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depression can be fun

Depression Can Be Fun

Helen's Book - Depression Can Be Fun

Excerpt from chapter “The Bloody Weight Gain!”

Posted on: Mar 31, 2011 - 07:17 AM

Helen McNallen Book Depression Can Be Fun Chapter Weight Gain

The weight gain was definitely partly due to the antidepressants but my ‘sloth’ like existence wasn’t helping. 

When I finally admitted that I wasn’t helping my weight gain by eating far too much of everything and doing absolutely nothing, I was so overweight that I had what looked like cellulite on my tummy.  I was devastated.  So I did what every woman in desperation does and phoned my beautician. 

I ended up signing myself up for a course of 10 treatments of endermologie!  After all if the F.D.A. and Advertising Standards Agency approve, it must work,right?!  Endermologie is a rather radical treatment that involves climbing in to a full body stocking and having your body sucked and rolled by a contraption that very much resembles and feels like a vacuum cleaner suction pipe.  It was rather uncomfortable.  In fact I distinctly remember the odd nip but the ‘No pain, no gain’ principal kept me going back to complete the course.  I believed that it would be like a course of antibiotics and if I didn’t take the full course, it would not work.  That too cost a fortune. 

In fact most of the things I attempted to look and feel better ended up costing lots of money but they don’t have to.  The cellulite tummy is no more but I did do exactly what the beautician advised and combined the treatment with moderate exercise (moderate exercise is all I was capable of at that time), and a good(ish) diet.  Isn’t it funny how a lot of these fancy treatments advise doing that!? 

Of course my diet wasn’t helping my Depression.  I was eating so much junk food.  Fruit and vegetables were not high on my list of priorities. Coffee and biscuits and cakes and sweets were.  I wasn’t exactly nourishing my mind and body.  In fact I was denying it anything anywhere near its natural state and depleting my body of its calcium reserves by drinking far too many fizzy drinks, mostly tonic water and worse still the tonic was to dilute the gin, which is widely known to be a depressant in itself!  What did I expect? 

I know what is good for me and what is bad for me but I didn’t care.  I didn’t particularly like myself and that showed in the way I treated my body.  I was abusing it with the junk that I was eating.

The words of my friend are imprinted on my brain even today:  “PUT IT IN THE BIN.  THE BIN WON’T PUT ON WEIGHT”. 

Easier said than done, I say.  I had been using myself as the bin and it showed. 

Another problem with the weight was that I did not know how to dress.  I had always been slim and had worked hard in the gym to keep toned.  Suddenly I ballooned and put on four stone and found myself having to buy size 16/18 clothes from 8/10.  I had no idea what type of clothes to buy to make the most of myself.  To be honest, for a long time, I wasn’t interested in doing anything to make the most of myself but when I did care, my weight upset me very much and merely served to add another dimension to my Depression. 

I felt totally invisible to everyone, particularly the opposite sex.  But let’s face it, I was dressing and acting invisible.  I used to work really hard to find the drabbest outfit in my wardrobe, not make an effort with my hair and not wear any make up.  Even the Hollywood celebrities look grim when they are trying to be invisible or ‘incognito’.  I’ve seen it in the magazines.  If dressing down, a bad hair day and no make up can make them invisible, it’s obviously going to work for me!  I was making ME invisible. 

There’s a pattern here! 

I know lots of really attractive larger women and men.  They dress really well and look after the way they look, dress and act and they certainly aren’t invisible.

We can all stew on how we are not beautiful enough, thin enough, sexy enough, and tall enough.  Whatever your own issues are, it’s very easy to stew on them.  It’s nice to stew on nice things too, like what a great chest we have, what lovely hair we have, what piercing blue eyes we have.  Make the most of what we have.  You might like yourself.  Or is that what you’re afraid of? 

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Excerpts from Helen’ s Book

Posted on: Oct 07, 2010 - 08:04 PM

Excerpt from chapter THERAPY, MAN

I hope by now you will realise that you are not alone in experiencing depressive thoughts. Despite how isolating it feels to be depressed, therapy will teach you how to correct depressive thoughts using techniques that have been successfully developed and tried and tested in the treatment of depression.
If left to its own devices, our mind would fight our depressed feelings on its own and re-establish our mental equilibrium.

Over the years we have learned many second nature thought and behaviour patterns
that prevent our brains from doing that, so we need to be taught how to unlearn our negative thought patterns and replace them with better ones.
All of us develop bad habits but with determination and the right techniques, bad habits can be broken. You cannot tackle the world single handedly and when it comes to matters of the mind that is no exception.

