Friday, August 30, 2013


I think this is a really good article and I like to share what she writes and add what I do to take care of myself.

Associate Editor

9 Ways to Take Care of Yourself When You Have DepressionDepression is an illness that requires a good deal of self-care,” writes psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, in her excellent book Living with Depression: Why Biology and Biography Matter along the Path to Hope and Healing.

But this might seem easier said than done, because when you have depression, the idea of taking care of anything feels like adding another boulder to your already heavy load. Serani understands firsthand the pain and exhaustion of depression. In addition to helping clients manage their depression, Serani works to manage her own, and shares her experiences in Living with Depression.
If you’re feeling better, you might ditch certain self-care habits, too. Maybe you skip a few therapy sessions, miss your medication or shirk other treatment tools. According to Serani, as some people improve, they get relaxed about their treatment plan, and before they know it are blinded to the warning signs and suffer a relapse.

Because skimping on self-care is a slippery slope to relapse, Serani provides readers with effective tips in her book. As a whole, the best things you can do to stave off relapse are to stick to your treatment plan and create a healthy environment. I’ve summarized her valuable suggestions below.

1. Attend your therapy sessions. As you’re feeling better, you might be tempted to skip a session or two or five. Instead, attend all sessions, and discuss your reluctance with your therapist. If changes are warranted, Serani says, you and your therapist can make the necessary adjustments.
Either way, discussing your reluctance can bring about important insights. As Serani writes:
Personally, the times I skipped sessions with my therapist showed me that I was avoiding profound subjects — or that I was reacting defensively to something in my life. Talking instead of walking showed me how self-defeating patterns were operating and that I needed to address these tendencies.
2. Take your meds as prescribed. Missing a dose can interfere with your medication’s effectiveness, and your symptoms might return. Alcohol and drugs also can mess with your meds. Stopping medication altogether might trigger discontinuation syndrome. If you’d like to stop taking your medication, don’t do it on your own. Talk with your prescribing physician so you can get off your medication slowly and properly.
Serani is diligent about taking her antidepressant medication and talks with her pharmacist frequently to make sure that over-the-counter medicines don’t interfere. With the help of her doctor, Serani was able to stop taking her medication. But her depression eventually returned. She writes:
…At first, it was upsetting to think that my neurobiology required ongoing repair and that I’d be one of the 20 percent of individuals who need medication for the rest of their lives. Over time, I came to view my depression as a chronic condition — one that required me to take medication much like a child with diabetes takes insulin, an adult with epilepsy takes antiseizure medication, or someone with poor eyesight wears glasses…
3. Get enough sleep.  Sleep has a big impact on mood disorders. As Serani explains, too little sleep exacerbates mania and too much sleep worsens depression. So it’s important to keep a consistent sleep and wake cycle along with maintaining healthy sleeping habits.
Sometimes adjusting your medication can help with sleep. Your doctor might prescribe a different dose or have you take your medication at a different time. For instance, when Serani started taking Prozac, one of the side effects was insomnia. Her doctor suggested taking the medication in the morning, and her sleeping problems dissipated.
For Serani, catnaps help with her fatigue. But she caps her naps at 30 minutes. She also doesn’t tackle potentially stressful tasks before bed, such as paying bills or making big decisions.
(If you’re struggling with insomnia, here’s an effective solution, which doesn’t have the side effects of sleep aids.)

4. Get moving. Depression’s debilitating and depleting effects make it difficult to get up and get moving. Serani can relate to these effects. She writes:
The lethargy of depression can make exercise seem like impossibility. I know, I grew roots and collected dust when I was anchored to my depression. I can still recall how getting out of bed was a feat in and of itself. I could barely fight gravity to sit up. My body was so heavy and everything hurt.
But moving helps decrease depression. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, start small with gentle movements like stretching, deep breathing, taking a shower or doing household chores. When you can, add more active activities such as walking, yoga or playing with your kids or whatever it is you enjoy.
It might help to get support, too. For instance, Serani scheduled walking dates with her neighbors. She also prefers to run errands and do household chores every day so she’s moving regularly.

