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Beth’s Story: Getting Back to Thriving After Depression

In this podcast Beth shares her story of surviving depression and bipolar II disorder – and getting back to thriving!

Learn the 4-G’s of Feelin’ Good (Goin’, Greens, Givin’ & Gratitude) here.

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Get the “Get Back on the Feel Good Train” eBook.

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Transcript:

 

Hi, I’m Beth Sawickie and I want to welcome you to the Thriving After Life Kicks Your Butt Podcast. I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself in this podcast: where I’ve been, where I’m at now and where I’m headed and how I can help you get back to thriving after life has kicked your butt. I want to see you get back to feeling great, loving life and thriving. It is possible.

So, a little bit about me, well, I’ve realized that my purpose is actually to thrive after depression and bipolar two disorder by making my mental, physical and spiritual health top priorities and I really want to inspire you to do the same. Now, it’s been a long time coming to get me to this point. Back when I was fifteen or so, I believe, is when my depression actually started, but it wasn’t until many, many years later – fifteen and over – that I actually found out what the problem was and got proper treatment and everything, so it’s been a crazy ride through that – tons of highs and tons of lows.

I’d say I was a sad clown on a crazy, run-away rollercoaster. If you know anybody who’s gone through this, you know it is very challenging and it’s not always that somebody comes out the other end and I’m very grateful that I have, so where I’m at now is: I’ve been good with consistently staying on my meds and seeing a therapist for a number of years now and life is good, but I realize that I needed to do something more – like therapy and meds were not the whole puzzle, they were just pieces of the puzzle – so, I realized that I needed to seriously take an active role – be an active participant – in my mental and physical health – and spiritual health too.

But, I didn’t know where to start, like I would go and be like, “Okay, I’m gunna do this crazy health routine. I’m going to go and juice for six months and, you know, I’m gunna go and, you know, and just do something for a long time,” and what would happen is that it just didn’t work well for me, so I realized that I was learning a lot of good self-help techniques and stuff, but what I needed were just simple strategies. I didn’t need something that was, like, an all-consuming crazy thing. I just need some simple things to help me stay feeling good and healthy.

So, what I started doing is what I call the Four Gs of Feeling Good: going, greens, give in and gratitude where every day I move my body somehow. Maybe it’s a walk or I go to yoga – I do something – and every day I strive to eat more greens and keep those in my diet – whether it’s juicing, smoothies or a salad – and every day giving and not just others, but also to myself. I’ve had to learn to really cut myself a break and be kind to myself and gratitude. Every day I sit down in the evening and I write down at least three things that I’m grateful for and you’d be amazed and just how doing that can really just bring things into perspective and open you up to the good in your life that you maybe didn’t realize was there. Even if you can’t think of what to write and you just write, you know, I’m grateful to be able to breathe in and out because that, in and of itself, is a miracle.

Now, through doing this I also was able to reconnect to myself and ignite passions that I didn’t know I had and when I started out I just was like, “Oh, I don’t know what I’m passionate about. I don’t know what I really enjoy doing so much,” but, through doing the Four G process, I discovered that I love photography – nature photography – and being creative with photographs and digital art, so that’s something that I post on my website from time to time are new creations of mine and I’ve also, you know, rediscovered my love of nature and gardening and, you know, it’s just been great, so now I’m really in a much better place. I’m much more balanced and happier and my life is pretty darn good.

I take care of myself – body, mind and soul – and I’m always looking for new ways to take care of myself in that way and I’ve made my self-care a priority. I’m definitely a work-in-progress and I’m always, you know, finding new ways to improve and, you know, as long as each day is better – a bit – than the one before or just as good I’m happy, so that’s my story and I’d love to hear yours, so come visit me at www.bethsawickie.com. That’s b-e-t-h-s-a-w-i-c-k-i-e.com and go get your copy of Get Back on the Feel Good Train: Simple Strategies to Help Get You Back on Track – it’s free on my website and it’ll help you get started with the Four Gs, which are really simple, and there’s also a free journal sheet included, so you can log them each day.

‘Kay, come see me on the web – bethsawickie.com – also Facebook – Beth Sawickie – and I’ll see you around. Thank-you for listening to the Thriving After Life Kicks Your Butt Podcast. I’m choosing to feel good, thrive and live life and I hope you are too.

