Susan Layton

Film Producer - ASL Performer - Life Learner

Category: My Journey with Depression

Meditate – Oh How It Helps!

Yesterday was a pretty tough day dealing with the depression.  The fraud stuff and other challenges of the day didn’t help.   But by evening, somehow, I felt better.  That doesn’t happen much.  But I know I’m taking care of myself and I believe it is helping my *whatevers* to be strong and *stuff like that*.  I went to bed at nine o’clock and got up feeling pretty refreshed and in good spirits.  I learned a new pool workout *thing* that have left my arms feeling pretty awesome! One of my laps around I thought I needed to turn around.  What a blessing because one of the ladies, walking near the pool, slipped and fell.  I was near her and happened to see her – because I was turned backwards.  I raced against the current, to where I could get out.  Helping this frazzled sweet lady up, her poor knees and wrists, she said it was only her pride that really hurt.  Yeah, I get that.

Despite my vocab that has been challenged today, I’m feeling really great.  But one thing that has really helped my vocabulary and my ability to focus and remember things easier is when I meditate.  I’d say for the last week I have not taken the time to meditate and now I’m seeing the effects.  Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with my diminishing on-the-spot vocabulary, ability to focus and just remembering *happenings*, thank goodness for my calendar!  So, I studied how I could stay on top of my vocab, focus, and memory.  I read over and over that taking the time to meditate has been shown to help with these … *righto*.   I have noticed that when I meditate, my brain is my active and attentive.  My words come easier and my memory is sharper.

Word Cloud Meditate 3It’s hard with a busy life to sit and take time to meditate.  But I try and find the time.  I get out of the pool ten minutes early and sit in the hot tub.  I take the time to stretch and meditate.  I usually focus on my breathing.  I also take some time to focus on positive things while I breathe slowly in and out.  I try hard not to let my mind wander.  That’s the hard part.  But I feel recharged and positive after those 10 minutes.  I have noticed a stronger mind, and more balanced, since I started.  When I don’t go to the pool but exercise other places or the days I’m “off” (or like today when I didn’t realize the time and it was time to leave for work and I’m still in the pool), the time to meditate just doesn’t happen.  And when it doesn’t happen, I see the effects later, like today. Yeah, it’s becoming a necessity to meditate … and a pleasure!

What have you done to recharge yourself today?  How does meditation help you?  Where is your favorite place to sit and just breathe?  Comment below.

No Bueno …

Today is a day that has reminded me that this terrible disease is not fun.  For me, depression is like a room full of the fattest elephants sitting on top of you.  It’s hard to think, let alone breathe.  It’s numbing.  You have no where to go, and even if you could, you have no where to go.  It’s so terribly terrible! It is.

This morning, I dropped off my kiddos to school and then I was on my way to swimming, fighting the tears, fighting the feelings.  Arriving to the aquatic center, I just sat in my car. I sat there fighting the feeling to start the car again and leave.  But then my phone rang.  That didn’t help.  Major fraud in my name (AGAIN!) … SIGH!!! … These very disrespectful and rude nincompoops (and just so disrespectful and rude!) are at it again.  I called my hubby and shared the news.  I told him I gotta go in and exercise or I will be a complete and utter mess!  He told me, “GO!”  I did.  I decided to not wait.  I know that if I wait, I will stop in my tracks, the feet (and mind) just can’t go any further.  But I did – I went in.  I was proud of myself.  That was hard!  While I was doing my laps, I just focused on how strong I was, reminded myself of how much I love this part of my days.  The sweet folks in the pool asked the routine, “How are you?”  I just took a breath each time, smiled and said, “I’m good.”  Not really.  But I’m better because I’m here.  That’s what I reminded myself each time, too.

I worked hard those 80 minutes.  And then I went and worked on the elliptical machine and the bike for another 30 minutes.  I just needed to.  I felt better.

