Mary’s Story – The Pain of Childlessness

Desires of a Barren Woman By Emily Hurd

Mary’s Story – The Pain of ChildlessnessA lifetime longing for life in one’s belly
is not a joyful life.
The most wonderful love can’t fill this void
no matter how hard he may try.
For what sin am I punished,
That I may never enjoy,
clinging to my breast, a blonde haired baby boy?
To know the love of a sweet child,
and the feeling of being whole-
These are the things I’ve always wanted to know.

Mary sat at her dressing table and brushed her hair carefully as she had most nights of her 57 years. She smiled as she looked in the mirror; and, she liked what she saw. She was wearing the nightgown that Joe had given her on their 2nd honeymoon five years ago.

Joe was out walking Gilbert and Sullivan, their adopted mutts. He didn’t know it yet, but when he got home, he was going to get “lucky.”

As she brushed, the mirror carried her back over the years as it often did. But the memories weren’t painful anymore. They were just the building blocks that made her life so special now.

She and Joe had grown up in devoutly Catholic homes just a few blocks apart. They had both gone to the same parochial school; then she had gone to the girl’s high school and Joe had gone to the boy’s high school. They were dear friends all through high school. Their lives were good in those days.

During college, they had dated more seriously and began to plan a future together. They were both going to work for two or three years to build up their nest egg and then start their family. Both wanted lots of kids because that was how they had grown up – big families, with lots of friends around all the time.

Theirs was the first wedding among their college circles; and there were lots more over the next few years. Weddings were always fun and offered such hope for the future for all of them.

Mary kept working after they started trying to have a baby in earnest.

Before long their married friends were expecting their first children. Mary and Joe were excited for them.

Then some of those couples started having their second child. Mary was still excited but a little anxiety started to creep in.

Family dinners were beginning to have the stigma of Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe. She truly loved and enjoyed their nieces and nephews but loving them didn’t fill the growing dread of her being unable to have her own child.

After a few more years, Mary convinced Joe that they should at least get a medical evaluation to see if there was a reason they could not conceive. They did several times; and the results were always the same: no apparent medical or physical reason on the part of the male or female that would prohibit or inhibit conception.

The root of bitterness

Mary found it easier to send regrets to invitations from other couples than it was to feel the pain in her heart as she sat and listened to them chatter on about their children. Oh, they tried to be kind, but it was natural for them to talk about what meant most to them: their children.

Mary and Joe were both advancing with their jobs. Joe was in sales with a well-established regional company and Mary was in human resources with an national company. Money wasn’t an issue but Mary read somewhere that stress could be an issue in conception. She was able to get a 12-month leave of absence to try to relieve the work-related stress.

Unfortunately, she was reminded every time they tried that she had to get pregnant in 12 months; then 11 months; and so on; or she would have to return to work without any a baby to come home to.

It hurt a lot when she was reminded each month that she was not yet pregnant. She took to her bed with a bigger burden of pain than her regular monthly discomfort.

They tried all the infertility treatments that church doctrine allowed with no success. There was a lot of embarrassment and a lot of dignity and money spent in these attempts.

Joe traveled a lot in his job and Mary began to look forward to the nights he would be away. She could be free to cry or scream or curse at all the unfairness they were suffering.

It was getting to the point that seeing a pregnant woman or a woman with her children in the mall would cause her to clinch her jaw and taste the bile rising in her throat.

Drinking and drugs were so repulsive to her that she wasn’t tempted to use them to mask her pain.

Instead, she would take to her bed, curl into a fetal position, and clutch the pain within her as if her womb was aching for the baby it would never carry.

She could get through the weekdays because work was a sufficient distraction. Nights and weekends were awful.

Mary didn’t know who to blame.

Some nights she blamed herself; other nights she blamed Joe. The most painful nights were the ones when she blamed God; her guilt was overwhelming.

Confession didn’t help. The priest would tell her to remain true to God and do the appropriate penance but nothing would ever really take the pain away.

She finally decided that she was never going to bear a child; but that didn’t ease the pain of the loss she felt continuously.

Joe suggested adoption but she had no desire whatsoever to adopt. She wanted a baby to form in her own body, to birth it, and then watch it grow up; something like all their brothers and sisters were enjoying.

They started another round of weddings with nieces and nephews; and another round of pain at the prospects of the newlyweds against the impossibilities in her own life.

Over time, she had lost all desire for Joe and he had reluctantly moved to the bedroom down the hall. She obeyed the church edict in her spousal duties; but the church couldn’t make her enjoy it.

The day came when she told Joe that she had taken a promotion with her company that would require her to move to the home office in the mid-west. She didn’t want Joe to move with her.

