Tag Archives: CPR

We’re Back!

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” –Ella Fitzgerald

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

After a two-month hiatus, Rescue Yourself: CPR for Depressives is back. I’ve retooled the website for a fresher look, added some new widgets, and included an about me page. I had loads of fun adding unique photo headers at the top of each “About” page (see the links at the top of the blog); with the exception of one, all the photos are from the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens near Pasadena, California. And yes, I took them all! I am in the process of redefining the categories so that they will be more obvious and act more like an index. Look for the more user-friendly categories sometime this coming week.

Pretty pictures aside, it is my hope that the blog will be more readable, enjoyable, and useful to you.  Many thanks to everyone who gave input via the poll I posted in July. I am looking forward to doing some cool things with the blog such as interviews with experts in the health and wellness fields, recipes for foods that supercharge the brain, and even some guided visualizations using audio technology.

I hope your summer was everything you needed it to be, as free from depression as possible. I found myself in the midst of a few depressive episodes, largely due to the extreme heat and exceptional drought here in Texas, the likes of which haven’t been seen since–well, never. We broke every heat and dryness record here since they started recording such things. Excessive heat can actually inflame the brain and make depression worse. (Hmm, maybe, just maybe, Texas isn’t the right place for me!)

I’ve been cogitating a lot this summer on the true nature of depression, not just how it manifests, but what causes it, why some people get it and others don’t, and what–going beyond the physical and emotional symptoms–it really is. It’s my opinion that chronic, recalcitrant depression is, by and large, a spiritual illness, or what medical intuitive Caroline Myss calls “mystical depression.” I’ll be talking more about that in a future blog post.

Also coming up in the next couple of months will be an in-depth look at the underpinnings of the CPR recovery program: Care for yourself radically, Practice reliance on a Higher Power, and Re-vision and revitalize your life. As part of this exploration, I’ll introduce the Twelve Pillars of Wellness, material that I developed a few years ago for a live workshop entitled “Going Beyond Depression,” which I gave in Tucson in 2004. Additionally, you’ll have a chance to try more interactive exercises, including some forays into the expressive arts, and you’ll be seeing more insights from leading lights in the fields of nutrition, exercise physiology, spirituality, and alternative healing.

St. Francis is a worthy exemplar of serentiy for us.

I spent the last few weeks recovering from acute bronchitis. When my lungs aren’t working, there isn’t a whole lot I can do except rest, sleep, and think. In between nebulizer treatments, I got to thinking about what it really means to heal and if complete healing from depression (not to mention bum lungs!) is possible. I don’t have a definitive answer to that question, but I invite you to explore that possibility with me in the weeks and months to come.

I’m glad to be back here at CPR for Depressives, and I hope you’ll continue to not only follow the blog as new posts appear, but actually try the exercises and suggestions and report back on how well they worked or didn’t work for you. It’s through sharing our experience, strength, and hope with each other that we are better able to recover from depression and create lives that are rewarding and infused with everyday happiness. I look forward to serving you by sharing not just knowledge about what it takes to recover from depression, but also wisdom about living an amazing life, no matter what challenges we face.

Until next time,




Filed under Community Building

What Do You Mean, “Rescue Myself?”

Hope comes when we choose to rescue ourselves.

Why “Rescue Yourself”?

Depression, by its very nature, is a disease of victimhood. Chronic depression sufferers overwhelmingly have histories of trauma in childhood. Depression further traumatizes those of us with the illness, causing our lives to screech to a passive halt.

No matter how good the therapist or how effective the medication, we can’t truly get well until we take full and complete responsibility for our recovery. Taking responsibility is a proactive stance, the antithesis of our past victimization. When we stop looking to others–whether doctors, mental health professionals, or our families–to fix us, and start stepping up ourselves, the trauma stops. Slowly, gradually, yet surely, we heal. Functionality returns. The darkness recedes, and there is hope.

During the early years of my illness, I became increasingly frustrated with both the limited content of the information I was receiving from my doctor and therapist and by its fractured nature. My doctor was med-happy. The more meds at ever-higher doses, the better, in his opinion. My therapist helped me explore my feelings and to “cope.” But I was not getting better–just the opposite. My life was circling the drain, and everything I held dear was disappearing. No one seemed to be able to tell me what I needed to do to truly get well, and the concept of a whole-person approach to recovery from depression was almost non-existent.

In desperation, I started reading up on depression, to the best of my ability at the time (my ability to read and process information cognitively was pretty much shot). I learned simple self-help strategies that, as I began to practice them, helped me far more than the medication and gave me hope that I could somehow get my life back. Honoring my own wisdom and doing what worked for me literally made the difference between life and death.

Why “CPR”?