Treatment prescribed and administered by a practitioner is individual and controlled.
Therapy can sometimes be difficult to get started but don’t give up. I do believe that it is possible that if you find the right therapist for you, then you can get a solution that works for you, so that you can feel strong,
empowered, and positive without needing to depend on drugs. There are lots of different styles of therapies around, and I cover a lot of them in this book, so read on!
I’ve had enough of it and enough therapists to know.

I was in therapy for seven years. Please don’t think that that automatically means that you have to spend years in therapy or a year ‘on the couch’ going into the depths of your personality trying to understand why you are doing something that is damaging your health. Always remember that you are in control of what you do or do not want to discuss. Be guided by the therapist who is the expert but get out of the therapy what is best for you. Take out what’s best for you from what’s on offer.  It’s all about you and for you; so you feel better; so you can feel happier; so you can get on with your life.

Think about YOU and what you want.
Take my sister. She decided by herself and in her own time that she needed therapy. Being diagnosed with cancer towards the end of her pregnancy and a year of chemotherapy made her feel low.
She knew that year was the reason for her low mood.  When the psychiatrist gave her the line, “Let’s go back to your childhood’, she replied “Don’t you think the last year is enough?” She did not want or feel the need to go back to her childhood.
I wouldn’t have dared say that to my therapist particularly at the beginning. She does make me laugh.  I am so proud of her. She is such a strong person.

In my experience, the first, second or even third therapist may not be the right one, the therapy prescribed may not suit the individual or the antidepressant isn’t helping. But one therapist or one therapy out there or one drug will be the right one.  Please believe me when I say this. Please keep trying.  Never give up. There is always an answer to every question in this life.

You just have to ask the right person, or look up the answer in the right book and indeed ask the right question AND VERY IMPORTANTLY AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU.

Maybe you will be prescribed and find the right therapist and the right therapy first time so please don’t let me give you the impression that that can’t happen. It’s different for everybody but if you don’t, try another 
therapist or another therapy.
 Think how many people we meet in a week or a month or even a year. How many of those people do we really like and how many become our best friends? Not many.  It’s not easy to find someone you would like to have as a good friend. It’s the same with your therapist but it’s definitely worth it to keep trying until you find a good one for you.The right kind of therapy and therapist can find the root of the depression and cure it. Through therapy a person can have years of torment lifted and emerge happier than they have ever been. If you have had the
capability to live in a happy state once, you’ll do it again.  I am happy to say I am.
Texas rehab treatment center.



Excerpt from chapter THERAPY BEGINS AT HOME

imageWhen I was depressed I felt I didn’t have control overmy behaviour or my emotions or my body. My behaviour was like that of a rebellious teenager in that it was destructive and unpredictable and couldn’t be controlled or relied upon. My emotions were dysfunctional and unstable and created pain and fear and were out of my control. When I asked my body to do something, it refused. I was too tired. However I did have control over my thoughts.

  • Control your thoughts This was where my therapy started.  I could talk positively to myself. 
  • Be kind to yourself Try to say to yourself the supportive, rational and accurate kinds of things you would say to your best friend if s/he felt depressed because of negative thinking. 
  • Write it down I kept a record of all the positive things I did.
  • Get out of bed Staying in bed and avoiding facing the world (as we depressives are VERY GOOD at doing!) is grasping short term relief at the cost of the long term. 
  • Tapes It really takes no energy to listen to tapes that encourage positive thinking and inspire you to move forward rather than remain where you are. 
  • Read It takes little effort to read.  When you do read, make sure that it is something positive that will help you take positive steps forward. 
  • Talk Many people find it helpful sharing and talking about their feelings and depression with other people experiencing the same feelings, whether it is in a structured or unstructured environment. A friend going through a similar situation at the same time helped me. 
  • Groups There are many groups already in existence that you can join or go along to when you feel like it or when you feel up to it. Most cities and large towns have Depression Alliance Groups.  Search locally as there are probably already groups in your area and I have a list on my website.
  • Laugh Laughing lowers blood pressure, exercises the stomach muscles and has a profound effect on the immune system and on you. It has an amazing psychological effect on the mind and body. Watch a funny TV programme. If you feel like going out, go and see a funny film or a comedian. Laughter is a strong antidote to depression. There is even a type of Yoga dedicated to laughter called ‘Laughter Yoga’. It combines unconditional laughter with yoga breathing. Laughter Yoga is based on scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter.
  • Yoga There are yoga therapy classes and courses that are designed specifically for depression and anxiety but any yoga is good for depression.
  • Use your senses When I was depressed I wanted total silence and didn’t want to go out. It was as if all my senses which are so important for connection shut down.  A love song is just as powerful to upset you as a bouncy song is to lift your mood. 

