How Heavy Is Your Glass of Water?


End of summer

This is for everyone to ponder.  It is usually around the end of summer, just prior to those upcoming, important and sentimental Holidays that we begin worrying.  That is, worrying more than usual perhaps.  Hopefully this will help you this year.  Let me know what you think.

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight Doesn’t Matter. It depends on how long I Hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Remember to Put the Glass Down.

Glass of water

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Do You Know Disguises For Depression? Well Maybe; and Maybe Not!


Copy of Copy of Wedding Pictures 9 12 09 170

Often asked about how depression works as well as how one can recognize the signs of depression, I decided to jot down what I know from experience, and through research and learning for you.  Depression can often feel like an intolerable sadness, and/or deep gloom that just won’t go away.  However, depression often is disguised as sneaky in symptoms that may be hard to identify.

If you have unexplained aches or pains, feelings of irritability or anger for no apparent reason, and when you cry at the drop of a hat — you could be depressed.

Common Depression Symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless and empty or having lost interest in the things which gave you pleasure. Do not discount, however, the less obvious symptoms including:

  • Anger, irritability, and impatience. You are irritated and angry at family, friends, or co-workers, or overreact to small things.
  • Sleep problems. You may have trouble sleeping, may wake up very early in the morning, or you may sleep too much.
  • Anxiety. Your symptoms include anxiety, worry, restlessness and tension.  Anxiety and depression often occur together, even though they are two separate problems.
  • Crying. Crying spells over nothing at all, and possibly crying about small things which ordinarily wouldn’t bother you may be signs of depression.
  • Inability to concentrate. Depression can make you forgetful, have trouble making decisions, or concentrating.
  • Pain.  Have aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment?  They could be signs of depression.
  • Substance abuse. Substance abuse and depression often go hand-in-hand and can hide an  underlying problem with depression.
  • Appetite changes. You may have no desire to eat, or you may overeat in an effort to feel comfort and happiness.
  • Isolation. Feeling withdrawn from friends and family right when you need their support the most is a definite symptom.

depression sad_sketch

Being depressed can be hard to admit to yourself let alone ask for help. However, there are good reasons you should consider depression treatment:

Treatment works. Even people with severe depression find relief, and so can you.

  • Early treatment is better. As with other health problems, getting treatment early can ease symptoms more quickly. If you wait to get help, your depression can become more severe and harder to treat.

Many people are willing to help you overcome your depression, but you must take the first step on your own.  In other words, let someone know how you are feeling. It may help to start talking to a close friend or family member. Ask for support in finding treatment. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you will feel better.  Don’t hesitate — call your doctor or a medical health professional if:

  • You think you may be depressed
  • You notice symptoms of depression such as sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness, or if you have less obvious symptoms such as trouble sleeping or vague aches and pains
  • Depression symptoms make it hard to function

Help yourself by spending time with supportive friends or family who will make you feel better — even if you don’t feel like it will.   The contact you get from others, along with depression treatment, can help bring you out of the dark and back into the light.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO:

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Has Suicide Affected Someone You Know? You Will Get Through This


Be Kind Fighting Hard Battle

Much has transpired since that fateful day back on May 4, 2010 when my husband took his own life through suicide.  And there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t try to reconcile with myself all of the things I’ve felt, actions I’ve taken, tears I’ve cried and important lessons I’ve learned.

Because people often ask me questions about suicide and depression, I’ve often thought about how to impart helpful information and help folks understand the dilemma facing those of us who are called “survivors” of suicide.

For the first six or seven months after the suicide, I cried.  Not just off and on during the days and nights but a steady stream of weeping and wailing as an expression of the grief I was experiencing.  Finally I asked Hospice and therapists, “When will I ever get over this?”  The answer may surprise you.  I was told, “You never get over it.  You learn to live through it.”

Don't lose hope

My life felt hopeless and was spiraling downward as suicidal thoughts took over my thinking.  In fact, I even purchased the items in order to go through with it.  I wasn’t proud of that but rather just wanted and needed the pain to stop and the darkness to end.  I was so fortunate that something inside my usually positive self raised up and I wept (again) but this time with a realization that I could not end my own life when I had yelled out all these months how could my husband do this to those who loved him.

Since I became reclusive, I began to read articles, stories, poems, and my journal aloud.  Partly because I was so lonely, and partly so the deafening silence wouldn’t frighten me so much.  That’s when it happened – I changed.

Reading my journal helped me to keep time a bit more functional for me and also helped remind me how I was coming along in very tiny baby steps.  I read aloud the answer to when I’d get over this.  And repeated it aloud and slowly, “You never get over it.  You learn to live through it.”  I wept unabashed for a long while that day.  And I believe fervently that this was the beginning of my reality to live through this.

