4/13/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I went out again today, out beyond my four walls. I’ve been trying to limit trips to once a week, in accordance with our county’s laws and common sense.

We passed a Costco on our way. I recalled how, at my last ‘adventure,’ my oldest son and I tried to shop there for milk. Costco has been more fun each time I’ve visited; their newest attraction, then, was limiting how many people could enter the store. We stood in a line that snaked around pallets inside the entry, out the opening, down the sidewalk, and around the other side of the shopping carts’ new home.

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I used to enjoy parking where the carts were. I’d pull right up to the sidewalk. The boys would jump out and race or push each other or yell as they raced and pushed each other. We could always smell something wonderful baking. Perhaps that’s why we often returned home with their oversized ‘muffins.’

On the day my son and I tried to get milk, we waited for half an hour without moving. Signs on cones and tape lines helped us measure our distance. The wind blew. “I wonder how effective six feet away is when we’re standing downwind,” I mused. The wait proved too long, wind or no. Like many others, I chose to leave and try a different store.

Today, we did not go shopping. Our destination was The Pit, itself: the doctors’ office. Yet another son needed his checkup and the baby needed his four-month visit. The office is split into a Well-Child side and a Sick-Child side. My happy baby has had cold symptoms -no fever- for over a week. At the behest of the staff and their posted sign, we entered the condemned half. I’d been dreading the visit for that very reason, but it proved a blessing. The office has been encouraging Telehealth visits for sick patients. We were the only occupants. From what we observed upon departure, the Well side was quite busy. Ironic, no?

My phone beeped with a notification during the visit: the Salt Lake County mayor extended her Stay Home, You Idiots order till May 1. Yes, ma’am.

Utah’s state governor has been broadcasting daily updates around 1:30 p.m. The last one I watched included his wearing a mask and encouraging us to do so; the one before, information about a loan to help small businesses.

Do Not Return to Earth

“Do Not Return to Earth,” says Buy N Large’s CEO ©The Disney Company

I also recall some plan involving visitors to our state being prompted to self-report COVID-19 symptoms. In researching it further, I learned that the texting system didn’t quite work the way they wanted:

Since the system’s launch Friday, [Joe Dougherty, public information officer for the Utah Division of Emergency Management] said, “a number of residents in the state received alerts in their homes, in their bathrooms, and in other locations when they were quite far from the borders.”

“Some people clearly got an annoying number of messages,” Dougherty said, some of them 15 times.

The state learned, Dougherty said, “that these messages will sometimes alert much farther than the areas that we intended.” He apologized to people in the St. George area and the Uinta Basin, both in Utah, and Oneida County in Idaho — north of the Utah border — for being sent repeated messages.

-“Utah’s ‘bold experiment’ to text alerts to road travelers to collect coronavirus data ends abruptly, ” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 12, 2020

Most of my exposure to COVID-19 is online. I watch the updates, read what friends share on Twofacebook, and connect with blog friends worldwide. Some states have put plastic caution tape around their gardening and outdoors supplies. Others have curfews and gathering restrictions. From what I can gather, every country is trying to “flatten the curve” through distancing measures.

LA, who lives on the front lines of New York City’s Coronavirus Action, tells quite a different story than mine. After all, the virus doesn’t have such alarming numbers mathematically. It’s when those numbers apply to highly-dense areas like hers that math gets used in real life. Even if you’re in the “1% death rate” camp, that’s 84,000 of 8.4 million people. That’s also not how many get infected, need respiratory aids, and have lasting health problems.

There’s a children’s book I loved as a child, Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. In it, Anansi the spider discovers a mossy rock with the power to cause unconsciousness when verbally identified as such.

Anansi

“Isn’t this a strange, moss-covered rock?”

He uses this to trick each animal and acquire his or her food. One animal is never tricked, because she has been watching Anansi the entire time. In fact, Little Bush Deer figures out how to give that tricky spider a taste of his own medicine.

As I’ve been watching Coronavirus since it first broke out in China, I’ve felt like Little Bush Deer. Watching and planning gave me more toilet paper than those who then rushed to install a bidet. It allowed me to anticipate closures and distancing. However, far more animals have dropped than I expected. Far more areas of the forest have been closed off. Conflicting news about the rock and its potency is causing some animals to demand stricter closures while others bare their teeth and say, “Make me.” I never knew the forest could look like this.