Joe was dismayed and explained that he understood her lack of desire for him but he didn’t understand why she wanted a separation. He committed his love to her and reminded her that he had promised twenty years before to stand by her “for better and for worse.”

If she needed to move, he wouldn’t stand in her way, but as far as he was concerned, they were still married.

His commitment to her actually made her feel more guilty, but she didn’t let on. They’d both done a lot of acting over the years, especially Mary.

They explained the separation on her job and the demands of his career; and family and friends accepted it with appropriate sympathy for both Mary and Joe.

Making Changes

Mary got settled in her new apartment and plunged into her new job. She felt a little more peace due to the excitement of making a change. Days were busy but the nights were still filled with more of the same pain and longing.

She still felt the same despair when she saw women with their children. There was a park across from her apartment and most evenings she cried as she sat on her balcony listening to the children laughing and playing in the park; knowing that she would never hear the laughter of her own child.

Professionals had told her years before that she needed medication for her anxiety but she had always refused. She didn’t like having to take pills just to live her life.

There was a church a few blocks from her apartment and she decided to go to Mass one Saturday after she had been there a few months.

She looked forward to the mass and she went early so she could have confession and take the sacraments. The priest listened as she described her anger and pain. Then he said something very strange.

He absolved her and told her that an appropriate penance would be for her to look into Hannah’s Sisters. She could find a brochure in a rack in the narthex.

Mary learned that Hannah’s Sisters was a group for women who were living through emotional pain regardless of the source of the pain.

The original group was for barren women and was named for Hannah, the barren woman who made a vow to give her child to God if he would give her a son. God honored her request and her son, Samuel, lived to become a great prophet and high priest for Israel. You can read Hannah’s story here.

The brochure had contact information. When Mary awoke the next morning after another night of tossing and turning, she decided to call the woman.

She called that evening and they made an appointment to meet for coffee the next day.

Margaret, the Hannah’s Sisters leader, was waiting for Mary. They got their coffee and found a place where they could talk undisturbed.

After exchanging pleasantries, Mary asked her about the group.

Margaret explained that there were only three members at the present time.

Mary asked, “Why are there so few members? Surely there are more women hurting around here than that.”

”Of course, there are,” Margaret replied, “but we don’t keep them around for long.”

“What do you mean!”

“Mary, we’re not a social club. Women don’t use us to provide an on-going social function like so many self-help groups. We want to help women overcome their pain, and when they do that, they can make the appropriate decisions to be reconciled with their families and friends.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Mary said doubtfully.

“Mary, if there were a way that you could be free of your emotional pain in just a few weeks, would you be interested in knowing more about that?”

“Of course,” Mary answered, “but I doubt that’s possible after what I’ve gone through.”

“Mary, we care a whole lot more about where you want to go than about where you’ve been. In fact, we will never ask you about the source of your pain. If you want to learn about a simple and effective way to be free from your pain, whatever is causing it, come by the parish hall tomorrow night at seven o’clock and we’ll explain everything to you.”

The next evening, Mary joined Margaret and three other women on couches in a small room off the parish hall.

After introductions, Margaret explained that every week they review the three Life Principles and share their progress. She explained that they never talk about their problems because dwelling on past hurts always makes the hurt worse.

Most emotional pain is caused by rumination. In many cases, the original cause of the pain occurred far in the past. And if the pain is ongoing and there is no solution to the problem, then ruminating on it can cause more anxiety with inevitably leads to stress, depression and even physical pain.

She explained that the life principles they teach offer an easy way, that anyone can use, to deal with the negative thoughts that cause so much emotional pain.

“You asked yesterday, ‘why so few members?’”, Mary reminded her. “We’ve had over two hundred members over the years; but as they become successful in applying these principles in their lives, they don’t need us any more. So currently, we only have three members; four, if you want to join us.”

Mary nodded and Margaret went on to explain the three principles.

Three Life Principles

Life Principle 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that makes you angry, sad, or bitter, you simply say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

“If you prefer, which I do, you can say “I take this thought captive,” because that phrase comes right out of the Bible.

Each time we dismiss a thought, the thought is compelled to go away because that’s the way we are made. We own our thoughts and we do not have to think about anything that hurts us.

Margaret explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” she said.

She explained that each time we “take a painful thought captive,” we create a little bit of peaceful space in our emotions. As you take more negative thoughts captive, you create more peaceful space.

“The reason this works so well is Life Principle 2.”

Life Principle 2 – When you consistently practice the first principle, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

She explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I take this thought captive” consistently, it concludes over time that we don’t really want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts automatically.

