Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

You Matter

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in all of the mundane things that make up our lives. And somewhere along the way, we start to forget who we are and the value we add to life. You start to loose little pieces of yourself… at first you don’t notice but one day you’re staring at your computer and you ask yourself “What’s the point?”

When you suffer from depression, this question is one you ask pretty much every day. And finding an answer isn’t always easy. But then again, easy doesn’t make for a very interesting life. So every day I focus on one #ReasonToSmile. just one little thing about the day that is completely me and makes me smile… even just for a while. Whether it’s drinking chai tea out of my favorite mug or playing fetch with my overly ball upsessed dog or watching my favorite 90’s TV shoew re runs… it may not seem like much but when the rest of your day is filled with dispair, that one little moment is everything…

Like all things, if you do them repeatedly they become habit and feel more natural, so eventually these little moments of happiness becomes normal again. These little moments all make up the little peices of you that matter. As long as you keep reminding yourself of what makes you happy – even if it is just for a minute – you will never loose yourself completely.

If any ever tries to convince you that you are not worthy of happiness, know that they are wrong! You matter! Noo one can tell you otherwise, not even that little voice inside of you… We are own biggest critics but we can fight back against the mean things we think about ourselves and change the voices in our heads to make them like us instead (best line ever written in a song paraphrased!) You deserve to be happy!

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Anxious on a whole new level

 What is Anxiety? Well, it’s when your heart pounds before a difficult exam or competitive match. That moment before a date when you have butterflies in your stomach. When you get nervous about stepping into your bosses office or you are concerned about family issues. These are all natural reactions… But when they reach a whole new level and worries, fears, or anxiety attacks seem overwhelming and are preventing you from living your life the way you’d like to, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Luckily there are ways you can ease the anxiety and control the attacks. You have the power to take back control of your life!

Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder, they can look very different from person to person. Like with most other Mental Illnesses. One individual may suffer from intense anxiety attacks that strike without warning, while another gets panicky at the thought of mingling at a party. Someone else may struggle with a disabling fear of driving, or uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. Yet another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything.

Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened…

So tonight we asked our followers a little bit about Anxiety and the 6 types of Anxiety Disorders currently defined. First we started by asking them what Anxiety feels like to them? Which anxious moments have they faced?

  • A burglary
  • Facing the parents
  • Exams
  • Job Interview
  • High School graduation
  • Everything

We’ve all experienced most of these feelings… fortunately for most of us, these feelings pass relatively quickly. For someone suffering from anxiety, it generally lasts much longer – sometimes even after the person has left the situation that sparked the panic. So we asked our followers what they do in these situations to calm their nerves and breathe a little easier.

  • Excercise
  • Call a friend
  • Suck on a sweet
  • Coloring books
  • Think positive thoughts
  • Write
  • Listen to music
  • Breathe

These are all great self-help tips that can become life changing habits. In order to take back control of your life and actually enjoy it rather than live in fear of it, sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone and face the source. Yes, I know… it’s not easy! But it is worth it! Imagine being able to do all of the things you once loved to do and spend time with those you love without constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop… this is possible. Most anxiety disorders are extremely susceptible to treatment.

In the next couple of #TopicsToDiscuss we will be taking a deeper look into the different Anxiety Disorders, namely:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder (Anxiety Attacks)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Phobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

And you are all invited to join us on twitter and share your views on all of these subjects.

Please also remember that  many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse (and vice versa), it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. If you want to talk, we’re here for you and you can also check out this site to get a bit more info and support Anxiety Help Guide

Depression VS Bipolar

Mental health is confusing. Even those of us living it have trouble understanding it, so how can we expect others to understand it? Well, be listening to us when we talk about it…

Tonight we tackled one of the confusing things about Bipolar… how does it differ from depression?

We started by asking our followers how they would define depression?              