I, like many others, feel lost. What plan now, besides a long wait? There seems to be no other.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo credits: Hello I’m Nik 🎞
© the Almighty Disney Company, c/o Youtube
and, Amazon

3/31/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

My parents came by yesterday. I don’t talk about them much because they have the right to decide whether they want their information online.

Still, over they came. They walked forward and deposited my and my son’s birthday presents on our porch. They stepped back. I unwrapped them: a framed pencil illustration my mother drew of our son, and a beautiful Schwibbögen. My children crowded around me in the doorway and excitedly waved and yelled about schoolwork and the new computer game we’ve been playing as a family, Stardew Valley.

My parents put up a good face. I held my new baby in the doorway as they drove away, waving his little hand for them. I doubt they saw; they probably barely saw well enough to drive if they were crying as much as I was.

I think IT -as Mike calls the Coronavirus crisis- has finally hit most of us. One of my sons came in last night around 9. He sat on our bed. “I’m scared,” he said.

“Oh? Did you have a bad dream? What are you scared about?”

“I don’t know. Just scared.”

Trying to uncover the fear did nothing, so I quickly switched tactics to enumerating everything safe about his situation. We have family, a safe area, a warm house, brothers to take care of him. He calmed enough to sleep in his own bed.

As I was drifting off to sleep later*, I heard and felt the slight change in air pressure that meant our bedroom door had opened. One of my older sons stood in the doorway.

“Son? What’s wrong?”

Bearing his about-to-cry face, he came to my bedside. “I’m scared.”

I hugged him and held him. “It’s okay, Son. It’s okay.”

“Thank you, Mom.”

We walked back to his bed together. I gave him a Melatonin and tucked him in.

…Which might explain why several of us slept in this morning. I awoke to feed Baby at 8ish; finished and got ‘ready’ to pick up a prescription by 10 a.m. Everyone but we parents and my early-riser was still asleep. Costco’s automated phone message played its usual bit, then had a slightly louder recording tell how they have new hours for the warehouse, including a special time for seniors to shop. People picking up prescriptions do not have to wait in line at the door -just tell the guards associates at the exit doors that you’re picking up a prescription and they’ll let you in.

I haven’t written about Costco yet. Usually, it’s my home away from home. I like to go there when we travel, and Utah boasts the world’s largest Costco. Friends have even teased that I ought to travel to all of them and chronicle my adventures.

When I went there to stockpile toilet paper and water three weeks ago (okay -kidding), people were a tad tense. A few, like me, knew what was coming and were purchasing a few extras. A week later, the store had imposed limits on supplies. A few days after that, signs dotted the columns and tape lines dotted the cash registers and waiting areas so that we might stay 6 feet away from each other. Lines formed to get in, separated by cones and pallets; lines formed to check out, enforced by Costco employees.

Today, plexiglass barriers are screwed to the front of all the cash registers. Some workers wear face masks. The receipt-checkers at the exits have clipboards and gloves. No one touches your membership card. Everyone furiously wipes down counters and computer equipment. They spray shopping carts (trolleys) with a pink solution out in the parking lot.

I saw a pregnant woman of Indian features and dress wearing gloves and a dentist-style face mask. They’re probably not doing much for her, but I’d be doing the same in her shoes.

Next on my errands was the post office. They had tape on the floor as well, plus a sign outside about keeping 10 or fewer people in the waiting area. The woman at the desk wore a face mask and she also sat behind newly-installed plexiglass.

Perhaps we ought to start living in personal plexiglass houses.

The oddest part of my experiences is something Pete pointed out in his comments on my last update: people are avoiding any interaction. Told to be wary and stay six feet away, we are also avoiding nonverbal cues that indicate safety. We are not smiling, laughing, reassuring, or talking. I guess we need to learn to be friends …from a distance.

Which is why I find comfort in the snippets of sunshine. A woman asked another woman at Costco where she’d gotten her package of Charmin toilet paper** from; I heard them laughing at whatever the response was, and I smiled at their smiles. The secretary for my sons’ school asked how we were all doing when I called about a registration issue. My friend and I talked on the phone.

I felt like giving up that day we had the earthquake. I’ve mostly stopped obsessively checking the United States Geological Society’s latest earthquakes page since, and was handling each day too busy to dwell on the larger implications of what we were doing. Today, however, I’ve returned to some of that anxiety. The novelty’s worn off, I suppose. We’ve purchased all the extra food we can eat. We’ve got a rough schedule for schoolwork at home. We’ve even finally started a nap routine for the baby. Now, though, comes the most difficult part: facing the long dark of Moria.