I’m not totally well right now.  But I wanted to record this before I forget the struggle… and the victories of this day.  Right now, they’re not “hooray” kind of victories or any of the sort, but victories are victories!!!  I’m still taking breaths.  Mostly shallow, but that is okay! I’m still just trying to make sense of this day, and really just make it through.  I will.  🙂  It’ll just take a bit of extra effort.  No promises that tears won’t come.  But I’ll get through it.

I do hope that as you read this blog (or any of my postings now or in the future), that you won’t think me anything but a person who loves her family, has a passion and love of the arts, and one who tries her best in all that she does.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m not a person anyone should ever feel they can’t be friends with.  I try to be kind, respectful and loving.  Depression is just a challenge I was blessed with.  And I will come out a stronger person because of it.

Much love and a warm blanket,

Susan

My Suit is Suiting Me Well!

Thus far, I have been going to “therapy” for almost two weeks, resting on both Saturday and Sunday.  I am a different me!  I feel GREAT!  It has snowed three times, rained three days, gloomy a few of the other days and sunny (but sweater weather) the rest of the time.  By this time of the year, with this kind of weather, I wouldn’t make it out of my house much.  If I wasn’t scheduled for work or at church, I would mostly be in my bed or trying to get things done around the house.  I would have such trouble in my head and cry in my pillow (or driving or wherever anyone was not).  When I would go out, everyone would think I was the happiest of people.  I would try very hard to hide my struggles with depression.  I very much dislike looking like a miserable, howling, dying cat.  (Smiling but it’s true!)

The first few days (“or so”) of my water ‘therapy’ I kept reminding myself that I am fighting against depression.  It was on my mind the entire time I was in the Lazy River, not being lazy. Ha. The next couple of days it was snowing and I just tried turning my thoughts to “it’s snowing and that’s not bad”.  I felt like Wreck-it-Ralph in “Wreck-It-Ralph” during his therapy session.  🙂  But after those days passed, I’m not there for depression anymore.  Sure, it’s the underlying purpose I get myself to the aquatic center every day and will continue to go there.  I also recognize my fight will most likely always be there.  But I’m, thankfully, to the point where I can put the thoughts of “depression – you can beat it” to “I am here and work on me” … or Instead of, “I gotta keep my head afloat today – don’t worry about the snow – I can do this!”, it’s “I said ‘good morning’ to Thelma and Kristine and Jaime and all those others and hallelujah, I feel it! I mean it!  It IS a good morning!”  Then there is this reminder: “Don’t forget how I feel today when tomorrow, next week and forever more rolls around!  This is why I come!”

So, you’re like, the title, Susan!  Why did you title this blog “My Suit is Suiting Me Well” and you haven’t mentioned a suit?  Well, I’m gearing up to that.  Water therapy requires suiting up for the water.  Yeah. (dot, dot, dot) Sigh.  Having to suit up everyday, I wanted to feel like I could walk in the water and not yell “SPIDER!” as I point across the pool, hoping all the heads would turn the other way.  (Smiling, laughing, yeah, I think I’m funny!  What can I say? Hehe. But the spider thing, yeah, felt!)  Anyways, I deliberately bought a black suit and a pair of free flowing black shorts to wear during my water therapy.  ‘Deliberately’ meaning black and black.  I didn’t buy it out of depression, but one that might hide my pear-shape uhhh …. whats the word … attributes.  Yeah, attributes.  The attributes I don’t feel as comfortable with while in a swimsuit.  😀  Susan, that’s weird.  Too bad.  BUT,  what has made me feel more confident is this: my new bravery suit (translation: swimsuit) feels good and fits in the all the right places (a rare moment), and if I’m gonna be honest (and I’m gonna because this is what this blog is about – insecure me learning to love me) – dang it, the suit looks good on me, pear-shape and all!  The bonus: The compliments!  Didn’t expect them – at all! But they come and it feels so good!!

What’s your favorite part of getting well – physically, mentally or spiritually?  What have you done to get yourself on your healthy path?  Mine was getting a swimsuit I can live with.  Share with me your thoughts and comments below!