  • ·         like a permanent grey cloud over your head, regardless of the actual weather (weather = your situation)
  • ·         always sad, feeling really low and lacking self confidence, and getting more tired than normal
  • ·         when you want to be alone, but be alone with someone
  • ·         like a slow wave of dark, aching nausea
  • ·         when everyday noise is too much, but silence is unbearable
  • ·         black cloud that follows you everywhere – all the time
  • ·         a medical condition in which one experiences low moods for a prolonged period of time or in other words, hell on earth
  • ·         my life

All very vivid explanations of this frustrating disorder… and this is how the medical professionals define it. Official Definition:

Clinical (or major) depression is a serious illness that affects every aspect of an individual’s life, including their personal and family relationships, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. The symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Decreased activity and energy
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Increased feelings of worry and anxiety
  • Less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of activities normally enjoyed
  • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Change in appetite (either eating more or eating less)
  • Change in sleep patterns (either sleeping more or sleeping less)

 

A lot less expressive and slightly vague… but then we asked them how they would define Bipolar.

  • ·         half the time sad and down and tired and then the other half happy and impulsive and never sleeping
  • ·         a whirlwind of highs brought down by crippling lows. highs can also be fuelled by irritability & anxiety
  • ·         lack of sleep, lack of inhibition, lack of reason and too much emotion.

Official definition:

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in moods that alternate between “highs” (or mania) and “lows” (or depression). These manic and depressive periods vary from person to person and can last from just a few hours or days to several weeks or even months. Sometimes these periods of intense emotions are so brief and so far between that many people may not be aware that they have bipolar disorder. Sometimes these cycles are so strong and close together that it is very difficult to maintain a normal life and have normal relationships.

Bipolar depression shares many of the same symptoms of regular depression. Manic episodes are often harder to identify because many people don’t understand what the symptoms of mania are. If you experience episodes of depression followed by the following symptoms of mania, you may have bipolar disorder.

  • An extremely elated, happy mood or an extremely irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
  • Ambitious, often grandiose plans
  • Risk taking
  • Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse
  • Decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue

 

So what’s the difference between Depression and Bipolar? This is what our followers came up with:

  • ·         I guess in bipolar disease u feel down and happy both at diff times (changes in emotions) but in depression mostly low
  • ·         I only have experience with depression, but I’m guessing the fact that you don’t get the “highs” with depression
  • ·         bipolar people are depressed for a shorter time and then go straight to manic and depressed people just stay depressed
  • ·         Manic Depression can mean either overly happy, overly sad or ‘normal’ where depression is just very sad most of the time

Official answer:

Bipolar disorder and depression are very similar illnesses with one major difference: People with bipolar disorder switch between episodes of depression and episodes of mania. Because these two illnesses are so similar, some people who are diagnosed as having depression may actually have bipolar disorder. One reason for this misdiagnosis is that people with bipolar disorder often only seek treatment during a depressive episode. They may also be unaware that when they’re not feeling depressed, they may actually be experiencing an episode of mania.

These two are so close and yet for the people living with these disorders, they are worlds apart. The wrong diagnosis can mean that it will take you longer to find a treatment plan that works for you but ultimately you will still get there. The most important things to remember with a diagnosis are that it is just the starting point and your input will determine how accurate your treatment is. Your doctor can not treat you for something if he does not have all of the facts and if you do not let him in on all of the facts, he will never know.

We also asked them how their diagnosis changed their lives.

  • I felt like it wasn’t all just in my head, I wasn’t making it up
  • it helped my younger siblings understand my mood swings and the meds have really helped
  • Diagnosis helps you to understand that what is happening to you is real

For most people being diagnosed was a positive… occasionally there are people who try to use your diagnosis against you and that is one of the reasons we need to stand together and talk openly about these issues. When we stand together and fight for equality while standing up for each other, only good things can come from it.

We also asked what they wish people could understand about these disorders. Take Note World

  • it’s an everyday struggle and that we have no control over it
  • forever hoping someone actually notices and cares to get me help.
  • it doesn’t make me a freak; it just means my mood swings are a little strange.

And what would you say to someone who is wondering if they have bipolar or depression?