5. Eat well. We know that nourishing our bodies with vitamins and minerals is key to our health. The same is true for depression. Poor nutrition can actually exacerbate exhaustion and impact cognition and mood.
Still, you might be too exhausted to shop for groceries or make meals. Serani suggests checking out online shopping options. Some local markets and stores will offer delivery services. Or you can ask your loved ones to cook a few meals for you. Another option is Meals-on-Wheels, which some religious and community organizations offer.

6. Know your triggers. In order to prevent relapse, it’s important to know what pushes your buttons and worsens your functioning. For instance, Serani is selective with the people she lets into her life, makes sure to keep a balanced calendar, doesn’t watch violent or abuse-laden films (the movie “Sophie’s Choice” sidelined her for weeks) and has a tough time tolerating loud or excessively stimulating environments.

Once you pinpoint your triggers, express them to others so your boundaries are honored.

7. Avoid people who are toxic. Toxic individuals are like emotional vampires, who “suck the life out of you,” according to Serani. They may be envious, judgmental and competitive. If you can’t stop seeing these people in general, limit your exposure and try having healthier individuals around when you’re hanging out with the toxic ones.

8. Stay connected with others. Social isolation, Serani writes, is your worst enemy. She schedules plans with friends, tries to go places she truly enjoys and has resources on hand when she’s somewhere potentially uncomfortable, such as books and crossword puzzles.
If you’re having a difficult time connecting with others, volunteer, join a support group or find like-minded people online on blogs and social media sites, she suggests. You also can ask loved ones to encourage you to socialize when you need it.

Living with Depression

9. Create a healthy space. According to Serani, “… research says that creating a nurturing space can help you revitalize your mind, body and soul.” She suggests opening the shades and letting sunlight in. There’s also evidence that scent can minimize stress, improve sleep and boost immunity. Lemon and lavender have been shown to improve depression.
Serani says that you can use everything from essential oils to candles to soap to incense. She prefers lavender, lilac, vanilla and mango. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, she recommends diluting essential oils, buying flowers or even using dried fruit.

You also can listen to music, meditate, use guided imagery, practice yoga and even de-clutter parts of your home a little each time.

Serani’s last point involves empowering yourself and becoming resilient. She writes:
By learning about your biology and biography, following your treatment plan, and creating a healthy environment, you don’t allow anyone to minimize you or your depression. Instead of avoiding struggles, you learn from them. You trust your own instincts and abilities because they are uniquely yours. If you experience a setback, you summon learned skills and seek help from others to get back on-point. If a person’s ignorance on mental illness presents itself in the form of a joke or stigma, you clear the air with your knowledge of neurobiology and psychology.
 Self Care has been a regular treatment regiment for myself. It is hard to admit, but I have struggled with Major Depression Disorder most of my adult life. Sure, I went to therapy and took antidepressants, but something was missing and I discovered I would relapse often. I work well under pressure and stress. I always did what I had to do. However, I would crash and burn when the stressful situation at that time was over. I spoke a lot about it to colleagues, therapists, gained insight from readings and trainings. Most importantly, I learned talk therapy and medication alone does not work. I had to implement a new life style. It had to start with learning how to set boundaries and stick with those boundaries. I realized if I did not take care of myself, there was no one else willing and/or knowledgeable enough to do so.