But wishing IT away hasn’t worked for most of us. Assuming IT wouldn’t come didn’t work very well, either. My son’s speech and behavior aide last year told me they were working on his Sphere of Influence; what he could control. Me, I can’t control IT. I can’t control the world’s response. What I can control is me. I can still control much of what my family does and is exposed to as well.

So, you may find me writing from within a circle of salt. Still, at least I’m still alive. And writing.

©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos of the Schwibbögen and Costco
GIFS © GIPHY

*Okay, I was really playing Candy Crush. They’re offering infinite lives all week, which is brilliant for keeping people in.
**Charmin Ultra Soft toilet tissue is worth more than gold right now…

3/26/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I began the day reading about the half-life of our current friend, Mr. Coronavirus. Honestly, I felt quite pleased to read their naming it “Coronavirus half-life,” since I wondered if that term applied to pandemic-level pathogens. It turns out that viable samples live longest on stainless steel and plastic; shortest on copper (MLM opportunity, anyone?). They also concluded that asymptomatic people can spread it…

Actually, I began the day the same way I begin every day lately: awakened by a beautiful, smiling, very hungry boy. His food meter runs out around 5 or 6 a.m., which isn’t bad for a bedtime of 11 p.m. Still, I’m not getting much sleep. I therefore spend the morning hours perusing Twofacebook (which, by the way, is much more interesting and more popular now) until I feel guilty, then venture into safer hobbies like Candy Crush. The article on half-life of a virulent pathogen was an odd peak in dormant curiosity.

8:00 or 8:30 or maybe 8:50 a.m. Feeling tired (go figure), I decided to nap. The baby did not decide the same, but I thought I could squeeze a half hour in before he got too noisy in his complaints.

9:00 a.m.: My teenager’s school called to let me know that he’s not turned things in.

9:00 a.m. also: My next-oldest son’s teacher e-mailed to let me know he’s not turned things in.

(For the record, my other children are completing their assignments.)

…I finally got the day going with the kids and schoolwork and feeding Baby (again) and feeding me, and even squeezed in a shower.

Phone’s alarm went off around 11:50 to notify me of a doctor’s visit for my third child. I alluded to this being Birthday Season. Three of my offspring go in for checkups, virus or no.

Which was my one social venture of the day.

The office door bore a sign advising everyone with cold symptoms to simply stay away (guess they didn’t read about asymptomatic carriers). The waiting room was empty. They’d removed their prize dispenser: a little toy machine that accepts special tokens for good patients. The front desk workers looked and acted about the same.

The backroom staff, however, all wore masks and gloves. They seemed tired, anxious. Or, maybe I seemed that way. My son’s doctor joked that she’d had to purchase scrubs again because she’d given hers away after medical school. So: masks, gloves, scrubs.

A bottle of hand sanitizer on the exam room table had a label on it: DO NOT STEAL MEDICAL SUPPLIES, with a description on the back about how it was primarily for use by the staff -yes, the staff wearing gloves and masks.

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We went home and washed our clothes and hands.

The rest of the day passed as usual, which means I spent it trying to keep them all on task, away from each other, and then still completing their household chores. We couldn’t do outside time on account of snow, so they were more in each other’s business than usual (read: fighting).

High point of the day: my teenager learned he needed to make a healthy meal. He’s a food snob. He disdainfully showed me the other students’ finished ‘meals’ of pancakes (from a mix) and spaghetti (from pre-made stuff). Quarantine aside, I think all of them do not know how to cook. Not my son. He surprised us with completely homemade beef enchiladas.

My pickiest eater raved about the meal. Of course, we didn’t eat till 9 p.m., but I’m certain the meal deserved the praise even without starvation.

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©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos

The Cure for Depression: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It’s that time again: time to cure our depression. Way back in January, I proposed that curing isn’t exactly possible -BUT I listed 14 ideas that will help. We’ve talked about 8 or 9 others; like connecting with people, eating right, talking to a doctor or therapist, medicating, and doing happy things.

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Today, I’d like to get into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. At least, I thought to get into it. I opened my hand-me-down laptop, typed that big, impressive-sounding word into a search, and then thought, Holy flipping crap! (Yep, I don’t swear often.)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is LEGIT. It has its own, lengthy Wikipedia page.

Aaaaand I’ve just barely heard about it.

Hopefully, that means that all of YOU readers are nearly as clueless as I was, and will be impressed and amazed at the paltry light I’ll be shedding on this topic.

So, first: What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often abbreviated to CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (hereafter referred to as “CBT,” for the laziness of the writer) is simply a bunch of exercises to teach our brains better habits.

