Apps I Use to Help Manage My Depression and Treatment

Hello again! I’m back… for now!

Today I was answering some MDD discussion questions for the benefit of a research organization that is trying to come up with a new treatment option for major depressive disorder. I thought my fellow depressed people of the internet might be interested in my response — I know I would be if I were less experienced in my illness, so to speak, and in what works for me. So the following is my list of apps (in no particular order) that I use to help manage my depression and depression treatment. They’re probably not quite what you would expect, but that goes to show that depression is very complex and many factors contribute to both its presence and one’s recovery. Let me know if this list helps you in any way! Enjoy!

1. Inner Balance by HeartMath (free to download). I just downloaded this today and I look forward to trying it and hopefully making it a part of my daily routine. I learned about it from my bf’s friend who is a hypnotist (not in the traditional sense of the word, but more cognitive-behavioral) and gave me a free therapy session and had me try it out. You attach a pulse sensor to your earlobe and breathe in sync to a sort of pulsating mandala, trying to enhance coherence between your mind and heart rhythm. Termed HRV (heart rate variability) coherence training. It’s a biofeedback therapy which is great because you can actually see whether you’re doing it right and measure your progress. It’s like meditation, but more awesome, and you don’t have to continually pay someone in order to do it. I don’t have the sensor ($120+) yet but it’s on my Christmas wishlist.

2. Day One Journal by Bloom Built Inc (was $3 to download). The best journaling app out there. If you want, you can have multiple journals for different purposes in the same app. With premium (which I don’t have yet but might eventually have – $25-35 yearly) you get unlimited cloud storage and can sync across all devices. The designers have thought of pretty much everything. I have my main journal plus one titled Gratitude Journal, another called CBT for making myself aware of my thought patterns, one called Law of Attraction for visualizing what I want in life (difficult when depressed), “Dear Nikita” which is just me writing to my past, present, or future self, and a couple others for fun. I’ve journaled all my life but because I live with my boyfriend now and everything is more phone-centric these days I find it more convenient to have this app to get my reflective thoughts down and remove the possibility of anyone else being able to read through it (it’s password-protected).

3. Instagram (free). Sort of like a public journal. I can say as little or as much as I want, portray myself in whatever way makes me feel good, share my progress/recovery/inner thoughts with friends and anyone who happens to care, rant to whoever will listen, make an impact however small. I like that it acts as a record of myself, like “Nikita was here”. And as long as I remain honest, I can direct any new acquaintance to my account to get a better idea of who I am and what I uniquely (or not so uniquely) struggle with as a chronic depressive. That way I don’t have to tire myself out explaining everything. And the thought of being able to do this if I ever need to helps relieve my anxiety of being unknown, lonely, and useless.

4. Insight Timer (free): I learned about this from my bf who learned about it through a friend. Huge community of meditators. Free to use. You can rack up hours and get stars for progress. You can ‘friend’ others and also access guided meditations. My bf uses this multiple times a day but I fell off the wagon quite early. But I still think it’s cool. Some of the guided meditations are specific to depression and anxiety.

5. Shopping apps (Poshmark, eBay, Mercari, Depop, Amazon) (free to download): One of the ways I cope with depression lately is with shopping. Gives me a little high especially when I get a good deal. It’s like in that show “Extreme Couponing”. Been doing this for the last 4 years, or since the start of my current depressive episode. When I run out of money, I sell my old stuff. The cycle repeats!

6. Nike+ Run Club by Nike (free). I prefer this app over Under Armour’s MapMyRun because it’s more aesthetically pleasing to me and has less of a crowded feel. It also does everything I want it to, which is to map my run, record my time, distance, and pace, and log the miles run in any pairs of Nikes I own. You can also link with Spotify and have a customized playlist that (closely) matches your run tempo. I’ve always hated running but this app makes me want to improve my running. I can compete against myself or a friend who also has the app. I can share my results to social networks. This app is important to me because exercise, especially running, helps clear my head and relieve my depression symptoms. With it I successfully trained for and ran a 10k a year ago.