I had to remove the toxic people from my life. If you are not willing to be part of the solution, then do not be part of the problem. I limit the people in my life. By limiting the people, I also was limiting the chaos. My focus is on my marriage, my children, my grandchildren, my job, my hobbies. I always have fresh flowers on my table. I take bubble baths. I spend weekends exploring, hiking, traveling, looking at life through the eyes of my grandchildren. I light candles. I journal. I play some games. I ride a bike. I swim in a pool. I sit in the sun. I look at the sun rising in the morning and moon rising at night. I no longer have expectations, seek approval or care what anyone thinks. When I am tired, I rest. I eat healthy. I put ear plugs in every night and listen to opera. I float with the music and as a result I sleep better. I take breaks in the middle of my work day. Though, it is not always possible to work within an eight hour day. I try my best to do so. I say, "no" then "no" and then "no" again. Guided imagery is something I teach and learned to use on myself. It slows down the mind and changes the thoughts. Laughter! Good God, laughter is the best medicine for me!

Most importantly, I pay close attention to my body. The body is remarkable as it continually gives signals when things are heading down the wrong road. Headaches. Shoulder/neck pain. Upset stomach. They are all signals to stop and re-evaluate. It does not mean to keep pushing harder. It means to slow the hell down. It is telling me if I do not slow down, it is going to slow down for me..........a.k.a ........TIA, Exhaustion, Depression............TIA was too close for me. Most of the stuff around me at any given time, I cannot control. I have this habit of learning things the hard way.....Acceptance. Preparation of mind & body. Surrendering. All tough lessons to learn and then do. Life is unfair. Life is not easy. However, it does not have to be complicated. Humans complicate things. Things are pretty simplistic. Peace is the reward.

Keep it moving one step at a time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Mother's Prayer

I pray you'll be my eyes
And watch him where he goes
And help him to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Lead him to a place
Guide him with your grace
To a place where he'll be safe

I pray he finds your light
And holds it in his heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind him where you are

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide him to a place
Give him faith so he'll be safe

"The Rose"

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Co-Dependent Life

A wise person said to me once that before I react to things that are outside of myself that is out of my control I need to determine if it is important enough to sacrifice my peace of mind over - In other words - How important is it?

Sunday, August 25, 2013


When the granddog thinks he may be a cat.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Counselor

Day one of this on-call work weekend is over. This is the least favorite part of the work I do. I taught a class Wednesday evening and another today. Being responsible for all the patients of every counselor is not fun. Thankfully, we rotate. My weekend is not until September. However, the counselor scheduled had a bike race so I worked. It is the least I can do. God knows, they covered for me. These are the flowers Bill brought home in the beginning of the week. I am really lucky. I get flowers nearly every week and it is always a surprise. The picture above are two sets of flowers given to me on two separate days. It feels good to be loved this much.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I was in the hospital this past weekend. I was feeling exhausted. My head was pounding. I took Advil and threw it up. Sunday, I had tingling down my left arm and numbness on the left side of my face and the most severe headache I ever felt. The tingling scared me and I went to Einstein's ER. What happened next was so chaotic and the pace so fast, I did not know what happened. I heard the call that we have a 53 year old female with stroke symptoms to being rushed to having monitors placed on me, Xray, EKG, CAT Scan, discussions of TPA, Clots, Brain Bleeds, IV's, Lab Work, High Blood Pressure, Oxygen, Neurology, Ischemic Vessel Disease, Vessel Compression, Medication that nearly had me off the bed as a result of a side effect, TIA.

After it was all over, I did not get TPA, the CAT Scan was negative for a brain bleed, a clot resolved itself in one of those Compressed vessels in the brain, to discussions of blood thinners, risk factors, genetics and thoughts of a paternal 38 year old grandmother who died of a stroke caused by a clot.

Neurologist told me my overall physical health was good. I am active. I eat healthy. However, my chances of having a major stroke in the next three months was 10% and with a daily aspirin, exercise and maintaining a healthy diet with a reduction of stress lowers the risk factor to 2%.

I am going for the 2%.

The ischemic vessel disease will not resolve itself but if I continue to have headaches I will be put on Topamax to prevent the headaches as the headaches compress the vessels even more. The only issue of ischemic vessel disease is that it can occur anywhere in the body. I thought of my uncle who has circulation problems in his legs.

