Depression and Donuts (and an Elephant)

This morning, I sat in my car and ate a donut. I named it my 59 cent therapy. I forgave the tax.

I’d successfully taken the children to school -half an hour after the bell, and not counting The Child Who is Sick Every Day Ending in “Y.”

They were late because I was late. I was late because I woke up at my usual 5:30 too-early-to-do-stuff-and-too-late-to-sleep, but mostly exactly-when-the-baby-is-putting-too-much-pressure-on-my-bladder. After which, of course, I saw no point or purpose to life.

Some have expressed surprise that I am so candid about Depression. Why not be candid? You talk about your job, your kids, your hobbies -basically, your life. Depression is my life. It’s the cubicle I sit at, getting very little done because the computer rarely functions and the overhead lights have needed replacing for years.

Every day I either numb from it or succumb from it.

And I talk about it. Though not in person.

“How are you today, Chelsea?”

“Fine.”

I don’t earn an income, keep up on housework, raise the children without sarcasm, return library books before they’re due, or stay on top of budgeting or meal-planning. I’m fine, while some part that cares is yelling, “Everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

And that is why I’m honest about Depression: because the elephant’s in the room and I still haven’t figured out why I put it there or how I can get it out.

At least not for less than 59 cents.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe not. I’m told not everyone raises elephants. In that case, what animal won’t leave you alone?

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I wrote other stuff. Here it is:
Wednesday, October 23: Wrote “Parenting: The Fine Line.”

Thursday, October 24: Did a throwback to a post I wrote on JES’ site, “The Pit of My Mind.”

Friday, October 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Gary!

Saturday, October 26: Announced the 49th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is something SCARY. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 27: Shared “To My Guilty Pleasure,” a love letter to my charbroiled combo meal.

Monday, October 28: An inspirational quote by Someone.

Tuesday, October 29: “Since the Bombs Fell: Two,” the second in my dystopian, post-nuclear series.

Wednesday, October 30: Today.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

THE Battle of the Sexes

That’s it. I’m throwing the gauntlet DOWN.

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I want to determine, once and for all, who has it harder: men or women.

Let’s take men first. For this purpose, I have brought in my masculine side. It’s just survived a long weekend with all four boys home from school for a holiday, worked outside in the yard, and done some manly exercises like …girl push-ups.

I say that men have the short end of the stick. Why?

  1. Men are expected to work for their entire lives. Even in a ‘woke’ society of both sexes working, or just the woman heading out in a business suit, a man is not considered a whole man unless he pulls his own weight.
  2. The male species cannot feel anything like sadness, vulnerability, or silly joy. Those are weak emotions, symptoms of an insecure or incompetent man.
  3. They have to deal with, date, and understand women (assuming, for this argument, they bend that way). And not offend any of them. And still be manly.
  4. Men must initiate relationships. They must often pay for a date. They must read what a woman (for sake of this argument) wants without asking blunt questions (see #3) and without getting accused of harassment and rape later.
  5. When a man gets sick, he gets mocked. Who cares if he literally feels at death’s door? Let’s kick his pride while it’s convalescing.
  6. Males are often stinkier. Practically everything sweats, and in large amounts. Thank goodness for deodorant, aftershave and cologne. And windows.
  7. Men are expected to be good at most things, especially where fixing stuff or sports are concerned. They are also supposed to only be interested in those topics. As before, lack in these areas is a sign of weakness.
  8. Similarly, a man must be strong. He needs to look fit and be ready to move a couch or a car with his bare hands.
  9. If a woman feels like it, she may pick on a man. She may slap him, belittle him, and accuse him. He may be strong, but man is not allowed to hit back.
  10. Even though men spend hardly any time at home (see #1) and are not supposed to get involved in decorating the house (see #7), they must figure out where their tools have been moved to and why a couch (complete with an obscene number of throw pillows) is now where their favorite recliner was.

Women think their life is difficult, but it’s a bed of roses (that match in color, and were complimented on by their hordes of friends) compared to a man’s.

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Now, in order to prepare an adequate female defense, I must think more girly. Allow me a few hours on Pinterest ….or not. I’m not the most feminine representative of the female sex, but I’ll try my best.

Women have a harder life, hands-down.

