The pandemic has affected me more than I believed it would. It has had an adverse metal effect which I did not expect.
We live in a rural community and we have always lived a quiet, mundane life. Some people would find it boring and indeed sometimes it can be.
So, one might think the social distancing and mask wearing would not cause any trepidation, but it has.
Certainly, I miss seeing my sons and their families. That is the worst part of this. But I also am finding an irritation, a slight depression, as well. I find myself more easily irritated. I become agitated with the little everyday occurrences.
Mentally I think it feels like everything is out of my control.
I worry about the health of my husband who is at high risk and I worry about my own health because I have the role of caregiver. What happens to my husband if I become sick or die. How will he manage? What will happen to my cherished pets?
So, yes, I have been affected by the pandemic. I am sure all of you are dealing with very similar situations.
So while this is raging through the country and the world these are some of the things I am doing to maintain my sanity and well being.
I am spending time in my gardens which is not only time consuming but it soothes my mind.
I enjoy the companionship of my cat, Isabella, who follows me in the yard, listens to my chatter, and makes me smile.
This flower bed is out of control and the weeding and rearrangements of plants will help me deal with my angst.
A bright soaring double rainbow filled me with joy and wonder at it’s beauty one evening when I walked outside. It filled the sky and arched over our barn. I could not take a photo of the whole arc because of it’s location but it was beautiful and did indeed soothe my soul.
I am meandering through my days and evenings wondering about our future—yours and mine. Hoping for the best for all of us.
Be mindful of all the things that fill you with joy. Cherish the little moments that make you happy.
I continue to look forward to your posts, your stories, your poems and your photos. They encourage me and sometimes make me smile, always make me think and make me grow as a person.
When I originally decided to join the millions of people who blog I was so excited. I wanted to change things up in my life. I was on a mission to re-invigorate myself.
It is not in my nature to do something half way. So, as usual, I started and pushed forward full steam.
Now I am not saying I did everything perfectly because that would be inaccurate. I did everything to the best of my ability with the knowledge that I had.
To be truthful, I had no knowledge of how to start a blog. In some ways it was brutal and a little painful at times. It was definitely frustrating. It still is.
At the beginning of the year I made the decision to take some time off from my blog and writing in general.
I needed to take a step back and decompress. I was putting too much pressure on myself to be the “best”. That did not work.
What I was doing was not working for me. There were many other responsibilities that I was ignoring and I needed to get them done.
I felt like I was being stretched apart too tightly like a rubber band. It felt like I could break if I stretched any further.
The result was feeling deflated. Nothing was making me happy and I definitely was not relaxed. I suppose in some ways you could call me a slightly depressed perfectionist.
So here I am and February is at an end. Have I accomplished everything I needed to do? No, sadly, I have not. There is a dent in it, and that makes me feel somewhat better, but it has not “cured” my discontent.
What I have found is I feel guilty. Now in reality that is pure rubbish. There is no reason for me to feel guilty, but yet I do.
No one is putting pressure on me to do anything. I am placing the pressure on myself.
So I am continuing to put my house in order. When I say “my house” I am referring to me. I have come to understand that I am a perfectionist and I easily feel guilt for not being enough.
There is progress. I have been successful on a good “start” to my goal of reorganizing and ending up with a clean slate, but I am not there yet.
Each day I work on two or three projects and I can see the results and the progress I have made.
The problem is that when I stand back after I have done something I feel good about it, but it is difficult handing onto that feeling for more than a day or two.
When I think of the sum total of what I still have to do I feel overwhelmed. It is ginormous.
So I am trying to keep it all in perspective. I am trying not to judge myself.
There is guilt and there is an emotional side to all of this. I have an understanding of it, but it does not make it easier to push forward through it. I will get there, but I have come to realize that it will not be easy and it will not be overnight.
I cannot just put a big bandage on it and then feel better.
So I know I can get this done and I understand it will take a good long while.
It is so funny because as I go through each day there are these random thoughts and images that flow through of other things I want to do. They entice me and in some weird way make me feel better.
There are many things to look forward to. I just have to get through this first to be able to get to them.
I am not giving up on myself. I am a work in progress.
I am still here working on my goals.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
What Is Resilience, Do You Have It, And How Can You Get It?
“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.”
Resilience is that indefinable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before, and quite possibility better, stronger.
A large portion of the population is likely at any given time immersed in what could be considered a life altering experience. How we respond to it defines us as a person.