I am OK. I went to work Monday. I listen to music to reduce stress. Susan Boyle and the Celtic Women along with Josh Groban help soothe me. I will remain active. I will continue to eat healthy. I will do the headache journal to track headaches, have my blood pressure taken daily, take that daily aspirin and most importantly, listen to my body. No more pushing it to the limit. No more negative people in my life. If the work cannot get done in a 8 hour day, it will have to wait until the following day.

I am so glad I went to the hospital.

I am so glad I had that CAT Scan.

I am so glad medicine has advanced since 1945.

It is so surreal.

I waited until Monday night to tell my children after debating whether I should or not. I decided, I should especially if there is a genetic factor.

Bill and I discussed my current job.

Should I stay or is it time to go?

I will decide later. Right now, I am slowing down.

I had a TIA (mini-stroke) at age 53 years old. This is bullshit I cannot mess around with. I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid of being in a vegetative state.

Later, I will talk about ischemic vessel disease. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Advice Givers

On the paradoxes of personality

What You Should Know About Advice-Givers

Don’t assume that someone offering you advice is doing so just for your sake.
Some people show greater interest in solving your problems than they do their own. In such cases, what might these self-appointed, habitual advice-givers be revealing about themselves? Actually, much more than you may have realized.
What the chronic advice-giver’s suggestions—often gratuitous and unsolicited—typically betray is a powerful need to prove to themselves that they could deal with your difficulties better than you could ever be expected to. And also that the depth and breadth of their intelligence, knowledge and comprehension indicates a still more general superiority over you. Assuming that this strong impulse to give you unsought advice is something you’ve also seem them demonstrate with others, such behavior hints at a person whose ego demands perpetual reassurance: That it needs to be regularly reminded that it’s exceptional—somehow of a higher “rank” or “order” than the one who’s receiving the advice.            
Consider that if, deep down, inveterate advice-givers view their worth on the basis of how well they compare to others, they must remain (however unconsciously) in eternal competition with you. One way they can claim interpersonal victory—or gain the relational “upper hand”— is through, authoritatively, providing you with advice. Such individuals, firmly entrenched in the ego-gratifying habit of telling others what they should do, rarely can wait to be asked for their opinion. Routinely anxious to declare that they know something you don’t, they’re apt to offer suggestions or solutions prematurely. Not that their remedies aren’t generally well-intentioned. But there’s still a certain element of righteous self-satisfaction in how these opinions are volunteered. Which is why you might harbor vague, uneasy suspicions that what they’re proposing may somehow be meant as much for themselves as for you.

If you don’t particularly like their advice (and haven’t requested it anyway), you may still need to respond to them with considerable care. For since, below the surface, they’re much less self-confident than you might imagine, they could easily become upset or offended if they feel you haven’t taken them seriously (as perhaps their parents didn’t when they were growing up). So you may be left in the undesirable position of having, graciously, to thank them for their unwanted suggestions, even as you regretfully decline them. And—ironically—they may actually care much less about whether you accept their advice than that you value or validate it. Once again, you need to remember that their sometimes annoying habit of “taking control” of your decision-making process relates more to their underlying insecurity and self-doubt than it does to any simple arrogance, audacity, or conceit.
Their rather tenuous self-esteem and -respect—as well as their belief that they really matter and are important to others—may well hinge on your willingness to take pains to confirm the legitimacy of what they’re saying. So, hopefully, you can do this, despite the fact that their advice may not be suitable to your present situation, or even reflect your values. Consequently, unless you place little worth on the relationship, it makes sense to be sympathetic and accommodating toward their dependency-based need for (ego-boosting) reassurance.
Otherwise, you may find yourself going back and forth with them indefinitely—debating the pro's and con's of what they’re needing to convince you of. For if, unbeknownst to you, their positive self-regard is at stake, you can hardly expect them to forgo their viewpoint readily. Which is, again, why it’s crucial to keep in mind that most often they don’t require that you agree with them—just that you let them know that, despite its not quite fitting your circumstances, what they’re saying makes good sense to you.

