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Life, Depression, Cheesecake, and Stuff

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It’s possible that this post is no more profound than the fact that I wanted to take a picture of the two cheesecakes my girls and I baked today…but here’s a bit of “food for thought” to go with the photo:

Dark v. light. Positive v. negative. Good v. bad. Every life has some of each.

Unfortunately, people struggling with depression might only be able to see the black, negative, bad side of life. The black cloud hovering just around their head keeps them from seeing, feeling, or appreciating the good stuff.

And that fact can be a serious problem for those of us who live with them. Sometimes their gloomy, negative outlook creeps into our own lives and tries to take over.

So here’s a reminder for those of you who, like me, live with depression in your household: Dance. Sing. Celebrate. Play. Make an extra cheesecake. We don’t have to live in the dark just because our depressed loved one has to.

๐Ÿ™‚
Amy

Happy List

image credit to catholicdadsonline.org

image credit to catholicdadsonline.org

There are a lot of people who espouse a mistaken and hurtful belief that positive thinking and intentionality can overcome depression. If you’ve ever experienced depression yourself, or if you’ve ever lived in close quarters with a depressed person, you know how ridiculous this notion is.

On the other hand, those of us who are not struggling with the brain illness called depression (which attacks thoughts, moods, and bodies just as thoroughly as cancer, diabetes, or other “approved” illnesses) can take steps to live more joyful and positive lives. If we are living with someone who is depressed, these steps can help us fight off what can be a very contagious illness.

Zefrank1, who creates hilarious and thoughtful videos on his Youtube channel, has one that really resonates with me, titled “What’s on your HappyList?” Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syR_NinJ2B0 He’s referring to small moments, small actions, that bring great joy. His list includes digging his fingernail into the skin of a navel orange and getting the last little bit out of a bag of chips.

A few items included on my list would be:
-crunching acorns under my feet while taking walks in my neighborhood
-the smell created by the first moments of rain, which has the amazing name of petrichor. I love it all the more because it has a name.
-when the load of towels I’m folding contains the exactly correct matching washcloths (hmmm…is this an indication of a small life?)
-getting into a bed just made with fresh, clean sheets

I think there’s power in recognizing that even the most mundane of happenings can bring deep satisfaction. Here’s to all of us finding and appreciating those moments in the coming week.
-Amy

It’s the little things.

It’s been a good week. A major annual project at work is now finished and was a great success. I have a Saturday ahead of me with no unpleasant items on my to-do list. We’re nearing a family trip we’ve been looking forward to for months. Though there are long-term, serious stressors lurking, as always, in the background, I’m taking joy in life for now. When you spend a significant amount of your time and energy caring for an ill person, enjoying the small moments of joy can be a life-saver.

Morning has always been my favorite time of day. The angle of sunlight, the conversation of morning birds, the feeling of excitement and opportunity stretching out throughout the course of the day – I love it all. This time of year I like to take my coffee and breakfast onto the back porch and see what’s happening in the yard. It’s not exactly a botanical garden, consisting mainly of squirrels, rabbits, a robin’s nest in early spring, the occasional goldfinch, and a few flower baskets I bought over a month ago and haven’t yet managed to kill. But it’s all lovely just the same (my apologies to friends and neighbors who are at war with the rabbits who eat their gardens and the squirrels who eat their way into attics).mama robin

This morning I was treated to what appeared to be a rabbit and squirrel play date. Two squirrels were doing ridiculous acrobatics between the fence and low-hanging branches. All the while, two rabbits played leap frog and took turns flopping down and stretching out in a patch of dirt. Probably there was no cross-species friendship taking place, but the four of them were tolerating each others’ presence and putting on quite a show.

It’s so often the little things that make life enjoyable. It’s my hope that, even if you’re struggling with caregiving, you will find some little thing in which to take joy today.

-Amy

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Today the glass is almost all the way full.

One of the suggestions Bern and I share with caregivers sounds simplistic…but it really can make a difference. It’s the good old act of “counting your blessings.” When life seems to be throwing rocks at you at every turn, an intentional effort to remember the good stuff you have going on can truly help you keep going.

So here’s my top five for this week:
1. I have a great job. I work with people for whom I have the utmost respect, and we have a lot of fun together. I have flexibility and autonomy, and I get positive strokes from people who appreciate the work I do. Wow.
Here’s a shot of 70 super kids I got to hang out with at work this week:
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2. I have three fantastically awesome kids. Of course I love them, but I also really like each of them for exactly who they are, and I have no doubt they are all better people than I am.
3. My street looks like a war zone from all the construction (see yesterday’s post) but I really don’t mind too much. Actually, it’s kind of nice to know there’s no point dusting in the foreseeable future because the clouds of dirt raised every few minutes when a semi trailer-sized dump truck goes by are about the size of Moses’ pillar of cloud.
4. I get to hang out with my amazing co-author and friend Bernadette tomorrow.
5. Next week we get several days of family time as the four of us still left at home travel to see the oldest sibling graduate with honors from Northwestern University. Yes, just slightly proud.

Counting your blessings – give it a try! ๐Ÿ™‚

-Amy