“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”: 5 Things You Can Do To Bounce Back From The Blues

“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”

5 Things You Can Do To Bounce Back From The Blues

 

Something that may surprise those who interact with me on a daily basis is that I once suffered from debilitating depression.

I am not announcing this for shock value or to seek sympathy.  It is a fact that I went through a period about six years ago when there were days at a time I did not even get out of bed.

There were multiple factors that contributed to this dark period in my life.

I do believe that I am genetically prone to bouts of depression.  There is a history of depression on my father’s side of the family.  In fact, my father suffered a great deal with chronic depression.  I believe it is what ultimately contributed to his death.

The lifestyle I was living was not conducive to happiness either.  I isolated myself with a close “family” of friends who were extremely toxic.

I made poor choices and eventually decided to cut all ties with this group.  It was after this that I spiraled into my deep depression.  Quite frankly, at that time in my life I didn’t care if I lived.  If I continued down the path I was headed, I probably would not have.

I had some choices to make. Fortunately through prayer and my family, I got back on the right track.  A series of what I know now were God’s plans unfolded and led me to the happy life I lead today.

Plan #1 – My little cousins were visiting from Nevada and talked me into purchasing the first of my two dogs.  There is no way I was going to risk being uncool as an “aunt”.  I could not say “no” to the adorable white ball of fluff they held in front of me. Little did I know Max would be the first step in making me feel I had purpose and a reason to get out of bed each morning.

Plan#2– I began attending regularly and serving in multiple ministries at Saddleback Church. One of those ministries was the Motel Ministry.  We delivered food to those in need at motels in the Anaheim and Santa Ana areas. It did not escape me as we prayed for the residents that it easily could have been me on the receiving end of those prayers.

Plan#3– As mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, I was also led to serve in the Memorial Ministry. This is where I began to discover I had a heart for those going through grief. I had no idea what I wanted to do for work up until that point. My career purpose was being revealed to me.

 

Fast forward to the present and I am unbelievably happy.  Do I still have some bad days?  Of course!  I am human.  My mind can very easily wander to dark places and crave isolation.  Fortunately I can push past it the majority of the time.

So what do I do these days when I feel the “blues” coming on?  I have a series of steps that usually do the trick for me.  I call them the “5 Things You Can Do To Bounce Back From the Blues.”

1. Acknowledge I Am Feeling Depressed and Pinpoint the Reason – This could be as simple as it being cloudy outside and I am suffering the effects of seasonal depression.

2. Set a Time Limit for Allowing Myself To Wallow In It – I remind myself of where I have been and how much I prefer the alternative of living happily.

3. Blast My Favorite Music – During this time I choose something upbeat. Singing along and dancing also lifts my spirits.

4. Go For A Long Walk – There is nothing like the fresh air to make me feel better. The endorphins from the exercise also help my mood.

5. Enjoy a Favorite Meal– I guess you could call it comfort food.  I throw the diet out the window that day and go get whatever sounds good.  It is an extra bonus if it is a restaurant with an outdoor patio.

 

The purpose of this post is not to minimize the effects of those suffering with severe and chronic depression.  I am sure my suggestions sound ridiculous to those of you who are unable to pull yourself out of it without medication or by other means.  These are merely suggestions of what I continue to find helpful and what I hope might encourage others.

My depression was a journey I needed to go through in order to appreciate the gifts in each day of life.  Maybe you or someone you love is going through just such a journey.  The quote comes to mind, “it is always darkest before the dawn”. Once you have experienced the depths of darkness, you embrace the dawn more than you ever imagined possible.

That is the point where you find something to be grateful for in each and every day.

Have you experienced bouts of depression over your lifetime?

What activities help you return to a positive state of mind?

Lori

About Lori

I was born in Long Beach, raised in Cypress and ventured to South Orange County in 1999. I'm a member of Saddleback Church and through volunteering in the Memorial Ministry I was introduced to Neil O'Connor. Neil decided to bring me on board even despite my endless badgering at our first meeting. I am the Director of Care Coordination and also fill the roles of Memorial Marker Design Specialist, Weekend Receptionist and Blog Team Member. Never did I expect a mortuary would be the place I would find my dream job. I feel extremely blessed by the relationships I have formed at O'Connor with the team and the families we are privileged to serve. I now live in Aliso Viejo with my beloved pups Max and Bella. Free time, though often hard to come by, is mostly spent with friends. The Bible verse I live by - I can do everything through him who gives me strength Philippians 4:13
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  • Melody

    Again, you have written a wonderful blog that hits close to home for me. I know exactly how you felt and still feel because I battle it everyday as well. My family has a history with depression and it is very important to pay attention to the signs. I’ve also had the same feelings of “why am I here?”. There are days I just wish I was in Heaven not having to deal with everything going on in the world we live in today.

