Depression, Yoga and Stress Relief

Many wonderful books were published last year, but I didn’t feel up to writing about them.  Depression creeped in. As long time reader’s know, I experienced severe postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis after my daughter was born nine years ago.  From time to time, the depression returns.  This fall it returned with a vengeance.  My symptoms didn’t include sadness, hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness.  Instead, a loss of interest in hobbies, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and oversleeping.  All things that affect my ability to write.

After tweaking some medications with little results, I asked to receive ECT… best known by the term shock therapy.  I received it after my daughter was born.  It was a lifesaver for me; but definitely caused memory loss, required anesthesia, someone to drive me to and from the hospital, and a day living on hospital time.  Sometimes I waited 30 minutes to be called back for the procedure, other times hours.   For me to be ready to try it again shows how bad I’ve felt.  If you’re thinking One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s next, don’t.  When my brain is less foggy, I’m going to write about the reality of shock therapy in the mid 2000’s.

I’m very open about my struggle with depression.  Unlike other diseases, friends, family, even strangers have diverse opinions on how it should be treated and have no qualms about sharing their thoughts. Very few say, “Your psychiatrist is the best person to help you make this decision. Instead you hear “Maybe you should try… hot tea, exercise, yoga, meditation, counseling, St. Johns Wort, a massage, acupuncture, take dairy, gluten, meat, or some other item out of your diet, light therapy. fish oil, join a clinical trial for the use of ketamine (a club drug of the date rape variety), draw, paint, read, volunteer your time, start a new hobby.”  The list is as diverse as the people I know.  Many of these suggestions I’ve tried.   I appreciate the concern; but for me I’ve come to realize there’s a certain section of my brain that needs to be zapped and I’m reset.  ECT did this for me; but as I show above, it requires lots of time and finding someone to drive me.

Thankfully, there is a new therapy available nearby which wasn’t offered nine years ago.  It’s called TMS, which stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.  Next week, I have a consultation with one of the doctor’s who administered shock therapy to me.  He  is currently doing TMS.  I’ll be able to drive myself to and from this procedure.  Most people resume their normal daily activities immediately afterwards.  For me that means going to work, being a mom, and meeting up with friends from time to time.  All things I’ve struggled with this year.

Even with these challenges, there is still joy.  This fall, ML started yoga at her after school care,  One particularly hard day,   I needed a laugh. ML provided it. She showed me the new yoga pose she created, “downward peeing dog.” Basically, it’s downward dog with one leg raised.

This Christmas, Santa brought ML a yoga mat in her favorite color… black.  It was her favorite present.  Well, almost. The winner was raspberry filled Ghiradelli.  When she pulled them out of her stocking she exclaimed, “Santa loves me!”

I’ve realized an important aspect of parenting should be helping ML learn how to decompress and relax at an early age.  Yoga is a perfect way to do that.  Below are my favorite books to teach yoga poses to children.

I Am Yoga
I Am Yoga by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds – A beautifully illustrated picture book introduction to yoga poses.

Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo – My favorite book to help children understand the benefits of yoga.

You Are a Liion
You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo – The perfect book to introduce preschoolers to yoga poses.

My Daddy is a Pretzel
My Daddy is a Pretzel:  Yoga for Parents and Kids by  Baron Baptiste and illustrated by Sophie Fatus – Tomorrow ML returns from her Dad’s house.  I’m getting out my yoga mat in my favorite color… green.  ML can get out her black yoga mat.  Then we’ll learn these poses together.

Girl's Guide to Yoga
A Girls Guide to Yoga by Jeanne Finestone – I found this book in the Young Adult section of the library.  In a few years, I’ll be checking it out so ML can learn “period poses,” to ease pain during menstruation.

I Love Yoga
I Love Yoga by Mary Kaye Chryssicas and photographed by Angela Coppolo – The cover’s deceptive.  Most of the photographs inside the book are of girls and boys around ML’s age, not preschoolers.  Of all the books with photographs, this one had the clearest images and easy to understand steps involved in various poses.

Books for Boys – Series Fiction for Elementary School Boys


David Adler sent me an advanced copy of his new series, Danny’s Doodles.  His first book, The Jelly Bean Experiment follows the antics of two extremely different personalities, Danny and Calvin.  According to Danny, “My new friend is 100% weird.”   Danny is an average baseball playing fourth grader.  When Danny and Calvin team up for an experiment it  is anything but average.  The result the beginning of a friendship… a dynamic duo for a new series  of  books for boys.

Unfortunately, the next book in the series, The Donut Dilemma won’t be published until the fall of 2014.   Check out the books below for other ideas.


Adventures of Jo Schmo by Greg Trine and art by Frank W. Dormer – Wait a minute… the main character is a girl.  Yes, but one book is called Wyatt Burp Rides Again… and she’s a superhero.


Alvin Ho by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham – With titles like Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things, Allergic to Babies, Burglars and Bumps in the Night, and Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters…   readers are destined to find a title highlighting their greatest anxiety.  If you want your home filled with laughter, buy Alvin Ho.


Calvin Coconut by Graham Salisbury and illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers – Most boys I know live in North Carolina or Georgia.  A book about Calvin who lives close to the beach in Hawaii is exotic.  Kung Fooey,


EllRay Jakes  by Sally Warner and illustrated by Jamie Harper – Straight from the publisher Penguin’s website.  “From trouble with bullies to the need to impress friends, EllRay Jakes finds himself in situations that young boys can relate to.”


George Brown, Class Clown by Nancy Krulik and illustrated by Aaron Blecha – What boy doesn’t find burping, toilets, wedgies, and boogers funny?  These subjects and more are covered in this series of 11 books.


Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler (best known as the Fonz) and Lin Oliver and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson.  It’s hard not to be a winner with the Fonz as the author and titles like Barfing in the Backseat.   The Hank Zipzer website states, “Inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler, this winning series about the world’s greatest underachiever is funny, touching, and deals with learning differences in a gentle and humorous manner.”


Stink by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds – Stink is the brother to Judy Moody, a popular series first published in 2000.  According to Megan McDonald, his own series was conceived when she walked into a classroom yelling, “Stink! Stink! Stink!”


The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith – I’m getting lazy, but I’m honest… giving credit where it is due.  This is straight from Wikipedia.  “The Time Warp Trio is a book series written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith and later by Adam McCauley, which chronicles the adventures of three boys – Joe, Sam, and Fred – who travel through time and space with the aid of the mysterious Book.”

Disclaimer:  I’ve only read the first chapter of most of these.  But various friends promise me their boys love them.