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.

20 Dec

The Work Is The Medicine

Broken bones heal.

A cut is stitched closed and heals.

Infections are treated with antibiotics and are cured.

Muscle aches and pains, while not visible to others, can be treated over time and suffering ends.

How are illnesses of the mind treated? Is there a treatment that heals, cures or ends suffering? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Unlike broken bones, cuts and infections, there are diseases that have no immediate or long-lasting cure. A great example, presented to me by a physician, is diabetes. If you are diabetic you NEED insulin. There isn’t a cure. There isn’t a way to heal yourself of this illness. Does this mean a mental illness has no cure? You can’t get better from depression? No. There is no cure. You won’t get “better”. You can feel well though. That wellness comes from doing the work. There are ways to manage your illness. Acknowledging your mental illness is the first step on the road to recovery. Understand you have a condition that requires work on a consistent basis. I’m still learning this.

I wanted to believe a new diagnosis and a better understanding of my thinking would make me “better”. This thinking is how I started to feel not-so-good. This is okay though. A couple things happened that made this experience a positive event. There are a few people in my life right now who are fully aware of my situation and are my support team. I trust each of them. I also know I can get angry and frustrated with each of them and not receive harsh judgment.

The other day, I was convinced I was not well. To such a degree that I was erasing all my hard work and assuming all the positive changes I had implemented were a waste of my time, I was a failure. I wanted to run. One of my support people, would not let me run. I was angry. I felt very frustrated that this person had no idea what I felt and couldn’t possibly understand how I was feeling. I didn’t run though. Another of my support people did not entertain my emotions of the day. This person was not going to allow me to succumb to my feelings.

The next day, I gave myself permission to hide. I was still not being entertained by two of my support people. My final support person is my psychologist. I had a session with her that wasn’t playing out as I wanted it to. She wasn’t letting me run. She wasn’t letting me believe my thoughts. She wanted to know what else was going on. In my mind, there was nothing else going on. I changed the subject and started to tell her about the other five active situations that are playing out in my life. I was telling her how I was managing each of them. How I was patiently taking one step at a time and making thoughtful decisions. How I didn’t feel stress from any of these situations. She asked, “You have all that going on?” I replied, “Yes.” She commented, “And you are handling all of those things, really well?” Hmmm. That’s interesting. Look at all the things I’ve taken on. I’m allowing one little thing to turn into a ginormous issue. I’m also allowing myself to feel like a failure rather than celebrating my wins.

How did I do that?  I stopped working. I stopped working on me. I assumed I would just “naturally” be able to handle all situations. Guess what?! I didn’t suddenly become ill. A lifetime of events brought me to where I am today. During this time I learned a way of thinking that is detrimental to my mental health. Being aware of my thoughts doesn’t mean I suddenly know how to stop them. Being aware of my thoughts doesn’t mean they’ll stop affecting me. Awareness is only one part of the treatment. My thoughts now need new answers. They need to hear a different perspective. They need to have less impact. This is what I need to work on now. I can’t just run and avoid all situations that will give me harmful thoughts. I won’t be able to leave my house if that happens. I need to fight. I need to do the work that will provide the skills to combat my thinking. My thinking may never change, just as a diabetic will always need insulin. How my thoughts are allowed to make me feel, is completely in my control.

Less than six months ago, my thinking and how it made me feel, led me down a dangerous road. I started down that road again, not thinking there is a different way. There is a way that allows me to celebrate my successes. There is a way that allows me to “feel”. There is a way that allows me to choose what I do with those feelings. I’m learning I have the power to make a detour around the dangerous road. With these skills, I can feel empowered over my emotions. It’s not easy work, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s positive work. As hard as it will be, it is positive!

 

 

02 Sep

What’s New?

WHATSNEWThe standard answers to the standard questions.

To the question, “How are you?”  The answer is usually, “Fine, you?”

To the questions, “What’s new?”  The answer is usually, “Not much, you?”  Or a myriad of other very witty responses.

Do you think someone would actually stop and listen if you were to start responding?  Especially if the question is asked in passing.  How do you get the person to stop and hear you.  Do they care?  Why say it?  How about just saying, “Good morning!”, or “Hello, hope you are having a good day!” Asking a question that you may or may not care about getting an answer to just doesn’t seem very sincere.

Not sure where that rant came from.  🙂   Not completely true.  It was a “something shiny” moment.  I’ve committed to myself not to delete.  I just edit for punctuation and grammar and sometimes move sentences around.  So, the rant stayed.  You have to admit, for the number of posts I’ve written, I’m pretty good at staying on topic.

I had hoped I could get my writing to flow easier into answering the question of what’s new?  Apparently not.  Allow me to just tell you.  Here’s what is new today!

  1.  New diagnosis.  Providing answers to so many of the events in my life.  Finally having hope of not just getting through this bout of depression, but being able to be treated properly for my illness.
  2. New medication.  To aid in my recovery.
  3. New therapist.   A specialist in the treatment of this illness.  Has already assigned me homework.  Has similar thoughts to what areas of my life are in critical need of new coping strategies.
  4. New support.  A rekindling of one of the most important relationships a person can have.
  5. New hope.  The light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem so far away.  A deeper sense of moving in the right direction.
  6. New level of patience.  Seeing the results of calming myself and allowing things to happen as they will.  Great feeling of reward for being patient.

Needless to say, I have new feelings deep inside me.  I have a calmness that hasn’t been there for weeks, or months.  I have the urge to smile, just because.  I can laugh and feel the sincerity of it.  I know this may just be for today.  I’m okay with that.  These feelings can be added to my tool box.  Tomorrow, if need, I can recall them and remember that I’m on the correct path, I just need to keep moving forward.  It is not a case of one step forward, two steps back.  It is all forward motion now.  Some of it may not feel so good.  That’s okay.  It’s all part of the learning.  It’s all part of getting me to a better place.