Doing this consistently replaces your habits of anger, sadness, or bitterness with a new habit of peace.

Life Principle 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. She explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about painful things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to reconcile with our loved ones.

Margaret said that she’s sure these principles work because she has shared them with women for over 20 years. She said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, bitterness, victimhood, or whatever and create new habits of peace.

Margaret handed Mary a card. The card had the Three Life Principles on one side and blocks for each day of the week on the back. She explained, “Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that’ or ‘I take this thought captive.’” If you’re someplace where it would be weird speaking out loud, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I take this thought captive.’

“Then put a check card in the block every time you dismiss one of your negative thoughts. Each week when we meet, we review how each of you is doing. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because the Life Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Mary must have looked a little skeptical because Margaret suggested,”Mary, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this stupid idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start taking it captive.”

Each of the women shared her results of taking their thoughts captive for the previous week. Each had fewer negative thoughts that the week before. One girl, who was in her seventh week said this was her second week with no negative thoughts at all.

Still skeptical, Mary said to herself several times driving home and that evening, “I take this thought captive.” Each time, the thought went away briefly.

When the painful thoughts of childlessness barged in like they did every night, Mary took them captive out loud. She was amazed when each thought went away. They came back, like Margaret said they would and she took them captive again. After doing this several more times over the next half hour, Mary dropped off to sleep; the first time in years she had done so without crying.

The weeks passed quickly. Mary made good progress and she was excited as the number of negative thoughts diminished daily.

Mary found she had time to think about Joe and about the fact that she would never have children.

She called Joe one week and asked if she could come home that weekend; she had something to tell him. Joe was definitely puzzled; but he readily agreed to pick her up at the airport on Friday.

After freshening up at their house, Joe took her to her favorite restaurant and they enjoyed a very nice meal. Over dessert and coffee, she explained to Joe what she had been doing at Hannah’s Sisters.

She told Joe that she was at peace with the fact that she would never be a mother. And she then asked Joe to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him over the years. With tears in his eyes, Joe forgave her and asked her to come back home to him.

Her heart was full as Joe paid the check and they walked to the car. For the first time in years, she was actually enjoying being with her husband; and her heart was doubly full that God had given her a faithful husband who had continued to love her in spite of the trouble she had given him.

Out of habit, Joe started down the hall to his room until Mary touched his arm and said, “Joe, will you sleep in our room tonight?”

It took a few weeks to ease out of her position at headquarters and for a spot to open back in the office where in their home town; but the company made it happen for her.

She used that time to talk with Margaret about making Hannah’s Sisters a formal, legal organization that could expand into a number of locations where its alumni were living. Almost without exception, the women who had learned to live without pain were eager to share the Three Life Principles with other women.

She heard the front door open and Gilbert and Sullivan scampered across the living room and kitchen to their beds in the mud room. She heard Joe start down the hall. Joe may be lucky tonight, but Mary dimmed the lights thinking about how lucky and truly blessed she was – she was free of pain after hurting for years and she was helping other women find their freedom, too.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Three Life Principles. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Flying In The Fog

Flying In The FogFor many of us, life is like flying through dark, thick fog. We don’t know what lies ahead and we don’t know which way to turn to find safety.

Today I read a story by a man flying into a small town in Alaska. From where the writer sat in the passenger compartment, he could see exactly what the pilots saw: thick, gray nothingness. There were mountains out there and thousands of square miles where the small town wasn’t. He found it comforting to know that somewhere miles away, a controller was sitting in a warn, dry room in front of well-functioning instruments carefully guiding them to a safe landing.

Living in the Fog

We all know people who seem to live in such a fog; albeit an emotional fog. Their days and nights are so filled with anger, depression, stress, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and despair that there aren’t any reliable beacons or landmarks by which to guide themselves.

They make decisions in the fog often based on emotion rather than reasoning.

They find it hard to begin good relationships because their view of others is often obscured by the emotional fog.

They find it hard to sustain good, healthy relationships because their reactions to others are often influenced by fog-shrouded perceptions.

They feel all alone in the fog bank believing that nobody else could possibly be experiencing the same feelings of being lost without anyone to help them.

Overwhelmed by the Fog

Just as weather-related fog can shut us up in a world measured by feet or yards, emotional fog can completely separate us from all the things that are or should be important to us.

Emotional fog often blows in on a single thought, often a thought of something painful. We grow the fog by dwelling or ruminating on the thought. It’s almost like living the painful event over and over again.

The pain isn’t actually happening again; we’re just recreating it by replaying it in our minds.

We build up anger, resentment, stress, bitterness, fear and more by playing these internal recordings again and again.

