Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The five things I hate the most about my depression

What I Hate Most About My Depression:

I am depressed – that is how I felt all weekend, with no reason.  I somewhat isolated myself, I was irritable and distant at times.  Despite the unseasonable warm weather on Saturday, I felt like I was in a dark and gloomy place and I felt very little happiness.   Friends and family noticed, and I knew they where there for me, but for the most part it was just a rough weekend.   After my son asked me if I was upset with him last night, it really made me think about my depression.  I wasn’t upset with him at all; I was just withdrawn and had put some walls up.   I went to bed saying to myself I hate depression.   I started to think about what I hate the most about it.

First I want to say that I am happy that my depression has decreased over the years, with the help of better coping skills as well as  developing and actually using my support group … at least most of the time.  I am also thankful that rarely do my depressive days lead to suicidal thoughts anymore.

I understand that with depression, there comes sadness. However,  I can never wrap my brain around the why, and why the feelings of hopeless and doom occur at random times it seems.   Here are the 5 things I hate the most about my depression and the 5 things I do to manage:

1.  I hate that I feel sad, when there is absolutely no logical reason to feel sad.   I have a great family,     
     great job, and good friends.   I have a beautiful granddaughter who fills my heart with so much    
     happiness, but despite this  I just feel sad.   Not that I want something bad to happen in my life to give      me a reason, I just want it to make sense.
2.  I wish I wouldn’t pull away from those who care about me the most, especially when I need them the 
     most; However,  all I want to do is put a wall up.  It makes no sense, but that’s what I do.
3.  I hate that when I am depressed I come across as irritable and hateful. I am not, I am just hurting, yet      I can’t even explain why, because I don’t know why.  
4.  I hate that I can’t explain to others or myself that there is no rhyme or reason as to why I feel        
     depressed a lot of the time.
5.  I hate that my depression impacts others negatively.

The good news is that I do know that it passes, usually pretty quickly, and that I have great support system whom understands and respects me and  my depression.    I have also learned so much about myself and about other people as I have learned to live with my depression.  
Five good things I have done for myself:

1.  Truly invest some time into positive coping skills because  they matter
2.  Develop a support system; family, friends and mentors with lived experience
3.  Keep visual reminders around of things that remind me of happiness and hope
4.  I learn to reach out and talk. Sometimes I choose not to talk about the depression but rather about 
     something, anything else. This helps me not isolate further even though this is difficult because my 
     natural instinct is to shut down and isolate from everyone.
5. Try to relax, I know it will pass, and I will survive.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Balance: Lessons Learned from 2016

Image result for balance photo


Y’all, I have been struggling. I have been struggling at trying to maintain some balance in my life lately. Between work, school, relationships with my children, my husband, my family, and friends,  teaching, and the other day to day stressors, I have felt as if I were just treading water and not getting anywhere. No. Scratch that. I feel like I have been water boarded….and I’m the one dumping on the water.

I thought I was maintaining balance well; I am doing well in school, my work has been good, my relationships with friends and family are great. However, I have had a sense of….doom? Pressure? Feeling overwhelmed? Anxiety? I consistently have felt as if I’m missing something or falling behind in some area, whether or not this was a fact. I have experienced these feelings for a couple months now and they finally resulted in my getting pneumonia and being physically and mentally exhausted.

Having pneumonia forced me to rest. Oddly enough, I was stressed because I was forced to rest.  All I could think about was how far behind I was going to be at work and in school. (Although the forced rest resulted in a renewed love of cheesy Lifetime movies. ) As a counselor and a Master’s student, we learn a lot about burnout. I am not a fan of the term “burnout”. To me, burnout  conjures visuals of burnt wood. That isn’t me. I’m not burnt, crispy, and weakened by the pressures of my job. Yes, at times my job is emotionally draining because I get to listen to people on some of their worst days. However, that is also one of the parts of my job that humbles me and inspires me.

After the mandatory rest and the Thanksgiving holiday, it clicked as to why I was feeling so….heavy. I was out of balance. I love the work I get to do on a daily basis with my clients. I love going to class and being surrounded by people who are bound and determined to make a difference. I love teaching Mental Health First Aid and helping someone realize that they can help save a life. I love advocating for mental health and suicide prevention. I love spending days not doing a damn thing but curling up on the couch watching movies with my husband, kiddos, and pups. How could I love each part of what my life consists of and still feel overwhelmed? I realized that even though I loved each ball I was juggling, I could drop everything I was juggling if I held onto one ball too long.

On Christmas break, I went down home to Louisiana. Not only did I go home, but I did something that I have never done before-I left work at work. I left work at work for an ENTIRE week. Weird, the world didn’t stop spinning. I talked with my Mama on the backporch with a cup of coffee. I visited with my Mom. I watched my kiddos interact with my parents. I laughed and talked with my siblings. I slowed down, experienced, and enjoyed each day home.

I would have liked to end this blog by stating that I found the magic key to balance but I didn’t. The antibiotic, PowerAde, and Lifetime movie trifecta didn’t result in any profound algorithms to suddenly create perfect balance in my life. However, the realization that I need (and probably so do you) need more balance in my life is pretty damn big. I also learned that SLOWING DOWN can have a major impact on keeping a more balanced life. So, going into 2017, I can’t promise that I won’t juggle too much or get overwhelmed at times. However, I can strive to slow down, focus on the small things, and know that it’s perfectly ok to not have the perfect answer to creating perfect balance in my life.