5 Ways to Hold Up Your End Of The Relationship When You’re Dealing With Depression

I have struggled with depression for my whole life. 52 years. For a long time I didn’t have a name for why I always felt so hopeless and full of despair. I just lived with it.

And then I got married. And he had to live with it too. It was not fun.

Being in a relationship when you are dealing with depression can be very difficult but I am here to tell you that relationships don’t have to self-destruct because of it.

Here is my latest – 5 Ways to Hold Up Your End Of The Relationship When You’re Dealing With Depression.

#1 – Recognize when you are depressed.

For those of us who live with depression we can usually tell when it hits. Simple tasks that just the day before were easy to do become difficult. Sleep is elusive. We are short tempered and crabby. Each of us manifests depression differently but usually we know when we are experiencing it.

Keeping in touch with your depression and sharing its presence with your partner is very important. Don’t just expect your partner to guess that you are depressed. They might not recognize the signs and might not respond to your new mood and that could lead to some big problems between the two of you.

So when depression hits be clear about it. You and your partner you have a bit of a battle ahead. Together.

#2 – Talk to your partner about what depression is like.

Even the most sympathetic of partners doesn’t really understand what depression is like unless they suffer from it themselves. Because of this it’s important to try to teach them what depression looks like for you.

When we talked my message for my husband was 1) you haven’t caused this and 2) you can’t fix it and 3) I can’t just suck it up and feel better. For me it was essential that he knew these three things to be true.

Next I explained to him what my depression looked like. That when I was depressed I felt like I had a gorilla on my back. Moving around, getting things done, communicating effectively, all required such a herculean effort that I could barely manage. When I was depressed I was exhausted, easily angered, prone to long bouts of crying. Going to work, seeing his family, taking care of myself, all filled me with such an overwhelming sense of dread that I couldn’t bear it.

So, when you ARE NOT depressed, take some time and share your experience with your partner. The better understanding they have of your depression the better they will be able to deal with and cope with it.

#3 – Plan ahead for what to do when depression hits.

A key part of dealing with depression for me, and for my husband, was that I was able to, when I wasn’t depressed, make a plan for what I needed when I was depressed. I knew from experience what I needed to get through my depression. Sharing it with my partner was key.

For me, when I get depressed I need four things: to get outside, to sleep, Pad Thai and sex. I knew that those things would not cure my depression but that they made living with it easier.

So, when I WAS NOT depressed, my husband and I made a plan for what to do when I was. We would let me sleep in, go for a hike, get Pad Thai, have sex and send me back to sleep. We would do that, or some variation of that, to stay connected while I was depressed and help me get through it.

What we also agreed was that he wouldn’t try to fix it. Many people like to fix things. You can’t fix depression. Accepting that was a great way for my husband to manage when I was depressed because he wasn’t constantly frustrated, searching for ways to help me.

Want more help dealing with depression and relationships? Reach out and let me help!

#4 – Don’t make your partner suffer.

So you have talked to your partner about your depression and made a plan for what you need when you are in it. Both of those things are great. Proactive. Good for you.

Sometimes, however, those things just don’t work and you are miserable. You are short tempered and difficult and not fun to be with.

At times like that, let your partner go. Let them go about their day, guilt free. The last thing in the world you want to do is tether someone you love to your depression.

Encourage your partner to go do something they love instead of hang around being miserable with you. If you let them do this they will come home refreshed and better able to support you. And they might even bring you some Pad Thai.

#5 – Agree to seek help.

One of the hardest things for someone who loves someone with depression is their sense of helplessness. They know that there is nothing that they can do to help their partner get out of this dark place. And that sense of helplessness can tear relationships apart.

What can you do? You can agree to seek help dealing with your depression. That help can be what you want it to be: medication, yoga, therapy. Whatever works for you.

It is important, for both of you in the relationship, to know that the depression isn’t something that will be ignored but that will be addressed head on. That it is something that you can both learn to deal with and take on together. As a couple.

Get some help. Both for you and for the one you love.

So there you go – my 5 Ways to Hold Up Your End Of The Relationship When You’re Dealing With Depression.

Depression can have a devastating effect on relationships. It doesn’t have to be a death knell, however. Some relationships can actually thrive when couples tackle depression together.

Share with your partner what your depression looks like, allow them to fully understand it and share with you the tools you have in place to manage it. Give them the freedom to escape from it for a bit if necessary. But be in it together.

Because if together you can manage depression then there is nothing else that you can’t take on. Together.

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Ways The Most Emotionally Strong People Become That Way

You know that woman you know? You know, the one who seems completely put together? She knows what she wants and who she is and she won’t let anyone or anything get her down?

