• Our latest book:

    By Amy and Bernadette

    Our latest book:

  • Also by Bernadette and Amy:

  • Advertisements

Let the Sun Shine In

Yesterday I went into the bathroom to find a spot on the wall. It was white and looked like it was perhaps some toothpaste or a spray of soapy water.  I took a cloth and started rubbing it and it wouldn’t come out.  And to my horror, more spots showed up.  I paused, looked again, and then realized that I was trying to erase spots of sunlight that were filtering through the blinds.

This incident – which caused a great deal of laughter on my part – carried a huge lesson for me.   Recently we have been struggling with the effects of depression in our household.  And when depression strikes, I take my trusty cloth and try to rub it away.  But in taking that trusty cloth, I find that too often I overlook what is good about what is happening or I overlook the good in the person with depression.   I try to rub away any sign of hope, of sunshine in the situation.

What that little bit of sunlight taught me is that in every situation there is a shred of light, a tiny bit of goodness if we only look. Whether it was a good word spoken by the depressed one to you or whether it was the fact that medications had been taken on time for a week or that there was the sound of laughter if only for a couple of minutes.  Whatever the nip of sunlight, it is to be recognized and celebrated and cherished.  They may be few and far between but by recognizing them, we don’t lose sight of the person who is there, the one suffering from this terrible illness, the person who deserves hope and happiness, the one that we love.

Don’t be like me and try to rub away the sunlight. Jump all the way in and relish those droplets of sunshine wherever they occur.  It’s one of the best actions a caregiver can do to stay well.

-Bernadette

Advertisements

What to Say

Lots of times we have written in our blog about some of the things you should NOT say to people with depression.  In this entry I would like to highlight some of the things you SHOULD say.   Let’s start with a simple question.

Have you taken your medicine? Of course don’t say this in the heat of an argument but say it at a time that you know it will be looked upon as a reminder and only that.  Haven’t you appreciated when someone asked if you had done something?  Same is true about the medicine because we can all just forget because we are human.

And since we are on questions….

Do you want me to go to the doctor with you? Statistics show that it often takes ten years before someone goes for help with their depression.  Maybe an offer to go along or to set up the appointment is just the push that the depressed person needs.

Another good question is:

Do you want to go for a walk? Remember how that is worded.  It is not saying, “you need to go for a walk to deal with this depression.”  Rather, it is an invite to join you….and besides the walk with or without the depressed person will be good.

On those days when plainly the depressed person doesn’t want to do anything, ask if you can help with anything. Maybe the person needs to just sit with someone and feel their presence or maybe they just want to take about how they are feeling.  Be there for him or her.  Sometimes the greatest help is just being with another.

Another big thing we can say to a depressed person is to tell them that they deserve help. Oftentimes, the depressed one will feel that people don’t want to take up their time with a depressed person.  Tell them again  and again that they deserve help.

And tied into that is telling the depressed individual that they are great, appreciated and loved ….but just not in general terms…..tell them particular reasons why you like them, why you appreciate them, why you love them. Be concrete.

And lastly,  Physical contact is one of the greatest things we can give a depressed person.  It reminds them that they are not alone, that someone cares.

Why not practice saying some of these things to the depressed person you love.

– Bernadette

 

Depression and Mildew

photosOur thanks to a mother who has and is weathering depression in her son and graciously let us post this.  Those who support those with depression have to grapple with many things others don’t see.  

It all started with cleaning out the room that had become the junk room in the basement.  Just as we began we discovered mildew, ugh!  At first it was only on a few old coats so those went in the trash.  Then suddenly it was on the covers of scrapbooks, yearbooks…precious memories.  Memories I had not thought about that much since depression entered our lives.

As the clean-up continued, I began to realize that depression has become the mildew in my life.  Silently creeping along and filling me with its grey haze.  Since then I just feel lost.   I look at those old photos and I don’t remember who I was before depression.  And I know that I cannot go back there anyway because depression has changed me.   While we were able to wipe away most of the mildew, the impact of depression cannot be wiped away.

Now the room is empty and the contents chaotically cover other rooms.  But I cannot bring myself to continue sifting through items.  What to keep, what to discard, what to donate?  It should be an easy process but it is agonizing, like I’m discarding parts of myself.  Yet, are those parts still real?  And I cannot bring myself to put anything back into that room.  As if the  mildew may be gone from that room, but depression still fills our house.

