20 May

Recognize Something is Wrong

In life, there are some decisions that are easier to make than others. If you don’t like your current job; you seek alternative employment. If you have outgrown your home; you sell it and upgrade to another. healthyblurbsIf you need new shoes; you decide to go shopping and buy new ones. Those are fairly easy decisions to make. What about when you are sick and need to see a doctor? You make an appointment and consult with your physician. Again, seems pretty easy and straight forward.

Why is it so hard to seek help for depression?

I believe there are many factors that make seeking help for depression a difficult task.

What kind of support system do you have in your life? Do you have people in your life that may recognize a change in your emotional wellness? Would someone you know be aware that these changes could be due to symptoms of depression? A close friend or relative could start the conversation with you about your emotional health. Without someone to raise your awareness to your own mental health, you are left on your own.

Have you suffered from similar symptoms in the past? Have you ever been diagnosed with depression? Do you have knowledge of depression and the symptoms that come with it? If you have never been diagnosed it can be difficult at first, to know what is wrong.

Do you accept you have a mental illness? If you can’t own your illness, you can’t be open to seeing when it has a hold of you. You need to come to terms with the possibility and then, if necessary, the diagnosis of your illness. Awareness is key to maintaining a healthy mental state.

If you’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness and you believe there may be something wrong, seek the advice of a professional. Mental illnesses do not go away on their own. Click on this link to the Canadian Mental Health Association website to learn more about depression. You need to be your own advocate.

You’ve taken the first step towards getting the help you need. Learning more about mental illness is an excellent way to build ammunition to fight. You now know why life has become such a challenge. You can begin to understand why many of your emotions are heightened.  There are answers to why activities that used to bring you so much joy, now make you feel nothing but emptiness. When I can’t appreciate a spring morning, it usually means something is up with me. It helps to be aware of why making any decision becomes the hardest thing to do. The best thing you can do for yourself is NOT make any major decisions when your mental frame of mind is in question. It is not your fault when the smallest of chores become devastating interruptions in your day. There was a time when needing to stop at a gas station to put air in my car tire was a tearful event. This should not be a normal, acceptable reaction.

If you have been diagnosed with depression in the past; you recognize the symptoms you are living with.  You need to seek the help of a professional; just as you have in the past. This is where I have always struggled. I would attempt to ignore the symptoms. I wouldn’t seek the help I desperately needed. I simply stuffed the feelings. I created the wall of denial. This has never worked to my benefit, not in the 20+ years of dealing with depression.  In fact, symptoms only worsened. Every symptom became exaggerated to its fullest. I ended up seeking care as an emergency measure. Don’t wait to get the help you need.

Here is list of signs and symptoms of depression from Women’s Health Matters.

15 Sep

Keep Pushing Forward

keepingonWhen can we stop “working” on getting “better”?

When can we say, “I’m all better!”

I’m sure you already know the answer to both of these questions.  Never!

You may never get “better”.  You have an illness, or a disability, or a chronic condition, that will not go away.  There is no cure.  It is a permanent ailment.

How about we change the question to, “Now that I feel “better”, what’s next?”

You feel better, that’s great!  It doesn’t mean it is time to stop working.  You need to remain on medication(s) that have been prescribed to you.  You also NEED to keep doing the things that helped you get to this point.  It is these practices that were a big component of helping you feel better.  They are the non-medicinal ingredients of your wellness treatment plan.

Medication is never enough on it’s own.  It can help relieve some symptoms. Some of the symptoms of your condition went away or were relieved by the extra things you DO to feel better.  To stop any of these activities would mean you are stopping a part of your treatment plan.   When medicines are prescribed to patients with chronic illnesses, the patients cannot stop taking the medication because they feel better.  A great example…..I take anticoagulants.  I will take anticoagulants FOREVER!  If I stop, my blood would clot, the clot could travel to my lungs and a Pulmonary Embolism could kill me.  I survived this once.  I am not testing that fate again.

