Dealing with Depression

6:49 PM
Q: “I struggle with depression over this illness. How do you handle it?” –Anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your message. It means a lot to me that people out there see my website and may benefit from it. Also, I am proud of you for being able to admit that you deal with depression.

First of all, if you are dealing with an emergency, such as acute, suicidal thoughts, call your local emergency services (such as 911 in the U.S.). For less serious depression that you are still concerned about, please seek help from a licensed mental health professional. You may get more immediate relief by contacting a hotline such as the Samaritans. I once worked for a crisis hot-line, myself!

What triggers my own sad feelings is when I have to make lots of phone calls about health insurance, taxes, or other bureaucracy, and I'm not sure what exactly to do. Another thing is when my family worries about me. What triggers your feelings? Remember, negative emotions in of themselves, cannot harm you. They are like the weather. You can own them and let them pass. I find it helpful to express them in a healthy, nondestructive way (writing, drawing, listening to music, talking to someone).

I experience negative emotions just like anyone else, but those moments seem to occur less and less when I feel in control of my health. I pretend that I am getting paid full-time to stay healthy, because in a sense I receive energy (the same thing money is, really) when I improve my lung function, my digestion, my glucose balance, etc.

Sometimes I catch myself being overly critical in my thoughts. This self-inflicted verbal abuse is  self-sabotaging. I try to become conscious of what I say to myself so that I can forgive myself for making mistakes as well as for the harm I may have done to my sense of self-worth.
Many people do not love themselves enough to have the mindset needed to achieve their goals. We all need to give ourselves more loving care. Remember: this is the only self you get in this lifetime. Retrain your Inner Critic to be patient and gentle with your Inner Child.

I cannot emphasize this tool enough. You may forget something you had planned to do, or you may run into other obstacles in your life that appear to be a result of your actions. However, your attitude has so much of an impact on your health, and no good comes from dwelling excessively on things you cannot change.

This is why I want everyone who reads my book and my blog to write down their morning and evening routines. You can start with a very basic treatment routine, and gradually add more things. For example, I include pampering such as gazing at my windowsill vegetable farm each morning. I didn't always make time for this, because I was always in a rush in the mornings. Feeling at peace before your day prevents stress from hampering your immune system.

Ask yourself, are you moving your body enough? Are you eating healthy food? Try watching dance lessons on YouTube if you hate traditional fitness programs at the gym. I have a weekly Saturday danceathon (aka dancercise) where I get my heartrate up for at least 20 minutes. The way you feel during and after a little time moving may minimize your overall dark feelings.

If you think about it, slouching forward doesn't allow the nerves attached to your spine to function as efficiently as when you sit up straight. It makes sense that sitting up straight, which people do when they feel energetic and confident, can influence your emotional health. Even when you feel really sad, try sitting up straight and see if it doesn't make you feel a little prouder and stronger.

Eating 100% food (that means no preservatives, pesticides, or artificial ingredients) and enough protein may help your mood and empower you to treat your body as sacred.

Think about how cystic fibrosis has affected your life. Would you be the same person? Would you have the same compassion for other people with special needs, or for people who are left out for other reasons? Challenges give us perspective that others do not have.

Volunteering is a classic way to deal with depression. Community service gives you:
New surroundings which can energize you; an opportunity to empathize with others; a higher purpose; small successes to build your confidence. You can give an elder neighbor a ride to the park or join Doctors without Borders. The spectrum of your service depends on what works for your lifestyle.

A former roommate getting her PhD in clinical Psychology recommended a workbook called Mind Over Mood which asks the reader to write in their thoughts and feelings about different things. It then asks one to consider the positive and negative sides of these entries as well as considering how they are logical or illogical. One's own participation in this book gives a more balanced perspective on one's situation.

In the future you may find yourself noticing things that make your life harder (things you can control): not planning ahead, not preparing, procrastinating, accepting requests that cause you to sacrifice sleep, meals. Train yourself to stop and consider. Is this a self-loving action? Could I be a little nicer to myself and prevent future stress? Remember: The only thing you can control is your own behavior.

Everything on this website and in my book has helped me battle moments of depression as well as CF (that's why I created them). What I want to show other people with CF is that challenges are not innately destructive unless you give up. If you truly appreciate the gift that a health challenge is, you can succeed at living a powerful life.

My CF helps me use my gifts (being openly expressive and organizing) to help others like yourself. I have decided to include CF Success Coaching as a career. I want to excel at it. I have come to love CF, and I choose to take responsibility for it.


  1. Anonymous15.4.06

    Thank you so much for all your help and knowledge. You've made my life so much easier.

    All the best,


  2. Anonymous5.3.09

    Nice site. You may also want to suggest "Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman. It's the most effective book I've seen on understanding depression and dealing with it quickly and effectively.