Tag Archives: Depression

Guest Post II by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

Introduction:

JLLopez1006 is the creator, writer, and designer of the online blog My Life as a Zombie, a blog for those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)– those who understand. Likewise, the blog is also for those that are lucky enough not to suffer from S.A.D.– those who do not understand, but seek to.  Her blog was started to increase awareness and understanding of S.A.D., as well as to be part of a support system available to those who suffer.

JLLopez1006 is self-employed as a Freelance Writer and Blogger.  After being self-diagnosed, she was professionally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in Spring 2008, and counts it as a blessing every time that she survives another northern United States winter.

This is the second installment of  Fighting the Good Fight  jllopez Guest Post giving you tips on how to deal with S.A.D.  I trust the previous post was helpful for you as it was for me! I am very honored to have her as my guest here on my lil blog,  thank you so much jllopez! So, here goes! 


  • Supplement for lack of natural light— Even if you get natural light, you may still need to supplement with artificial light. Choose a light that simulates sunlight and is designed to treat S.A.D. A regular light will not do the trick. Use it in the morning to start your day off right, or in the late afternoon or evening to keep yourself awake and going. If you have insurance and have been professionally diagnosed with S.A.D., check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover the cost of a light box in lieu of prescription antidepressants or regular light therapy visits. I was able to do this—I just had to have my therapist write a prescription for the light, and my insurance covered the cost in full.
  • Keep shades to a minimumI am speaking about two types of shades here. First, when you get out and it is sunny, remember that you need the light to reach your eyes. Wearing shades may block the light. I choose to forgo sunglasses for the sake of treatment during the winter. Though I cannot speak on the long-term effects of doing so in regards to cataracts or damage to the eye, I do know that when you use a light box, the light must go into your eyes, so I apply the same concept with natural light. Second, when in your home or office, keep window shades, blinds, or curtains to a minimum by opening them during the day. You will get some added natural light, plus you will save money by heating up your space naturally and not having to turn on so many lights.
  • Take a vacation from S.A.D.—If you are able, it is recommended to take a vacation to somewhere that receives more natural sunlight (think south) to help break up the long winters. I have done so at the end of March for a couple of years, and it helps me to get through the time when my collective sun deficit is at its worst. One word of caution, though: Coming back to where you live may cause a dramatic “let-down.” I heard one story told of a woman who did the same thing, came back to her home in Europe, was unable to deal with her situation after a dramatic “letdown,” and she ended up committing suicide. Though this is an extreme example, I have experienced a similar effect, so please be prepared for the possibility, and do not let it take you by surprise.  If the reaction is strong, make sure to get help.
  • Get a little helpI used to just deal with the overwhelming fatigue on my own. More recently, I have learned to take supplements and use caffeine in order to help myself through this time. Bananas are supposed to be helpful in treating S.A.D., in addition to Vitamin D. You may be able to find vitamins that specialize in providing added energy. As long as they are not harmful, don’t feel shy to use things that can help you get through winter.
  • Keep yourself busyThough I know some people choose to reduce their workload during winter, I have found that getting involved with activities that I like helps to keep my mind off of the long winter days.  In particular, working from home in a creative field has allowed me to stay productive in a therapeutic way.  Try to find activities, whether work-related or leisure, that help to pass the time.  The key is to stay busy, but do not overload yourself or force yourself to do things that will only exacerbate your S.A.D.  Stress can be a contributing factor to causing a breakdown due to S.A.D., so you should avoid it as much as possible.  In addition, staying busy with activities that you enjoy can help to keep your brain sharp as you fight the mental fog that S.A.D. often brings.

The mentioned methods are just some of the ones that I personally use to survive winter as someone who is fairly severely affected by S.A.D.

Please note that I am not a medical professional, and it is always recommended that you consult a doctor or therapist prior to attempting any form of self-treatment.

Likewise, what works for me may differ from what works for you, so it is a good idea to figure out what helps you to make it through the day.

