Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dealing with Depression

                                                                                      Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay 

Depression is a medical condition and the most common mental health issue in our population. Most people experience some days of depression, especially in troubled times. If you are depressed for more than two weeks, you probably should tell your doctor and get a referral to a mental health counselor.

How do you identify depression?

  • Persistent Sadness:  When sadness lasts for days or weeks, especially when it is accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, depression, might be the cause. Sometimes you might feel sad and have no idea what you are really sad about.
  • When you feel hopeless you become even more depressed. And you may believe there is no way to ever feel better. It is important to break the cycle of negative thinking in order to escape from all these negative feelings. 
  • Feelings of worthlessness Worthlessness can lead a person to suicidal thoughts and even suicidal attempts. If a person feels worthless than he/she is more likely to withdraw from social contact, to become lethargic, start abusing with alcohol and often with drugs too. Over time  a person may even neglect self-care like eating, taking a shower, changing clothes, washing clothes, etc.
  • A depressed person will respond differently to guilt compared to a person without depression. There will be exaggerated guilt over little things, leading to more and more negative thinking.
  •  Anhedoinia is a major sign of depression. Anhedonia is the loss of interest in family, friends, food, any of the things that once felt good. This then feeds into the guilt and other negative feelings.
  • Disrupted sleep pattern. Depressed people may go to sleep but not be able to stay asleep. Or they may lie for long periods of time without being able to go to sleep. Of course, this is going to change their energy level even more. 
  • Loss of focus and memory problems are another sign. They will have trouble getting things done and function normally.
  • Suicidal thoughts are the most dangerous symptom of depression. Anyone who has thoughts of suicide or death needs to get help right away. They should not wait when they seem to go away, because they will probably return and bring them closer to self harm actions.
  • Constant fatigue, low energy, and tiredness are part of the experience of depression. It isolates them, which will make them feel even more tired and even more depressed. This is a circle is hard to escapefrom which it’s hard to escape. Fatigue will affect a depressed person both physically and emotionally.
  • Weight gain or loss is common. Overeating is more likely in early stages of depression, while loss of appetite and not eating may be present in deeper depression.

I've been depressed for most of my life. For many years I didn't know what was wrong with me. Eventually I had a doctor who recognized what was going on and prescribed antidepressants, which helped.

I became a mental health counselor and learned a great deal more about my malady. In the years since I've had periods when the struggle was difficult and times when I functioned well. I have learned that the medication alone isn't enough and that I have to take some life-style steps.

It is these steps I will share next week.

Sunday, March 22, 2020


                                                           Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

If you aren't anxious at some level, you aren't paying attention. There are a lot of things going on that can be frightening and frustrating. So much we don't know, yet we have to deal with it. 

Let me remind you that almost everyone is dealing with some level of anxiety. When people are anxious they can be irritable, angry, depressed, quarrelsome. 

Living with such limitations right now can bring out the worst or the best in a person. You can choose that for yourself. But you can't control that for others.

So, tread lightly with family, friends, and neighbors. Find an outlet for yourself or your kids. Do something to burn off the anxiety without causing greater problems. 

Limit alcohol and drug use. It only makes things worse. Ask yourself what you can do to help others in this time of trouble, then do it.

If you are healthy, donate blood. Contact your local Red Cross and arrange for a safe donation. They desperately need blood.

Check in with your friends and family, by email or phone or skype. Make connections without physical presence. 

If you are healthy and out of work, supermarkets are hiring people to clean and restock shelves.

Don't let yourself get mired in a sense of total powerlessness. We may not be able to control the virus completely, but we can do our part to reduce the risk for people. We must all pitch in to do what is necessary to beat this invisible enemy. Physical distancing, washing hands, cleaning surfaces, avoiding touching your face. Wash your hands. Please.

And please stay home to protect everyone from spreading the disease.

Be safe. Be cautious. But be determined to do your part.

                                                              image by Prawny from Pixabay

Sunday, March 15, 2020

National Emergency: What Can We Do?

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay 

First of all, don't panic. As the British say, "Keep Calm and Carry On." That is exactly what we must do. As Americans we can pull together our talents and our compassion to make it a smooth passage through the chaos.

In order to contain the covid19 virus we all have to do our part. That means we need our wits about us. We need to listen to the facts from the experts about how to behave in a way that prevents spreading of the virus.

It will mean that we will temporarily make sacrifices to have the best outcome. We will be confronted by lots of inconveniences for a while. And we can do that. And we will need to look out for the folks who don't have what they need to follow the guidelines.