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Beth Sawickie is a survivor of depression and Bipolar II Disorder who has learned to THRIVE by making her mental, physical and spiritual health top priorities. Beth helps and inspires others get back to thriving after life has kicked their butt! Read more about her here.

*Free “Get Back on the Feel Good Train” eBook & journal page. Get yours below…

Reaching for Something Good During Depression

Reaching for something good http://bethsawickie.com/reaching-something-good-depression

The recent death of Robin Williams really shook me.  My boyfriend told me he had died and I was expecting to hear “of a heart attack” or some other natural cause – NOT that he killed himself.

He was one of my favorite generators of laughter.  But not only that – he had depression, and was bipolar – and he chose to check-out.  How could someone with the finances to get ANY type of help he needed end it all?   If HE couldn’t survive it then could I?

I know the deep anguish and internal emotional pain that brings one to that point.  I’d rather be physically beaten then go through the internal emotional beating of depression that is invisible to the outside world.   At least with bruises and cuts you can say to someone – “look, I’m hurt, I need help”.  With internal emotional damage it is all to easy to say “well, you look fine – and you were just laughing yesterday – don’t be silly – you’re fine.”  Meanwhile your brain is being stomped on and your heart is being torn apart with a pitch fork.  Things are so so dark – you breath the darkness and become enveloped in it.

The most important thing to remember is that there ARE ways to get help.

You must gather the strength to reach for something good.  Even when you don’t think that good exists anymore.

Muster the strength to make that call to a suicide hotline or call 9-1-1.

U.S. National Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273-TALK(8255)

For a list of International Suicide Hotlines click here.

Get in touch with professionals, see a Doctor AND do what you can on your end to help yourself feel better.

Reaching for Something Good

A huge part of my recovery has been to recognize when those bad feelings are starting.  I acknowledge them, and then choose to reach for something good – something that will help me feel better.  And – NO – I am not talking about drugs or alcohol.  I have gone that route and I KNOW that self-medicating does not work in the long run and can even make things worse.  You can learn a more about me here and I share more about my story in Get Back on the Feel Good Train.

After hearing of the suicide of Robin Williams it really knocked me for a loop.  I allowed myself time to process it and feel sad.  But when I felt myself start slipping further than that – I KNEW I had to reach for something good.  For me that was watching Robin on YouTube, a Weird Al video (Tacky) and working on some of my photographs.  It also included talking with my therapist about his death and reminding myself of all the things I do to keep myself healthy.  And making sure I made it to my Yoga class – I always come out of there feeling fabulous.

What If You Don’t Remember What Makes You Feel Good?

But how do you reach for something good when you don’t know what “good” is anymore?

When coming out of a depression I often have a hurdle to overcome – I had forgotten what made me feel good!

Whenever I’ve come out of a depression it is as-if the hard drive of my brain has just crashed – been totally wiped.  I don’t know what brings me joy and, at that point, I’m not sure I even had anything I enjoyed doing ever.

I had to start with taking little steps back to feeling good.

I knew that feeling good was NOT JUST popping some little magical pills.  My meds definitely help – as does therapy – but those were only part of the puzzle.  I wanted to kick this depressions butt from all sides and not leave any room for it to return.

I had to become an Active Participant in My Mental and Physical Health – and I HAD TO make it a priority – my survival depends on it.

I began working on my mind, body and soul by doing something I call the 4-G’s of Feeling Good.

The 4-G's of Feelin' Good www.BethSawickie.com

Goin’ – I noticed how my body felt good after moving.  I eventually discovered that I LOVE Yoga.

Greens – I noticed that my body responds well to eating more veggies – my mind feels clear, I sleep better and I crave less junk.

Givin’ – Most importantly I learned to give to MYSELF.  To be kind to myself.  To start to believe that I am just as worthwhile as anyone else.  Read a bit about this in my post about Scratchy Napkins here.

Gratitude – Being thankful.  Each day I write down 3 things I am grateful for.  I see this as a way of focusing on things that I would like MORE of – or focusing on feelings I would like to have more often.

