Mental Health

Depression!? Here’s How to Fix It!

Or at least, attempt it.

Tonight I had a great talk with one of my little sisters. As I have mentioned before in my posting, I am going through a real change, but there is a sense of anxiety about when it’s all going to fall apart, not just for me, but her too. Unfortunately it will, and that’s just the nature of depression and codependence. Sometimes I am filled with so much sadness and simultaneous rage that I can’t cope in healthy ways. But I know there is hope, I know it’’s there and that’s why I keep fighting. I am working hard on combatting my demons, but sometimes they feel like they will consume me. My family has watched me struggle. They have seen my life fall apart over and over, and they are as scared as I am about when it starts to fall apart again. I think it is important to admit that I am scared, but to still allow this positivity to flow without allowing this ever present shadow that haunts me even when I am at my happiest to overcome me. It is normal I think for there to be concern. My family and friends all want to make sure I am healing healthily and most importantly, lastingly.

There has been some momentum in the positive aspects of my life and everyone can see the positive effects all this change is having on who I am. I am happier than I have ever been. There is an internal and almost intrinsic belief that I am good enough, beautiful enough, and smart enough to be happy on my own. I still have bad days. Those days don’t really happen as often, or for as long as they used to last. I have moments where my heart beats so fast and I worry about the future, and agonize over my past so much that I can’t breathe. But I am moving forward. With each bout of depression, I feel like I come out of it stronger. Each low comes with more tools to cope, and more realization of what is working in my life vs what hasn’t worked. Happiness is a choice, and with depression it can be work. Part of that work is recognizing when you need to make changes.

 

Upon talking to my sister and pondering for a bit after our conversation, I have come up with a game plan to get me through the next low. Hopefully some of these things will help others who struggle with depression. I am not an expert in profession in treating any mental illness. However, through the scope of my own perspective as someone who struggles with mental illness, as a daughter, a niece, a friend of others who struggle, I feel that my perspective is of some value. It is my hope that this can help others; and maybe even myself through my readers’ perspectives and responses.

 

Continue to learn and develop new coping skills.

I think in order to do this one you have to really become acquainted with yourself and  what actually brings you joy. And then you have to engage in those kind of activities. For me, I love to be creative. So anything that involves painting, writing, coloring, just creating, brings me joy. I love color and I love words. So combine both and I am in heaven. And the more I practice, the better I am getting. The better you get at something, the better you feel about what you have accomplished. Feeling a sense of worth in this way is important to drawing yourself out of depression.

 

Really you have to pick something that works for you. In my article, 4 Things to Help Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones, I list several ideas on how to show yourself love and kindness. I think finding things that bring a sense of peace and purpose are great things to work on. I am a big fan of exercise more in theory at this time in my life, but I know that exercise does help me immensely. Especially with anxiety, It forces you to breathe through it and there is something incredibly cathartic in the practice of exercising and movement.

Admitting When You Need Help

When I am in my head, it can be hard to get out of it. Usually I have lots of inner conversations about how I am a burden and shouldn’t ask others for help. And oh how easy it is to convince yourself of this when you are in a state of depression. You MUST NOT believe this. There are people who care about you. When I look back at my most depressive episodes, the kind of episodes where the hope is absolutely gone and I can’t seem to find the will go on, I am so grateful I did reach out when I knew I needed help. I think the trick is probably learning to admit to yourself when those triggers start. Being self aware can sometimes feel icky, because we are our own worst critics. The thing is, by becoming self aware, by being willing to admit when it is time to reach out, or to not get on the defense if someone pointing it out in sincere concern, you have to admit that you can’t always do everything alone. If you feel alone, talk to a therapist, a friend, a sibling, a parent; anyone you trust.  I promise if you start talking about it and hashing out where the downward spiral started, you will be able to pull yourself out of it quicker with each attempt to avoid the downslope.In conjunction with this, I have promised my sister after this talk we had that I would be more open to her help when I start spiralling. My goal is to not be defensive, and I told her to use all my words against me and she has willingly accepted this challenge. For this, I am eternally grateful.

