Anxiety and depression – Hobbies

What do you reckon, is there any benefit for someone with depression pursuing hobbies? Generally speaking hobbies are quite passive (here I am not talking about extreme sports like BASE jumping etc., rather this is more the kind that requires more mental exertion than physical), yes like stamp collecting but certainly not just that passive. My wife and I have a number of hobbies that we enjoy together (making stained glass items, cooking (and eating), travelling, etc.) and we have our own hobbies, I really enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad, and making rainbow band bracelets, I like walking, and golf…not that I indulge in these very often (other than cooking and eating) but they are there as things I can do and know I will enjoy doing them.

For me, hobbies are a great way to distract my thinking…it’s not easy to be thinking about something else when you are standing over a hot pan with spices burning while trying to read a recipe! An extreme example I know but true. I so often read in people’s posts that their thoughts are tearing them down and I know that psychologists and psychiatrists will talk about CBT etc to break the pattern, and these are genuine options, but I find them overly onerous and even depressing to think about. On the other hand, thinking about something to eat, comes much easier! I will take a shot at anything now as I enjoy eating everything. Anything to do with bread is great, I love making dough and thanks to Jamie Oliver, I am really good at it. Scones, shortbread, ANZAC cookies are good for quick ‘knock up’ food that is probably more for the days when eating something sweet and fattening is what you really feel like doing. Curries and spicy food are for the days when the brain is a complete can of worms and just won’t let you go.

Honestly I have had enough of dwelling on my depression and trying to retrain my thinking etc., in most instances I found that I just ended up digging myself into a deeper hole and not wanting to come out, the quick distraction of a hobby seems to work much better…for me! And, it doesn’t always work but it has been by far the best treatment for me. I know that for some who read this, nothing I have said will work for them whereas other treatments will work, so just keep chipping away until you find what works for you, just don’t think that it has to be drugs or medical treatment that will work. Who knows you could be a great musician or artist (or chef) waiting to happen, there are so many possibilities, and what you might think are just hobbies, could in fact be a solution for your gloomy days.

Life in the swamp! (6) – The youngest of three (8) and “depression”

Ok that is definitely a confusing title…explanation, I am the youngest of eight (which became ten…I was still number eight obviously but I had two younger sisters), however the first five siblings had all left home before my memories begin. Therefore for a good number of years it was just myself and my two older brothers (and our parents of course). But what does this have to do with depression and anxiety?

Overall we got on very well and as would have been obvious from earlier posts, there was a lot of fun to be had, and who knows maybe it was because I was an annoying little brother, but when my brothers decided to turn their tongues on me it was crushing. Yes I was clearly over sensitive and they probably were just having fun, but I can still remember those times in my life as clearly as I remember what day of the week it is…actually I rarely know what day it is so maybe ‘as clearly as I remember my name’ is a better way to express it. These tirades rarely turned to violence as they were both a good deal bigger than me, what now though is apparent is that I would probably have been better off if things had been more physical, I was a country kid and ‘physical’ was ok, ’emotional’ on the other hand was not even in the vocabulary. So I would run off somewhere, there are always plenty of places to run in the country, and suffer alone. Naturally by the time I got back they would have moved on and I knew better than to pour petrol onto the embers…just leave it alone.

One of their favored ways of getting me going was by name calling, and by this I don’t mean calling me an idiot or stupid when I acted such. No, this was just plain name calling designed to brighten an otherwise dull day for them. For example, who remembers Coronation Street? “I’ll have a half” (who use to say that?) We only had a misty old black and white TV (this was in the 60’s – 1960’s not 1860’s), and this was what England exported to the colonies. Anyhow there was a character called Enid Sharples,

Enid Sharples

wow was she a piece of work, now it makes no sense at all from either side but this is what they would call me. Obviously I should have just thought how stupid they were calling a 5/6/7 year old boy that name, but it didn’t work like that and I would plummet into despair…yeah I was as stupid as them, but you know what, those comments are still burnt into me till this day! Whether there was actually something else that I associated that name (or the others) with I don’t know, it would then make some sense, still, I would just keep piling it up until eventually we all grew out of it – or so I thought. Then as teenagers and adults we got on fine and at different times I have been in business with each of them. We are all play golf, scuba dive and have spent a lot of time together engaged in these activities.

In 1996 I moved with my family to eastern Australia and have not spoken to these two brothers since. Truth is we were never the kind of family that kept in touch so this is not anything unusual, some members of my direct family I have not spoken to in over thirty years. As for uncles, aunties and cousins, I don’t know most of them and really have never had much inclination to do so.

My purpose in writing this is not to focus attention on my brothers and try to blame them for what has happened to me, I don’t think for a minute that ‘they’ were the cause of my depression. I just wanted to highlight  just how much of an affect things that happened so long ago can have on one, and how they have gone on with their lives not even aware of what was happening. I guess it is a warning to all of us that we can’t see inside the other persons head, therefore we need to be conscious of what we could be innocently doing.


Anxiety and Depression – Discovery Post

Yes this post has nothing to do with sharing my experiences or thoughts, rather I am asking a question about something that is on my mind.

Question: how is it possible to be in a state of depression, not necessarily deeply depressed but in that place where you feel like you should have stayed in bed, and at the same time say that you enjoyed…that meal, that afternoon shopping, that quiet evening watching TV with your wife, etc.?

My wife has often asked me this and initially my response would be that it is different. Now I wonder myself, is it possible? Or am I just kidding myself? Or is this something that varies from person to person? It is something that I have never actually looked into so maybe someone else has and can enlighten me!

Anxiety and Depression – Online Mood Programs

Recently I was asked by my psychologist to take a look at an online mood program called Happify, he asked for my thoughts on whether I thought it a useful program….maybe he was trying to tell me I’m a miserable so-and-so and this program might help!

Let me just say up front that I am no expert and there is a lot of science in this program that I would in no way call into question.  However, having said that let me say this (old Aussie political joke), for me the mark of anything good is not the science of it, it’s whether users will keep using it, medication, food, programs, same rule applies.

For me I love technology but when it comes to games, I get excited for two or three days, play them every chance I get, then suddenly realize I haven’t touched them for a week.

This program (Happify) is very well presented and you don’t need a degree to use it, although I did find myself a couple of times guessing at what I was to do next. This again though is probably because I am one of those “you only read the instructions when everything else has failed” kind of people – I’m really hanging out for the day when someone writes a program that is ‘truly’ intuitive.

It is the kind of program that you really need to set aside a decent amount of time to spend on it, not compulsory but better if you do as benefits are more likely to be apparent if you give it the extra yards. At Professionals, it makes the point that this program is suitable for “older adolescents 16+ who don’t have a significant mental health issue…”. The article also mentioned the site being promoted to young people “as something they could complete independent of receiving counselling” but “identifying specific tracks (stages in the game) that are age appropriate.” Since Professionals is a site designed for professional caring for young people with mental health issues, their comments are directed in that way, they do however say that it is suitable for all ages.

So for all having been said and done, where does that leave us? Right back at the beginning…there’s nothing wrong with the program providing you don’t try to use it as an alternative to seeking professional help (see my post Priority One Getting Help). How long you will use it depends a lot on your resilience to the “bells and whistles” of computer based programs. I had good fun with some of the “tracks” that I did and you likely will too! Did it improve or help in lifting me out of depression? Well that’s probably a bit too complicated to say and would be unfair to do so as I have not put in the time – I go back to my point that I am not a person who keeps going back to games unless they fit me. The rest is up to you, happy playing… (I may come back to this subject again if I get the opportunity to spend some more time on it. I would also like to hear others comments on the program)