(A new friend at the pool asked where I got my swimsuit – so for you, my darling, here it is: )

Winter is Coming … “Therapy” for me

This year, winter is coming – yeah, I know, it seems to come back every year.  Sigh. Crazy. *chuckle*

My body knows even before I wake up that the weather is different that day.  That’s the worst!  Not even being able to get up out of bed and say, “Good Morning”.   But this year I was/am bound and determined to not let depression take over my life.  Because that’s what it does.  I bought me a new swimsuit (because mine is in storage far behind other stuff)  and a pass to the aquatic center.  It wasn’t that easy though.  If you deal with depression or know someone who does, you know it takes a long time for two “simple” tasks to happen.  You go back and forth debating, rationalizing, making excuses for, reasons why you need it, reasons why you shouldn’t, etc – all valid and real in your minds eye.  But it was after a hard day and I told my husband I can’t do this anymore!  I need to a swimsuit/pass.  He said, “DO IT!”  So I did.  I was dancing in my mind.  Excited for the potential this suit and pass would give me!

The day arrived when my suit arrived in the mail.  I got everything ready for the next days new adventure.

This adventure really comes down to this:  I don’t want to deal with what I dealt with last year or the year before or all the other times I’ve dealt with depression.  I KNOW I feel good or better when I exercise and eat right than when I don’t.  This year I am going to do all I can to fight it.  I’m going to fight for me!

I might still need to go to therapy.  I’m not taking that off my needs list.  But the costs of taking care of me and health potentials this offers me is probably cheaper than therapy and physically great for me.  I’m calling my new adventure “Therapy”.  Because it is therapy – I feel better after I leave, mentally and physically.

Since I’ve been going to the pool, I have been tempted to go and do more land exercise after I swim (run, lift weights, rower machine, etc).  Although that would be healthy for my body, I know me and I would end up feeling that I’m not doing enough.  So I resisted that idea and instead I am swimming (which is not really swimming – our aquatic center has a Lazy River which pushes the water along in a continuous circle (ish) – I run that course, do various arm exercises, leg exercises, core exercises while I go round and round) and I work hard in the pool.  And for now, that is good enough.  I leave and say to myself, “I did it! And I’m proud of what I’ve done!”  The temptation to say I didn’t do enough is there but I’m learning to say, “I did enough! And I’m proud of what I’ve done!”

That’s my new adventure …. called “Therapy”.  I will be updating my adventure as winter rolls along.

This picture is one I took after my first day of “water therapy”.  Right after my “therapy”, I went and got a haircut.  I said, “This is a new start to me.  Welcome winter!”

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Sincerely, Susan

COMMENT BELOW:

If you are in a similar situation (dealing with depression), what are you going to do to keep yourself healthy and perhaps help improve what you are dealing with?   If you don’t deal with depression, what ways can you make your life better with health and nutrition?

 

Depression – Book 1

My depression crept in and I kept smiling and then BOOM BANG it hit HARD.  My schedule was crazy, my stress at work built up, the weather changed from summer to winter and I just couldn’t handle anything anymore!

It was then that I realized I needed to find myself a counselor/therapist.  It was the best decision I could have made to really start healing and be able to start living again.  I have been very open about the beauty of therapy, especially to interpreters, stay-at-home moms, my friends, and Facebook audience.  *heart*

Near the end of my very first session with my therapist, she suggested I read the book, “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself” by Melody Beattie.  I didn’t know what that meant by the title alone and I wasn’t sure how it would apply to me.  But a friend had the book and said it was her favorite book in her own discovery and healing.  This book comes from the perspective of those who deal with people addicted to alcohol and drugs.  I have never been exposed to that at all.  I came from a home where love, respect, rules and consequences filled the walls.  So I wasn’t sure how it would apply to me or if I would relate. But I did relate, very much, to the information shared in this book – and that really aided in my healing process.  I read it from start to finish, took notes, cried, journaled, and re-read it.  I’m not much of a reader but this was a book of healing and I loved it!  It’s definitely a permanent book in my library!