You can learn more about the 4-G’s in my book Get Back on the Feel Good Train.

Through doing the 4-G’s AND writing them down, I slowly began to re-ignite that spark in myself.  I began finding things I truly enjoyed doing.

I have built up a list of things that I KNOW help me to feel good.  Now, when I am starting to feel down I have a list of feel good things I can reach for.

Things like:

  • A walk in nature.
  • Sitting outside in the sunlight.
  • Talking with a friend (sometimes).
  • Watching funny videos on YouTube.  My favorites are any funny/cute animal videos.  More recently I watched Weird Al’s video for “Tacky” a spoof on “Happy”.
  • Watching a funny movie or TV show.  Faves of mine include What About Bob?, The Three Amigos, RV (Robin Williams),  National Lampoon Vacations, and I Love Lucy re-runs.
  • Yoga
  • Processing my photographs and creating digital art.

What are some things that are simple for you to do that help you feel good?

Share them with me in the comments below.

In conclusion I would like to say…

Thank you, Robin, for bringing so much joy and laughter into the world in a way that only you could.

In this great loss has also come great awareness.  The conversation about depression has been started.  A light has been shone on this invisible disease that pains more people than we realize.

A few months ago I had a great conversation with Alana Blundo about the importance of talking about depression – You can listen to Changing the Perception of Mental Illness HERE.

Please, continue the conversation.  Reach out for help and to help others as well.

Reach for something good!

 

Ever Feel Like the Hard Drive in Your Brain Just Crashed?

Image and quote by Beth Sawickie www.BethSawickie.com/Have you ever felt as if your brain is a hard drive and somebody just wiped it clean?  The operating system is still there (the basics – breath, pump blood, walk, speak…etc.) But now you need to try to remember which programs and stuff you like to use so you can install them again.  Problem is… you don’t really remember!

That is how I feel each time I come out of a cycle of depression.

While in that depressive state I could find joy in nothing – as if my internal computer has the “blue screen of death” (remember that Windows users?).  Then when coming out of the depressive state I couldn’t remember where to find joy.  For me, it’s never been like flipping a switch and being like- oh – “depression turned off” –  you’re all good and back to “normal” now.

 

Have you ever been so blah that you couldn’t even remember what it is you would actually enjoy doing let alone anything that would help you to feel better?

 

You really want to feel better, but what should you do?  What to start with?  Which thing will work best?

 

Too many choices, possibilities and sometimes too little at the same time – roll over and go back to sleep.

 

I’ve been there.

 

What helps me is having a “feel good” plan in place so at least I have some basics covered.  Things that nourish my body, mind and soul.  I wanted to find just a few simple things that I could do when coming out of a depression.  For me, even the simplest of tasks can leave me dumb-founded and frustrated as I’m re-emerging from that dark hole.  So I needed to find somewhat simple things.

 

Likewise, I wanted something simple that I could stick with all the time – something that could help me stay in that “feelin’ good” place.  I really believe that the more I am able to do things that are good for my body, mind and soul – the less prone I am to falling into that pit of despair we call depression.

 

For me, that ended up being the “4-G’s” – Goin’, Greens, Gratitude,  and Giving.
Every day I strive to get Goin’ by moving my body.  I eat Greens – smoothies, juices, salads.  Every evening I write down 3 things I am Grateful for from the day.  And every day I look for a way to Give to others.

 

My ultimate goal is to program these 4-G’s into my “operating system” so they are just part of the normal program – automatic and ingrained in my daily lifestyle.

 

These “4-G’s” help to nourish my body, mind and spirit.  They help to get me back on track and keep me there.  You can read more about these in my free e-Book “Get Back on the Feel Good Train: 4 Simple Strategies for Getting Back on Track“.

 

I also find that the more I nourish my body, mind and soul, the better I feel and the more good I have to give to others.

 “The more I nourish my body, mind and soul, the better I FEEL and the more GOOD I have to give to others.”– Beth Sawickie [click here to TWEET THIS!]

How about you?   Have you ever struggled with getting back to “normal” after a depressive episode or similar?  What has helped you?  I want to know 🙂 Leave a comment below…

(Prints of the image up above are available HERE.)