Learning what works for me has helped me to get back to being a fairly normal and functional person in spite of the winter season.  Before I was diagnosed, I was a mess, barely able to get by in life. Now that I know what I am dealing with, I am able to handle it more effectively.  When it comes to surviving Seasonal Affective Disorder, knowledge is truly power.

Don’t forget to visit  My Life as a Zombie  and give some comment-luv to my special guest!! Thank you!

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Guest Post I by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

Introduction:

JLLopez1006 is the creator, writer, and designer of the online blog My Life as a Zombie, a blog for those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)– those who understand. Likewise, the blog is also for those that are lucky enough not to suffer from S.A.D.– those who do not understand, but seek to.  Her blog was started to increase awareness and understanding of S.A.D., as well as to be part of a support system available to those who suffer.

JLLopez1006 is self-employed as a Freelance Writer and Blogger.  After being self-diagnosed, she was professionally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in Spring 2008, and counts it as a blessing every time that she survives another northern United States winter.

Today and in a second guest post next week you are getting advise from a “pro”!  Thank you so much jllopez1006 for your contribution on this topic!! I am sure it provides you with useful tips on how to deal with the S.A.D. elements in your life or,  at the least,  understand someone else who does.

Fighting the Good Fight

Seasonal Affective Disorder is one of those things in life that you can simply do without. Until you have it, you don’t get it; and once you have it, you sure wish that you didn’t.

S.A.D. affects you mentally, emotionally, and physically, temporarily numbing who you are as a person, dumbing down your senses, and turning you into a shadow of your former self. That is why I named my new S.A.D. blog “My Life as a Zombie,” because very often, in my opinion, “being affected is more like being infected.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder can disenfranchise you from others during this difficult time of year, can cause your brain to work at a reduced level, and make even normal physical functionality tough to handle. You may find yourself retreating away from others and activity; and likewise, others may feel the need to distance themselves from you, because they think you are a “downer,” that you are negative or pessimistic, or that you just like to be depressed.

This time of year demands that you learn your own personal rules of survival in the fight against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here are some of mine:

  • Step into the light — Though days are short and natural light is minimal, try to take advantage of sunlight when it is available.  For me, that means getting out during the day and enjoying the sunlight as I do my errands. I also started working from home to allow myself the freedom to get out during the day rather than be stuck in an office with minimal light.
  • Get ample rest — It may seem simple, but it is vital to get enough sleep during this time. You know that you will still feel sleepy throughout the day, but sleepiness is different from sheer exhaustion because you have been succumbing to late nights and early mornings. Make sleep a priority, even if you have to take naps to get it all in.
  • Eat, drink, and be merry — Though you do not want to overdo it, make sure to get enough to eat and drink. Hunger or dehydration can cause you to experience fatigue, and considering how prone to feeling tired that you are already, you don’t want to make it any worse.
  • Do what cheers you up — As you struggle through the long winter, allow yourself to experience comfort and joy in ways that you can. For me, I like to read, eat out, go online, and watch movies. Despite what others may think or doctors would recommend, I do not choose “feel good” movies or books. Rather, many of them are actually very emotional and possibly depressing. But since I feel less during the winter, it actually helps me to feel again, so for me, it is a positive thing. Since I abhor cold weather and snow, I avoid being outside as much as possible, which, in turn, shelters my psyche.  Do what makes you personally feel more alive.
  • Be social on your own terms — For those suffering with S.A.D., it can be hard to keep up with the social requirements that may be expected of you. Rather than cut yourself off from the world for a few months, learn to relate to others in ways that you are comfortable with. I find social networking to be even more vital during the winter, as it is a great way to stay involved with others in spite of my own personal funk.  Same goes with email—since I like to write anyways, I am more likely to converse with people if I do not have to speak to them in person or on the phone. This is also helpful because I can do it when I want and when I have time—if I get overwhelmed, it is easy to leave it for later.