We encounter something that shocks us and knocks us down; takes us to our knees and overpowers us. We are left with a feeling of disbelief, a wave of grief, or seismic depression. How can we move forward when we are filled with doubt and despair?
It does not matter what event it may be. There is no need to put a name to it. Life is full of such experiences, and there seems to be more of them every day in this crazy world we live in. Each of us will, at some point, be overwhelmed by mind-numbing pain or hardship. Each of us will respond differently, and what we feel is the best we can do at the time. Some of us may choose to accept a new normal and not be able to move on. Others will not accept that and will fight back and be stronger as a result because of their resilience.
Resilience is not a superhuman ability. It is hard work and requires a sustained effort. The length of time needed to get to a new normal will vary, and be different for each person. Your mental outlook before this experience will help determine how you handle your adjustment, and the length of time required.
The type of person you were, and how you responded to any event, good or bad, will affect how you handle your response now. People who previously had a positive outlook and optimistic attitude should have an easier adjustment. If you can self regulate your emotions, control any powerful feelings, and impulsive responses, it will help you lower the level of stress you experience.
If you were a positive person previously with confidence in your abilities, that would help you to plan for what needs to be accomplished to be able to move forward. Your problem-solving and communication skills are important and will help you adapt to what may be an altered new life.
Part of being resilient is maintaining your connections with your support group; the people you turn to in times of need. You can turn to your close family members and friends, as well as any groups you are part of such as a church or social group.
It is essential to accept that change is part of life. Life is a continually evolving event, and includes good and bad. It may be difficult to accept the changes that result in a significant shift in your everyday life.
It may not be easy to accept what happened, and it may appear to be insurmountable, something you cannot handle. It is imperative to look beyond what happened to the possibility of the future, the potential for the pain to ease, emotions to calm, and healing to occur. Look for small improvements and focus on them and look for additional ways to move forward.
Goals are a part of life, big or little they are important. They were important to you before, and they are even more important after a negative, life changing event. They should always be an important part of your life.
We learn the most about ourselves in moments of stress and negativity. Like it or not, when we experience challenging events, we are faced with difficult decisions. Decisions we thought we would never have to make. Our perspective changes. We gain a sense of purpose and confidence we may not have had before. We place more value in our relationships and appreciate the value of how we spend our time.
As with everything in life it is so important to maintain a hopeful outlook and keep everything in perspective. Visualize what you want to achieve, focus on the positive, and do not dwell on the fear and negativity.
Always be aware of your attitude and include taking care of yourself. Feed your body and mind with a healthy diet and exercise your body to maintain your energy. It can be helpful to write about your feelings when you have experienced stressful events or to practice a soothing activity such as yoga or meditation.
If you feel overwhelmed and are finding it difficult to find your way out of the trauma, look for help. Find a support group, or talk to a professional, to help you move forward.
Life is a journey, and it is full of ups and downs, with some unexpected obstacles along the way. It is good to have a plan for what you want to do on your journey. It is also good to understand that there may be a fork in the road, or an unexpected cliff, where we have to take a different path. We should plan and be prepared for those too.
“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who do not. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”
– José N. Harris
As always, thank you for reading my blog. Have a great day.
“Whether an illness affects your heart, your arm, or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there shouldn’t be any distinction. We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should stop wallowing and get it together. We don’t consider taking medication for an ear infection something to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t treat mental health conditions any differently. Instead, we should make it clear that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength—and we should ensure that people can get the treatment they need.”
In my last post, Depression – Does Being Active Help – A Debate, I attempted to give insight into the many types of depression and the treatments for each. I believe that we do not understand depression and that we need to be more aware of what the disease is.
What started my interest was an article encouraging the use of exercise as a treatment for depression. After all my research, I concluded that, yes, exercise can certainly be used and should be, but it is not a fix-all for depression. In my opinion, it is more a helpful preventative. Physical activity is an excellent practice to be followed in any treatment for depression and improved health in general.
Today, I am writing about signs to look for in identifying a person who may be depressed.
Depression has a stigma attached to it; no one wants to be labeled a depressed person. They will go to great lengths to hide that there is anything wrong. It may be reasonable for them to hope if they keep maintaining what looks like a normal life, their depression will just go away.
So how can we recognize that someone is depressed? Here are some changes in someone’s behavior we might observe:
Their normal behavior changes. They are a little lost and are trying to ease their feelings of sadness and loneliness. They may lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
They may no longer enjoy foods they once did, stop eating, and start losing weight. They may also overcompensate and eat more than they did, hoping it will help them feel better. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to try and alleviate their emotions.
