#ThrowBackThursday: How to get stuff done when you are depressed ~ Jessica Gimeno on #bipolar

December 2019:

I posted tjis first in October 2017:

This post is in honour of today’s World Mental Health Day 2017.

We are stronger than depression and inspiring people can show us how. Here is Jessica Gimeno at the TEDxPilsenWomen talk:

Related Blogpost:

TruLeeMe: Manic Monday

image of forest with white writing saying: "Man - a being in search of meaning" Plato

#ThrowBachThursday: 5 Things to Know about St. Johnswort ~ mentalhealthmatters

I posted this first in October 2017:

Saint John's wort flowers

fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Today I want to write a little more about St. Johnswort a medicinal herb I use to relieve my symptoms of depression and anxiety due to living with PTSD. I have been mentioning it before both in posts and tweets but never gave more information about it and I think there are 5 Things to Know about St. Johnswort.

In Germany where I come from St. Johnswort is a herb that is readily prescribed for mild and moderate depression. Before I came to the UK I had been using it for years and was aware of some of the side effects like becoming more sensitive to sunlight and getting a sunburn more easily for example.

You can imagine how I was surprised when my doctors here told me that it is not usually used and not enough is known about its effectiveness for depression. Now, that was ten years ago and I am glad that this misconception has changed a little. However, it is still not prescribed by GP’s as at least in the Uk it is an unlicensed herbal remedy.

On the other hand, though the mental health charity Mind dedicated a whole page to St. Johnswort and how it works. And there are many other pages out there that give you information on it.

What is St. Johnswort and how does it work?

This is what Mind the mental health Charity says:

What is St John’s wort?
St John’s wort is a herbal remedy that has been used for hundreds of years to treat mental health problems. Today it is mainly used as an over the counter remedy to treat mild and moderate depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), mild anxiety and sleep problems.

The botanical name for St John’s wort is Hypericum perforatum, and it is sometimes marketed and sold as ‘Hypericum’. It contains the ingredients hypericin and hyperforin, that have been used for their antidepressant properties.

How does St John’s wort work?
It is thought that St John’s wort works in a similar way to standard antidepressant medication. Research suggests that it increases the activity of brain chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline that are thought to play an important part in regulating our mood.

As well as hypercin and hyperforin, the plant contains many other substances that may boost its antidepressant activity in ways that are not yet fully understood. (Mind ~ St John’s wort – Hypericum perforatum)

What are the 5 Things to know about St. Johnswort?

  1. St. Johnswort is as effective as antidepressants for mild and moderate depression
  2. St. Johnswort is researched and proven
  3. There are side effects but less
  4. Be careful taking it with other medicines
  5. Be careful from where you get it

1. St. Johnswort is as effective as antidepressants for mild and moderate depression.

There have been many trials using St. Johnswort both for major and minor/moderate depression over the years which had not much impact. However, a couple of years before I came to the Uk the British Journal of Psychiatry did a meta-analysis of randomised control trials with St. Johnswort which concluded:

“…Larger placebo-controlled trials restricted to patients with major depression showed only minor effects over placebo, while older and smaller trials not restricted to patients with major depression showed marked effects. Compared with standard antidepressants Hypericum extracts had similar effects…” (British Journal of Psychiatry ~ Review Article St. Johnswort for Depression).

In 2008 NHS Choices picked up on two headlines one in The Daily Mail and one in the Daily Telegraph that suggested that St. Johnswort helps against depression. The article in The Daily Telegraph refers to the meta-analysis by the British Journal of Psychiatry and the NHS Knowledge Service concluded:

“…In summary, by adding the large studies that have recently been conducted to the existing body of research, the evidence suggests that St. John’s wort is a viable treatment for mild to moderate major depression. Importantly, there is considerable variation in the preparations of St. John’s wort available over the counter. The researchers say that their findings apply only to the extracts that were used in the studies in this review, or possibly to very similar preparations. People who want to take St. John’s wort should speak to their doctors about the best preparation for them, and the risks and benefits compared to standard antidepressants….” (NHS Choices ~ St. Johnswort for Depression)

In comparison to that, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services mentions a 2009 systematic review of 29 studies that suggests St. Johnswort may be better than a placebo and as effective as standard antidepressants.

However, they conclude the effectiveness of St. Johnswort for depression is inconclusive as their own studies had no positive results. (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health ~ St. Johnswort and Depression. In Depth)

2. St. Johnswort is researched and proven

Dr. Natalie Bozinovski talks about Canadian trials and gives you more information to St. Johnswort in her video here:

3 & 4 There are side-effects to St. Johnswort but less than those using standard anti-depressants

According to Wikipedia there are several possible side-effects like

  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • photosensitivity
  • decreases levels of estrogen which such as estradiol, by speeding up its metabolism, and should not be taken by women on contraceptive pills as it upregulates the CYP3A4 cytochrome of the P450 system in the liver
  • decreases the effectiveness of several drugs like antiretrovirals, Benzodiazepines, birth control and beta blockers

Well, looking at that it sounds quite a few possible side-effects to me. I, however, have never experienced any of these and as I do not take any other drugs or the pill interactions never were an issue.

I assume these are possible but happen a lot less than using standard anti-depressants but I have to do some more research there.

5 Be Careful Where You Get it from

St. Johnswort is in most countries an unlicensed herbal remedy and therefore not as well regulated as licenced remedies. Make sure if you want to use it to see a health professional or homoeopath to find a trusted source to buy St. Johnswort.