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Second: Why do we need it?

Let’s say that you’re a little kid playing with a hose out in the mud. You, sweet little unsupervised thing, have full command of an entire patch of mud and have decided to make trails and paths and mountains and mudpies. It’s a glorious, messy afternoon!

Using only the best sticks you find laying around, you begin digging waterways. The hose water follows. You’re a kid, so are not quite the best at design and such. Some of your water pools at places, overruns its banks at others, and ultimately empties right into the neighbor’s back fence and washes away their freshly-planted flowers.

Oops.

An adult comes over to help. He says he’s Dr. Civil Engineer and is also licensed in psychology. “Let’s turn off the water first,” he says. “Now, my good friend and trusted colleague, CBT, is going to gently help you with mud-forming.”

You aren’t exactly sure what a colleague is, or CBT. You just want to play in the mud, and get the neighbor to stop yelling at you about flowers. Don’t flowers need water? You shrug, and watch what CBT starts doing with your mud. CBT builds up a turn, repairs an overflow area, and (most frequently) digs new paths into less destructive directions.

What’s more, CBT tells you what it is doing and how you can do it, too.

Third: We need this. Professionals say so.

My paid friend keeps telling me that my brain has learned behaviors (almost all negative) and I need to stop and complete them with the more-positive truth when negative thoughts come up. Psychologists refer to these learned behaviors as cognitive distortions. Like the mud and water analogy, our mind forms automatic reactions to situations or thoughts or feelings in order to handle them next time; and, like our first, unguided attempts, they’re not always the best.

These automatic reactions are like cringing when hit in sensitive areas, crying when our nose gets hurt, or kicking our leg when the tendon below our patella is hit.

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CBT is training to get over knee-jerk reactions. It’s still having the jerking, but toward somewhere that doesn’t actually kick someone and, especially, with the result of leaving us feeling happy that we kicked our leg instead of then kicking ourselves for reacting.

Fourth: How does one CBT?

Doesn’t CBT sound fantastic? I think it sounds a bit difficult, myself. How do we get started? Can we actually change how we think? I am not very successful at self-run things, and (yep) I tell myself that I’m not very successful.

I highly recommend getting someone professional to run this for you. CBT is the most common therapy of its kind. However, like many major startups, it has spawned subgroups of more specific subjects, die-hard zealots of original teachings, and side-therapies of similar names run by leaders who couldn’t get credit for starting the first one. Some professional navigation of those twisty roads will help you.

If you’re poor, shy, or just starting out, there are self-help options. A blog I somehow found recently lists online worksheets. Other sites exist, as well as books you can purchase.

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Fifth: No, really: does it actually help?

CBT really does help. My counselor is of the camp that minor mental issues are wholly the result of years of negative thought processes and reactions. Psychiatrists advocate for mostly medical measures, no matter how minor. I think the farmer and the cowman can be friends and meet us halfway.

Most health professionals agree that medicine and therapy, together, are the winning combination for fighting mental health issues.

Our bodies become resistant to medications and substances. Our hormones and brain chemistry change with time and stressful situations. Our motivation becomes dependent on that boost we get from outside stimuli, like prescriptions, drug overuse, and stimulants.

CBT is very nearly the silver bullet of therapies. It empowers YOU. It teaches you how to better handle your own brain -which is great because that’s what you’re stuck with all the time! Even doctors, as empathetic or sympathetic or knowledgeable as they are, cannot EVER understand exactly what you feel and experience. They have their own brains, not yours.

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Sixth: How about a run-through?

I’m getting a bit long here, even with shortening Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to CBT so many times, but can’t leave without some practical advice for all y’all. Here’s one type of CBT method you can run through, from wikihow:

  1. Notice when you’re negative.
    My therapist had me make a list what I know about me. It was about 80% self-critical and even the positive items were less-complimentary.
    Or, meditation is an option. Take at least ten minutes without distraction and pay attention to where your thoughts and feelings go.
    Think about a situation in the past that was negative.
  2. Recognize the connection between your thoughts and your feelings.
    Obviously, if you were dropped from a speeding airplane by members of the mafia into a boiling volcano, you had little control over feeling dead afterwards.
    But most situations, even sucky ones, do not cause our bad feelings at the end. WE cause them. YOU cause them. Your natural, poorly-designed mud paths caused the overflow of emotion.
    See the connection, and tell yourself that you felt bad because you had bad thoughts.
  3. Notice automatic thoughts
    All during the day, stuff happens. Automatically, we have some sort of reaction to the stuff.
    Let’s say I went to the store and realized I forgot my credit card. It’s back home in the freezer or whatever. An automatic negative thought from my brain would be, You’re always forgetting things. Further, I would think, Now you have to put all the groceries back. You should never come back to this store again.
    ALL THOSE are not good.
    I need to stop, drop and roll -er, *ahem* I need to stop that thought, way back when it started. Then, I tell myself it’s negative. Finally, I decide to tell myself something more like, Oops! I’ll look for some cash. I’l ask the cashier to hold these for me while I look, or drive home. Heck, I’m not the first person to forget payment; they’ll work with me.
  4. and 5. Talk about core beliefs. Specifically, about tying the automatic cognitive distortions to faulty internal beliefs.
    I’m not in favor of this step, because it’s self-analyzing. Getting into my terrible self-esteem and my potentially-damaging childhood without assistance sounds like a worse idea than the ones my mind comes up with.

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  1. Identify cognitive distortions. This may help with stopping the negative thoughts. Like, you can tell yourself, “I’m not a terrible person! I’m just overgeneralizing. It’s a typical misconception.” Common distortions listed on wikihow are:
    -Catastrophizing by predicting only negative outcomes in the future
    -Having all-or-nothing thinking
    -Discounting the positive
    -Labeling something or someone without knowing more about it or them
    -Rationalizing based on emotions rather than facts
    -Minimizing or magnifying the situation
    -Having “tunnel vision” by seeing only the negatives
    -Mind reading in which you believe you know what someone is thinking
    -Overgeneralizing by making an overall negative conclusion beyond the current situation
    -Personalizing the situation as something specifically wrong with you

Hopefully, this first method of 6(ish) steps works as a starting place for you. The wikihow article lists two other methods as well.

Seventh: A different initial approach is also helpful.

Besides these suggested steps, I’m a big proponent of creating an initial positive environment. I feel like I’m constantly in a negative haze, self-protected and negatively-pressured to the point of not sticking a toe out into the world.

A suggestion from my counselor was to think back on a time when I felt happy or good. Then, I was to keep asking myself, “Why?” until I traced it to a core emotion. For example: I said I’d felt happy driving to the appointment. Why? It was sunny and warm outside and I was alone. Why did that make you happy? I like feeling warm and comfortable. -Holy crap! I like being comfortable. Comfort was my core emotion.

One may also repeat a mantra each morning and evening. Something like, “I am of worth. I love myself;” or reciting an uplifting poem.

Morning meditation is good as well, or prayer.

Whatever activity you do, the goal is to create a positive atmosphere. We want to start our thoughts in a better direction and keep them going that way. Over time, your brain will form better neural pathways. You won’t flood anyone’s flower beds. You’ll have the practice and skills to handle past habits and fight new triggers.

And don’t get discouraged. You’ve had your entire life to build these habits; you can’t change overnight but you can change.

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Photo Credits:
Artem Bali
Pixabay
Pixabay
Sharon McCutcheon
Pixabay
Wikimedia Commons
Tyler Nix

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy

Good morning/afternoon/evening/midnight/snacktime everyone! I am ready to very professionally talk to you about one of my favorite subjects: food.

Fruit smoothies in glasses topped with pieces of fruit and marigold flowers

I just spent ten luxurious minutes searching for food pictures, and now I’m hungry. There are so many pictures of food! WHY are there so many?

Duh. Food is life.

That, and it’s delicious. During one of my no-sugar diets, I sagely told a friend, “I’ve decided the problem with chocolate is that it tastes good.” I hope I come up with better quotes when I’m not dieting.

So…. why bother monitoring what we stuff in our faces? This is one of those answers that we all know, like how we ought to be getting outside more, or exercising. We know that eating well is better for our health.

Anyone with food issues like me also knows that an entire bag of Snicker’s ‘fun’ size is really appealing at depressive moments. As appetizing as a picture of odd fruits with flowers (why flowers?) is, I’m apt to choose something meatier and fattier and baddier.

Oooh yeah. People don’t believe me when I tell them I like meat and have issues in general, because I periodically diet and usually exercise. And if random good behavior keeps me looking passable, then you have my personal assurances that such a plan will work for you.

First, let’s list why eating well is such a great idea:

  1. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients, madeupwordients are ESSENTIAL for complex creatures such as us. They’re our fuel.
  2. Eating the right things really helps to not get sick often.
  3. A balanced diet definitely helps with mental illness. Seriously, Google found me so much proof -like on a Harvard Health blog.