Depression – Post #1

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, therapist, or anything of the sort.  For all medical, fitness or therapeutic information/advice/plan, seek professional help.

Depression, according to the World Health Organization, affects more than 350 million people globally, of all ages.  That is a lot of people!  I was not apart of this statistic until a couple of years ago.  My family moved to a climate that was much different than any other area we lived in previously.   My workload increased.  I didn’t have (so I thought) as much time to focus on my health and well-being.  Through all of this, I slowly (then it spiraled out of control) experienced this serious disease called depression.  IMG_4443

The picture above is me at Disneyland.  Isn’t life supposed to be the happiest place, all the time?  Sometimes we go through what feels like a roller-coaster. The free-fall in a thunderstorm is what Depression feels like for me – well, that and the loopdey-loops and the river ride and then the wet ones, and then the tiki-room, and then the haunted mansion and the … yeah!  But life has gotten better, as I’ve learned and I’ve grown.

Through my writings, I want to share with you what I went through, how I felt (and still feel, at times) when depression sneaks its nasty cloud into my being, how I am learning to “control” depression and what helps me feel balanced and stronger through these tactics.  Like the disclaimer says above, I am not a doctor or therapist or personal fitness trainer.   I am sharing with you what works for me, what my therapist and general doctor and even my chiropractor have “prescribed” for me.  This may not be your “prescription”.  However, I know that from these experiences, I find I am happier and keep depression at bay.  I still experience depression. But I know what works for me.  When I get off my plan, I am reminded I am not cured.   And then, I have to start again, sometimes from the beginning, with baby steps to get back on my plan.  One of the greatest things I have done through it all is get professional help.

Welcome to my journey.
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The Big D – Exercise???

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, therapist, or anything of the sort.  For all medical, fitness or therapeutic information/advice/plan, seek professional help.

For most people who suffer from The Big D, aka Depression, exercise is either the last thing on their list, or first thing on their list, but rarely gets checked off.

Research articles, by the dozens, have discussed the BENEFITS OF EXERCISE for those who suffer from mental illness such as depression.

HOW IN THE WORLD DOES EXERCISE HELP ONE WHO IS DEPRESSED?

When you exercise, endorphins are released.  Endorphins trigger positive feelings, and are a stress reducer brain chemical. There are also other brain power chemicals that are released to aid in fighting stress and anxiety. EXERCISE IS CRUCIAL … for your well-being, your health, and to get your imbalanced self balanced!

WHAT EXERCISE CAN I DO?

1. Walk

Take a pet for a walk.  Not only will the benefits of exercise help you but also getting out where the sun is shining (which means getting a good dose of Vitamin D) and focusing on your pet that you care for.

Meet a friend for a walk.  Your friend can help you stay accountable too, and help you even in times of depression.  Having a friend that you can count on is key when it comes to depression.

2. Aerobic 

DVDs  There are many cardio/aerobic videos to choose from, so find one that works for you! My favorite are the Biggest Loser DVDs – I especially love the Cardio Max one.

Join a class.  Look for free classes around your neighborhood.  My neighborhood hosts a class M-F and there are 5 ladies who volunteer to teach 1-2 days each week.  M/W is either Kickboxing or general aerobics, T/TH is Zumba, F is Step class.

3. Swim

Where I live, swimming costs money.  That’s not as big of a deal when I’m well, because I can reason.  I spend the money to keep me on my plan, balanced, healthy, endorphin happy.  So that’s when I make a reasonable purchase.  Of course, I buy a plan that I can afford and if possible to cover the times I know I need to help me in the future.  So if winter is coming, I buy my pass in the summer to last me through winter.  But for me, I need a friend to get me through the winter, so I find someone ahead of time for that too.