Look for the second installment here next week!  In the mean time don’t forget to visit My Life as a Zombie and leave some comment-luv for my special guest! Thank you!

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What to Do When S.A.D. or Depressed

What's love got to do with it? Read on...

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Routine and habits

As I shared in a previous post,  routine and habits are essential to hang on to in times of SAD or depression.  Yes,  it might take longer to do the chores,  and yes,  it will definitely be harder to fulfil them.  BUT,  when they are part of your system,  you can decide not to pay attention to how you feel about them,  but just do them.  That is the beauty of habit.  Mindlessly doing what you always do.

Why is order so important?

Keeping order in your mind starts with keeping order around you.  It is so easy to let go of housekeeping duties,  especially laundry and dishes (made easier with a dishwasher, I know,  but it’s luxury I don’t have),  and within a few days your house is a mess.  Cleaning up the mess seems impossible and soon you feel like drowning.  The mess overwhelms you,  causing more anxiety than you can handle,  which in turn increases the feelings of helplessness,  hopelessness,  guilt etc.

Been there. Done that. Forever.

HOWEVER

I discovered that habits in and of itself do not really cut it.  You need a good reason for doing them.  Otherwise you drop them at the tip of your hat.  Or at least when the going gets tough.  That used to happen to me all.the.time.

What made the difference for me,  though,  is the motivation WHY I do what I do.  The secret?

SELF-LOVE – doing what is in the best interest of ME

Finally I know how it feels to do things because they are in my best interest.  The fact that when I pass my kitchen,  I stand still to simply enjoy the look of my window sill.  It looks so nice,  after it has been a mess for so so so long.  Because I have an extra kitchen cabinet,  now it makes sense to keep the clean look.  Every time I am in the kitchen,  I do the dishes,  so I will not be overwhelmed again with the amount of dishes overflowing from the sink.  It makes me feel proud of myself that I am keeping it up and I thoroughly enjoy the clean look of my kitchen (and no, this does not mean my floor or my stove are clean – I am still working on that 🙂 )

The fact that I feel happy in my bedroom because there is order – everything has it’s place.  I never realised that simply dumping all my clean laundry on a heap was in actual fact disturbing to my soul.  I am even able to keep up with the laundry,  the hanging up and even putting away.  Right now,  my wash bin is empty!  This is unbelievable as I never seemed to get ahead of it.

So.

Here are some things you can do,  because they are in your best interest.

Getting up – even if it turns out later than usual.

Getting dressed – even though I love my jammies,  I noticed that being dressed changed my attitude about the day.

Have breakfast – sounds so logic, eh?  But I tend to ‘forget’ it.  Then hunger strikes and I eat snacks and junk food.

Have a cuppa – tea,  coffee,  whatever.  Keep the fluids going!

Take a walk in the morning
Yikes… Confession time:  I don’t like to go out for the sake of going out,  especially in the mornings.  But if I have to go out for whatever reason,  when I come home,  I notice the difference.  It feels so good!  Yet,  the experience is not strong enough to get me going by myself.  So especially when I am in a funk/depressed/SAD I try to make appointments in the morning to get myself out of bed and out the door!

The scientific reason to do this is to get yourself in day light in order to re-set your sleep-wake cycle.  Getting day light kicks the melatonin in your body in its place.  Melatonin is the body’s sleep drug.  Resetting it helps your body to feel sleepy when it ought to in the evening.

Speak to a human being
Make contact with someone.  Doesn’t need to be long,  nor about something serious.  Main focus is being in touch as opposed to isolating yourself.  This is especially important for singles (like me).  When you have a spouse and/or kids,  they will keep you on your toes.  Which is good.  And raises other challenges,  I know…  Still.

Do something creative
I maintain the view that each one of us is creative.  Either with writing,  knitting,  gardening,  drawing,  designing,  photography,  card-making, whatever it is you do that get your creative juices flowing.  Do it!  It will definitely make you feel better as you have accomplished something.