 

Practice Using the Coping Skills When You are Feeling Down or Anxious.

In conjunction with learning and developing the aforementioned coping skills, practicing them is essential. And in this sense I don’t mean practice developing your artistic skills. I mean practice turning to the coping skills you have set up for yourself in your own game plan when they are needed. You have to actually put them to use. You can’t set up a game plan and then not activate it when you need it. It is pointless. This is where the work comes in. This is where you have to choose.Sometimes I don’t want to. There are times I would rather lay in my bed and force myself to sleep in order to avoid the things that are tormenting me. And there are times when I let depression win. But I also know that is when I end up feeling even worse about myself. As time moves forward, I do make more of an effort to turn to the healthy coping mechanisms I have set in place. Sleeping and eating only make my depression worse. When I feel like I can’t cope I reach out to someone. The people I turn to are people I know truly love me. And even though I HATE being told what to do, I feel like I listen more readily. Because when my brain is shutting down and I can’t make good decisions regarding my health, I have to turn it over to loved ones. It is hard, and sometimes I grumble, but 98.5% of the time I know their help is not only well intended, but in fact, productive in alleviating my depression and/or anxiety. You have to be willing to work and listen.

 

Depend on yourself too.

So I say all of this above because it is all important. But where codependence comes into play, you have to learn to depend on yourself too. For me, chasing everyone else’s love in order to fill a hole that was never filled by my mom, I have lived my entire life codependently. I have tried to find love in ALL the wrong places. I chased it to whatever hell it led me. If I have been sad, I have reached out and then when nothing is offered up by others, I have been angry and hurt. This expectation of reciprocation is where you have to let go. There will be times when your main support people are in a meeting, sleeping, with their families celebrating a holiday or a birthday. It is going to happen and we have to be healthy enough to reach inside ourselves in order to pull us up out of a depressive or anxiety ridden hole. Again, this requires work. Reaching out is important, but being angry or hurt because someone is unavailable is just asking for misery. So much energy that you could be putting into your own recovery can sometimes be misplaced in anger or hurt in regard to something you or your support person can’t control. This is why practicing your coping skills is so important. There will be times when the support you may need at that moment can’t be accessed for whatever reason. You need to develop your game plan and practice it in order to be able to rely on yourself to pull out of a bad moment. And if you can’t find it in yourself at the moment, there are therapists and crisis lines that can help talk you through a bad moment. I have used them and one in particular saved my life. Remember there is always hope!

I am still working on all of this. Codependent behavior and depression has been developing inside of me over the course of 36 years and it is going to take some time to overcome. But I know as I move forward in my journey, I will get better and better at overcoming all of this. Sometimes the progress will be slow and other times I will look back (as I do often these days) and be proud of overcoming every hurdle I have jumped.

If you need help you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

For Utah in particular you can call:

Crisis Intervention & Hospital Diversion Services at  801-587-3000

My First Novel

More from Grace

The next day. Grace rested on the sizzling wet cement. The towel she had put on the ground was bunched up into a pillow under her neck. The sprinkler on the lawn kept the ground under her body wet and cool. Her short wet brown hair stuck to her cheek as she inhaled deeply, drinking in the smell of the mixture of warm cement and the grass her grandpa had cut earlier that morning; before the sun had time to start smothering the crispness the night before had left behind. Grace had to keep her eyes clenched shut in order to keep the sun from blinding her. She was downwind just enough that she could feel the light spray from the sprinkler. 
Soon enough, she was pulled out of the mire of her thoughts by the slam of the screen door and the Cody screeching happily as he ran out to stand over Grace. Feeling his little shadow blocking the sun from her eyes, she left them closed, “Yes Cody?” At just that moment she felt his little finger poke her cheek, “Gwacie come eat,” he giggled and poked her two more times. Grace’s eyes flew open.
“Ah c’mon Cody, that hurts,” she muttered as she swatted lightly at his tiny hand. She took his little hand in hers and pretended to bite him. “Mmmmmm you tasty,” she said in a growly monster voice, “nom nom nom.” Cody squealed in delight and ran away towards the house, giggling and screaming something nonsensical. She heard Grandma open the screen door and holler, “C’mon Grace,” as she pulled herself up off of the ground and dried herself off a little better. 