  1. Periods. Since many men do not understand this sensation: picture a sharp knife inside your lower abdomen that scrapes at your organs. Once a month-ish. Not only that, but you must endure odd hormonal effects like loss of mental capacity and car keys just before the fun starts; plus, blood.
    If all of that weren’t enough, people snidely tell you that you’re grumpy because of PMS or that you ought to just “deal with it” when crumpled over a toilet.
  2. Childbirth. It’s not much of a break from the alternative; especially since menstruation and pregnancy share symptoms like pain, forgetfulness, and grumpiness. Being pregnant is just weird, and delivery is the worst pain many have ever been in. Ever.
  3. Menopause. Imagine a relief from the #1 issue, that was designed by a drunk engineer who didn’t care how (or if) the machine functioned after it ran the full program.
  4. If the first three points didn’t win this debate for women, the judges have obviously been bribed. The women recommend that each judge pass a kidney stone before being allowed to vote. -Which leads to a real #4: more health issues because of female organs. One doctor visit for one symptom leads to an overall diagnosis of “because of womanhood.”
  5. Shopping for women’s clothing is enough headache and cost that they just might need a government-sponsored representative. Seriously. Men get measurements for everything and one name for each color. Women get inaccurate numbers by 2’s and colors like “blue with gray in it” or “gold that may be black.”
  6. In a traditional home; a woman needs to stay home, take care of the home, raise her children to not be psychopaths, and feel fulfilled doing so.
    In non-traditional homes; women need to do all of the above, plus work a job and arrange for childcare …and keep themselves sexy but not too sexy that they’re attracting coworkers.
  7. Females need to look good. If they buy into the ‘inner beauty’ and ‘be yourself’ crap, they have few dates and few friends. If they, instead; nip, tuck, makeup, inject, smile, style, and flaunt; they get a lot of positive attention.
  8. A woman is a b*tch if she’s pushy. She’s unfeminine if she (necessarily) picks up any ‘masculine’ slack. Her opinions are emotional ones, and therefore not as valid or as sound as a man’s.
  9. When a woman takes a younger man, she’s a cougar. If she sleeps around she is a slut. If she dresses attractively and flirts then she is “asking for it.”
  10. Women are expected to arrange everything around the house to buy some social cred, make friends (to admire the house), and plan fun family or couples outings. They are also expected to not overspend their budget doing this.

Men get ‘that look’ when they come home to a house full of pillows, but say they don’t want to go furniture shopping. They say they have simple needs, then demand that women look good and feel sexy after doing all the laundry. Face it: men hold the power and prestige, and women hold the garbage bag.

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In developed countries, the battlefield of the sexes is nearly even. In terms of permanent penalties, however, I feel that women will always have it worse. I’m not looking for compensation (though, some sort of temporary transferal of woman parts might be nice); I’m looking for agreement.

Do you agree? Do you not? Let’s hear your reasons. Don’t be shy; I’m a fair moderator.

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While you gather your thoughts and rebuttals, look at what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, March 13: Talked about Dr. Pickell and our ignorant influences in “Do You Know Your Influences?

Thursday, March 14: “The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 15: Versed “Prometheus,” in response to Frank Prem‘s poem.

Saturday, March 16: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Bruce Almighty Goodman!
Announced the Xth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is verbosity. I haven’t had a lot of entrants, so PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, March 17: “Crescent Illusions,” a sci-fi response to D. Wallace Peach’s popular prompt.

Monday, March 18: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Six.”

Tuesday, March 19:  An inspirational quote by Trent Shelton.

Wednesday, March 20: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Why Oh Why Must We Have The Teenage Years?,” “The Magic Clothes Washing Machine,” and “Five More Minutes” (a poem).

 

Photo Credit:
Image by VIVIANE MONCONDUIT from Pixabay
Image by Josethestoryteller from Pixabay
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

The Cure for Depression: Don’t Be Hatin’ on Medicatin’

Now onto my favorite (*cough* *cough*) advice for treating Depression: medication.

Whoa –what?! YOU don’t like being dependent on pills? We should hang out. Oh, wait. We kind-of are.

For nearly my entire anxious life I’ve worried about THE Day: that point at which the doctors would finally tie me up in a straight jacket, cart me away, and dose me full of anti-depressants. I knew it would come. As relative after relative succumbed to depressive tendencies, I’d mentally count down to when my turn would be.

I watched a friend balloon in weight on anti-psychotics; saw the not-so-fun of adjusting medications in another. I read and heard and watched people being negatively affected by their cocktail of drugs. Would that happen to me, too?

Frankly, there is a lot to be depressed about in terms of depression medication.

But this sort of thinking is clearly that of someone in a depressive mindset (aka ME). I love to take the easy route of negative self-talk; of assuming the worst.

The truth -no, The Truth is that medications are extremely helpful. They are often vital.

Need an example? A close friend of mine was married for a couple decades to a guy with serious schizophrenic issues. Super nice guy, by the way. He became concerned that apocalyptic situations were nearing and concluded that medication dependency was a bad thing. So, of course, he went off of his pills.