I needed to find little bits of happiness in my life – daily if I could.  And thankfully I believe there is a God and I also believe in angels.  Whether they come directly from that place referred to as Heaven, or they are those around us – a friend, neighbor, co-worker or stranger – there are angels among us.  And I always remembered to pray at night … not the usual way, for it would make me weep incessantly and I was always so worn out from the tears and raw emotions.

Household duties were difficult at best as were outdoor gardening and pool cleaning.  But I began to be thankful that I had such things and not that I couldn’t care for them.  I began to realize there would come a day when things would improve.  In fact, for my personality, I found it was a necessity.

Girls closeup in office

With time, the tears lessened just a bit.  I was able to bring something new into my life.  I rescued two female dogs – or they rescued me – and opened my heart little by little.  I zealously believe that’s when my life began to change for the better.  It was now a year after Martin’s death and I was learning to live through it!

Often I’m asked so many questions because people are eager to learn.  It is amazing how many of us know someone, relatives, neighbors, co-workers etc. who have been affected from suicide in some way in their lives.  I’m making it something on my bucket list to continue to help educate and spread the correct information on mental illness, depression, and suicide.  These people aren’t crazy any more than I was in contemplating such an act.  They have an illness and need help – just as anyone would and should seek help for a physical illness.

This is Part 1 of what will become several parts, no doubt.  Truths need to be told, not false information given and I know that it takes time – baby steps – to understand and take it all in and learn from it.  If ever you have questions, please ask them.  I’ll do my best to honestly explain to you what I know from my experience and my research and learning experiences.  I do not claim to know it all – never think that.  However, I know that to “live through it” we must help one another to understand coping with this disease by gathering the tools you’ll need someday.  And if I can help, I’ll be pleased to do so.

Have yourself a great weekend.  Please come back to read more of my experiences “living through this.”

 JSpic

 

Depression Is Very Real


How To Help Someone Who’s Depressed

I’ve gotten lots of questions from friends and other folks of depression patients, as to how to handle it.  This article assumes that the depressed person has been diagnosed and is in treatment.

Main Problems for Friends and Family

Let me start by saying that I, for one, appreciate your wishing to understand someone else’s depression.  I commend you for taking an interest in a very difficult subject and for wishing to help.  In an indirect way, you’re a victim of depression too because this illness impinges on everyone around the people who have it.

Pardon my bluntness, but there are a few things you really need to know, before you get too far into this subject.

  1. You cannot cure someone else’s clinical depression.  It is not just sadness which can be waved off with a few kind words.  It goes far deeper than that.  If you are going into this with the heroic notion that you can somehow “fix” it for your friend, spouse or relative, then you need to disavow it immediately.  Operating on this assumption will only frustrate you and does no one any good.
  2. There are ups and downs in depression recovery. It is neither swift, nor steady. Your friend or relative is going to go on the decline, now and then. Don’t think it’s because you are failing them or they are not trying hard enough. The “roller-coaster” effect is just a part and parcel of depression.
  3. Please don’t tell a depression patient “you understand.”  Unless you, yourself, have experienced clinical depression, you don’t.  And your friend, spouse or relative knows it.  It’s not a bad thing since understanding depression means having it.  I’d rather that no one, anywhere, understood it.  The point here is to be honest with your friend or relative and don’t profess things that aren’t so.  Sincerity will help him or her a great deal; it will engender trust, which every depression patient has a problem with, at one time or another.
  4. No one wants to make your life miserable by being depressed.  Try not to view someone else’s depression as your own affliction.  Rather, be grateful that you don’t have clinical depression and try to realize what the other person is going through.  Don’t take the things your friend, spouse or relative says/does, personally.  They aren’t meant that way.
  5. Recovery from depression is not just a matter of taking anti-depressant medication and going to therapy.  Both the depression and recovery from it can totally change a person’s life.  Treatment involves a lot of fundamental changes in a person.  At times, you’ll wonder if it’s the same person you’ve known for so long.  Believe me, it is–the depression probably hid the “real person” from your view, up to the point that he or she was diagnosed and began treatment.
  6. At times, it may seem that the person is actually pushing you away.  This is very likely true.  Most depression patients believe that they unduly affect those around them and will do anything to prevent that from happening.  Thus, they isolate themselves from others.  This kind of self-sabotage is actually a symptom of the illness itself.  Don’t let it overcome your relationship.  Try to understand that this is often involuntary and irrational, and act accordingly.

 

How To Help Someone Who’s Depressed

What To Say or Do

  I cannot tell you precisely what is best for your friend, spouse or relative. I can only give you some guidelines. The rest is up to you.