  • Find a doctor with expertise
  • see your doctor. As terrifying as it is, it’s the only way you’ll know for sure

We finished tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss by asking our followers if there was something they wish they had known back when they were first diagnosed. It mainly came down to not fighting it. Not trying to deny it or run from it but rather facing the diagnoses and accepting the help being offered to you. Whatever your diagnoses, you need to remember that it is only a small part of who you are and not all that you are. We also discussed that not every therapeutic tool or recovery technique or medical remedy will work for everyone. Every person is different and their treatment should be too, it’s up to you and your doctor to figure out what works best for you. Like Edison said: I have not failed, I have just found a 1000 ways for it not to work.

Find a treatment that works for you and stick with it. You are not alone and we are all here to support you through your recovery.

It Should Get Easier

So last week I was rather positive regardless of the circumstances but today I started to feel the positivity fade drastically. It’s like one second it’s all awesome and sunshine and roses and the next it’s all doom and gloom.

So today I was trying to cling to the last bit of positive energy I had left and 15min to 5 it left… it’s amazing how much can go wrong in just 8hours and it’s amazing how complicated things can get in that time. It should get easier shouldn’t it? It’s not like I’m a rocket scientist or a surgeon who has life or death pressure on their shoulders every day. I have a normal job and a year and a half after I starting it, I still feel overwhelmed every day; I still feel incompetent and I still feel like I am a failure. The obvious answer is to quit and get out because clearly it is not healthy for me but the sad truth is that no one here can do my job either… I can’t let the people I work with down by not doing my best but at the same time I… I’m just lost… I guess today was a tough one and I want to believe that tomorrow will be better and that I won’t feel this bad or at least that I will feel better about myself… but by now I know myself well enough to know that the only way that will happen is if I make it so.

I have to choose positive to band I have to fight to not let the negativity overwhelm me. After all of these years of dealing with depression, it should get easier right? Well, I guess in the most respects it has – it’s easier to see it coming; I know that it doesn’t last forever; I have ways of getting through the negative moment and I have learned to make sure that I fully appreciate the good times but sometimes I just wish that I could have an easy day…

While I take my lavender bath and drink my camomile tea and listen to the amazing P!nk, I’m going to take a few deep breaths and try to change these voices in my head – you know, and make them like me instead…

Not the end, just a helping hand

I was gearing up for another mental health #TopicsToDiscuss and thought it was fitting to discuss the UK bill that so many are excited about. It reached the 3rd reading in the House Of Lords.

This “order of commitment discharged” brings us one step closer to a world where you don’t have to be afraid to ask for help. Today, a Bill that will remove legislation that has been discriminating against those suffering from mental illness is a little closer to being set in stone.

But are we even able to see the changes around us? Have we become so immune to the positive and comfortable in our misery that we have forgotten to look up and see that little glimmer of hope at the end of our collective dark tunnels? Maybe we have… maybe it’s just me… maybe it’s not too late to change…

Looking back on the last few years I notice the change within myself. Not just growth or that understanding that can only come with time but also my judgement towards myself. I was so afraid at first. That very first passing diagnosis that I brushed under the carpet followed by the secrets I tried to keep from myself and the person I created to manipulate those around me into thinking that I am fine. All of the times I couldn’t open up or even own up to the demons I were fighting internally. The times I hated myself for being so weak that I couldn’t accomplish the simplest of tasks. I remember the anger and the disappointment that I directed at myself and looking back at it now, I realize that I must have projected all of this onto everyone else out there suffering from a mental illness too.

But through my diagnosis and a million discussions with patient individuals, I have learned. I have come to understand that beneath it all I am still here. The fear of what others might think of me means nothing now that I know how proud I am of myself, of how far I’ve come. I now know that a diagnosis is not the end, but rather a helping hand. I wish I didn’t keep it hidden for so long and I wish that I could have been just that little bit braver and opened up a little sooner but I still got there in the end, so it’s all good. I believe that I needed to keep my friends at bay under the pretence that they will ‘not understand’ or judge me simply because I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was judging myself so harshly. They were always there for me, no matter how much I pushed them away… And by never giving up on me, they continuously reminded me that I am worth fighting for. On the days when getting out of bed was so much harder than anything else I have ever done, during those moments every kind word someone has ever uttered in my direction and every hug I couldn’t wait to get out of, gave me courage and the strength to not give up. I am glad that I have lived through all of the things life has thrown my way because I am a more understanding person for it…