This is not one of those ‘happily ever after’ stories, but it is one in which life had to keep going and did (and, still does). After severe manic/depressive episodes, a necessary divorce, and removal of his ability to get credit cards; he’s back on a higher dose and somewhat back to the person I knew before.

No, not every story is that extreme. Yes, some are more so.

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In my vast experience of talking to a lot of people about mental illness (’cause I’m nosy), most use medication for its intended purpose: a leg up. Prescription drugs are meant to give our poor minds and neural pathways a little help.

They are meant to be taken WITH therapy, because we need to teach ourselves to form automatic pathways to brighter fields of mental flowers.

I found some really great sources of information online (Mayo Clinic, WebMd, MedicineNet) that go into more details about common medications, their types, and side effects. They’re especially good if you want to get worked up about how you have a 5% chance of a limb detaching once on a course of Prozac.

So, this is the part where a psychomedicaldoctordude comes in handy. He or she will help you not panic after reading about arms falling off, and come up with a working plan to fit your symptoms. After talking through what you and s/he think is going on, s/he may prescribe you something to try.

The most common medications to treat Depression are:
-Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil.
-Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Cymbalta and Effexor.
-Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) like Nopramin and Nardil.
-Other classifications, like Wellbutrin (aminoketone class), Trazodone (serotonin modulator), or Remeron (tetracyclic).

You may have a mix of mental illness, in which case anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic medications are prescribed. Ones like:
-Antipsychotics: Seroquel, and Zyprexa with Prozac.
-Lithium carbonate.
-Some stimulants like Ritalin.
-Anti-anxiety, like Buspar.

For those like me who deal with related issues like thyroid deficiencies, the prescription may simply be:
-Supplements to raise natural levels in the body
-Hormone therapy
-Specific thyroid medications

Whew! That’s quite a list. I swiped it from WebMd, mostly, leaving out the fun side effects notes.

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These all affect serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in some way. An article by Harvard Health also referenced Glutamate and GABA. Once assisted, those internal hormones and neurotransmitters and such will give us our mental leg-up.

In reading over these sites, I get the idea that Depression is a tricky bugger. The medications tend to improve symptoms in about 70% of sufferers, but doctors are not entirely certain why. Yes, they affect these hormones or connectors -however, simply affecting said things in isolation does not always work. That, and some people are still not helped by the good old anti-depressant classics.

Talk to a doctor continually in order to address the issues you have, and involve therapy along with the medication(s).

But besides boring you all with technical details about prescription drugs, I wanted to repeatedly hit my main point home for you: Pills aren’t all that bad.

During my brief stint on hormones, I experienced something wonderful. The sensation was very much like the gift of sight despite not wearing contacts or eyeglasses. I looked around at the world and saw light, felt hope, and assumed better outcomes instead of the worst possible ones.

Prescription drugs can be the older-brother boost to get into that impossibly high tree. Instead of constantly staring up at all the other people who got to the top branches, you can get help. With The Pill, you will be able to see knotholes or branch stubs or bark indentations. With psychotherapy, you’ll gain the strength to use them.

A low-angle shot of a tree with an impressive trunk

The journey to a brighter place may necessitate medication. Don’t be hatin’. Try what your paid medical friend suggests, pay attention to side effects; try, try again. Train your mind, young padowan, so that you may someday need fewer legs up -or, perhaps, none at all.

These pictures were swiped from JES’ database, which uses Unsplash.

 

*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.

In My Day…

I have four children. Due to genetics, they’ve inherited some of my traits. Due to upbringing, they’ve picked up most of the others.

That’s all well and good where brilliance and toe-dexterity are concerned, but has drawbacks in terms of …debilitating negative thoughts and self-consciousness about how apelike those toes are.

My oldest is a near-miniature clone of me; except male, better looking, and more confident. He’s on a hormonal roller coaster lately. With his baseline mood and perspective, that amusement park ride is a rather broken and dangerous sort, with mostly downs to sudden stops and views of creepy vines and threats of bottomless chasms.

Pre-pubescence is a beast.

We recently sent him off to a week-long scouting camp with high hopes and supportive smiles …and, got a phone call his first night that he wants to come home. He was homesick.

If I were reading this blog, I’d jump on the comments and say, “Kids these days are coddled and helicoptered! Tell him to suck it up. Why did you even give him a cell phone at 12?!”

First, I didn’t. Give him a phone, I mean. I’m determined that he won’t own one till 18 or 21 or even 35 some days. He keeps borrowing other people’s to call me. Plus, I literally told him to give it more time and if he was still struggling then we could arrange for him to come home.