  1. Don’t ask very general questions; you won’t get a meaningful answer. As an example:  Rather than asking “How are you?” ask “How are you today compared to yesterday?” or something of this kind.  Make the question open-ended, so the person can say what he or she wants, but provide something specific for them to talk about.
  2. Try to get the person out.  He or she will want to isolate themselves–hibernate, even–but this is exactly what should not happen.  Take walks, go shopping, go to a movie, whatever you have to, to get the person out of the environment they are trying to take shelter in.  You may get some resistance, and even complaints; be persistent but not unreasonable.
  3. Don’t be afraid to let your spouse, relative or friend talk about whatever they want to.  Even if they mention self-injury, or they are suicidal, you are not endangering them by listening.  Actually, you are helping to protect them from those things; talking helps them deal with these feelings.
  4. Keep an eye out for any changes in behavior.  These can include appetite, sleep habits, drinking or drug abuse, anything at all.  Any major changes may be a sign of trouble.
  5. Little things go a long way for someone with clinical depression. Small gifts and favors seem much bigger to them than to you. Don’t be afraid to (for example) leave the person a short note with a smiley face on it. Even if it seems silly or hokey, small considerations will help.

What Depression Is Not

Understanding Depression

Non-depressed people have a difficult time understanding depression; which is completely understandable.  I ‘ve discussed these things elsewhere, but I think this bears repeating here. Depression is not a weakness, character flaw, personality trait, or anything of that kind.  It’s not God’s punishment for past sins. It’s not karma catching up with something the person did in a past life.  It’s not someone just being too sensitive.  It’s not laziness or immaturity.  No one does anything to deserve it.  And you did nothing to cause someone in your life to become clinically depressed.

Depression is also not just the emotion of sadness.  In fact, many depression patients experience numbness, or no emotion, rather than sadness.  It is called a “mood disorder,” but this is a misnomer in that it can go way beyond someone’s mood.  Depression can totally disrupt someone’s thinking, in every way.

Depression is also not an excuse.  Having this illness doesn’t absolve anyone of responsibility for themselves.  Don’t make the mistake of letting a depression patient “off the hook” because of his or her illness.  Point out any transgressions and explain what went wrong, and make sure the person understands it.  However, getting angry or vindictive do no good, either. Keep criticism constructive. And stick by your friend or relative; you will find that it pays off in the end.

Go here for a more in-depth look at depression and supporting a depressed person.

Accepting Depression In Someone Else

Just as any depression patient must learn to accept his or her illness, and work on overcoming it, so you must accept that they have a mood disorder.  Since recovering is really a matter of work on the patient’s part, it’s impossible to start doing this work until one accepts that one must do it.  By the same token, you will find it impossible to deal with someone else’s depression, unless you accept that he or she has an illness–a very real one.

From what I’ve seen, this is one of the hardest things for friends and family to do.  I will not kid you into thinking that this is easy.  It’s not.  Accepting an illness in someone else, that you don’t understand and never will (hopefully), is not a simple or trivial matter.  Above all, don’t blame yourself for it.  No one can “make” another person depressed, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you caused it.

 

For Caregivers of Depression Patients

This is just as important as anything else!  You offer nothing to someone else if you’re stressed out.  If you need to, take some time away from the depressed person. It will give you a better perspective on things and unravel frustrations and tensions.  Just make sure your friend or relative knows you’re still committed to him or her, anyway.  You can even tell him/her that you’re taking “time out” for yourself, so you can better help. (It’s true.)

Asking Why For Better


Summer time brings much more than beach and pool time with sunshine and hot temperatures.  It allows us time for relaxation, playfulness and reflection.  The latter is something I’ve been doing much of lately.  If allowed to, our mind will go to many different areas of those “file cabinets” in our brains to assess what is there.  Without speaking a word, we reflect upon old memories and ask questions which generally remain unanswered in our day-to-day lives.

As for my own reflections, I like to write things down for future reference.  Writing things down allows our brain a rest in the possibility that we may not remember had we not journaled.  Are you like me?  I remember things from years ago yet sometimes cannot remember what I did last week.  What did I eat this weekend?

Some of the contemplation on my life surrounds the reasons why our time together for my late husband Martin and me was so short-lived.  His death was a tragic event for me as the survivor of my husband’s suicide.  Oh I’ve learned to appreciate that short time together because without it I would not have known such real love, laughter and true happiness in my life.  Yet why so short … I’m reminded that as a youngster I was considered the “why” girl always asking this particular question.  Nonetheless it is how I learned from life’s experiences and asking pertinent questions.  Times haven’t changed too much in that regard.

When Martin died, I felt broken – my heart, dreams, love, life itself … broken.  I had to heal and to fix those broken things in my life, including my life itself.  Then I realized something.

Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. 

Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.

 As I reflect upon the future, I will journal those thoughts and ideas and  fill you in on my ideas and the outcomes.

Stay tuned for part 2!