I’ve been very diligent in taking my medications over this past weekend. My depression is held at bay, yet the anxiety worms through the cracks like stubborn weeds.
I spent the weekend at Disneyland with my sister celebrating her birthday. It was so nice to get away and be in a new place. During our time, we had a lot of heartfelt conversations…we dived deep into emotions and thoughts of the past and present…and hopes about our futures. We have such similar emotional responses to things. It’s comforting that there’s someone like me but also worrisome: I don’t want her going through the things I have.
I know I have zero control over how my sister feels and reacts to things…I just hope that I can be a resource she knows she has within her reach.
So thankful for the good times.
I have forgotten my medication for the past 2 days and lately the effects are a lot less forgiving than before.
The nightmares have me waking up in a cold sweat full of fear. The days drag on and in them comes anxiety that grips my insides…moments that have me frozen in a state of insurmountable panic. I stare off in a daze until it passes.
I’ve somehow managed to drive home completely unaware of how I did it.
But…I can only blame myself for forgetting something I can’t live normally without.
What I wanted, frankly, was someone who would argue me out of the things that I was thinking. -Agatha Christie, The Pale Horse
…As I take this pill I also take with it the fear that my life is inextricably tied to it.
It’s as much a part of my life as anything could be and I’m bitterly grateful.
I got the privilege to interview a very close friend of mine. Sometimes you meet someone and you just click; as if your own life story was on their bookshelf and they understand you. That’s what Coral has been to me. Many thanks to her for this opportunity…
How would you describe your association with mental health?
When you grow up poor mental health is viewed as a luxury – when your family is struggling to meet basic human needs mental health becomes an ailment for the privileged and wealthy. Not only growing up poor but also Catholic, mental health is not only seen as a ‘luxury’ but shameful and something viewed as a ‘dirty’ family secret. Since I can recall I have experienced this internal battle between my own depression and the negative perception of mental health implemented on me as a child. Now in my mid 20’s with beliefs completely contradictory to those I was raised in, I still find a piece of myself interpreting my depression as a shameful burden to burry within which is completely contradictory to my education.
Have you ever tried to attribute your thoughts and feelings to reasons other than mental health issues? If so, why?
Most definitely! I think a woman’s experience with depression is much different than a man’s – primarily because of the gender stereotypes and characteristics society identifies as ‘female’. Women are inflicted with this intense pressure to always appear cheerful and welcoming, forever donning the perfect smile. A woman experiencing depression will obviously not abide by those guidelines so we are not only carrying the burden of our mental health, in my case depression, but we are carrying society’s standards as well. Prior to accepting my depression I would attribute my ‘episodes’ (as described by my family) as being overly exhausted or not eating enough or healthy enough or being ‘moody’ all of which I have come to learn are symptoms of depression. I think I would create these excuses because of the shame associated with mental health and because people expect certain behavior and characteristics from not only women but from Coral (me!).
How long have you dealt with issues of mental health, whether yourself or others?
I honestly believe I have been experiencing depression since my preteen years but due to the lack of conversation within my family I didn’t have the proper vocabulary to identify what I was experiencing. Now in my adult life I have found solace with my sister who also experiences depression.
What are some things people have said to you that helped you, and what were some things that were not helpful at all?
The two women closest to me, with the exception of my mother who doesn’t view mental health the same way as I do, have undoubtedly helped me. Their help isn’t from the things they say but more so the unwavering support and understanding. When I am experiencing depression I don’t need uplifting words – the power of having women in my life that understand what I am experiencing is invaluable.
“You have the power to get yourself out of your funk”
“You’re choosing to be like this, snap out of it”
“You just want an excuse to be down”
Those are some things I’ve been told that obviously do not help when you’re depressed and are said by people ignorant to mental health.
What would you like to say to your younger self if you had the chance?
Pull the power you have deeply stored within your being – and remember there is an essence to being a woman that cannot be snuffed, especially a woman with experiences both good and bad. You got this bitch.
Occasionally I’ll visit medical websites and read up on new studies and advances in the area of mental health.
I’m so happy with the many studies being done with a serious approach to depression, anxiety and other illnesses.
One in particular I read just this morning involves developing new techniques for studying changes in the brain of patients with mood disorders.
Researchers believe that depression and anxiety disorders may cause structural and functional changes in the brain.
To me this is such good news.
If we can better understand how mood disorders work, we can better treat these patients.
Yay for science 🙂
I’m so excited to share something I have in the works.
I’ll be interviewing some friends, family and others and those interviews will be featured on Fridays (not every Friday because, you know, life).