Finally, I’d like to introduce a “corollary” to the points I’ve been making. There are some ethical considerations here, so please note that what I’m describing isn’t anything I’d particularly recommend: Namely, that it might be fairly easy to exploit the advice-giver’s hidden agenda to “dominate” you, or assume superiority over you. That is, if you specifically ask them for advice, help, or guidance on something, they may be happy to actually “take on” the background research necessary for you to make the most informed decision. Or if you ask them to recommend how best to complete a task, they might even offer to do it for you. For that would enable them to demonstrate—both to you and themselves—their admiral ability to handle the job. (And, unquestionably, they do feed on praise!)

. . . And, by all means, avoid sarcasm (!)
In these instances, the advice-giver is granted a position of higher authority and, in this privileged role of “consultant,” experiences substantial ego gratification. As I mentioned earlier, the driving, largely unconscious impetus behind the advice-giver’s at times problematic habit is for them to assuage deep, never-resolved feelings of gnawing self-doubt. So in any given situation, the challenge is to find healthy ways of reassuring them of their essential competence . . . but without actually taking advantage of them—or feeling that they’re somehow taking advantage of you.

Carl Jung

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” ~ C.G. Jung

Monday, August 19, 2013

Storm by Bill Cannon

What do you feel when you see this picture? The storm closing in  or the sun breaking through?
Sort of like life, we weather the storm and hope for the sun to come out.
Photography by Bill Cannon

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If I Could

 I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes
Give you courage in a world of compromise
Yes, I would

If I could
I would teach you all the things I've never learned
And I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned
Yes, I would

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow
So I could let you go

If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears
But I would
If I could

If I live
In a time and place where you don't want to be
You don't have to walk along this road with me
My yesterday
Won't have to be your way

If I knew
I'd have tried to change the world I brought to you to
And there isn't very much that I can do
But I would
If I could...

And if you ever... ever need
Sad shoulder to cry on
I'm just someone to talk to
I'll be there... I'll be there
I didn't change your world
But I would
If I Could!


Mom Mom Bubbles

Apparently is how I am listed in my grandson's contact list in his cell phone. Happy 12th Birthday, sweetheart. Your birth in 2001 changed my name to GRANDMOTHER.

 Bubbles is in the middle.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Surrender the Dream

But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed


Monday, August 12, 2013

NBC TODAY Show _ Grandparent Love Leads to Happiness - Video Dailymotion

NBC TODAY Show _ Grandparent Love Leads to Happiness - Video Dailymotion

Something to Think about in all Aspects of One's Life

I was obsessed with wanting to understand why. Somehow in my mind I thought that if I understood why I could fix it. In the end it did not matter why. What did matter, is that I understood that I didn’t cause it, I could not cure it and I definitely couldn’t control it.

What mattered is that I understood that I could get out of the way and let it take its course WITHOUT me being tortured in the process. Because it was going to take it’s course anyway regardless of whatever I did or did not do.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


To conclude our weekend adventure; It was a delight to be in the company of such wonderful boys. Last night, they stayed in the pool til 10p and it reminded me of the days when I used to love to swim  at night. My oldest grandson told me, "it is so cool to swim at night". We made memories this weekend.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fun Day

Breakfast, Snake and Animal Farm where they fed raw chicken (gag) to Alligators, berries to a Black Bear, and bottle fed a pig and a few goats. Lots of hand washing followed!

Afterwards we drove over to Bushkill Falls where they made it through a maze in 5 minutes and received prizes.

Yeah! We are cool dudes!

We spotted a mushroom with a color I have never seen before.
The boys went paddle boating.

Miniature Golfing


He did try to eat a steamed clam, but as soon as it hit his mouth, he spit it out. He saved the shells to take home to his parents:)
We finished the day with a birthday DQ dessert.

And this concludes our second day.