Posts Tagged With: depression

Whateverness

I skipped out on writing a Gratituesday post yesterday. Not that anyone would notice except me, really. It’s not like me. Even if I don’t write anything for a week I always, always, always post something I’m grateful for on Tuesdays. But nope. Not yesterday.

Part of me said to myself that Monday’s post about the “Twenties” could serve as my gratitude offering for the week. Part of me doesn’t want to think of things I’m grateful for lately.

Who could be uncheered by a sunrise like this?

Who could be uncheered by a sunrise like this?

Why would I do that? What is it about human nature that makes me want to wallow in whininess and self-pity rather than pay attention to the abundance surrounding me. Or maybe it isn’t human nature at all. Maybe it’s just my own personal nature, prone toward the negative. It’s an ongoing battle, most days holding my ground or even gaining some ground. Other days the foe pushes harder than my stamina and will power. Then I find myself mired in the old, all too familiar ground of smudged glasses, a fog in the air, stuck knee-deep in depression and meh.

Does it matter that I pushed through the tiredness and volunteered with MSH at a food bank for a few hours  yesterday? He thought it would do me good, give me some perspective. I’m sure it did somehow deep down. I tried, later, to compose a post about the experience, but found my heart had stayed closed off to the experience as well as any potential good I could have gained from it. Shelves got stocked, meals made available, families and individuals got served. Now my muscles ache and my back hurts. I should have felt a sense of satisfaction, of joy, but nope. Nada.

Veggies in my future?

Veggies in my future?

Does it matter that I dug out my seed collection and, in an act of extreme faith, even for a desert gardener, put seeds into the ground early in September? I try to envision radishes pushing up through the soil, imagine beets with their tiny red stems poking though, lettuces for future salads, carrots with their furry tops, pea vines winding up the wall. Do you think it will really happen? Or will I fail to keep the soil moist enough over the critical week or two of seedling spouting? Will the temperatures soar and bake the now saturated ground along with the tender shoots of my offering of faith?

Just after shaking off the pond water.

Just after shaking off the pond water.

Did today’s face to face encounter with a coyote stir something in me, make me feel more alive and lighter? As I said, “Oh, hello there!” and those gray eyes looked through me, judging, assessing, weighing the danger, did I wonder at such a confrontation? Perhaps, a bit.  And only minutes later, when the geese complained at the coyote’s invitation to breakfast, did anything stir in me as they flew overhead, the sunrise backlighting them just so? I took a photograph to share and smiled a little. That’s something. The whole day ought to have brightened at such an occurrence, my heart should have jumped and laughed out loud at the very least.

Maybe I’m behind on my sleep. Maybe I need to take vitamins, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water. Maybe I need some hours lost inside a book, oblivious to my surroundings. Maybe it’s time for some extreme sanctuary, silent meditation or exceptional prayers. Maybe I need a few days camping, saturating myself in pine-scented oxygen and unfettered starlight. Maybe I think too much. Maybe I think about the wrong things. Maybe I need some serious chocolate. Who knows.

Looking for calmer waters.

I’m just trying to make sense of my life, and some days honestly, there’s very little sense in it at all.

In my decades long war with depression, I’ve learned to remind myself that what I’m feeling is temporary. That I won’t feel like this forever. Days will get better, laughter will come easier, I’ll feel like being around people soon enough. There’s no need to give up hope.