7. CVS Pharmacy (free). I use it to refill prescriptions. I love it for the convenience, and it also acts as a log of all the medications and dosages I’ve taken in the past.

8. Healthgrades (free). I use this when I’m looking for a new doctor. Because I’ve had bad experiences in the past, I make sure to only go with a clinician who has an average of at least 4 stars. This has worked out well for me so far and helped me avoid huge disappointments.

I’ve tried looking for a CBT app that can work as a digital workbook for self-therapy, but none of the free ones were helpful and I didn’t feel like paying. In the end my sister bought me a paperback workbook and I’ve been using that. Works for me.

 

Are there any apps that you love that work well for you? Help someone out; leave a comment.

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Amends 2

Today I responded to A regarding her apology from last week.

 

Hey A,

I appreciate your message, and it’s ok. You didn’t know any better, and neither did anyone else, really, including me–fortunately studying neuroscience helped to answer a lot of the questions my doctors couldn’t or didn’t have time to answer… Mental illness, especially chronic and recurring mental illness, is surrounded by misunderstanding on all sides. I remain hopeful though that we’ll find some permanently effective treatments in the future.

I’m not yet finished with my degree, but because of the pictures I posted and being back in LA and all I’ve been getting congratulated. πŸ™‚ DOK and the academic review board permitted me to march at the graduation ceremony because I had completed 30 of my 32 units. I had taken two years off in 2013-2015 to recover from another severe depression, only I didn’t recover, and I essentially lied saying I was healthy again so I could come back in 2015 and finish my degree. So unsurprisingly I wasn’t able to finish my senior year without dropping a couple courses, and now I need to make up those units elsewhere. But I don’t ever have to set foot on the Wellesley campus again, so that’s good. πŸ˜‰

Your Facebook timeline tells me you’re having a good time, and I’m glad to see that. I hope it reflects truth. πŸ™‚ First year I remember was also a very difficult time for you, and we hadn’t talked much after that. For the most part I have created distance between myself and many people, including people from high school, people from Wellesley, and my parents. Some of this was to avoid negativity or people around whom I feel sad, and the rest was because I just can’t relate to certain people anymore because I’ve changed so much. I have tested my emotions by occasionally socializing with some of these people, to try to make myself adapt and be less sensitive. I have found this to not work very well and after so much testing of the waters outside my comfort zone and becoming more anxious as a result, I have learned that taking cover and accepting one’s vulnerability can in some cases be better than facing fears. I hope you can understand if I keep my distance from you. I begrudgingly respect my limitations.

Thank you for reaching out, A. It is a reminder of the fact that you have always cared. πŸ™‚

Take care,
Nikita

 

 

Amends

A week ago I received this message from someone I hadn’t spoken to in years. We’ll call her A. We were acquaintances in high school and when we found out we were both going to Wellesley, we tried our best to bond so we could support each other once over there. Long story short, things just didn’t work out.

 

Hey Nikita,
Just saw your graduation post. Congratulations!

I’ve been thinking about you lately , like when I went home and reverted to becoming a teenager and when I got together with S.K. on Saturday and thought about high school and even yesterday when I was listening to a podcast about “solving the problem” and frames of reference. You’ve been on my mind and I would like to apologize for not being a good friend to you during college.

I didn’t understand depression and still have a lot to learn about it. I remember our last phone call and regret how I handled the way you expressed how you felt. I shouldn’t have diminished you and what you were going through because it was big. And when you came back to Wellesley, I figured you didn’t want to be friends and I kept my distance.

So, a long overdue apology. I am sorry for not being there for you when we spent so much time together. Our minds were in different places and spaces. I regret not stepping out of my tunnel and seeing you.

I hope you’re well and congratulations again.

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ο»ΏA Haiku for You

Strip me of my meds

and I will resemble more

the dead girl I am.