When she was mostly dried she walked quickly to the front door. She could smell that Grandma had fried up some bacon and immediately surmised that BLT’s were most likely on the menu; Grace’s favorite! As she entered the house, she took the steps two at a time and raced into the kitchen. Grandma was slathering mayo onto the toasted bread and Grace’s stomach growled. Grandma must have heard it too, because she immediately said, “Now Grace, you know you are not going to sit on my chairs in a damp swimming suit. Go change and it’ll be ready to eat when you get back.” She didn’t have to ask Grace twice, not when there was bacon involved. The little imp darted into the bathroom and hurried into her dry clothes. Just as she was tugging her shirt over her ears she heard the telephone ring. Grace glanced in the mirror and tried to smooth her wet drying hair out of her face, encouraging it with all her might to just lay flat. After about 5 seconds she lost interest and saw her unsuspecting Grandma pick up the phone while she scooped Cody up who was trying to sneak out of the kitchen and down the stairs again. She hadn’t strapped him into his high chair yet and he was sneaky. 
“Hello?” Gran said. Her face fell and her old, soft, brown eyes flashed in anger. She put the receiver on her chest and handed Cody to Grace, “Buckle him in would ya?” Turning the corner from the kitchen into the hallway to try and hide her phone conversation from the kids. Grace’s heart started pounding a little. There were only a few things that made grandma’s eyes flash, and Lily’s daughter was one of them. 

Uncategorized

Where were you?

I know I’m not the only one who can recall exactly what I was doing on September 11, 2001. Usually I have a ton of conversations each year, discovering where my coworkers were and what their reactions were. Today I started a new position, so my focus was completely on learning new tricks to my new trade. I mean I knew what day it was, I gave it thought. But I didn’t connect with anyone about it. It wasn’t until I was driving home from work and saw the flags at half mast that I really took a moment to remember. We promised to never forget. But I can’t help but wonder if we are forgetting; or maybe it’s just me. I don’t want to forget, but last year I didn’t even post my traditional picture I took when I visited ground zero in 2009. And this year I didn’t even talk about it. I live alone, and work was filled with work things, so I decided to use my blog to express my thoughts.

I remember I was getting ready to work, curling my hair. I was listening to the radio and the morning show on this particular station often did pranks. When they announced the first tower fell, I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t until their serious tone carried on for a bit that I started to realize something terrible was really happening.

With the TV now turned on, I sat on the couch in complete shock as I watched footage of the first tower falling. I remember crying in disbelief as I watched it unfolding before me. When the second tower fell I was watching it on live television. I can’t remember if the footage of the poor people jumping from the towers to escape the heat of the hellish consuming flames was seen live, or if it is burned into my brain from all the footage that aired all day, and so many of the days after, but I remember it just the same. I am not sure how long it took for the initial astonishment wore off. And as I am writing this, I am not sure it has ever completely worn off. Because as I write this, my eyes are brimmed with tears.

 

 

At the credit union where I worked, there was a hushed tone and a solemness hanging in the air. The employees and the members who were forced to do business that day. “Can you believe it?” people would say choking back tears and even sometimes spilling them. I worked the drive thru that day. We, along with the rest of the nation all paused for a moment of silence. We closed the teller windows and put a sign up notifying our members that we were pausing to remember for a full minute.

I remember that every break and lunch we congregated in the break room to stare in horror as more and more information came in about who was responsible. The footage was repeated over and over. After work was spent with friends and loved ones on couches watching the story unfold. My dad was working in Qatar at the time. People who didn’t do it were claiming they had. I remember being so terrified.

There was something else I remember. I remember our nation banding together. We were a country under attack. It was a tremulous time and together we stood united. Every person felt this devastation of the assault. While I know the families of those suffered infinitely more, I know the loss was felt by us all.