Do something you know you enjoy
For me,  going to the library and having a coffee there is a treat.  It’s just one of the simple things I love,  even on my own.  Whatever it is you love to do,  do it!  ANd don;t think that you are accomplishing nothing,  you are working hard on your self-love ;-)!

Do you have any ‘home remedies’ that help you deal with S.A.D. / depression?

Please share with us in the comment section below!

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Feeling Blue, Depressed or S.A.D.? Or Plain Confused?

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The blues
Yes,  everyone at some point or other ‘has the blues’.  (It beats me why it is called blue,  rather than grey.  Besides,  I quite like the Blues,  as in music.)  It is not uncommon to feel ‘blue’ when Winter is upon you.  The days are getting shorter,  you leave the house in the dark and return when darkness has set in.  During the day you hardly see the sun or you are not able to take advantage of daylight.

Time change
On top of that, the time change can seriously affect people who have a sensitive body clock. The inner sleep-wake cycle can become pretty disturbed. Honestly,  I don’t understand why we haven’t cancelled this whole stupid Daylight Savings Time already!  It influences my hormone balance,  sleep-wake cycle and what-not.  Why can’t they leave the time alone?!  It would save me,  and countless others,  a lot of hassle.  Let’s start a protest group…

Ok,  joking aside,  it does upset the system.  It takes time to get used to the coming of Winter,  especially in countries where daylight is cut short the most.  So,  feeling blue for a while is nothing to be worried about.

But when does it turn into being depressed or having S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?

Signs of depression
This list contains most of what you experience when you feel depressed and not just blue.  The symptoms must last longer than two weeks to become officially a ‘depression’.

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/ or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease, even with treatment
  • Source

No,  you don’t need to suffer from all af them!  But if you can tick of a fair amount,  it might be worthwhile to explore it further for your own health benefit.

SAD (got tired of punctuation)
SAD is in actual fact a sub-category of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  It has to occur at the same time every year and a minimum of two years in a row.  It also affects those having Bipolar Disorder (BD).  According to the DSM,  the psychiatrists bible,  SAD does not stand on its own.

I might disagree.  But then,  I am not a psychiatrist!

The reason why I say this, is that many people suffer from the blues or depression in some form or other during the darker times of the year.  While it might not disturb your life enough to warrant a doctor’s visit (in your thinking) and a psychiatrist might not diagnose you,  it doesn’t mean you have to silently suffer through it.

SADdies, Unite!!!

So,  what can you do about it?
What I have discovered in the past several months is that having a strong routine and solid habits can keep you going when a depression hits.  Of course it depends on the depth of the depression,  sometimes it just kicks out your legs from under you.  But all the same,  refusing to discuss ‘if I should make by bed;  do the dishes; hang up my coat;  put away the laundry’  it with myself by just doing it,  helps to keep an ordered and uncluttered house.  This way the chaos and disorder is contained in my head.  If my surroundings get cluttered and disordered,  my anxiety rises exponentially.  I don’t need no more of thát,  honestly!!

Next post I give you a list of practical things you can work on during the good times,  so you can fall back on it in the bad times.

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Are You Affected or S.A.D.?

Hang on!

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Habits.  Routine.  Having a mode of operation.

Those things come in so handy when you are swinging around on the mood swing!

Since a couple of months I have been able to implement some basic habits.  They are pretty simple really.  Like making my bed everyday.  Having breakfast every morning.  Hanging up my coat,  my purse,  my scarf,  each in its own place when I come in.  Putting my shoes away.  Having my laundry organised.  Going to bed and getting up about the same time every day.

Talking about organisation – I finally ‘organised’ the shelves and desks in my back room,  tidied up my bedroom,  created order in my kitchen.  And you know what?  It makes such a difference to my daily life!

