Tag Archives: depression

Causal Awareness

I have had depressive bouts for a long time.  In the early years, they would come on as a result of a life situation, or circumstance, or poor decision, and cling to me like a strong sedative for a short duration.  I would loll in the depths of despair for a few days, allowing the emotions to be acknowledged.  Then, I would pick myself up and shake off the dredges – usually finding a positive action to perk me up – and resume.  Don’t worry, be happy.  Happy face on, life goes on.

At some point though, I stopped recognizing the depression, as it would not necessarily be tied to a thing that I could pinpoint, but rather, an accumulation of things that were akin to being in the pot of water, as the fire is started below.  You don’t notice the heat, until it’s reached near boiling point.  These depressive bouts didn’t give me the awareness to acknowledge and feel the pain,  which I had earlier found to be an integral piece in the process of healing.  Rather, these bouts were more like a drug addiction, where the chemical has lost its potency.  I had built up a tolerance to the depression and a deeper state would settle on me before I would become aware.

This last bout, coupled with its added menopausal symptoms, struck a nerve finally.  Likely, it was because I could finally point my finger at a cause and effect.  Estrogen, you bitch!  How could you do this to me?

No matter the reasoning, I now feel that I have the arsenal to effectively combat this bout, and be more aware of any future bouts to stop them before I become mired.

I’ll admit, the emotions do start to roll in, creeping from the edges like fiery smoke, and it’s usually the awareness of an angry edge that raises my alarm.  I’m aware now, that alarm means it’s time to take action – turn up the music, sing it off.  Take a walk, reason out the emotions.  Drink some water, and redirect my attentions to some neutral subject for five minutes.  And suddenly, I’m back.  Me.  The me who finds the positive in life – the upbeat, still reclusive, but happy me.  Not the angry, withdrawn little ogre I’ve been.

So – wordy insight now given you to explain my dilemma, I thought I’d share some of the things that have helped me recover and get myself back to stability, sans pharmaceuticals or intense psycho-therapy.

Coloring Therapy
  • Supplements – first three taken daily, with EPO taken once/week (due to effects of blood thinning – I always check counter-indications for any alternative therapy on WebMD):
    • Vitamin B12
    • Fish oil with Vitamin D
    • Grapeseed Extract
    • Evening Primrose oil
  • Topicals – mixed with carrier oil and a few drops  rubbed on top of feet a few days a week:
    • Clary sage
    • Roman chamomile
  • Foods – needed to counter the effects of the estrogen loss
    • Green tea, and occasional Tulsi tea
    • Colorful vegetables:  leafy greens, beets, red cabbage, etc
    • Garlic
    • Turmeric
    • Nuts, seeds, legumes
    • Avocado
    • Wild caught salmon, sardines and mackerel
    • Oils:  EVOO, Flaxseed oil
    • Probiotic yogurt
  • Activities:
    • Reach out to and spend time with friends
    • Exercise at least 3 times a week for 10-30 minutes each
    • Music therapy – something I can do at work, at home, or in the car
    • Art therapy – the picture above is from my adult coloring book – a great way to redirect my attention at home
    • Outdoor time
    • Education – more time with actual pen and ink books and less internet
    • Reduced social media time

These are the things I employed to counter my situation, and it has worked wonderfully.  Being aware is key, I believe.   I had to know exactly what I was dealing with in order to find the balances necessary for me to put into effect.  Then I had to act.

 

Time for The Change

What isn’t often relayed about aging women is that The Change can turn you into an emotional wreck.

Over the past two months I found myself questioning everything:  my life, my worth, my purpose, my abilities – and I had a very difficult time answering with anything that wasn’t pure emotional drivel.  That’s hard to deal with at any time, but something that my logical self found incomprehensible.  Where did this weepy, clingy, dingbat come from and why the hell is she living in my head space, and fucking up my life?

I honestly thought that my brains were turning to goo.  I had moments of pure hopelessness and was slowly accepting near-complete loss of self worth.

Thus began my journey to put myself back on track, to figure out how to reclaim my abilities, my logic and my sanity.

I started with self-organization tactics:  I employed a bullet journal both for home and for work.  This forces me to stop and think what needs done and what the priorities are.  I began checking items off of my to-do list.  Oh, the long-forgotten to-do list!  Years ago, I didn’t do anything without a list.  When there are kids in the house and activity schedules to keep, it all had to be tamed and contained and managed and the lists were what kept me on track.  I’d missed those lists.

Tackling my nearly forgotten maintenance items, one at a time, I felt slightly better just knowing that I was no longer sliding off into total neglect and disrepair.

So, as I waited for my vehicle tires to be replaced, I took advantage of the hour long wait.  I went on a shopping excursion – retail therapy, surely it can cure anything, right?  I landed at the local bookstore chain and wandered around, looking for the clouds to part and the sun to shine on just the perfect selection.  Isn’t that how everyone makes reading choices?

The adult coloring section caught my eyes first.  That’s an option – divert my attentions and get me to focus on something creative rather than solving my neuro-emotional grey matter mysteries.  I was enchanted, as I pulled one after another from the shelf, thinking of the hours of diversion these would grant.