When I was in New York City in 2009 my friends and I visited Ground Zero. The place where I cried the most, where all of us cried the most was actually in St. Paul’s Chapel. It is a historical church that dates back to colonial times, so I was already super 

 

enthralled. St.Paul’s Chapel is where the workers who dug through the rubble rested in between shifts. Inside the chapel there is memorabilia. It is covered in letters and banners from the entire country expressing their condolences, their support for the volunteers. Thereimg_1784 is a huge banner from Oklahoma stating, “To New York City and all the rescuers, keep your spirits up. Oklahoma loves you!!” There were memorial pictures of rescuers and others who died. I cried as I walked through the displays. When I visited again in 2011 with other friends, I cried again. They were tears of mourning and remembering. They were tears brought on by remembering the compassion we showed for one another in such a terrifying time. We really must never forget

Please comment if you feel like you need to share your thoughts and feelings about this day. I would love to read them.

Mental Health

A Video Every Woman Should Watch

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

 

This post is brought to you today because my baby sister sent me the link above. And when I was done, I was in tears. In fact, I am still tearing up. One thing I will constantly try to share on my blog is the importance of self love. This concept is something I have struggled with, as previously mentioned. It is something I am conquering, but it is something that can be easily forgotten. It takes work! Especially when every thing you’ve ever thought and felt has told you you do not deserve love. This video points out just how badly we can perceive ourselves in comparison to the extraordinary light others see in us. It hit me right in the feels because I know too well how hard one can be on themselves. What if we could stop being haters and see ourselves as other people see us? How much would our souls heal in response to seeing our own light within ourselves?

I can relate to these women, as I am sure most women can. I can tell you every insecurity I have about my face and my body. Double chin, greying hair since I was 21, freckles, my eyes get too squinty when I laugh, and I have a hard time not thinking I look like a sumo wrestler when I have my hair pulled into a tight topknot. I am not sharing this to fish for compliments, but more to demonstrate how ridiculous and critical we can be towards the most important person in our life, ourselves. I didn’t start this post to brag about myself either, but I am proud of who I am and my beauty. I know that my eyes and smile are beautiful and they sparkle when I am truly happy. I know I am warm, inviting, and genuine, which can be seen in my countenance. I am beautiful, and I actually believe it. But man, I have spent so much time concentrating on the flaws, only seeing the negative.

My weight has been a struggle my entire life. I also suffered from severe emotional and physical abuse as a kid at the hands of my mother. I could go into more depth about this, but I will save it for another time. Because of this dangerous combination, my self esteem has basically been non-existent for me my entire life. I always thought that my weight was the root of all my issues, and if I could just be thinner, maybe life would be better. As I grow older I know this is not the case. This defeatist perception of self is simply hopeless. I know that if I can love myself just as I am, I can find happiness. It is so important to accept yourself. With each passing minute, week, and year, I discover I finally have an honest belief as to just how fabulous and special I am. I have so much to offer. Sometimes I beat myself up because it has taken me so long to realize it, but then that’s not really an example of showing myself love and acceptance is it?. So I am going to be forgiving and gentle with myself because I deserve it.

Ladies, and even gentlemen, let’s commit now to truly loving ourselves. Let’s start trying to see ourselves from an outsider’s perspective and really try to appreciate how beautiful and uniquely amazing we are. Stop worrying about what others are thinking, because people don’t notice the things you are insecure or worried about. People see goodness and light. It is what draws them to you. It is so important that we take a minute and truly take in and believe we are gorgeous and deserving of love. Not just from others, but from inside yourself. I want to challenge each of you to practice being kind to yourself. Appreciate the uniqueness of each beauty mark, wrinkle, and grey hair. They are part of you. Each thing you think is negative probably adds more character and life to an already fascinating specimen of humanity. Let your light shine unabashedly. The love you give yourself, will only attract those who want to share in your warmth.

 

When I watched this video, I thought every woman in it was beautiful. They were different and unique and I loved it. I wasn’t sure in the beginning what the outcome was. But when I started hearing what the strangers were saying about the women in comparison to their own thoughts about themselves, I couldn’t stop the flood of tears. I knew immediately that I needed to share my thoughts on it. Comment if you are with me on this challenge!