Some times they will exhibit unusual irritability over something they would not have had a problem with before. They may also show anger in the same way, which would be a change of character.
Many people can conceal their depression and wear a ‘happy face’ like they would wear a mask. They pretend they are happy and hide behind their false persona. It is not easy to maintain, and it is very tiring, which can, of course, make them feel worse.
“The only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending that you’re not.”
To avoid anyone seeing their mask, they will spend less time with other people and prefer to be alone. They will make excuses to avoid everyday events such as dinner with friends. It can be difficult to see through the false exterior they present.
Their outlook will appear to change, and they may become more thoughtful in their discussions. They may now talk openly about being disappointed that they have not accomplished more. It is a change in behavior, something that they would not have done before. They may talk about being better, being happier, but they do not acknowledge they are sad.
A depressed person tries to keep their feelings hidden so that no one will know. It is difficult and emotional. They don’t want to show their depression but may react more strongly than before. Where before they did not openly cry, they may do so now and also be more openly affectionate. On the other extreme is when they may respond with anger in certain circumstances. That would not be an expected response for them. Both of these emotional responses may be a sign that something is wrong.
There is a psychological term called, depressive realism. I found this difficult to explain, so I am using the definition from the American Psychological Association.
“Psychologists have thought for decades that depressed people tend to distort the facts and view their lives more negatively than do non-depressed people. Yet, psychological studies have consistently revealed a peculiar exception to that pattern: Depressed people, studies indicated, judge their control of events more accurately than do non-depressed people in a phenomenon that came to be known as “depressive realism.”
It may be a sign of depression if someone you know has always responded in a very positive way. They have always indicated everything is excellent, but now they have the opposite reaction and do not anticipate anything going well.
They may cry out for help, but then they reverse course. Being depressed and struggling to hide it from everyone is an intense struggle. They have a resolve to continue to hide their depression, which may become unbearable for a moment in time. They relent and tell someone. They may talk to a close friend or decide to talk to a therapist.
Telling someone is such a momentous event a depressed person may feel like they are confessing a crime. It may be too much for them to handle, and they will not follow through with any appointments they may have made with a therapist. They will tell family or friends that they were having a bad day and now they are fine.
They do not want to admit to themselves that they suffer from depression. It may be easier to continue life as they have been. It may actually feel comfortable to them. It feels too difficult to change.
Depression is real, too real. It comes in many forms, from mild to very deep and dark. It is a disease that is not understood. It is hidden, partly because we do not want to acknowledge it. Someone who is depressed does not want to be. They do not want to admit that they are. People who are not depressed do not understand, and they are frightened by it. They do not know what to do, and it is more comfortable to ignore it.
There is a stigma regarding depression, and that needs to change. Life is hard. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were not the case? I do not have any answers. The best thing I think we can do is educate ourselves so we can better understand what depression is. Always smile at someone and be kind. If you see someone struggling ask if there is anything you can do for them. Hold out a hand. Help them take a step forward.
“My mental health problems are real and they are valid. I will not judge myself for the bad days when I can barely get out of bed. I will not make myself feel worse because someone else appears to be handling their mental illness better than I am handling mine. Recovery is not a competition.”
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”
I have been thinking about depression lately. Not because I am depressed, but because so many people are. It has stoked a curiosity in me.
There are so many articles written about it, and there appears to be an equal quantity of suggestions, things to do that may help lift you out of depression.
I have two questions. Is there a difference between feeling sad and depression? What activities or treatment work in the treatment of depression?
Reading a recent blog, someone suggested being active as a treatment. My immediate reaction was, “yes, sure, but would that work for all the different levels of depression.” I had my doubts so I decided to do some research. I think there is a general misunderstanding of depression, a lack of knowledge and a misuse of the term.
There are so many types of depression, from mild to extreme, would one action be an effective treatment for all levels? When I was researching to learn more, here are the types of depression I found:
Major Depression: you feel depressed most of the time for most days of the week.
Persistent Depressive Disorder: you have depression that lasts for two years or longer.
Bi-Polar Depression also referred to as Manic Depression; you have mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an “up” mood to low “depressive” periods.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: you have a period of major depression that most often happens during the winter months.
Psychotic Depression: you have the symptoms of Major Depression along with “psychotic” symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
Women may also suffer from two more:
Peripartum Depression – also known as Postpartum Depression. You may have major depression after childbirth, which can last for weeks, up to months.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: you may experience depression at the start of your period.