  • Be at one with nature Gardening is great too if you like being outdoors and getting dirty. Having your hands in the soil, caring for a plant and nurturing a seed is fab!!!  Go for a walk and actually look at your surroundings. 
  • Get a Hobby It is proven that hobbies ease depression and improve mood. What a great reason to do something you’ve always wanted to do or learn to do! Have fun!
  • Natural Remedies The world is full of natural cures for illness. People did very well with natural cures for thousands of years which probably explains why homeopathy and herbal medicine is gaining so much credence these days in the medical world.
  • Pets I got Bess when I was ill. I knew that a dog would help me. 
  • Just say no Learning to say ‘no’ is good therapy and is not selfish or hostile.  If you learn to say ‘no’ comfortably, there should be no reason to fear a negative reaction from others. 
  • Diet Diet should be an essential part of your positive DIY therapy. It is an essential element of your recovery.
  • Finding your inner peace I found yoga and the yoga breathing and meditation very calming. Relaxation therapies like yoga and meditation are effective in overcoming some of the other issues that can occur with depression.  Others may find solace in the simplicity of prayer.
  • Exercise Exercise is a potent antidepressant. Getting 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week has been shown to be more effective in lowering depressive symptoms than taking an antidepressant alone.  Mild exercise could include walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates. Don’t overtax yourself. Just be content to do a little bit each day.
  • A sense of accomplishment Accomplishment and pleasure are incompatible with depression and an antidote to it and they divert your attention away from dwelling on your problems by engaging your mind in distracting activities. I did a flower arranging course. I did an interior design course. I did a business management course. I did an accounting course. I was allergic to sap, had no creative flair and I think I’d rather employ someone else to manage my business and do my accounting based on those experiences!
  • Feel Good Products I also invested in copious amounts of Feel Good Products like herbal teas that promise Detox, Weight Loss, Happiness, Balance, Energy, and Relaxation. You name it and I bet that I have got a tea for it in my cupboard. 
  • Take Control A large part of depression is about feeling out of control and unable to control outcomes. Activities that help you to gain a sense of control - even if only in a small way - will help reduce anxiety and improve your overall mood. 
  • Don’t lose control and turn to the sinister side of Therapy at Home

    Some of us become dependent on more sinister kinds of ‘happy pills’. Depression often goes hand in hand with the use of abusive substances, eating disorders and other addictions or addictive behaviour.  Depressives often don’t care about the long term consequences. Things I still do at home however, and that never fail to make me feel better are: feel grateful every day; have fun and make time for fun and laughter every day even if I have to force myself to laugh to start with; eat a healthy diet most of the time; take Filisa when I’m feeling low and/or stressed; take my Vegepa omega supplements every day; make a list of my goals every day; make time for and talk to friends and family; exercise at least twice a week and on a more superficial note but nonetheless important, a trip to the hairdresser and a manicure every few months.  Rewards can also be positive things that you say to yourself and giving yourself praise instead of criticism for a change.

    Do let us know what works for you on the ‘Positive
    Suggestions’ interactive feature on the website,


    My husband often tried to reassure me that my negative thinking was ‘The Black Dog’ taking over and not to believe it.  Even now when I find negative thoughts creeping into my head, I automatically think of his voice saying, ‘That’s the Depression talking’, or ‘That’s the Black Dog talking’ and it helps.

    It was Churchill who described his Depression as his ‘Black Dog’.  I think that this analogy is very clever as it suggests both familiarity and mastery.  Depression is a beast that needs to be fed to survive.  It sinks its teeth into a person but it is, after all, only a dog, and it can be trained, controlled and locked up!  You can learn how to be its master and train and control it. You can learn what it thrives on and how to starve it by looking closely at your own needs.

    Your life does not have to stop.  It does not have to limit your life.  Many people who suffer from Depression learn how to control it and lead full and successful lives.

