Friday, October 20, 2017

Down in the Dumps? Here Are Seven Steps To Beat Depression

I knew I was in trouble when I looked at the time. It was 12:30 already. Half past noon, and I was still in bed. I was just lying there feeling as if a giant weight was on top of me. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. Eat? Nah, too sad. Go to the bathroom? Too much effort. Even social media seemed tiresome. I put my iPhone down and thought in stunned, heavy silence, “I’m depressed.”

Savage bouts of depression can still jump out at me and catch me off guard. I have clinical depression, yet I manage my depression on a daily basis. It doesn’t often get the better of me anymore. There was a time when depression ruled my world, but I have long since put that behind me. Which is exactly why I can be waylaid by depression from time to time. I get lax. I forget to be ever vigilant.

It’s not that I hadn’t seen the warning signs. They were pretty obvious all week. Yet here I was, caught “unawares” because I hadn’t acted on the advance warnings. Since readers have asked me over and over again how I manage my depression without meds, I find it helpful to share my coping strategies.

Let’s start with today. As I was wondering how I was going find the mental strength to get out of my bed, I decided to share my process on Twitter. Already, I’ve employed two coping strategies. I admitted to myself that I was depressed, then I decided on a course of action. Both events are very difficult to do when depression has sway over your mind. Regardless, let’s focus on the tweets where all the action was.

Alright, #depression. I’m going to kick your butt today because so far, you’re kicking mine. Step 1) Move. Doesn’t matter where. Just move.

Moving in that instance meant crawling out of bed. I wish that didn’t sound as pathetic as it does, but it was the most intense bout of depression I had dealt with in years. Crushing waves of sadness washed over me. I felt as if I was drowning in all that black misery. Getting up and moving seems far too easy for a coping strategy, but when you are dealing with hardcore depression, any step forward is a difficult one.

Step 2) Eat! Sometimes when I’m depressed, I forget to eat. Filling your stomach fuels your mind. #depression

I need to eat regularly to manage my Tourette’s, but clearly that wasn’t a high priority for me this morning, so I had to made it one. Up I trudged to the kitchen and made myself a protein shake. I also talked with family a bit. Conversation with friends & family can be healing.

Step 3) Organize something. I filled out disability license form and sleep logs. Both I’d been procrastinating. #depression (and #ADHD)

Filling out forms may not be sexy, but it is taking action, and taking action is often all you need to do to reverse direction.

Waited too long to eat. Started my thumper tic, reserved only for the dinner table. Protein helps keep my #tourettes in control. Avoidable…

Food is kicking in. Ticking has stopped. Sleep logs all caught up. And, as expected, #depression has receded quite a bit.

The #depression no longer feels like an immovable force pressing me down, but more like a weight dragging behind me.

Time for Step 4, but what is it? I have an obligation I’m late for. I need to exercise. Get ready. But all I want to do is sit still.

An hour and a half later, and I was feeling better, but more needed to be done. I didn’t want to slip back.

Step 4) Distraction. I need to stop thinking about #depression for a bit. Give myself more time for food to do its job. Time to read a book.

This was a very good idea. Thirty minutes later, a good book had been read, and I was ready for the next step.

Step 5) Exercise. I need to get going, but want to boost endorphins and drive #depression back further so I can function at my best.

This step took far longer than I had planned, but in the end I felt better. In fact, I felt good.

Step 6) Shower and get ready for the day. It’s 6:23pm, but I’ve vanquished my #depression. So much work for almost no results? Nah. I’m good

When I skip showers (or don’t make my bed), I can see how that carelessness spreads sends out waves throughout my day. To make a change, I force myself to be clean. It makes a difference for me.

At this point, my friends were going to not see me tonight. I had run out of time, but I was finally not depressed.

Step 7) Blog about it. I’m more than a little disappointed at how unproductive today has been. Here’s one way to turn it around. #depression

I have found that creativity is an excellent coping strategy for fending off depression. When you find yourself at the bottom of a well, there are steps you can take to pull yourself back up. There was a day that I would have spent weeks in a blue funk, unable to escape, deep in that well. I don’t want to ever go back to those days, so I make fighting depression a number one priority.