The kitchen happened first,  because a new kitchen cabinet was placed where one obviously had been before.  Now all my stuff disappeared from my window sill and counter top and it suddenly looked so neat and tidy!  I gave my window sill a new look and every time I passed my kitchen I stood still and simply enjoyed the view…

The rest is history,  as they say.  Soon the other parts of my house followed.  I started to feel at home for realzzzzz!  An awesome experience 🙂

After arranging everything I somehow managed to even put some order in my daily habits.  I am determined to keep my kitchen uncluttered.  To stay on top of my laundry and not ‘forget’ to put it away (i.e. dump it in my bedroom and ‘fishing’ in the huge heap for clean stuff).

I honestly don’t know why I was able to get on top of things this time.  I have tried before,  real hard,  to no avail.  But what matters most is,  it is happening!

Behind me is a period of doing really well.  It took me by surprise.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Nearly got used to what I started to think of as my new ‘normal’.  That is when SAD hit me.

SAD,  or Seasonal Affective Disorder,  is a type of depression that comes with Fall.  As the leaves are falling, so am I 😦
I actually thought I was going to miss out on it this year.  I am taking my vitamin D (since I am officially low on D),  was energetic,  my social life was on the up.  It couldn’t have been better.

Then one day I woke up in a funk.  For no reason whatsoever.  Really.  No rhyme or reason.  The next day it was a little worse.  The next day,  still worse.  Then it started to settle.

Sluggishness and tiredness followed.  I am fighting to go to bed at a reasonable time.  I am struggling to get up in time for my activities.  I need more time for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. which is totally annoying and irritating.  My proper eating habits that have served me well (I lost weight,  a story for another post if I don’t gain it back) are flying out of the window.  I want to eat junk food and snacks.  I don’t feel sociable.  I sit behind the laptop doing mindless games,  wasting time I should spend on my study and some other projects.  This irritates me to no end!

Keep hanging on!!!

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BUT.  I am hanging on to my habits.  I am still making my bed,  doing my dishes,  doing my laundry,  keeping order in my house.  I try to cook every day and eat regularly.  Will have breakfast.  I am going to work,  I do my activities.  I will celebrate St. Nicholas with good friends on Sunday and they will be my guests.  So I am sociable and I am determined to enjoy it as much as possible.

I don’t know when this episode will pass.  The only thing I know for sure is that it WILL pass.  That’s the nature of my illness.  Till then,  I have to hang on with all my might.  Even if I am hanging by nails,  I will hang on!

What do you do to get yourself through such times?
Help me by answering in the comments.

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Sleeping my days away…

Frustrated… so hoped to get some results today.

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I have been extremely tired in the last couple of weeks. As in,  while reading, my eyes are falling shut.  Or,  while behind the computer,  my eyes are falling shut.  Or,  while sitting in my chair,  I have to go and lie down.  On the couch,  but I even retreated to my bed a few times.

Crap…

And of course during this time I didn’t keep my mood chart.  Just when it would have been so friggin’ useful to look back to see if there are any links between meds,  events,  moods and tiredness,  there is nothing to look at.

Double crap…

It has even pulled me into a depression.  That is a first,  as far as I can remember.  It’s because I didn’t have the energy to do anything enjoyable,  I think.  Now nothing is really enjoyable.  Usually it is the other way around.  I get depressed and as a result I sleep more and hang around doin’ nuthin’.

Since my thyroid function has been pretty low,  I had extensive lab work done.  Today I saw my pdoc and expected some answers.  Unfortunately there were none to be had.  No lab report had come in.  (insert expletive)

I was holding on in hopes to get a step further today.  Now I have to wait longer.  That sucks.  Bad.

Tiredness is so difficult to handle as there are myriad reasons why I could be tired.

I have recently come off a certain pain med.  Even though pdoc looked it up and there is no indication that coming off of it causes tiredness,  you never know.  I’ve had some whacky side effects before,  falling in the ‘hardly ever’ category.