  • I like haikus because they’re so simple. Even I can do them and I’m not a poet.
  • These days, the average amount of sleep I need in order to not feel like I slept too much or too little is 11 hours. I think I am developing a tolerance to Fetzima. So that’s two meds now: bupropion and Fetzima. I wonder now and then how I’ll ever get off them.
  • Finals are over!!!

Playing God’s Advocate

I’ve been noticing my brain’s been trying to give religious perspective more air time. “How would one interpret my situation within a spiritual context?”

The better I feel, the easier it is for me to believe in God. The doubt is still strong, and I remember knowing when I was at my lowest that if I ever got better, it would be like this. I had even hoped for it; spirituality is great medicine. But the part of me that wants to be true to myself, be consistent, and respect my depressed self as much as my healthier self is resisting. I’m fine with that, too. My beliefs carry a lot of weight, and they’re not easily changed.

I like being an agnostic materialist, because that’s my truth. Science is my truth. It’s what I know will never cave for however long I stand on it. If I have any faith in God, it’s the size of a mustard seed at best…

A perk of severe depression

*Trigger warning: death/loss/suicide*

When my grandfather died about 2 1/2 years ago, it was due to a heart attack he had had while we were walking in the park together. Right afterΒ I saw he had fallen, I watched as his chest quickly deflated and didn’t rise again. I shouted for help as I didn’t have my phone on me to call 911, then folded up my sweatshirt to put under his head. There was a small pool of blood under it. I thought to myself that this was probably his last day of life or close to it, and I felt a tiny bit envious. A retired pastor, he was now on the fast track to heaven, if we are to assume there is a heaven. He was also getting a ticket out of this dreadful world, as I saw it. I took note of my reaction as just another interesting thing about my depression. Later onΒ at the funeral a couple weeks later, people I talked to thought that seeing him fall, etc. must have been traumatic. Nope. It was more of a peaceful experience than traumatic, honestly. I was relieved and glad for him. Of course, I didn’t say this.

Also when I’ve been pretty depressed (I’m fairly stable now) and witnessing the euthanization of a mouse in a science class, I’m not as freaked out as my classmates. I don’t feel disturbed. I don’t think, “Oh, poor mouse!!” I remember my lab instructor saying, “It’s normal to have a negative reaction toΒ this. It’s actually weirder if you don’t feel bad.” Lol.Β I wasn’t offended. And this is not to say that I never feel empathy for animals. I do. I once had a dog named Mopsy whom I loved very much. She was the best dog, very cute, very well trained, and very smart. She was also very mellow. As she got older, she developed dry eyes that would get caked with eye mucus that we had to clean out. It was hard for her to see. She also developed Cushing’s disease, and I could tell by the way she moved that she was depressed. I was experiencing one of my first depressions at the time, and I couldn’t pay as much attention to her as I used to. It hurt to look at her. I felt her pain too well. I told my parents and sister to euthanize her. They interpreted this as coldness and heartlessness. Eventually they did take her to the vet to be euthanized, while I laid heavily in bed. Afterward they told me how sad it was to see her die and that they had cried, and that I was so selfish for not going with them.

It wasn’t until a year later on a trip to Ireland that my feelings became clear. My mom and I were looking at a Shetland pony in a stable, and it looked sad to me. Its head was low and it didn’t look at us. We threw some bread in and itΒ sniffed it but didn’t eat. It just continued standing still with its head low. I was reminded of Mopsy. My eyes welled up and I cried and cried. Perhaps the pony was sad for most of the time; perhaps its owners did not take adequate care of it or pay enough loving attention to it. Perhaps it felt trapped like me. But a pony in its circumstances doesn’t have the option to commit suicide and end its misery like I do. It probably doesn’t even have a concept of suicide…

By the way, suicide is not the answer and I’ve been telling myself it’s not an option. What I said up there is a reflection on my feelings from 7-9 years ago.

My point is, depression can make you more disturbed by life, but also less disturbed about death. πŸ™‚

Wow, am I writing depressing stuff today or what?