Good luck with your own battle. You can do it, too.

If you liked this peek into my coping strategies, you may enjoy reading my book on fighting suicide.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Tale of the Corrupted Kingdom

Once upon a time, and long before the evil, fanged Facebook consumed the conversations of the internet, readers could leave comments on my blog. Most readers left intelligent and insightful comments on what I wrote about that day. They were delightsome to behold. Thanks to vigilant knights, trolls didn’t often blunder into our edifying conversations, but whenever they did stumble upon our happy kingdom, the trolls were quickly vanquished. Then one day, the king (which is me) decreed that Disqus would be the new conversation system for all because the old one didn’t work. Except that Disqus didn’t work very well, either, and so, after a time, the king switched back to Google’s default system. That’s when he, me, I discovered something was wrong. There were NO Google comment boxes to be found. I couldn’t even reinstall the Disqus system. My blog was corrupted on Google’s server. After a year of banging my head against the portcullis, scrubbing the castle’s layout TWICE, I turned all comments off, left Google Plus on, then gave up. And the people wandered off to Facebook to unfriend or mute anybody who didn’t agree with them politically.

Then sometime this year I started noticing that trolls were leaving spammy comments, but the comments were INVISIBLE!! They could only be seen if I followed the comment announcement link from the email. What evil magic was this‽ Most strange was how many trolls were having troubles with STDs. Good thing they found my blog to share their miracle cures with my kingdom! But alas! Because the comments system was corrupt, I could not delete the comments. Fortunately, they were invisible from users, so I left them there and continued to not post articles on my blog for the next several months. Then this month the spam began to increase. This time when I checked, the comments were showing. Hundreds of comments going back thirteen years (Finally!), but also the icky new one from trolls with socially transmitted discomforts. The cloak of invisibility had been dispelled. Curse those trolls!

All was not well. The database was still corrupt. The comments were there, but the controls were ghosted. Nobody could leave comments except the spamming trolls and their evil scripts. So I’ve disabled comments, banned Google Plus, and vanquished the trolls. Peace has been restored to my kingdom, and the few readers not scared away by STD ads rejoiced.

The End

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Four Things You Can Do to #StopSuicide

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

As National Suicide Prevention Week comes to a close, I wanted to share a few words. I was once suicidal. I hated myself. I hated my life. I was blind to the love of people around me. I was virtually on the precipice, but stepped back at the last moment because of their love. They mattered to me, and I mattered to them. I remembered that at the moment it would do the most good. I survived that dark period, and other dark periods that followed. I survived, healed, and now I try to help other people as desperately miserable as I once was by opening up about depression, ADHD, and suicide with my writing.

In fact, I wrote a book to #StopSuicide, but helping people doesn’t need to be that elaborate. Just listen and care when somebody is in crisis. Take the time to care. Don’t recoil from the subject. The fact somebody is opening up to you about such a difficult subject is an amazing blessing in your life. Don’t waste it.

The other night I spoke with a gentleman whose boy committed suicide years ago. His pain survives that suicide years later. He felt his boy didn’t mean to do it. That it was an accident. People care. They agonize over these deaths. If you are convinced nobody cares, that’s the suicidal intentions lying to you. This father, like most survivors, was wracked with survivor’s guilt. I could see it in his eyes. It’s a look I’ve seen before. “What could I have done differently?!”, they usually ask themselves. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. The ultimate choice is theirs to make, but you can do a few things to give them a fighting chance:

  1. Ask
    You know what people look like when they are sad. You know what people look like when they are devastated. If you see somebody carrying that kind of cloud over their heads, take a moment to inquire how they’re doing. They will probably tell you they’re just fine, because don’t we all? But you’ve opened a door that they didn’t know was open for them before.

  2. Listen
    If they choose to open up to you, their feelings may be intense, and what they describe may be hard to bear, but persevere. You are their lifeline. Don’t pull it back into the boat before they grab on.