There are solutions to every problem. We just need to put our creative energy to coming up with alternatives. We will need to think out of the box for a while.

Companies, corporations, and agencies are getting together to help. For instance, in Columbus, OH, the electric company is waiving shut off orders for a limited time. The school system has spent the weekend preparing several  weeks of class study sheets for students to learn at home and they are offering free to-go lunches to be picked up at various places, with school buses delivering to some areas. 

Citizens are banding together to petition the state to order banks to freeze mortgage payments until the crisis is over. Wherever possible, employees are working from home. Many businesses and restaurants are staggering shifts so that parents can care for children who are out of school. Meals on Wheels are expanding to provide meals to more people who are too high risk to leave home. We are trying to get the large grocery chains to waive delivery or curbside pick up fees until the crisis is over.

If you'll notice. These are things that people do together, things that can't happen if only one person or entity can do alone.

Neighbors are checking on neighbors in the high risk category. They are running errands, doing shopping, etc., for them so they are not exposed to places that they are more likely to be exposed. I'm 78 and have a heart condition. I don't want to go to the public places where I might be close to someone who is carrying the vaccine. Thankfully, I have an adult and healthy granddaughter who has offered to shop for us.

Talk to folks on the phone or on line to find out what they need help with. If you are young and healthy, maybe you could baby-sit with school aged children that need to stay at home. Research activities for kids that keep them engaged in learning and healthy activity. 

And we must each do what we can to keep ourselves healthy, keep our immune systems strong enough to ward off the worst of the symptoms if we do come in contact with the virus. Each healthy, get enough sleep, avoid excessive  alcohol (which dries out your body and diminishes your immune system), stay active, and find ways to distract your mine from being too focused on the situation.

Think about how to help others instead of worrying about yourself. You must, of course, be aware of your own caution. But helping others also helps you.

There are so many things we CAN do, Think about that and stay positive.

We are going to take care of each other. That is what humans are meant to do.

Remember: Stay calm, and carry on!

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Sunday, March 8, 2020

What Did You Learn Today?

                                                            Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

I celebrated my 78th birthday last month. So I decided I needed to learn something new. That's how we keep our brains young, isn't it?

I'm building a FaceBook page to sell my crocheted items. I've crocheted for years. But I have always done just somewhat simple things. Using the same few stitch patterns. 

I had to learn some new stitches and follow new patterns. But that was just the start of what I had to learn. There was the whole experience of developing a page to sell what I make. And, believe me, current technology is way above what I've known how to do.

So I'm learning about developing a page, a catalog, pricing, shipping, marketing, inventory management. Whew. 

But I'm learning lots of new things. What are you learning? Let's encourage everyone to keep learning, at any age.

Learning Something New

Sunday, March 1, 2020

What's Bugging You?

                                                Image by prettysleepy1 from Pixabay

I find myself often irritated these day. Is it my age? I am a senior citizen, you know. Just had another birthday. So am I more sensitive to frustration because I've lived so long?

Or, is it the current culture of negativity and fear-mongering?  And it has been like this for a few years now. Is my emotional shield worn down by it all? Could very well be. It surrounds me, even when I stay home. It's on the television and internet. So do I need to withdraw even more? 

That's an issue of balance. I don't wan't to be totally detached from reality, yet I need to limit the invasion of negativity. Where is the fulcrum? How far is far enough from it all and still keep me enough in reality to make good decisions?

Is it the physical pain? I have plenty of that and it does wear me down. But is that what keeps me so easily frustrated? anxious? I am looking forward to pain relief treatment in a few weeks. So I'll see if being pain free makes a difference.I do know that pain can be exhausting, so maybe that is the problem. Maybe I just don't have the energy to protect me from the constant battering by negativity.

Is it my own self-talk? I often find myself making negative thoughts like, "You can't do _____; "You are too old for that;" You can't afford that"; etc. And I do interrupt that with taking a few minutes to practice gratitude and positive thinking. Yet it could be that I'm sabotaging myself at times.

So what kinds of things bug you? Do you get worn out with frustration and/or anxiety? How do you deal with that?

What can we do about that? Sharing good thoughts, ideas, observations is a good place to start. Doing good for others makes a difference in the world and inside ourselves. Random acts of kindness really do create a better environment for everyone, yourself included. So what could you do today, right now, to be kind?

                                                                  Image by skeeze from Pixabay