    My Gramma Edna (who is 99) has battled depression her entire life and without medication she literally will shut down and not speak. When she is prescribed the right medication, she is the warm, bubbly, and funny Gramma we know.

    Medication of course is not the answer for everyone, your “5 Things to Bounce Back” are super! The world we live in right now is pretty hard and we face battles around every corner, but walking with God and having the right people surrounding you to help you through it is priceless. Thanks for sharing Lor 🙂

    • Lori

      Mel,

      You are one of the people who helped me through that difficult time.
      I remember our daily phone calls as I began pulling out of it. You have always been the social planner to make sure I get out and do something fun.
      You love me enough to be straight with me when I needed “tough love”.
      For that I am forever grateful.

      Love you!!
      Bigggggg Lor

      • Melody

        You have always been there for me too 🙂 And I love you MORE…Biggg Lorrrrr

  • Shayna Mallik

    Lori,
    Wow what an honest and great post. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs, and your hard times. You are such a strong and great person. I am so happy you shared your story and where you are today. You are inspirational. Love ya

  • MollyKeating

    Lori,
    I think so many people go through serious depression but it’s something we all hesitate to talk about. I had a fairly serious bout of it 5 years ago where after a series of deaths and the end of a significant relationship I lost about 20 lbs. & was at my lowest. I remember knowing what it was – knowing I was depressed but more than that knowing that I had good reason to be so. That said, I’ve never dealt with Chronic Depression although I have seen some of it’s effects on close friends & family members.
    I’m inspired by your story, your courage & your recovery. Thank you for opening up this place to talk about those darker times. We’ve all had them and it’s a relief to have a place to share & come together over something so powerful and personal.
    Great post!

    • Lori

      Molly,

      I am so sorry to hear about your bout with depression.
      If you are like me, I am sure you thought that life was never going to get any better. It feels as though you are trapped in this dark room with no way out.
      There is no desire to engage with others. All I wanted to do was sleep.

      I agree it is wonderful to have a place to share our life experiences. If what we have been through can help others than I feel we have succeeded.

      Thank you!!!

  • Lori,
    There is some depression in my family as well with a couple of family members.
    I personally have suffered from a ‘Pollyanna complex” assuming everyone in my world was good and kind and loyal to one another. When mean, nasty, rude or cruel behavior rears its ugly head, I always seem to be blindsided. The disappointment in that person or relationship can put me into a mild depression. I am too old not to know better, but there it is.
    What do I do to make it better? Several things.
    One long term friendship, I chose to end. I verbally gave several warnings to my dear friend that she was well over the line. The whole affair made me terribly depressed for a season, but I made the healthy choice for myself.
    Often, I just need more sleep, to improve my diet, put the matter to prayer, ask myself what I might need to do to change the circumstances that are bringing me down. Being more “other”-minded and less self centered also helps. Totally agree about walking, pets, music and volunteering. If you are ever having a bad day, hopefully I can be “here for you”.
    Hugs,
    Anne

    • Lori

      Anne,

      Nice to meet you fellow “Pollyanna”. I have been blindsided a couple of times myself. Both times I was thrown back into a depression that lasted a couple of days.
      Because I desperately fear ever returning to that place where I was, I won’t let it go on any longer than that.
      One of the greatest lessons we can learn is when it is time to terminate toxic friendships. Because we love so much, we hurt to the core when this happens.
      Thank you for your offer! I will definitely come to you for prayer when I am having a bad day.
      Love you,
      Lori

  • There was a time in my life that was a dark as night. As I look back on it, the reason was simple: I wasn’t living authentically – I was “pretending” and grew weary of the ruse; but couldn’t figure out how to change things. My partner at the time did all they could to bring me out of it, and yet – nothing they did worked. Maybe I wasn’t ready to change. But, when I was, I found exercise to be the key…I started running again, and entering local running events (which forced me to run consistently). Running is very liberating – and running 6 miles meant to me that I could do/face anything. And I did! Today, at 58, there are no running events for me – who can afford the knee-abuse? But, I work out 3 times a week, do yoga, and Qigong. I walk to town every day to buy fresh vegetables. Rather vigorous, consistent exercise, and good nutrition…those are my recommendations.