I can feel the power that comes from your first wake-up-breath and I can see the beauty in a strangers smile. I can appreciate the little things that so many people take for granted because to me, they are huge feats. I can open up about all of the chaos hidden in the corners of my mind because I know for a fact that it gets better! No matter how frustrating or draining or numb this day has been, the promise of a reason to smile for tomorrow over rules the damage that was done to me today.

Sometimes all we have to do is look up and take a little step back so that we can see the amazing rainbow popping out from that dark cloud hanging over our heads…

Too tired

It’s been a hard/weird few weeks… not that a lot have been going on, just that it’s been getting to me. I’ve had a bit of trouble keeping everything negative away from me but instead it has just overwhelmed me.

There hasn’t been anything in particular that should have made me feel this way. In fact it’s been a pretty low key month so far. And that’s coming from someone who has instinctively always hated September. But I just don’t have any energy and zero drive. It’s hard enough trying to get up in the morning but then half way through the day it gets sort of worse because not only am I frustrated that I can’t make more out of the day but I also start thinking about how soon this day will end and how little I would have accomplished only to have to attempt it all over again in less than 24 hours… this feeling sucks.

I know a lot of you feel this way too. So here’s my bit of wisdom thrown in with this too tired to talk attitude: it’s ok. Today can suck and tomorrow can suck too but one of these days it will be better and in that moment it really is worth the effort. I’ve learned that no matter how much I want to withdraw and hide from the world, I must resist the urge and take that first step. Simply saying hi to someone or taking a second to allow others in is a big part of recovery… It’s not easy but I really need to do that more…

So here’s the deal: when you feel at your lowest (so low that even your favourite artist can not make you smile) talk to someone… talk to a friend; talk to a colleague; talk to an old high school friend; talk to a cousin…. or talk to me.

We all feel so alone, yet we really aren’t. There are more people who suffer in silence than we realize and it is up to us to break that silence. So here I am, saying that my week sucked but writing this little post that someone might read some day and that might just give them a little bit of hope, this makes me feel a whole lot better.

Just sharing my view, hoping you’ll share yours too…

Worth the fight

I don’t do discussions about ED just because I care; I do it because I’ve been there. Every bite is a mixture between a victory lap and the sinking feeling of defeat. I don’t talk about mental health just because a few of my friends have tried to commit suicide, I do it because as soon as I open my eyes I have to start fighting a daily battle just to make myself get out of bed… And then I look at the person next to me and it seems to come so naturally to them. I don’t speak openly about self-harm just because I’m worried that my little cousins or even my kids one day will be stuck in this same pattern of pain. I do it for them and everyone out there feeling as alone as I have felt most of my life… to a large degree I do it for me.

There are a million things I feel I should say to all of you bothering to read this little piece of me but basically I just want you to know that you are not alone and slowly but surely we are all learning to understand not just the disorders and illnesses that mess with us on a regular basis but we are also helping others understand that there is more to us than a frustrating diagnosis. You are amazing and if today is not going that well. Just remember one little good thing that has made you smile in your life so far. You just need one little reason to smile, even just for a moment… It does get better and it is worth the fight.

You are not alone

Major vs Situational Depression

So on tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss we were focusing on mental illness and the misunderstandings of deression. One of the questions that came up was: how do you know if you have major depression or just situational or if you’re just regular sad…

I can’t answer this question, only a professional can really give you a clear diagnosis and even then, they are only going by what they know so far. Depression and all things mental health is still relatively new to the field of medicine and unfortunately the professionals do not know everything yet. They know a lot more than they did 10 years ago! And thanks to all of the amazing people (like those following @dontloseurgrip on twitter) willing to share their stories and their fears and their hopes with the rest of the world, we can bust the stigmas and ultimately make sure that the professionals have as much information as possible. The more information they have, the easier it is for them to understand and of course help us understand what our bodies and minds are going through.