    Many ‘leaders’ have suffered from Depression. Yet they have done and achieved so much.  Look what Churchill achieved while fighting against Depression.  Look what many people have achieved while battling Depression.  Alexander the Great, General Paton and Napoleon and many more had their own battle with Depression.  Artists and writers such as Geothe and Tols suffered from Depression.  They didn’t have any of the help that we have available to us today.  Some of the funniest people on the outside have had or are suffering from depression.  Just look at Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Roseanne Barr and Spike Milligan. 

    I have met many successful business men and women who are suffering from Depression.  It is a shame that they are not enjoying their lives and their success.  Do not think that because you are depressed, you will not achieve anything in your life and if you work on getting better too, how great would it be to be able to enjoy your achievements, your success, and your life?

    Anyone can suffer from depression unless they learn to redirect it. 

    We try to medicate people because they are not happy rather than find out the problem.  Medication does not take the problem away.  Medication treats the symptoms not the cause. 

    Many people ‘self medicate’ with drugs, alcohol or food (as I did!) or sex as they feel that these things make them feel better or ease their mental pain – for a short time anyway.  However these ‘drugs’ give very short term feelings of euphoria and make the depression worse.  They are always followed by a terrible crash and the need for another ‘fix’ and yet another.  This vicious circle only serves to deepen the Depression.  Often people who use alcohol to ease their pain and unhappiness are labelled ‘Alcoholics’ and people who take drugs to ease their pain are labelled ‘Drug Addicts’ and people who overeat are labelled as ‘fat’ and judged as not taking care of themselves and sexaholics are just lucky.  I dabbled in them all and recommend none of them.

    These vices that are so shunned by society are in fact desperate measures by these individuals to cope or hide behind and pretend that their problems don’t exist.  Many feel and think that they could lose their job and/or people may look at them oddly or unfavourably were they to admit that they suffered from Depression.  There is still a stigma attached to Depression and mental illness due to a lack of understanding.

    Many people don’t live their lives today.  They just live through what shows up.  It makes them unhappy.  Depression seems to be a phenomenon of the affluent 21st Century we find ourselves in.  Studies show that there is 10 times more Depression in people born after 1945 than in those before. 

    Depression has now replaced back pain as the number one reason for taking time off work.  So much so, that it is referred to as the common cold of mental illness and is the form most frequently seen by psychiatrists, psychologists and physicians alike. The figures show that 1 in 3 people will experience depression at some time in their lives today.

    If you are suffering from depression, you should be patting yourself on the back for even picking this or any book up.  I really mean that.  I didn’t read anything apart from glossy magazines for the first 4 years of my depression and even then all I did was look at the pictures.  That’s why you’ll find lots of glossy pictures in this book!  If you cannot read the book at the moment, the pictures tell the story.  My husband worked out that I was spending £50 a month on magazines.  This was money we couldn’t afford to be spending given that I had no income and my husband’s income was practically non-existent due to all the time he took off work and jobs he cancelled to care for and support me.  I just couldn’t concentrate on anything. 

    Efforts by my husband to console me were often thwarted by my violent thrashing of arms and legs and screaming but it didn’t stop him from trying again and again.  Most of the time I would sob into my pillow distraught or rock back and forth in my seat or rub my legs repeatedly and think that nothing mattered in my life any more; I had lost everything and everyone that mattered.  I lost my job and with that all my qualifications that I had worked so hard for, my career, my life and friends in the City, all my income, my dignity and my pride.  I’d lost me.  My life was just nothingness.  I enjoyed nothing, loved nothing, did nothing and achieved nothing.

    I basically sealed my own fate for the next 7 years with the meaning and emotion that I gave to my situation.  I convinced myself that NO THING or NOTHING mattered.  It makes sense that the emotion you live with is the quality of your life.  With such negative emotion, how could I be anything other than Depressed?

    So you know what, its fine. Anything you can do right now is fine!  Please believe me.  Depression is bad enough to deal with without putting additional pressure on yourself.  That does not give you permission to stop trying.  It just gives you permission not to be disillusioned while you are trying.  Frustration is good as it encourages us to keep trying.  Feeling like there is no solution is Depression.

    The problem with Depression is that it does not make you feel like trying.  Your negative focus and feelings make you not feel like trying anything.  That negative momentum is paralysing.  Wherever your focus goes, energy flows.  When you feel negative, you feel paralysed.  Just like when you feel the negative emotion anger, you suffer.  If you look for pain, you will find it.  If you give to get, you feel empty.