    • Lori

      Kim,
      Exercise does seem to be the key to returning to a positive state of mind. I find outdoor exercise to be my favorite. I have never been much of a runner, however, I do love to walk. I live in Ladera where there are many beautiful walking trails. I have no excuse to not get out and walk of the blues!
      I do need to take your advice about good nutrition. I feel much better when I fill my body with the right ingredients.
      So nice to hear from you Kim.
      Thank you,
      Lori

  • Jeff Turner

    Lori,

    It is hard to believe that you have had that kind of a season in your life. Having worked with you for nearly three years, I would not have suspected that you would have had any tendency towards anything like depression.

    What I liked most about your post here, are the practical solutions. The acknowledgment of the reality, limiting it and using meaningful physical activities to change the focus. Creative distractions while not denying the reality makes sense. Your determination to focus outward is very helpful to me.

    In 2007, Neil O’Connor approached me on behalf of the other owners of the company and confronted me with their observations about my own behavior and personality at work. They had noticed a marked change over time an he suspected that I was depressed. He gave me a letter and talked with me. He had a list of professionals he recommended I contact to get help. I wound up engaging a professional that I knew, although not well. This person was the last one I wanted to share any secrets with but I met with him. It has been one of the most important decisions that I have made.

    If Neil, Chuck and Fitz hadn’t cared enough to have the hard conversation with me, I don’t know where I would be today. I still struggle but have a better set of resources to turn to. Self discovery is not always pleasant but it does make life’s journey more interesting I think.

    I will take what you have written here and try to employ some of these insightful and practical strategies for myself. Thank you for sharing this important subject and for being wiling to be vulnerable in it.

    Best regards,

    Jeff

    • Lori

      Jeff,
      Yes, I often find it hard to believe that I went through that period. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago, but reminders creep up that not much time has passed at all.
      I am glad you found my distractions helpful. As I mentioned, they may sound silly to some, but so far they have done the trick for me.
      It is great to hear the guys love you enough to have the difficult conversations that Melody and others had with me. A reliable support group is key.
      To this day many people avoid counseling. They seem to think it indicates weakness or abnormality on their part. In fact, it is one of the healthiest decisions you can make.
      Thank you,
      Lori

  • Carrie Bayer

    Lori, thank you for candidly sharing your personal struggle w/ depression. You are touching more lives than you probably are aware of & showing people that they are not the odd man out- many people whom we would never suspect suffer from depression. I have dealt w/ depression off & on throughout my life. It manifests itself via insomnia w/ me mostly- my brain simply won’t quiet down to let me sleep. This leads to anxiety because I’m not rested & I get fearful of making mistakes because I’m not rested & thinking clearly. Then my brain is going faster than ever & I get overwhelmed. This leads to withdrawal & I end up hibernating to try & shut out all the things that are causing my head to spin. It’s a terrible cycle that is tough to break but I do it by keeping myself busy most days. If i’m always on the go then I don’t have time to think about everything else. Seeking professional help has also been a blessing. Thank you Lori- you are an amazing woman & friend! XOXOX! Carrie

    • Lori

      Carrie,
      Thank you so much for your honest comments! You too are helping others by sharing your struggles.
      I have recently entered an insomnia phase that is extremely frustrating. I could not imagine having to experience it frequently. It definitely has mental and physical effects.
      Professional help is truly a blessing! I have been away from it for some time, but often think perhaps I am due for a “tune-up”.
      Love you so much!!!! xoxox !! Lori

  • Neil O’Connor

    Lori –
    Wow, I love that you are willing to share your life with us. I have had many ups and downs in my life. Some come from regrets of my past and others come from worrying about the future. I realize that I cannot fix either. They little things help me stay in a positive mind set,
    eating healthy, working out on a regular basis, keep friends who are positive and letting go the friends who are downers. I try and say a couple quick prayers during the day to help keep my fears from getting the best of me. I tend to let my reactions take over my life, which is not good for me, so my favorite quote is, ” Your response will determine your experience.” I realize this is simple, yet it keeps me from a life of reacting to a life of responding in a better way!