Humor

Help with Writer’s Block

Once upon a labor day, the fair young maiden stayed in her house all day long. She wasn’t being lazy, she was finishing up painting projects, reorganizing her clothes, and even  organizing her kitchen cupboards. Mandalicious even managed to take a very long nap, watch two Harry Potter movies, When Harry Met Sally and the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. After a while, she began to feel claustrophobic and antsy. She wanted to write, but couldn’t think of anything remotely clever. She even felt convinced (for about twenty-three seconds) that she had no more funny to give.

 

Knowing that was incredibly silly. The young lady had an arsenal of humor and inspiration. She just needed help brainstorming. So she called Gus. “Gus!” she declared, “I can’t write. I have nothing to say, but this blog thing… I want to make it work! Willst thou help me.” Now Gus is a good lad, and he turned off his new tv show to try and help Mandalicious get her creativity flowing. For a few minutes they argued about whether or not the young maiden was attracted to arrogant men, like Sir Robert Downey Jr., Gus was clearly trying to make her ragey and soon they decided to change the subject. Instead of arguing, he suggested she take a walk. He offered to stay on the phone with her whilst she walked.

 

“But it is 9pm! And alas, I have no footwear nor brazziere on,” she declared irritably. He quickly reminded her that these things were easily fixed, so knowing he was right (even though he is only right occasionally)she pulled herself off of the couch, quickly donned her shoes and undergarment. Somewhere in the background while her telephone device lay on the bed, she heard someone beat boxing while she readied herself.

 

“Ok! I am ready. I am wearing a ratty Statue of Liberty t-shirt and a pair of Utes pajama bottoms,” she uttered hoping this would get her out of it. He insisted that because it was dark no one would care. And then insisted further that no one would care even if it was daytime. In fact they argued about that for the length of her street. When she turned the corner and started walking east, she noted aloud that the moon was quite beautiful. It was full and bright. Remembering this a walk that intended to get creative juices flowing, he asked her to describe it to him. “Ugh I know not,” she sighed,  “it is just beautiful.”

 

He, knowing how to vex her and push her to try harder, teased her relentlessly until she gave a half hearted attempt at describing the moon. She said, “because it is beautiful and still.” It was the still part that really got her thinking. The moon is so far away and we are so small in comparison. Yet here we are, on this little planet where we are exposed to so many beautiful things. She suddenly noticed how the air wasn’t frigid, but almost a perfect temperature. There was a warm breeze blowing around the scent of a summer that was starting to fade. There were crickets singing. It reminded her of camping adventures she had with her father as a young girl. The whole setting gave her a feeling of comfort and peace.

 

As she continued to walk and talk about the things which were popping into her head, her anxiety and restlessness released. The fair maiden felt more relaxed, while simultaneously feeling sweaty. Sprinklers were on and she could detect a hint of the wet cement smell, a scent she quite loved. There were roses to be sniffed, while there were lavender sprigs and sunflowers that begged to be stolen; and very possibly were in fact purloined. For the fair maiden was encouraged to “live dangerously” and snatch the coveted delicate flowers. The lass never fails to rise to any challenge and she may or may have not proven her worth in this matter when it comes to the lavender sprig…the sunflower was from a vacant lot.

 

While this adventure did not set the maiden off on a fervent writing spree that night, it had reminded her what she needed to focus on when writing. She thanked her silly yet amazing friend and gladly stored some fodder for writing on the morrow. She utilized the creativity to write this silly post, but also a few others that will later be published. It is her strong offered advice that if one is stumped with writer’s block, to go outside. Even if only for a little while (18 minutes is all it took for her). The fresh air and the other elements worked wonders on her restless heart and her head which was devoid of any creativity. One must foster creativity by giving it something to expound on. This lesson she did happily learn and did look forward to the days ahead where she would most hopefully come up with other funny and insightful writings for her readers.