*Smacks head* I should not have said that. I shouldn’ta said that.

Now he wants a ride home. And knows I’m a person of my word. And will internally never forget how I didn’t keep my word if I simply tell him, “Nevermind.” Yes he will.

Instead of telling me to tell him to suck it up, thus destroying our trust, what are some truly helpful phrases to tell a depressive mind? My followers who know anxiety and depression, how would you have talked to your twelve-year-old self?

Invaluable

Self-esteem is a tricky little bugger.

I’ve always had issues with mine; I mean, with the small amount that I even allow to exist.

Perhaps it’s my childhood? My sometimes non-religious views? A realistic attitude about what I actually provide to the world?

After reading a very good article written from the perspective of an artist this morning, I attended a local Mothers Of Preschoolers group my neighbor told me about. The article, about devaluing, opened my mind. The MOPs, whereat a fellow mother honestly detailed her life with anxiety and depression (and OCD and body image issues and …well, you get the idea), opened my heart.

“I’m sure men and boys experience it too, I know they do, but in my personal experience it’s women who consistently undervalue their work, their time and their talent and it’s women who desperately seek approval by making themselves small,” Johanna (the artist I mentioned) notes.

Caroline, the brave MOPs woman with constant struggles, spoke of a lifetime of hiding. She thought others would only want to see the perfect her, the one she wasn’t ashamed of. She was flawed.

Although I have not been diagnosed with a specific condition (yet), I felt like these women were speaking to me, or even about me.

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“…I had subconsciously believed that valuing myself meant devaluing others which would make them feel bad which would make them not like me.” Johanna continued, “I had kept myself in a nice little box that would be no obvious threat to anyone.”

I feel my own box. Like a bad mime, I keep people away from the invisible walls with my facial expressions, body language, and comments. I push away, instead of invite in. Sometimes the box is literally my car, my house, or my closet.

Sadly, Caroline felt similarly. She spoke of assuming her own family wouldn’t want to know this dark side. She described herself thinking how her husband and child would be better off without her in their lives.

This is an extreme position to take, a sure sign that you need to talk to a counselor.

It is also one I understand, and have felt. Blearily, tiredly, I’ve looked around and seen the only problem is me. No self-esteem. The only logical parts able to stop anything remind me that death would screw up my children psychologically, or that I might fail and be stuck as a vegetable.

If I was truly logical, however, I would see that my thinking is, as Caroline said, twisted.

I have spoken with a therapist, a counselor. When I mentioned how deeply I’d allowed myself to sink into self-loathing, she agreed the thinking was wrong. “You need to see a doctor,” she said. “You need to test your hormone levels,” she said.

We wonderful, emotional women are extremely down on ourselves, and it’s often because of hormones.

In fact, hormones can be blamed for everything. Of course, despite my pleas to my husband, we cannot simply be rid of them. They are essential to other feelings, and to basic body functions.

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Aside from functionality or regulation, I would also like to applaud an approach Johanna details partway through her crafting article.

She wrote the post to talk about an art submission to Craft Town, and how she had mentored applicants for this event in the past. “(A)bout six years ago, I banned my students from saying the word sorry, and we did a little experiment. They had to present their work without saying a single negative word about it, and throughout the exercise they would have absolutely no encouragement or feedback from me whatsoever. So no negativity from them and no approval from me.”

The results? “What happened shocked me. Some students weren’t even able to begin speaking. They looked at the floor, they took deep breaths, they took several minutes just to find words to begin with that wouldn’t include any sort of apology. Some were even brought to tears by the sheer frustration of not being able to criticise themselves.”

Can you make something, gift an item, talk about yourself -without devaluing? I cannot.

Well, I can. But, I don’t. I believe I should try.

Why? Fabulous results. From Johanna, one last time:

There would be a change in tone and volume that was so moving, so utterly inspiring that I can’t even describe it to you. They would speak without apology, explanation or expectation, about what they loved about their own talent. Then they would realise that no one was laughing at them, no one was horrified, no one had stopped liking them, and that they weren’t in trouble, then their voice would get stronger and clearer and calmer.  And when they shone, something would happen to the other students in the room, and to me;  we’d feel just a little bit closer to our own value because we could see someone else connecting with theirs.

And, what about Caroline from the mothers’ group? She admits to still struggling. However, as a plug for the group, her help came from joining MOPs but also from opening up. Instead of apologizing, hiding, pretending, she wore herself on her sleeve.

We are valuable women, valuable people.

Self-esteem has to come from within, my paid friend tells me. Johanna and Caroline have given me some tools to begin with. I hope we’ve helped you as well.