  3. Care
    You may find their reasons for feeling suicidal are insignificant and even silly. I’ve heard it all. People without problems react to people drowning in problems with some form of “What? That’s nothing!” But keep this in mind. Suicidal depression magnifies small events into giant meteors of impending death. Their perception is that there is no hope, no way out except death. You may look and see tiny obstacles that would be easy for you to circumvent, but for them, these obstacles are mountains of impossible height. Don’t berate them for not being you. If they saw their life problems as small obstacles, they wouldn’t be confiding in you for help. Do your best to give them support, perspective, and compassion.

  4. Follow Up
    As the adage goes, out of sight, out of mind. You may pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but they may continue walking around with a cloud over their heads. Check in on them to see how they are doing. Your simple pep talk won’t erase a tsunami of suicidal depression anymore than one moment of sun dries your clothes on a rainy day. Don’t pester them, obviously, but keep at it. Ask them here and there how they’re doing. Let them know somebody cares.

From my own experience with suicide, we don’t think clearly during our bleakest moments. We may even believe that what we are planning is perfectly logical—even a kindness to the people we leave behind. Keep reaching out. Keep loving. It matters.

It’s not our responsibility to make their choices for them. It’s not our fault if they reject us and make that final, horrible choice. But if there is even one chance that a caring ear bent towards their needs could have helped them stop, wouldn’t you want to be the person who saved somebody from their darkest impulses?


Thank you for your support this week. I hope you found my book on fighting suicide helpful, or gifted it to somebody else who might.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Proving You Can't Even Give a Book on Suicide Away for FREE? #StopSuicide #NSPW17

Another year; another National Suicide Prevention Week has passed. This year I thought it would be a good service to the community if I offered my ebook, Saying “NO” to Suicide, for FREE throughout the week. Since I’d never made my ebooks FREE before, I had no idea what an ordeal this would become. I started last Saturday, and soon Kobo reflected the new price. Yes! Excitement! By midnight, Apple’s iBooks was also reflecting the price. This was going to work! But then World Suicide Prevention Day arrived on the 10th, and neither B&N nor Kindle reflected the newer, freer price. This was a problem because I sell most of my books on Amazon’s Kindle (followed closely by iBooks). I decided to hold off making any announcement until all the sellers matched in price.

B&N changed their price on Monday, which was fine for National Suicide Prevention Week, but Amazon was still unchanged. You see, Amazon doesn’t allow sellers to list their items for $0. Instead, you change the price elsewhere and hope Amazon price matches. After all, that’s what all the tutorials say. Would the internet lie?

By Tuesday, I let people know about the sale, and then begged readers to report the price difference at Amazon to get things moving, but that didn’t work. Then on Wednesday, I contacted KDP help and pointed out the new price myself in a plea with customer service. That did the trick! The price was finally FREE on all platforms by Thursday morning with two days left to the week. I tweeted out the announcement again, and hoped that it would reach people in time.

Who would have thought giving something away for FREE would require so much effort? At least everything is fine now. Too bad I just realized a moment ago that I forgot to blog about it. All week. It’s now Friday. The week is a bit over at this point. Nicely done, ADHD.

The drama that I alluded to in my previous blog entry—the drama that has consumed my life this past year—continued this week. Family comes first, so I focused on meeting their needs, but I have to admit I’m a little frustrated that there is so little time left for me at the end of the day. After all, just because I have to be Ms. Frizzle and Dr. Mark Sloan all at the same time doesn’t mean that I stop being disabled. I manage my depression well, but ADHD still lurks behind bushes, popping out for a neat surprise when I least expect it. Mostly, however, my Tourette’s Syndrome takes me out by the end of the day.

So I limp along. Hello, Friday!