So from my perspective: situational is ‘better’ mainly because you know for certain that it will get better if you change your situation. Unlike major or manic depression that is more genetic and chemical; it won’t just go away because you changed your living arangement or your work. So with the major depression label you now have a sense of slight hopelessness BUT this really is not the case! The postive side of these 2 parts of depression being so close to each other is that the recovery process is also extremely similar. The difference is only that with major depression you have to keep fighting for your recovery… The best step is to make sure you only take one at a time: don’t try to solve all of your ‘problems’ at once. Take one little moment or feeling or fear or issue and find a way to get through that one moment, then and only then should you try to work through the next.

It may sound pesimistic or a bit strange but if you devide all of the negatives and weigh it up against one positive at a time, you can over come those dark moments of loneliness. Major depression is easier to cope with in the big picture purely because doctors find it easier to diagnose and therefore family members and friends are more inclined to actually be supportive. They find it easier to understand which generally means so can you. With situational depression you tend to be judged because ‘you put yourself in that situatuion’ which is rarely true. After all, who would willingly make their lives miserable? With Major depression you are also judged but mainly by yourself… You tend to have intense feelings of guilt and keep saying to yourself: why am I so weak? why can’t I just get over this? what did I do wrong to deserve this? And let me just remind you that depression really doesn’t care who it’s victims are; not what car you’re driving or what colour your hair is or even how old you are, depression just wants company…

These 2 versions of depression are so similar that most people don’t even realize there is a difference. Ultimately, coping mechanisms for depression are not just for those severely depressed or suicidal, it’s actually things we should all be doing to make our lives better and healthier anyway. Not judging ourselves and changing those annoying voices in our heads to make them like us instead. Eating fish and going for walks or staring into an open fire with some close friends. Finding one thing in the day that we look forward to to get us through all of those difficult moments, sort of like the desert you got as a kid after finishing all of your vegetables. We can all be more healthy mind wise and obviously that will help us be more understanding to those who are not quite ready to open up about their mental helath or those who have finally built up the courage to share their ‘deep dark secret’ with their families, that stranger who just started working in your office and already has to carry this label.

Depression sucks and it doesn’t matter which version you have, all that matters is that you get help, professional help! Talk to your doctor; talk to your teacher; talk to your housemate; talk to your mother; talk to anyone who will listen! If they do not listen, kepp talking and find someone who will listen! You deserve to be happy and you deserve to feel loved and know that you are not alone so don’t allow a few ignorant people along the way to take that from you!

Innocence Where There Is None

We have all been through some tough stuff growing up; some of our issues are more obvious than others; some are way too easy to hide but ultimately we all have our own daemons to face every single day. So it’s not hard to believe that we lost our innocence a really long time ago.

But there was this one place we could go, we could just be ourselves – sometimes a little more confident self – and not have to worry about the judgement of others. Here’s the best part, everyone has access to this amazing place because it’s all wrapped up in two little words: social media.

Yeah, that’s right: Twitter, Facebook and Skype are just some of the places where so many of us have found a voice and the confidence to be honest with ourselves about all of the confusion we have to live through. If you’ve never felt alone or lost you probably wouldn’t understand the appeal of spilling your guts on the internet in the hopes that just maybe you will find someone out there who is willing to listen and maybe even help you understand yourself… That first moment when someone else accidentally (sort off) blurts out their inner most emotions and you recognise them as your own, that moment is pure bliss. Just knowing that you are not alone in whatever pain you are facing is such a relief!

