How do you maintain a positive paradigm?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    So, I know that having a positive perspective is what is healthy, and the key to alleviating depression - but how? How do you maintain that attitude day after day without getting beaten down?
    I have read all the books;
    I have read The Power of Positive Thinking, which has been around for years, and proved so beneficial, and yet I cannot maintain it.
    I have read Oprah's books, The Secret, and her latest by Eckhard Tolle..........and I know that there must be something to all of this.
    I just cannot seem to tap into it.:dissapointed:
    So, have any of you had success? And if so how?
    I get SO depressed - and no matter what I do, I seem inept at shaking it.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Personally, I think it's fairly normal for everyone to feel down in the dumps from time to time. Could you image being bubbly happy for 365 days out of the year?? You'd annoy the heck outta people.

    I am not a positive thinker, doesn't sit well with my pessimistic attitude. But on those downer days, especially when I notice I'm not snapping out of it after a day or two, I do my best to make sure to look my best. My gramma used to say "Looking your always makes you feel better" I've found she's right. And it does help me. Exercise also helps. But alot of times I just keep putting one foot in front of the other anyway.

    If you're noticing that you just can't shake it, it might be time for a medication adjustment.

    Right now I think depression goes with the territory. You just want to be sure it's not getting the better of you.

  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member


    I grew up in a family of difficult children and managed to come through relatively unscathed. I don't know why except that maybe I lucked out a bit in the gene pool when compared to my relatives. I say this because the difference between feeling down and being depressed is profound. I can tell you I value myself, try to accept others warts and all and don't expect perfection. But, I don't have the propensity to slip into depression. I think that when someone has slipped as far down as you have over the last through months that competent professional care is needed to lift you back you to find stability.
    Once you're stable, you can then begin a regimen of self-care to guard against relapse.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Steely, it isn't easy- especially with all you've had to deal with. What worked for me was writing down all my wishes about how I wish things could be (that I had some control over- even if it seemed like an impossible feat), then weeding out unrealistic things or things that I probably didn't really want enough to do what I needed to in order to get it, then that turned into my "goal list" (this was through counseling of course), then I made lists of steps that would need to be taken in order to accomplish those things, then each day I took as many of those steps as I could- I had to force myself at first and sometimes it would take a week to get through one step, but eventually, I got to reap a little benefit of accomplishment. This turns the "negative" cycle into the "positive" cycle. It is just one method, but it definitely worked for me. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with issues (like, since difficult child stuff), I keep my list of things that I know I need to do in order to achieve what I think will make me happy, which of course, is getting difficult child the help he needs and keeping things maintained as well as possible. Everyone's "list" is different, and it changes in various stages of our lives. I hope that helps....
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I apologize ahead of time for the way I'm going to start my answer:
    Ya know, in some ways I think it is "simple," and yet in some ways I think it is complex. And on some days I think it is harder than other days and for some people it is harder than for others.

    I know for my husband, whose mom was a difficult child, he rarely, if ever has depression. Even when difficult child is acting out, he does well. I had a difficult child father, but when difficult child came into my life, it really threw me in a major way.

    To help myself, I have observed husband and have picked up on some of his skills.

    Generally, I think having a healthy self esteem is key to being positive. This is not always easy, when some of us have had nonsense drilled into us from childhood or when current things are going haywire.

    So, it all starts with understanding that we are worthy individuals. And that with effort (action), things often go well or at least there is hope for improvement. This is for our own personal welfare. We can't control the actions of others. For that, the Serenity Prayer goes along way!
  6. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Well for starters, considering you are grieving, nobody expects you skipping through fields, tossing rose petals and singing "oh what a beautiful morning".

    You have situational depression. This is in addition to the clinical depression that you are already bring treated for. You may or may not need a medication tweak. My doctor was adamant NOT to change my medications even when I was going through a very rough patch and was very depressed. I eventually got out of it. Here is what helped me.