Run and get your copy for FREE while you can. Maybe leave me a kind word at the store where you purchased the book if you find my ebook useful. (Ratings and reviews are so helpful for new authors and new readers.) Even if you don’t suffer from suicidal ideation, this is a good opportunity to gift the book to somebody you feel needs it. Or read it for yourself. Each chapter uses one of my suicide themed blog entries and discusses the coping strategy I used. There are also tips for friends & family who deal with somebody who is suicidal. It’s my best work to date and has been well received by people who have read it. I hope it helps you, too.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait until I raise the price to $2.99 on Sunday evening. I plan on keeping that sale going all through National Suicide Prevention Month. What could go wrong? I’m sure it’ll go smooth as oatmeal yogurt.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Life Is a River of Drama

This has been a tough year for me. I’ve kept my struggle mostly secret because the drama that ails me relates a story that I cannot share. The results of it are fairly obvious to those who observe me day to day, however. I’m less cheery; I’m more stressed; my sleep is horrible; I’m way behind in my writing; my finances have thrown up a white flag; I don’t find relief in social media anymore; and my real social life has evaporated like water in the hot, Utah sun. The most unfortunate aspect of the drama is that the more stress I encounter, the worse my Tourette’s becomes.


During all of this, I fulfill all my duties as a dad, and plug forward. There is always a dawn on the other side of the darkness. I believe that completely, but these days I don’t have extra energy or time for writing books or articles.

I thought I had a handle on things, albeit my life was full-time daddy work and no freelance, but then I woke up a few days ago and thought that life would be easier if I removed myself from it. I haven’t had a suicidal thought in years, so that thought shocked me upright. I immediately engaged my coping strategies.

  • Step One: I texted my daughters and let them know I had a suicidal thought.
  • Step Two: I couldn’t set an appointment checkup with a therapist because I can’t currently find one nearby that works with my insurance plan. So I did something proactive instead…
  • Step Three: I went out for a walk in the bright sunlight. I talked to myself along the way, analyzing my thoughts and identifying the elements that had brought me to suicidism again. I made an action plan. I made goals. I chased off that black dog with all the sticks that I could muster.

View from my Walk Therapy

And it worked.

Unfortunately, none of this sadness and worry has anything to do with my clinical depression. I say “unfortunately” because if it was just depression keeping me down, I’d have overcome all this by now. My tool belt doesn’t have anything to offset external forces that dump concrete on my chipper attitude. I can manage the feelings I get after emerging from the wreckage, but nothing I do can stop the unrelenting pressures of family drama delivered by the truckload.

“What on earth is happening to you, Douglas?!” you may fairly shout. “Stop teasing already!” Again, it’s not my story to tell, but I can say that it’s an ordeal I can’t walk away from. After over a year of this, with a crescendo in the past few months, I have to admit that it is time for a new set of coping strategies. I am not writing fiction as I had planned because I can’t justify the time spent on it. I am not writing in this blog except sporadically for the same reason. My New York editor over at ADDitude magazine probably thinks I’m blowing him off because I haven’t submitted work in weeks, but it’s hard to write a humor article when my smile is lost in the chaos. And lastly, I had suicidal thoughts—a clear indication that it is time for a change. Maybe I don’t need to toss out my old coping strategies, but I certainly need to replace them temporarily with something better tailored for the current stresses.

Life changes and we need to change with it. Sometimes, the forces of life that work against us aren’t always internal. We need to have coping strategies prepared for when things become hard to bear. I don’t feel like I’m swimming through turbulent waters as much as I am afloat with my mouth slightly above water as I get carried along in the current. I’m getting air, but I have no control over the direction that I’m taking. Unless I make changes, I’ll simply continue to take damage.

The truth is that life flows on regardless of our swimming skills. Either we adapt, or we get carried under. With that in mind, I’m writing this blog post as a way of casting anchor, but also to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about this space on the internet. I haven’t succumbed. I still win the fight against depression and suicide every day. I’m, also, overcoming my ADHD. I have plenty of attitude; I’m just very, very short on humor.

Ah. Drama calls… Here’s to smiles and peace in the future. Here’s to leaving drama in the past.

I write a lot about fighting suicide as well as depression. It is my hope that you find something here to help you in your battle. I also wrote a book on overcoming suicide that many people have found helpful.

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