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Any tips when you know you're starting to get bad again?


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I've had depression my whole life and I pretty much know when my thinking is heading in the wrong direction.

Lately I've had a lot of "all or nothing" thinking, extreme thoughts like "everything is always this way" "everyone is always this way", etc.

That's usually a bad sign for me. I'm also having a hard time with basic daily tasks. Dishes, laundry. I hear the phrase "Why bother?" in my head a lot.

I know this is usually the beginning of a bad spell for me. I would like to catch it at this phase, before my thinking gets really dark.

Does anyone have any tips or coping skills that work at this stage of depression? Where it's just low-grade but you know where it's headed?

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Well, first of all, if you have a tdoc, give him or her a call and let them know where you feel you are heading. Make a few extra appointments if you need to.

There are some things my husband's tdoc told him to do while we were waiting for his meds to kick in. Those may help.

1) exercise. everyday. whether you feel like it or not. take a walk, ride your bike, do yoga, whatever....just do it.

2) rubber band on the wrist. When your thoughts take a turn for the bad, you snap yourself.

3) make lists of what IS good and IS going well. read your list every day as a reminder.

4) look in to taking fish oil supplements.

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There is a fabulous book called Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder by Julie Fast. It's written for the partner of a Bipolar person, but I found it very useful as a self-help book. Basically it advises making lists of what helps you when you are starting to feel ill, so that you can stop depression as soon as you recognize that it's starting, before it becomes a full blown episode. The beauty of having a list at hand is that you can just grab it when you're feeling bad... it's really hard to remember all those things that help you when you're in a state of depression!

The book also suggests making lists of your symptoms, so you can know when you are starting to become depressed or manic. It sounds like you are already aware of your own warning signs, so that is very good! Also, you can make a list of triggers, so that you can be aware of what to avoid, if certain situations or people or topics tend to bring on depression (or mania - dunno if you are bipolar but this information will help you even if you don't experience manias!)

So, to answer your question, I can tell you what works for me - although everyone is going to have different things on their list, since we are respond to different things. For me, when I feel myself start to get depressed, it helps to:

Avoid alcohol!! Drinking just makes the depression worse.

Go to the effort to groom and put on some nice clothes, and make myself look and smell nice.

Clean my room or part of the house, or the car. Being in clean, organized surroundings has a good effect on my head.

Make sure that I eat healthy food and avoid foods that are bad for me.

Take my meds!! Sometimes I will take them a little earlier and have a good long sleep (Seroquel is awesome for this).

Get out and socialize a little, or call someone. This is really hard for me, but it helps.

Exercise is awesome, even a half-hour walk. Stretching helps, too.

Stay on top of tasks. If I just get one or two things done, it makes me feel a lot better than if I sit around and avoid my life.

:)

I'm not sure about the rubber band on the wrist thing. To me, that's creeping into self-injury territory. You don't want to punish yourself for feeling depressed or having negative thoughts. I would try not to wallow in them, but punishing yourself seems counter-productive and could lead to worse forms of self-punishment. Not only that, but when those types of thoughts creep in, those of us who suffer from mood disorders know that a slap on the wrist is pretty much useless.

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The rubberband thing was recommended by the therapist. It isn't a SI thing.

"2) Thought Stopping: is an alternative to thought replacing that takes less preparation. The technique of thought stopping is just what it sounds like. Once a person learns to identify irrational thinking, he or she may think or say the word, "stop" or do some distracting activity like snapping a rubber band on his or her wrist each time an irrational thought arises. The main goal is to distract oneself from the irrational thought in the moment, before it leads to anxiety or panic or other agoraphobia symptoms."

They used to tell people to do that when they were trying to quit smoking. It is supposed to break you out of a destructive thought pattern.

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z

Lately I've had a lot of "all or nothing" thinking, extreme thoughts like "everything is always this way" "everyone is always this way", etc.

A certain part of you knows that these all or nothing type thoughts are not true. Because there is no all or nothing. Everyone is not a certain way, things are not always a certain way, everything doesn't suck, etc.

When you have those thoughts you have to stop and analyze them. Is it true that everything is always "this way"? Surely you can think of a time when things were different. Everyone is always a certain way. There must be specific examples you can think of that don't apply, or ther must be one or two people who you are specifically thinking of that are upsetting you. Everything sucks [which you didn't say, but I often do]. Everything doesn't suck, but it feels like it. But maybe one or two things seem to be going wrong. That doesn't mean everything sucks.

It's hard to catch yourself and turn around and look at what you are thinking and how, but practice will make it easier. Also to break you out of the destructive thought pattern.

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Wow! These are some really good responses. Thanks so much. Everyone was helpful without being judgemental. What a relief!

I wish I had posted earlier. Unfortunately, things have gone bad pretty fast. I may be checking myself in to the hospital. I'm not sure what else to do. I need to stay safe, if not for me, just out of respect for the people who care about me. It's hard not to feel like a failure right now, but logically I know that this mindset is just temporary, because I've been through it before.

Thanks for all your help and input. Take care.

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Well, if you feel you should be inpatient by all means go. They can evaluate you and hopefully send you in the right direction, even if they don't think you are ill enough to be in 24/7. Sometimes day programs can really help also.

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The rubberband thing was recommended by the therapist. It isn't a SI thing.

"2) Thought Stopping: is an alternative to thought replacing that takes less preparation. The technique of thought stopping is just what it sounds like.

A variant of this was used as a metaphysical practice in the early 1900s, used to bring selected habits of thought under close scrutiny.

As far as "getting bad" goes... if I managed to leave a rubber band alone on my wrist for an entire day, you'd best be calling the coroner. It's not quite on the order of unnaturalness of a pen or pencil without toothmarks, but close. Come to think of it, there were a couple of years when my coffee stirrer was made by Skilcraft.

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The rubberband thing was recommended by the therapist. It isn't a SI thing.

"2) Thought Stopping: is an alternative to thought replacing that takes less preparation. The technique of thought stopping is just what it sounds like.

A variant of this was used as a metaphysical practice in the early 1900s, used to bring selected habits of thought under close scrutiny.

As far as "getting bad" goes... if I managed to leave a rubber band alone on my wrist for an entire day, you'd best be calling the coroner. It's not quite on the order of unnaturalness of a pen or pencil without toothmarks, but close. Come to think of it, there were a couple of years when my coffee stirrer was made by Skilcraft.

That's about the main reason why I personally consider the rubber band trick just another form of SI (albeit a milder one).

Actually, speaking of WZ's exercise suggestion, I pretty much used exercise as a form of SI two summers ago. Unlike rubber bands, though, it's got a direct benefit. Of course, don't overdo it, that'll suppress your immune system and make you vulnerable to more injury than you bargained for.

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