I have searched the internet over and over.  What I found is that SwimOutlet.com has awesome products with unbeatable prices!  Nothing beats them.  We get everything there.  I don’t even bother looking anywhere else anymore.  And if I do, I always end up returning there! Ha.

4. Run

I love to run.  I was not a runner until about 2010.  My daughter joined a running club at school and they were preparing for a 5k.  I thought I’d try and do it with her.  At first, I thought, “what did I get myself into?”  But I kept with it and I got stronger and stronger.  Where I live now, my treadmill helps me through the winter and my down times (just to get me moving – run or walk).  (I bought my treadmill off of Craigslist – You can also look on Amazon for treadmills). Regardless if I run on pavement or treadmill, seeing what I ran helps me feel accomplished.  Use a pedometer or a tracking device like the FitBit is a great tool. But these are just tools… with or without tools, GET OUT AND GET EXERCISE!

5. Gardening

Vitamin D, moving, shedding calories, and beautifying your landscape are all the wonderful benefits from gardening.  “Creating” helps depression!

6. Bike

Biking has many benefits.  If you have a bike, use it. Get out, get some Vitamin D, get the exercise you need, your heart pumping, fresh air, and take in the nature all around you. You will be grateful you did!  If you need some “equipment” to go with your bike, check out SwimOutlet.com (yeah, weird.. but I know they sell quality products – even for biking) or Amazon.

You might also want to consider a stationary bike.  If you are on light therapy, put your box next to your bike or treadmill and reap the benefits for both exercise and light at the same time, all year round!

7. Dance/Zumba

I was “for sure” that I was not a Zumba fan … until I joined our little neighborhood exercise classes.  Zumba was a regular Tuesday and Thursday class offered there.  Holy moley!  I LOVE ZUMBA!!!  It just gets you moving,  you feel free, and it is FUN!  Find a class or buy some DVDs and Zumba at home!  It’s one of my very favorite things to do!

8. Yoga

Yoga is really awesome.  I am not a regular Yoga gal but when I am really down, that is sometimes all I can do.  I need that inner breathing and taking my time to take care of me.  After I feel a little more settled and I can keep going.  It was worth a try for me.  Maybe you too?  I bought all my yoga DVDs and supplies from Amazon.  Your community might offer yoga classes.  Something to consider for sure!!!

9. Lift Weights

I feel strong when I lift weights.  I feel empowered.  Options for weights – use canned food at home, use a filled backpack, check out thrift stores for weights, specialty exercise stores, or find them on Amazon.  Our family used what we had while we saved up and bought the adjustable unit, so we didn’t have tons of weights laying around.  The adjustable units that we like are the PowerBlock Dumbbells and Kettle blocks.  Do you have to have those?  No. Use a can of refried beans or anything in your cupboard.  Perfectly acceptable and effective!!!!

10. Bounce – Mini (Fitness) Trampoline

Jump, jump, jump.  What a great exercise!  You can jump, bounce, walk in place, dance.  Mini trampolines are so versatile!

11. Jumprope

Jump roping makes me smile. Sometimes a smile is what I need.  I feel like a kid again – while getting the exercise I need.  It gets my heart pumping which is so important when it comes to depression!  My kids love it too… so they are my little motivators.

12. Kickboxing

Oh yeah!  One of my favorite.  I love it especially cuz I HATE the periods of depression that I have to go through.  So for me this is ALWAYS a good thing – I PUNCH and KICK and then just focus on the moves.  I get out of my head.  I feel strong.  I feel I can kick this disease to the curb.  Does it cure me after my session?  No, but it helps!!!!  There are kickboxing DVDs and kickboxing equipment like bags (hanging or free-standing).  I own the Everlast Cardio Strike Bag Kit (DVD, gloves and bag) and I L-O-V-E it!  Kickboxing is not a one time a month thing tho.  Your muscles will be sore when you first start, so continue to build your strength by doing this regularly.  That’s the last thing you want – is to do it while you have an episode of depression and then can’t or don’t want to get up for the days following… build yourself up!
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