Then, suddenly, logical me stepped out of the shadows and shut down my little rose-colored dream state.  Turn, slowly, walk away from the enchantment – and move toward the non-fiction self-help section.

I found myself surrounded by chicken soups and how-to sex manuals.  Oy!  About to leave, nearly giving up, it happened.  The clouds parted… okay, well – ya know – my eyes lit on the title that just made sense to me.  The book that might help me figure out how to explain this aging brain and help me nurture and retrain the logical side:  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

You have to glimpse a bit into my SOP:  years spent in near-poverty, barely making it and scraping to get by, have left me with a lifetime habit of frugality.  I don’t buy NEW books.  There are libraries, and there are thrift shops.  I’ve never bought a book at a bookstore, unless it was a Used Book Store.

So, there I am, with THE book in my hands — but the darned thing is $16.99!!!  For a book!!!  And it’s not a hardback.

So, I put it back and shuffle around the non-fiction section, being ever so disappointed by the options.  The humor section nearly had me sold on the Calvin and Hobbs selections, but then my logical self reminded me of my purpose.  Back to the shelf, grab that book with resolve, reward myself with an adult coloring book – not the usual flowery variety, no, break some habits and grab something with some personality – Imagimorphia.  Oh, another $14.99!  Of course.  Now, to fill in the gaps with a new fiction author.  I’ve nearly worn out my favorite authors selections.

So – tossing aside frugality, employing a bit of logic, and feeding my need to cocoon and heal – I walk out of the bookstore with three NEW books.  That’s one for the record books folks!

That was June 28th.  I’m now a quarter of the way through the Kahneman book, and making some sense of what is being presented.  I have to put it on my list though – read a minimum of two pages, daily.  And often, lately, I’ve ignored it.  The color book was a nice diversion – and I’ve completed one page – and the fiction was consumed immediately, followed since by three additional Kindle books.  While these things have helped me stop the unchecked careening off the hill of sanity, I was still floundering.  Emotions, self-worth still tottering, not quite stable.  Edgy, with a chance of stormy – I might emote angrily with no advance warning.  Monotone emotions – checked, but no joy, and still those tears were backed up against my eyeballs, pressuring me to let loose as pride forced them to dam.

I hate this – this taking over of my body, this insidious self-deprecating, loathing, angry thing inside me that does not accept logic or reason or boundaries.

And so, fearing the worst, as I perceived it – knowing that I had pushed my superiors to their limits at my job – and feeling that I might be fired from my job, I sat down and researched the combination of depression and anger.

Boom!  Menopause.

  • Mood swings – CHECK!
  • Depression – CHECK!
  • Anxiety – CHECK!
  • Irritability – CHECK!

I don’t know why it took so long to figure that out?!  I’ve had the physical symptoms of peri-menopause for years now.  Night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, libido – I knew that I was approaching the shutdown of my hormones.  I thought myself educated.

What I forgot about, what doesn’t get near as much attention, is the emotional change associated with Menopause.  And my research sheds a bit of light on that.  You see, it seems that socio-economic factors greatly influence how the emotional changes will affect you – because we’re all so very different.

I’ve weathered the physical changes because they weren’t life-altering.  I didn’t seek any treatments for them, as they were so easy to adjust to and accept.  I thought I had this whole aging female thing whipped, tied, and filed in the ‘been there, done that’ cabinet.

No – not so fast.  The emotional side is saved for those of us who have weathered the storms of deprivation – those whose past is riddled with poverty, and dysfunction, and prior bouts of depression.  Oh joy that!  It definitely seems like an extra little kick in the pants, that.

So, guess where I’ve been after finding that link?  Did you guess correctly?  No?

Yeah?

That’s right.  I’ve been sifting through the past with a fine screen.  Because that’s what you REALLY need to do when you’re an emotional mess.  Pull up all of those past parts and pieces, dig them up and look them over, roll around in the shit for a little while to really get it on you and stink up the space.  Feel the old pains, live the old failures, dredge up the excuses and point those shakey old fingers a bit, and question decisions and wonder ‘what if’, and just plain fucking cry that shit out!

Yes.  That’s where I’ve been.

But I think I’m nearly done.  Because, you see, I also employed logic.  I told myself to stop making excuses.  I told myself to stop blaming others from the past.  I addressed what I could address from a physical standpoint.  I researched how I could address my hormonal shifts with food and activities.  And I started those changes immediately:

  • employ those essential oils stocked in the cabinet;
  • turn up the music and dance a bit;
  • eat more bright colored vegetables;
  • eat more nuts and seeds;
  • drink more green teas;
  • eat more salmon and tuna.

I know this routine, it has tamed my MS.  But now, I need to stick to it and tame this emotional beast.

It’s Time for the Change.

 

 

 

 

Sober and Scribbled Pictures

I can’t really describe this funk that settled upon me since leaving the hospital.

Deflated.  Perhaps.