Yes, her. Wouldn’t you like to be her?

You can be!

A woman like that most likely wasn’t always like that but had to work to become that way. And you can do it too!

Here is my latest – 5 Ways The Most Emotionally Strong People Become That Way.

#1 – Take care of yourself.

At the most basic level, no one can be emotionally strong if they aren’t physically strong.

I am not saying you have to join Crossfit and do the Whole 30 and go to therapy every day. I do mean to take care of your body. Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, be kind to others, do what makes you smile.

Feeling healthy and strong will give you good strong roots at the base of your emotionally healthy tree. Roots that will make it so that you won’t blow over in a storm.

So do it. Take care of yourself. Create a healthy base on which to cultivate your emotional strength.

#2 – Challenge your thoughts.

You know those pesky thoughts that incessantly course through your head? You know the ones. The ones that tell you aren’t pretty enough, not smart enough, not successful enough.

Yes, those thoughts. The thoughts that are holding you back. They are keeping you emotionally weak.

It’s time to change those thoughts. It won’t be easy but with a little determination you can bring about big change.

One of my clients had spent a lifetime telling herself that she just wasn’t worthy of love. Her life experience had led her to believe this to be true and because her thoughts consistently reinforced this idea she just wasn’t emotionally capable to finding and keeping love.

I challenged her to challenge those thoughts. To talk back to the negative thoughts and provide evidence that they just weren’t true. I encouraged her to make a list of those who had loved her. Her various boyfriends, her parents, her friends, her kids, the barista guy who had flirted with her for years. Those people who liked and loved her.

She kept this list easily accessible and when those dreaded thoughts reared their ugly head she referred to the list. Gradually those thoughts, being starved of reasons why it was true, became much quieter.

And then, because she no longer felt emotionally weakened by her thoughts, she flirted back with that barista and it looks like she just might live happily ever after.

#3 – Don’t take things personally.

Taking things personally can be the death of emotional strength.

When something happens to us the only way that we can process it is through our own internal system. And that internal system only truly understands OUR experience. As a result we often times personalize things that have NOTHING to do with us.

I have a client who was in a dispute with her landlord about damage done to her apartment and she was very upset. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t enjoy her everyday life. She took the dispute personally.

She felt that the landlord was questioning who she was as a person in his pursuit of keeping the damage deposit. She felt less than because of this.

I suggested to her that a more likely explanation for his actions was that he wanted more money from her NOT that he didn’t like her as a person.

In that moment my client let go of everything that she had been holding on to. Of course it was about the money, not about how she was as a tenant or a person. It’s always about money.

In that moment she learned about the importance of not taking things personally and grew her emotional strength.

#4 – Give of yourself to others.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can help build emotional strength more than doing something for someone else. Truly, nothing.

When I was going through my divorce my emotional strength was at it’s lowest.  I started volunteering weekly at the local food bank. Four hours a week of helping other people get food to eat, for themselves and their families, made me feel so good. And not because I felt lucky that I wasn’t in their position but because I knew that I had made a substantial, positive difference in their lives. It made my heart sing.

Many of us don’t have time to volunteer but we can make a difference in other ways. Hold the door open for someone, buy that homeless person sitting outside the grocery store a sandwich, reach out to a friend you know is going through a hard time, give up your seat on the subway.

There is nothing like being on the receiving end of a smile of gratitude to build up your emotional strength. So try it. Reach out and make a difference in someone’s life today

#5 – Do that thing you think you can not do.

There comes a time in one’s life when one is presented with an obstacle that seem insurmountable. For me that obstacle was rebuilding my life after my divorce.

I never wanted a divorce but it was forced upon me and I had to deal. I had to deal with no longer being a wife, greatly reduced financial stability and the prospect of being alone forever.

I DID NOT WANT TO DEAL.

But I had to. I had to pick myself and move forward. And I chose to pick myself and move forward in the strongest possible way. I wasn’t going to let this situation ruin my life so I didn’t.

How? I got into therapy. I surrounded myself with people who loved and supported me. I educated myself about the divorce process so that I could get what I needed to take care of myself and my children. I didn’t back down in the face of his anger and derision. I stopped taking his actions personally and realized they were his issues not mine.

In short, I came out on the other side of my divorce a different woman. I went into it a woman who was scared of her own shadow, as I had been at the end of my marriage. I emerged someone who knew that she could take care of herself and her children, who was no longer a wife but a woman and who didn’t give a damn about being alone because I was very happy with my own company.

The BEST way to ensure your emotional strength is to DO THAT THING YOU THINK YOU CAN NOT DO. By doing so you will truly see your own strength. Nothing and no one will be able to convince you otherwise.

