Music

I’ve always loved music. Since I was little, I was involved with music and I was learning how to play the piano by the time I was six. I remember a time, I was about 4 or 5, and I was singing along with the radio. My mom turned around, looked at me and asked how I knew the lyrics to the songs. I couldn’t really give her an answer besides saying that I’d heard the songs before.

Music can be very much a universal language. Musicians can often find the music or lyrics to describe a situation that you couldn’t otherwise find words for. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve played a song for someone rather than trying to explain exactly how I felt. The music explained it better than I ever could.

I often use music as my inspiration. Music can make you feel a variety of emotion and as a depressive, I use it to motivate myself, to tell myself that I’m not the only one feeling this way and that I can get through it. I have a specific playlist on youtube that I can pull up at anytime when I need that inspiration and motivation. This playlist contains songs from Skillet, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and P!nk, as well as the specifics songs ‘Dare You To Move’ by Switchfoot and ‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons.

Find what helps you, whether it’s listening to music or painting; playing video games or watching movies. Find an outlet for what you have inside, because you do have something self-destructive inside of you. And depression’s only goal is to destroy who you are. So don’t let it.

Here is one of my favorite songs to listen to when I feel down:

http://getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/Music.pdf

Alternative Medications & Therapies

There are multiple different ways to deal with depression and anxiety. This includes alternative medications and therapies. For mild depression, often herbal supplements are easier and more capable of helping than medication.

There are many different types of herbal supplements and remedies. I am only going to discuss three in this post. These would be St. John’s Wort, Omega-3 fatty acids and SAMe. St. John’s Wort is one of the most popular herbal supplements to treat depression. “In 2000, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory letter stating that the herb may interfere with certain medications used to treat heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers, and those used to prevent organ transplant rejection. The herb also may interfere with the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Consult with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement” (NIMH)1. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in nuts, flaxseed and oil as well as cold-water fish. More research is needed to determine if Omega-3 fatty acids can help with depression however, just a note that it may interact with other medications. SAMe is a synthetic form of a chemical occurring naturally in the body. More research is also needed to see how SAMe effects depression, however it should be taken carefully by people with bipolar disorder as it may trigger mania.

There are also different types of alternative therapies. These include expressive or creative arts therapy, dance & movement therapy, music therapy, animal-assisted therapy and light therapies. These alternatives can help those with mild to severe depression and are often used in conjunction with talk therapies.

Expressive or creative arts therapy is when a patient used expressive acts such as writing, art, or music to help themselves emotionally. Art therapy encourages patients to express their feelings through the use of artistic materials like paint, markers or pencils. Expressive therapy allows a person to express themselves emotionally, through a helpful medium and allows them to find coping skills and deal with traumatic events while healing. Dance and movement therapy or DMT follows the same theory as expressive or creative arts therapy. The patient uses dance and movement to express their feelings and thoughts about their life situations. DMT is based on the idea that the body and mind are interconnected and that movement can affect their minds and thoughts.

Music therapy is something people use daily without realizing it. Please click here to read more about music and its affect on a person’s mood. Music is often used to aid in meditation and relaxation. Often patients will either listen to music that they relate to or make music to explore ways of expressing oneself.

Animal-assisted therapy includes working with various animals to help patients cope with their wishes and develop ways to communicate. Companion animals are often used in hospitals, nursing humans and psychiatric wards to bring comfort and joy to those with despair. There are claims that working with animals has a physiological benefit through increased level of activity and the act of caring for another. Interacting with animals is believed to improve confidence and increase acceptance and empathy. I will be discussing the use of Emotional Support Animals in a future post.

Light therapy is most often used to treat seasonal affective disorder or SAD, which is a form of depression that occurs during the winter months. Light therapy is the use of a full spectrum light in either a lamp or a box, that a person uses for periods of time. This can help those who struggle when daylight is at its shortest.

Aromatherapy is also used as a self-sooth or de-stress technique. Incense, candles and essential oils are all used for aromatherapy. Other complementary or alternative treatments for depression are meditation, yoga, spirituality, exercise and acupuncture. I will be discussing meditation in a future post.

These are just some of the alternative and complementary medications and therapies that can be used to treat depression, however these will not replace traditional therapy and medications for moderate to severe mental illnesses. These therapies can be used in conjunction with modern medicine to lessen the affects of your disease.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
National Institute of Mental Health
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Mayo Clinic

My Life in Outpatient Treatment: Week 1

As I posted here, I was recently admitted into a psychiatric outpatient treatment center for my depression. I kept what could loosely be termed as a diary while in the program and I would like to share with you some of the daily ups and downs that I experienced. What follows are the day to day thoughts of one depressive person while in Intensive Outpatient Therapy.

The first few days were tough.

Week 1, Day 1:
I’m afraid that group therapy isn’t going to help. There’s such a large gap in ages. I’m worried that some of the programs won’t be helpful. I know quite a bit about depression, medication and treatment all ready, so I’m not sure what else there is to learn.
I also learned about Avoidant and Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorders. I have homework from my psychiatrist. I am to research these personality disorders as well as a couple of the medications that he intends to ‘inflict’ on me.

Day 2:
I still feel like I don’t fit in with the group. I can’t relate to what they’re talking about it. My therapist for the day says that I should talk about it in the next group session and that I need to have more awareness. I’m starting a chart to see when I fit in and when I don’t. Maybe keeping track will make me be more aware.
We also talked about change today. I’m not very big on change.

Day 3:
Today we learned a little about self-soothe kits. I’m going to have to make one. I also figured out that I have to take my medication AFTER I eat, unless I want to toss up everything in my stomach again.
My homework for the weekend is to write down examples of avoidant symptoms.