Hmmm… I probably should have put #3 first. I blame not eating breakfast yet.

“Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood” (Harvard Health Blog).

Oops. I’m just gonna hide this bag of …Snicker’s. *crinkle* *crinkle* Hey, look at this beautiful picture of a salad!

Right-o. We know that good food is good. Most of us know that, from our childhood years of basic nutrition education. If not -hey! I taught you something new!

The tricky part is application. Take one little tiny baby step with me here:

You don’t have to starve yourself and only eat rabbit food.

In fact, if weight loss alone is your goal, you can eat only McDonald’s and still shed pounds. McDonald’s, even the salad, is NOT healthy; just so’s you know. Processed foods tend to not be. And, you have to put up with only Mickey D’s for six months which would be hell for me.

I likes my variety, and you can too!

Rambling point: Small Step #1 is to eat less* overall. You can feed your OCD tendencies if you have them and write down how many calories if you wish. Use a website or app to estimate what your daily calorie burn is, then eat less of that each day. Eat a little less; we’re not encouraging any anorexia here.

*Eating less than what you burn leads to weight loss. Ignore this advice if you are already at a good weight. In that case, eat close to what you burn in order to maintain.

Small Step 2 is when you eat. Your body will burn calories or hang onto them differently at different times of day and different times of year. Generally, avoid eating after 8:00 p.m. and/or two hours before sleeping. Eating later not only helps the food stick around, it makes you less comfortable and more depressed.

On the same page, make sure you are stuffing your face at regular mealtimes. I also need to eat between meals, like a hobbit. I keep the calorie count low (see Step 1), but don’t starve.

Step 3 is what you eat. If you consider lettuce a food fit for hopping creatures, that’s totally cool. I especially understand if you only ever eat iceberg lettuce; that crap is just water. Get yourself the more green and leafy varieties like Romaine, wrap your protein in it, and salt and pepper the thing.

Everyone has some foods he/she likes that he/she knows are healthy. If not, buy some of your friend’s favorites and sneakily eat them in your closet. I won’t tell. At the end of such an experiment, you will have a few that you can stomach.

Use the old internet for searches like “low-calorie recipes,” “healthy snacks,” and “edible and appetizing ways to prepare kale.” -Okay, that last one was a joke.

I recommend AGAINST anal counting of minerals and vitamins and whatnot because it’s a very tricky process that is probably not entirely accurate. Fresh foods have a different value than ones that have been canned, dried, frozen, or covered in chocolate to actually make them taste good.

The advice I follow myself is to lower sugars and white flours and rices, keep the calories low, and include a treat in that count. If you’re following my earlier advice to exercise, you’ll need the extra calories.

A good Step 4 is to cut out stimulants and booze. Ya know, like coffee and alcohol. I think this is a great step, but I don’t touch the stuff myself and therefore wouldn’t presume to lecture you on how to do so. There are plenty of internet and local areas to help, however. (Like, the addiction national helpline, if it’s that serious: 1-800-662-HELP [4357].)

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but I thought the same thing when my paid friend told me she hadn’t consumed sugar since 2003. She still has valid ideas in many other categories, so I’ll probably keep seeing her.

As a final note, I don’t even have to be an expert to mention a vital consumable related to eating well: drinking well. As a human, you need water.

Water is life, more so than food even.

I live in a desert environment, and even I skimp on the “recommended amount.” That’s because I don’t like using the bathroom all day. I’ve been told that regular, consistent drinking of water should make that problem disappear.

Wherever you live, make sure you drink water. It improves skin, helps organ function, helps singers sound better, and keeps you from dying.

So, class, let’s get started today. Keep your diet tasty, consistent, and manageable. Drink your water. These simple steps will help you be better able to fight those depressive tendencies.

This has been a part of our Cure for Depression series. Tune in next time, and we’ll talk about joy.

 

Photo Credits:
Brooke Lark
Haseeb Jamil
Vitchakorn Koonyosying
Lacey Williams
Yasuo Takeuchi

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Ode to My (Missing) Non-Vital Organ

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

This evening, I address a piece of my inner being I lost one fateful, painful day: my appendix.

While those, intact, may shout and strain
And boast of their unscarrèd frame,
I cradle thee, my abdomen –
Less able to fight pathogens.

‘What, what?!’ say friends, in some concern,
‘Methought t’appendix was to spurn.
Surely, ‘mongst the var’yous ‘itis
The worst is appendicitis.’