So there you go – my 5 Ways The Most Emotionally Strong People Become That Way.

We are born into this world emotionally strong people. Life experience can drain that strength until we are left a shell of who we formerly were.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Take care of yourself, don’t take things personally, challenge your thoughts, give unto others and face challenges head on. Regaining your emotional strength is not only possible but probable with a little intention and effort.

You can do it. I did. And, let me tell you, it feels amazing!

Looking for more ways to get emotionally stronger? Contact me and I can help.

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Ways to Survive Your Kid Going off to College and Leaving You Behind

Your kid is going off to college. Holy s*%t.

While there were some occasions a few years back when you thought this moment couldn’t come soon enough, now that it’s here the prospect is hitting you like a ton of bricks.

Your child is leaving. That force of nature who has lived in your house for 18 years. How are you going to survive that loss?

Surviving, and even thriving, is not only possible but probable.

Here is my latest…5 Ways to Survive Your Kid Going off to College and Leaving You Behind.

#1 – Pay attention to how you are feeling.

Most likely your body is in physical pain, a result of psychological suffering at the loss of your child. And most likely the center point of that pain is your stomach. The pain is sharp and relentless and makes you feel like you are going to die.

That pain is from anxiety. Anxiety that your child won’t be able to survive without you. That you won’t be able to survive without them. That everything will be different now and how do you deal with that? That pain comes directly from your brain, from your thoughts. Frustrating, no?

There are two ways to deal with that pain.

The first is to talk back to that brain of yours. Tell it that it is being ridiculous. That your child is ready to do this and will be fine. That you have survived their being toddlers and teenagers so you can survive their leaving. And change is good. It’s not easy to talk back to your thoughts but you can do it.

The second is to remember to breathe. Big deep breaths that go down to your belly. Breath in for 3 seconds and out for 5. This kind of breathing will actually calm the stress response in your body, ease your stomach pain and help clear your head. Repeat as necessary.

#2 – Revel in their successes and opportunities.

Your child is going to COLLEGE. How huge is that?

Since they were born one of your dreams for them has been college. College opens up doors for our kids. It allows them to think deep, dream big and share it with all kinds of like-minded and other-minded people. It will clear pathways that will take them forward into the rest of their lives.

And don’t forget the role that you have played in all of this. It is because of you that they are ready to fly, to leave home and thrive. Don’t underestimate the value of this. Without you this never could have happened!

Most of all, they aren’t leaving you behind. You and everything you have taught them will stay with them throughout their college life, whispering in their ear and guiding their decisions. And don’t worry. They will come back. There is laundry to be done and home-cooked food to be eaten.

#3 – Cry. But not too much.

It’s okay that that you are feeling sad. Of course you are. And your child is feeling sad too. Leaving home leads to mixed emotions.

Tell your child that you are sad that they are leaving and that you are going to miss them. They need to know. It’s important that they see real emotion from you, emotions that they can mirror as they want.

DO NOT go on and on repeatedly about how much you will miss them. Don’t lie on their bed as they pack, sobbing. Don’t make a scene when you drop them off at the dorm. Even if you feel like bursting into tears, don’t. There is time enough for that on the car ride home.

You don’t want to burden your child with the guilt of your sadness because doing so might hamper their ability to assimilate into their new school. This is not good.

So cry… but within reason.

#4 – Plan a visit. But not tomorrow.

Colleges and universities have it all figured out. Usually by October, when everyone is missing each other, A LOT, there are parent weekends scheduled. This is a weekend where the kids get to share their new home with you and you get to buy them things. Fun times are had by all.

So plan to do this (and make hotel reservations well ahead of time as they tend to fill up). Planning will make you happy.

DO NOT plan to visit your child before that. Don’t stop by to do their laundry or help with their homework or just because you miss them. It’s like summer camp – they need to go cold turkey from their parents to really settle in. You being around will prevent that from happening.

#5 – Take a good look at the rest of your life.

Even if this child is not your last to leave home now is the time where your life will start to change.

You have spent the past 18 years devoting yourself to your children and running your household. You have given so much of yourself, happily, but now it’s time to start taking care of you.

Take a good hard look at the choices you have made that have brought you to where you are today. Take a good hard look at where you want to be in the next half of your life. Take a good hard look at what is important to you.

This is it. This is your time. You have age and you have wisdom and now it’s time to start at least laying the groundwork to living the life that you have always wanted.

So there you go – 5 Ways to Survive Your Kid Going off to College and Leaving You Behind.

The next few weeks will be tough but you, and your child, will get through it. It’s also a magical time, a time for your child to enter his or her world and for you to begin to grow in yours.