Day 4:
The weekend was not fun. Every time I took my medication, even taking it after I had eaten, I experienced nearly every side effect I could possibly experience. Nausea, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, etc. We decided to switch the medication immediately.
I also learned that ‘what you resist, persists’ and I have to have awareness of my viewpoint. Mindfulness is being in the moment, and that’s something I’m going to need to work on. I’m not so good at it right now.

Day 5:
Today was fun. We had music therapy group. I played Someone Who Cares by Three Days Grace and I learned about a couple of other really good songs as well.
I learned that relationships can’t be 2 almost fully overlapping circles, or one circle inside another. A healthy relationship is like a venn diagram. I’m beginning to wonder about my relationships/friendships. Am I giving too much of myself to others?

Day 6:
I learned about NAMI and Art Therapy classes in the area today.
I also experienced a quick change of mood from happy to depressed about 15 minutes into therapy today. I don’t know what triggered this quick mood change. I feel like I’m withdrawing. I don’t want to be here today. I don’t know why. I just want to cry.

Day 7:
Today I learned about the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee, or as I’m going to call it from now on, the IBSC (which sounds a lot more official).
My therapist told me I need to focus on me. He told me to ask my best friend what he liked about me, so that I could have “I am” statements to repeat to myself. I’m also supposed to describe my personality and then have a close friend or family member do the same. That could be interesting.
After program today I began to wonder, how are these coping skills that I’m learning, going to help when it’s just me & the IBSC after I discharge from the program?

Day 8:
I feel like crap. I feel worthless, like I’m not worth people’s time and attention. I don’t like myself. I don’t even know how to like myself.
Today’s journaling became it’s own post and can be seen here.

Please stay tuned for parts 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Self-Soothing

One of the biggest coping skills taught in outpatient treatment is self-soothing. Self-soothing falls under DBT or the Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is used when a person is feeling distressing, and when situations and emotions are overwhelming. Self-soothing is also known as a deterrent to self harm, because instead of doing something to hurt yourself, you’re doing something that gives you comfort and pleasure. These suggestions can help you feel better, calm down, and even feel relaxation or pleasure. Self-soothing most often uses the 5 senses; touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. Try a variety of these items until you find a combination that works for you.

SIGHT: Be mindful of every sight, but do not linger on any. Allow the sights to calm you.

  • View pictures of family/friends.
  • View pictures of your favorite vacation spot or place you wish to go.
  • Look at art or go to a museum.
  • Go for a nature walk.
  • Walk through a pretty part of town.
  • Buy some flowers for your home.
  • Light a candle and watch the flame.
  • Watch an uplifting movie or video.
  • Be creative.
  • Painting, markers, crayons & a coloring book or sketch pad.
  • Mandalas (Coloring Castle, Free Mandalas, Printable Mandalas).

HEARING: When you are listening, be mindful, letting the sounds come and go. Be mindful of different sounds and let them flow through you.

  • Listen to relaxing music (via youtube, pandora, etc).
  • Listen to sounds of the ocean, forest, rain, or other sounds of nature.
  • Listen to a small animal.
  • Sit by a waterfall.
  • Play a musical instruments if possible.
  • Sing your favorite songs.
  • Do a guided meditation.

SMELL: Notice all the different smells around you and take in all the smells.

  • Smell a meal being cooked either at home or in a restaurant.
  • Walk in a garden or in the woods.
  • Breath the smells of nature.
  • Light a scented candle or incense.
  • Use essential oils.
  • Use hand lotion and/or drawer packets.
  • Use perfume or bath salts (Epsom salts).
  • Bake some bread, cake or cookies.

TASTE: Let the taste run over your tongue and slowly down your throat. Mindfully taste each new thing.

  • Cook a favorite meal.
  • Drink a soothing drink like hot chocolate or tea (especially blends for stress or anxiety).
  • Chew gum.
  • Eat hard candy or chocolate.
  • Go to a potluck and eat a little of each dish.

TOUCH: Take a bubble bath. Pet your dog or cat or cuddle a baby. Put on a silk shirt shirt or blouse, and feel its softness and smoothness. Sink into a really comfortable bed.  Float or swim in a pool, and feel the water caress your body.

  • Play with sand.
  • Use hand lotion.
  • Use a heating pad, back massage pad, or rice pack (hot or cold).
  • Play with modeling clay.
  • Dance.
  • Use a stress ball.
  • Play with silly putty.
  • Pet an animal or cuddle a baby.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Float or swim in a pool and feel the water caress your body.
  • Brush your hair.
  • Sink into a really comfortable bed.
  • Nap with a soft and furry blanket.
  • Use a weighted blanket (Bought Blanket; Sew-able Blanket; Tyable BlanketNo-Sew Blanket).

The entire point of self-soothing is to do something that is comforting to you and to continue doing it until you feel better.

DBT Self Help: Self Soothing

Centuries

There’s a popular song out recently, Centuries by Fallout Boy. I really connected with this song and I feel like many people do as well because they want to be remembered. They don’t want to disappear after their death. Some want to make an impact, others just want to be famous or be celebrities.

Personally, I want to be remembered for the impact I make on mental health. I want to challenge the stigmas and make a difference. I want to be known as the one who changed the world’s skewed beliefs regarding mental health.

But there is a line in the song that I don’t agree with. During the first verse they sing “I never meant for you to fix yourself”. You are the only one who can fix yourself. You can’t change others, but you can change yourself. And while you can get help via therapy, you’re the only one who can change you.

This is often an issue I struggle with; I want others to change. I want them to fix their faults, but when faced with my own, I struggle to make the changes needed. If change was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.

And it may take a while to make those changes. You can’t make them until you are ready. But this is your life and you’re the only one who can live it. How do you want to be remembered?