    Start a gratitude journal. It can be in a notebook. Does not have to be fancy. But you may want to go ahead and get yourself a pretty book and a special pen just for this. I did. My pen is purple ink. Every day, write down 5 things that you are grateful for. Any 5 things. When we get depressed, it gets way too easy to fall into constant negative thinking. "Oh jeeze. My kid is at it again. Why can't he/she just be normal? and the car is acting up. And my boss is a moron. And I have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner. OMG, I hate this. I have nothing to wear!!" You go on and on.

    Just a little adjustment in your focus makes a huge deal. I am grateful that I HAVE a job, because SO MANY people do not. I am grateful that I have food in my home, because there are so many people who will not get a nourishing meal today. I am grateful that I HAVE a child, because I have that unconditional love. I am grateful for the sunshine/rain /snow today, because we've needed the sun / it's been too dry / it's been so hot. I am grateful that my UGLY VAN runs!

    You see where I am going with that? It really is a minor change, but it gives a whole new outlook. Once you get into the habit of that, it gets easier to look at everything positively.

    I mentioned my dad in my last post. He is the type of person, that if he drops something, he will swear for 5 minutes, pick up what he dropped, and chuck it against the wall, usually breaking it and making a huge mess. He cannot believe it when he sees me just go "whoops" and pick up whatever fell. Even if something broke. So what? I pick it up and get on with my life. Not him. He starts this "why does this have to happen to me" crapola.

    He is an extreme case, to be sure. But you get my point. It will feel awkward at first, as does anything that you are not used to doing. Once it becomes habit, not only will it not feel weird, it will feel natural, and it will feel good.
  7. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey Steely! I don't know about anyone else, but I have made a few conclusions in my "wonderful" life.

    1. Depression is a useless emotion unless appropriately used upon others to gain what you want.

    2. I always try to find the "funny". If I can't, I redirect to something that is. (Try Mrs. Hughes - the comedienne - she's very funny, down to earth and has that "confusion/sarcasm" thing down to a T!).

    3. I know now when to call it quits. Now I don't want to go all religious on you here, but you asked so I'm telling. Every once in a while I just turn around, look at the sky and say "you know what God, ickety-ackety-oook (you have to sound like Bugs Bunny - don't know if you're particularly familiar with the episode in my mind) - it's yours." I just hand it off. It's too much to handle so I give it to him.

    4. I don't dwell on stuff. If it comes slipping in when I don't expect it, I push it away to an "assigned" time. Then I go into the shower at it's "assigned time" and cry.

    Look, you've been through hell and you're just on your way back. There are no quick answers, in certain instances there won't be answers. Ultimately, I think you need to consider what you "goal of grieving" should be. If at the end of the 7 steps of grief you are expecting answers, you'll never get to the 7th step (acceptance). If you're expecting peace, you'll get there. But it's a slow, painstaking process.

    I think part of the issue here may be that you are looking to maintain a positive paradigm, but you're beating yourself for indulging in happiness.

    Find the funny, laugh at the funny and hand it all off to a "higher power" if you believe in one.

    Thinking often of you!

  8. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    You cannot be positive all the time. It is just not possible. I am surrounded by difficult child's (son and husband), in a financial mess, living with my mother, and working 2 jobs while going to school. Some days my positive things are I can walk, talk, eat, swallow, think (well kinda), I am not homeless, and I have the oppurtunity to go back to school.

    You have been through a lot, it is ok to be sad. If you live life like it has a black curtain over it, you may need medications or a medication change.

    I find inspiration from the movie "Finding Nemo" character Dorie and her song of "just keep swimming". As long as I just keep swimming, I will be ok and things will work out.
  9. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    There is depression that is a true physiological disease that needs medication for treatment. You might consider that your medications need adjusted.

    There is situational depression. When my difficult child was first hospitalized, the GP said, "I think you are depressed?" You think?!? If I weren't there would be something wrong with me.

