Well, last week I was bored, so I decided it would be a good time to put my arm straight through my living room window. Now, I’m no Superwoman, so my arm pushing against glass should in no way cause it to shatter, but somehow, it did. I was trying to open my window (which was stuck) so I pushed against it. Right through went my arm. After a few hours in emergency, I left with stitches and three large cuts. I even saw my tendon (yuck)! I am a firm believer in my Guardian Angel, and since it was my wrist that got cut up, I came so close to causing permanent damage. Of course, it is my right hand so I was basically out of commission. I’m still wrapped up but in much less pain. Have I made it obvious yet that shit always happens to me? I swear if I go four days without any major events God figures we have reached maximum level on my boredom meter so He throws in some excitement. Usually it is not exactly the celebrating type of excitement. Just enough to give me a good dose of chaos!
As I scroll through Facebook, there seems to be solutions for all of life’s problems. Need to lose weight? Drink this. Have migraines? Eat this. Want to be in the best health possible? Simply follow this plan. Not to be left out, there is plenty of self-help for mental illness, too. “Exercising 10 minutes a day will reduce depression better than meditation”, and “a hot bath will alleviate depression better than exercising”. So if exercising is better than meditation and a hot bath is better than exercising, then all we have to do is take a hot bath in the mornings and we will be cured!
When you decide to lose weight, what does your doctor tell you? Diet AND exercise combined is the solution. Yet, we are always bombarded with the “best” solution for depression. Treatment for depression does not fall under the category of one size fits all.
Living with depression is difficult as is, but when we keep getting bombarded with the latest “fix” for this mental illness, we can end up more frustrated than healthy. Articles tell us that this one thing will make our lives easier. When we read these articles, what actually ends up happening is we get overwhelmed and confused by all the “research” that says it solves the problems associated with depression. Why is one better than the other? What do those researchers know that we don’t? Why don’t our doctors give us this advice if our depression would be gone? Which one is really the best solution? We usually end up with more questions than answers.
There is nothing simple or clear cut about depression. I’m sure most of us have discovered that what may work for one person will not necessarily work for another. As with everything involved with mental illness, it usually boils down to trial and error. Also, for the majority of people who suffer from depression, there is no one kind of treatment. Usually treatment involves more than just one thing. For example, a poor comparison is exercising and meditation. You are comparing apples and oranges. Both have completely different effects on a person. One will release endorphins the other can bring about relaxation and peace.
Things that are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum are being compared and the worst part is a winner is being determined. This can focus a stigma on certain treatments. We know that it’s been proven that exercise is a great tool for handling depression. For some, it may be more effective than meditation or even medication. This in no way should suggest that for everyone it is the best method to use. If you use antidepressants to treat your depression, I would not advise just stopping your medication and going for a 10 minute run every morning. Medication should never be referred to as a lazy solution.
Mental illness requires a bag of tricks. We do not need to hear 100 different angles in which one thing may help. If you want to research something, try finding something new rather than wasting time trying to prove one method is better than another. There is no competition here, and therefore, there is no winner. There is no “best”. Some people are going to need exercising, meditation, medication, and yes hot baths!
As people living with mental illness, we should support each other in trying different ways to cope with depression, and of course, making sure there is access to that treatment. I’d like to see research on more holistic methods and solutions we can integrate into our every day lives. What happens to the people who are not able to exercise? Do they have to suffer more? There needs to be hope and assistance for everyone, not just those that can hit the gym three times a week.
Our illness is as individual as each person. We know this because there is no one medication to treat everyone. Something works for one and something else for another. Personally, I’m always game to try something new. A lot of the time it’s useless, but I figure there is no harm in trying. I have many things I do to fight depression. Medication, exercise, diet, and mindfulness and prayer. I’m sorry if I’m not the perfect Christian, but yes, I need more than prayer. I have a tool kit. Some days one thing may work better than another. Mind you, some days not a damn thing works. That doesn’t stop me from digging in that tool box. It shouldn’t stop you either.
We need to find out what works best for us. You cannot compare. There is no best for everyone. No blanket solutions. You develop your own tool kit and you draw upon it as needed. Same goes for anything including bipolar disorder and anxiety. We each have our own list of treatments. Just as an example and to prove my point, others may not find running outside in frigid temperatures in the middle of winter and laying on the snow as effective of a way to deal with anxiety as I do. No, I am not being sarcastic! I may go jump in a snow bank or lay outside in the grass. I have never suggested that I have much in common with the rest of the human race. The bottom line is you find what works best for you and you go with it. And keep in mind, we know best what works and what doesn’t so do what you know is best for you! You are the one who has to ride this roller coaster we call life.