Like fog, all these emotions wrap us up in a gray, dark, ugly world without any visible way to escape.

We long for something bright and beautiful in our world and from time to time, we can glimpse hope. But inevitably, the fog shifts and closes in on us again.

Carried by thoughts

A bright, sunny day can change quickly as a cold front of negativity sweeps in. Actually, instead of a cold front, the negativity is often just a single thought. We dwell on it. We ruminate. The thought churns and builds until we are overwhelmed by the recollection of something that happened yesterday; or last week; or last year; or farther back in our life.

The sadness is compounded in that we see it coming every time. We know that when that thought pops up, we’re going to lose our peace. It’s like something outside of us is causing us to suffer through this painful experience again and again.

But that’s not true. It’s just a thought, a reminder, a recollection that springs up and we let it grow thicker and uglier by chewing on it. And once again, we’re lost in a foggy world with nothing rational to guide us to safety.

It doesn’t have to be this way

We’re all made with a capacity to manage those negative, unwelcome worrisome thoughts before they can overwhelm us once again. I struck my first choice because I’m not so sure that negative thoughts are unwelcome for some of us. For some of us, life may have reached that point that we measure ourselves by our struggles instead of our victories. After all, since we can’t see an answer, so we must be exactly where we are meant to be.

Think about this. If each negative emotion is brought in on a single thought, then don’t think that thought.

If you know a thought is going to overwhelm you, don’t dwell on that thought.

Thoughts in themselves are not a problem. They can become a problem when we dwell on them and build an emotional response to the thought.

The simple solution is that you get to choose how you react to your negative thoughts. You were made to be able to do that. We can show you how to start doing that today.

When you don’t give the thought any traction, it doesn’t get the chance to “fog you in.”

Someone said, “That’s too simple. That won’t work for me.”

That may be the next negative thought that you need to deal with.

Resources you can use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with negative thoughts at http://findingpersonalpeace.com.

Use the free eBook you’ll find there to learn about dealing with your negative thoughts starting today. Then use the eCourse to learn how you can apply the idea to virtually any emotional issue in your life.

Here’s hoping you learn how to avoid the fog in your life.

Flying In The Fog

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Depression – A Matter of Focus

“Any moment that you can spend focusing on something or someone else is a moment in which depression can’tDepression – A Matter of Focus get your attention.” So says studentsagainstdepression.org

Google.com defines focus as being “the center of interest or activity.” What we think about is huge in determining how we feel.

Buddha says, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.” (reference). The quote goes on to say, “With our thoughts we make the world.” Now we’re not qualified to argue philosophy with the ancients, but one could suggest that it would be more meaningful to us on the personal level to say, “With our thoughts we make our world.”

Many people are able to let a wide variety of thoughts pass through their minds every day. They think; deal with it; and move on. This is much the same for both positive and negative thoughts for these people.

Many other people are not able to “deal with it” and “move on.” A negative thought pops up that reminds them of some painful event. They begin to relive the event and suffer the pain again in a sort of time warp. It’s not really happening again now, but it sure feels real.

For some people, this can happen again and again to the extent that we become emotionally and sometimes physically incapacitated by reliving the pain.

Students Against Depression suggests deliberately distracting ourselves by thinking about other things.

The Bible is very clear that we can have peace if we focus on true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things.

Philippians 4:7-9 says

7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Both these suggestions are good and may work for lots of people – the people who are good at “dealing with it” and “moving on” already.

But what if you’re not one of these deal-with-it-move-on people?

  • What if your negative thoughts come at you like mosquitoes on a warm summer evening? Every time you swat at one, another pops up from another direction.
  • What if your negative thoughts are like huge wind-driven waves in a tropical storm: black, heavy, relentless, crushing, and merciless with no escape?
  • What if you’ve tried to distract yourself so many times with positive thoughts that get thrown back in your face that you are convinced that “you’re just a failure and nothing is going to ever change and you’re just going to have to learn to live with it?”

When these situations describe you, deliberate attempts are self-distraction can lead to more frustration. So what to do?

St Paul tells us in the reference above that we can have peace by thinking on all the good things he lists.

The students tell us to distract ourselves.

May we suggest a first step?

Before making a list of possible distractions in addition to St. Paul’s list, may we make one simple and effective suggestion?

We can show you a simple tool and lead you through a process that will let you quickly break the habit of negative thinking one thought at a time.

There’s a free eBook that shows you the concept; and an eCourse that coaches you through the process.

Each thought that you handle properly will give you a moment of personal peace. As you manage more and more thoughts, the moments of personal peace get longer and stronger. The get connected.

