotion in me. I rarely involve myself in suicide awareness activities, most of which occur annually this week in early September. Depression is something I am eager to talk about with anyone but I’m not ready to share my suicide stories or hear others’ suicide stories in a public venue yet. Keep reading »

We’re used to the negative side of depression but could there be a positive side to the beast? I thought of this recently in terms of depressive symptoms sometimes being a signal – a sign to look more closely at certain things in my life.

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My depression is really making me struggle with the daily task of living right now. I can’t keep going the way I have in the past few years. I hate my life; I’m completely broke and in debt and I feel like all of my relationships are crumbling. Sometimes I sit back and look at my life and think, “Is this really it for me? Is depression going to define and imprison me for the rest of my life?”

I know it’s pretty common for someone in the late twenties to question where their life is going, but I feel like I have extra questions than the average person who say, isn’t diagnosed with depression.

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Recently I found myself feeling depressed. As is usually the case, there were different triggers involved. Some were hormonal as I was pre-menstrual. Others were personal as my parents are in the process of splitting up and it’s been an emotional time for all involved. Like so many, I was also surprised and hit hard by the suicide of Robin Williams. Add in my wonky brain chemistry, and I was off to the depression races.

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My head is a labyrinth. I’m always judging myself, thinking about my past or worrying about the future. I feel trapped in my head — a classic sign of depression. Keep reading »

The other day I saw Get On Up, the James Brown biopic in theaters now. One of the underlying themes in the film is how our personal histories can help create a kind of dysfunctional aloneness, separating us from the very people and experiences we need the most to thrive emotionally.

This reminded me of the experience of depression, how the disease can create a feeling of separateness and of chronic aloneness.

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My recovery from depression often feels like it isn’t going forward at all. I feel like my emotions go all over the map, up, down, sideways, backwards, and then forwards again. Some days my depression feels better than the day before, but other days it feels worse than I did the day before. Even in the span of one day, I can go from feeling pretty okay about things to feeling like I want to throw in the towel. It’s so confusing and frustrating. Keep reading »

This past week, I was struck by how much of a role food cravings play in the dance of my moods. When tired, stressed or feeling low, I consistently found myself reaching for sweets to get through. Cookies, cake, or pudding: it didn’t matter, so long as carbohydrates were involved. I didn’t want to keep eating in such an unhealthy way. Yet despite my best intentions, I returned again and again to the very foods I had forsworn just hours earlier. Then I would get frustrated and beat myself up for breaking my promise. After sinking to polishing off a dinner of pretzels and double chocolate chip cookies one night, I tried to sit in awareness of my chaotic, depression feelings. The question came to mind: What are you feeding?

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In childhood I really believed the phrase, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I learned to smile all the time so that people liked me. I rarely ever complained, since I knew that so many people in the world had things in their lives far worse than I could imagine. It’s no wonder that my family and friends only learned about my depression symptoms and feelings when I became actively suicidal.

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