    I would imagine that with the trauma that has gone on with your sister, that a normal depression is expected. It allows your soul to heal a bit. It helps the pain not be so sharp.

    As far as a positive outlook? For me anything was better than what I saw my life was like at home. I was grateful to be on my own despite being very poor and working 2 or 3 part time jobs while going to school. I was grateful I didn't have to answer to anyone but myself since there was no one who I would go to for help. Maybe my peers who had parental involvement in their education wondered how I could be positive when I was so poor. I didn't see it that way at all. I saw it as freedom from a life of submissive servitude with no upside.
    When things aren't going well I am not Suzy Sunshine but I always look to turn a negative into a positive. easy child didn't graduate first in the class. Well he graduated farther along than difficult child. I'm just using that as an example of putting a positive spin on things. difficult child lost a job. It's sad but he can get up and try again. He is healthy and strong. If something is broken I try to find a way to fix it.
    I'm not a rocket scientist but I know that looking at life in the scheme of the big picture allows me to not take the small setbacks so seriously. It allows me to appreciate a crappy job more than no job. (while I look for another) I find I am very grateful for the good stuff in my life because it didn't come easy. I have to look at things from a different point of view. I know our peers and family may feel sorry for us for having such a disabled difficult child. I think our life is blessed because there is love at the heart of what we do for each other. Doesn't mean difficult child doesn't break my heart with sadness but he is who he is and he is trying just like easy child and all of us.

    It comes down to being empowered. " my employee quit, I'll have to work weekends until I can replace them" "my car broke down and now I will have to pay to fix it". Those are the primary statements in my head but then it feels like I am being a victim. I'll turn it around to think that working weekends for a while will allow me to have days off during the week and I can better evaluate the weekend issues. Or, the car broke but it's not as bad as I feared. At least I was near a service station.

    In general I think you have to have self worth. You have to remind yourself that you are good at many things. Not everything but some things. You have to remind yourself that what you do everyday is important. There is value and worth to getting up and doing what you do. When a job is well done, tell yourself that. Don't search out the imperfections.

    When someone tells you that you did a good job women tend to think of all the things that were wrong with the job. Instead tell yourself "yes I did do a good job" Self talk is important. I don't lie to myself. I know the job isn't perfect but I savor a job well done and a compliment.

    In between fighting off the attitude of being a victim and making things work in an imperfect world I whine and get an attitude and remind myself that life can be so much worse.

    I hope this made some sense because I got interrupted 3 different times. I think it's called finding your center, personal power, self love. Any of those names work I guess.

    Heck, look what you have done for yourself! You should be walking with your head high. You raised a very difficult child as a single mom. Worked to support him. You should feel like a conquering hero who will continue to do battle to give him a chance at a life. You have a roof, car, food and all of it was done on your own. You should realize that you have the right to a life too. Give those gifts to yourself.

    Forgot to add, laugh a lot at how absurd our lives can be.
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys.
    Gratitude journals. visualization boards, meditating on what you want in order to receive it, all seem to be the big thing right now. "Claiming your life" in order to receive it - being thankful - and joy will come your way, etc. It is just as I start to do these things, I get sidetracked, or bored, or maybe I just don't believe it enough. You see people's testimonies on Oprah all day, that they simply believed their bills were cash, and walla, they were! Really? Occupational Therapist (OT) they simply wrote down the characteristics of their future husband, and walla, there they were! Hmmmm.

    Has this every worked for any of you guys? Kitty you said a gratitude journal did, so I will definitely try that - but what about the other stuff?
  11. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Promise not to laugh at me?