Embrace it. It only happens once.

Need any more ideas about how to survive and thrive? Contact me and I can help!

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

6 Ways to Make a Schedule and KEEP TO IT

I have a client who is a teacher and she desperately needs to get on a schedule so that when school starts again she can be more efficient with her life. So that she can teach and continue to stay on top of the things that are important to her.

My client has tried and failed to do this in the past. This year she has me and this year it’s going to happen and it’s going to stick.

Here is my latest – 6 Ways to Make a Schedule And KEEP TO IT.

#1 – Know what you want to have on your schedule.

This is very important. In order to make a schedule you need to know what it is that you want on it. If you just go into making a schedule with what comes off the top of your head you are likely to miss something and that will take away from the efficacy of your work.

There will be two categories of what you want on your schedule. Things that happen every day and then space for things that will suddenly need to be done, like meetings or doctor appointments.

For my client there weren’t that many items but the ones that she had were important. They included taking her meds (which she often forgot to do), eating breakfast, exercising, keeping her bedroom straight, going to bed by 11 and specifying hours that would be used for schoolwork.

Easy enough, no?

#2 – Write it down.

Writing something down, anything down, everything down, is the best way to insure that you will remember it. So once you have your list it’s time to rough out your schedule and write it down.

It is essential that you use a format for your schedule that is both effective for YOU and something that you will remember to LOOK at.

Many people feel like you have to have a fancy calendar, either paper or electronic, on which to record your schedule. They feel like if it’s fancy they are more likely to use it. And this might be so. But it also might not be.

Remember those chore lists you had a child? With the days of the week written down and what had to be done each day? They often were in different colors and involved stars for rewards? And remember how well they worked? I mean who didn’t want a gold star?

I am not saying that you need to use that format but choose a format that will work for you. It can be a calendar or a notebook or a white board. Whatever works best!

One thing I do not recommend is using a loose piece of paper. Why? For two reasons. The first because it is likely to get lost and the second because you won’t remember to look at it.

Whatever format you choose you need to remember to LOOK AT it. If you don’t look at your schedule you won’t be able to pull off sticking to it.

#3 – Keep it simple.

The most important thing about keeping a schedule is to make it as simple as possible. Don’t have too many steps. Too many steps can cause schedule derailment every time.

My client wanted to figure out how she could take her meds efficiently and every day. She has ADD and it is essential that she take her meds so that she can function.

One of the ideas was for her to put her daily dose in a jar and carry them down to the kitchen and have them with her breakfast. I suggested that perhaps she keep them by her bed and take them as soon as she wakes up and then head down for breakfast. That way she won’t forget and after she eats and then exercises the meds will have kicked in and this will help her to get out the door more effectively.

Taking that one step out of her schedule, the transportation of the meds from the bedroom to the kitchen, and taking them right away instead of later, makes the whole piece more efficient and more effective and easier to stick to because she can see the results.

#4 – Make sure that you allow enough time for each task.

It is very important when making a schedule to make sure that you don’t overbook your day. If you allow only 30 minutes to get up, make coffee, shower and exercise then you are just setting yourself up for failure.

As you make your schedule take a careful look at how long you really need to do something and then add an extra 30 minutes, in case you run late and for transition time to the next item.

Also, make sure that you leave some blank space every day to write in new things that need to be done, like haircuts and play-dates.

One of the top reasons for people to not stick to a schedule is because they just can’t get stuff done because they have not allowed enough time. They get defeated and give up!

And we don’t want you to give up. So plan accordingly.

#5 – Do it for 30 days.

They say that once you do something for 30 days it will become a habit. And it really works. I have had a lot of success with my clients as far as changing their habits over the course of 30 days.

So start with day one. And commit to doing it for 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days.

#6 – If you skip a day don’t give up.

You know how when you are on a diet and you have one night where that tub of Ben and Jerry’s just calls out to you and you can’t resist? What usually happens the next day? You give up on your diet, right?

The same happens when we get off of our schedules. We see ourselves as failures for not completing our task and we give up. Don’t do it! We are all only human and life gets in the way sometime.

Keep on plugging. Move whatever you didn’t get done to another day and start again. Remember, you are only doing this for 30 days and you can do anything for 30 days.

So there you go – my 6 Ways to Make a Schedule And KEEP TO IT.

August is a great time to start working on your schedule for fall. It will be here before you know it and having a plan in place is a recipe for success.

Next time you are at the beach bring a notepad and write down everything that you want to include in your schedule. Of course things will get added and subtracted but if you can create a baseline schedule around which everything works you will be golden.

Make sure you do it at the beach though. Summer is not over yet!