Many people in the field of psychology are of the opinion that putting a lot of people with ‘issues’ in one room will only lead to chaos and a full-blown meltdown but then there are those of us who have set out to prove them wrong. See, from experience I can tell you that it’s not always easy to watch your new-found friends being sad or trying to make it through that dark place because it reminds you of how easy it is to slip back into old habits. But there is safety in numbers and nothing can keep all of you down for long… So sooner or later, after the crying and some random fighting, you end up just talking…

Being allowed to breathe and smile and laugh and cry and sing all in the same moment is a real gift. You get advice from 20 different sources so you only have to take the one that suites you best aka the one you would have made anyway, it would just have taken you longer. You get to debate the existence of Pluto in its capacity as a planet while discussing your favorite song on YouTube and pouring your heart out to someone who has also been there…

Those moments of laughing over our elaborate gourme sandwiches and trying to sync our live streaming videos while video dancing on Skype… those are the moments that can get you through the bad times. Having 12 conversations at the same time and confusing the hell out of each other… those are the moments that give you strength when your pillow is stained with tears. Playing your favourite music artist in shuffle mode just to see how many times you can get your songs to match with someone on the other side of the world… those are the moments that help us smile when we seem to have no other reason to.

Those are the memories I cherish. In those tiny moments of happiness that seem to last forever, we get to experience ‘innocence’. Something depression or being bullied or feeling alone took from us; something we forgot we ever really had.

If you have a moment where you can find someone who has survived what you are currently going through, then you are lucky. Take it and keep it and remember that you may feel alone right now but when you are willing to open up, you will find that you are a lot less alone.

Don’t Lose Your Grip Zimbabwe

Those of you who are crazy enough to read my blog on a regular basis will know that I moved to Zimbabwe this year because I’ve loved the amazing culture of hope since I was 12 years old. You’ll also be aware of Don’t Lose Your Grip and our friend Lacey Crawford.

For those of you who might have missed it: Don’t Lose Your Grip is a charity concert and fashion show aimed at raising money [along with much needed awareness] for eating disorders, self injury (aka cutting aka self harm) and mental health issues such as depression. We’re relying on Musicians to volunteer their music for a good cause and to help us show that charity really doesn’t have to be boring. Our models are ALL normal people who want to help us promote positive body image or simply those who are recovering from / trying to live with an eating disorder. DLYG is aimed at ending the judgement and rebuilding self confidence.

We live in a tough world where you are criticized for believing in yourself and told you are a failure because your hair is the wrong colour or your figure doesn’t resemble Barbie or whatever the latest super model’s name is. In Milan this year, they were using MEN to model WOMEN’s clothes!!! So now we’re supposed to look like men in order to look attractive?! Come on!! This mess the media and our society has created over the ‘perfect image’ is not just leading to total confusion and terribly dangerous eating habits, it is also causing a lot of self hate and building on existing depression.

Cutting, eating disorders and suicide, very different symptoms of the same problem are gaining on us. The problems being alienation and depression; the symptoms: cutting and suicide. Personally I don’t know one single person who does not at least know of 2 such victims. This is a global problem and we are ALL affected! Chrisselle started DLYG because she’s tired of seeing her friends suffer in silence and feel so helpless that they take their own life. And so am I!!!

That is how DLYG Zimbabwe was born. This global problem of ours needs our attention right now! I know that Zimbabwe has a lot of other issues that some may say take precedence and to some extend I agree but that doesn’t mean we can ignore mental health and wellbeing. If we are dumb enough to ignore these problems right now, it will lead to devastating affects we, as a country, have no means to defend against.

Living with disrupted power supply; limited communication with the world outside Zimbabwe unless you use technology from down South; driving down roads where there are more potholes than actual tar left; looking at fields that use to be known as Africa’s breadbasket only to see wild flowers and dirt there instead of maize; walking into any shop in the country and seeing the face of The Man who has forgotten what the word ‘president’ means and being the last of your family still remaining in a country most of the world has written off can be very depressing!! You cannot honestly tell me that you are not saddened by what you see. But the amazing thing about Zimbabwe is its people! The hope that exists in their hearts is second to none! Zimbabwe is a rich country not by monetary standards but by heart!

So I urge all of you, to stand with me and acknowledge that you see the person standing next to you; that you see their suffering [depression]; that you see their cries for help [cutting, eating disorders] and that you help me raise awareness so we can help each other.

Keep your faith in humanity strong,

AM

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