My First Novel

Grace Excerpt 2

Just then Grandpa came booming in from the garage hollering, “ Now, where are my favorite grandchildren!?” Cody and Grace both ran over to their grandpa and he picked both of them up. He smothered them with the best scratchy beard kisses known to man. Grace immediately took Grandpa’s dirty old ball cap and put it on her head. She grinned happily at him.  It was too big for her and it smelled like the garage, sweat, and his aftershave, but she didn’t care. Cody wiggled to get down and Grace hung tightly with her arms wrapped around his neck. “How’s my Gracie?” he whispered. She shrugged her shoulders and he gave her a big squeeze. She was happy to be there. It was peaceful at grandma and grandpas. But there was usually a small ache in her heart at the beginning of all of her stays with them.

Humor

To Be a Spy or To Not Be a Spy

When the fair young maiden was in high school, she wanted to travel the world and be a spy. There was something incredibly enticing about something so dangerous and let’s admit, a tiny bit sexy. Some of her favorite movies outside of the Rom-Com genre were The Saint, Mission Impossible, and The Bourne Identity. This could be because her fine father raised her on action movies with heroes played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Mel Gibson. Her exposure to this obviously taught her that the coolest and bravest men were spies, police officers, CIA agents, FBI  agents, and hard core military men. They were in fact, the BEST kind of men. They led the most thrilling lives, with danger, and oftentimes, romance. It didn’t hurt that the leads in these kind of films were all incredibly attractive. So obviously if she wanted to be a spy, she was more likely to find a handsome spy husband. The maiden was a hopeless romantic and has even been accused of being optimistic from time to time.. Not to mention spies knew several languages, and the girl wanted to learn at least five.

 

Mandalicious was 17 and in the counseling office staring at the overwhelming bulletin board. There were flyers from local schools, schools in far away lands, and schools she had never heard of. Where was she even to begin? And there it was, staring her right in the face. It was a tiny green piece of paper that said something along these lines: “Want to learn multiple languages and work for the CIA? Call this number for more information.” Now, she doesn’t recall the exact wording, but it truly did reference the CIA and learning all sorts of languages. She excitedly jotted down the digits. Her heart leapt while she thought, “Oh my gosh! This is it! I am going to try and get into the CIA!” She hurriedly raced home. With bated breath and trembling fingers she dialed the numbers and waited. She thought she was going to get some pretty exciting information about how to work towards this amazing lifestyle she had convinced herself she had truly wanted.

 

Alas, it wasn’t to be so. Instead of a receptionist, she got a recording. It didn’t tell her she reached a number that had been disconnected. It said she reached a number that DID NOT EXIST. It was trickery! She double, triple and probably quadruple checked the numbers she had written down and called again. Same thing. The maiden even went as far as to check what she wrote down with the flyer in the counseling office. They matched. Mandalicious called the line a few more times, hoping it was some kind of screening process that she was failing for some reason and maybe with some persistence they would let her talk to someone. Eventually the disappointed lass gave up. Ands she is certain that it was two things: either it was a cruel guidance counselor’s idea of a great joke or the CIA somehow knew she would never do well as a spy.

 

Well, practice at anything can make anything perfect right? While this is true, some flaws and traits are so ingrained in people that they can’t ever really shake them. For our heroine, she happened to be a terrible liar. In fact, she could barely handle keeping a gift or birthday surprise from someone.  Let alone some terrible state secret. If she had to assassinate people for a living, the girl would currently be in a padded cell.  Mandalicious has had people ask her to keep secrets and can keep them, but if the pressure is on and someone is asking about something she is not supposed to say, they always knew by the expression on her face that she was not telling them the truth. Eventually, she was able to keep her cool whenever someone tempted her to tell a secret. But honesty was her virtue to a fault. It was as if keeping someone else’s confidence was a crime and she was terrified when someone caught her keeping another person’s secret from them.

 

Being unable to lie is not a bad trait, but in the spy world it would have got the poor girl killed. For one thing, torture is so not her thing; Mandalicious would have cracked, “Please no! Please, I’ll tell you anything!! Just don’t hurt that poor helpless puppy!!!” To this day she firmly believes that it is entirely possible that the CIA knew her number and that she was a terrible liar. As fortune would have it her career as a spy was never launched. She had a sensitive heart and was not cut out for the hardened life of a spy. She has never forgotten the experience, but still sometimes wonders what could have been.