You can use these growing moments to make better decisions, simply relax and be content, or to focus more on the things that St. Paul promises will bring long-term peace.

Resources You Can Use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with negative thinking and depression. Check it out at http://findingpersonalpeace.com. You’ll see both the eBook and the eCourse there.

You can use this concept with virtually any emotional issue including depression.

You can do some wonderful things in your life by dealing with your depression issues one negative thought at a time.

Depression – A Matter of Focus

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Depression – I Climbed a Mountain Yesterday

You may laugh when I describe my climbing a mountain; some would call it just a hill. But here in the Appalachian foothills, we call it a mountain. If you knew me, you would howl at the image of this totally nonathletic man climbing either a hill or a mountain.

Why would a sixty-something, with emphasis on the high-something, want to climb anything, especially a mountain? Can I say, “Because it is there?”

Depression – I Climbed a Mountain YesterdayI have some very dear friends who are part of Caritas of Birmingham, a mission community located near here. Their mission is to support the Marian visions that have been occurring daily since 1986 in Medjugorie, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia.

Depression – I Climbed a Mountain YesterdayThere is a cross on, appropriately named, “Cross Mountain” in Medjugorie that was built in 1933 to remind the citizens of the Croatian community that God had promised to protect their crops from damaging hailstorms that were common in the region.

In June, 2013, the Community of Caritas built a full-sized replica of the cross on Penitentiary Mountain near their property in Shelby County, Alabama.

You can learn more about Caritas of Birmingham’s ministry at mej.com

The cross has already been visited by thousands of people who climb the mountain for a variety of reasons ranging from the desire for an intense religious experience, to penance, to wanting to enjoy the peace and quiet of an autumn afternoon in central Alabama. That’s why I climbed it.

The cross is at the end of 1 ½ mile winding trail that passes from heavily-wooded terrain at lower levels, to a 30-40 degree rock-strewn incline for the last third of the climb.

Located along the trail (especially convenient for the older, more out-of-condition of us) are the fourteen Stations of the Cross that represent to Catholics the suffering of Christ as He passed along the Via Delarosa on his way to Golgotha.

I took advantage of the stations to catch my breath and reinforce myself for the next part of the climb.

My reward was spending an hour in the bright sunlight of an Alabama autumn watching the clouds drifting along above and tracking their shadows as they crossed the ridge 4 miles to the west and then slid silently across the valley until the shadow passed across my vigil point.

I was high enough and far enough removed from the highway through the valley that my first awareness of the few cars was their movement along the road. I would occasionally faintly hear the louder of them.

The hike back down was perhaps worse because it used a totally different set of muscles and the loose stone underfoot was treacherous. I lost my footing once and bounced along a couple of yards on my ample padding until I stopped sliding and carefully regained my footing. Those of you who laughed at the top may now laugh again.

It was a great experience and I would do it again.

I am convinced that if I were to make that climb two or three times a week, in a matter of a few months, I would be doing it quite easily without labored breathing and sore muscles. Over time, my body would respond positively to the exertion of climbing.

So how does all this relate to depression?

It occurs that depression is often like a mountain that people climb every day or several times a day whenever a negative thought pops into their mind and they allow it to dominate their thinking.

Their emotional mountain can be more difficult than my physical mountain because of the weird side-effect of Mount Depression getting taller every time they climb it. People strap the negative thoughts and emotional pain on their backs and then leave them on their mountain. The baggage left behind makes the next trek even more painful and difficult because of climbing over and beyond the previously-left baggage.

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus, writing on psychologytoday.com, says that you can’t think yourself out of depression.

You certainly can’t ruminate on the emotional pain again and again and expect it to go away on its own accord. Dwelling on the hurt just increases the baggage that you have to carry each time you go up the mountain. Then when you leave your baggage at the top, it just makes the mountain higher and more difficult.

Don’t start up Mount Depression

You can take steps, privately and painlessly, that will result in the emotional pain becoming less and less an issue for you.

As I will get stronger every time I ascend my rock and hiking-trail mountain, you can get stronger every time you refuse to take that first step up Mount Depression. When any negative thought pops up in your mind, you have the power to choose not to ruminate on that thought. Rumination is the same as climbing the trail to the top. If you refuse to give the thought any traction, you will, in an amazingly short time, discover that the thoughts are not popping up any more.

The danger is not in the thought; but rather in dwelling on it and letting it build your mountain taller and taller.

Resources you can use

You can learn how to simply and effectively deal with depression at http://findingpersonalpeace.com. There’s also an eBook you can download to start applying these principles of personal peace today.

You can use this information for just about any negative emotion or habit that bothers you in addition to your depression.

