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Tips to avoid the “depression demon”

A portrait of me that my daughter, Tami Hammond-Collins, painted during one of my depressive episodes.

A portrait of me that my daughter, Tami Hammond-Collins,

painted during one of my depressive episodes.


In mid-January, I was out walking in extreme wintery weather, and I slipped on some ice – hard! Ouch! To make a long (and very painful) story short, I broke my left ankle and was put on three weeks of bedrest. Then, just as I was starting to walk again, while trying to protect the injured ankle, I put too much strain on my right leg, and tore the meniscus of my right knee. Ouch, ouch!

Will this injury precipitate a depression?

The first thought that crossed my mind as I lay bed-bound in agony, leg in a splint was: “Please don’t let me get depressed!” You see, ever since I became ill with bipolar, any emotional upset, physical illness, or other slight stress was liable to trigger a depressive episode. And in my case, once bipolar depression set in, it was horribly hard to shake. Four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, or more could pass with me in a depressed daze, totally disinterested in my normal life and routines; totally unable to function professionally, socially or within my family. “There she goes again,” my poor husband and children would think, as I disappeared into that familiar dark hole, slumped on the bed or couch, ruminating endlessly, and often thinking suicidal thoughts.

So you can imagine how terrified I was when I broke my ankle. Not only might the shock trigger a depression, but I was unable to do any mood-elevating and mind-protective exercise for several weeks.

I was doubly at risk for depression.

Avoid the “depression demon”

Fortunately, I managed to avoid the depression demon. How?

  1. By keeping a positive outlook (“thank goodness this is only temporary”; “it could have been much worse if I had a concussion as well”; etc.).

  2. By doing daily meditation.

  3. By faithfully taking my bipolar meds as usual.

  4. By being treated like a queen by my long-suffering husband (who accompanied me to the hospital for initial X-rays and a follow-up appointment, cooked and served me three wonderful meals a day in bed, helped me to shower, etc.).

Friends, one thing is certain: life can throw you a curve ball at any time. Do you have a plan in place to stay stable regardless of what comes your way?


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