When you have found activities that help you feel better, make them habits.  Make them an important part of your daily routine or part of your life in general.  These activities can help keep you well.  So many times over the years, once I felt better, I stopped doing the things that were partly responsible for how I felt.  I was better!  I didn’t need to do that any longer.  This time, for me, is not about getting better.  It’s about finding what works, making permanent changes to my wellness treatment plan.

What activities do I add to my medication regime to have an overall effect on wellness?  Reinstate old practices that you thought were no longer needed.  If it helped you before, make it part of your plan.  This practice can now help you every day.  Here are some ideas if you need inspiration; try a new craft, take a course on a topic that has always interested you, read a book about the same topic, join a group with similar interests, to name a few.  Just don’t give up!  Find what works for you.  Incorporate this practice into your wellness treatment plan.  Your wellness treatment plan will be longer-lasting than medicine alone.  It will help you feel better!

 

28 Aug

What It Does, What We Can Do

It’s that strange feeling in your brain.  It makes your brain feel a little numb, almost like you are wearing a strange hat, or a hat that is too tight.  It can cause you to feel confused.  It can cause you to want to close your eyes, in the hopes it will go away.

Sometimes it feels like it could be in your chest.  It makes you wonder if there is something wrong with your heart.  You check your pulse.  It makes you wonder if there is something wrong with your lungs.  You take deep soothing breaths, in….out….in….out.   You may even go to the doctor or emergency room because you just can’t breath.

There are days it keeps you from being spontaneous.  There are days it keeps you from planning.  It will ease up to allow you to do some things, while lowering it’s veil to prevent you from doing others.  The veil it lowers can cause you to sit in a chair, or lie in bed for an entire day.  There is nothing else you’d rather do.

It has a way of misguiding your thoughts.   You have doubts about positive interactions.  You have issues trusting those that you should trust the most. You find it easier to believe the negative things that you tell yourself.  Who knows you better than you?  You must be right.

You wonder at times what it would be like if it didn’t have a place inside you.  You wonder if it will ever just leave.  You wonder if you will even recognize yourself when it is gone.  What are you without it?

You can change this.  You don’t have to let it win.  Fight it when it is in your brain, when you have that fuzzy feeling.  Stop, tell yourself it is just a feeling.  Sit in an office chair or any chair that spins.  Spin around until you know you will be a little dizzy.  Stop.  How does your head feel?  It’s the same feeling, only this time you put it there.  You know how to stop it.   IT didn’t put it there, you did.  So when IT does it, remember YOU can make it stop.

When you have pain in your body, you need to breath.  You need to focus on that pain and just breath.  You will find the pain will subside or even move.  Proving once again, you are in control of how you feel.

Do you try to plan things for yourself?  Do you end of cancelling or postponing these plans?  Try to do less planning, just do it when it feels right for you.  If spontaneity is an issue for you, do the opposite, plan.  Either way, find a way to stop it from taking over your life.  Have safe places, and safe people.  These are the places that you can get to with no issues.  These are the people that know you and you know them.

When your thinking is challenged, make every effort to combat it with positive reinforcement.  Gratitude lists allow you to find the positive in your day.  Use dry erase markers and leave yourself messages on your mirror for the morning. Find as many positive quotes as you can.  The internet is full of them.  Print them and make a collage.  Learn calligraphy and make yourself little posters with these sayings.  Post them where they will have the most beneficial impact on you. Whatever method you choose, put the positive words in front of you.

These are not simple changes, I know this.  These are the some of the things I struggle with and some of the ways I try to manage.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  The point is to try.  And keep trying.  Things that didn’t work a month ago may work now.  Have your tool bag of things that help you manage!  Recognize in yourself when the tool bag needs to come out.  Even if only for a day.

Take charge of your illness and your methods of coping and recovery.  Don’t let medication and therapy be the only tools.  Know what YOU need to do, to help YOU!