Why Is Life So Hard?

Therese J. Borchard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast time I wrote a blog like this, I was called a “whiny, white woman,” but I’m not going to let that stop me from spouting off again.

Having just seen the movie, “Unbroken,” I really feel like I can’t complain. I don’t have some bastard tormenting every day for giggles in a POW camp. I don’t have to decide which is worse (from a life raft on which I’ve been existing for over a month): the planes above shooting at me or the sharks below my raft that want to eat me.

I live in a country where I don’t have to cover my face and walk behind my husband. I am confident that I will eat again in a few hours and the meal will include more than rice. I can trust that my kids are safe at school—that is, the few days the school is actually open–and…

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5 Strategies for Reading and Watching the News When You Are Depressed

Therese J. Borchard

blog.backupify.comThe Ebola crisis.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

ISIS.

It doesn’t take much these days to arrive at a panicked state. Not if you stay abreast of news headlines.

Nine years ago, when I had my first mental health breakdown, I realized that my psyche was way too fragile to absorb detailed updates about the turmoil in Gaza or the whereabouts of bin Laden. I didn’t want to be completely ignorant of what was going on around the world, but I needed to find a way to inform myself of the big picture stuff without losing my heart in minutiae.

I needed a strategy, because as a highly-sensitive person (as diagnosed by Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person) and a person prone to panic and depression, processing all the negativity could certainly bring me down, not just for an hour or two, but for months or even years. I…

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10 Nutritional Deficiencies That May Cause Depression

Therese J. Borchard

bakingdom.comI’m not sure why more psychiatrists don’t first test for nutritional deficiencies before dispensing Zoloft or Prozac, and especially antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa. The good ones will send you to get lab work done before upping your meds or adjusting anything. Sometimes we do need antidepressants. But other times we need spinach—think of Popeye.

In addition to seeing a psychiatrist regularly, I now work with an integrative health physician who tests my nutrition levels every year. If you haven’t ever tested your levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary-care physician. The supplements can be expensive, but you can make it back twice or three-times fold by not having to see your psychiatrist as often.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I was surprised when my results showed an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency because I eat plenty of salmon and take fish oil supplements every day. That shows you…

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Living Wabi-Sabi: Beauty of Things Imperfect

Therese J. Borchard

wabisabi“Beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”

That was the password to the file share (motherboard) at the technology company where I used to work. I was expecting, “Cloud123,” or something boring and bland like that. Not the quintessential Japanese aesthetic known as “wabi-sabi.”

I shed a tear or two when the engineer setting up my computer told me the password.

It brought me such consolation. Here I was, a mental health writer with a mission to save people from suicide, confined to an office job where I sat in a cubicle for eight hours a day composing press releases about cloud text analytics.

What about my dream? My purpose?

It was on hold. Until the economy was kinder to architects and writers.

The job clashed with who I was, what I felt as though I had been born to do; however, in some strange way it must have…

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10 Foods I Eat Every Day to Beat Depression

Therese J. Borchard

avocadoA year ago this month my husband and I started a new diet. It had nothing to do with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. For about nine months, he had been suffering from bad hives all over his body. It was bizarre. One day he’d wake up and they’d be all over his back. The next afternoon, his lip was swollen so much he couldn’t talk. He had been to a few different allergists and they told him it was “idiosyncratic” (meaning they didn’t know how to fix it) and told him to take Zyrtec indefinitely – until they went away.

“Could it be related to my diet?” he asked.

“No,” they said.

One guy sent him home with fungus cream that made the tiny red spots swell into ripe, red tomatoes all over his arms.

So he decided to try his own experiment and see if…

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Is It Depression or a Dark Night of the Soul?

Therese J. Borchard

MotherTeresa_090In the fall of 2007 Mother Teresa graced the cover of Time magazine when her private writings were published, many of the excerpts filled with surprising doubt, despair, and a kind of spiritual anguish. Some journalists questioned whether or not she was clinically depressed. Did this modern saint have an untreated mood disorder or did her pain fall into the category of a “dark night of the soul,” a concept introduced by Saint John of the Cross, a Carmelite friar who lived in Spain during the late 1500s? I believe it was the latter, given her incredible productivity in the years of her struggle.

The distinction is important, even as it can be impossible to make, because many religious and spiritual people forego treatment thinking that the pain they endure is necessary to purify their souls. For example, I thought that my desire to die as a young girl meant that I…

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