    We are so clever that we can actually filter the world to confirm our belief that everything is so negative so that we don’t seem to be lying to ourselves and we don’t even know we’re doing it.  All day we ask and answer questions to ourselves.  Thinking is nothing but a process of asking and answering questions of our subconscious or conscious.  Apparently the average human being has 65 000 unique thoughts in a day.  The only problem is that 95% of those thoughts are the same ones as yesterday.  I’m sure it’s not true but one of my male friends assures me that it’s only two for a man:  the last time they had sex and the next time they will get it.  They are not counted as sexaholics though as they don’t think about it, they do it.

    “Why does it always happen to me?”

    Negative questions generate negative answers.  Ask a lousy question, get a lousy answer.

    Whatever you focus on feels real to you.  When we attach words to it, it gives it meaning.  It becomes our experience.  Who do we talk to most? – Ourselves.  Need I say more!  Depressed people often doubt themselves and their abilities in all kinds of ways, but seldom in their judgment about their own interpretation of things!  Be conscious of words that create your emotions.  If you say certain phrases often enough, you believe it.  You can always find a way to back up what you believe.  If you say something to yourself enough times, you believe it.

    When you are depressed, you believe that you are not in control of events in your life.  If you can’t control what’s going on in your life, control what’s going on inside you.  It is this sense of control that is so important.  We often find ourselves in situations where we have little control – such as waiting for the result of a medical examination, waiting to learn whether someone still wants to be our lover, waiting for exam results.  What can we do apart from eat chocolate, have a cigarette or bite our nails?

    The only control we have during these times is internal.  By exercising control over how and when we act or react, we can retain a sense of control.  It has been proven that this is how many victims survived the horror of concentration camps by surviving in their minds.  It is survival of the mind.  They had no control over their enemies’ actions or what they physical suffering their enemies put them through but they maintained internal control.  For example, they would decide when they would eat the food that was given to them and when to scream from the pain of the torture. The fact that it works in extreme life or death situations shows how effective it is.  It really does work.

    A piece of advice that I had to pay a lot of money for and didn’t listen to at the time but you might find it helpful at this time is: ‘to take a limited number of days in which you will not dwell upon nor mention your depression or the cause of your depression (if you know it) for more than the briefest moment’.  An addition to this piece of advice that my therapist wrote in brackets that makes me smile is ‘just enough so as not to be rude anyway’. He also recommended ‘putting aside a period in which to problem solve of one or two hours per day, rather than worry around and about whenever thoughts come into your head’.  ‘And finally to become a mistress/master of ones own emotions, rather than be at the beck and call of the circumstances and other people’. I like the sound of that and it all makes sense.  I wish it had made sense at the time and that I could have acted on it sooner but I obviously wasn’t ready.  It is all good advice.  I can see that now.  Maybe it will help you one day too.  You can always make a note of it.  One more note on one more piece of paper to add to your clutter I know.  Maybe not then!

    The power of thought/s is incredible, both positive and negative.  Just think where we’d all be if we spent as much time thinking positive thoughts about how to deal with our situation instead of negative?

    Negative thinking can actually affect the chemical composition of our brains.  The more negative you are and the fewer things you do that give you pleasure, the lower your serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline/norepinephrine levels in your brain.  These are the natural feel good factors or happy hormones in the brain. I really do believe now that you become what you think and negativity attracts negativity.  The way we think actually changes our cellular chemistry.

    YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK:  We have a need to remain consistent with how we define ourselves.  Do you define yourself as a winner, or a player or a loser?  Even if you hate how you define yourself, you will find a way to become it.  Nothing is more important than self definition.  If you try to not be what you say you are, it makes you sad, depressed and angry.

    THE WAY WE THINK CHANGES OUR CELLULAR CHEMISTRY:  When we are depressed or grieving, the number of our white cells decreases.  This has been proven through studies of elderly married couples when one of the partners has died.  We need these important white cells.  They are part of our immune system and help our body to fight off illness and heal itself from diseases.  It has been proven that the positive emotions OPTIMISM/HOPE/FAITH/LOVE/HAPPINESS (just in case you’ve forgotten what they are!  I know I did) are totally linked to a strong immune system.  Negative emotions and feelings (which I won’t write in capital letters as we don’t need those reinforcing!): helplessness, anger, depressive, pessimism, hopelessness and sadness are related to greater vulnerability to illness and a poor immune system.

    Available on Amazon and all online bookshops.

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