I declare today a mental health day for myself. I’ll be gentle with and generous to myself. I’ll rest and renew and find a toehold to push myself back up to solid ground. I’ll reread some of my gratitude journals. I’ll push harder on the heavy door that’s shut everything out and open up my heart to the possibilities around me.

~~~~~

Turns out today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Far too many people have weeks and months and yes, even years of lassitude, depression, stress, trauma, the weight of the world on their shoulders, and general inability to cope or find help. It turns out hope does exist. Please educate yourself so that you can help someone who needs a light shining in their dark hours. Or educate yourself so that you can see your way to a source of light and hope and healing. God bless.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Hope, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Going Crazy…Be Back Soon

Going crazy…be back soon. That’s my favorite joke I tell myself every day lately. If I could find a bumper sticker that said that, I’d buy it. I’m sure there’s one out there, I just haven’t looked.

I know, it’s politically incorrect to make fun of or joke about, well, just about everything nowadays. But I’m simply laughing at myself when I say that.

The way I see it, I can laugh or I can cry. I choose to laugh. You see, I’ve battled depression off and on throughout my adult life. At times the battle nearly did me in. Luckily, blessedly, I’ve had people on my side, even if I haven’t always recognized it or allowed them to help.

I’ve also had family members, close and distant with their own mental health demons, and all the daily battles and years long wars that entails. Some lost that war, and what a horrific loss.

My best advice from the front lines? Don’t be silent about it. Don’t be ashamed by it. Talk to someone about it.

A close friend, a clergy member, a family member, a health care professional, a counselor anyone. There are help lines you can call, there are more people out there who have been exactly where you are.

And if you’ve been there, don’t be silent about it either. It’s not something we should be hiding. Our experience could be the saving grace or the hand that deflects the last straw.

Imagine realizing the person you’ve looked up to as a role model, the with it, always together, mellow person lets you know they’ve battled one of those mental health demons. Wouldn’t you want to know how they did it? Would you feel safe talking to them about your own worries, or the concerns you have about a spouse, a child, a parent? Imagine then, being the person who could help, and then open up and be that person.

Back in the Paleozoic era, when depression grabbed ahold of me and pulled me into a dark and bottomless pit, there was one medication available to treat it. Now, the list is longer than my arm.

You say you don’t want to go the medication route? Fine, there is still help and caring people with information you could use to win this war.

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Reach out for help. Or reach out to offer help. Either way, don’t be silent about it. Please.

Click here, or here, or here, or here, or here to learn more, to get help, to start opening up, to begin to change the world.

And then, enjoy these lovely jokes about being crazy. Because we all need to laugh.

mh28The aspiring psychiatrists were attending their first class on emotional extremes. “Just to establish some parameters,” said the professor to the student from Arkansas, “What is the opposite of joy?”

“Sadness,” said the student.

And the opposite of depression?” he asked of the young lady from Oklahoma.

“Elation,” said she.

“And you sir,” he said to the young man from Texas, “how about the opposite of woe?”

The Texan replied, “Sir, I believe that would be giddy-up.”

frank-cotham-if-you-have-any-mental-health-issues-you-d-like-to-discuss-now-would-be-new-yorker-cartoonQ: How does a crazy person travel through the woods?

A: They take the psycho path.

20906102_low

And these t-shirts are pretty funny, too!

Seriously, laughter might help, but it’s not a cure, not usually.

Ask for help. Offer help. Open up. You’ll be glad you did.

Categories: Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Teeter-Totter, Bread and Water

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for the concept of gratitude. I know that sounds like a circular thought, but it’s not, at least in my case.

Seesaw with a crowd of children playing

Seesaw also known as a teeter totter

Consciously looking for the good things in my life brings a bit of balance into my mental equations.  I lean toward the depressed and pessimistic side of life. I tend to hover on the precipice of what bad thing is going to happen next. I’m scouting around for whatever it is, worrying, fretting, anxious. It’s as if by anticipating the difficulty I might be able to keep it away, or gird myself for its onslaught.

Then I stumbled on the idea of something quite the opposite to my natural inclinations. The idea of gratitude found a foothold in my negatively charged brain. Now gratitude is my fence, my force-field against depression, my castle wall of fortification against an abyss of sadness that seems to always be pressing in. Gratitude bring balance to my varyingly unbalanced mental life.

More effective than medications, gratitude has kept me, for the most part, balanced and reasonable. I may not be outright optimistic, but I’m at least not wallowing in self-pity and overwhelmed by life’s constant barrage.

English: Vegetable market in Heraklion, Crete....

So I look for the good stuff. I’m thankful for the simple things. I embrace the happy parts of my day. As a result, my mental health stays healthy-ish.

Yeah, the tough stuff is there, hovering everywhere, clamouring for attention, screaming for acknowledgement, crying out for my time and efforts. It occupies plenty of my time and energy. Like junk food for the soul, it’s very tempting to give in and indulge in sorrow, self-loathing, criticism and cynicism.

Gratitude serves as mental fruit and vegies, healthy food for my starving psyche. Gratitude quietly saves me from myself and helps me feel whole and well.

For that I am very grateful.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Emotionally Hydrated in a Dry Heat