The interviews will be Friday Features and I can’t wait to share with you their thoughts, feelings and stories.
Standby for some awesomeness.
-Jenn Black Lake, Ilwaco, WA.
This past week has been a battle of will and inner strength. I felt at times my strength was as useless as tissue paper…frail and so ready to tear at the slightest bit of pressure.
The days seemed to prolong itself and I lived in this state of a perpetual rewinding of my fears and playing them back to myself again.
I managed to push them back far enough to laugh and engage with others, but like oil I’d watch it ooze back and surround me in its suffocating grip.
I haven’t been willing to exercise or been able to keep an appetite, which are the things you WANT to maintain in times of dark depression. Things just seem to slip away from me.
This weight is so unbelievably heavy…I feel for those that carry things too…because there is no one else who can.
Today, as I write this, I have Kona asleep on my lap. Listening to her sleepy breathing and watching her side rise and fall in a calming rhythm, I am almost transported to a place of future promise of peace. There is peace for me beyond this past week.
Maybe not next week, or the next…but soon.
Listening to Crystals by Of Monsters and Men…
Sometimes, you should have seen it coming.
The events in life that are just giant piles of “omg wtf”.
It knocks the wind out of you, emotionally and physically.
At first you think, “How can this be happening?” Then, when you’ve had the chance to find the parts of your mind that fell apart, you can look back and just see how it could be. “Of course,” you say to yourself.
It doesn’t change the fact that your mind felt like it was going to break, or that your heart was going to fall from its precious shelf in your chest…Now you have to start over. Get yourself back to the normalcy that you know.
I hate that. The starting over. It takes so long to climb out of that well of self-doubt and depression. I revel in the moments where I’m not anxious about something because those moments are like sugar in my mouth…until I bite down on a grain of sand suddenly.
And here again, out of this endless, dark chasm I climb.
I can say most assuredly that I spend about 80% of my time worrying about tomorrow and thinking about the past. I’ve been this way all of my life.
I have always envied the characters in books who live and breathe by that ‘live in the now’ mentality.
Spontaneity is not a trait I possess. In fact the only thing I can do spontaneously, is worry.
So lately, I’ve been trying to shift my focus (believe me, it takes a lot of commitment) to the present. Enjoy right now. It seems easier than it really is.
One of the things that has helped is getting outdoors to take photos. I have a Nikon DSLR that I have zero idea on how to use but, I’m not trying to work for National Geographic. I’m embracing being a complete amateur and I find myself enjoying the day and the fresh air.
Looking through the lense I forget about the things I have to do, or the things I have been through.
Whatever helps, right? 🙂
This Seaside dude graciously allowed me to shoot him this morning. And that surfer didn’t have a choice.
I grew up in a Christian household. It was church not only on Sundays, but Wednesday and Friday nights as well.
I believed with a fervent passion that comes with being sheltered from everything but church. Everything would be fine as long as God and I were square.
My mother’s philosophy was impressed upon me from early on: If you are sad, pray. If you are angry, pray. If you are happy, give thanks in prayer. Everything in life was a direct reflection of the quality of my relationship with God.
I was told God brings joy, so I told myself I was joyful. God heals, I convinced myself I could heal my deep sadness by prayer.
If I was still sad, I wasn’t praying enough.
Fast forward to now and I am no longer a Christian. I look back and want so badly to tell that lost teenage girl what’s really going on.
It’s not from a lack of disciplined and passionate prayer that I was sad and down so often. I didn’t fail as a Christian.
In reality, Christianity failed me.
It’s discouraging to know that there are those out there that believe the solution to their mental illness could be solved by a simple belief, and that they aren’t serious enough…or that a divine being would allow them to feel this way.
My hope is someone like me, reads this and can understand a little more about their mental health…& that they can find some help outside of the restrictions of a religious belief.
Mental health is a real thing.
And there are real treatments.
One con about my taking an SNRI is I feel less creative.
I spend my free time painting, weaving, and stitching but I feel less inspired to do so lately. It’s especially tough because when winter comes, the rainy days make me want to be creative and well, it’s pretty much winter now in the Pacific Northwest.
I started a painting recently and lately it’s been at a standstill in my dining room, slowly gathering the dust of my rusted imagination. I want so badly to continue but I just don’t have it in me.
I’m kind of numb.
But I’m not in a depressive state.
Maybe it’s a trade I’ll have to be grateful for because I can at least be a functional human in society and not a couch cushion.
Maybe it’s also harder living in a place that demands you live out your passion. The wildness calls to the mind and soul to wake up and be in it…do the thing you were meant to.