    THis might sound very silly, but.....I play with I have Furbies on my car dashboard. When I am alone in the car, I make them dance and talk at stoplights. I have my own Cabbage Patch dolls. One sleeps on my bed, another has a high chair and sits in the kitchen. They have names and they are there for me to grab and get a quick hug. I have hot wheel cars. I have my own rubber duckie in the tub. I have my dog and our kitties. I watch my turtle and goldfish swim in their tank. The dog seems willing to sit and listen with his head on my lap no matter what I want to tell him, no matter how I feel, he looks at me with his trusting loveing eyes and seems to accept me no matter what my mood. The kitties take turns coming to brush up against me and pur at me. If they have that much confidence - I accept it, accept their love, accept their kindness....and it helps me be able to get up and function, helps me feel something "nice" and "good"
    I have stickers, Smiley face stickers. SOme days I stick them all over the place. Looking at those goofy smiley faces I cannot help but smile in spite of myself, even if I am thinking "yeesh, how corney"
    I make cookies. Ironically I do not eat the cookies and often neither do my kids, but....there is something about haveing my hands in the dough, and createing something-it helps. THen I package them up in little decorative containers and give them to people, neighbors, the lady at the desk at docs office.....etc. My pleasure comes from makeing passing them out helps me get smiles from other people.....which helps make me feel betetr inside.
    I was in day treatment and one other thing we did often was write self affirmations. There were many days I could not think of much positive, but they said we could fake it and then try to get ouself to believe what we wrote. SOmetimes that worked. They also had us write positive things on notecards and tape the notecards everywhere all over our house etc.....where we would see them.

    Some days, for self preservation, I just hafta do my best to remind myself that just the sun shining on my face feels nice, and push anything else out of my head.
    In recent years I have begun to focus on how my clothing feels on me, how the fabric feels to my touch, soft fabrics that are comforting and extra soft-- little things like that, how pudding feels so comforting on my tongue, how hand lotion feels so nice being applied. (like little tiny hugs) and give in to those things and how they feel.....grab that good feeling and hold on to it. Little tiny self nurturing things. JUst listening t a kitty purr while I pet him....absorbing those things, hanging on to those feelings......

    hope that helps.
  12. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    "Claiming your life" in order to receive it - being thankful - and joy will come your way, etc. It is just as I start to do these things, I get sidetracked, or bored, or maybe I just don't believe it enough. You see people's testimonies on Oprah all day, that they simply believed their bills were cash, and walla, they were! Really? Occupational Therapist (OT) they simply wrote down the characteristics of their future husband, and walla, there they were! Hmmmm."

    Sorry I don't watch those shows and no way do I believe miracles happen. I'm not a believer in magic. I don't think being thankful makes joy come your way but realizing what you have will make you see the joy that is there.

    Maybe writing charteristics just brings them to the forefront so you notice them in a gentlemen you just met but Prince Charming never just appears. I never even heard of that sort of thing.

    I don't think this is a passive exercise. You don't write and sit waiting for it to infuse into you. You have to search for it and recognize it when it happens. I think the writing just like the characteristics makes you aware of these good things.

    If you get bored then I doubt any of these have any relevance for you. It's about you finding a way to make yourself feel good, or whole or happy. Everyone seems to use different terminology. I think each of us shared with what works for us. You may have to find your own way. Something that has meaning to you.
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I think the question you ask is unfair. ONLY because I have not had to live through your life. I don't know what coping skills you have through life experiences. What you can deal with may crush others. What I can't deal with you may look at that particular situation and say "Hey Star, that's no big deal." and to me? It would be like the weight of the world.

    I DO know that when I got to a point that it seemed like it was a struggle to cope with day to day life - I found a psychiatrist and spoke with him, I went to my MD and got on an antidepressant. For me all the little tricks and stuff were also suggested with love and caring, but did not work for me.

    I just didn't even want to get up out of bed. Breathing was a chore. I can't remember too much of what I thought -but what I felt was crushing - and I just stayed in bed for over 4 days. I belive at one point I didn't care if I woke up or not. THAT to me was depression. No shower, not eating, just sleeping and crying. I could watch a commercial about anything and be put to tears. I called in sick to work, I refused phone calls and I just wanted to be left alone.