True; surgeons call you, ‘trivial;’
The textbooks say, ‘vestigial.’
Yet, something tells me, in my gut
You’ve purpose; we just know not what.

And so, my years-departed friend,
Though you so nearly caused my end,
I’ll mourn my loss; I’ll cry, betimes
Whilst I eat more of active enzymes.

rawpixel-1055771-unsplash

 

Photo Credit:
rawpixel

The Cure for Depression: Get a Paid MEDICAL Friend

A few weeks back, I wrote about 14ish items that help “cure” Depression. Shortly after, I covered connecting with a human and getting a paid friend.

I realized, however, that I did not have information regarding a medical friend (AKA a psychiatrist). Therefore, the post you’re reading RIGHT NOW is Item 2a on that 14 item list, as an amendment to the one before it.

A moving freight train on railroad tracks on a cloudy day

Let’s back the runaway train of thought up just a tad so you can get on:
Do you or a loved one experience some reactions to life situations that interfere with normal behavior?

We’re talking inability to leave the house, extreme anxiety to the point of a raised heart rate and panic, thoughts of suicide, and/or manic and depressive episodes.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I could name ev’ry depressive phenomenon… but there are many, many possible symptoms to consider. I highly suggest you follow my second advice to get a paid friend.

But… should you consider a psychologist or a psychiatrist? They are more than a few letters’ difference.

All of my personal experience has been with the former; of the familiae Counselor or the subclass Therapist. That’s not to say I don’t have any knowledge of psychiatrists. I have several family members and friends who have talked to me about them, plus my flash internet education just a few minutes ago (don’t worry; I read fast).

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt (cropped).jpg

One website I read over said that psychiatrists are a good choice because they attend medical school first. After all that work, their residency is specifically in psychiatry. They’re a doctor who understands your brain better than a zombie would, and can use a medical foundation with any treatment plans.

One family member I read over, however, says the psychiatrist is only there to write her prescriptions.

I know some psychiatrists who fit a little of both, and I think you can find a really great one. How? Even if you go more with the psychologist route; consider these tips:

  1. Get your regular doctor or counselor to give you a referral. Heck, maybe they go to a psychiatrist.
  2. Check if your insurance covers anyone and who that person might be.
  3. Internet stalk the recommended psychoperson to learn their credentials.
  4. Read about their work experience. If you suspect your cocktail of symptoms are Bipolar related, you may not want to visit a guy who says he’s good with eating disorders.
  5. Think about whether you want a dude or a chick. I prefer females, myself, as they empathize with my goings-on.
  6. Read through their internet ratings. You simply don’t want to go with the 1 star blender.

(By the by, I lifted these ideas from Health Grades.)

Psychiatrists have the legal ability to write prescriptions. Whether that’s mainly what they do or no, you’ll need them (or a regular medical doctor) if your symptoms could really use the help of medication.

If you’re unsure, feel intimidated, or don’t want to even think about medication; that’s totally cool. We’re about small steps, remember? Talk to someone you trust first. That may lead to feeling comfortable enough to ask your medical doctor about a psychologist. Said doctor or counselor might know a psychiatrist they play golf with on Saturdays.

Start small. Ask for what you need. You are worth it.

 

Photo credits:
Ankush Minda

Image Two from wikimedia commons
Amazon sells blenders

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Get a Paid Friend

Sup, yo? I’m here to talk about my second suggestion from The Cure for Depression: the most amazing elixir to not actually exist and is therefore really a list of 14ish items that seriously help.

I need to work on my advertising taglines. Let’s try again:

Are you suffering from Depression? Do you think you might be? If yes or no; you’re reading this article, so there’s a good chance you don’t want to stay down in your hole.

You could use professional help.

“But… but, I don’t know who to talk to!”
I don’t either. I’m not you, sitting on your floor, living in your town, with or without your health benefits. That’s Google’s responsibility. -Google, or your old enemy Facebook.
Open up ye olde FB, and type something like “Hey guys, do you know a good counselor? Asking for a friend.” You’re not really lying because you should be your own best friend, right?
If that’s too intense, text a close friend. I literally did this to my neighbor, out of the blue, and got one of the best therapists I’ve ever been to (and, believe me, I’ve been to two in my life).

