Depression can sneak up on us when we least expect it. The secret is to not let it take over our lives. For Shari, depression has been a life-long battle. But after becoming dependent on medication, she chose to change her pattern of depression. Shari realized that life is meant to be lived and each day is a choice that we should not pass up.
I am breaking an unhealthy pattern of succumbing to depression that I can trace back to being a sophomore in high school. While neither my family nor I recognized it as depression back then I now know otherwise. My family had moved and I didn’t adapt to the change well because I missed my friends and struggled to make new friends in our new town. I can clearly remember what snapped me out of it — I was accepted to participate in a statewide pageant. I can still see myself opening the envelope and getting the news. That acceptance letter gave me the boost I needed to feel like the beautiful, gifted human being that I am.
Since then I’ve fallen into periods of depression several more times. The final diagnosis came in 2007 after the birth of my son and I came to be dependent, over time, on two depression medications. On days that I forgot to take my medicine, my husband would notice the cloud over my head and ask if I’d taken my medicine, that’s how dependent I was on the medicine.
Within the last year I realized that the depression medicine actually hindered my ability to be happy and go for what I want in life. Because of that I refused to believe that depression was going to be a “normal” part of the rest of my life. I just didn’t know the solution yet.
And then it hit me. This spring I grasped the concept that life is a choice – I can choose to be depressed or I can choose to embrace life and all the joys and struggles that come with it. At that moment I made a conscious choice to embrace life, the good times and the bad times, and began gradually weaning myself off the medicine. I was excited by the newfound power I had knowing and believing I could face whatever comes my way without a crutch (the medication).
Do I choose every day to live with upbeat and positive attitude? Not yet. I’m getting closer though and my days with a cloud over my head are farther and fewer between with a faster turn around to the sunbeam side of things.
The key to my success is that I’ve learned to recognize those times when a depressed mood sneaks into my conscious. I’ve become so conscious of the shift that I can even tell you the exact moment I feel it hit me. When a mood hits I choose not to go down that path. I call on tools I’ve put in place to help me shift back out of my depressed state quickly and easily. I want to add that I actually use these tools on sunny days too; I just find them particularly helpful when my mood is down.
Here’s what I do:
Ask myself, “are these thoughts helpful to me?” If not, I re-focus my attention on writing down the answer to these questions: What do I want? How do I want my life to look? What am I going to do to live that life/achieve that dream? And then I take action.
Surround myself with positive energy through listening to my favorite motivational speakers and listening to “self talk” CDs that pump positive messages into my head on self-esteem and other subjects.
Breathe through it. That may sound funny and yet I’ve found it to be therapeutic to allow myself to experience the feelings by breathing through them, thanking them for being there and moving on because I know “this too shall pass.”
I am so grateful to have kicked depression because the world is my stage and I’m ready to step on it.
See how Shari answers our Identity Five Questions:
1. What have you accepted within yourself and/or within your life? Is there anything you are working on accepting?
I’ve accepted that I cannot change others; I can only change myself. What’s amazing about living this way is that when I embrace a new way of being I attract more of the same into my life. For example, in my running days, I had a huge troupe of friends surrounding me who also were runners.
2. What do you appreciate about yourself or your life?
I appreciate my persistence to achieve my goals and live the life of my dreams.
3. What have you achieved, or what are you working to achieve personally, physically, or mentally?
My story above is about my mental achievements. Physically, I have completed a marathon – Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN to be exact. I highly recommend it for the satisfaction of demonstrating to yourself that you truly can do that which you think you cannot do.
Personally, I have achieved much success in the corporate world and I am thrilled to be achieving a 15+ year dream to becoming a successful entrepreneur. It’s been a tremendous journey and I look forward to what lies ahead.
4. What is your no-so-perfect way? We are all unique with quirks and imperfections, so why not flaunt them and embrace them!
I find it really hard to sit still and do nothing in the evening after my son goes to bed. It’s not that I fill my evenings with work, what I’m doing needs to feel productive such as reading.
5. How would you complete this sentence, “I Love My…” This has to be about you, physically or mentally.
I love my creativity – from creating scrapbooks, to creative problem solving, to creating my business from scratch.
To find out more about Shari, please visit www.ShrinkYourWorkWeek.com