Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Decision Um Making

Here’s one clue that I might be heading back into the black abyss of depression: deciding between Ranch or Italian salad dressing has taken me longer than the time it took for the table next to Eric and me to chow down their entire lunch, and I’m saying “um” after every two words (“What I…um…would like…um…is…well…um…I don’t…um…really know”). If that was painful to read, you can imagine what’s going on inside of the person who says it. And you can appreciate why grocery shopping is often torture to a depressive (considering that a typical cereal aisle in America holds at least 72 different boxes).

The ability to make decisions (even bad ones) is the first skill to go when I’m depressed, and the last to come back. Because each choice depends on self-confidence, which evaporates during that time.


Which is why I read with interest Talia Mana’s article, “The Art of Decision Making: Make Powerful Choices and Take Control of Your Life When You Act,” published in the second volume of “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life.”

Now, I have to confess that upon reading such promising titles (the name of Talia’s article and the title of the “101” book), my inner skeptic shouted “Alert! Alert! Approaching a pile of animal waste!” That’s only because yours truly compiled books entitled “I Like Being Catholic,” “I Like Being Married,” and “I Love Being a Mom,” right before a complete breakdown.


But I’ve gotten to know Talia over the Internet (where it’s nice and safe), and from what I know so far, she’s a way cool person.

So I’m tempted to believe in her approach to decision making, which goes like this: ACT (accept, change, or terminate). It’s like the serenity prayer, which I often use to help me with my tougher choices.


Talia believes that any decision has to start with an acceptance of yourself and the situation. Only then can the next step become clear. Not that you have to agree with it. You just have to honestly assess the circumstances, and see what has to go, and what can stay.



If you’ve arrived at some unacceptable conditions, you need to now consider your options. Pull out a sheet of paper and start listing all your possibilities, every creative thought that ever landed in your brain on improving, challenging, or changing the negative factors of your situation. Talia suggests that left-brainers list 20 different solutions, and right-brainers write a story (preferably nonfiction) for 20 minutes that solves the problem.


Don’t think Arnold Schwarzenegger. That will frighten you. Think YouTube, where breakups provide entertainment, like the Valentine’s Day split of the couple from Charlotte, North Carolina that played out before 160,000 online viewers. The purpose of the “terminate” stage is to separate yourself from the decision you’ve just made, resisting the temptation to stew in what might have been had you chosen differently.

Now, granted, I don’t have time to ACT while ordering my side dishes at Boston Market (you only get two, and there are so many to chose from!). But Talia’s approach–and of course the serenity prayer–works on quite a few important “um” moments.

  • http://HASH(0xceb2ac0) Rhonda

    Just recently found your blog and today I have to comment. I relate to your clue so much. My ability to make decisions, comprehend new information and function as an intelligant individual slowly disappears as I slide down into the abyss. It amazes me and I’ve lived it. The awareness that it is happening, asking yourself; has the decent begun?, is a frightening realization. From what I’ve read you’ve got good doctors, family and faith to support you. You’re in my thoughts.

  • http://HASH(0xceb2de4) Babs

    One of the hardest tasks I’ve faced is organizing materials. When I went back to college as an adult, my best friend had to put together my independent studies program because I was overwhelmed by the complexity (to me, at least). She said that she couldn’t understand how a person as bright as I am, could not put together a little ol’ program. But it had kept me at a standstill for months. I was not capable of sorting out and classifying all that information. Where other people enjoy planning events, I postpone till the last minute because the prospect of organizing the details is still too much for me. Now if someone else does it and I just have to execute their plans….That impacts my functioning as a teacher, because of all the planning involved. No one knows how much I struggle with it. Most of the time, I’d rather cope by sleeping, but… By the way, I graduated with a 3.87 grade point average once I got back in school. Sometimes I wonder how I did it. It goes to show you how inconsistent this “mental illness” thing can be.

  • http://HASH(0xceb385c) balance

    Maybe the details aren’t worth the organizing. A not planner myself, I actually enjoy the surprise and ease of the unplanned side of life. My friends want phone calls ahead of time and scheduled outings, but I say live in the moment and just do what comes to mind. So much that needs to get done will get done and the rest? Minor details, fungible.

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.