I hope Finding Personal Peace helps you learn to deal with your depression as much as it helped me with my anger.

Depression – I Climbed a Mountain Yesterday

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

When Worrying Becomes an Illness – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When Worrying Becomes an Illness – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)Some people are worriers, others are laid back. A little anxiety is a useful thing – if it wasn’t for the motivation of a little anxiety, we would never catch a train, pass an exam or meet a deadline.

This excellent article is presented verbatim from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/womenshealth/features/gad.htm

But is there such a thing as too much anxiety? The answer is, there certainly is.

There are people who constantly worry about money, their job and their health and anything else they can think of. Their anxiety becomes so all-embracing that it takes over their whole lives.

Some of these people have an illness known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

What is GAD?

Dr Jim White, consultant clinical psychologist at the Clydebank Health Centre, near Glasgow, told NetDoctor: ‘People with GAD worry about whether they have an incurable disease, how they are going to pay the mortgage or if the car will get through its MOT. But what makes them different from the rest of us is that they worry about worrying.

‘They wonder why all these thoughts are going through their head, but they can’t stop it. They have insights into what is happening to them. They know they have got things out of proportion, but there is nothing they can do about it.

‘People who are well off agonize over money. Healthy young men and women torture themselves with thoughts of fatal illnesses.

‘When they stand back and look at the situation, they can see that it doesn’t make sense but that doesn’t put their minds to rest. It has become an illness.’

What are the symptoms of GAD?

Apart from chronic anxiety, victims of GAD also experience physical symptoms.

They often complain of tightness in the muscles, headaches or a pain in the back of the neck. They have shortness of breath, a racing heart and abnormal tiredness.

Ordinary worrying does not bring on symptoms like these. The physical signs (including numbness, pins and needles and pain in the chest) can almost exactly mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. This can cause further anxiety.

Other symptoms include dizziness, sweating, restlessness, difficulty in concentrating and irritability.

Dr White has found that some of his GAD patients can function perfectly well in their jobs when they are busy and focused, but when they get home and sit in front of the TV excessive mental processing starts. And later, lying in bed, it continues.

Who suffers from GAD? 

GAD often strikes in the late teens or early 20s according to Dr White. It can also start in the 30s or 40s but rarely emerges for the first time later in life. It affects women about twice as often as men.

Some surveys suggest that two million people in the UK have GAD, and that as a mental health problem it’s second only to depression. The World Health Organization estimates that only half of all cases are diagnosed.

How do I know if I have GAD? 

Dr Allan Norris, a psychologist at the Birmingham Nuffield hospital, said: ‘In severe cases, it can lead to people being unable to live a normal life. They may fear they are about to crash the car if they drive, or simply find that they get caught up worrying and feeling anxious about life situations’.

If you’re as anxious as this, it probably is GAD. Abnormal physical symptoms are also a sign.

Mr John Spector, a consultant psychologist and head of clinical psychology at Watford General Hospital, told NetDoctor: ‘It is quite normal to worry about something like an exam. But if you live under a constant sense of threat and worry about things that others would regard as insignificant – to the extent that you are dysfunctional in most aspects of your life – it’s likely you’re suffering from generalized anxiety disorder’.

How is it diagnosed? 

According to Dr White, most people with GAD go to their GP complaining of physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness or stomach problems. The GP may diagnose their real problem from careful questioning.

The doctor may be alerted to the possibility of GAD if the patient has a wide span of symptoms, especially if they are coupled with insomnia or alcohol misuse. The GP may order some tests to rule out physical illness to help him with the diagnosis.

When GAD is pinpointed the patient will be referred to a psychologist.

What can be done for people with GAD?

Dr White says: ‘We usually start by providing a lot of information about GAD. The patient who has often struggled with the condition for years is usually reassured just by being given a diagnosis.

‘Drug treatment has not proved very successful (though SSRI antidepressants can be useful for some people) and cognitive behavior therapy is now regarded as the best way forward.

‘This involves standing back and analyzing your thoughts. The patient is helped to evaluate how he or she thinks of themselves and the world. They are encouraged to face up to their problems and difficulties,’ said Dr White.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a method of changing the way we think. People with GAD may also benefit from what is called ‘problem solving’ to give them a greater feeling of controlling what is happening to them. They are often lacking these skills.

They also benefit from relaxation methods and breathing control to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Planning relaxing and pleasurable activities are useful ways of distracting themselves from their worries. Physical exercise can also achieve this.

Even with these methods, the research shows that only 50 per cent of GAD victims recover. For many, it becomes a chronic condition that may leave them for a while only to reappear again in the future.