    • Lori

      Neil,
      I will share one of my favorite quotes from Pastor Rick Warren with regards to worrying; “If you pray as much as you worry, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about”. I try to remember this whenever I worry about something that is out of my control.
      I can relate to your comment about reaction. I often regret my reactions when I am under stress. I make it a point to apologize if I think I am out of line.
      It is hard to be on the receiving end I know from experience.
      I didn’t anticipate the blog becoming therapy for me. There is something extremely cathartic in bringing these memories back to life on paper. I still have many regrets from that time in my life. When I start feeling guilty I remind myself that if God has forgiven me for all of my sins I can forgive myself.
      Thank you!
      Lori

    • Lori

      Neil,
      Little did I know our blog was going to turn into therapy for me!
      Thank you for allowing me a safe place. I love that we are all willing to “go there”.

      One of my biggest flaws is the way I react at times. It is good that we recognize this as an area of improvement. It is key to a positive change.
      I will keep your quote in mind.

      Thank you!

  • Marianne Piotrowski

    Thanks for sharing your story Lori. I find myself going through bouts of depression right now. I lost my job of 40 yrs in 2008 and was not able to find anything else do to problems with the economy at the time. Friends that I had made over the course of those years said they would keep in touch. But to this day, none have done so. This is one thing that has truly hurt me. I gave of myself to many of my coworkers, helping them when they needed it. Listening to their stories of grief or of happiness. Yet noone is here for me now that I need it. Even relatives and close friends have distanced themselves. Some days I sit in my chair in the living room going over the memories and find myself crying and crying. I do try to lift my spirits by going for a drive in the countryside and turning up my car radio and singing along. I do the same at home. I often find myself at a restaurant and pub in the area ordering my favorite foods and talking to the staff and customers, some that I’ve come to know fairly well. I am trying to find things that I can get involved in and hopefully the depression will start to slowly disappear. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Lori

      Marianne,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
      It is difficult when we leave jobs or homes and the friends we have made do not make the effort to stay in touch. Life goes on for them and we do not understand why there is not a void left behind by our absence.
      I am so sorry to hear about your sad days.
      I’m glad you have found some ways to help alleviate the depressed feelings. Getting out and around people always seems to be helpful.
      Thank you again for sharing with us. It is much appreciated.
      Lori

  • Lori

    Shayna,
    Thank you so much Little Miss!
    I’m not sure about the inspiration part, but I do believe in sharing experiences that may help others.
    Thank you for making me smile each day that we work together. Your positive attitude is much appreciated.
    Love you!!
    Lori

  • Ethel,

    What a great post. So helpful and encouraging, at the same time. Just like you. I think the hardest part of experiencing depression, is recognizing it, and doing something. Sometimes it’s so hard, but with determination and strength we can get the help we need to get to the other side. All that you listed, food, outdoors, and exercise all contribute to a healthier heart and mind! Bravo Ethel, this is a home run!!

    Lucy

    • Lori

      Lucy,
      Thank you for saying so!
      I am glad you found my suggestions helpful.
      There is something about getting outdoors that just makes me feel better.
      I can get home and think I’m too tired to walk the dogs very far. As soon as I’m out, I’m reenergized. It helps when I’m depressed too.
      My new favorite spot is Salt Creek Beach. If I’m down I will definitely be heading down there to take in all of the beauty.

      Love ya!
      Ethel

  • Amy

    Lori,
    Wow! I commend you for being so open and honest with your situation. Not very many people can accept what is personally going on in their life. You should be so proud of yourself for recognizing it, meeting it head on and over coming it. I believe we all suffer from depression at least once in our lives. With your 5 steps it will help others including myself walk a bit easier through it and come out of it better.
    Amy

    • Lori

      Amy,
      As I mentioned to Neil, I didn’t realize our blog would turn into therapy for me.
      I know I learned a lot from the dark time I went through.
      I thought if others could benefit from my suggestions, it was worth opening myself up.
      Yes, I agree, we all go through depression from time to time. I find now the sooner I acknowledge it, the sooner I am able to pull myself out of it.

      Thank you!
      Lori

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Lori . .
    This is good stuff .. . . and hard stuff! I especially appreciated your 5 steps to “bounce back”. You are on your life’s journey, filled with great history to enable you to help others who are traveling a road that’s way too crooked. I’m very proud of you and the direction you are moving. It’s safe to say that you are right where you need to be . . with us!!!!
    I’m selfish that way.

    Love you dearly,
    Momma Pat

    • Lori

      MP,

      I love that you are selfish like that! I believe my work family was all in God’s plan.
      I do not know what I would do without you guys!

      Love you!!
      Lori