Looking for more ways to make a schedule and stick to it? Contact me here and I can help!

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Things I Learned Today When I Spoke Up For Myself

My kids spent this weekend in Maine with my ex-husband. Again. Second weekend in a row. Another one next week.

These weekends are very hard for me because my kids are part of a Brady Bunch family: two parents and their kids combined to make a new family. My children have a new family that doesn’t include me. And it sucks.

All weekend I had been looking forward to spending today with my daughter. Yesterday she informed me that because they hadn’t made bus reservations they wouldn’t be back to NYC in time for our date. Our plans for today were shot.

I was furious. I wanted to scream and yell. But I didn’t.

Here is the story of what I did instead.

My latest – 5 Things I Learned Today When I Spoke Up For Myself.

#1 – I learned what was really upsetting me.

When I found out that my kids weren’t going to be home when they said they would be I flew off the handle. All I could think about was the incompetency of my ex – how if he had planned ahead with bus reservations this wouldn’t have happened. How unfair it was that he left me and that he lured the kids up to his house with alcohol and shotguns.

And then I thought about how my kids took me for granted and that I gave so much to them and that they gave me very little back. They didn’t respect how upset the whole thing made me. If they did they would behave differently, my angry mind told me.

And then, because I couldn’t reach anybody on the phone to yell at, I was forced to calm down. And when I calmed down it all became clearer.

Yes, I was frustrated at the lack of planning but that is nothing new and nothing that I could change. What I was really upset about was the fact that I wouldn’t be spending the day with my daughter. I so enjoy the time we spend together and I wouldn’t get it. (It didn’t help that she would be with her father instead of me but that is for another blog).

I also realized that, to a certain extent, I felt like my kids really did take me for granted. I felt like I was always available for them and that they were rarely available for me.

Both of things were making me sad. It manifested itself as anger but I was sad.

#2 – I learned what I really wanted.

I asked myself next what I would want if I was in charge of the world?

I know I would like to make my ex and my kids better planners but I knew from experience that that wasn’t likely to change. And I also know that I can only change my reactions to their behaviors because I can’t change them.

So what did I want that I could have?

I know that I want to spend more time with my kids and I wanted to not feel taken for granted. I wanted them to make a little bit more of an effort to respond to my texts, to show a little more respect for my presence in their lives. And to spend time with me when possible.

Not too much to ask, no?

#3 – I learned how to share what I wanted in a non-critical way.

Okay, so now that I knew what I wanted I had to figure out how to talk to my kids without appearing critical or making them defensive. I knew that they weren’t making me feel this way on purpose and I really just wanted to let them know how their actions were affecting me.

To do this I talked to them about how I was feeling. I told them that I felt like I was being supportive about the time they spent with their father (and they agreed) and that I felt sad when their lack of planning with their father interfered with the limited time I spent with them.

I told them that I knew I couldn’t compete with the amusement park that was their dad’s house but that I just wanted them to make a little more effort with me. And made clear to them that a little more effort was as simple as returning my texts. And maybe spending some time with me when possible.

And that was it.

#4 – I learned how to ensure that the message landed.

After I shared with them how I felt I encouraged them to respond to anything I had said. That they could push back in any way and I was open to talking about it all. They did both speak up but only to say that they understood exactly where I was coming from. That they were still trying to navigate the new world their parents divorce had put them in and that they would try to make a better effort in the future.

They did have a few excuses, as kids would have, and I let them speak them and pushed back enough for them to understand that excuses didn’t make it better. They got it.

After lunch I thanked my kids for listening to me. My son said “Not only did we listen to you but we heard you.” And then I got hugs.

#5 – I learned that speaking up for myself felt really, really good.

I walked away from the whole situation feeling on top of the world. Instead of railing on my ex-husband and my kids for their lack of planning, I was able to turn this painful occurrence into a vehicle for change. The situation was not a new one to me and I had been biting my tongue about it all for a while. I finally stopped doing so.

And because I stopped doing so it is possible that something that has been causing me a lot of pain for a long time might be resolved.

How amazing is that?

So there you go, my 5 Things I Learned Today When I Spoke Up For Myself.

So many of us, myself included, have a hard time speaking up for and advocating for ourselves. A big part of that is because we don’t know exactly what it is that we want and without that knowledge it’s hard to ask for it.

Follow my steps. Figure out what exactly it is you want and ask for it. Ask for it in a way that’s not critical but that speaks to how you feel. You might be surprised at how much people want to give you what you want and will if they know what exactly it is.

Try it. You might feel like I do this glorious afternoon. Amazing.

Looking for more ways to speak up for yourself? Contact me and I can help!

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!