No one knows what causes GAD, but some psychologists believe it is rooted in a lack of stability during childhood.

GAD is not something people should think they could learn to live with because it can lead to other psychiatric problems like depression. It is too complicated a condition for the victims to pull themselves out of it. They need help.

Anyone who feels their little niggly worries are becoming a preoccupation, that they are getting too up tight about small things and experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety, should talk to their GP.

The one thing that everyone agrees on is that the earlier help is given, the better your chances of leaving your cares behind you and once again joining the ranks of the laid back.

[end of article]

The Mayo Clinic includes self-care as a treatment alternative saying, “Exercise produces chemical changes that can calm the body and combat anxiety. Meditation, yoga, music and massages promote relaxation and can ease anxiety. Healthy eating, with regular meals and energy-boosting snacks, is helpful, as is avoiding caffeine and nicotine.”

Self-Care – Another Approach

Another approach might be to learn how you can manage those negative, worrisome thoughts before they become worries. You can do it painlessly in the privacy of your home.

Thoughts in themselves are not a problem. They can become a problem when we dwell on them and worry about the content of the thought.

The solution is that you get to choose how you react to your conscious thoughts.

Resources you can use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with worries and GAD at http://findingpersonalpeace.com/r000.

You can use this information for just about any negative emotion or habit that bothers you in addition to worries or GAD.

I hope Finding Personal Peace helps you learn to deal with worrying as much as it helped me with my anger.

When Worrying Becomes an Illness – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Depression – Symptoms and Warning Signs

Depression Symptoms and Warning SignsYou can learn how to recognize depression symptoms and get effective help, sometimes in the privacy of your own home and totally under your control.

This article is taken verbatim with noted exceptions from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm

The normal ups and downs of life mean that everyone feels sad or has “the blues” from time to time. But if emptiness and despair have taken hold of your life and won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just getting through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. Understanding the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment of depression is the first step to overcoming the problem.

What is depression?

Sadness or downswings in mood are normal reactions to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

Are you depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

  • You can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • You feel hopeless and helpless
  • You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • You’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • You have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)

Signs and symptoms of depression

Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that’s when it’s time to seek help.

Common signs and symptoms of depression

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Depression and suicide

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it’s a cry for help.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)     Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy

If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern and seek professional help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life!

When you’re feeling extremely depressed or suicidal, your problems don’t seem temporary—they seem overwhelming and permanent. But with time, you will feel better, especially if you reach out for help. If you are feeling suicidal, know that there are many people who want to support you during this difficult time, so please reach out for help!

Read Feeling Suicidal? or call 1-800-273-TALK in the U.S. or or visit Befrienders Worldwide to find a helpline in your country.

Depression causes and risk factors

Some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward. If you have diabetes, you take insulin. If you have appendicitis, you have surgery. Depression, however, is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it’s not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much—if not more so—than genetics. However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression.

Causes and risk factors for depression

  • Loneliness
  • Lack of social support
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Financial strain
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Health problems or chronic pain

The cause of your depression helps determine the treatment

Understanding the underlying cause of your depression may help you overcome the problem. For example, if you are depressed because of a dead end job, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant. If you are new to an area and feeling lonely and sad, finding new friends at work or through a hobby will probably give you more of a mood boost than going to therapy. In such cases, the depression is remedied by changing the situation.

[text omitted]

Build emotional skills

Many people lack the skills needed to manage stress and balance emotions. Building emotional skills can give you the ability to cope and bounce back from adversity, trauma, and loss. In other words, learning how to recognize and express your emotions can make you more resilient.

[end of original article]

Continuing on this suggestion about building emotional skills, it is very possible that you can make strides against your depression by recognizing and reacting properly to the emotional triggers that are driving your depression.

That topic is the subject of the material referenced below.

Resources You Can Use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal depression. Check it out at http://findingpersonalpeace.com/r000.

You can use this concept with virtually any emotional issue including depression.

You can do some wonderful things in your life by dealing with your depression issues one negative thought at a time.

Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Depression – An Issue for Children

Depression is an Issue for ChildrenThe primary symptoms of depression in children revolve around sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and mood changes.

This article, http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children, is so compelling that I’ve included the sections relevant to depression verbatim.

Can Children Really Suffer From Depression?

Yes. Childhood depression is different from the normal “blues” and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems sad, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has significant depression. If the sadness becomes persistent, or if disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life develops, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness. Keep in mind that while depression is a serious illness, it is also a treatable one.

How Can I Tell if My Child Is Depressed?