The term “CPR” implies a drastic attempt to resuscitate someone who is dying. Indeed. Living with depression isn’t living at all; it is a state of being dead with a barely discernible pulse. A completely new approach to recovery from this illness is required if you are to get well. You must become your own advocate and your own expert–even if you’re not sure what that looks like. To assert, “I am going to do whatever it takes to get well and get my life back, no matter what,” is the equivalent of the paramedics applying the paddles to a coding patient’s chest. It is the difference between life and death. With each life-affirming choice you make, the next choice to be made becomes clearer. Healing happens.

In the context of this blog, “CPR” stands for the following concepts:

C =  Care for self radically. (One of the definitions for “radical” is “forming a basis or a foundation.”)

P = Practice reliance on a Higher Power.

R = Re-vision and revitalize your life.

How Can You Perform CPR on Yourself?

A friend and follower of this blog pointed out that CPR is always performed by one person on another. Aren’t “rescue yourself” and “CPR” contradictions in terms?

This is one of those delightful paradoxes that, like all true paradoxes, contains seeds of profound spiritual truth. By stepping up and starting to make life-affirming choices, one choice at a time, one day at a time, we engage the “magic” of synergy. Other people see what we’re up to and want to help. Resources, such as books, support groups, alternative therapies, become available. Someone emails us a link to the website that answers our current question. A job we can actually do and still take care of ourselves opens up.

In other words: Yes, we have to save ourselves. And we don’t have to do it alone. Indeed, it is not even possible to get well all on our own. Thank goodness for that!

Note: This article is a re-post of the entry entitled “About the Title,” listed under the About This Blog section on the sidebar. I wanted to bring attention to the important issue of self-responsibility in recovering from depression; hence, I re-posted it as a regular blog entry.

(c) 2011 by Patricia R. Henschen, M.A.


Filed under Milestones

Hitting the Trail—Part 2

Rock Garden“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — by Anaïs Nin

It’s been less than two years since the son of a friend in Tucson, a man in his early 30s, committed suicide. This young man had everything going for him: a successful business; a beautiful, adoring fiancée; a loving family. And yet, because of his depression, his out-of-whack brain chemistry took the painful way out. (Make no mistake: suicide is never “the easy way out.”) I don’t doubt that if he had felt he had a choice, he would not have taken his own life. The consequences of his action are reverberating to this day.

This story, and so many others like it—including my own, have brought me to the point where I can’t not share my experience, strength, and hope and the practical learnings I have gleaned over the many years I have struggled with major depression. (Besides, one ignores God’s, er, invitations at one’s peril; look what almost happened to Noah!)

There is a lot of information available today about depression, thanks largely to the Internet. Medical web sites, blogs, government agency sites, pharmaceutical companies’ completely unbiased (riiight!) sites, along with books and magazine articles, the advice of doctors and therapists, TV ads for anti-depressant medications. . . and then there are all the things our well-meaning family members and friends say. It is overwhelming and extremely confusing to know where to turn, what to do, whom to believe.

The first few years after I received my diagnoses of recurrent major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (coming on top of a previous diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder), I felt greatly discouraged and further depressed by the lack of any kind of whole-person approach to treating my depression. When I complained that I wasn’t getting better, my psychiatrist thought that more drugs in higher doses was the answer. My therapist encouraged me to talk about my feelings (despairing! frustrated! non-functional! Hello!!), and gave me a handful of strategies to “cope.” At no time did any of the medical professionals I was working with discuss lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, self-help strategies, depression as essentially a bio-spiritual disease, or the notion that my recovery from depression was up to me.

It wasn’t until I got it that I, and only I, could “rescue myself” from depression and started researching ways to help myself that I slowly, gradually, yet surely began to get better. It’s been a “long row to hoe,” as my Hoosier relatives might say, and I’m not fully “there” yet. There are days—sometimes several in a row, sometimes a couple of weeks at a time—when the depression monster (a creature I call, in a Tolkienesque nod, “Noorder”) wakes up, rears its horrific head, nabs me, and has me for lunch. My functionality takes a nose-dive, my dreams and work once again go on the back burner, and I get to use the tools I’ve learned to pull myself back up out of the pit—again. But the pit is shallower than it used to be, and I don’t spend as much time in it as I used to.

It is my hope that this blog will help others with chronic, intransigent, clinical depression and their families or caregivers—people who have been frustrated, as I was, by the confusing, contradictory information out there about depression and by the one-sided, medication-biased approach to treating this devastating illness. That is why I call this blog Rescue Yourself: CPR for Depressives. “CPR,” in this instance, stands for the following:

C=Care for self radically. (One of the definitions for “radical” is “forming a basis or a foundation.”)

P=Practice reliance on a Higher Power.

R=Re-vision and revitalize your life.

Let’s see where this journey takes us.

Next time: “Hitting the Trail—Part 3.”

(c) 2010 by Patricia R. Henschen

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Filed under Introduction