Call me strange.

Not quite the epic beginning as Moby Dick’s “Call me Ishmael.” But it will do.

No I’m not starting a novel, don’t worry. I just find myself reviewing my life lately. Which is something I usually avoid religiously, especially if I’m a bit overtired.

What I stumbled on in my revelry and self-scoriation was this bit of wisdom and light:

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

Those fifteen words, strung together in the specific order they’re in, have made a world of difference for me.

medicine?

(Photo credit: Brenda Anderson)

I took life so seriously, for so many years. I didn’t see much room for laughter or joking, for silliness or play. And then a series of people taught me without even trying, that there needs to be, and can be, joy amid the sorrow and laughter even when the world is pressing in.

Some days I think the only thing that gets me through is the ability to smile in spite of it all.

And some days seem filled to the brim with joy and laughter.

Stumbling on the idea of intentional happiness as a daily balm, a kind of lotion for my soul, has made all the difference.

I choose to see the positive. At least I try to.

Call me strange.

Categories: Humor, Joy, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Faces of January

January is usually an off month for me.

Let down from the holidays?  Burn out from overdoing it?  Feeling the weight of a new year?

I’ve never been able to pinpoint a why.

January 2010 Snow Scene

January 2010 Snow Scene (Photo credit: ς↑r ĴΛϒκ❂)

Part of me wants to trust that my brain and body know what I need, so I simply wrap myself up in the feeling, hunker down and ride the wave of depression and self-doubt until it rolls me onto the shore in February.  That usually involves immersing myself in fiction.  Lots and lots of fiction.  Five, six, seven books in one month.

That hasn’t really been an option for a few years now.

The other part of me wants to battle it out by doing some deep cleaning, sorting, organizing and rearranging.  I pack up the holiday decorations, scrub down the kitchen top to bottom, wipe walls, touch up paint around light switches and baseboards, clean windows, vacuum vents, move the fridge and stove and clean behind them. All this is done with the intent, not to have a cleaner home, but to attempt a sense of control over my environment.  Which logically, you’d think, would bring a sense of control over my life.  Unfortunately, this is an illusion.

Dirt happens. Life happens. Crap happens. Reality happens.

Oh sure, great stuff happens too, plenty of it.  But we’re not going to gloss over the not so great stuff.  Not in January.  Not today.

Life is hard.

January is my month to admit it, accept it, internalize it, avoid it, fight it, whine about it, come to terms with it.  It’s my reality check month.

Not that other months aren’t their own kind of reality check.  Surely they are, some more than others.  But January seems hardwired for the task.

I’m tired after the fun and frolic and frantic craziness of December.  I’m ready for some me time.

Almost half way through 2012 I had a month that knocked me on my butt.  I escaped to my cousin’s house for rest and recovery.  She was a gem.  I did some soul-searching, some sleeping, some denial, some hiking.  I felt better.  Then I got back on the treadmill and kept going.

It was my mid-year mini-January, I guess.

Book collection

(Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

My body is telling me this particular January is a reading month.  The cleaning may have to wait until this mean cough I woke up with goes away and the headache stops beating me up. In the meantime I have some ebooks, audio books, tangible books.  And I have an electric blanket,  soup and hot cocoa, and blessedly, some Tylenol.

Hoping your January is simply one of renewal and looking forward to good things.

Oh, and any book suggestions you want to send my way would be welcome.

Happy New Year!

Categories: Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tripping All Over Myself

Do you ever get in your own way?

Or does everyone else get in your way?

A little of both, maybe?

Recently I had some plans, kind of long-term stuff I’d been working on, working toward.  Then a few things started to hinder those plans.  Scheduling conflicts, the pending holidays, sleep, laundry, work, life.

Then, in the midst of all these interruptions in making my plans happen, MSH had some ideas he’d been thinking about that would involve me and my time.  I’m not talking an afternoon or an evening.  We’re talking big plans that would use a significant amount of time and effort.

Sure, I could see the wisdom in his plan.  I could admit that it wouldn’t be a waste of time to commit to doing this work he was proposing.  But where would the time and energy to do this come from?  When you add one thing to the calendar then something has to come off the calendar or get moved to another spot.

Surprise!

Surprisingly, writing in one more item on the TO-DO list does not create the extra time it will take.

My gut reaction was that my project, my plans and my life would suffer because of this new extra-large to-do item on my unending list.

The next morning, I whined and complained to my walking partner, logically expecting sympathy. Her response was not what I had anticipated.  She asked if I had any fears associated with my own plans.

Whoa.

Fears?

Hmmmmm…

Fear of failure, fear of being laughed at, fear of looking silly or stupid, fear of hurting someone, fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, fear of falling on my face.

Yeah, you could say I have a few fears about my plans.

While we walked she suggested gently, with kindness, that perhaps, there is a possibility, just maybe, I could consider the idea that, I was sabotaging myself.

A Shocking Thought

This wise woman posited not that MSH is trying to get in my way, or hinder me, but that I’m using his idea, turning it and tweaking it, until it becomes my excuse for not proceeding with my own plans, not succeeding, not facing my fears.

Ouch.

The truth can sting a little. And this one did.

Now, what am I going to do about it?

Categories: Relationships | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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