    When I got like that nothing I tried helped which only added to my frustration and feelings of despair and I felt more like a failure than I did before I tried all the suggested things to help me 'beat' depression. What helped was

    1.) A therapist to talk to and really get my emotions out and sorted with.
    2.) An Anti-depressant prescribed for a short time - a boost in my brain from the medications really helped me out of the funk in about 2 days. I did NOT want to take pills but considering I did NOT want to sleep in bed for another 4 days or more the pill was a minimal risk.

    No one says you have to see a therapist or take pills - but you asked and this is my point of view that helped me.

    Whatever it is that helps you - I hope you find it. I'd fight tooth and nail to never be like that again.

  14. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Been pondering this further....
    I am now wondering if maybe you are asking kind of.if you will ever get back to the normal that was before this happened? LIkely that is not what will happen. This has changed your life, it has affected you- if it didn't change your "normal" somethng would be quite not right.
    So, somehow you now have to find some way you can go on.....with the new reality. The new normal. It can be very difficult to have to go forward when something so profound has occured in life, has occured and it cannot be changed, so somehow you slowly find your own way to go on in spite of it. Some people find something related to a life changeing event and put efforts and energies into a new "cause" some people find ways to go on holding onto the idea that the person who is no longer here would be unhappy to find out the event stopped us from living our life. Some people become motivated by ideas for actions that honor the loved one who is now gone.
    It takes time..... you have been shocked, traumatized, hurt. You have to have time to heal. Healing comes gradually, in bits and peices, with ups and downs. It comes in baby steps and small bites. In order to heal you have to take care of your needs, carefully. WHether you feel like it or not, you must eat well, eat healthy, drink water, eat fresh fruits, vegs must do your best to get sleep at your normal routine times, and you do have to be kind to yourself. While what has happened did not hit your body, physically such as a surgery might have, it still DOES affect your physical well being, and a good starting point in healing is to nurture your physical needs, as well as emotional. Tending to your bodies physical needs gives your emotions time to heal, too. It provides valuable resources your emotional self requires so it can begin to heal. Be patient with yourself. Do the small little healthy things that feel good for you, and build on them slowly. each baby step is one more step on your journey to healing. Sadly it does not come all at once, it does not come quickly. But each little baby step is a positive thing in and of itself. And some days you may find yourself just needing to hold ground just where you are, without a little baby step forward. Thats OK, too. There is no rule book, no law that says you must heal in x number of days and be done. It is a is ongoing.
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I too think there have been lots of really good responses and ideas mentioned here. It does seem that each of us on our own must personally discover what it takes to cope during a crisis. And I also believe that situational depression is a part of what you are experiencing. This is why I encourage folks to pour on the nurturing big time during a crisis. Sometimes it is a time to seek outside help, to reflect or to allow time to heal. But these things are also part of self nurturance.

    One thing I wanted to add is that self judgment often goes together with depression. Deep inside, many don't feel like they deserve happiness. We even fear it and therefore repel it on some level. So, I do believe this goes hand in hand with my original thought regarding self esteem. To not be critical of ourselves. Seek improvement/growth, not perfection. To be a friend to ourselves and to welcome happiness.
  16. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys. Thanks for each and every one of your perspectives. As always you all give me lots to ponder.

    I think maybe the reason this subject is so bothersome to me, is depression related. I somehow think that I am cursed, or to blame for all of the pain that has been in my life. I am very self critical, and feel like I am the reason so many things have gone wrong. I blame myself for every single thing, including feeling responsible for aspects of H.'s death. And I think that maybe if I was better, happier, more XY or Z, bad things would stop happening to me. (See, that in and of itself was a victim mentality. Sigh.)

