This last part of the book offers some thoughts, suggestions, and encouragements; things to do, consider, and enjoy, as your healing continues.
Some people will read this book all the way through before seeking a professional consultation to evaluate depression. Other people, who are reading this book on the recommendation of their doctor or therapist, may already be well into treatment.
Wherever you are in the process, know that your healing has already begun.
Healing begins as a choice; a decision to get better. Any physical action that supports that decision indicates healing is underway.
Just picking up a book entitled How to Heal Depression and reading this far shows that your healing has begun.
Never before has the quest to heal depression been so swiftly and abundantly rewarded.
Once treatment begins, you are very likely to wonder, "Where has this been all my life?" The truth is, it hasn't been available for most of your life.
Congratulations on your courage to heal.
ANNE MORROW LINDBERG
When being treated for a medical condition, you become the patient. We also suggest that you treat yourself well by becoming patient.
As we previously discussed, antidepressant medication can often take weeks to work. Sometimes it takes months to discover the best antidepressant for you and to arrive at the ideal dosage.
Looking back on this time from a nondepressed state, the healing seems miraculously swift. Looking ahead, to the possibility of more weeks of depression, this period can seem long indeed.
Give yourself time. Give your health practitioners time. Give nature time.
Be patient with your impatience.
If patience is too much to ask, at least endure.
Hang in there. Hold on. Stick with it. Healing is on its way.
As you envision your healing, hold a vision of what you'd like the "healed you" to be. Words such as contentment, well-being, enthusiasm, joyful, happy, effective, loving, tender, and others may come to mind.
When dreaming of your healing, it's fine to think big.
But don't think too big. Never being angry, sad, hurt, disappointed, in pain, or feeling any other emotion you associate with depression is not a reasonable goal. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Yes, as you heal from depression, the general shift of emotions--mood, if you will--should definitely be on the upswing. Never, ever feeling bad again is not, well, human.
Your psychiatrist or therapist can help you set reasonable personal goals as you heal.
PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN
Healing from depression--or healing from anything else, for that matter--is not a smooth, even, steady, upward path. It tends to look more like this:
It's like a roller coaster, a slow roller coaster for the most part, one that lets you off at a higher point than where you got on.
Ride the ride. Follow your treatment. Soon you'll find that the downs of today were the ups of yesterday.
For you it's a time for change, for growth, for healing. Change can sometimes seem chaotic, confusing, frightening. Seek the support of others.
Ask trusted friends or family members to help with specific tasks or ongoing responsibilities.
Although, as we mentioned, it's a good idea to postpone major decisions, if decisions must be made, ask for the opinions of others you respect when making your choice.
Ask people who have been through treatment for depression and are further along in the healing process to be available for phone calls, questions, or chats. Sometimes nothing is so reassuring as a simple, "Oh, yeah, I went through that."
Ask your boss if it's possible to have your workload lightened for a while.
Ask if certain commitments might be put off until later.
People may say no--but at least give them a chance to say yes.
People often benefit by gathering with others going through similar experiences. Those who are healing from depression are no exception.
Often these groups form around the principles of Cognitive/Interpersonal Therapy, or are made up of people who are taking antidepressant medications, or both.
Support groups are an excellent place to share experiences, suggestions, information, and, obviously, as the title of the group indicates, support.
Perhaps the most important knowledge to be gained from support groups is that you are not alone.
You might discover, for example, that a problem you thought was yours and yours alone, is so common that the group has given it a number. ("Right! That's number 43.") Or, someone may share an experience that sounds interesting, but you can't quite relate to it. A week later, it happens to you.
Your psychiatrist, doctor, or therapist may be able to recommend support groups in your area. Or, you can call some of the organizations listed starting on Page 222.
A support group is made up of human beings who care about and are committed to their own healing. By self-selection alone, then, support groups are populated by supportive, wonderful people.
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON
The most successful treatment ever created for addiction is the Twelve-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It has been adapted and used successfully in treating just about every addiction, bad habit, or emotional problem in the human condition.
The secret of the Twelve-Step Program is that it is, in reality, important rules for personal growth. Following these steps leads to greater personal maturity, integrity, and freedom.
This upward growth gives the inner strength to focus on something other than the addiction.
While depression is not an addiction, people with depression often become addicted to other things, from food to sex to drugs to smoking to procrastination to alcohol to negative thinking.thinking is You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought, by Peter McWilliams available by calling 1-800-LIFE-101. In overcoming any of these, Twelve-Step Programs can be valuable.
For more information on Twelve-Step Programs, see the listing on page 224.
THE TWELVE STEPS
It takes courage to accept that you might have a depressive illness.
It's courageous to make a medical appointment for a diagnostic evaluation.
It's courageous to enter onto a course of treatment that is frightening to some and ridiculed by others.
It takes wisdom and courage to work with your doctor to find the right medication, and with your therapist on deeply personal and challenging issues.
Praise yourself for all this. Praise yourself for every little victory, every step taken on the path of healing--including those that don't work. It's all part of the journey.
Keep reminding yourself that who you really are is much more than your depression.
Praise yourself for your courage to learn, risk, and grow.
Healing takes time. Even if you--like so many people who begin treatment for depression--find marked improvement in just a few weeks, the complete process of healing may take longer.
The longer you've been depressed, the longer the body is likely to need to heal. Give it the time it needs. If you--like many people with long-term, low-grade depression--can't even remember when you weren't depressed, relax: you're now healing from the ravages of a lifetime.
Fortunately, as you heal, time passes more enjoyably. Just sitting can be enjoyable. In fact, one moves more and more into "the moment," or the "here and now" that saints, both eastern and western, have described. (Some even claim that enjoying the moment is the goal of life.)
The more you heal, the less you're concerned about whether or not your healing is "done"--a sure sign that you're healing.
Just as you asked others for support, ask yourself for support, too.
Be gentle with yourself, be easy, give yourself a break.
A major symptom of depression is being hard on yourself. Soften up; lighten up. Remember that mistakes are something "this flesh is heir to."
The next time you want to attack yourself, have a laugh attack instead. Consider how silly it is to be at war with yourself.
Imagine two armies facing each other in the trenches. One soldier looks up from one side, another soldier looks up from the other--and they have precisely the same face. They begin pointing and laughing hysterically. Other soldiers cautiously peek out of trenches and around barricades, only to discover their mirror images cautiously peeking back at them. All the faces are yours. The entire battlefield dissolves in waves of laughter. End of war. Beginning of Monty Python sketch.
Here's one of the most radical thoughts you will ever read: it's okay to feel good when things go bad.
THEODORE ISAAC RUBIN, M.D.
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