It could of course be stress.  Well,  that is,  the results of it,  since the stressful events have passed some time ago.

Or maybe it is  some iron or vitamin deficiency?  Or hormones?  Or?  Or?

Whatever it is,  I have to cut back on activities and struggle with depression now as well.

No... my house was definitely not as clean as his! Photo credit: futureatlas.com

At least I was clever enough to ask for some help to start getting my house cleaned up.  I looked around a couple of days ago at the total freakin’ mess and knew I had to do something as I felt as if I was drowning in the pig sty it had become.  So reinforcement came  (thank you so much Sabine! You are a gem!)  and I am at least enjoying a clean living room and a somewhat cleaner kitchen.  There is room to breath again!

Tomorrow finally of to work (volunteer) again at the documentation center of a primary school here in town.

It will at least keep me of the couch…  for a while anyway!

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Lurking depression

Survival kit in a soap box by Jon_Aquino

I have been busy surviving these past week or so.  A depression is lurking as a reaction to scrambled emotions caused by a difficult situation I am dealing with.

My bipolar brain struggles with the negative influence it has.  It is so much harder for us to overcome the negativity and the emotions linked with difficult situations since our brain simply functions differently.  Negative emotions linger on and on.

I hosted an Easter brunch after church and had invited a load of friends.  We had a good time chatting and playing games together.  It was fun,  but I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it.  This was my first clue.

Monday I took ‘off’,  since I know I am exhausted after such escapades.  But I kept sleeping on Tuesday as well.  That was my second clue.

I already had lost the enjoyment in most things I do.  The jigsaw is laying on the table,  looking the same as nearly a week ago.  On the computer I keep playing one of my favorite games,  thinking ‘one more game and then I will do …’ and I keep playing until it’s time for bed.  I don’t want to leave my apartment,  even though the weather has been real nice lately.

It’s vacation time for the primary schools so I don’t need to work.  Which is a pity,  cuz it forces me out of the house.  I finished my library books and couldn’t muster the strength to go and exchange my books,  even though having something to read is a must for my compulsive reading.  I simply bought a book at the super market,  glad to find an author I like for a  reasonable price.

Sigh.

But I did write a letter dealing with the difficult situation I referred to above.

I keep working on accepting myself,  even though … a host of things,  mentionable and unmentionable,  standing in the way.  I remind myself that it is still okay to be me.

I hate to be in this situation.  I am angry and hurt.  I don’t deal well with those feelings.  But that is okay too.  I am learning to use the tools of my trade.

The sunny side is that I am dealing with this situation to the best of my ability.  I am aware of what is going on with me.  I am able to let some of those feelings go (even though only with my counselor,  but still!).

A year ago that wasn’t even a remote possibility.

So,  I guess one can call that growth?

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Depression is on my mind…

…and in my soul.  Wanting to write about depression for a week by now,  I became depressed several days ago.  Maybe that’ll help?  Nah,  guess not.

What does depression mean?
Depressed and depression are words we hear a lot nowadays.  It seems that everyone and his neighbour are depressed.

However,  the term is highly overrated.  Whenever that happens the true meaning of the word gets lost in the overuse of it.

Sure – we all have days when we feel down,  tired,  pessimistic,  inadequate and don’t want to do anything as a result.  But normally this will last a couple of hours or at most a couple of days.

The depression I am talking about here continues for several days or weeks or months (and for some of us years) when we are in a state of despondency,  dejection,  melancholy,  overriding sadness,  downheartedness,  mournfulness and anhedonia so severe as to require clinical intervention.  Anhedonia means that one loses pleasure in activities that are usually enjoyed.  I had to ask my p-doc when he first used the word :).

Note that the main issues here are the severity and the duration.  It doesn´t resolve itself,  as it would under normal circumstances,  so that is why medical treatment is needed.

