Alternative Depression Treatments and Tin Foil Hats

posted in: chronic illness | 6

Day 20 – Write about alternative treatments/regimens/medicine. What do you support? What is crazy?

Tribal © 2003 Jane Waterman
Tribal © 2003 Jane Waterman

Today’s prompt amuses me. Alternative treatments – what is crazy?

What, indeed? I could wax lyrical about people in tin foil hats dancing naked under the light of the full moon, or sitting on the bottom of frigid salt water pools in the Himalayas holding their breath to the count of 100, but when it comes down to it – one person’s crazy is another’s person’s medicine. I’ve seen enough reminders in this month’s postings from other bloggers of the dangers of blindly pursuing the conventional pharmacological route that results in one of the largest causes of death in the U.S. (which is our holy grail of statistical normalcy). Indeed, what is crazy? If we’re going to put ourselves at risk, we may as well have fun with it.

Other doctors will go on about alternative therapies and the danger of the placebo effect, but after all, isn’t any kind of medicine one great placebo effect? Whether we’re taking a Prozac or getting poked by a practitioner armed with dozens of needles: isn’t the overriding hope that we’ll feel better? At least that’s the reasoning I’ve used over the years when someone confronts me with the Next Great Idea for Beating Depression. I’ve pretty much tried anything. I don’t mind how relief comes, as long as it comes. Although most of us hope it won’t cost an arm and a leg, hurt in any significant way, or have us dancing in those tin foil hats. Definitely not naked – not a good idea!

When I look at my years of tackling depression, I’ve tried a few alternatives: lack-of-talk therapy (this is an innovative therapy where you sit with a psychiatrist who says nothing for the 50-minute hour – which leads directly to mindfulness and meditation as you stare at the wall), St John’s Wort, 5-HTP, massage, aromatherapy, aromatherapy massage (have you noticed the most astute alternative practitioners get more mileage by combining different therapies or, at the very least, constructing interesting noun phrases?), exercise (although not very alternative as most traditional practitioners hit us over the head with that one), breathing (very useful for living), deep breathing (even more useful), meditation, cranial sacral therapy, acupuncture, B6, B12, yoga, gardening (one of my favourites), art (also a favourite – although some may look at my work and think crazy), chanting, mindfulness (finding peace in depression in the present moment), meditation (trying hard not to think about depression in the present moment), self-compassion, homeopathy, reiki, hands-on, hands-off – it’s all good, but no sex please, I used to be British. If that’s your thing, go forth and enjoy. Oh, and of course, writing silly blog posts.

So, if you haven’t deduced by this point – alternative therapies – I pretty much support them all, as long as nobody gets hurt, no important laws get broken, and there’s not an unnecessary economic burden from the overuse of tin foil. That would be crazy.

Blessings,
Jane

6 Responses

  1. Carmen Waterman
    | Reply

    Love, love, love this post. Sometimes humour is such a relief to the challenges of living with chronic pain and illnesses especially those that no one can see, particularly if they want to stay in denial. I particularly love the alternative approach of "no-talk therapy" which really amounts to how much can I charge you for nothing? No to mention "what do I have to offer to make you pay something for more nothing".

    I am a true believe in alternative approaches to healing while knowing that there are some meds I truly need, however for things as complex as depression and chronic pain, it is truly a combination of things that can sometimes help these conditions to be manageable, to get through the bad days and hold on for those that will be better.

    • Jane Waterman
      | Reply

      Indeed – it's amazing how I kept going back week after week, but I was so depressed and shut down – I didn't really see any alternatives. Psychiatrists in Australia, like here, were primarily concerned with prescribing meds and at first, being so soon back to work, I couldn't afford the real talk therapy I got later that helped so much. I'm sorry to say that my experience of shrinks was fairly universal, but the psychologists – the ones that weren't funded by health care – they were the real workers of mental health. I'm lucky I was able to finally afford the help. I feel sorry for those who couldn't and can't.

      I'm glad you appreciate the humour. I do enjoy the fun posts, but I like the serious posts too. I still feel like I'm settling into a style and truly finding my voice.

      As you say, it's a matter of finding the tools that work, and whether there are traditional and alternative tools in the toolbox, it's just great to have the options. Obviously one must still be mindful of interactions and communicate to all one's practitioners about what one is doing, but I'm glad to be having a break from Prozac.

      Love always,
      Jane

  2. Annette McKinnon (@a
    | Reply

    The idea of the tinfoil hat is so entertaining. What would be better – put the shiny side down or up? Suddenly I want to be creative. And I can break out the apple cider vinegar (never would) and the gin and raisins

    • Jane Waterman
      | Reply

      LOL – I think the shiny side down is the best – increases the chance of reflected moon beams funnelling back down towards the brain. :)

  3. Annette McKinnon (@a
    | Reply

    I went away and happened on this at the Sharp Brains website https://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2012/11/06/theres… The interesting part was that they were unable to find enough depressed people to fill their quotas.

    Did you ever try to Beat The Chimp https://games.lumosity.com/chimp.html If I get it right 2x I think I am doing well

    • Jane Waterman
      | Reply

      I had some interesting experiences of exercise when biking where I lived down under. I was doing a fairly vigorous ride along a coastal highway near my home there. Beautiful scenery, day, etc. I think at the time I may have already been getting sun sensitive, but didn't realize it. People rave about endorphins, but as I was riding along I started feeling worse, significantly worse as though someone had flipped a switch in my brain. I remember feeling not only depressed but upset by what had happened when I got home. I think it's not as simple a relationship as popular wisdom would have us believe.

      However, it is refreshing to know that studies can run out of depressed people to study. That gives me hope. LOL

      I just tried that Chimp game – how awful! LOL. I think it said I got it right 4 times out of 8.

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