I have no way to pay for services.”
-I don’t, either. I’m a moocher off my husband. It’s not even covered by our health insurance, so there goes this year’s family trip and a few months of groceries. As he says, “It’s cheaper than divorce.” He’s sweet like that.
Do not get me started, rambling, and still cursing about health insurance. Even in America where I live, it has issues. I do happen to know that options exist out there. Use your friend, the internet, to look into what you can get.
If you’re religious, many ecclesiastical leaders are willing to help with what they can.
If you have parents, try asking them. Maybe they can at least let you live downstairs for another decade while you get to a better place.
If you have a rich great aunt, hope that she knocks off sooner than later. Okay; just kidding about that one.

“What if the person I get sucks?”
-Find a new person. It’s your hard-earned money (or, your great aunt’s). If you’re stuck picking from a certain office or a specific list, try asking the nurses who they think is good for what you’re experiencing.

“I can’t open up to a therapist or counselor. What if s/he judges me?”
-I may have this exact problem. Still. I am the slowest person ever, I’m sure; because I finally start opening up at the END of the session. Sometimes, I close off at the end. I’m a mixed bag of self-protective measures, really.
I keep going back to my paid friend because THIS IS HER JOB. She is supposed to “judge me,” because she’s trying to help me. She’s super nice so would probably want to help anyway, but she is also there because I’m paying her.

“Insert your excuse here.”
-Nope, not going to buy it. Do what I said. Try, try again.

Think of it this way: A counselor, therapist, or psychologist is like a tightrope instructor. Instead of tightrope walking the way you have for (possibly) YEARS now, why not pay a person who knows? After a few sessions, you may think, So I wasn’t supposed to be doing it UPSIDE-DOWN this whole time! Who knew?!

You’ve tried it your way. A paid friend can show you a better way.

In terms of a more advanced paid friend, aka a psychiatrist, I’m afraid I have no experience in this regard. I’ll do some more research, and get back with you next week.

Go get a counselor if you don’t have one. A good one is worth it because YOU ARE worth it.

 

Photo Credits
rawpixel
Casey Horner

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-Six

Wil began thinking up plans in her head for what else tomorrow might hold. Perhaps, once they were all awake, she could get Jakob to let her play his game with him. Maybe her father would take her practice-driving in the nearby church parking lot. Or she and her mother could…

Dr. Winters studied her screen of notes and frowned. The panning list of backlit research reflected in her serious glasses as she read. Despite copious notes and equations, she and her team had yet to produce a working sample of their proposed formula.

The door of her office opened with a snap. It almost upset her cup of coffee, perched atop the sprawling file cabinet and untouched since she’d made it hours earlier. “Dr. Winters!” the harried undergraduate student who’d just entered said. “Reagan thinks she may have found the error!”

The head of the department continued her scrolling. Her heart had felt to skip a beat upon Tanaka’s entry, but settled under her usual, cool control.

“Doctor?” Thomas Tanaka closed the door more quietly than he’d opened it, and waited.

“So…” Dr. Winters said after a half-minute. “Reagan has found the error?”

“Yes, she-”

Rose Reagan?”

“Well, yeah; the only Reagan on the team…”

His superior looked up. She had a face that could make a lab monkey decide to stop flinging feces and even consider teaching itself sign language. “I see.”

Her subordinate gulped. “Do you… do you want to verify?” Concerned at the icy response, he began speaking more rapidly. “We weren’t sure, either, as she’s not prone to successful tests in general, but were able to produce a solution with her conclusions and tested it on Subject A this morning and many of his symptoms have not been recorded since -”

Dr. Winters gasped. “What?!”

Thomas swallowed again. “I said she’s not prone to success-”

No, no. After that.” She sounded different; excited. “The bit about Subject A.”

He backed up a step at her intensity; he felt the door handle behind his back. “I said that Subject A has not had many of his usual symptoms since this morning.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Dr. Winters asked. She walked forward and would have pulled at the handle through him if he’d not had the instinct to open it and scuttle out of her way and into the hall. “This is revolutionary!” she continued, taking off at a brisk pace with a breathless Thomas just behind. “Let’s study Reagan’s results and get started in replicating them for a test run on Subject B. Then, if successful, we’ll be able to present to the board and possibly begin human trials before the end of the year!”

Together, they stalked down the fluorescent-lit hallway.

Thomas began to lose some nervousness in the wake of his superior’s growing excitement. “Yes!” he agreed. “When I first read over our results, we were all really happy. Reagan said, ‘We’ve done it! We’ve finally cured Cystic Fibrosis!'”

Eyes closed, Wil smiled; as they pulled into the covered parking space of their silent and sleeping apartment complex.

 

Continued from Sixty-Five.
Keep reading to Sixty-Seven.