I relayed to My Love that I’d painted this perfect little picture of the moments I’d share with the new family and how those would feel.  But the reality is that reality happens.

Boom.

Pow.

Scribble, scribble.

Other people are living in the picture, and other needs and feelings and goings on are happening.

My picture got scribbled upon.  Oh poor, poor, pitiful me.

Yeah.  It’s like that.  I’m processing it, preparing to put the hurt aside, but I’m allowing the feelings to marinate just a bit first.  I’ll not share them, you see.  So before I tightly contain and seal them up, I need to feel them – that way they won’t fester and become some ugly wound.

We’re the family members who reside farthest, so I had it in my mind that we’d have a good portion of touch time before we parted.  But those who live close angled in for their firsts at the same time and mommy and daddy got a bit overwhelmed.  Time for everyone to go.

But those who live close will be able to resume quickly, where we’ll need to parcel out time and funds from our schedules and pocketbooks to make another run.

No blame there.  It just is what it is.  Reality.

Not what I’d had in mind, silly me.

So I’m oozing emotions today.

On the bright side of those funny little emotes, I saw the man who is my son stand tall and proud this past week.  I saw his capable hands change a diaper, saw his jaw set firm with concern for his wife’s well-being, and saw his compassion flesh out as a bright shining thing.  I saw his impatience as well, the niggling little allowance of we intruders.  He’s fully entered his own now, and that – that there – that makes this mom proud.

Painful as it may be.

 

Suffered Life

I have recovered from a long period of depression – in the midst of my depression, every event, every duty, every change was taken in by my despairing mind as a personal attack. A thing to be suffered. Another thing to survive.

It’s so hard to believe I was like that now that I’ve healed.

But I remember.

cold outside

I know my thoughts, how I would literally be buffeted by every single fucking thing. Hammering at me. Constantly. Ceaselessly. Pressed down further into the deep pit of despair by the weight of it all.

Every little thing another burden, another suffered pain.

I cannot find the words to describe to you how relieving it is to be free of that weight. To be myself again, a person I’d lost and didn’t even know I was missing. Can you imagine?

It’s a little frightening to look back at how poorly I handled my work load, my loved ones, myself.

 

Our home reflected my negligence. Dust littered walls and decor. Cobwebs in corners and ladybug skeletons in light fixtures. Disorganized closets and drawers. Stacks of indecisive mail pleas.

bath

Work fared some better. I was busy at my job. I was completing tasks. I can’t say that I was unproductive, that’s not really the case. I wasn’t wholly engaged. I was pained by the pressures, pained by the responsibility. Procrastination took on a new level as I allowed every deadline to guide my last-minute rush to complete tasks. Challenging items lay piled like little losses across the desktop, normally bare.

Loved ones received little response from me. Conversations were stilted, as I simply had little to give. Rote queries became tiring and friendly visits a perceived personal attack on my pig pen space.

 

I cared little about keeping up and was quite surprised to find my nails too long, and my shoes scuffed and dirty, and my socks worn bare. I realized that I had chosen a few outfits and wore them repeatedly, a pattern of my ailment.

wine thirty

I see now that challenges had overwhelmed me, robbed me of my confidence. I could no longer believe that I had any abilities, any worth, anything worth fighting for.

Perhaps that was driven by my affected memory loss, my lack of B12. It’s also a symptom of depression. Realistically, it’s a sick cycle – which came first, the B12 deficiency or the depression? It doesn’t really matter now, does it?

I suffered life.

The shame of this does not escape me. I regret with my whole being the time that I lost to this down. Life is too short to waste time, as we only live once. This is our opportunity and it doesn’t wait around.

What I know is that life is hard, and there are going to be icy patches that take your legs out from under you and the landing might bust your ass.

The patriarch Jacob/Israel nailed it when he said it had been a long, hard life.

But there are joys and beauties and challenges and people who make those hard things seem better, easier, worth it.

There is the living, the breathing, the taking it in and giving back out. The push and the pull, the ups and the downs, the ride – the scenes.

There are the connections, those electrical charges that occur when you are affected by another human being. Warm hugs and handshakes, twinkling eyes smiling and sorrowful eyes sharing pain.

heart angles

Belly laughs, crying because you’ve laughed so hard, laughing too hard because you’re trying to retell a remembered funny and it just makes you laugh more, sighing because that memory was so sweet.

There is beauty around us that makes us silent, steals our breath, the majesty of creation – acknowledgement of an Almighty that put this tiny sphere in the universe for a reason, a purpose that escapes us. And that’s okay. We’re not meant to know.

heart angle focus

And work to keep our minds active, and flexed and eager for the next challenge. Labors that produce more than the material design that we’re striving for, but that also build muscle and endurance and an appetite for the bounty of this great planet.

And something here might seem to have some faint recognition in your brain, some far away bell sounding a muted alert, some rusty hinge squeak coarsely affecting your ears.

have a heart

Listen, pay attention, you who are suffering life.
Get help!

Find the reason and pour every bit of energy you have left into fixing yourself.

You deserve it, you’re worth it.

Life is.

Don’t miss it.