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How depression feels (for me)
The tiredness hangs as a dead weight around my neck.  I don´t really know what to do with myself.  Sometimes I am simply existing,  because that is all I am capable of.  My heart feels so sad and down that it seems impossible to pick it up again.  I mourn my loss of hope which turns in despair which in turn pulls me ever more downwards.  Whenever I think I can’t go further down,  it turns out the bottom of the pit never ends.

In fact,  it can get so bad and so painful that it becomes impossible in my mind and soul to live any longer with this burden.  That is when I start thinking about suicide.  (This has happened to me,  but thankfully hasn’t in the last few years.)

It is vital to understand that we do NOT want to DIE,  but that we can NOT longer live with the PAIN!

It is critical for those around truly depressed people to understand this.  The intervention is geared (or should be turned) towards relieving the pain in the first place.  Relief of the pain in turn takes away the biggest reason for wanting to commit suicide.

The reason depression happens to me is because my brain is wired differently,  my brain chemistry works differently,  I respond to life events differently.  Bipolar (disorder) depression is a complex and serious illness.

What not to say
I hope that those who stand by a loved one or friend with depression start to understand that:

  • We cannot “Pull ourselves up on our boot straps”;
  • We can not “Cheer up!” or “Think positive!”
  • We can not “Just get over it!” or “Just snap out of it!” either;
  • To say that we “have nothing to be depressed about” doesn’t quite cut it;
  • We are not “feeling sorry for ourselves”,  so it’s no use to tell us to stop doing that;
  • To say to us that “lots of others are worse off”,  falls flat on its face.

Well,  I could go on,  but I am sure I’ve made my point…

What to do?
When someone has pneumonia,  we don’t say to that person: “Hey,  you’re not really sick,  get out of bed and go have some fun.  I am sure you’ll feel better!”  Nor do we say to a diabetic that (s)he is better of without her/his medication.  We accept that it is a chronic illness that needs to be treated and that it has consequences for someone’s lifestyle.  A diabetic can not decide not to be ill and expect by choice to be cured of the illness.  We all understand that it doesn’t work that way, right?

We might ask what we can do for the sick person.  Maybe we do some household chores,  shopping or something else practical.  Maybe we make tea,  sit by their bed,  show compassion and give comfort.

In short,  we accept the person with his/her sickness and take care of the person in a way that is beneficial to him/her.  We respect the boundaries of the illness the person has and do our best to  make the person more comfortable and at ease.

So why would it be any different with a mental illness?

To be continued

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DISCLAIMER:
Please,  note that I am not trying to be critical of anyone trying to lend a hand to a truly depressed friend or family member.  But I think it is important to understand what this friend or family member is going through in order to give or decide to get adequate help.  I am trying to show what depression means,  what it does and what can be done.  By no means is this post complete,  there is a whole lot more to be shared in future posts.

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Anger – a positive emotion?

Anger – an emotion that I still so much struggle with.  Not in the sense that I don’t think I should not be angry.  Not anymore, thank God.  I have come to realise that I have many good reasons to be angry.  It has finally dawned on me that the way I have been treated while growing up was very unhealthy and dysfunctional.

Unfortunately,  this continued in adolescence and adulthood.  My dysfunctional family prepared me for abuse from others.  As I came across such people they took advantage of me as I was an easy prey.

I was raised with having no rights other than doing as I was told.  Disagreeing or having my own opinion was simply not an option.  Consequently,  I learned at a young age to simply disappear in my own little world for protection.

So I never really learned to protect myself.  Leaving me wide open for abuse and bad treatment from others.

Anger has the function to help us turn away from that what is threatening us.  It causes us to put distance between the source of the threat and ourselves.  But if I get angry at someone who is supposed to take care of me,  like a parent,  I might have a problem.

In my case it was not safe to express my anger.  I was not safe,  period.  So my anger went underground where it turned against myself.  It has been one of the causes of my ugly and deep depressions.  It is the reason why I have struggled with self-harm.