All this is happening as my son seems to be improving and learning to live with and within his depression.  Am I afraid that if he gets better then I might not have a purpose and that I might actually have to figure out who I am now.  And as I wipe away the mildew of depression and look at what is left of myself, what if I don’t like what I find?

Welcome to the Kick Depression Party!

Welcome to the Kick Depression Party!  At this party, we hope that those who join us can help those not here to realize that there are big and little times of hope and change and wellness when it comes to depression and mental illness. 

And the sharing is lively and honest:  

My mother suffered terribly from depression until her death.  In her worst times she wouldn’t get out of bed, would not eat, and withdrew from the world.  I’m lucky because observing her gave me the determination to deal with my symptoms.

*********

Anyone dealing with a mental illness knows that it is a daily battle.  Sometimes it is you that has to fight or you have to help someone fight it.  Nevertheless the feelings are overwhelming.  It has been difficult to reach out to others and truly express how I feel but I have done it and will continue to do so. 

*********

I want you to know that there is hope for you and your loved one suffering from depression.  My husband and I have endured a lot.  He is better.  We’ve survived and through this long process I realized how resilient we have been.  

**********

For a time I was on medication to keep me stable enough not to jump off a bridge.  The pain and anxiety were pretty bad.  But I’m here today.  

**********

I realized that there are times when it is okay to be down because life is difficult.  I have to fight daily to latch onto the things that matter the most to me.

**********

I started researching other alternative treatments which my husband thankfully agreed to try.  Since then we have learned a lot about the brain, intestinal health, nutrition, trauma and how it can affect a person’s emotional health.  We are happy to report that since last November, life is so much better.  My husband has his sense of humor back, is self motivated and is enjoying life again.  

********* 

I learned breathing techniques, mind games, to keep me in the present moment, and I learned to be grateful.  Through therapy I learned to accept that I am a depressed person and that each episode does not have to take me out.  

hope-hands1

*********

I am at this party hoping that it will help someone out there feel connected.  Perhaps, it will help me feel connected to others again because I know there are many going through similar struggles.  

*********

We’ve learned that Zinc is very important for proper brain functioning.  He’s also had to make changes to his diet, eating high protein, low carbohydrate, gluten and dairy free.  He takes many supplements to improve his gut health.  Did you know that it’s estimated that 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract?  

**********

Some days I just let the depression come.  I submit but not without setting a time limit on how long I intend the depression to take over.  When the time limit is reached most times I can get back into the game with conscious determination.

**********

At different times during my loved one’s depressive episodes I’ve seen a therapist and was always told how important it is to take care of myself.  This is a challenge, but I’ve tried to do it.  I’m glad I could go to work every day and get a break.

*********

I still wake up a lot of mornings in fear, not liking myself, guilty for whatever reason, overwhelmed with hopelessness, but I realize it is not a permanent state.  It would be easy to give in and give up, but I also have experienced peace, joy, comfort, love and those things are worth fighting for.  

**********

I’m grateful for all the things that can  help in some way – breathing, meditation and yoga and brain games.  They all help.

**********

I think that success is having available a multitude of tricks in a bag, not just one.  If one doesn’t work, I try another.  Recognizing and believing that life is fluid with ups and down is also helpful.  

*********

It’s been stressful being a caregiver these past years.  I often questioned what was happening to our marriage because depression  is also a very selfish illness.  The depressed person is always wrapped up in themselves.  I often had to tell him that I’m not his therapist, but I was willing to be his advocate.  

*********

I can understand others’ reactions better now.  Close friends knew about our situation but sometimes they didn’t know what to say or do.  My therapist help me understand that many people feel inadequate in how to respond.  And then they do nothing which can seem so cold and uncaring.  We need to learn to me more empathetic and I’m am thankful for those who have responded with empathy to us.  

**********

hope4We have both counted our blessings and we are thankful that we have survived.  We’ve learned some tools to keep our brains healthy.  You and your loved ones can survive too.  By all means take care of yourself.  I wish you peace of mind.