The symptoms for each type of depression are similar. They include loss of interest, having problems sleeping, being restless or agitated, being tired with no energy, trouble concentrating and making decisions. You may also experience weight loss or gain.
With Persistent Depressive Disorder, you may also have low self-esteem and feel hopeless.
How are each of these types of depression treated?
Major Depression is treated with psychotherapy, also referred to as “talk” therapy. Sometimes antidepressants may be used. Sometimes Electroconvulsive Therapy (ETC) and Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (RTMS) may be used.
Scary sounding stuff, isn’t it? What is scary to me is the treatments for Major Depression are the same used for treating Psychotic Depression *(see below). Are the two types that similar to each other? Now that is scary.
Persistent Depressive Disorder is treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Bipolar Depressive Disorder is treated differently by using medications, such lithium which is a mood-stabilizer. The FDA has approved three drugs, and doctors sometimes will prescribe others as well. Psychotherapy, or Talk Therapy, is also used.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is treated with antidepressants and also light therapy.
*Psychotic Depression is treated with a combination of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. Sometimes ECT or Electroconvulsive therapy, which is a brief electrical stimulation of the brain, is used.
Postpartum Depression and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder are treated with antidepressants when necessary.
The interesting part of this research is none of the remedies mentioned any natural treatments. That made absolutely no sense to me. All of the above information came from WebMD, which is a popular, highly used, and trusted source of information.
I furthered my research by asking the question, “Can Depression be treated with natural remedies?” Because I used WebMD for the first information, I used it again for the ‘Natural Remedies”.
Here is what I found recommended for treatment:
Establish a routine – when you are depressed, you may move away from any structure, and time can blur. By establishing a light schedule, it may help you feel more balanced.
Set some goals – when you are depressed, it is easy to feel you cannot do anything which, of course, makes you feel worse. Start to add some goals for what you will do each day.
Exercise – get moving, go for a walk, do some yoga, or do any type of activity that raises your heart rate. That will release the feel-good chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream.
Eat healthy foods – when you are depressed, the tendency is to either not eat or to overeat. We eat to feel good. There is no “magic” food which will take away your depression, but it is always the best practice to eat the right foods. You will feel better and have more energy if you are fueling your body.
Sleep – depression can disrupt a proper sleep cycle. Try to go to bed, and get up, at the same time. Eliminate anything that may disturb your sleep, like any computer or TV, your telephone and any excess light or noise.
Maintain responsibilities – instead of giving up responsibilities at work and home because you are depressed and do not feel capable, keep doing them. Even if you cannot complete all of them, keep working on finishing them. It will give you a sense of accomplishment.
No negative thinking – when you are depressed, your thoughts will be negative. Work hard at countering those thoughts. Try to concentrate on all the things you have accomplished in the past and realize you can do them. Surround yourself with positive mantras and focus on them.
Follow your doctors instructions in regarding any medications. Do not take any other over the counter medications or supplements without consulting your doctor. Although they could help, they could also interact with the medicines you are using.
Do something different, something new to you. It may help you to relax and feel better. It has been scientifically proven that our brains release a chemical called dopamine when we do something new.
Maintain Fun in your life – Continue to do the things that you enjoy and find relaxing, such as going out to dinner or a movie with friends. Go to the park, exercise, play with your kids, or take the dog for a walk.
Now that I have done some research, I understand, even more than before, that depression is a real problem. I realize that most of us do not understand depression, and we also probably don’t want to. Depression is scary.
Most of us often say, “I’m depressed!” We casually throw it out there in conversation. Are we? No, a big fat no, we are not. It is used too randomly without any real thought or understanding.
I think that is a problem. It prevents us from taking it seriously. When someone says they are depressed and we shrug and think, “yeah, right,” and we move on. End of conversation.
But what if they are? There are many people out there who need help, and just possibly it could be you who offers them a helping hand.
It is more likely that a truly depressed person will try to hide signs of being depressed, and will not say anything to anyone about their depression. There are signs to look for, but I am going to save that for another blog post.
The next time you are a little down, think twice. Don’t put the name depression to it just yet. Try some of the generic helpful suggestions, like exercise and taking positive actions like taking a relaxing walk in the park with your dog or your best friend. You may be sad or lightly depressed, and doing those actions listed above will take care of the problem.
Better yet, volunteer somewhere for an organization that helps people who do suffer from depression. What better way to help someone, help yourself, and understand depression.
“The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”
— Tenzin Gyatso
If you think you are depressed, do not hide it, talk to someone and look for help.
As always, thank your for reading my blog. Be happy today!