You see,  in a healthy relationship between parents and children,  there is room for the emotions of the child. The parent is able to acknowledge the emotion,  to help the child to give words to it and to express understanding of the child’s frustrations.

Now, let me be clear:  It doesn’t mean that ‘no’ turns into ‘yes’ to appease the child.  By no means!

After all,  the parents are responsible for drawing the line.  Within the given boundaries applicable to the age of the child,  he is safe.  Without boundaries the child gets afraid and anxious as there is too much room for him to handle.  Consequently,  he will act out.  With too many boundaries the child gets afraid and anxious in case it will cross a boundary by accident.  Consequently,  he will hide himself.

Because as a child we think that the way things are done in our family of origin is the norm, we are not able to distinguish between the good and the bad.  As I was the one in our family that ultimately from a very young age was carrying the responsibility,  I thought that was absolutely normal.

For me it has been such an eye-opener to realise that nothing that happened to me in my family of origin was my responsibility.  It is something that I am still trying to grasp at a deeper and deeper emotional level.

It also makes me very angry as I had to live through quite an amount of abuse that carried on into adolescence.  When I think of what it set me up for in my adult life – it is too hard to even contemplate.

Yet.

It is so freeing to know the truth:  that it is okay to be angry.

Sure,  I wish I knew how to deal with it properly,  so it wouldn’t drag me into depressions time and again when something triggers my anger.  But,  I am working on how to express my righteous anger.  And since I have come such a long way,  I know I will get thru this too.

But please,  rather sooner than later,  pretty please??

How do you deal with your anger?  I’d love to hear from you!

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A 'holiday', a crash, a funeral and work… all in one week!

Sorry for being quiet this past week.  It’s been a fairly crazy one…

First I thought I had “won” a neat holiday package deal for 4 to go to Florida and got so very excited.  A couple of days later I wanted to show it to my friends and came across a number of complaints about this resort because of lots of hidden fees.  Shock!

At first I thought I was stuck with it.  When I dived into it,  I saw to my relieve I was able to cancel it within 7 days.  So I got immediately on the phone,  asking straight questions about additional fees and it turned out to be true.  With some difficulty  (boy, those people are a drag!!!)  I got it cancelled.

I felt totally stupid.  I never enter in such things,  why I did now I have no idea.  After all,  I know that what seems too good to be true usually is.  Oh well.

The next day I met with a very nice lady who is gonna help me find a voluntary job that fits me.  It is so exciting to have someone to help me as I hadn’t gotten very far on my own.

And truth be told,  I am soooo ready to do something outside of the house.  And I am excited that after 5 years I have finally reached the point where I am ready to embark on the journey to return to the work force.

That same day a window popped up on my computer looking like my anti-virus telling me I was under threat.  I pushed a button to deal with it and boy,  did I get myself into big trouble.

You see,  in the back of my mind I was already doubting this holiday package deal,  waiting for the other shoe to drop.  So my first thought was:  ‘see,  here we go…’

Please,  learn from me:  Never, ever do this!! Click it away and let your own anti-virus run to check your computer.  The only way to deal with the fall out was to re-install everything – costing me quite some money.  Argh!

The next day I had a funeral of a 91-year old mother of a friend.  It was a beautiful service.  The morning had looked promising with a watery sunshine,  but in the meantime a storm was brewing and the wind had become icy cold.

The next day I felt all my sinuses and had a nasty headache.

The next day I thankfully did feel better,  since I had youth group that evening.  But I have slipped in a depressed mood after a good talk with my counselor the day before,  working thru some stuff.  We had a good evening, though and as usual I enjoyed spending time with them.

The only drawback is that it takes so much more energy out of me when I get into those funky moods.  Oh well.  I can live with that,  cuz it’s so totally worth it.

So that was my week,  being all over the place,  literally and figuratively.  How was yours?

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