**********

It’s an amazing adventure we are on – this thing we call life.  I’d rather play and participate than sit out whatever days I have left.  That’s my feeling as I struggle with depression.  I’m pretty positive that tomorrow may or may not be the best but I want it anyway. 

Thanks to all of you who came to the party to share your insights.  We are grateful for our readers and for all those who are working together to kick depression for themselves, their families and their communities. 

Caregiver fatigue, anyone?

This is hard for me to admit, but…maybe it will hit a chord with someone else out there. Or maybe not. Either way, I’m going to toss it out there and see what happens.

I discovered recently that I’ve pretty much hit the wall with my capacity for caring much about the depression and other issues my husband struggles with. Been there, done that. For the last 25 + years. And have the PTSD symptoms to prove it.

A few weeks ago, I found out that anxiety and adult ADHD issues had gotten the best of my husband yet again. So much so that he lost his job as a result. And – here’s the difficult bit – I couldn’t have cared less what he was going through. I was so absolutely worn out with a lifetime dealing with his problems that all I had the energy to care about was the near-breakdown the situation created for me.

Selfish? Probably. Understandable? I hope so.

I think he understood where I was coming from at the moment when the crisis hit. In the aftermath, though, he seems truly puzzled by the fact that I’m a whole lot more concerned with myself this time around than I am about his feelings. I’ve had to say to him a couple of times, in various ways, “Your health issues just about drove me into a place I couldn’t get out of this time. Just now I don’t want to hear your side of the story.”

It’s what they call caregiver fatigue, folks. It’s not a pretty place to be in.

But I’d be willing to bet some of you have been in that place, at least to some extent.

I’ve got an arsenal I can use to help myself survive caring for a depressed (and otherwise diagnosed) person. Not sure what strategies I’m going to need if I ever want to get back to a place where I care about the feelings of the person I’m meant to be caring for. For now I’m managing by being busier at work than I’ve ever been before.

Distraction is a good tool in the short term.

-Amy

On-Line Kick Depression Party! Come, Celebrate!

love heartIt takes a village to kick depression.

Come to the Party!

On-Line Kick Depression Party

suggested by our readers.

Open to anyone who has or has lived with someone with depression.

Let’s celebrate by sharing with one another the good stuff that has happened to us.

Let’s celebrate the times we have kicked depression,

even if it is just a tiny glimpse of the good life.

When: August 15th

Where: Depression’s Collateral Damage Blog at https://depressionscollateraldamage.wordpress.com/

What’s taking place:   A sharing of all the positive times that depression has disappeared, whether for a moment or for a length of time.

Write a comment on what happened or any thoughts you have about kicking depression.

Send it to depressedlovedone@gmail.com before August 10th

We will post them on August 15th.

And please, between now and then,

pass this onto your friends

on facebook, tumblr, twitter,or those in your address book or any other place.

We want this party to reach people

so they will all know that depression can be overcome in some way, shape or form.

And together we can kick depression.

Let’s get that support going and growing.

Let’s beat the stigma.

Come, kick depression with us.

people on world

Connect with Nature

nature walk

Recently the Washington Post gave a report of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that the brain most positively reacts to walks done in natural environments than those done in cities and suburbs.

The study took 38 individuals who lived in cities and had no history of mental illness and had half of the group walk 90 minutes through a natural area and the other half through a downtown area.  The participants were asked before and after the walk to respond to a questionnaire designed to measure the “tendency toward rumination, a pattern of often negative, inward-directed thinking and questioning that has been tied to an increased risk of depression” according to many in the mental health field.

Not surprising was that those individuals who were on the nature walked showed a decrease in rumination and actually answered questions differently from before the walk and after.  Other tests done confirmed the findings.

The lead author of the study, Gregory Bratman, said, “This provides robust results for us that nature experience, even of a short duration, can decrease this pattern of thinking that is associated with the onset, in some cases, of mental illnesses like depression.”

We knew that walking and getting exercise was helpful in dealing with depression and in keeping an even keel when you are taking care of someone with depression.  But now we can look to those nature walks as doubly important in keeping the brain on a most positive track.

So, find a scenic nature walk near you and get out and moving on it at least once a week – more often if you can.  Your body, your brain and your family will benefit.

– Bernadette