A personal review of St. Johnswort by Emily Faith

What do you think?

In my opinion, it is a highly personal choice which way you go to deal with depression. There are many reasons for using standard antidepressants but also many reasons for going the complementary way. For me, it has always worked better without standard drugs but with herbs, therapy and creativity. However, I know many who have chosen a different path. I am curious: Which path have you chosen and why? Please let me know in the comments!

Resources:

NHS Choices

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

British Journal of Psychiatry

YouTube Channels: Health and the City, Dr. Natalie Bozinovski ND. MSc., Dr. Sam Robbins, Emily Faith

MIND – The Mental Health Charity

Wikipedia

#ThrowBackThursday: Ingermanson on How to keep Focused

Do you have trouble to stay focused on your writing? I have and so far I haven’t found a way to get around that. But it’s time to change being unfocused now!

“Trouble staying focused on your #amwriting? Here are tips on how to change that!”

So I’ve come back to Randy Ingermansons newsletter “The Advanced Fiction Writing” for guidance and I want to share this article with you:

Ingermanson on “How to keep focused”

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 15,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

How to Keep Focused

Half the battle is staying focused. With all the day-to-day chaos that comes with normal life, it’s easy to get off track and forget what you were supposed to be focused on.

Many people make an annual plan to get back on track at the beginning of each year. I’ve done this for many years, and I’m always struck by how different my year was from the year I’d planned. My most successful years have been the ones when I stayed on track. But it seems that most years, things got off track quickly and stayed off track for the rest of the year.

This year, I was a little tired of making an annual plan that didn’t pan out, so I decided not to make one. If you don’t have a plan, then you can’t get off track, right?

That turned out to be a mistake. By April, I felt like my year wasn’t going the way I wanted, but since I didn’t have a plan, it was unclear exactly what that meant.

So in April, I decided to do a quarterly review and make a plan for the coming quarter. I’m a fan of simplicity, so here’s what I did:

  1. I read through my personal journal for the past three months.
  2. I made a list of about three projects I’d like to get done in each of the four major areas of my life.

I made an aggressive plan for Q2, with a total of thirteen projects. I worked hard on some of them and not at all on others of them. The good news is that I actually completed two major projects in Q2 and started two others. That felt a bit like a success. But there were nine projects I didn’t start at all, so I wouldn’t call it a huge success. For me, the important thing is that I got two major projects completed, which was better than Q1. It’s a good feeling to complete something.

In my quarterly review in July, I made a plan for Q3 that was a bit less aggressive. It had only eleven projects. Q3 is now over, so I recently did a quarterly review and was surprised to see just how much I’d got done. This time I completed three major projects and made good progress on two others. I also completed several other major projects that were not on the plan but they came up so I tackled them. That still left six projects in the Q3 plan that I didn’t get to at all. Some of those are now in the Q4 plan, and some of them I’ve decided are less important.

My Q4 plan has twelve projects. One of those is already completed and four are in progress. It would be great to get at least those four done by the end of the year. It would be even greater to get all twelve done, but I’m going to take what I can get.

One thing I’ve learned is that you lose track of a quarterly plan unless you keep it visible. But how do you keep it visible?

Here’s what I do: I have a template in Scrivener that I use to make a daily plan. It has a link to my current quarterly plan. Each day when I fill out my daily plan, I click that link and review the current plan. It takes only a few seconds, and it serves as a daily reminder of the big picture. And then when I fill out my daily plan, I’ve got some motivation to schedule time for the important projects in my life.

Homework

Are you keeping a daily journal of what you’re doing in your life? If not, start one. You can’t do a review at the end of the quarter if you have no record of what you did. A journal doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s enough to write a few sentences telling the things you worked on that day. I prefer an electronic record because it’s easier, but a handwritten journal would work just fine.

Do you have a plan for the current quarter? If not, make a list of the main areas of your life. Under each one, write a few things you’d like to achieve by the end of this quarter. Find a way to make it visible on a daily basis. A low-tech way to do this is to print it out and post it at your work area where you can’t help seeing it. The key thing is to look at it every day when you’re planning your day. Some days are crazy and you can’t possibly work on your important projects. But some days you can. If you take advantage of the good days, you can do amazing stuff.

Are you doing a quarterly review? If not, schedule one for a date near the end of this quarter. Some people like to take a full day for this. Personally, I prefer an hour, because I’m more likely to do it if it only takes an hour. Schedule it on your calendar. Then do it.

Thanks, Mr Ingermanson for helping us change and stay focused!

Related Posts:

A Scribe to describe: Focus: Bane of my writing

Shan Jeniah: Purposely narrowing my focus

But I Smile Anyway: #RiNoWriMo ~ The Finale #candothis? #Ididit!

Now go and focus

because

you can do it!

#ThrowbackThursdayNaNoWriMo ~ A poem

Nov 2019

I wrote this poem in November 2017. Have Fun 😁

NaNoWriMo

Not sane
At all!” Me
Thinks
In the weeks
On waiting.
No!
All fine! Just
Lots of writing.
Novels &
Oeuvres
Verging on
Elation after so much
Longing.

What the hell
R you doing?”
I look up
Thinking
I #amwriting”
Not saying though
Go away!”
My soul mate
One with
Not understanding
The appeal of
Hundreds of words each day!