Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Small steps throw hard punches.

.....being continued.....a week later. Wow.

I was talking about my depression in my last "real" blog. My depression is lifting, it feels. Finally. My behavioral therapist is seriously committed to helping people. With the exception of the weekends, for the last two weeks straight he has come in early on his own accord so that he could be here to help and encourage me to get my day started by exercising at 7:30am. And I'm not talking about just a knock on the door telling me to wake up, because my alarm technically wakes me up. Rather, he quietly knocks on my door a few times before opening the door, cheerfully saying, "Good morning, Kristen." He then engages me in very simple conversation, most of which I don't remember because of the sleepy fog I find myself entrenched in during the mornings. After asking how I slept, what I did the previous evening, and whatever else he comes up with, I sit up, often try to argue my way back into being "allowed" to go back to sleep, sigh because it's apparent his plan is to continue talking so going back to bed isn't going to be peaceful anyways, and throw my feet out of bed and into my slippers. At which time my BT smiles and says, "I'll be waiting at the end of the hall." No joke, if I am not at the end of the hall within a few minutes, that man is back at my door, softly knocking and saying, "Kristen, you almost ready?" I can't imagine that patience and encouragement are the easiest virtues to muster up in the mornings, but his display of them is literally changing my life in so many ways.

To come full circle, getting up at 7:30 and exercising for at least 20 minutes is a "task" I have to do every day regardless of how I'm feeling to help combat my depression. Pretty standard...we all know exercise increases the endorphins in our brain which help us feel better; however, the idea behind the task and enjoyment related lists is learned behavior. "Depression is as depression does." A tweaked Forest Gump-ism my BT picked up somewhere along his educational journey that he has shared with me. When I'm depressed I feel like sleeping. Sleeping causes me to be unproductive. Being unproductive causes me to feel depressed. It's a vicious circle. What my BT is doing is helping me break out of this vicious circle, and then teaching me how to increase my odds of not getting back into it. I'm likely to get depressed again, but the key is learning how to not get stuck in the life-depleting cycle.

Some other items on my task list are: showering, doing my hair and make up, brushing my teeth before group at 9am....all things that are extremely hard to do consistently when I'm depressed. So what my BT did was break down the tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks so that on my most depressing days, I am still working towards the ultimate goal of properly taking care of myself every day. For example, doing my hair was broken down into blow drying hair, then blow drying and styling hair. On my super downer days, it's hard to find the motivation to comb out my wet hair, so getting it dry is an accomplishment that goes a long way in teaching my brain that small steps throw hard punches at depression. The enjoyment related list is the same idea. Some items on my enjoyment related list are: blogging/journaling :), reading magazines, swimming, crafts, calling friends/family, emails. Like the tasks, even the things I typically enjoy doing are simplified so I can still accomplish them on my bad days. Every day I report what I did from my task and enjoyment lists and how long I did each. So basic, but so brilliant.


  1. Does this mean I will have a walking buddy in the AM?

  2. Good for you, Kristen! Keep listening to that brute of a BT. Sounds like a pretty smart guy. Every time it seems like the mountain is too high, just picture all those who love you standing behind you holding you up (and the blow dryer and the toothbrush and the hairspray and whatever else you need.) Go Team Kristen!
    In your corner,

  3. Michelle, did you leave that comment? If so, yes....hopefully we can get a consistent morning walking/running routine down. :) Can't wait to get home!!