    I talked to my boss today, and he mentioned how I needed to not be so emotional - ugh - embarrassing. I am worried about me, and I will get help. I cannot afford to lose my mental grip at this point.
    I think you guys are right, that I may need to see a psychiatrist again, instead of just having my regular Dr. XR my AP.
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911


    There are a few things that I think you can put into perspective for yourself and do for yourself to help your current mood. And then there are things that I don't think we have much control over. Just like our difficult child's. And that only adds to your frustration.

    The thing is - you are not alone. You may be alone in your unique set of circumstances that have led you to this place in your life, but as far as being a depressed person - there are millions of us out there.

    So what can you find good in your situation? At this point that may not be a question you can answer. From an outside perspective? I see a strong woman who tries every day. I see a friend who despite tragedy and pain, still comes to her support board and lends HER support. I see a person who endures and goes to work, when she'd rather just stay in bed. I see a Mom who is taking care of her children, paying the bills and making the most out of each day despite the pain in her heart.

    In the future - with your particular type of heart, strength and courage - I could really see you heading a grief counseling group for others like you. I can see that because I believe that you won't give up, and by reaching out like you have - you refuse to give up. You're hurt, yet still searching to be a better person and a friend and Mother. That is a gift.

    Why don't you check into the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and take some time off - and get some rest? I dont' know if you even qualify, but it's worth asking your employer about.

    When I think of what you have been through in the last year, and what you are looking forward to with your Dad - I don't see a quitter - I see someone who is going to overcome her situation with grace and finess. The fact that you need help and support now isn't a big deal - it's what friends are for.

    We're here to help each other. To make you laugh, cry with you, and just let you lean on us when you need to. That's what friends are for.

    Hugs for your day -
  18. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I don't have lots of time... but I think about you often...
    I have been through a bunch. I have Bipolar Disorder and PTSD... So sometimes I am really in a funk. To say I understand what you are dealing with? Well I can't but I have my own deal!!!
    One thing I have done, besides little bits of what everyone else has said here and there. This was before husband, before I went to college... before I had anything.
    I would look at what my Mother did... suicide. I would say to myself, "Well that is always an option, but let's see what tomorrow brings, because how much worse can it get?" I would seriously tell myself this, I would say and this was in a joking manor a lot of the time, OK let's see what else you can dish out???
    Because I always have that option... But I knew full well I was never going to take that option.
    It was a way for me to pull myself up, and say, Really how much worse can it get? Like a challenge, I have been through this! I can take it!!!
    I think of you the same way!!!
    I mean, seriously, what can't you do? You have been to H#$L and back!!! They can't stop you know! There has to be a purpose, you can't have been built up for all of this, just to stop.
    Find the funny in a tiny thing... like the absurdity of all of this!!! WHAT MORE CAN HAPPEN!!! Because you can take it... you can. You are built for this.
    Even if you don't feel it now.

    I hope you don't take any of this the wrong way... I truly feel you can rise above and are meant for something big... you are so creative, you are so STRONG! You are. You just need to believe...
  19. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I wish I had wonderful words of wisdom.

    For me right now, is finding the smallest of things to wake up to and be happy they are there. That being my huge amount of bird feeders outside. We have a wide variety of birds that visit now. Beautiful hummingbirds, finches, etc. They wait for me in the morning to fill their feeders and chirp LOUDLY until I come out. Unfortunately, they come there about 5am.

    My gut feeling Steely is you're going to come out of this. It may take some time, but it's going to happen. Find something special for YOU. Small things make a huge difference.

  20. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I just went upstairs to help K get out of her funk... she has been extra down. I tell her all of the time, let's just see what the morning brings??? She talks about ending it, not going on, can't take this hard life... she is depressed. For different reasons.
    But I went upstairs and I hope my words do not hurt you and I was not trying to make things worse... sometimes things just come out of my mouth.
    This additude truly did help me, when I was feeling so low... and like Abbey said and all the others, even one little thing.
    I have been pretty down about K lately, and this morning I went for a walk, and smiled at the squirrels running around frantically.