The symptoms of depression in children vary. It is often undiagnosed and untreated because they are passed off as normal emotional and psychological changes that occur during growth. Early medical studies focused on “masked” depression, where a child’s depressed mood was evidenced by acting out or angry behavior. While this does occur, particularly in younger children, many children display sadness or low mood similar to adults who are depressed. The primary symptoms of depression revolve around sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and mood changes.

Signs and symptoms of depression in children include:

  • Irritability or anger.
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection.
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased.
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep.
  • Vocal outbursts or crying.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment.
  • Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Impaired thinking or concentration.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Not all children have all of these symptoms. In fact, most will display different symptoms at different times and in different settings. Although some children may continue to function reasonably well in structured environments, most kids with significant depression will suffer a noticeable change in social activities, loss of interest in school and poor academic performance, or a change in appearance. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol, especially if they are over the age of 12.

Although relatively rare in youths under 12, young children do attempt suicide — and may do so impulsively when they are upset or angry. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide, but boys are more likely to actually kill themselves when they make an attempt. Children with a family history of violence, alcohol abuse, or physical or sexual abuse are at greater risk for suicide, as are those with depressive symptoms.

Which Children Get Depressed?

About 2.5% of children in the U.S. suffer from depression. Depression is significantly more common in boys under the age of 10. But by age 16, girls have a greater incidence of depression.

What Causes Depression in Children?

As in adults, depression in children can be caused by any combination of factors that relate to physical health, life events, family history, environment, genetic vulnerability and biochemical disturbance. Depression is not a passing mood, nor is it a condition that will go away without proper treatment.

Can Depression in Children Be Prevented?

Children with a family history of depression are at greater risk of experiencing depression themselves. Children who have parents that suffer from depression tend to develop their first episode of depression earlier than children whose parents do not. Children from chaotic or conflicted families, or children and teens who abuse substances like alcohol and drugs, are also at greater risk of depression.

How Is Depression Diagnosed in Children?

If the symptoms of depression in your child have lasted for at least two weeks, you should schedule a visit with his or her doctor to make sure there are no physical reasons for the symptoms and to make sure that your child receives proper treatment. A consultation with a mental health care professional who specializes in children is also recommended.

A mental health evaluation should include interviews with you (the parent or primary caregiver) and your child, and any additional psychological testing that is necessary. Information from teachers, friends and classmates can be useful for showing that these symptoms are consistent during your child’s various activities and are a marked change from previous behavior.

There are no specific tests — medical or psychological — that can clearly show depression, but tools such as questionnaires (for both the child and parents) combined with personal information can be very useful in helping diagnose depression in children.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Treatment options for children with depression are similar to those for adults, including psychotherapy (counseling) and medication. The role that family and the child’s environment play in the treatment process is different from that of adults. Your child’s doctor may suggest psychotherapy first, and consider antidepressant medicine as an additional option if there is no significant improvement. The best studies to date indicate that a combination of psychotherapy and medication is most effective at treating depression.

Studies show that the antidepressant Prozac is effective in treating depression in children and teens. The drug is officially recognized by the FDA for treatment of children 8-18 with depression.

Long-Term Outlook

Studies have found that first-time depression in children is occurring at younger ages than previously. As in adults, depression may occur again later in life. Depression often occurs at the same time as other physical illnesses. And because studies have shown that depression may precede more serious mental illness later in life, diagnosis, early treatment and close monitoring are crucial.

As a parent, it is sometimes easier to deny that your child has depression. You may put off seeking the help of a mental health care professional because of the social stigmas associated with mental illness. It is very important for you — as the parent — to understand depression and realize the importance of treatment so that your child may continue to grow physically and emotionally in a healthy way. It is also important to seek education about the future effects depression may have on your child throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Depression in Children: Warning Signs

Parents should be particularly vigilant for signs that may indicate that their child is at risk for suicide.

Warning signs of suicidal behavior in children include:

  • Many depressive symptoms (changes in eating, sleeping, activities)
  • Social isolation
  • Talk of suicide, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Increased acting-out of undesirable behaviors (sexual/behavioral)
  • Increased risk-taking behaviors
  • Frequent accidents
  • Substance abuse
  • Focus on morbid and negative themes
  • Talk about death and dying
  • Increased crying or reduced emotional expression
  • Giving away possessions

(end of article)

Resources you can use

Learn how to simply and effectively deal with a child’s depression. Check it out at http://findingpersonalpeace.com/r000.

This concept can easily be taught to your children as a tool they can use to protect themselves from the negative thinking that can lead to depression.

You can also use this concept with virtually any emotional issue including childhood depression.

You can do some wonderful things in your child’s life by showing them how to deal with their depression issues one negative thought at a time.

Depression is an Issue for Children

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!